Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda. OST

The soundtrack for newly released animated movie Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda. (made by the Anohana team) features the music of Mito from Clammbon. and Yokoyama Masaru. What I find more interesting is the vocal tracks rather than the instrumentals – the song above has Mito bringing in frequent collaborator Kotringo, and it’s delightful despite the Engrish. There’s also a cover of Over the Rainbow by Kiyoura Natsumi, who just returned from a 3 year hiatus this January.

Most of Disc 2 features songs from the in-show musical and well…the voice actors are just about competent enough not to sound terribly off-key, but still way, way short of outstanding. I’d love to have heard the original demos that Kiyoura made, to be honest. I actually yelped hearing Minase Inori shriek into my earphones on わたしの声 (cover of Greensleeves). Guess there’s a huge difference between ‘being able to sing’ and ‘having a voice that sounds nice for singing’..this is sadly, not on TARI TARI level.


Younha – VIEW

During an in-store event to promote her latest Japanese mini-album, Younha talks about 2nd track 星よりも遠い人, a song she actually received the demo for during her Houkiboshi days. She says that at the time, “they” (I guess, her producers) decided not to record it because it the content of the song wasn’t right for her. 10 years later, Younha revisited the song and finally understood why it had originally been dropped – the 17-year old her wouldn’t have had the emotional maturity to handle a song about regret and longing.

In the same video above she talks about how ‘crazy’ her life has been and if you’ve been following her career back in her homeland Korea you’ll know what she’s referring to – legal troubles etc etc. You can really hear how her singing style has matured over the years and VIEW reflects just how far Younha’s come since getting her break in Japan as a fresh-faced teenager.

Awesome City Club – Awesome City Tracks 2

This five piece (3 guys, 2 girls) went major with Victor Ent earlier this year and released the awesome Awesome City Tracks in April, an EP that was helmed by hip producer mabanua. Just a couple of months and they’re back with…Awesome City Tracks 2. Inventive naming skills indeed. Their music is not exactly unique, but it is criminally catchy.

Check out the PV for Outsider above (and another for album opener GOLD). Read a feature on them in The Japan Times. Official site is here.

Han Hee Jung – Slow Dance

Check out the MV for this lovely new song from Han’s lovely new EP of the same title. Maybe ‘lovely’ isn’t the right word…’haunting’ would be better. Or ‘melancholic’. The only bad thing about Slow Dance is that it’s a mere five tracks long, not enough to satisfy my thirst for more of her music – it has been 2 years since 날마다 타인 (Strangers Everyday) after all.

Desert Island Discs

During my time in the UK I used to listen to a BBC Radio 4 programme titled Desert Island Discs, a show that invites guests (called ‘castaways’) to pick 8 pieces of music, a book (non-religious text) and a luxury item to take to an imaginary desert island where they would be marooned indefinitely. Pretty much everybody who’s somebody has been invited on, from politicians to Oscar winning actors to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Nowadays the show is available to listen on the internet and I still catch the odd episode here and there, such as a recent episode featuring Noel Gallagher. This week’s featured castaway is Dame Judi Dench which should be great fun!

So, I thought it’d be cool to make my own desert island discs. I’ve only been pondering this for the last…5 years?

Book: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

Luxury Item: A jumbo bottle of Maggi Arome Saveur (imported from France)

8 pieces of music
1. Blur – Country House
With no Internet and mainstream radio rarely bothering with anything but the poppiest of pop tunes, I had no real inkling of what Britpop sounded like until my dad gave into our begging to buy imported Now That’s What I Call Music! compilations when we were on holiday in Singapore (it was from some record store in Centrepoint, Orchard Road to be exact). From these discs I learned about Oasis, Blur, Paul Weller, Radiohead, Bluetones, Suede, Pulp, Supergrass, Cast, The Beautiful South and so on. I suppose you could call it a musical awakening. The track I loved most on my first Now! CD was Country House – the song was just so..weird, so different, so GOOD. Musically, this was the first major defining moment in my then, mere 11 years of life.

2. Crowded House – Don’t Dream It’s Over
I didn’t learn about this song’s existence until 10 years after its release (to be specific, when it appeared on NTWICM 35) and I quickly became enamoured with it and the band itself. The lyrics were a great curiosity to me from the start – I always thought they were trying to catch intelligence a paper cup, rather than a deluge in a paper cup. I still hear this on the radio nowadays and it’s insane to think that next year will be the song’s 30th year anniversary.

3. The Corrs – Runaway
Oh I was so, so obsessed with them at some point in the late 90s, particularly with vocalist Andrea. She was my goddess back then….of course I loved their music too. Talk On Corners is still one of my most loved mainstream pop albums and I really did wear out my copy of the CD then. I even entered some silly ‘Design a New Pepsi Logo’ competition just to get my hands on their limited edition promo single Lifting Me. Man, I was already crazy even at 15.

4. Leo Ku – 歡樂今宵
For a very brief window of time I was heavily into Canto and Mandopop, particularly about Ku and his then-labelmate Gigi Leung. I had ALL their CDs, which was crazy considering how many albums Chinese artists used to put out in a year back then. It’s amusing how I can put on his music now and still remember all the words – despite knowing very little Cantonese back then.

5. Utada Hikaru – First Love
My brother went to do his A-levels in the UK at the turn of the century and came back obsessed with weird Japanese cartoons which I wanted nothing to do with, not helped by the fact that his choice of anisong was to me, annoying as hell (Hint: Catch You Catch Me, Boku wa Motto Pioneer). I ended up looking up Jpop on my own to see if there was anything less irritating than whiny Japanese voices and stumbled upon Utada Hikaru via Audiogalaxy. And I fell in love right away. I didn’t learn that First Love was a breakup song until about 3 years later when I began to teach myself Japanese, and I was kind of bummed out…

6. The xx – Islands
xx was an album that changed my perception of how music could be made. Where I’d been used to guitars, bass, keys and drums fighting for supremacy in Britpop and rock songs, suddenly there was this band that made songs with the sparsest, most minimal of instrumentation, yet had such a big sound. xx signalled a shift in my tastes in English-language music – from guitar-based pop/rock, to electronic sounds.

7. school food punishment – 04:59
As I neared the quarter-century age mark I found my music preferences gradually starting to change – bands I used to love, I now thought of as boring; Spitz, Mr.Children, BUMP OF CHICKEN. I craved something different, something more complex. Soutaiseiron, Special Others and Ling Tosite Sigure were amongst the bands that first catered to my newfound interest in electronica, post-rock, math rock, jazz, kayokyoku or hybrids of any of those styles, and in school food punishment I found a band that married that mish-mashed influence with more traditional pop. amp-reflection was sheer perfection and it a great shame that we’ll never get to see the (ex) band replicate it.

8. Shojo Jidai – you-aholic
This song represents the most recent major turning point in my life – the moment where, upon seeing it being performed live right in front of me, I dumped Jpop for Kpop without ever looking back. The weirdest thing is that it happened when I was living in Tokyo, where you’d have bet on me getting sucked into seiyuu, xx48 or Johnny’s and not Korean kids. I can’t remember if I’ve told this story here but I might as well repeat myself since the sequence of events that led to my getting sucked into Sone fandom seems so surreal, even now.

I’d been watching SJJD perform Mr Taxi on TV through the runup to, and during promotions for their Japan début LP. I downloaded the album and liked it but didn’t really think about buying it until I saw the CD display at Tower Records in Shibuya when I went there with a friend after classes. Picked it up on a whim, saw that there was a flyer inside for their Yoyogi lives that same month, put in an application for a ticket without much thought. I forgot about the lottery for a while until I asked my brother, as I’d borrowed his mobile phone email account for it – found out that I had in fact won a ticket, but that the payment deadline was the very next day. Scrambled whatever little cash I had on hand, paid for the ticket at Lawsons and a couple of weeks later, went to see them at Yoyogi, the rest is history. A series of coincidences, or fate?

There you have it, 8 songs that changed my life in some way. Now let me grab some lemonade and a sunshade to enjoy…

Girls’ Generation – Lion Heart

Predictably, here I am again – eating my words. When I posted this a year ago, I had no way of knowing that Girls’ Generation as I knew it would completely unravel a mere 6 days later. Damn, that post was bitter as hell and I won’t offer any lame ‘I musta been drunk when I wrote that!’ excuses but…yeah. 2014 was a really trying time for both the group and SONE, in many ways. I really need to sleep 24 hours on a post before I push the ‘publish’ button…

There’s probably no point going into the nitty gritty stuff – I would only get bitter and angry (again!); suffice to say I have thrown my support behind the remaining 8 after some time spent re-evaluating why I ever liked them in the first place. I think I’m feeling pretty good about the balance between my interest in seiyuu and Korean idols right now and thankfully, I don’t feel overly invested in either one. I’m aware of how annoyingly/ unhealthily obsessed I can be with certain things for sure, so hopefully I can stay this way.

On to Lion Heart then, the first era post-you-know-who. Frankly, it felt rather frightening to think of how the public would react to new-SNSD but it’s been much more positive than I expected (provided I ignore all the maomaos) and I really did enjoy their brief periods of promotion. Music-wise, I ended up liking Lion Heart itself a lot more than You Think (got dull quickly) and Party (Katy Perry much?) – basic, but it’s a lot of fun to watch live once they started having a bit more fun with the choreography.

Favourite song on the album? I’m very predictable, and it was always going to be Talk Talk.

Spangle call Lilli line – feel uneasy

New song featuring moto kawabe from mitsume. This follows azure from a couple of months ago and is gearing up to SCLL’s new album ghost is dead, due for release on November 11.

Stoked for a whole album of new material! Wooooh, no more self-covers of Rio! It’s probably been something like 10 years since I started liking SCLL, from when I was still active in JMR/ JIR back in the Soulseek days…I don’t think I knew anyone who didn’t like them back then. Electronic-based post-rock is all too common nowadays but it seemed quite the novelty at the time.