Saturday, February 04, 2006

MISSWONDA At Shinjuku Motion

I’ve wanted to see songstress MISSWONDA ever since I read about her in and bought her album Wonderful Tangent, and so I was happy to see she would be playing with Ricarope and Macdonald Duck Éclair tonight at a new club called the Shinjuku Motion. MISSWONDA brings together an 80’s New Wave synthesizer sound with the singer’s whispering vocals like those of old French pop stars—it’s a combination I’d never heard before, and works well.

But before MISSWONDA’s set, I got to see pianist/singer Ricarope for the first time in more than a year. One of my very first entries in this journal was about Ricarope, and I’m a big fan of hers, but because she doesn’t do many shows (she’s an English teacher by day, a job that keeps her busy) and because of schedule conflicts on my part, I’ve been unable to see her live for a long time. Her show was as upbeat and energetic as I remembered. Before doing a song called “Radio”, she explained that the song was about the fact that she listened to Ben Folds Five on the radio and that made her want to do music.

MISSWONDA was next, and as she came on stage I was struck by her appearance: she’s a tall, long-haired beauty, and there was something Greek goddess-like about her. When she sings she hardly moves, making her seem statuesque. There was an echo effect on her vocals, causing her whispery voice to sound like it’s descending from way above, from somewhere maybe in the heavens high above the office buildings of Shinjuku.

Between songs she said a few words, and her spoken voice was fragile-sounding as her singing as she said: “Isn’t it cold? Lots of people have caught colds, and I did too, even though I don’t usually catch colds. I drink a lot, like one bottle of wine a day, but then I stopped drinking and I caught a cold, so I thought maybe I should drink again…” A whispery-voiced singer who stays healthy by imbibing wine…there was definitely something other-worldly and regal about MISSWONDA.


Tonight’s show was held to celebrate the release of an album by the band Macdonald Duck Éclair, who played last. I stuck around to listen to a few of their tunes, but their brand of beepy techno just isn’t my thing. Before them, however, a band I didn’t know anything about called Yucca performed, and they were a happy discovery for me.

The quartet’s flier says they were influenced by U.S. indie rock and post-rock but that their chief passion is pop music, and indeed they sound a bit like a pop version of Sonic Youth. These guys were astonishingly amateurish in their stage direction, the members getting mixed up about who will say what between songs, and at one point they had to start a song over again because the guitarist forgot to turn his guitar on, but their high-energy, hypnotic pop jam music more than made up for that.


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