Japanese Music


More experimental stuff this week. A compilation from Japan in 1981 featuring a lot of lo-fi, field recordings mixed with various noise and instruments. I haven’t figured out who’s who just yet as there’s no track times to match the info below. Although my guess is it’d be difficult to find any one artist, but who knows. It’s been a terrific backing soundtrack while I work on things. Here’s all the info if you don’t want to head to YouTube:

Label: Vanity Records ‎– vanity 0010-11
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Compilation Box Set
Country: Japan Released: 1981
A1 Pessimeist - Sattyuzai
A2 UnAble Mirror - Hischool Pigs
A3 UnAble Mirror - Ignorant Animal
A4 MR - 213
A5 Adode/Cathode - …Of The Passive Voice Through The Light
B1 Kiiro Radical - Denki Noise Dance
B2 Kiiro Radical - Denki Noise Dance
B3 Kiiro Radical - Denki Noise Dance
B4 Kiiro Radical - Denki Noise Dance
B5 Kiiro Radical - Denki Noise Dance
B6 Tokyo - Cassette Tape
C1 Daily Expression - Inka Sanka
C2 Daily Expression - Inka Sanka
C3 Plazma Music - Green Brain
C4 Nose - Dolby Nr On
C5 New York - 1976
D1 Arbeit - Bunders Nachrichten Dienst
D2 Isolation - Invivo
D3 Necter Low - Artificial One





I guess I discovered this band around the time of the release of this album in 1998. ゆらゆら帝国 (Yura Yura Teikoku which translates roughly to “wobbly or shaky empire”) was a 3 piece band out of Tokyo comprised of Shintaro Sakamoto (坂本慎太郎) vocals, guitar, Chiyo Kamekawa (亀川千代) bass guitar, Ichiro Shibata (柴田一郎) drums.

This is their 3rd or 4th album out of about a dozen they released over a 20 year career and remains among my favorites. They have so many great songs but 3x3x3 really holds up as an entire album for me. Although they have the label as psych-rock, I don’t really subscribe to it. They have elements of psychedelic sounds but really they have a really good unique rock sound highlighted by Sakamoto’s guitar playing and voice (although each member kicks ass).

One of the things I really like about them is Sakamoto chose to write his lyrics in Japanese. I don’t understand them really but they’re pretty abstract from what I can gather. It’s one of those things where the music is so good, his voice just blends in as another instrument. That happens in lots of rock I guess really. I don’t know if that kept them out of the spotlight on the international scene though. America kind of sucks like that. They hardly ever promote bands in their native languages (at least in the rock scene). Too bad cuz they miss out on a lot of great stuff.

Anyway, I’m a huge fan of these guys and wish I had seen them live before they broke up. You can find some live performances on the YouTube now and then. Their stuff seems to come and go on that platform. Also, I recently found them on Apple Music and they have 5 or 6 albums on there. Check em out!




Nothing but rad goofy fun on this selection of Japanese hits from 1966 - 70. All female singers, none that I was familiar with. Nonetheless, I love this kind of stuff. Very much defines a time and I find it real easy to close my eyes and time travel.

The tracks:

01  –Mie Nakao  Sharock No.1 00:00
02  –Eiko Shuri  Yé-Yé  02:24
03  –J Girls  Kiiro No Sekai  05:19
04  –Mari Atsumi  Suki Yo Ai Shite  08:18
05  –The Cupids  Bazazz Tengoku  10:48
06  –Miki Obata  Hatsu Koi No Letter  13:26
07  –Kaoru Hibiki  Taiyou Ga Kowai No  16:07
08  –Mie Nakao  Uwasa No Futari  19:11
09  –Aki Izumi  Koi Wa Heart De  23:00
10  –Emy Jackson  Tenshi No Itazura  25:13
11  –Margaret  With Bunnys  Aeba Suki Suki  28:01






Another Japanese band this week in a completely different genre. Thee Michelle Gun Elephant are definitely one of my faves. Singer Yosuke Chiba has one of the great rock voices in my opinion. 

They were active during the 90's decade and have very good catalogue if you like straight forward rock, with a touch of rockabilly and quality musicianship from all the members. All the songs are sung in Japanese but don't let that get in the way of rocking out to one of the tightest bands you'll hear.

I chose this album as it has the song "Sekai No Owari" (世界の終わり) [translates to The End of the World or World's End], which is the first tune I heard by them sometime in the mid 90's and played repeatedly for a good week after listening to it. An amazingly catchy driving tune that I still play quite a lot.

I forgot which album it was for, may have been this one or "Gear Blues" I think but either way they were I'm pretty sure the first Japanese band to get a 4 star rating in Rolling Stone at the time. I may have the details a little wrong but it was a solid review and unusual for the magazine to issue a rating like that back then.

Anyway, check it!




Melt Banana have been around for 20+ years doing things their way. Some call it noise rock or noise punk...I say whatever, their music rocks. Out of Tokyo, Japan I probably learned about them about when this album, "Charlie" was released in 1998. When I heard them I was hooked. It takes a few listens to find the method in their madness but it's there.

They're kind of popular in Japan but much more so in the USA and Europe. I saw them 5 or 6 times when I was living in San Francisco (once with Mike Patton sitting in with them at Slim's). Their live shows are among the best I've experienced. Pure energy. In the states most venues I saw them play were kind of like 500 people places I guess. Whatever the Independent in SF holds, as that was the largest place I saw 'em. Big enough to get lost in a sea of people on the floor anyway. Always sold out, always crazy bad ass and I always left happy and satisfied.

Well, when I moved to Japan, my buddy called me up one day and said they were playing in Tokyo. Of course we went and were surprised at fuck we were in this tiny ass club (they call them "live houses"). Like 75 people max. It was incredible to see them in such a small joint.

I've seen them one other time in Tokyo and that was the same deal. Nicer place but still didn't hold a lot of people. They fucking rocked it that evening, and they weren't even the headliners. I was lucky to get to meet them after their gig and chat with them for a bit.

Anyway, I really admire this band because they've been on the road a lot, obviously love what they do, and go from big venues overseas to small places in Japan. No big ego's, just kick ass music and performances. They're the real deal in my book.