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ZB's A-Z of J-Music: Japan Nite 2008

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The Japan Nite tour has a long history of bringing some of the best bands from Japan over to America for a short but blistering tour. Past shows have seen the likes of Number Girl, GO!GO!7188, The Mad Capsule Markets and Husking Bee gracing stages across the US. This year is no exception.

This year the tour kicks off with a huge bang at one of the biggest music festivals in the States, South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin Texas. On March 14th six bands will be taking over Elysium for a night of rock and roll like no other. Here are all of the dates:

March 14th (Friday) Austin TX @ELYSIUM
March 16th (Sun) NEW YORK @Knitting Factory
March 17th (Mon) BOSTON @ TT The Bears
March 18th (Tue) CHICAGO @ Empty Bottle
March 19th (Wed) DENVER @ TBA
March 20th (Thu) SEATTLE @ Hi Dive
( *ketchup mania is not performing in Seattle)
March 21st (Fri) SF @ Independent
March 23rd (Sun) LA @ Knitting Factory

Since I've already covered the basics, I thought we should take a closer look at each of the bands involved with the tour this year. It just so happens that I have a cool promo CD right here next to featuring songs for each band. Let's listen together after the jump!

 

 

Avengers in Sci-Fi are a futuristic rock trio. While they may look like your average rock band on the outside, their arsenal of pedals and electronic track will fool your ears into thinking something much different. While they do rock out, it's a very trance-like rock, played at light-speed.

 

 

Detroit 7 are a hard rock trio with a snarling female lead singer. Sounding a lot like Electric Eel Shock, they bring a dose of sludge and fuzz to the table, with an upbeat feel overall.

 

 

Ketchup Mania is probably the band best known to American audiences, having played A-Kon last year. This year in addition to playing Sakura Con they'll be part of the Japan Nite Tour. They are an extremely upbeat pop-punk band fronted by the candy-glossed chirpy vocal styles of Hiro. 

 

 

Quartz-Head 02 is the project of Fujiwara Daisuke. A graduate of Berkley, he went back to Japan to bring his experimental sax and samplers electro tracks to the club scene. Along with Hata Ken on synths, Fujiwara blends snarling basslines with heavily effect sax playing and murky beats. Think grocery store bossa muzak on a really groovy acid trip and you might start to get the idea.

 

 

Two Japanese girls a-pickin' and a-grinin' to fast paced bluegrass tunes might be something you'd only expect to see in a twisted Christopher Guest mockumentary, but they do exist in the real world. Petty Booka have been bringing their down-home country/folk/bluegrass ukulele based songs for over twelve years now. How could anyone not love someone with both The Aquabats and Tiny Tim in their top friends list?!

 


 

Sodopp is an all girl garage rock trio. Channeling spirits from Shonen Knife and Noodles, the band has intentionally rough edges and strong melodies, and their no-nonsense attitude shines through.

 


 

Speaking of no-nonsense, The Emeralds have that in spades. Another rock trio, they have a bit of a Guitar Wolf-ish rockabilly edge without the ear bleeding production values. A more fun-loving Guitar Wolf, if you will. 

 


 

If fresh-faced pop-idol-rockers ZONE turned up their amps to eleven, you'd have Scandal. No wait, you do have Scandal! They have a really unique blend of pop production and four part harmonies over guitar-driven songs. Like an indie rock Morning Musume. This sense of for rocking "idols" is only perpetuated by the fact the there doesn't seem to be any actual photos of them. Instead we are giving stylized manga-like illustrations of the girls. In fact there will be a series of anime shorts released featuring the members of the band. I am intrigued to say the least!

 

 

The Beaches live up to their name, bringing a broad pallet of traditional Japanese sounds blended with reggae rhythms and tropical island vibes. The playfull keyboard sounds also add a dose of new-wave, propelling The Beaches into territory far beyond what you might expect.

There you have it. Simply put, this is a fantastic collection of bands from all over the spectrum. I strongly urge anyone out there who can attened one of these shows to get your tickets now and prepare to go nuts. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

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Zac Bentz
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Filed under... #music #ZB A-Z

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