Friday, January 19, 2007

Texas Pandaa, Contrary Parade At Basement Bar

Are there pandas in Texas?

If so, do they wear ten-gallon hats and prospect for oil?

Or, is a 'pandaa' something different from a panda?

Those are some of the questions that might come up when pondering the name of a brilliant Tokyo band named texas pandaa, who I saw Friday night at the Shimokitazawa Basement Bar.

Sometimes it's good to have a weird band name, which many many bands in Japan do, because it stays in your mind. That was the case when I last saw texas panda three years ago: their name was imprinted in my brain, though that was also because these performing pandas were wonderful live.

I seemed to remember them being hyper and sorta punk, but Friday night they were clearly more in the shoegazer camp, a bit like My Bloody Valentine, except instead of Kevin and Bilinda there were two Japanese girls on vocals. The guitar girl is the main singer while the bass gal mostly does harmonies, and between on stage is the lead guitar guy (they're a two-girl, two-guy band). Most of the songs started quiet, and built up in intensity to final feedback-packed explosions. They were understated between songs, in the classic tradition of the shoe-gazing movement, but their music was in-my-face in a dazzling way: this was one of the better shows I've seen in a while.

What I need to do next is listen to a CD by these Lone Star State b&w bears. I see a trip to Tower Records Shibuya in the near future...

Contrary Parade

I found out about this event because I got an e-mail from Satoshi Iwai, drummer for Contrary Parade of Osaka, saying they are coming to Tokyo to do a show, do I want to go? Yes!, I replied immediately--I loved this piano pop quartet's last gig in Tokyo (my report here).

They were great again at this show; they did a couple of new songs that I hope they will release on CD soon. They also said they are on a compilation album with a bunch of other Osaka bands, with all the other groups besides Contrary Parade being hard-core, and a book-CD featuring their music is coming out in March. As a compilation nut, both of these sounded like things I should check out. You can sample Contrary Parade's songs on

One thing, though, I need to at some point ask Contrary Parade's Iwai-san: how did he end up in a band with three female members?

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