Archive for January, 2009

Judy and Mary: A Tribute (Album)

Being newish to the Japanese music scene, I’ll admit that I’m not as familiar with Judy and Mary as some others may be. So while I may not be the best judge of how awesome this could turn out to be, I am looking forward to an upcoming tribute album, to be released on March 18.

Reading up on their history and seeing some of the tunes they’ve produced, things did begin to click in my head and perhaps a few bits of familiarity as well. What I’ll say tho, is that I’m most excited about is the list of artists who are giving this a go.

  • Ikimono Gakari – Classic
  • Ai Otsuka – LOVER SOUL
  • Okuda Tamio – Sanpomichi
  • Kimura Kaela – Happy?
  • school food punishment – Brand New Wave Upper Ground
  • SUNEOHAIR – Chiisa na Koro kara
  • Nakagawa Shouko – Sobakasu
  • PUFFY – motto
  • HALCALI – Lucky Pool
  • Takeshi Hanzawa (FreeTEMPO) – RADIO
  • Magokoro Brothers – Doki Doki
  • Midori – Music Fighter
  • mihimaru GT – Over Drive

15 artists for 15 years; a great line up, ne? Nakagawa Shouko had previously covered an opening theme from Rurouni Kenshin with 1/2, which I loved. She’s at it again similarly with Sobakasu, which I’ll definitely be looking forward to. Being familiar with a big chunk of the artists on the list is what’s really got me anticipating this, plus from my limited listening, Judy and Mary’s overall sound is great.

Hmm, so far it doesn’t look like I’m going to get my wish of fewer cover songs this year. Ah well, at least they’re breaking the resolution early and who am I to complain.

Thanks for the tip Henkka; via Tokyograph and natalie news.

Mai Kuraki – touch Me!

touch Me!

touch Me!

It did give me a little smile reading the cover, not enough to produce anything like a laugh, but I though the title layout was a lil funny. Mai Kuraki’s latest album, touch Me! was released on January 21, 2009 and it’s one I was pleasantly surprised by. It’s peaked at #1 on Oricon and it looks to be on track to hold that position for the week. Tho that might not be a lot to get excited over, I don’t think there was too much competition album wise.

Mai kind of reminds me of a Koda Kumi or Namie Amuro type of artist, yet is plenty less on the intense side, which I prefer in a way. She apparently had some Whitney Houston influence early on and you can still kinda hear a bit of that. The only reason I draw the parallel is maybe for people who have an interest in the others, perhaps you’ll enjoy her style. Or may want to check it out, if you’re in a similar situation as myself. And then again, it may just be a bad comparison.

Ichibyou Goto ni Love for you, featured on the album was the first new single of Mai’s that I bought and it gets top points on the album. To be expected of singles most of the time I guess. I’m just really digging the upbeat sound to it. It’s unique in it’s instrumental aspect, when compared to a lot of her other stuff. Break the Tone was another good one, again more upbeat and has an interesting pop sound.

Didn’t I just put up a whole posts on how I’d like to see less cover songs this year? Jamie, what’s the deal? Well it’s not a single and the entire album isn’t dedicated to covers so I’ll let it slide. Covering Top of The World by The Carpenters, it’s kinda awesome in a way. I mean, it’s a great song, and she pulls it off while adding just enough to give it a bit of an updated feel. It’s one of the best songs on the album, but maybe that’s a bit of familiarity bias.

It’s not something I’ll put on repeat or anything like that, but a few great tracks and overall nice sound make this album a nice grab.

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Wota Wonderings 1

Welcome to Wota Wonderings! We are a group of english-speaking Japanese music bloggers brought together once a month to answer questions posed by johpan. We strive to be creative and entertaining, and we may even shed a bit of new light on interesting musical and cultural topics. Any questions about how we work should be directed to johpan. Don’t forget to check out the other posts from this month at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!

New Year’s Resolutions

If you were someone in the Japanese music industry who could influence a change, what would your New Year’s resolution be?

So over winter break I was having a good long chat with my buddy JMI. Jamie, as she likes to be called, is a big time player in the Japanese music industry, heck you could even say that she is the Japanese music industry, from a female pop vocalist’s perspective anyway. In any case, I rarely get to talk to her anymore since she’s becoming so popular over in Japan and around the world really, so I was glad that were able to both find a little down time to reflect on the past and coming years.

At one point in our reminiscing, Jamie and I switched gears and began rattling off a list of resolutions that we’d like to stick to for the coming year. You know, loose a little weight, kicking off an image change, looking to the future and blah blah blah. We had been batting around quite a few ideas but one of hers really stuck out for me. Jamie was somewhat disappointed with some of her performances over the last year or so. Specifically, she has been releasing a lot of cover songs lately and felt that she was lacking in originality, she wasn’t singing her own voice so to speak.

On that point, I countered by admitting that covers can be fun, but in the end realized that I too was ready to move on. While we must always remember where we started, we must also push forward with great innovation. If I were in Jamie’s shoes, I’d probably have the same feeling. I mean, the list of covers wasn’t too grandiose, but a lot of  other Japanese artists had released cover songs too.

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Poddokyasuto 1

Trying something new with a podcast. Might not do any others, but it serves as an interesting(?) introduction in any case. Also included is a quick response to Amy’s post about Berryz Koubou over on Merry Go Round.

Meh… I’ve got some complaints, but I’m not one to complain, nor am I a perfectionist… enjoy.

  1. Berryz Koubou – Gag 100kaibun Aishite Kudasai (Instrumental)
  2. Nakagawa Shouko – Magic Time – Ivy
  3. Yum!Yum!ORANGE – ORANGE ROCK FES 33 – Shangri-La
  4. GO!GO!7188 – Kataomoi Fighter
  5. CHERRY LYDER – Kirin no Kubi Yori Nagaku Naru

Recorded with a Logitech Quickcam Orbit AF and edited with Adobe Soundbooth CS4, er for anyone who’s curious…

Nakagawa Shouko – Magic Time

Magic Time

Magic Time

So many releases coming through to start up 2009, and Shokotan kicks it off right. Her second album, Magic Time, was released on January 1, 2009 and features seven new tracks and [another] Sorairo Days remix.

She continues to come up with more rockish sounding songs, which I really enjoy. While at the same time, she’s still keeping true to the poppy stuff her long time fans will like. Perhaps there’s not really distinction anymore, but I have read some reviewers who don’t like this shift, whereas others just don’t care for the happy go lucky stuff.

Of the new songs, Spiral and Ivy were the tops for me. Spiral has a nice mix of guitar and pop. It feels as if could have been used as an anime opening, game theme song or the like, which Shokotan is somewhat known for. Ivy features a do wop type of swing that transitions in a nifty kazoo tune at the end. It’s just fun without being overly so.

The Sariro Days mix isn’t anything special this time around. Where the last mix was a totally redone with 8 bit goodness, this one seems a to be a step back from the original. It’s kind of a mix of Tsuzuku Sekai and Sorairo, but it’s just lacking energy and variety on the instrumental side or something. That said, it doesn’t detract from the general quality of the album and is one of the better tracks included.

Overall I really liked the album and am definitely looking forward to following Shokotan this year. That’s both in the musical sense, and in whatever modeling, acting and other promotional spots she has lined up. She always seems to have something interesting going on.

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