Jukeboxparables

WT2010 – JAPAN – Day 3 – Odaiba & Shibuya

Posted in Travels by jukeboxparables on March 12, 2010

WT2010 – JAPAN
Day 3 – Odaiba & Shibuya
[On the iPOD] Be Your Own Pet

SLEEEEEEEEEEEEEP IN. No, get up! What to do today! It was time to venture out of Shinjuku, my newly found comfort zone. I decided to jump straight in the deep end, try and make my way to Odaiba which is the bay area of Tokyo about 25min train ride south of Shinjuku, but not without a transfer or something. A friend said you need to catch the monorail. What monorail!? Well with a useless map and no real idea I decided to leg it. Thankfully a JR info attendant spoke broken english, said I needed to go to Osaki and use a machine outside to get my ticket.

Stared blankly at said machine for 2minutes pondering how I would translate it, oh wait the other one over there has an ENGLISH button. WIN! JR Ticket select. What are all these numbers? I stared blankly and then looked around, a sign had corresponding numbers on a map of the railway layout. I figured the they were fares linking to the stations but the stations weren’t in english. A women noticed me staring bemused so she asked in broken english ‘Where would you like to go?’ I said Osaki, she looked it up and bam I had a ticket.

My main goal in Odaiba was Toyota MEGA WEB. From what I knew; a display centre with cool car related stuff. I get off in Osaki, my map is again useless and doesnt even list the bay area as existing. The trip from Shinjuku to Tokyo Teleport Station in Odaiba is supposed to take 25minutes. Osaki was only 10minutes. I was guessing transfer time and I was right, back up to buy another ticket to extend the fair. This time I showed that ticket machine whose boss and was off to the platform in no time. 15minutes later and Im where I need to be.

I knew two things about Odaiba; They used to host a D1 (Local Drift Competition) in the carpark here and it’s home to this Toyota thing. Upon getting off the train theres a huge sign listing all these places to visit and their distance. A museum or two, A shopping centre called “palette town” and a whole lot more. The toyota showroom and design centre was ok. The highlight was you could book this ‘eco ride’ they have a track that runs directly through the building and swerves and goes up a storey or two and then outside and it’s totally automated, you don’t drive the car drives! Apparently this technology and display has been around for years… as I would later find out first hand later on.

I then made my way to the last part of the Toyota MEGA WEB the ‘history garage’. If you like Toyotas or oldschool cars or cars in general bring a change of undies. What would you do if you had 50million dollars? buy a bunch of cool cars? Yeah great. How about build your own ‘town’ (inside?) with decore matching the cars you place inside. A ferrari 256 GTS? Place it in little Italy ofcourse surrounded by roman pillars and streetcarts filled with fresh produce. Into Mustangs and Cadilacs? place them in a western 50’s American bar / mockup petrol station of course!

Like AE86’s? Place them outside Takumi’s Tofu shop! All 4 of them! Including an ex D1 drift coup. The cars sitting around? A Nissan 240z, the original batmobile, Toyota 2000gt, deloreon, porches, blah blah blah on the list goes. I walked further on to find the back section was a store filled floor to roof with service manuals and diecast models of the highest quality of all types of cars. 1000’s of them. Old school memorabilia like tin-pressed car illustraions to used numberplates from the past. This was all utterly mind blowing. It was like being 10yrs old and dreaming up a garage and being in it.

And then I walked downstairs! More diecast toys as well as; Toyota’s actual F1 car, A GT500 car, A LE MANS racer. The Celica GT4 that won the WRC a heap of times. Some of these cars were parked inside the cafe whilst the others were parked outside which I then noticed was themed like an Italian villa in Sicily. It was an outdoor courtyard with a huge fountain in the middle and a driveway that looped it. Brilliant! It’s as if some exec at Toyota decided to build his boyhood dream garage.

I’ve forgotten to mention the rest of Palette town, it continues the ‘villa’ theme indoors (with fake blue sky and all) It was kind of like the DFO in Sydney except 1000x classier and with better stores and about twice as big at least. Fountains inside etc. Some of the stores were generic but others blew my mind!

Theres a huge ferris wheel right there outside the complex also. Walking to the bay-side I noticed the Sceince Museum was a bit of a hike. I noticed what appeared to be a monorail on the map so I walked to find it. Got tickets and got on to find NO DRIVER. Standing at the front of this thing was rather discerning. It runs automatically (just like the cars in the Toyota facility) It’s interesting to note that the station has glass barriers and sliding doors on the actual platform yet the train stops dead perfect (so its doors lineup with the platform doors) every single time.

The Emerging Science building was okay, It has a cool thing on robotics and some hands on life-science stuff it was interactive with displays and speakers (only good for Japanese speakers to listen to though) The simple and nerdy highlight for me was a little simple experiment setup on display. It was apparently alcohol vapour setup on a clear tub somehow. It’s purpose was to highlight radiation. People, especially new age hippies talk about radiation like it was invented by mad scientists; especially when talking microwaved food. The reality is we’re surrounded by radiation every day, we even emit it ourselves. So this display actually CAUGHT the alpha, beta and gamma radiation and made it visible in an eerie smokey way, simple yet cool.

Was getting to 4pm now So I decided to head back with a stop at Shibuya. Theres a statue in the square of the famous station square called Hachiko sqaure. It’s also where that ‘famous’ Intersection is in Shibuya when the lights go green you get a huge displacement of people in all directions. The Hachiko statue is a dog. The story goes; In the 1920’s a professor who taught at Tokyo University kept a small Akita dog called Hachiko, the dog followed his master to the station every morning whilst he went to work. Hachiko would actually return in the afternoon to wait for the professor to come home every day without fail. In 1925 the professor died of a stroke yet little Hachiko would return to the meeting spot every afternoon for 10years until it’s own death. The story touched the locals who built the statue in the little dogs honour. It’s now a popular meeting spot in Shibuya!

I wandered around a bit with the aim of finding a record store called disc union. I instead found one called recofan which I’ve heard is amazing. On the elevator everyone got out on a floor that looked like a book store so I got out too, it was manga/anime/toy haven of course. Robot toys galore! I ALMOST went a little crazy buying some buy refrained and headed to the music store. I was in there for 2hours! They had a used Beatles vinyl section and vinyl in general was a bargain. At record fares in Australia if your after ‘rare’ Japanese pressings of The Beatles LP’s (with Apple label stickers) your looking at like $50 an LP. Here was a wall in front of me, starting from $10 a pop! Oh noes!

9800yen later and I walked out pretty happy. All japanese pressings of everything from The Beatles, The Damned, Gang of Four, Blondie, The Cure and and and and A MINT Japanese pressing of The Smiths strangeways album with stickers for fricken $14! Wow. That’d be like $70 back home I’m going to go broke in this town. They also give you brand new plastic sleeves for free! Got some Ramen on the way home and took some more snaps of the Shibuya Intersection at night. Dead tired!

Note to self; 80shots left on my 4GB photocard! (shooting in L format) geees time to buy another.

MORE PHOTOS OVER AT FLICKR

MORE PHOTOS OVER AT FLICKR

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The Cribs @ Manning Bar, SYDNEY 19-02-2010 Review + Rant

Posted in Music, Review by jukeboxparables on February 20, 2010

I don’t want to start reviewing live shows on here really, but last nights show will be the exception because, well I need to get this rant about this band off my chest. So let me indulge;

I was actually pondering if me and my drunken posse of friends were going to be the only people turning up to this show. The general rule of thumb is if a band is Indie and British they usually carry a truckload of hype wherever they may travel, in most cases un-deserved. As far as The Cribs go, it’s quite astonishing to me they’re not filling 5,000 “seat” venues. There is no hype, It’s beyond me how they’ve managed to fly under the radar in Australia and many other places. The Manning Bar being a small-mid sized venue (capacity 900) and It wasn’t sold out last night.

Sure they’ve had a bit of exposure in the UK, but it took 2 full-length albums for the mainstream media to START to take notice. It’s probably a combination of various factors varying from indifference; people simply ‘not listening’ and painting them with the brush of ‘just another brit-pop band’ to the ignorant and mind-numbingly stupid; per PITCHFORK MEDIA and their review of second LP “The New Fellas” which stated the band were essentially a rip off of The Strokes. This is a fundamental and glaring mis-understanding of the history of music. The Strokes didn’t invent Garage Rock. It’s the equivalent of saying The Ramones are a rip off of The Sex Pistols (with UK v USA rivalry noted, hence the analogy) The Cribs have their own list of classic garage/punk/post-punk influences however varying from understated bands Orange Juice and Comet Gain to Johnny Thunders, The Ramones and Nirvana to name just a few.

Not many bands/people understand those latter artists for what they were, most see/hear/think ra-ra-ra + violence mixed in with leather jackets / tight jeans or flannel. A band like The Ramones were really about; 1-2-3-4 cover up our inner frailties and love of classic melody/pop/hooks with an assault of raw energy, Nirvana likewise.

The Cribs get this, it comes naturally.

The greatness of “The Strokes – Is This It”, noted (and voted album of the decade by NME) “The Cribs – The New Fellas” is just simply a better album. It does everything “Is This It” does (down to it’s raw, lo-fi and real ‘splashing in the sun’ innocence) and then just does so much more. The Strokes could never write a song like “The Wrong Way To Be” let alone anything like the songs off The Cribs third LP “Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever” which is testament to the growth of the band. Any similarities with other classic lo-fi garage/punk rock bands was left behind with the release of MNWNW. Hit Single “Men’s Needs” gave the band real exposure and is a staple on Indie dance-floors the world over, the problem being most DJ’s have NFI and don’t play anything else by the band and hence most Indie hipsters I talk to either say Who? or “Oh yeah that Men’s Needs song”. The Cribs are so much more.

Take track “Be Safe” off MNWNW for example, the track features a collaboration with Sonic Youth guitarist/vocalist Lee Ranaldo, who contributes a chilling and blunt spoken word lamentation about modern day living. It’s 6minutes long and has a building drumroll leading to a final chorus near the end that can only be described as ‘epic’. Hold on? Weren’t The Cribs a lo-fi innocent raw melody pop garage band. Where the hell did this come from?

It’s called progression and growth without loosing your core sound/values and without completely abandoning your original style. The amount of bands that have pulled this off in ALL of music history I can honestly count on one hand. Think about this… think about one of your favourite ‘big’ bands and compare their first album to their most recent/last. Either it’s the same or it’s unrecognisable. I’m not saying bands don’t grow, I’m saying they grow and essentially sound the same, or grow and completely shift away from their early sound.

When The Cribs latest LP came out late 2009 I thought my little theory as stated above had been shattered. Sure they managed to pull it off after 3 albums, maybe it was a fluke, maybe it was all ex- Smiths/ModestMouse guitar god Johnny Marr’s fault?

Their 4th LP “Ignore The Ignorant” is altogether more clean and neater sounding than MNWNW. So have they broken my little ‘growth rule’ and abandoned their raw low-fi history? Well yes and no. MNWNW was already a step-up from purposely going for a lo-fi sound but it still had that rawness and more growth than a pumpkin on steroids. Johnny Marr joined the band officially in 2008/09 this automatically broke the rule of the ‘classic’ 3 piece band formula. But how did that change effect the sound?

On the first few listens, it all sounded ‘too safe’ for me. The clarity and neatness of the songs seemed to me like they’d gone too far away from their previous album. Or so it seemed, perhaps it was just the production? Perhaps it’s just the next logical growth step-up. I wouldn’t know until I saw it all come together.

Well last night, along with my apprehension of me/friends being the only people there due to everyone seemingly not knowing much about the band. I was also wondering if the band would sound “too safe” if the new songs would stand out like sore thumbs. If Johnny Marr’s well known docile stage presence had rubbed off on the band?, had they forgotten how to be punk? Forgotten how to turn a standing crowd into a chorus chanting riot? Or was that riot chanting chorus?

They kicked off with Ignore The Ignorant opener We Were Aborted and pretty much all I can conclude after that was people yelling at their top of their lungs, dancing, shouting, people crowd surfing and falling happily to their deaths over the barrier arms in the air… still singing. It was an utter fucking blur. I then noticed near perforated ear drums, these guys were loud. I then noticed Johnny Marr swooning about the stage like a possessed mad-man guitar in awkward positions aimed at the sky, or some random point in the crowd. We’ve all seen him in Smiths footage, I’ve seen him live in Modest Mouse… it was nothing like this. The Jarman brothers have rubbed off on Marr rather than the other way around. He’s apparently 20years their senior, but last night he looked their age easily matching the energy levels. We’d later joke that he’s a superhero whose super-power is un-aging immortality.

Hey Scenesters!, the crowd goes into sing-along overdrive and its only their 2nd song. It’s a lament about one of the bands early-on fascinations; Interacting with the pretentious scenester-crowd.

Then it hit me, It was utter consistency. Somehow those previously thought ‘safe’ sounding songs were now ‘full’ sounding raw numbers that slotted in the set perfectly. Old raw-riot offkey distorted song Direction slots near reserved clean-tone newy We Share The Same Skies and it works? How does it work!? Gary and Ryan (who share vocal duties) shout at their mics as if the inanimate objects themselves are their own worst enemies.

Drummer Ross stands up on the seat of his drumkit to the close of various songs making sure he can hit the crap out of those cymbals as hard as physically possible. The timing of the songs is perfect, none too slow and with the energy of some of the numbers you’d think The Cribs would get carried away and speed through things. Not a chance, they play like they’ve been doing it for decades with the energy of a band whose just kicking things off. In a way they kind of are, Johnny Marr onboard is a kick up the butt to any stale thoughts of repetition the Jarman’s might have started to aquire after doing this for eight years or so.

Interestingly Last Years Snow is played early in the set, I pictured it more of a ‘hold lighters to the sky moment’ but it yields a strong singalong with kids still ready to mosh about. Continuing the theme from Hey Scenesters! is Mirror Kissers “You aren’t allowed to say that you’re better. You aren’t allowed to say that cos you’re the hipster type” This is a straight out dig at the hipsters of the world; pretentious self obsession is everything this band is against. I’m reminded of the popular film clip for the song which is pure parody. By the time this song started, I couldn’t hear the vocals. The crowds combined singing got so loud and the crush to get to front reminded me of attending crazed metal gigs as a kid. This was Intense.

I then wrongly thought that would be the highlight and couldn’t be topped. When MNWNW opener Our Bovine Public kicked in people really did lose their shit; people began jumping the barriers to get on stage, weave between the band and launch themselves superman style into the crowd for a surf. I’m reminded of some of the better/crazy punk shows I used to attend as well some footage of fans incessantly doing this at Nirvana shows.

A break in the songs and one of the Jarman’s get on the mic to talk about something I can’t make out because Im deaf. But I do catch something along the lines of; “this next song was written over 8years ago and thousands of miles away” the crowd reacts with cries of “Wakefield, Wakefield, Wakefield” (the bands rough and tumble blur-collar hometown in Yorkshire England where they grew up, where according to an interview people would start fights with them just because they’d be carrying a guitar to practice) This band has literally fought people to do things their own way. Debut self-titled album song Another Number then kicks in. It’s utter simplicity and pop perfection is one of my favourites.

By the time Be Safe rolls around, I’m stepping away from the second row towards the back to take in the sound from a different perspective. Lee Ranaldo’s giant head is projected onto a screen behind the band leaving them in silhouette for his spoken word. Pretty good value; The Cribs an ex-Smith and a member of Sonic Youth in one night. I then realise there is actually a half-forming circle-pit starting from row 4 or so back. What the? Kids are still crowd surfing. I actually didn’t mind one bit at the several kicks to the head I copped. So many venues have banned crowd surfing, despite people normally acting like dickheads or what you might think of it. It was great to see people just completely lose it.

I’m pretty sure they closed with Ignore The Ignorant or was it City Of Bugs? which screeched to an end with waling feedback and drum crashes. I could be wrong as I’ve said it was an utter blur, even when I stepped back to try and get some air the sound was full on and completely overwhelming. There’s no getting away from this band when they’re on, the energy radiates to all corners of the venue.

Then it was all over, my friend copped a drum stick square in the forehead as people scurried to pick it up. No souvenirs for us and no-bullshit-cliched-pretendwalkoff-encore. The Cribs are the real deal and I’m going to go home and listen to Ignore The Ignorant having settled it in my mind, it is yet another level of growth for the band with no compromises.

Setlist? (from drunk memory, I’m actually certain it’s way off in bits including omissions) So leave a comment if you remember better.

We Were Aborted
Hey Scenesters!
We Share The Same Skies
Direction
Hari Kari
Last Years Snow
Mirror Kissers
Our Bovine Public
Another Number
Be Safe
Men’s Needs
Cheat On Me
Ignore The Ignorant
City Of Bugs





The last few weeks as denoted by pictures…

Posted in Photography, Random by jukeboxparables on February 17, 2010

I’ve been flat out planning this trip thing… So besides my precious little twitter updates heres what i’ve been up to one way or another;

Melbourne weekend trip (driving 1100km) to head out ++ pickup my first motorbike // Melbourne Museum // My new guitar setup // St Jermones laneway festival; Florence & The Machine, Bunnymen, The XX // random photo of the last night at one of my fav local pubs // listening to way too much cash//smiths on aforementioned melbourne drive // I think that about covers it // Oh cute+cool bartenders!












Craig Schuftan On Romanticism & Rock n Roll

Posted in Books/Comics/Manga, Music, Oldschool/Classic Things by jukeboxparables on May 20, 2009

I’ve caught this program called Fora on ABC TV a few times now, It’s an Australian equivalent of something like CSPAN. A show dedicated to Talks on intellectual, political, cultural and economic debate in Australia. However they also have a website and offer their feature segments IN FULL for viewing online, great stuff.

Their current feature is Craig Schuftan, who Triple J listeners might know as occasionally presenting a short segment called “The Culture Club” which basically traces contemporary music and specific bands/artists back through time to the origins of the subject matter a particular artist happens to be talking about. In some cases it’s easy work; Craig takes in song/album titles or lyrics and traces their origin. In other cases however, he thoroughly investigates the links to the motif’s and movements/underlying statements of a particular song/album/band. It’s powerful stuff.

The segment was turned into a book but this ABC Fora talk is about his most recent book on the ties between modern music and romanticism. It’s must watch viewing for all you fellow music nerds. I’ve tagged a handful of the artists mentioned in the talk.

Enjoy! – Click here to view video. *Click play, then Play Full Clip*

Alternatively you can listen to the MP3 right here.

The Smiths, Live @ Derby 1983.

Posted in Music by jukeboxparables on April 2, 2009

So this is nothing new in the least. But I’ve heard a few bootlegs in my day (I was swapping/trading them with strangers at the age of 16… mostly Nirvana and the like) But I randomly came across some Smiths live stuff on the youtubes nothing new there. But wow does it sound amazing. So I did some googling. It’s a bootleg released under the name “Sorrow’s Son” CD format, and the recording is from Assembly Rooms, Derby on the 7th of December 1983.

Check out the set on youtube via a playlist I made here It’s worth it for the sheer brilliance of how good it sounds. Especially one of my favourites “Still Ill” Morrissey’s vocals are spot on. It’s a great recording.

Here’s an excerpt; the aforementioned “Still Ill” which is off their 1984 self titled debut.

the_smithsb

Out.com ‘gayest albums of all-time’

Posted in Music, Random by jukeboxparables on March 29, 2009

A panel of ‘experts’ including Boy George, Rufus Wainwright, Cyndi Lauper and Darren Hayes amongst a list of others recently voted in Out.com’s Top 100 ‘gayest albums of all time’ I’m quite bemused by that but let’s go with it.

Coming in at number #1? David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. An interesting choice. I remember reading an article on Bowie which had a few quotes about his sexual orientation back then. He’s apparently since made comment’s saying he regrets his earlier sentiments. Think of that what you will I guess. The article does some it up pretty well though;

It’s ironic that an album with an opener forecasting Earth’s expiration and a closer tackling celebrity excess and self-destruction remains one of the most liberating, uplifting records of all time — about as ironic as a straight man topping this list. Robust, swaggering anthems “Ziggy Stardust” and “Suffragette City” prove this space odyssey is far from morbid or apocalyptic, yet it is on standouts like the languid, gender-flirting “Lady Stardust” and brash come-on “Moonage Daydream” — in which the singer asks for a raygun to be placed to his head with almost masochistic sexual glee — that Ziggy and his Spiders really shine. When in the grand finale, “Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide,” Bowie wails “Oh no love! You’re not alone!” over a sea of theatrical strings, you know he was singing for every exiled, dejected, sexually confused young kid who longed for a world of greater possibilities.

Other notables? Coming in at #2 was The Smiths – (self titled) And again in at #6 with The Queen Is Dead. The Velvet Underground & Nico came in at #12 whilst Lou Reed – Transformer was #17.

So what exactly is implied if you happen to own all of those aforementioned great albums? haha.