Adventures in Music (December)

This month is a bit special, as it’s not just a random Nagoya hit, but also CONCERTTIME! Comin up Roth Bart Baron, Brian the Sun, Inshow-ha, Hinto, and Plastic Tree.

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As tradition dictates, first thing you do upon arriving in Nagoya is of course heading to Sakae for HMV and Tower Records. While there, I picked up Roth Bart Baron‘s album “Atom.” I nearly bought it during a trip back in maybe November sometime, but I had probably spent too much already at that time. It continued to hang in the back of my mind through the months, and after reading about it being considered one of the best of the year by Music Magazine, I decided to just grab it.

The placard at HMV talked about how they highly recommend this group if you like western groups like Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, and Sufjan Stevens…not gonna lie, that intrigued me. And again, not gonna lie, that recommendation was absolutely accurate. There is a huge Bon Iver vibe to these guys, though…less unplugged. They claim that it’s not their aim to sound like anyone else, but the vibe is definitely there. This  distinctive western indie sound comes from the fact that they seem to have worked with some pretty impressive Canadian and Japanese artists to make it.

The band claims that the album was inspired by 80’s sci-fi movies they had seen when they were younger. It’s aim was a near futuristic sound. It’s honestly not terribly apparent through most of the album, only showing up here and there. Still sounds very good, though…very chill to put on in the background. But that’s the thing. It’s nice, but it’s not something that so much reaches out and grabs me. There are nice little things, but it doesn’t get stuck in your head…it’s the type of music that you forget soon after hearing it.

Highlights: Shopping Mall Monster and Glass Shower (Sorry…there’s legit nothing off this album on youtube to link…)

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I also picked up Brian the Sun’s new mini-album, “Shrodinger no Neko” during this trip…finally. I mentioned it in an earlier post, very much wanting it, but having already overspent a bit. I regret not picking this up then. It’s so good. From the very first track, I’m gone. It’s only a mini-album, which is enough to leave me dying for more…even though I seem to be following these guys religiously.

One thing Brian the Sun is good at is everything their guitar-work. They’ve got rhythm, they’ve got chaos, they’ve got hook. I’ve always enjoyed their guitar work, tucked into the nooks and crannies of their songs. This is really hard to explain, but as an example, in “half cab,” the chorus has these little sort of curls at the end, where a little flair is added to the end of the standard guitar riff behind the vocals. All this is then on top of a bass line that makes you want to get up and dance the more you listen to it. That’s far from the only example, these guys really like playing with what they can do with guitars.

I really wish I had picked this up earlier. I need more Brian the Sun in my life, and I’m thinking this is some of their best stuff so far. Such love.

Highlights: Tokai no Izumi and Schrodinger no Neko (and the whole (mini)album, I mean it’s only 5 songs…)

 

The thing about this trip is that my reason for being back in Nagoya was because HINTO CONCERT! Yas!

 

2015/12/20 – HINTO and 印象派 (Inshow-ha)

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It’s always a bit wild being the only foreigner in the audience at Japanese shows, but this one took the cake. Club Rock & Roll in Nagoya is pretty small, and this audience probably barely broke 50 people. Me and my curly foreigner hair standing in the second row through the whole show, rocking my little behind off did not go unnoticed. I had a great time, and afterwards, attacked the merch table without mercy. Picked up a copy of HINTO‘s “Chen-sama (blue version)” album, because I only had blue before, and Inshow-ha’s Nietzsche album.

I had only just heard Inshow-ha for the first time a week or so before the show. They were openers, and I was there for HINTO, but holy crap, those girls (and their AMAZING tour members…dat keyboardist,tho) are impressive! Those are some strong pipes on both of them, and their music is crazy fun.

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I really dug their Swap video on youtube, so I decided to grab that album. WORTH. This album goes in a lot of different directions. It’s got energy, mystery, catchy guitar riffs, what sound like some really fun vocals to sing (I certainly don’t have those kind of skills…), and creepy superfans. This group definitely made a fan of me that night.

As I greedily plundered the merch, that night, I spoke briefly with one of the Inshow-ha girls. She was really surprised to see someone so foreign there lol and really happy that I seemed to enjoy the show so much. I told her I loved Swap, and she pointed out that they had a sticker set for it. insert high pitched squeels, STICKARS I, of course, picked up a set.

Inshow-ha highlights: Swap (of course) and Volcanic Surfer

HINTO were, of course, beyond brilliant. I want to steal Ito Shinichi’s hair. Wild, manic, energetic, and awesome, they put on a great show. They claimed that they had wanted to fill their playlist that night with love songs (most likely because it was almost x-mas, which is the date night in JP) but realized…they didn’t really have any. That got a good laugh. I spent most of the night staring at Ito’s guitar work and hair because looking at Abe was somewhat frightening. His energy burns so bright, I have to look away. That man is intense. He was literally bashing himself into the soundproofing foam on the wall towards the end. Don’t ever change. Great night. I am literally contemplating flying out to Hokkaido to see them again in March…is that too much?

HINTO highlights: No, just go listen to everything of theirs. It’s all golden.

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After this, I got back to my tiny town, and got the new Plastic Tree album I had preordered basically as soon as it was available for preorder, Hakusei.

Plastic Tree are…probably the only visual band I listen to. They got me hard over a decade ago, and have been stuck in my heart ever since. For me, listening to them is so much nostalgia…which is why they’re a bit of a departure from the rest of the music I tend to talk about.

Anyway, this is a bit of a difficult album. What I love most about this band is their lyrics, or really Ryutaro’s lyrics. I follow all of his writings I can, and have all his poetry books. I was surprised to notice that the lyrics on this album are almost completely from other members. The singles are all him, one other track, and some random additions in the liner notes. Needless to say, I’m a bit shocked by this, and a bit curious about why this album is so different from the others.

Despite this, though, the album is still amazing. I was a little iffy at first, but after a few listens, I have fallen hard for this album. Beyond the singles, the deep cuts are as good as always. I have taken to listening to Insomnia Blues on repeat for ridiculous lengths of time, which of course contributes greatly to my estimation of this album. I haven’t translated the whole album, yet, so I could potentially fall harder in love. Nothing on this album is too much of a departure from their general sound, so if you’re a fan, you’ll probably continue to be…

Highlights: Mime (I always love you, bby), Insomnia Blues, Hakusei (jesustakethewheel,allthefeels)

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