Adventures in Music (January Kyoto-hen)

Holy crap, this is late. Wow. Anyway, I spent the new year’s holiday in Kyoto with a friend so got to plunder a new record store for a change. Sadly, I found the indie selection at Kyoto’s Tower Records to be a bit of a tragedy…but still came out with some gems. This time around: Spangle call Lilli line, Taiko Super Kicks, and 21g.

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Spangle call Lilli line has been a perennial spring favorite for quite a while for me. There is just something to their sound that feels like the transition from frosty winter tentatively thawing into spring, put into music. They have that kind of gloriously refreshing sound. So, when I saw they had a new album out, I had to give it a try.

The album starts out with Azure, I was a little curious as to how they may have evolved since I last looked in on them. I was definitely caught by this intro, and I feel like this is every bit a scll song, with its tentative energy, that sounds like it’s reaching out for something. Subtle, calming, but still motivating somehow.

With Spangle call Lilli line, you won’t find complex guitar work like most of the other music I talk about. Instead, you’ll find subtle layers of vocals, synth, drums, guitar, and bass, weaving in and out and all around each other that you can’t help but just sink happily into.

I honestly think this is their smoothest album to date. I am so happy to have this addition to my SCLL collection in my life, as I will always need more of Kana Otsubo’s voice.

Highlights: escort  & landing, Constellation, Echoes of S.

 

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Taiko Super Kicks continues this dreamy atmosphere in their album Many Shapes. I must’ve been in that kind of mood that day. Haha. No, really, this album was my primary impetus for the trip to Tower. After having fallen so hard for their previous release, Reikan, I was happily looking forward to more.

Truth is, though, I loved Reikan much more than this one. That’s not to say I don’t like Many Shapes, just that it is a touch different. I feel like the atmosphere of Reikan was much heavier whereas Many Shapes is, while still not a super pop fest, a much more hopeful sounding release.

Taiko Super Kicks still have an amazing style of complexly layered guitar and bass overlays effects, which is satisfying in its own right. The shedding of the previous Pinback-esque grimness probably is more appealing to some. I have definitely been accused of wallowing in some pretty depressing music, in the past. What can I say, I have a type…musically.

Highlights: Many Shapes and Hikui Gogo

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Last is 21g and their album, Hitorishibai Honey. Holy crap were they a surprise. Listening to the first track, I was expecting to just skip through the album and immediately cast it off with nary a second glance. WRONG! First track, not my taste. Second track, though? OH MY GOD YES!

What immediately struck me about this band is how much they remind me of Head Phones President. Oh nostalgia. BUT BETTER!  Sadly, this seems to be SUCH a baby band that their net-presence is incredibly light. To make matters worse, they aren’t the only 21g running around Japan. UGH! Whatever. I don’t usually feel the heavy rock/melodic female vocals evanescence style (more like actively hate that one), but these babies make it work by not being one trick ponies. They put their eccentric and diverse influences to good use producing a mini-album with some very drastic variations on a theme. At times sounding dreamy, others Kenshi Yonezu-inspired. Much fun to listen to. I really hope they keep on keepin’ on in the future, as I’d like to hear more of their sound.

Highlights: The End and Hate and Seventeen Blue

 

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Sorry I never got around to posting this in February like I almost did. This year has been taking it OUT of me. Music has been accumulating at a steady rate, but words have not.  Maybe someday I will catch up.

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