Thursday, March 29, 2007

Odds & Ends

*, where I’ve been doing monthly columns about Japanese music, is shutting down. It’s a shame—I enjoyed writing for them and also liked reading the other columns from Montreal, Sydney, Austin and San Francisco. The guides to music scenes were great too. Posts from the past will stay online.

* Live365, which hosts my radio station, has been asked by the Copyright Royalty Board to pay drastically higher royalties. They are appealing this, but if it goes through, that could make it impossible for small-time broadcasters like me to afford it. It seems like a witless move on the music industry’s part—Live 365 actually encourages people to try out new music and buy it (I know I have, listening to other stations—lots!). More on this here and here.

* On to happier news: one of my favorite Japanese groups, Yuyake Lamp, the piano pop band started by former members of Orange Plankton, released its first single yesterday, called ‘Kokoro no Ki [‘The Tree of the Heart’]’. They are doing a solo show at the Shibuya Plug on Friday to celebrate its release, and will hit the road for a multi-city tour from April 4. I haven’t bought the single yet, and will probably pick it up at the Plug show. It’s available here.

* Multi-instrumental art pop group 4 Bonjour’s Parties is also due to release their first album, both in Japan (on May 16) and in the U.S. (on July 23). I’m looking forward to that one too—4BP's tunes are beautiful, mellow and flowing, and it will be a pleasure to listen to a whole album’s worth of their music. Also gorgeous is the album cover (below), which is designed by a Japanese illustrator named Colobockle.

* Some live show photos of mine are used as the dots in this ad for Onitsuka Tiger shoes. This one came out of the blue—maybe I should charge them a fee!

* is now selling advantage Lucy tracks. Available are the album Echo Park and the maxi-singles Hello again and Sunday Pasta. Advantage Lucy is one of Japan’s best bands, and this is a good way to be introduced to their always-brilliant guitar pop.

* By the way, advantage Lucy disappeared from view for the first few months of this year, not updating their internet page and not doing any shows. It was a bit worrying, but they’re back now—their first show of the year is an acoustic set at a Buddhist temple (!) in Hiroshima (it sounds great, but is a bit of a hike from Tokyo…), and vocalist Aiko has restarted her online diary. It looks like they’re working intensively on a new album, removing themselves from the world like hermits in some coastal cave, to devote themselves to music… Aiko writes that they feel now like first line intro of the Soseki Natsume novel Kusamakura (the internet being the incredible resource that is, I’ve found a translation of the passage):

Use your intellect to guide you, and you will end up putting people off. Rely on your emotions, and you will forever be pushed around. Force your will on others, and you will live in constant tension. There is no getting around it—people are hard to live with.

Perfectionism comes with a price, is what I think she means. I love advantage Lucy for many reasons, and definitely one of those reasons is that they’re the sort of band that quotes Soseki Natsume in their online diary!

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