Advantage Lucy has long had a devoted following, myself firmly in its ranks, and as I listened to them play their last show of the year at Mona Records I thought about what was behind their popularity.
There must be at least three things:
1. The melodies: Guitarist Yoshiharu Ishizaka consistently creates some of the most memorable, hummable melody lines out there;
2. The indie feel: Lucy songs have a written-by-the-guy-next-door feel, as if, with some effort, you could write something similar yourself. Though, in reality, well, good luck with that;
3. The voice: Aiko's bewitching voice. It's at once soft and powerful, and has an alluring, spring-clear quality.
The Mona show was an 'acoustic' set, meaning there weren't bass and drums and the amps were turned down, a set-up that highlighted Aiko's singing voice. Being in its presence for the half an hour or so was a fleeting pleasure, like seeing the sky at an hour when the colors are most radiant and varied. The cafe was packed and I stood toward the back, allowing me views of the band on the low stage only occasionally when the bodies in front of me shifted in just the right way, but that didn't matter, because the music was all that was needed to intoxicate. (In addition to winter-flavored songs like “Hello Mate!” they played two new songs and an unrecorded one, and Aiko hinted that an album will be coming out next year. Cross my fingers...)
Round Table (pictured above) organized the event, and as always, their show was energetic and entertaining. The duo has been described as Shibuya-kei, but I felt there should be some other name for what they do, maybe, neo-Tokyo city pop, combining the sensibilities of R&B, soul and Latin with popular Japanese music (or, wait, did I just describe part of Shibuya-kei?).
In the audience: The duo that makes up solange et delphine, who I wrote about recently. They told me they are huge Round Table fans.
Haunted Live House: At the after-show party I heard that many people think the Shinjuku live house Jam is haunted. No one seemed to know why it was or in what way (is that a ghost next to you head-banging?), but this was apparently a common belief. It's pretty rare to meet a Japanese person who doesn't believe in ghosts.