Japanese Sleeves

For lack of any noticeable music scene in Fukuoka, I've decided to raid the 100 yen record bins to see what I can discover about Japanese music.

Based solely on awesome cover art.

At the very least this should be visually stimulating.
RC Succession

—すべてはAlright (Ya Baby)

The EPs: RC Succession (1985)

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A band comprising Quasimodo, Japanese Keith Richards, Chang from Community, the coolest looking frontman ever, and some other random, should probably be making something groovy, sexy and a bit Monster Mashy and that’s kind of what this is. The two tracks on this album sound distinctly familiar but are also immensely enjoyable so I’m going to forgive it. Since the band was hugely successful and influential, seems the rest of Japan also agrees.

The Stalin

—先天性労働者

The Stalin (1983)

Oh man. When I put this EP on was I ever in a bad mood. But this was just the antidote I needed. I mean really, if Stalin can’t be an outlet for your rage, who can? The back of this album has the simple statement ‘Political’ in big bold letters, and given that the lead singer chose the name of the band because everyone in Japan hated Stalin, I think it’s fair to say that I wasn’t the only one getting rage out with this album. Ripping into that raw early 80s punk sound, with hints of the Clash and dare I say, the occasional desperate and whiny song elements that Frank Black would someday make his calling card, this album cheered me right up. Aggressive and ragey without the full frontal assault, it’s just what you need for those hellish midweek blues.

Hi-Standard

—Summer of Love

Hi-Standard (1995)

A surprisingly fitting follow up to my last post, the drummer of this band now plays with Cubismo Grafico. That said, their styles couldn’t be more different. This album takes me right back to high school when bands like Gob, NOFX and Lagwagon were tearing up scene with skater kids everywhere. Although they’re Japanese, Hi-Standard sing entirely in English and are easily as good as their peers of the day. If you were into this phase of punk back in the day, definitely worth checking out, at the very least for the nostalgia. 

Cubismo Grafico

—salon a sunday

escalator records, Tokyo (2000)

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When is a label compilation like a game of soccer? I have no idea, but this mix is definitely scoring big points in my book. Featuring 5 artists, this album is a surprisingly cohesive mix of dreamy, groovy, and danceable electronic pop that is pretty much the essence of late nights in a dark fashionable Japanese bar. Hell, it’s Saturday night and I’m at home listening to this and I somehow feel like I’ve gone out, it’s that good. escalator records is now called Big Love, and although they started as an electronic music shop, they now import all kinds of indie music as well as producing a few artists themselves. I haven’t been to the shop yet but sounds like it could be one of the best in Tokyo. If you can find it that is.

The EPs: Michiro, Get The Help! (1985)

Well, what can you expect from something titled Odyssey-1985-Sex really? Abrasive, yelly, new wave-ish punk culminating in screams and a fairly unbearable chanting of ‘1985’ and ‘SEX’. Side B, repeats the same song but with a sultry girl singing instead, which improves the song greatly, if not turning it into a bit of a porn soundtrack at times. I suppose punishing alley sex might be appealing to some people, but if this is what sex in the 80s was like, growing up in the 90s never seemed so good.

Michiro, Get the Help!

—Odyssey-1985-Sex