Jukeboxparables

WT2010 – JAPAN – Day 13 – Shimokitazawa & an All-nighter in Shibuya

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on March 22, 2010

WT2010 – JAPAN
Day 13 – Shimokitazawa & an All-nighter in Shibuya
[On the iPOD] The Cribs / Iggy Pop

Struggle street. I was flipping through a guide-book pondering the museums and points of interest. They involved train trips and transfers and effort, something I’d exceeded in past days but was baulking at after two late nights getting intimate with alcohol and the the near-sight of a Tokyo sunrise approaching the horizon.

Then almost flippantly a place called Shimokitazawa is mentioned, it has no dedicated section because its outer-Tokyo but then again so is my hotel in Sangenjaya (by outer I mean an outer-line a mere two stops from Shibuya) I google the area an realize it’s actually 2km in a straight line north of my hotels road. It would probably be quicker to walk than catch a train in and hop on a transfer back out. I decide it’s a plan; walking has become my default form of exploration.

I’ve forgotten to mention this; People love bikes here (bicycles as well as motorbikes) Tokyo seems dedicated to the bike rider, perhaps it’s not as dedicated as some stand out places but every footpath you find bike lines (they share them with pedestrians and are usually wide or have a line down the centre saying bikes on one side) Besides that locals have an uncanny ability to dodge anything and everything. My first night here I watched a women with shopping on hee handle-bars holding an umbrella swaying vigorously in the wind whilst it SNOWED she pedalled on. People cycling one hand whilst the other is holding a cigarette or whilst talking on a mobile phone they dodge cars and weave around and through tight passages without stopping. Some how I’m yet to witness a stack.

Walking to Shimokitazawa I came across a park that completely split one part of town from the other (like a road you could say) but not a road, it was a park with a dedicated cycle path. It must have been converted from an actual road, I can’t forsee a park originally being that long. A great idea of urban planning. People of all ages use bikes and the men-women ratio is near 50/50 Id say. It’s great to see.

A mere 2km wander from Sangenjaya is Shimokitazawa; I’m promised some good shops; but the entire town is essentially a shop as far as I can tell. One minute I’m walking passed peoples homes and the next minute its a restaurant, a bargain basement, a vintage clothing store, an upmarket clothing store, a music store, an antique store, an electronics store. But mostly clothes and food.

On I walk to find a bridge leading under a train line, turns out the town is split North/South by this bridge (or so it seemed so far) I then explored that side of the tracks only to another train line and it’s a pedestrian/car crossing right in the centre of town. It turns out it’s also split East/West by a second train line. So Shimokitazawa is essentially four quadrants of awesomeness. The shops just don’t end, they’re all of interest and I literally walked around for 2hours just trying to figure out what I wanted to buy, whatever it was you could find it there. Remember we’re not talking big shopping centres but a local community who have built a town of shops to cater for all.

A stop and stare at the price of a brand new LCD screen and an American fellow bumps into me introducing himself as someone who served on duty from the states but has since settled down with a Japanese wife and is living outside of Tokyo he’s been here for awhile. I express admiration for the town we’re in and he replies with “Shimokitazawa is the bomb” too true. It was refreshing to come across a down to earth, chilled out cool American without an air of superiority.

I stumble through a record store and many a clothing store. Some are more commercial than others and if your looking for something slightly Indie and Alternative just keep walking you’ll find it somewhere. Don’t ask me where because you DO get lost in this place. Which is half the fun. I had the camera out wholey awares that I wasn’t going to take photos of shop-fronts because I would have too many damn photos to sort so I restrained myself diligently. I did however take a photo of a crepe place. Their crepe menu was in small crepe size boxes on the wall; faux designed plastic examples of what you could order. It looked amazing. I would walk a thousand miles and I would walk a thousand more just to…(ok I’ll stop) just to find that crepe store later on when I felt desert was on the cards. I couldn’t however, so I settled for a cake/coffee ‘deli’ which served amazing cakes such as “Caramel / Banana” etc.

You’ll also find a few restaurants that are hosting live-bands (at lunch time) and they’ll serve you a drink or food with your ticket. Theres many places like this in Shimokitazawa, you’ll find kids walking around with guitars constantly. The prices are pretty hefty though (compared to back-home) Bands (even small ones) seem to get paid well here (tickets to one place were 2500yen including a drink) that’s about $28 I wanted to checkout some local acts but If I bought the ticket I’d have to forgo paying for dinner later on (with no citibank in town) So instead I checked out one or two local buskers. Pretty talented.

Just like that the day was winding down, you can spend a good half-day wandering this little suburb of shops aimlessly. Sadly though it’s apparently all going to come to an end I’ve heard. The powers that be are building an extension of a subway line directly under it (I think) and the small cultural vibe and community style shops are set to make way for the real urban sprawl of Tokyo (think sky scrapers) The locals are fighting back to keep Shimokitazawa the way it is. I’m definitely on their side. Inner city Tokyo is great with it’s Neon shops but this place (the buildings stand no more than 2 stories tall) have that community vibe that developers always don’t care for. It happens all over the world it seems (I draw parallels to venues and pubs giving way in Sydney) It seems you can’t stop progress no matter the cultural cost, if culture even has a value to big wigs.

I’d put my DSLR camera away so many times this day; Instead I opted for the LOMO film camera (so not many shots until theyre developed) but I was on my way back when I noticed a cat sleeping on mans lap… the photos speak for themselves really.

I strolled back to my hotel and that night (it being a Sunday night the night before a holiday on monday) Long weekend essentially. I was aiming for a club in Shibuya I got there way too early (11pm) so I decided that I’d have a wander around somewhere else first. I had no idea what I was going to find, if anything hell I had trouble finding the place I was going to and I knew where I was going.

No more than a few metres up this quiet backstreet road I observed some Musos coming out of a bar (carrying equipment etc) So I decided to scope this place out. It was called “Derori” I walked in to find an avant-garde oldschool rock vibe venue. It had drums/guitar/bass/pa setup on the floor and a DJ decks behind it. A bunch of people were at the bar so I decided to take a seat with a drink.

Within minutes a guy from behind the bar came over to greet me and ask where I was from and How i’d found the place. I told him all about my travels and after a few words a nice lady came over to talk to me who as it turns out owned the bar. Eventually more and more people came in and I got to talking to a few locals who have traveled. The music was classic rock but as far as I could tell there was no one DJ behind the decks, it was more random people getting up to mix.

Eventually a guy hopped on drums and another on bass and another on guitar, I downed a few drinks and listed to them Jam along to what the DJ was spinning; mostly the likes of Iggy Pop, Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers, The Ramones and so on. Classic music along that vibe. Next thing I knew the guitarist is asking me If I play guitar, I reply yes. He hands me his Telecaster (plugged into a Vox amp which is cranking) As much as I love the aforementioned music I don’t play too well in that style but I obliged. Doing my best 12-bar-blues rock solo thing pretty poorly, but I tried to mix it up a bit.

I turn around to find a filling dance-floor and I start bumping into people; Iggy Pops “I Wanna Be Your Dog” comes on and I’ve got the song down in about 20sec (as I said I don’t play in that style at all) The PA is fighting against the sound coming from this 3-piece band that Im jamming in. Struggling to hear the song it’s probably sounding like complete ass but I don’t care and kick on for a good 30minutes to various tunes. Eventually we put the gear down and people start coming up to me at the bar. An Australian from Canberra even, I talk about travel plans and a few people reply; Is the band touring overseas too? How long have you guys been together? (They must have walked in late)

The bar was kicking, I enquired about the song selection and asked why different people were getting on stage. One girl said it was ‘A party’ I asked what the occasion was and got “No reason” as an answer. It’s a good an answer as any. Apparently the DJ decks were free reign, people had brought their own vinyl and cd’s and you could mix them up live. Naturally I pulled out my Iphone and played a track.

The vibe of Derori is one of people with a seasoned knowledge and love of the avante-garde and some classic rock and punk tunes. I could imagine Iggy himself rocking out here. I looked at the time and it was close to 2am, damnit I was supposed to meet someone at that place down the road. I didn’t want to leave all these cool people but I decided I’d come back later on. The bartenders and DJ’s and co were all occupied so I slipped out quietly.

A venue called Seco was the destination for a night called British Pavilion. It was a bigger venue with multiple DJ booths and a younger crowd of the Indie variety. It’s funny how I’ve traveled halfway around the world for the sounds of familiarity, but theres just nothing better to dance to. The door charge was kind of steep but included a free drink ticket so what the heck.

A short summary without going into details I met a bunch of awesome people one of which was one of the DJ’s dressed in an awesome avante-garde-steam-punk getup. He gave me like 4 free drink tickets for some reason over the night So I virtually didn’t pay for anything that night. One thing perplexes me about Japan, back home you have ‘promo girls’ right who are usually dressed in a companies gear and go around giving free samplers of said companies brews or sometimes not. This club featured 2 girls dressed as nurses and another as a playboy bunny all of which were serving shots for FREE, for apparently no other reason than to keep punters happy.

And boy was I happy. Damn damn damn the language barrier, that’s all I’ve got to say! It was like 6am and the venue had run its course, a bunch of cool indie songs, a bunch of cool people from all over town (and out of town) Everyone is really welcoming, I was probably the only gaijin in there but I felt at home.

Ok time to head home! Hold on what’s that I hear? Music coming from Derori, I head down to find it as I left it only the people are a little drunker. A different set of people jamming, Im sitting next to a rad looking spiked hair old rocker. A girl leans in and asks me If I know who I’m sitting next, I reply no. She says he’s a famous bass player from a big band in Japan. I’d guessed a much from the two girls either side of him. Derori has the feeling of that bar I’d talked about earlier called MOTHER, it has that sense of a bunch of friends running a bar and treating every night as a party to meet and make new friends and have a good time with them. You can’t buy that by throwing money at a venue. Why don’t they have places like this in Sydney?

I say bye to some friendly faces, It’s 7am Maccas breakfast time. Sitting there, face blankly staring at the wall. I could live somewhere between Sangenjaya and Shimokitazawa, a cool community a stones throw from the epic radness that is Shibuya. Hmmm.

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WT2010 – JAPAN – Day 12 – Sangenjaya & Asakusa

Posted in Uncategorized by jukeboxparables on March 21, 2010

WT2010 – JAPAN
Day 12 – Sangenjaya & Asakusa
[On the iPOD] Gang Of Four / The Ramones

It’s a real fight to wakeup and greet the day, eventually managed to around 12noon. I was considering checking out Asakusa, because with only 4days left I still want to be going places I havent been yet. After lunch in Sanganjaya and some quick photo ops of the big highway that runs through it (Theres a big elevated freeway that runs right through the suburb but somehow the areas and shops underneath are still cool to hang near)

I decided to try something new and hop on the Ginza line which takes you to the complete opposite end of Tokyo, Asakusa is the last stop and it takes about 30minutes. I actually fell asleep on the train, that’s the downside of trying to combine big nights with site-seeing you have to make up the time somewhere. Still though I push on.

Asakusa (pronounced A-SAK-SA) is essentially full of tourists. The main attraction is the Temple area a few minutes walk from the station. It’s more like a temple district actually. Market stalls are setup selling all different types of food to the hungry tourists. I actually caved at an odd looking desert; A banana dipped in ice-topping topped with sprinkles and served on a stick. Radness.

The Temple area (at least according to lonely planet) is both Shinto and Buddhist and is a coming together of the two “non-religions”. The place was packed and I wandered on through the market stalls to the backstreet markets which were selling kitch-tourist-esque items. When your surrounded by tourists you feel even more like a tourist and I’m not aiming for that.

I decided to try KFC for a quick snack, just for comparisons sake. The serving portions are so small here. I guess its like the jump from Australia to America. Large chips here are literally a small size (or maybe even less) than you’d find in Australia, I can’t imagine an Americans reaction to this. I find Japan does their own thing much better (like MOS Burger) rather than the chains that try and deliver westernized food.

Asakusa has a strange vibe. Theres the Temple area, the kitch tourist vibe, older houses and dingy small lane markets mixed with modern main strips with big restaurants with big queues. The bridge across the river breaks it all up and leads to some small river-side modern parked area but that’s about it really.

A cool site is the Asahi building (a beer company in Japan) the building is literally built to look like a beer, it has a conventional design but is ‘gold’ like a glass of biru and has a ‘frothy’ jagged shape window design right up top, don’t ask me what on earth the odd peanut shaped thing next to the building is though.

I didn’t have time nor energy to visit any other points of Interest in the town, though I did stay to get some night snaps of the temple area and try some delicious Soba noodles for the first time! I was pretty tired so decided to head back to my hotel.

Somehow after a coffee and a shower I realised there was a local Indie club within walking distance, I mustered the energy and headed out. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; DJ’s here are just plain weird. Most of the music I’ve come across has been always Interesting; Mostly odd mixes of electro with odd post-punk and garage music. Normally this would sound like a good thing; but when you see a club advertised as a certain thing, your expecting it I suppose. Though DJ’s here do mix live with vinyl, so; much respect there. I was at a place called “Web” whose Indie night “Big Love” attracted a mixed crowd, cheap entry with a free drink. But again odd shoe-gaze-spaced out electro played way too loud didn’t seem to get the people in there too enthused about the dance-floor.

I suppose I should be embracing how they do things here, but the locals didn’t seem too interested either. I’ve now been to four indie clubs none of which has played as advertised. Funny, but it’s a different experience!

It’s the long-weekend here with a holiday on Monday so Sunday night means another big night. My head is going to hurt come leaving Japan, but heck the way I look at it I can sleep on the plane.

Some photos;

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WT2010 – JAPAN – Day 4 – Akihabara (Electric Town) + Shibuya at night

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on March 14, 2010

WT2010 – JAPAN
Day 4 – Akihabara (Electric Town) + Shibuya at night.
[On the iPOD] The Rakes / Beck

Things are starting to blur. I’m writing these blogs right when I get home at night after a long day and usually don’t upload them till morning. I had to sit here for 2minutes because I had a mental blank what I got for breakfast. That’s right I walked into a busy as place for food where I was squeezed inbetween 2 Japanese business men and then sat there kind of amused. A “lost in translation” moment. I realised the room was full of buisnessmen in their 50’s in suits slurping food.

Today I went to Akihabara known as Electric Town. I got off the train and walked to the main strip and couldnt even take out the camera, I just stood there for 5minutes in awe.

The main strip is multi-storey shop after shop of everything to do with electronics. From the component stores that supply the parts (like a jaycar) right up to mega stores with a level for cameras a level for computers a level for software a level for home-theatre and it doesnt stop, you’ll find them one next to the other. Breaking all this up is anime toy stores and then gaming stores (consoles new and classic) and all this continues for like 5 city blocks. Theres people selling their stores wares on the streets and girls dressed up in anime outfits to try and hang you pamphlets or something.

I eventually found a new CF card for my camera. 8GB Sandisk Extreme IV. The prices were pretty much around what you’d pay online anyway. No bargains really. I had ‘second’ lunch at a MOS burger. I plan to try their entire menu. I later went into a toy store and picked up a Rei figurine from Neon Genesis (I know, I know but I’ve never owned one) Then found a bunch of oldschool Drift Tengoku DVD’s for like $6 a piece, so I got three (you pay like $28 for them in Australia)

Then I set sail and by that I mean walk walk walk to my only real goal that day thusfar which was the Museum of Criminology (or at least according to lonelyplanet) I was ALREADY tired from shopping madness. So I decided not to stop until the museum, that plan went astray in about half a kilometer as I came across a ‘Confucious / Shinto’ shrine completely unexpectedly (It was a park on the map I had which I was planning to cut through) After wandering it it became apparent there was an Art (Sculpture) exhibition on inside, So I happily to some photos, detoured yet again.

So then walking to the Museum I came across guitar and music shop after guitar and music shop to the point of ridiculousness There were like 8, Japanese built guitars are slightly cheaper than back home, one store even offered complete custom builds from scratch radness!

The Museum was a bit of a let down, not in itself but in what lonely planet had said of it. It was merely a Universities small token Museum with an Interesting collection of historic criminal items (diaries?) I couldn’t tell there was no english captions to the pieces.

So from here I decided to head to the closes point of Interest which was the National Museum of Modern Art a good 2km away. On the way about halfway I went into a 5 storey manga / magazine store, the amount of stuff in there never gets old. Then walked past another and another. This part of Akihabara should be called book town! That if I still was in Akihabara that is. The lure of the older and yet dustier historic book stores led me further and further down the road without looking at the time. Luckily the Museum closes at 8pm on a friday.

One store also sold old maps and prints. Originals. I’m talking old cartography, I so wanted to buy one or one of the prints but they were rather fragile and started at pretty hefty prices for the cool looking ones. I then found the best photography book store I’ve ever been in, some of the stuff in there was amazing. I then bumped into another dedicated magazine store. So afer yet more detour shopping I was finally on my way, now suffering from RSI from carrying a lot of crap!

The National Museum of Modern Art had it’s standard modern japanese collection and a feature collection on Ono Chikkyo. He started off as a celebrated classically Japanese artist and then travelled abroad to Europe. The thing I love about these types of exhibitions is you basically see in front of you the growth of an Artist. You can see key areas where influence starts to creep in and then an almost inevitable turn to simplicity and minimalism to the last days of his life.

The other exhibition was of even more interest to a foreigner like myself. I came across some paintings I’d never seen before and was utterly blown away by. One of which was Maiko in Landscape by Bakusen Tsuchida. Not knowing much about Art, I’m convinced it’s influenced by the Mona Lisa. The woman’s expression totally draws you in (in a slightly different way to my comparison) but it’s just as alluring, a different style of course but I think the artists idea was along the same lines.

No photography was allowed at the Chikkyo exhibition so I assumed it was the same for the Modern art exhibition. Upon walking around for a bit with my camera by my side an attendant walked up to me and pointed to my camera; I said no, no photos (lens cap is on) and he said wait here. So I did and he came back with a ‘camera sticker’ and stuck it on my shoulder and gave me a piece of paper with rules. No long exposures, no close ups and no flash amongst others. Awesome! I’m finding it time and time again, people here really find pride in helping people out.

Look at the time! I rushed back to Shinjuku to shower and change to go out clubbing for the first time in Tokyo. Aiming for an Indie club in Shibuya, I wandered around lost for a bit but eventually found it in a backstreet off a backstreet. I was greeted by two surely looking british lads on their way out saying it was rather dead at this hour. Clubs in Tokyo open at 11:30pm! and it was close to 12! Most people seem to be working up until 12 anyway It’s nuts. But after a chat and a storey of them getting mugged in Roppongi we decided there was nowhere else to go in this outer-party of Shibuya we were in. Okay so it was only like 1km from the station but thats considered outer to my weary legs after like 8hours of walking.

Japanese clubs are Interesting I was at a place called HOME, the etiquette is everyone seems to face the dj almost in a line-dance fashion to dance. I was talking to the two brit lads somewhere and found out they were die-hard Cribs fans, one chap had a big tattoo of Ryan Jarman on his arm. After sharing some stories of playing in bands and local scenes the club actually started to pickup. Or maybe we were getting more lose. If you didn’t already know it Japanese people are crazy. Guys were up front singing along to songs, shirts off and moshing, us gaijin’s joined in of course we know how to do that too there’s no getting lost in translation when it comes to having a good time, I kept my shirt on for the record.

From what I could gather it was 3am. Unlike every club back in Sydney I hadn’t looked at the time once so I’m just guessing. The music was interesting; not exactly Indie for an Indie club; The odd Cure song but everything else was distinctly electro and Japanese. By about 6am I’d ceased to care but I’d also ceased to stand properly. I’d lost a few hours by this point throwing up, which seemed normal at the time.

I got home in a cab, me trying to explain to the cabby to pullover for a spew would have been completely amusing were it not for its utter urgency. I then don’t remember much until waking up around 12 with the worst hangover ever. My clothes in the hotel hallway and my phone in the bath. This all seemed rather normal but then nursing the worst hangover I’ve ever had I started to wonder what the hell happened last night. I’ve never lost a few hours before.

Not a big drinker but it normally takes 10 + a shot or 4 to put me down like that I’d had like 4 drinks and 2 shots. I was then brutally sick all day. I started to wonder if It could’ve been food poisoning on-top of the drinks. Because it hit me so quickly after everything was going fine. I’d ate right before I left at a questionable small place that was fairly empty but the only thing open. It kinda made sense. It hit like 4-5hours later and since I’d had a few drinks and was tipsy It was like a K.O

So all of Saturday was wasted indoors. I couldn’t keep food down until 10pm that night (had to be food poisoning right?) So no Saturday adventures to talk of, but It’s early Sunday morning and I’m planning big today to make up for it! Though I will kick off the next blog starting Saturday night.

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Why Scott Pilgrim is the best Indie comic out there.

Posted in Books/Comics/Manga by jukeboxparables on January 4, 2010

I glance over online comics or manga every once in awhile. Theres plenty out there covering pretty much everything topically but none closer to my heart than Bryan Lee O’Malley’s “Scott Pilgrim” series. I first ran into one online a few years back. I noted that I should pick up the series (I don’t like reading stuff entirely online) and oneday last year I was in a bookstore and there they were starring me in the face, I decided to get Volumes 1 and 2 as a refresher. Needless to say I was running back to this specialised bookstore within the week for the rest of the series.

Volume 1; from the website:

Scott Pilgrim’s life is totally sweet. He’s 23 years old, he’s in a rock band, he’s “between jobs,” and he’s dating a cute high school girl. Nothing could possibly go wrong, unless a seriously mind-blowing, dangerously fashionable, rollerblading delivery girl named Ramona Flowers starts cruising through his dreams and sailing by him at parties. Will Scott’s awesome life get turned upside-down? Will he have to face Ramona’s seven evil ex-boyfriends in battle? The short answer is yes. The long answer is Scott Pilgrim, Volume 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life!

It’s kind of scary how one can relate to the scenarios and characters Bryan Lee O’Malley has dreamt up. It’s not easy being a mid 20’s slacker who plays in a band whist dealing with conflict of the female variety via 8bit retro coloured video game glasses. My private life aside though, I love how Bryan contrasts “mundane” reality in this book, you think everything is going swimmingly and it’s all rather realistic… a miniature sitcom based around your musical life. Until Scott Pilgrim is found fighting off his new girl’s evil ex boyfriend(s) in true video game / anime style. It’s perfect. Imagine your favourite ‘cool’ (Skins?, Buffy?) sitcom revolving around bands / good music and add… Naruto-esque battle scenes. You’ve got Scott Pilgrim.

Basically the series progresses through the troubled waters of life revolving around relationships, music(being in a band), friends and the mirky history of its characters.

Nerd alert time: It manages to drop subtle one liners and plot points referencing an array of oldschool retro late 80’s mid 90’s videogames. The Secret of Monkey Island (PC), Super Mario Bros /series (NES), Clash At Demonhead (NES), Crash n the Boys (NES), Zelda (NES)? and/or some other earlier EXP based game, River City Ransom (NES), Sonic The Hedgehog /series (SEGA), Bomberman (NES), Street Fighter (Arcade).

Hell those are the ones I spotted because I grew up playing those games!, but heres a bigger list

The series has a distinct ‘punk’ or ‘indie’ feel to it. There’s a heap of music referenced and a deep music knowledge (as lengthy as the retrogaming list no doubt) but I cbf hunting back over it. Think mid 90’s Indie bands though as well as some classics. Anyway this all adds up to give Scott Pilgrim a sort of shiny nostalgia to it. It feels completely genuine. I suppose the subject matter isn’t for everyone. But if your reading this blog then chances are you’ll be into it!

You can read previews of all of the Volumes online at the official website. There are currently 5 volumes in stores with a 6th and *gasp* final still being written, to be released soon.

It’s kind of hard to explain a Series really, perhaps I should have just reviewed the Volumes one at a time! Maybe I will down the line until then though you’ll just have to grab one off the shelf!

ALSO the big news last year was A real-life movie adaption is being made. Which will either ruin the series for everyone and there will be a bunch of rabid SP fans ready to hunt down and combo dragon punch the director to his demise OR it’s going to be great and hence the best movie of 2010. Fingers crossed for the latter.

All the latest on the movie.

If thats not all, a videogame has also been announced! It will apparently be oldschool sidescroll beatem-up. HECK YES!



Bluejuice – Broken Leg, and more.

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on July 19, 2009

Bluejuice are a band from Sydney, Australia. I caught them at a show at the Annandale Hotel a few years back and was blown away on performance alone. These guys put on such a good show they force you to like their music even if your not that into it… yeah.

Anyway, check out their new video which is the first single of their upcoming second LP which is out the second half of 2009 through new label Dew Process The music video is a classic!

It’s in the similar vein of the popular single off their first albums music video, Vitriol (check that out below) They probably need their own TV show or something.

Sonic Youth – What We Know. Live on Jools Holland

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on May 1, 2009

I’m declaring May: Sonic Youth month. Because after a few listens of their 16th album “The Eternal” …basically they’ve still got it. No other band in History has been able to pull this off in my opinion; that is not making rehashed or dull or just plain dinosaur music after 30+ years. Maybe Bowie… or The Beatles.

The Eternal is as fresh as their 15th effort Rather Ripped but rather than emitting a cleaner lighter vibe that album had it has memorable heavy/dirty hooks as if giving nods to albums like “Goo” and “Dirty”. Full review in the coming weeks.

But here’s the band playing “What We Know” on Jools Holland (above). Jools rightly mentions the band played way back on the shows debut in 1992. So I’ve tracked down that performance (below) 18years later, its all still there. Bravo.

1991: The Year Punk Broke.

Posted in Film & TV, Music by jukeboxparables on April 29, 2009

punk_dvd

I thought I’d link a documentary I’m a huge fan of; 1991: The Year Punk Broke. It’s a tour doco by Dave Markey filmed in 1991 which follows Sonic Youth on a leg of their European tour. Nirvana were also on tour with them at the time so it features performances by both bands as well as a few others on a Festival leg of the tour; Dinosaur Jr, Babes In Toyland and Gumball. Also mentioned / shown are The Ramones.

It’s a bit of reminiscence for me because as a kid growing up, this scene was my first exposure to Alternative music (Not that I saw it, but all the songs and sentimentality) And not so much Sonic Youth because I basically couldn’t handle their Music at age 11, but I was a huge Nirvana fan and lived and breathed that Alternative vibe they gave off as best I could understand. Of course everything they ever said in Interviews about Pop-culture and Corporate-rock kinda went straight over my head. Though getting into Sonic Youth much later probably saved my young-self’s brain from… “turning into a continuous gelatinous ball of pepper” As Thurston Moore puts it in one of the backstage excerpts. Though one of the biggest Influences on me this all gave off was a curiosity about what they were talking about; distrust of mass-media, corporations turning art into consumerism and a firm anti-image stance on Music. Punk as an attitude may have “began” in the Early 70’s (at least its exposure) but I think it was refined by the movement of Music that this documentary features. Sadly a few years later I totally forgot about all this and started listening to some awful bands. But I think I’ve come good in the end.

Everything about this doco lives and breaths the atmosphere of Music in the early 90’s. Besides the music the random excerpts and Interviews by foreign journalists usually yield post-modernist or satirical responses from Thurston and onlookers. I just love the cynicism of it all It’s must see viewing. One question I had after seeing it the first time awhile back was; How the hell is Thurston Moore still alive?

The Intro says it all really; Thurston Moore holding a tape-deck recorder and waxing lyrical into a microphone whilst he and Kurt Cobain and Kim Gordon frolic around some old railway tracks high on something good.

Besides it being on youtube, you can actually buy it on VHS I’ve been told. As for that crisp clean DVD version? It’s apparently been completed since 2006 and is in the hands of Universal to release. Oh the fricken Irony!!! Word from Dave Markey is that people should write in to get them to release it, its not in his hands!

Lastly, Check out the tour diary of the film maker Dave Markey right here. It’s great reading!

tytpb

Metric – Help I’m Alive; documentary

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on April 18, 2009

Metric are a band in it for the long-run. It’s been four years since their last album Live It Out. Four years much to long in my mind. But good things come to those who wait. So whilst I take some time to digest their latest effort “Fantasies” before I review it check out this. It’s a mini-doc about just what exactly lead singer Emily Haines has been up to. It also shows some footage of her playing the first single off the new album “Help I’m Alive”.

Fasterlouder also have the “world debut” of the Music Video for the first single available for viewing here.

Fantasies is in stores as of April 14th (USA & Canada) From what I’ve heard so far, it’s a diverse and eclectic leap for the band. Great news for us fans.

Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Live on Jools Holland

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on April 13, 2009

The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s perform 2 songs off their latest album “It’s Blitz!” on UK show Jools Holland. First up is “Zero” followed by “Heads Will Roll”. Enjoy

Sonic Youth – Happiness is a warm gun… Vinyl!

Posted in Music, Oldschool/Classic Things by jukeboxparables on March 23, 2009

I’ve been meaning to start a real vinyl collection for the longest while, It’s always been on the back burner because everything and anything else has kept me occupied instead. But yesterday I was in Repressed records in Newtown watching a friends band Royal Headache play and simply could not leave their vinyl collection alone.

Especially this 1991 Bootleg LP out of Germany entitled “Happiness is a warm gun…” It’s a Sonic Youth compilation of sorts and the track list is quite amazing;

1. Personality Crisis
2. Dirty Boots (demo)
3. Is It My Body
4. Flower (Anti Fuckword Radio Edit)
5. I Wanna Be Your Dog (live)
6. Song For Karen (live) [Tunic]
7. Computer Age
8. Burning Farm
9. Gum
10. Electric Pen
11. Disappearer (demo)
12. That’s All I Know (Right Now)
13. White Cross
14. Sister (live) [Schizophrenia]
15. Rewolf (Special Natas Mix)
16. It’s An Interview
17. My Friend Goo (live)
18. Cinderella’s Big Score (live)

* 1. from Sassy magazine promo 7″
* 2. from Sassy magazine promo 7″
* 3. from Sub Pop Singles Club 2×7″
* 4. from Flower 7″
* 5. live 6/4/87 London, England w/ Iggy Pop on vox (same as Screaming Fields)
* 6. live 9/17/90 Hamburg, Germany @ Docks
* 7. from The Bridge compilation
* 8. from Every Band Has A Shonen Knife… compilation
* 9. from Mirror/Dash 7″
* 10. from Mirror/Dash 7″
* 11. from Disappearer single
* 12. from Disappearer single
* 13. from NME’s Hat Trick 7″
* 14. live 6/4/87 London, England (same as Screaming Fields)
* 15. from Flower 7″
* 16. from 1990 promotional flexi interview 7″
* 17. live 9/17/90 Hamburg, Germany @ Docks
* 18. live 9/17/90 Hamburg, Germany @ Docks

Let the vinyl collecting begin. I suppose I should now dish out heaps of cash for a good system too. Oh the woes of liking oldschool things. This Sonic Youth LP is definitely worth it though. Bootleg goodness with songs off Daydream Nation, Goo and others and a track featuring Iggy Pop on vocals. All on a Blue Vinyl 12″ How could I not get this?

Bloc Party / Klaxons news.

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on March 20, 2009

So back in 2005 Bloc Party’s debut album Silent Alarm was a breath of fresh air from the UK music scene. It was pretty surprising a few months later to find an entire remix of the album in stores and what’s more it was one hell of an album to boot. It even started various fan-boy debates on the internets about if Silent Alarm Remixed was actually a better album than the original. Without opening that can of worms again I’ve gotta say It is actually open to debate.

So anyway, It’s been announced that their most recent and 3rd album Intimacy is getting the same treatment. That is; an entire remix will be released May 11, including a vinyl version! Their 3rd LP took awhile to grow on me. I immediately noticed the goodness of tracks such as Talons and Biko but the opening two threw me off and It’s taken me awhile to digest its premise. A remix should be equally interesting. The first video of a remix track is on their website. Will it out-do Silent Alarm remixed? I doubt it. The first track (Signs) sounds good though, very dance-electronic though. The great thing about Silent Alarm remixed was it didn’t go for that all out dance feel, it had its odd subtle moments also. Oh is it just me or do Bloc Party have the worst music videos ever?

Now on to Klaxons news. NME hype a lot of bands especially their native UK bands and the Klaxons debut album Myths of the Near Future in 2006 was no stranger to this, but for a change it actually stood up to that Hype. More-so I saw these lads at the Enmore Theatre on that tour and besides me and a friends deer-in-the-headlights bewilderment at the opening tracks laser/neon light show inducing what seemed to be a 16/17yr-old fangirl “nu-rave” dance party in the mosh. They were tight and it was a good show.

So for those reasons I’m actually looking forward to their followup LP which is/was? due this year although it seems they’ve succumb to major-label woes. Their label Universal has told them to re-record the album! Jamie Reynolds; “Because we’ve made a really dense, psychedelic record. We’ve made a really heavy record and it isn’t the right thing for us, I understand and know that. First and foremost we’re a pop band. I haven’t thought about that for a long time, and now it’s in the forefront of my mind.”

Record labels should butt the hell out and let artists do what they want. Re-recording an album probably for the sole reason of making it more accessible to aforementioned 16/17yr old dance party kiddies is not justification with the bands best interests in mind. Klaxons should probably seek out a better deal.

But we’ll know the outcome of their followup in due time. Here’s to hoping they don’t suffer the second album slump (ala the Arctic Monkeys)

Klaxons

blocparty-live1

Review: Shugo Tokumaru – Exit

Posted in Music, Review by jukeboxparables on March 11, 2009

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So I was tallying up a score for this album and thought to myself, Oh my is it really that good? So I went back and tried to fault it, again and again but failed. The goal of most album reviews is to dissect an album and strenuously try to put how great (or bad) it is into words that convey the actual output of the sound qualitatively.

Fifteen seconds of the first track and you will know exactly what this album is about. It’s zany, in your face, bizarre circus-style Japanese Folk music and I love every second of it. No over the top in-depth stern talking to required on my part.

Shugo Tokumaru is definitely not a house-hold name to most. Though the young Japanese artist has been releasing music since 2004. This, his latest offering was released in Japan back in 2007 but us gaijins didn’t get it until September 2008.

Exit is a lesson in Indie-Pop-Folk. It’s sung entirely in Japanese, normally foreign albums tend to be grating and quickly lose their novelty but that’s not the case here; I’d happily place Exit amongst my best albums of 2008. The opening track “Parachute” sets you off down an Anime inspired skip and hop through the backstreets of Tokyo whilst warm dazzling lights eventually knock you over and then your falling; out of a plane; towards the city; you spot a circus tent and it breaks your fall. You’ve hit your head and you shake it off and try and come to your senses but track2 “Green Rain” grabs you and shakes you back to your odd dazzling adventure.

The actual music is by no means standardized, the chord progressions of various layered instruments such as: piano, acoustic guitar, drums, synths, flutes and any number of other devices create a brilliant texture of borderline horror-movie insanity but instead of making you feel ostracized as if on a certain illicit substance plagued by paranoia you feel a certain warmth. It’s infectious and catchy yet complex but subtle.

Shugo apparently bases his songs off a dream journal. This explains a lot. After subsequent listens of Exit you feel distinctly that if that vivid colourful dream you had last night had audio; this would be it’s soundtrack.

This album is east meets west in a way also. Traditional Japanese movements are mixed with Indie-pop rhythms. It’s a bit of everything without leaning too much in one direction to be easily pigeon holed. Comparisons could be made with fellow Japanese artist Cornelius, at least when tracks swing over to the electronic side of things more-so than usual. Shugo himself however claims influence on this album came from Japanese Pop and a pile of old Beatles cassettes. No doubt that analog sound of those cassettes transfused themselves onto Exit.

I’ve already mentioned that this is sung entirely in Japanese, no track better illustrates how much the language barrier is broken by this album than the sing-along “Button” You’ll be singing “Hey yay yay” in no time, even though I’m almost certain that is not what is being said. It somehow doesn’t matter though. This album let’s you go with the flow.

Things get minimalist on “La La Radio” and you get the feeling Sigur Ros is being channeled. A banjo with a traditional Japanese instrument and xylophone? Perfection! Up to 50 different instruments were used on this album along with household items such as cutlery, an ashtray, a doorbell and wind-up toys.

I wish I had a list of translated lyrics so I could comment on lyrical prose but It just doesn’t even matter. To say that it breaks those barriers is an understatement. If there’s a bad point to this album besides it possibly being Schizophrenia inducing (You lose contact with reality, forget your name and perhaps even forget where you are) Is that it’s so solid it’s hard to go back and pick a stand-out track and say I want to put that on repeat. It’s 4stars across the board, all tracks have that special something.

Subsequently, this all adds up to an album with that special something. It’s even more special when you come to realise Shugo produced the album himself on his own laptop.

Rating: 8.3/10

Tracklist:

1. “Parachute” – 3:04
2. “Green Rain” – 4:53
3. “Clocca” – 3:27
4. “Future Umbrella” – 2:04
5. “Button” – 4:02
6. “Sanganichi” – 2:37
7. “D.P.O” – 1:51
8. “Hidamari” – 4:37
9. “La La Radio” – 5:28
10. “Wedding” – 3:16

Shugo Tokumaru
Exit
Released: 2008
Label: Almost Gold Records

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Zero” music video debut.

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on March 10, 2009

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Zero

Yes the new music video for the first single off It’s Blitz! Click the link Above! Drool worthy for the Karen O fanboys out there (like myself) Cool video, simple and not over the top yet flamboyant and to the point. Everything YYY’s are. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs always manage to pick directors who pull off the right feel visually. Without going for big-budget crap.

Take; Maps, Down Boy, Cheated Hearts and Date With The Night for example. The opening scene of Maps one of deer-in-the-headlights bemusement or Down Boy which granted is a Live gig taping but the neon-green night vision camera work bleeds the seduction of the track. Cheated Hearts a compilation of fan made videos from around the world along with actual footage of the band spliced together gives the same ‘fuzzy’ feeling of warmth the track does. Lastly Date With The Night although a relatively typical/done to death tour/on the road montage still resonates with the party binge lifestyle that track invokes.

So here are those aforementioned older videos/previous singles which manage to perfectly capture the feeling the songs radiate;

Maps

Down Boy

Date With The Night