Several components of music from Japan is a hidden treasure of sorts. A band from Japan has yet to break out into a large scale in America, such as bands from Sweden or Germany have. The reason for this lies simply in the language and different vocal deliveries. In Japanese music, it is often common to have a woman in her 30s sound like a preteen girl. While some consider it strange, I consider it unique and complementary to the great diversity of world music. I will go into different styles of Japanese music in a feature I am preparing for the near future.
Tokyo Jihen is the brainchild of popular Japanese singer/songwriter Yumiko Shiina, better known as Shiina Ringo. She chose the nickname of ‘Ringo’ because of her admiration of Ringo Starr and Fiona Apple (‘ringo’ means ‘apple’ in Japanese). In my opinion, Shiina Ringo is probably one of the most rawly talented songwriters in the world. I know that may seem like a high honor, but she has displayed signs of outstanding song and structure writing since her debut album, Muzai Moratorium, in 1999. After a successful solo career for seven years, she fulfilled her desires to create a full band by forming Tokyo Jihen in 2004. Translated to The Tokyo Incidents, Tokyo Jihen combines several music styles. Blues is the most common theme in ‘Himitsu’, which is the opener to their brand new album Adult releasing later this year. ‘Himitsu’ translates to ‘secret’, but there certainly is no secret in the validity of this song. The song and the album are both outstanding. For those interested, there will be a feature on modern Japanese music in the coming days. Oh yeah, check out the video below, it’s fantastic.
Madness are one of those definitively British bands that are just so damn catchy, then it’s no use ignoring them. Really, this is what I would define as close to real ska, none of these current bands ruining the genre with the screaming and assorted other ways of making it sound bad. ‘My Girl’ is just a great song from a great band. They were formed in 1976, and several of the band’s members still play shows. You’ve probably heard that one song of theirs in that jean commercial, too.
I reviewed Tujiko Noriko’s new album, Blurred In My Mirror, for Stylus last year. I gave it a high mark, and rightfully so. Noriko is a well respected glitch-pop artist from Osaka, Japan. ‘Shayou’ is probably the most accessible song on the album, as the other songs rely on a more ambient effect. It’s a good album though for fans of the genre, and I recommend. Read my review below for more.