Three Jpop Discs that Matter: Honorable Mentions

archive4

Honorable Mention

Albums
My Little LoverEvergreen
Denki GrooveVOXXX
Mean MachineCREAM

Awards for Tolerable Songwriting
Spitz – “ロビンソン”, “運命の人”
The Yellow Monkey – “Spark”, “Love Love Show”
Dragon Ash – “Under Age’s Song”
Globe – “Feel Like Dance”, “Can’t Stop Falling in Love”
L’arc en Ciel – “HONEY”
Black Biscuits – “Timing”
Ulfuls – “それが答えだ”
Lindberg – “every little thing every precious thing”

Too Early to Tell
HalcaliBacon
Tommy February 6S/T
Asian Kung-Fu Generation – “君という花”

W. David MARX (Marxy)
February 7, 2005

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

16 Responses

  1. Jean Says:

    Is Denki Groove really Jpop? I’d file under techno.

  2. ndkent Says:

    That Denki Groove album is a sort departure. – Well it literally does mark Sunahara’s depature. Definltely more in your face and in terms of content it’s pretty much all samples.

    I’d consider them technopop starting with their major label debut through the mid 90s because they were working with actual vocals and song structures.

    Anyway I like “UFO”, “Vitamin”, “Dragon”, “Drill King Anthology”(at least for conceptual value) and Shinohara’s “Super Model”

    Pretty pedestrian list though. The “too early to tell” sort of makes sense (except that Asian Kung-Fu Generation should just get a graphic design and marketing award for zeitgeist)
    I think just about everyone knows Halcali and Tommy February 6’s first albums are great fun and if one is hypercritical I guess you could say they are just novelty acts. But then hold on a minute… Globe and My Little Lover, etc. aren’t too early to tell and thus implies they really do matter ?!? Or is that sort of the point. You are just just a ranking of expectations, like taking the too mainstream to be any good and choosing some specific songcraft as an excercise in what’s not as pedestrian as you expect. If so, it’s kind of a complex set of criteria.

    I only mention that in that your 3 “winners” do show something interesting and substantial as albums.

  3. marxy Says:

    “Tolerable Songwriting Awards” should be subtitled – “Embarrassed to admit I like them, but not bad for Jpop.”

    VOXXX sucks outside of “Nothing’s Gonna Change” but it was a pretty weird thing to be presented as Jpop. Maybe I should scratch it.

    Evergreen actually holds together pretty well as a Jpop album, although it’s a totally uncool listen.

    That Asian Kung-fu song is the only one out of the whole seishun punk thing that is barely listenable. We’ll have to see how the next 5 years play out before I start handing it my worthless imaginary awards.

  4. Nathan Says:

    It comes with great pleasure to see Tommy Feb6 getting props (with exceptions, I’ve found too many people who write of her solo work). I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on her (and tbg too I guess, who if it were up to me, would also have Los Angeles in the discs that matter – but that’s just obvious coming from me).

    have you by chance read Sarah Cheah’s analysis of the whole TF6 persona? http://ishii-chiai2.blogspot.com/2004/04/attention-please-tommy-february.html (she’s linked it towards the bottom of her post)

  5. MC Says:

    The only J-Pop band that I instantly liked when I arrived in 97 was Thee Michelle Elephant. I was surprised that this garage rock band was being played along side bands like My Little Lover on music programs on TV etc… Are you familiar with them?

  6. trevor Says:

    that mean machine album is quite a good one. it posses something fairly absent from “jpop”. its got energy. very rare i think.

  7. Lance Says:

    Hey, found your blog through your website. Just wanted to drop a line and mention how much I love your new album. I was curious, though, what instruments do you use and how many people are in your band and that you collaborate with. You have a really unique and exciting sound. Thanks for creating such amazing music.

  8. Chris_B Says:

    I feel so old and out of touch. The only thing I’ve even recognized throughout this thread was Dragon Ash.

  9. porandojin Says:

    I was impressed with TF6’s ‘J’e taime’- it sounds so a concept song … it’s not a simple retro electroclash crap /like dancin baby from the same album/ but rather a kind of pastiche of a ‘1988 Stock/Aitken/Waterman’ song … like Mandy Moore or early K Minogue … This single could easily become an underground/club hit in Europe because it still sounds fresh … Didn’t you say you disliked Halcali’s not rap songs? For me “Mayonaka no grand ‘is a favourite one actually, pity their latest album is so boring, it’s not a dj Fumiya’s production, is it? I have a few questions for you, maybe you could help me- I was wondering if there was disco music in Japan , smth like salsoul orchestra during the late 1970s? Maybe smth less commercial a la Hancock’s fusion? And was there club r’n’b during the 1980s? I know Larry Levan was playing in Tokyo several times, was nyc garage a popular genre? Once I heard also an early chicago house track with a japanese female vocal /mixed in an american party set/- did they have house parties in Japan around 1986-7?

  10. Brad Says:

    Why be embarrassed to admit you like those songs? If you like them, you like them. Nothing wrong with that at all.

    I’ll agree with the My Little Lover album, but I have to disagree on some of the other stuff. Globe? But if you were here, I’d give you a high-five for the Black Biscuits mention. That is one of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard. The only tolerable thing out of Unchan-Nanchan. Even now, several years removed, that song pops into my head occasionally. Impressive for a throwaway hit like that. (What’s Chiaki doing these days, I wonder?)

    I enjoy listening to Spitz, but all of their albums sound the same to me. Their singles are generally very good, however. I think that as long as you own their best of album, that’s all the Spitz you need.

    And I’ve previously mentioned what I think of Halcali. I’m not holding my breath for this remix album of theirs coming out next month.

  11. ndkent Says:

    I think you should consider “Nothing’s Gonna Change” by Denki Groove a single – uh – because that’s what it was originally.
    I was very impressed by their earlier epic length version of “Niji” (though not their later reworkings of it).

  12. Justin Says:

    Just a quick question from the uninformed….what’s up with the band Supercar? How do they fit into the J-pop scene. They remind me more of Tahiti 80 or a dancey sort of Radiohead then most J-pop. They’re on a big label…do they sell? any personal opinion on their tunes?

  13. marxy Says:

    Oh, Supercar.

    They broke my heart.

    Hailing from frozen Aomori (like Japan’s South Dakota or something), their first album is really hooky drony rock. Then they moved to Tokyo and decided to be more and more techno-based, which just made them throw all the songwriting chops out the window. I’ve hated their entire catalog from Jump Up.

    Sony apparently loves them so they have cash on hand (plus Tanaami Keiichi art, damn them!) and put out an album a year, which is guaranteed to be awful.

    Some people like them. I liked their early incarnation too much to be willing to listen to their tech-drech.

  14. J-Rock Says:

    Supercar were the best thing to come out of Japan for a long time. While they did introduce more electronic elements into their sound as time went on, they never put the guitars away like Radiohead did. They broke up earlier this year and it’s a shame that even until the end they remained criminally underappreciated by people both inside and outside Japan. “High Vision” is a perfect album.

  15. mmm Says:

    I find it really hard to draw the line between where J-pop begins and ends sometimes. If all contemporary Japanese music falls into the J-pop category then Kicell (キセル) and newcomer Salyu (サリュ) have to be some of the best of it.

    I do like to sing Yellow Monkey and Spitz at karaoke however. The singer from Spitz has one of the cleanest voices in J-pop. This may not always be a good thing but with their music it works.

    Yoshii Lovinson’s first album was good.

  16. marxy Says:

    I pretty much hate everything Supercar did after their first (excellent) album. A lot of people think otherwise, but I thought they were a better shoegazer band than an electronic outfit.