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Listen Back 11-05-10

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Maybe it's just me, but it really feels like we're in a bit of a dry spell as far as awesome new album releases go. Maybe everyone's just waiting for the holiday season to ramp up, or maybe everyone's already blown their wad. I mean we have seen an ass-load of great new albums already. Time to hibernate already?

Regardless, we here at Japanator HQ have been soldiering on. You can see what's been caressing our eardrums this past week down below (where we often like being caressed.) 

How about you? What's been rocking your musical world lately?

Zac Bentz

The Surfactants

To be honest, I haven't been listening to much Japanese stuff this week, at least nothing I haven't already posted about here. Really all I've been thinking about is the new music my band is working on, with an emphasis on the "thinking" part. We've been working on this new material for over a year now and we're still a long way from releasing any of it. I guess that's the curse of recording it all yourself. When the pressure of having to bang it all out in the studio over one sleepless weekend is removed, so is most forward progress. But old-school studio sessions suck donkey-balls and DIY is way more rewarding. We have been playing a lot of it live though, which is fun. But my point is that it's really all I think about, all I want to work on and these new songs are super exciting to me, yet it's always the last thing I have time for and it's tearing me apaaaarrrrt!

You can check out some live video of a couple of the new tracks above and go to our site to get way more. </pity party>

Colette Bennett

Innerpartysystem

I'm into something very non-Japanese this week (SHOCKER).

Saw Innerpartysystem at Voodoo Festival this past weekend, could not stop dancing, and have been jamming out ever since.

Ben Huber

After being absent for a while, I'm back with a vengeance. Well... not really. I have nothing to be vengeful upon.

Yoshimori Makoto
Durarara!! Psychedelic Dreams vol. 2


This is no surprise really. Me, listening to something by Yoshimori Makoto? How shocking! It's really a fun soundtrack – while there are the more traditional slow piano pieces Makoto loves, he also breaks his trademark "that single crazy song on the album" rule, and there are several this time. But nothing really mind-blowing happens here, just solid work throughout. "Oisugaru Kako Wo Mitsumete" (which I want to fall asleep to... in the good way) and "Tada, Shizuka ni Mitsumero" (pure awesome) have somehow already become some of my favorite songs by Makoto... I just love the way "Tada, Shizuka..." seems really simple at first then eventually transforms into marching, trumpeting tune that makes you smile. If you liked any of his previous work this'll be another great addition to your music library.

Sawano Hiroyuki
Sengoku Basara II Ongaku Emaki 2 - Ransei, Futatabi!


I can always tell Hiroyuki's work from a mile away. I don't really mean that in the bad way, but he has a pretty clear style that shows up in most of his songs. This OST for the second season of Sengoku Basara is mostly remixes, vocal versions of already existing songs, and a few new pieces mixed in to liven things up. The vocal versions are indeed odd, as they change the original song quite a good deal, but I can't call them poor either as I found myself tapping along to all of them (also, the lyrics are really silly). The remixes I don't feel one way or the other about, but the originals were fine and these remixes don't stomp on what made them good, so that makes me happy at the very least.

If you're already into Basara and Hiroyuki it's worth a look, but if not I'd just direct you to the previous OSTs from the first season.

James Shimoji
Redline OST
 

Here's a soundtrack that really does make me feel like I'm racing at high speeds. There's a little bit of everything in this, but I can't help but love a song that has lyrics like "MACHINE HEEEAAAD!"

Paradise Lunch
Here's Paradise Lunch


Weekly dosage of jazz? Yup. Somehow I missed Paradise Lunch's new album from earlier this year... and it seems almost everyone else did too. A shame, because it's really fun and if you're up for more "GUNS & ROSES" there's like four new versions of that on here. The new tracks follow the same style of their previous work, and they're all pretty great ("YES=NO" is the standout track), but this really makes me wish they released more music more often...
 
Tim Sheehy
 
Various Artists
SIAM SHADE Tribute
 
 
This is one of those "don't know if want" moments. Most of you might recognize Siam Shade from their contribution to the Ruroni Kenshin soundtrack, but they were around for quite some time before that and had put out quite a few albums by the time they broke up in 2002. It would stand to reason that the seven or so albums of original material they produced would garner enough fans to warrant a tribute album, that much didn't surprise me. What did, on the other hand, was who they got to contribute to that album. Rather than the usual Japanese artists you'd expect to see on these sort of albums, we're given a host of western rockers -- most of whom I'm sure you'd consider "washed up."
 
The list is actually a little impressive, and I have to wonder if these artists actually knew the band or had toured with them while performing in Japan — it would only make sense. You have guys like Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, and Jani Lane from Warrent, and Motley Crue's previous vocalist, John Corabi. Interestingly enough, their covers are in English with only one track featuring Japanese lyrics, having been performed by the only Japanese act on the entire album, Acid Black Cherry, ex-Janne Da Arc frontman Yasu's solo act. The English lyrics aren't all terrible. In fact, some of these performances are pretty awesome, just not all of them. If you liked Siam Shade, you might want to pick this up.
 
Jeff Chuang
 
Kalafina
Red Moon
 

I'm on a Kalafina kick. Maybe because it is November and the whole cold, wet side of Northeast US is rearing its head, or maybe because I am like Colette when it rains, the mp3 player has seen Red Moon more than a couple times this week. Zac did a full run-down of their first album, from 2009, and if you are familiar with that you will find Kalafina's 2010 contribution to society very much at home. Ok, actually I've been picking out a few artists that recently performed in the Anisama GN show this week just for the heck of it, and the trio has gotten the most play so far.

Even with the Kalafina-tie-in, Garden of Sinners, coming to an end, I think Red Moon did a lot to establish Kalafina's identity independently. There is even a little bit of diversity, mostly in the form of "Hikari no Senritsu" from Sora no Woto. But yeah, it's what you expect, it's what I want. Even if it did came out back in March, it's squarely Autumn music.
 
Mike LeChevallier
 
Suneohair
"Akai Coat"
 

I think it was a very wise decision on the part of SHAFT's Arakawa Under the Bridge team to use the same recording artists for the OP/ED of season 2 as they did for season 1 (Etsuko Yakushimaru/Suneohair). It creates a very lovely tonal continuity that makes the gap between summer and fall anime feel like it never even existed. Before Bridge x Bridge's ending theme premiered in episode 2, season 1's "Sakasama Bridge" was easily my favorite ED of the year. Now, with the near flawless musicality and Star/Mayor IRL visuals of "Akai Coat", I think a new champion is set to take that title. Suneohair (Kenji Watanabe) really knows his pop songcraft; there's not a false moment here to be heard. This track has been stuck in my head for weeks and I really can't complain at all. Something about the video also recalls FLCL's ED, in which Haruko's now iconic yellow Vespa magically moves itself around Mabase (via stop-motion, but it's still awesome nearly 10 years later). The appeal here is simply the joy of seeing something from our beloved animations appearing in real life form right before our faces. Just look at Star. Moderately creepy, yet applause worthy on every level.

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