Interviewed The Idol formerly Known as LADYBABY for NEO Magazine

I’m really excited to share this news with you: my inteview with Rei and Rie from The Idol Formerly Known as LADYBABY has been published on NEO Magazine!

This is my very first interview with a Japanese artist, and also the first time my writing appears on a magazine; I’m really happy and satisfied with it, and I hope you get the chance to read it! Seeing my real name on paper for the first time feels… incredible. It gives me lots of motivation and energy to keep doing what I’m doing, and to improve my writing every day.

In case you’re interested in buying a copy of this UK magazine focused on Japanese culture, you can get it on NEO Magazine’s website (digital version is also available).

I feel like this is my first concrete step in achieving the goal I set to reach a few years ago, when I opened Land of the Rising Sound. I appreciate your support and the motivation you give me every day. I will see you soon!

– Alex

[BLOG] Summer is over. Finally.

3njmkh45

Hey guys, it’s Alex!

As you may have noticed, I’ve been pretty much inactive for the last three months. Living in a tourist costal area translates into super busy and chaotic summers, which means working 12 hours a day, with little to no time to concentrate on pretty much any other thing. Well, except for nocturnal Pokémon GO adventures with my friends. Getting closer to our 30’s, yo.

Anyway, that doesn’t mean I haven’t wrote anything at all (keeping it for later) or completely ignored music: I have observed everything with a vigilant eye, just like Oliver Sykes stalks MOA-METAL around festivals.

To make it short, here are my thoughts on the last three months in Japanese Music.


Short and superficial recap of Summer 2016 in Japanese Music.

Hikki‘s new songs are nice. I think Fantôme is gonna be a good album, something that we’ll eventually verify in just three days. It’s gonna be a big event, and you will find a review of the record here on the blog. Oh, and of course it’ll top the Oricon chart… with some pretty big numbers.

– One of my favorite ex-indie acts, DAOKO, a girl that’s getting way too hot by the way, has been pulling out very shallow and uninspired music lately. Her latest track with TeddyLoid (the one who probably granted her the entry to the mainstream world) is particularly bad. Not surprised there, to be honest. Not even Skrillex cares about *woobz* anymore. C’mon bro…

Perfume killed it in the U.S. with their COSMIC EXPLORER Tour. And Team Perfume crafted an incredible performance for the closing ceremony of the Rio Olympics. Forever proud.

SMAP disbanded. ’bout time.

Sakanaction‘s new single release has been delayed to October 19th. That’s ok, I just need the new album. No problem Yamaguchi-san. No problem at all. *loops Rookie*

BiS are back with new members and leader Pour Lui. They performed live twice, and it was so embarrassing I almost cried: imagine if me (drunk) and KOHH (on acids) were together on stage trying to sing nerve: yes, it’s that bad. I still hope this is some kind of bad joke.

– BiS’ sister/rival group SiS has been created, too. And… yeah. That’s it for now.

BiSH recruited a new member, Ayuni D, and she’s adorable. They also dropped a new album, KiLLER BiSH, that I just finished reviewing right now. The article will be online next Wednesday on an English website. You’ll find a link here in my blog, so stay tuned!

– The Perfume x OK Go track I Don’t Understand You was… meh. And barely featured any Perfume vocals. Whatever.

Spotify is finally coming to Japan next week… things are starting to change for Japan too. As expected. I’ll talk about this later.

– There was a Bikini Night at ageHa just tonight… and I’m here posting Idol pics on Facebook.


That’s it for this short recap! There are some interesting releases for this last part of 2016 that I will review, and more arguments to talk about, which means more articles. Long story short: summer is finally over, and I will be back writing again as usual. When I’m not out playing Pokémon GO, of course.

Joke. Love ya.

– Alex

BLOG | Independent artists and Marketing bots

Sup guys, It’s Alex! Despite not writing as much as I wanted, this week I had the time to analyze some interesting music and facts from the Land of the Rising Sun: I discovered a new group, reviewed an artist that I love, and shown my ultimate disappointment for an act I used to love years ago. But most of all, I got my hands on a nice overload of albums and totally freaked the f**k out. Japanese CDs (and VHS singles, because why not) are all I need to be happy. I’m like this.

The first article of the past week is about a very interesting collaboration between Nagoya-based Indie pop outfit CRUNCH and american producer Alex Ruby, a soothing number called Murasaki that greatly meets the influences of both artists with the right balance. I never properly listened to CRUNCH before, and looking back at some of their past releases (the blue blue blue EP in particular) I can say these three girls have been one of the most pleasant musical discoveries of this period for me. Alex Ruby too has some nice tunes going on on his Soundcloud, so be sure to read my impressions and listen here.

Moving along, I finally found some time to properly dedicate myself to Tentenko’s album Tabekko Land, that I reviewed earlier this week. I grew to love this girl and her music more and more lately… way too much: Crazy, various, with that bit of old-fashioned vibe, this album is one of my most favorite releases from the ex-BiS member, and a great one to start with before adventuring in her noise-oriented records. By the way, I think I wanna date her, but I guess it’d end up with me getting my ass beat, which is cool anyway. I’ll be sure to attend one of her live sets when I’ll finally go back to Japan, even though I’m still not sure when.

One thing that I’m definitely sure of, though, is that I’m gonna avoid Kyary Pamyu Pamyu for the rest of my life. I can’t stand this girl anymore. Heck, no one does probably. After the millionth trash release tied to a random Izakaya bar in the Golden Gai district, I ultimately got tired of her, and wrote what I’ve been thinking for quite a while: Kyary needs to go home. Retire, disappear. Unless she gets her ass back on track with a different producer, but it’s something that I can’t possibly expect anymore. Read my rant here. If I sound angry, it’s because this girl dropped my favorite album of 2013, by the way.

I got some reviews planned for the next days: The first one will be for Dempagumi.inc’s upcoming album GOGO! DEMPA out on Wednesday, a record that I’m really looking forward to despite not knowing what to exactly expect. There will be two more reviews as well, of completely different artists, but I’m not gonna tell you any detail for now. What I can say though, is that I have a huge ass article on the way, about the evolution of a music scene that I particularly love, that I hope you will enjoy.

That’s it for this week’s recap guys! Let me know what you think about these topics down here in the comment if you want. I’ll be playing Xenoblade Chronicles X in the meanwhile.

Have a nice week guys! Stay tuned 🙂

– Alex

BLOG | Vibes from the past

hikki

This week hasn’t been particularly rich in terms of physical releases, but at the same time, some well known faces surfaced again to bring vibes and sonorities highly missed in recent times.

Of course, the highlight of the week has been Utada Hikaru‘s comeback on the market, with two songs that brought back one of the most beautiful voices of Japanese music. While Hanataba wo Kimi ni  is a nice track that follows the classic Hikki pattern, Manatsu no Tooriame delivered feelings only Utada’s wonderful voice and interpretation can convey. Yep, I cried like a baby for the millionth time, exactly as happened when Sakura Nagashi dropped a few years ago. And by the way, she topped the iTunes chart just minutes after the tracks got released.

Another pleasant come back, even though with a much more contained impact (since, uhm, it’s not really a comeback) is Aira Mitsuki‘s third digital single since the end of her hiatus. Pretty much following the sound of the previously released tracks, Doctor A brings back that 2008 Techno-pop sound that, no matter what, I will always love. She can keep doing the same song over and over again, I wouldn’t mind. But it’s about time she announces a new album or something more consistent than single tracks released digitally.

Not a comeback, but definitely a more than welcome release, the new tricot song is just as good as you would expect. Setsuyakuka is a good showcase of the band’s talent in making Math Rock compositions accessible and enjoyable to anyone, and I can’t wait for the three girls to release their new KABUKU EP in a few weeks. Of course, you will find a review here on the release date, so be sure to stay tuned.

Well, that’s it for this week’s recap guys! I’ll review the new Tentenko record in the next days (if she doesn’t release three albums in the meantime) plus a few more impression articles are on the way as well. Oh, and of course, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s new single is getting released on Wednesday, and I can’t wait to see if it’s as bad as everything she has done in the last two years (answer: probably yes).

Stay tuned guys! Take care.

– Alex

BLOG | Afterthoughts on newly released albums

1599903_1035164856541330_6680475141777268201_o

Hey guys, it’s Alex!

The last two weeks have been pretty crazy in terms of big releases, and luckily (almost surprisingly, to be honest) I’ve been able to review all of them prior to the release date. Thank you all for the comments and feedback on these articles, I appreciate it!

Let’s take a look at all the releases we had the pleasure to listen to these days: First, we had the long awaited Seiko Oomori album TOKYO BLACK HOLE, that ultimately elevated the singer/songwriter as icon and relevant figure of today’s J-pop scene. This album is her most consistent and various piece of work yet, and the crazy/adorable charisma of this girl flows through each of these great tracks. The chorus in SHINPIN is still stuck in my head. Definitely the most valid release of the wave of long awaited works that hit the Japanese market in the last couple of weeks, that I awarded with a score of 9.

Sadly (in a way) Seiko Oomori’s outstanding record was the only one that fully met my expectations. Maison Book Girl‘s new EP played it well despite not really bringing anything new to the table, something that the group’s new record will hopefully achieve: I gave summer continue a 7.5, as I enjoyed this short but fresh-sounding record. A few days later, BABYMETAL‘s long awaited (and highly acclaimed) album METAL RESISTANCE hit the shelves of music stores in all the world: I really didn’t feel this record as a whole, despite having some nice tracks here and there and lots of talent showcased by the three lovely girls and their band. I gave this record a 6.5, and as expectable, many fans took it as a negative vote: It always seems like that any score under 8 means the album is crap, which is obviously not true: METAL RESISTANCE is an album with several valid moments, some of them even great, but sadly the tracks that sound like plain standard metal are what take most space in this record, and as a fan of this group since their debut on the Japanese market, it’s a factor that left me disappointed. I approached this album expecting a fully BABYMETAL work, that unique blend of Metal and Idol pop that conquered the hearts of thousands of people: instead, I got an album that’s mostly filled with standard Heavy/Power/Speed/Progressive metal tracks. As a result, I barely listen to this album in its entirety anymore and just pick those four tracks that I really enjoy (for the record: YAVA!, Amore, From Dusk Till Dawn, Syncopation). On the other hand, I was glad to read constructive critics towards my point of view instead of insults from hardcore fans like I was expecting: It was nice discussing with you all, and I really appreciated it. Also took some time to exchange opinions with Maniac from Homicidols about it, a debate you can check out here.

Last but not least, another eagerly awaited release: Perfume‘s new album COSMIC EXPLORER. As a huge fan of the Techno-pop trio from Hiroshima, I had mixed feelings about this record, as it’s been shamelessly split into two between new and old tracks: I enjoyed the new compositions the most, in particular the title track and Miracle Worker, while the already-released tracks definitely deserved a better treatment and placement. All in all, it’s still an album with several valid moments that I’m still playing and enjoying, but at the same time it’s clear that this is also Perfume’s most inconsistent studio album so far, which is really a shame considering how it could have been much better if treated with more care. As in the case of METAL RESISTANCE, I think the tracks in this record as well will be much more enjoyable live.

All in all, I’m glad to say that none of these releases were bad, but instead delivered enjoyable moments. Despite the mixed results of a few records, it was interesting to analyze these important and long awaited releases, as well as discussing about it with all of you.

Thanks a lot for your support, and be sure to stay tuned on my blog for more reviews and articles on Japanese Music. See ya!

– Alex