Lots of Japanese bands/singers are releasing singles this month, and I thought I`d mention a few I thought worthy of a listen. If you watch any Japanese T.V. you will probably catch a live performance here and there for the next few weeks.
The first song is Tsubomi [蕾] or Bud by Kobukuro [コブクロ], who`s name by the way comes from the two band member`s last names Kobuchi and Kuroda (thank you wikipedia). Its a good song – I especially like the way these guys harmonize, and I`ve heard the song more than a few times on T.V. The release date for this single is the 21st of March.
Next up, Remioromen`s [レミオロメン] Akanezora [茜空] which came out on the 14th of March. Another good song with unique vocals.
Another song to check out is Enomoto Kurumi`s [榎本くるみ］Aisubeki Hito［愛すべき人］out on the 21st of March – she`s got a great voice, an attribute which is, in my humble opinion, quite lacking when it comes to young japanese female singers.
Finally, KOKIA`S Arigatou [ありがとう］out yesterday, 16th March. I couldn`t find its PV on the tube but I thought I`d mention it anyway.
Obviously there`s alot more music out there, but these are just the songs that I happen to like. Enjoy.
Saturday night I wanted to go out but not to the usual Roppongi destination, so I decided instead to go to a jazz club in Kichijoji. I was going to go to a club called Star Pine but when I called them to ask for directions the owner told me I probably won`t be able to get in because and get this, Michael Jackson is making an appearance. HAHAHAHA. I knew MJ was in Japan because of the news but this was pretty random. Okay, so there was no Star Pine for me that night, so I googled another club. The club is called Sometime and its hidden in one of the alleys branching from Sun Road, a lively shopping avenue right in front of the station. It was extremely hard to find and I asked all the young people around for directions, but no one knew where/what it was.
I then happened upon three tall, gangster looking guys who were standing outside a convenience store smoking. I asked them about the shop (one of the them couldn`t stop smiling *Gaijin hehe hoho*) and finally, after messing with me for a few minutes they told me where it was. I asked them if they were sure and one of them takes a long drag from his cigarette and says quite simply “saa~…” which in the context means “who knows”. The other two guys started laughing their butts off. Needless to say I really wanted to kick him in the pants and thankfully, my informal japanese is pretty good so I told him in a few choice words what I thought of his saaa, to which the reply was “sumaneee” (“sorry” – yea right).
I was still lost so I approached a girl around my age and asked her for directions. Her name is Hitomi, a twenty year old attending senmon gakkou (technical/vocational school) for hotel management. She insisted on taking me straight to the place and when we finally reached it, she asked if I minded if she join me.
I told her to come along and we stepped into the place. Sometime is an amazing jazz club. When you walk in you reach a short flight of stairs which you go down to reach the main seating area. Its a pretty small place but the great thing about it is that the stage is in the middle of the club, with all the tables surrounding it. There is also a charming balcony seating area. Everyone there was in their late twenties/early thirties and some of them clearly came right after work. The night`s featured performance was vocal and piano, and once the music started up and the singer started singing I honestly felt like I was transported back to New York. It was really good and the singer herself was engaging and fun; all the customers were either clapping or tapping their feet. After the first few songs, the maitre`d and club owner put down her tray, picked up a second mike and sang backup. Now thats what I`m talking about. Her voice was stunningly good. A song later, three other girls popped out of nowhere and joined in singing `kiss the girls and make them cry`. The whole performance was thoroughly enjoyable and just plain fun. I definitely recommend it. For a list of upcoming performances check out their website http://www.sometime.co.jp/sometime/
Sorry for the late post on this: Crystal Kay`s single `Konna ni chikaku de`, ending song for Allegro Cantabile released on the 28th of February. I`m not really a big fan of R&B but this is pretty good. For those of you who don`t know, Crystal Kay (or Kuri) was born to an African American father and Korean mother (a Zainichi) and speaks Japanese and English. The PV is good overall; I like the idea of the orchestra and the general theme of the PV but the whole barbie doll thing ruins it for me. Its really REALLY creepy, and unnecessary. Anyways, if you like this you should listen to Kitto Ni Eien which she released only recently.
Allegro Cantabile is the new single by SUEMITSU THE SUEMITH which is quite popular right now in Japan because it is the opening song to the new Nodame Cantabile anime. The marketing campaign for this thing has been crazy: there are tv commercials, they`re selling the mangas for the series all over again and there are all sort of promotional books and magazines available. One bookstore I went to had several mobiles made up of little pianos (the main character is a piano student) hanging over their Nodame material…pretty insane. Its even crazier when you take into account that besides the manga they have already aired the first season of a live action drama series of the thing. I have already seen a couple of episodes and its nots bad but its not really something I can get into. The song is good though, and the PV is simple but does the job (the piano is a major selling point). Enjoy.