Kuchuu Moranko – Mocha Escape

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While most people know Seiko Oomori as the hyper pop AVEX starlet she is now, I dare say many will perhaps not be aware of her punk band roots. That’s right, 4 years before PINK, she had a strew of solo CD-Rs and albums that are as illusive as they are (nowadays) expensive. They all offer a side of Oomori in her developmental stages that is delightful to hear, particularly to her more hardcore fans. But one release really stands out- and that is the one and only release “Mocha Escape” by her first band “Kuchuu Moranko“.

Released in August of 2007 on indie label KEBAB records (for a measly 300 yen…), the group apparently wasn’t even it’s final stages when it was recorded. In-fact, Seiko Oomori was (according to Oka Keishi of KEBAB records) a “shock addition with her electrifying cute voice“. Eventually the recording would become Kuchuu Moranko‘s one and only recording, and serves as an excellent piece of history in Oomori’s catalog. So how does it sound? Pretty damn great actually!

I think most of the EP’s charm comes from the whole ‘do it now, do it fast‘ feel and damn, there is some moments of greatness here. Whether it be the kickass opener “Motherfucker” or the brilliant, heartwarming “Tokyo Tower” (my god those group chorus parts just melt me), every track seethes with raw emotion and that sense of legitimacy and bright eyed hope that comes from young bands starting out. The best track however- is this early version of “Kamisori Girl“, which would later become a staple Oomori solo track. This version though- is so emotionally charged, it feels like it’s about to go off the rails. The melody is truly infectious and it’s one of my all time favorite tracks, by anyone.

Production is DIY and delicious, true youth energy pounds through the crusty recordings. Every bit of distortion, every muffled drum hit, sounds so RIGHT. The addition of keys is a nice little touch- they add a nice layer of cuteness to the mix. It’s hard not to start fist pumping throughout. While the group may not do anything groundbreaking or edgy, the EP still offers heart by the bucketful- and that’s the most important thing in the end. It’s interesting to think about the group working with someone that would go off and do so much- being totally oblivious to this fact. But hey, everyone starts somewhere right?

While Oomori would go on to hone her rock band sound with the likes of Lai Lai Lai Team and The Pink Tokarev (as well as become much more confident and confronting with her vocals), none of them are quite as raw and punk as what is on offer in this EP. A must hear for anyone seriously interested in Seiko, and I highly recommend picking it up if you see it- though prepare to burn a not-so-small hole in your bank account (average price it goes for on Yahoo! Auctions is around 15,000 yen or more). Its either that or pray for a reissue…

8.5/10– Oomori’s humble beginnings are just as fascinating as her massive AVEX offerings.

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Kuchuu Moranko – Mocha Escape

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