Review: Seiko Oomori’s “kitixxxgaia” is her most ambitious work yet

For the first time in Seiko Oomori’s discography, kitixxxgaia feels gargantuan; it focuses on bigger themes such as religion, idol culture and female equality, rather than previous work’s more singular and personal themes. Every track feels towering and monolithic, even the stripped back songs are huger than anything that has come before. Sure, the personal touches are still there, but this time Seiko seems to be pushing the wide scale themes touched on in songs like Magic Mirror to the forefront. At points she sounds more furious, angry even. She screams, wails, laughs and talks over the phone throughout. It’s a fiery, sensory overload and it’s impossible to take your attention from.

So where does this album fit in the big picture of Seiko Oomori’s discography? The first thing instantly noticeable when comparing last years’ TOKYO BLACK HOLE to kitixxxgaia is the huge personality shift. Where TOKYO BLACK HOLE felt warm, motherly and refined, kitixxxgaia opts for abrasive, hard hitting and epic. It feels like she’s bringing her punk roots back to the surface but still keeping the colorful and glossy production style of her avex works, and it’s an insatiable mix. It’s rougher round the edges, has a dry sense of humor and is slightly bitter underneath even the brightest parts. It constantly carries a melancholy unlike anything before and thus makes her avex debut, Sennou seem innocent in comparison.

Without going into a full track by track, and excluding repeating what I said about the previously released singles, I will go into a few of the strongest of the new songs. But before that, it must be mentioned that Seiko has worked wonders with the singles she already had here. Upon announcement, I, likely along with a lot of others, was worried about how well some of them would have fit in with this. To put it short: they fit wonderfully. When reviewing the singles as a standalone project, everything felt a bit clunky and all over the place. Here, the singles- are all spaced out to perfection. They might not be Seiko’s strongest singles ever (sans Dogma Magma which is a beast) but this helps the overall flow of the album. Whether this was a conscious decision, amazing luck, pre-planned or a mix of all of these elements, this listener is grateful for the effort made with the album layout and the payoff it brings.

Dogma Magma sets the scene wonderfully, a twisting, turning, profound track that is easily one of the finest tracks of Seiko’s career. Seiko doesn’t attempt to make that balance of pop and rock, she throws it to the wind and brings something truly extraordinary here; a Dadaist inspired lamentation on religion and pop culture that throws away standard catchiness in exchange for a more breathtaking experience. Most artists who attempt this, usually would likely come across as lame or tryhard. However, with Seiko on the helm, this is one mighty hard hitter and an amazing opening track; perhaps her most amazing opener to date. It no doubt will go down as one of her iconic moments, and will no doubt become a fan favorite.

IDOL SONG, with its unashamed referencing to the idol culture which Seiko so dearly loves (featuring references and mentions of groups like Neggico, as well as idol catchphrases as lyrics), is a wild trip, igniting memories of the sensory overload of Harajuku’s fashion or Akihabara storefronts. It’s loud, in your face and there’s no escape; yet you feel no desire to leave.  It’s a perfect platform for Seiko’s blend of cute madness. Similarly cute and playful is the following track, JI・MO・TO no Kao Kawaii Tomodachi which bounces along on an adorably groovy melody, reminiscent of Shoji Meguro‘s work on the Persona 4 soundtrack.

Daoko featuring track Chikyuu Saigo no Futari is a loving homage to the songs of Shiiina Ringo, both artists particularly vocal about the impact of Ringo’s music on their songwriting. It is one of the most tender and groovy tracks on the album, a bop in every sense of the word. The string work is gorgeous, elevating the already beautiful song to new heights. Daoko’s rapping sounds great and at home here, and is likely this reviewer’s favourite guest appearance on the whole album.

There’s a self cover of Seiko’s song for ℃-ute, “Mugen Climax”, a solo piano arrangement that really hits home entitled Mugen Climax Kamome Kyoushitsu-hen. There’s something truly satisfying hearing Seiko take the track back and it no doubt is a far more striking rendition due to its simplicity. Less is truly more here. Finally, there’s gorgeous, newly arranged kitixxxgaia version of Kimi ni Todokuna is outstanding, with some of the most beautiful instrumentation and chord progression ever to hit an Oomori record.

Even as a Seiko Oomori veteran, and with all the odds stacked against her, she still manages to release an album that is cohesive, compelling and most impressively- surprising. Where most artists at this point in their career would have settled for the solid but safe approach to a new album (having proven their selves many a time), Seiko still seems to be pushing forward; aiming to break new ground in her discography. After a pleasant, but somewhat rocky and random three single project, chances were that this was going to be her first ‘average’ (on a Seiko scale) album- but here she makes what seemed random work- wholly and convincingly.

The hard part is giving this album a score. It does have its share of imperfections- digital clipping is audible in a few spots (though never intrusive enough to raise alarm bells), Communication Barrier is a little bit weaker than all the new songs and finally, it does not have the strongest closer she’s ever penned. Sure, the track itself, Analog Syncopation is fantastic, with its beautiful beat and chorus, but as a closer, it just feels a little hollow. This can be easily remedied if you have any of the versions of the album with an acoustic bonus track (particularly “M“, one of the most heavily emotional tracks since her debut), this allows the listener to wind down quite easily and gives a more satisfying closure to the massiveness of the album. But, as the album stands in its regular form, with no bonus tracks, it kind of feels a little anticlimactic, as if someone is turning the album off before it’s finished.

With those imperfections in mind, I cannot give it the perfect 10. However, the imperfection of the album does leave a far more immediate resonance and edge than TOKYO BLACK HOLE did on initial spins. Where that one was refined to a tee, this one seems to take joy in it’s slight crustiness.

Ultimately, the score I give kitixxgaia is:
9/10

TOKYO BLACK HOLE, to me, was likely going to be a hard act to follow on from, at least so soon. To be proven wrong once again is both staggering on a personal level, and a massive achievement for any musician. kitixxxgaia is another essential album from Seiko Oomori and it’s no doubt going to be a strong contender on a lot of people’s Album of the Year lists.

Review: Seiko Oomori’s “kitixxxgaia” is her most ambitious work yet

REVIEW: SHISHIDO KAVKA RETURNS TO FORM WITH “DO_S”

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Ex- The News member, drummer, vocalist and all-round cutie Shishido Kavka‘s last release was her full length “Toridori“; an overly-long, forgettable mess that only had a few highlights floating amidst a sea of filler. It was one of the bigger letdowns of 2016, and certainly the one of the most short-lived albums in this listeners playlist. It is then, no surprise that I went into her latest EP, “DO_S” with no expectations whatsoever. Lucky then, it’s actually quite a bit of fun and worth giving her another chance for.

It opens with the cute, bouncy pop track “Tachiagare“, which sets the bar for the EP high. It’s colorful, wonderfully produced and Kavka’s vocals are on point. The bouncy fun continues into the funky “Boku was Boku de Aru to Iu Koto” which has one of the grooviest bass lines of 2017 so far. It’s easy to love the vocal delivery on it’s chorus, and the cheesy synth strings just add to the experience. 90s Jpop fans, this track is for you!

We fall back into the more traditional Kavka sound with “Ken to Hanataba” (and later on with “FLY HIGH!“) where rock grrrl is the name of the day, and it’s easy enough to just ‘go’ with it and have a blast. The rest of the EP features the funky “3.2.1….cut” and what would this EP be without the classic Jpop ballad style “Tatta Hitokoko” (complete with it’s glorious, unabashed string section that just makes this review give a big nostalgic grin). It’s a safe, but fairly mixed bag of jams that never lets up the energy and is a far cry from the bland uninspired work of her full length.

Shishido Kavka is an artist that works better in small doses, and this latest EP truly highlights that. There is no room for fatigue or boredom to sit in; it’s light, fluffy fun without any real commitment on the listeners part. Nobody is pretending there’s anything special or amazing going on here- but it doesn’t need to be- you’re only in it for less than 30 mins. This, coupled with the fact that these are some of Kavka’s most breezy, yet winning tracks yet gives this reviewer no problem recommending it for some casual listening to fill in that gap between more meaty releases.

A short review, for a short, sweet distraction that’s worth the 25 minutes of time it requires to put into it, DO_S restores my faith in Kavka as a fun pop-rock act to keep your eyes on (if you can take your eyes off to begin with). Pick it up!

7/10– DO_S is the bouncy pop record we needed to hear from Shishido Kavka.

REVIEW: SHISHIDO KAVKA RETURNS TO FORM WITH “DO_S”

Review: Maron Hamada’s “Lady Monochrome” is Her Best Yet.

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When Maron Hamada arrived on the scene, with her 2011 single ‘Watashi no Pistol‘ one thing felt certain then- she was someone that no doubt was influenced by smoky jazz clubs and 60s mod rock. The main reason lots of people found out about her was indeed her striking similarity to the more jazzy fixings of Shiina Ringo– and she had that deep, raspy voice that is up there in that ‘Ringo’ sphere. Hell, admittedly, I found out through my “Amazon Recommendations”- and back then I was going through my peak Shiina Ringo phase.

However, since then, she has developed tremendously, tightening the screws on every subsequent release, trying new inspirations and ultimately- with her latest opus, Lady Monochrome, Hamada has fully evolved into her own beast. Truly she has made her own unique footing in the Japanese rock hemisphere, which ultimately makes Lady Monochrome absolutely unstoppable.

Hamada has always had a really strong vocal presence, but this listener has always felt that she could take it that one step further and enter the truly legendary ranks of vocal performances. With this latest album, she does just that- her range and confidence has never been this impressive. She never slips up once- and for the first time ever showcases both her trademark belting alongside a newly found, surprising tenderness, which is guaranteed to induce legitimate shivers. See the middle track, the raw ballad “Kagami” for her most impressive vocal performance to date, where she reaches high notes previously unheard from her before.

As soon as you press play, Hamada makes her presence felt, with the roaring single “Karisome Eros Tokimeku“, one of the most traditional “Maron Hamada” sounding tracks on the album. It offers a blaze of that sexy jazz cabaret that fans have grown to expect and love from her, and it’s just as appealing as ever. From there we get some new and exciting new additions from SKA to 80s synth pop (the fantastic “Ouji ni Tsugu, Hime Iwaku” is a great example of it). The introduction of new sounds and styles musically has helped her branch out more- and it has done wonders for her.

The triumphant, marching ‘Ikiru Nou ga Subete‘ is a real highlight. Not only does it have a fantastic, catchy chorus, but it also takes what seems to be a simple pop rock track through multiple turns and twists, brilliant percussion work and chord progression; and the payoff is unforgettable and uplifting. If only other pop-rock bands were this forward thinking when composing tracks. This is that amazing Tokyo JihenKiller Tune” that was promised, but never was.

It’s easy to forgive the slightly weird mishaps- the occasional tiny bit of clipping or the more-than-just-a-little-bit similarity that “Tsukiyo ni Koboreru wa Aa” has to a certain British superstar’s “Rolling in the Deep“. One may be pressed to question some of the more over-the-top delivery on some of these tracks, but, with that said- its never felt so appropriate to be so ‘theatrical’. Ultimately these little imperfections barely cause a dent in this ship’s hull.

Let’s face it, Maron Hamada is never gonna be trendy. But, for those who have been following her for a while now, one thing is definitely certain: with each album release, she is showing no signs of slowing down her progression. She never takes gigantic leaps or risks, but she does hone her skill and steps it up with every new track. She is undeniably more focused than a few years back; her voice more targeted and intense. Her music has taken a turn for the dark and serious. With every new album, she seems more confident and her sexiness shows through. Lady Monochrome is the latest addition to her near impeccable catalog, and it, without a doubt, is her best offering yet.

9/10 Lady Monochrome has set the bar for Japanese pop rock albums this year.

Review: Maron Hamada’s “Lady Monochrome” is Her Best Yet.

REVIEW: CHARAN-PO-RANTAN knock it out of the ballpark with “Toritome Nashi”

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The delightful, heartwarming “band of travelling sisters” CHARAN-PO-RANTAN return with their new mini album Toritome Nashi (the first main release of original tracks since last years slightly disappointing “Onna no 46-pun”) to outstanding success. I don’t usually like doing ‘track by track’s but, for this one, I think it’s the only way to really do the album justice, it’s all just so damn good!

Bursting to life with single “Susume, Tama ni Nigetemo”, this is instantly fresh but familiar. To call it bright would be an understatement- this is blinding in its cheery warmth. A song that could get you out of bed on a cold morning, it’s a fantastic opening song that only is the tip of the iceberg of joy that lies beneath it.

The Seiho arranaged “Sweet as sugar” could not have a more appropriate title. The bouncy, playful track is totally infectious with it’s warm delivery. The added flutters of electro and subtle dubstep ‘wubs’ make it irresistibly perfect. Vocalist Momo’s sweet voice is a fantastic accompaniment to it, it would take someone with the coldest heart not to fall right in with it. Like when you see a ridiculously cute girl sneeze, you can only sit back and ‘awwww’ at her. It’s followed by the cute bop number “Mayuge Dance” which is as fun as it sounds and is guaranteed to be a wild live track.

“Yume Bakkari” is one of the first songs to feature guest, this one including Rina Katahira and Rei. This song takes a step back into the delightful, laid-back acoustic sound that made this listener fall in love with CHARAN-PO-RANTAN to begin with, its Frenchy chanson accordion, guitar and whistles make you drift away until… BOOM! It immaculately transcends into the the marching, sexy, kitten like “Tsuki” with it’s swirling, rhythmic string work that leaves your mouth agape with wonderment. Momo’s voice has never sounded THIS good before, this is the performance of a lifetime.

“Koi wa Timing” continues “Sweet as sugar”s use of electronic elements, again to great success. The energy is pronounced, the group play with such gusto and joy it’s very hard not to just let yourself go. The great thing is that, no matter how wild or cute they get, it never reaches any levels of overdoing it and never feels cheesy. You believe every second of it. That energy keeps building and transfers over into the next track, the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra featuring “Otakebi”, that, as you can probably guess, mixes CHARAN-PO-RANTAN’s theatrics with the bouncy SKA that Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra have made a name of- perfectly. Just breathtaking to behold, particularly its ending.

It ends with the warmest ballad I’ve heard in years, “Kanashimi”. It’s hard to not get a bit nostalgic and weepy over it’s punchy, poignant melody and heartfelt delivery. The backing vocals by Mr. Children fit perfectly, but here- the star is Momo. By the end of this track, I can guarantee that if you weren’t already, you will be totally, 100% in love with her. A masterfully presented and arranged finale to a triumphant, adorable, unforgettable return to form.

All backed with some truly impressive production values, instrumentation and a perfectly short-but-sweet run time, you’ll be spinning this one for days. Oh and look at that album cover, the pig has a helmet on. How can you not?

9/10 Toritome Nashi is the first truly great Japanese release of 2017. Unmissable. Why aren’t you listening to it right now?!!!

REVIEW: CHARAN-PO-RANTAN knock it out of the ballpark with “Toritome Nashi”

I’ll Believe in Christ before I Believe in K-pop

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Korean pop music, for this listener is a sorry experience for the most part. The constant brutal onslaught of mere single-based releases makes it hard to find a foothold; much harder so to pick a ‘favorite’. Coming from a background that appreciates albums as albums and likes to have deep cuts that enhance the rewards of being a fan, I’ve yearned for music from South Korea to be simply music. Give me an album that doesn’t rely on three tracks to hold the entire weight.

It seems that whenever I find something interesting, it’s only a little side step or footnote of an artist’s otherwise abysmally standard discography; take last year’s “End Again” by Gain for example. Sure I was at first attracted mainly due to it’s Shiina Ringo-esque show-tune trappings, but it really stands as it’s own project. And that’s the problem; Gain seems to have only pulled it out as a one-off. The rest of her output is just the usual teeny-bop bullshit that any other Korean pop artist is putting out- and it’s really a shame.

It’s not as if the genre itself is the problem; its fine to have your rub-a-dub-dub flavor of the month cheese. Everyone needs a little bit of trash in their life. The problem is that almost EVERYTHING in the limelight is this. How people tell one group apart from the next is beyond me. “CHECK OUT BLACKPINK OMG”, “(fx) REALLY BREAK NEW GROUND!”. What new ground? All I hear is the same recycled music we heard in the late 90s, with glossier production. Five with a bit of bro-step. Spice Girls with some trap. This is fine, but if you’re gonna call it revolutionary, give me something legitimately amazing.

It’s hard to take any kind of praise beyond that of singles merely being good bops (and they certainly are, there’s no denying it) seriously when it is unquestionably one of the most insanely corporate, revenue focused music industries in the world- if not the most. This of course, isn’t necessarily a bad thing- this is POP music after-all- but there just isn’t enough consistently solid releases to warrant any kind of positive reaction other than what it is on surface level.

There’s also the comically audacious overuse of the term “comeback” for every single release by an artist that has been gone for seemingly as long as a quick potty break. If there’s one indicator of how frivolous and short life-spanned the genre is, it’s surely this. Remember when Hikki came back after eight years hiatus? That’s a comeback (if not a particularly exciting one). A new album or single is a new release, no more, no less. Yes, I understand fans getting all excited for a new release or tour, I do; but calling it a comeback when the artist hasn’t even been gone long enough to notice them missing is a bit of a far fetched sentiment.

A major blow to Kpop’s chance at being taken truly seriously internationally was ironically, it’s greatest success, the dreaded “Gangnam Style“. This forever cemented Kpop into the general public’s eye as a novelty genre and whether it will recover as a whole is yet to be seen. Like similar cases in Japanese pop (see Kyary Pamyu Pamyu‘s “PON PON PON”), the song will forever go down as a joke hit and will prop up at ‘remember this‘ parties, alongside Los Del Rio‘s “Macarena” and Eifel 65‘s “Blue (Da Ba Dee).

It’s not all doom and gloom though, South Korea does have a blossoming and interesting indie/net-label scene. Artists like Neon Bunny, for example, released some of the most exciting material last year. Progressive rock band 3rd Line Butterfly have seen moderate success and just released a pretty great new album this month. The good music is there, in small quantities, if you are willing to hunt for it. And that’s a major problem in itself- exposure. With music from the west, or Japan, the alternate to the mainstream is never hard to find (It’s not as if Jpop (the genre I support the most) doesn’t have it’s fair share of garbage too; but at least the alternatives are far more pronounced and in plain sight), more than one genre penetrates the charts. Kpop however, does not seem to have anywhere near this kind of variety, which makes it hard to get more involved with, at least on a personal level. Some may argue about the differences in the sub-genres of it all, but really, it’s woefully minor. The western cliches of “what Kpop is” are harder to defend- because indeed, Kpop is what it is.

This isn’t meant to be an attack on people that do genuinely love Kpop, I can understand the idea of liking ‘fun music to be fun‘. There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone likes to ogle at beautiful people (Hyuna really does it for me in that regard). It’s just when people try and force this idea that it’s some kind of revolutionary, supreme genre that it all gets a little silly. It’s understandable that a market that is pretty much 100% digital would want to focus mainly on singles, but it really doesn’t excuse the lack of decent full length albums from a music listener’s experience. Give us something meaty to chew on if you want to make a real, lasting impact. I do have faith in the South Korean alternative and indie scene, however, I’ll believe in Christ before I believe in Kpop.

Now excuse me while I run to the hills.

I’ll Believe in Christ before I Believe in K-pop

OVERLOOKED AND ESSENTIAL: TOGAWA FICTION

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The early 2000s were some of Jun Togawa‘s most compelling years for many reasons. She appeared on four major works, 20th Jun Togawa (a covers album noted for utterly deconstructing the original songs), Togawa Fiction, “Good Girls Get Fed, Bad Girls Get Eaten” by Jun Togawa and Tricomi and “Dreams” by Otome Yoshihide’s New Jazz Ensemble (which is noteworthy because it features for the first time ever, the coupling of her and her contemporary, the legendary Phew).

All of these works are wildly different but bare one striking similarity; they’re all highly experimental and can barely be placed in ‘pop’ in any sense of the word. It also has been publicly revealed that Jun Togawa at the time, had started to become less trustworthy of human contact and a bit of a shut-in (as revealed in her recent soul-bearing lyrics analysis book, “Togawa Jun Zen Kashi Kaisetsu-shuu: Shippuudotou Tokidoki Hare“). This time we focus on one of these major works, the much-overlooked Togawa Fiction (billed as Jun Togawa Band). It must also be noted that Togawa Fiction marked her first return to music after the suicide of her sister, Kyoko (the EP “CD-Y” by Yapoos was a reissue of a 1999 show only release).

Togawa Fiction is a singular beast in Togawa’s long and eclectic catalog; it never relies on nostalgia or callbacks. There is no “classic Togawa formula” to be heard here. Togawa and her band were in a truly unique head-space, and in doing so managed to create something truly timeless. It isn’t as highly regarded or hailed upon as a ‘classic‘ against other giants like Tamahime Sama or Suki Suki Daisuki, but it still shouldn’t be passed up- doing so would mean passing up arguably the most intense and creative album Togawa has ever put her name to.

To come up with the unique and timeless sound that lays in wait on Togawa Fiction, Togawa has the 9 piece backing band of Misturu Nasuno (Bass), Naoya Mochizuki (Cello), Tatsuya Yoshida (Drums), Dennis Gunn (Guitar), Hoppy Kamiyama (Keys), Mitsuru Nasuno (Mandolin), Masako Sato (Viola), Miho Kudo and Ryoko Mochizuki (both on Violin). The album was also produced by Hoppy Kamiyama. This group brought an intriguing and truly unique dynamic; many different inspirations and backgrounds brought to the mix to make a formidable and powerful brew of sound.

The album blazes headfirst into battle with the sprawling, monumental eight minute epic “Counsel Please” which sees Jun Togawa venture deep into progressive rock territory like never before. It gives the listener the first taste of what would become her ‘modern‘ voice- a harsher, rusted voice that carries with it years of hardship and emotional baggage. This song is what most people would describe as a ‘journey’- both emotionally and sonically. It takes us through many different ebbs and flows, tempo changes and surprising instrumental flourishes which all leads to an amazing climax; it’s one of the most mind-blowing tracks in Togawa’s entire catalog and must be experienced to fully appreciate.

Once you’ve been firmly numbed by the opener, the album bursts into more playful territory with the catchy and bouncy “Open the Door“. It’s hard not to be reminded of acts like the Dresden Dolls here, especially with Togawa showcasing her falsetto voice throughout the entire track. The listener will find it near impossible not to infectiously fist bump along to Togawa belting out “HEAVY HARD” on the chorus, with its insane backing tracking with drums that wouldn’t fall far from a Midori track. Punky, jazzy and all-round fun- this really lightens the mood and preps you for what’s ahead.

From here the album enters a slower, sadder slump. It’s never pompous or melodramatic; rather it feels like a resignation, an acceptance of ‘it is what it is‘, and that makes it all the more disturbing. Togawa is coming to grips with everything that’s happened in her life, and making it work for her- and damn does it work. The best example of this is the track “Sayonara Honeymoon” where Togawa croons her way over a droning, atmospheric, almost doom-like ballad. It’s overwhelming, pained and pitch dark. It’s also this listener’s favorite track on the album.

Things do lighten up a little from here, (perhaps with the audience in mind) with the bouncy, surf-rock inspired title track. It’s a shorty ditty with spoken work from Togawa and a goofy little chorus. It’s a much needed breather from the emotional heaviness and gets the listener ready for the finale of the album, the long, sprawling  “Formless Station Ends” which is an absolute showcase for Jun Togawa’s legendary vocals. It’s a looping, dark track that fascinates with its musical precision. It is a fitting, perfect ending to such an emotionally draining journey and a great sign off for what would become a massive gap between this and Togawa’s full length album- which wouldn’t appear until 2016- a full 12 years later.

Togawa Fiction is one of the most misunderstood and underrated albums that come to recent memory. It’s also one of the most essential listens in Japanese music, period. Togawa Fiction is one of the most interesting albums you will ever encounter- even as far as Jun Togawa- renowned for her quirkiness goes, it’s pretty “out there“. For years it has been woefully overlooked for her more well known works and that’s really a shame. It’s time to revisit this gem and see just how well it’s aged. It’s a wonderful album from a particularly dark period in Togawa’s life- and fans should really appreciate it’s value a lot more. Sure, it’s a little bit more ‘tough’ to get into- but the rewards are countless.

Essential.

OVERLOOKED AND ESSENTIAL: TOGAWA FICTION

DEADGRANDMA’S END OF YEAR OLD MAN RANT

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In a few days, the Japanese will clamber to the couch to watch another tired episode of Kohaku, us Shiina Ringo fans all secretly thinking (most of us looking at Ringo like Chris McNeil when she looked at Regan) “that thing is NOT Shiina Ringo“, let’s take time to look back and ponder the year that was.

Musically, at least in the more “alternative” side of things- it was strong, one of the strongest in years. We saw the return of the one and only Jun Togawa– not just once- but THREE times. Unfortunately though, most Japanese music fans were far more interested in SMAP calling it quits that they missed something truly amazing happening right under their noses.

I’ve got a hot tip to you folks when approaching music in the future- embrace imperfection. That’s what life is. Choose things that reflect this, soak it up, get lost in thought. It’s far better and more rewarding than praising an album that you all think is amazing but really just ends up like that hot chick you know with the personality of a doorstop. People wonder why I don’t like Fantome. How could I be THIS crazy about Seiko Oomori? There’s your answer.

Death itself was reduced to a meme. The passing of so many greats was indeed tragic, but not as tragic as the death of commonsense. Probably why America adopted an orangutan for a president and the UK decided to commit economic suicide and fucked themselves over. Speaking about being fucked, JAV took a nosedive for the worse. It seems like the act of a rimjob means no more than a handshake.  Where’s the Yuka Osawa‘s or Maria Ozawa‘s at? Where did the eroticism go? It’s probably buried somewhere in the rubble of Enon and Becky’s love affair.

A year of Twitter has opened my eyes to both positive and negative things. I found out that being white, straight and male means I’m basically evil incarnate- but that’s fine. I also found that there is a much bigger community of people with similar tastes than I initially had presumed. I also found out the scary intensity that some fanbases can have- sometimes to the point where it makes me look like a nice person. I’m glad I made an account, it’s been more than just fun. I don’t know why I was so hesitant at first.

But hey, it’s not all bad. There’s still some things to look forward to. Seiko Oomori‘s back in the studio, Maron Hamada‘s dropping an album next month. There’s a new Blade Runner film and most of all, if you’re reading this then you’re still alive. You made it through 2016 without dying, and that’s pretty impressive. Give yourself a pat on the back.

Now go off and spend some time with your family and less time with me, the ever pessimistic Deadgrandma. I’ll be here bitching and moaning all through next year- but hopefully there’s gonna be enough good music to rub on them sores like an overpriced placebo effect ointment bought from a health-food store. To all my readers, thank-you for coming back over and over. Those that can’t stand me, I understand.

Happy new year folks, may your 2017 be… tolerable. Stay freaky, freaks.

DEADGRANDMA’S END OF YEAR OLD MAN RANT