[ japan (pop) ] titles at Aquarius Records
search by:
view shopping cart

home
newest arrivals
about mailorder
catalog / list archive

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O
P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Other

20th century composers
compilation / split
country/folk/blues
country/folk/blues ("no depression")
dvd / video / film
electronic
exotica / novelty
experimental
finland
found sounds, field recordings, oddities
hip hop
hip hop (turntablism)
hiphop
hiphop (turntablism)
international
international (africa)
international (asia)
international (central / south america)
international (cuba)
international (europe)
international (french pop)
international (latin american psych/tropicalia)
international (middle east)
japan
japan (noise/free/psych)
japan (pop)
jazz
local
metal
metal (black metal)
metal (stoner rock)
metal (stoner/doom)
new zealand
print
reggae/dub
rock/pop
rock/pop ('60s psych/garage)
rock/pop (goth/industrial/darkwave)
rock/pop (krautrock)
rock/pop (prog rock)
rock/pop (punk/hardcore)
soul/funk
soundtracks
spoken word & comedy

Records of the Week
Alison's Favorites
Allan's Favorites
Andee's Favorites
Andrew's Favorites
Antaeus's Favorites
Ashley's Favorites
Byram's Favorites
Cameron's Favorites
Christine's Favorites
Cup's Favorites
Frank's Favorites
Harry's Favorites
Irwin's Favorites
Jenny's Favorites
Jill's Favorites
Jim's Favorites
Jon's Favorites
Kerry's Favorites
Lauren's Favorites
Matt's Favorites
Michael's Favorites
Nick's Favorites
Pam's Favorites
Sally's Favorites
Scott's Favorites



IMPORTANT (Please read to avoid confusion):
Some items below may be tagged with a bold, red, all-caps "out of print/unavailable" notice. This does NOT mean that all other items not so tagged are, in fact, in stock -- or for that matter, in print and available, though there's a good chance they are. Some folks get confused on this point, and we can see why, so please read this for further clarification and other important before-you-order information. Unlike some mailorder websites, we don't have an electronic inventory system linked to our site, so you can't be sure of what we actually have or don't have in stock at any given moment without asking us -- please email our mailorder department for availability status -- or better yet, just go ahead and place your order using our shopping cart function and we'll get back to you with the status of each item. If you have general non-mailorder questions, email the store.


album cover +/- (PLUS/MINUS) VS. BLOODTHIRSTY BUTCHERS s/t (TeenBeat) cd 10.98
As the back cover informs us, "+/- covers BB and BB covers +/-". Seems simple enough, don't it? And if you're not familiar with these two bands you'd probably already guess just from the bands' names that this might be a rather odd pairing. So we thought. However, it's not as strange as we initially believed. Seems Blood Thirsty Butchers have gone through something of a transformation in the years since we last heard from them... it has been quite a while. If our memory serves correctly, they used to be a gritty indie hardcore band from Japan. As far as we know they're still from Japan, but they've mellowed considerably. They make dreamy post-rockish pop with angelic female and boyish vocals with a very occasional blast of gnarly guitar aggression. They're so much closer in sound to soft popsters +/- than we could ever have anticipated. Soooo, whatcha get is a pretty consistent half dozen delicious indie pop tunes with feverishly strummed Unrest-style jangly guitars. So at home on the Teenbeat record label.
MPEG Stream: +/- (PLUS/MINUS) "Banging The Drum"
MPEG Stream: BLOODTHIRSTY BUTCHERS "Waking Up Is Hard To Do"

album cover AI ASO Chamomile Pool (Pedal) cd 19.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
A couple of years ago Japan's Ai Aso served up an absolute dreamcake of an album titled Lavender, then last month she teamed up with Wata of Boris for an amazing book and 7" set. Ai's delights keep on coming with this, her latest full length. Her cooing Japanese waif vocals float like fallen blossoms atop a blurred watercolor stream of effected guitar and steady programmed Casio-esque rhythms. Taking a dip in this Chamomile Pool will surely have the same calming effect as the tea of the same name. We imagine it'd even make a great substitution for traditional baby lullaby fare. This will definitely soothe children of all ages, but the overall serenely elegant tone ensures its adult appeal too. Not an abrasive tone in sight, everything is smooth, soft and so very enchanting. Recommended.
MPEG Stream: "Date"
MPEG Stream: "Hundred Years"

album cover AI ASO Chamomile Pool Show (aRCHIVE) dvd 22.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Just got these in today, list day, four new aRCHIVE dvd titles (Ai Aso, Mick Barr, Khlyst, and Suishou No Fune). So, we haven't had a chance to watch 'em yet but since they're limited and all we figured you'd rather we just went ahead and listed 'em now rather than waiting 2 weeks. And all four artists are pretty cool after all.
Ai Aso is not so well known, 'round these parts, as the other three artists in this batch of dvd releases, but AQ customers should remember the Japanese chanteuse from her solo cds on Pedal that we've reviewed previously - and also from her split 7" (and photo book) with Wata from Boris.
The material on this dvd comes from a 2007 show by Ai Aso & band in Tokyo, with guest cameos from Wata and also guitarist Michio Kurihara. Not having seen it yet, we can only assume it's in the same vein of dreamy psych pop we recall from Ai Aso's solo albums...
Gorgeously packaged as per aRCHIVE standards (diecut, letterpress, heavy cardstock foldy cover). And, OF COURSE, it's limited to just 600 copies!!!

album cover AQUARIUS BUTTONS 2 x 1" buttons 1.00
Hey, we just got another batch of AQ buttons made up...
Spread the word! Show the world your true aQ colors! COOL COOL COOL aQ buttons, now in 6 different vibrant color combinations. 5 new color combos (blue on pink, red on dark grey, dark blue on blue, orange on black, and yellowish green on dark green) and a popular one we had previously (brown on yellow).
TWO FOR $1!!! Colors are random, but buy enough and you'll be guaranteed to get 'em all! And of course all feature our spiffy James Gang style logo!! So stylish!

album cover ASOBI SEKSU Citrus (Friendly Fire) cd 14.98
New Yorkers Asobi Seksu brings the bright carefree pop of the late '80s (think: The Primitives, Lush, Velocity Girl) together with the moody UK shoegazers of the early '90s (a la My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Swervedriver or perhaps the more recent atmospheric modern rock of Magyar Posse). However, what sets their second album Citrus apart is its high gloss J-pop production style. Each song showering the listener with a Puffy Amiyumi level of shiny shiny, sugary pearliness. Singer Yuki Chikudate's high flittery delivery recalls that of Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser... and if you don't know Japanese then the lyrics may prove just as cryptic as Fraser's. Countering the sweetness of Yuki's vocals are her bandmate James Hanna's variety of electric guitars. He builds up billowing spirals of highly effected washes which he punctuates with sharper edged, punchy melodic segments. All the while Chikudate's voice ties giant bows of satiny sorbet ribbons around the proceedings. Yes, Citrus is filled with many seemingly incongruous elements, but the band whips them all together into a delectable effervescent confection. Yum!
MPEG Stream: "Strawberries"
MPEG Stream: "Pink Cloud Tracing Paper"

album cover ASOBI SEKSU / BORIS split (Sargent House) 7" 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
As some of you probably realized, this Friday (today) was a Black Friday 'Record Store Day', which is a sort of mini-RSD, to hold everybody over until the real deal actual RSD in the Spring. A much smaller batch of special releases on BFRSD, but a few things we were pretty excited about, and some of those, we even managed to get a bunch of, so our faithful mailorder customers without a local record store to call their own, could still nab a copy, like this one, a limited split 7" between Japanese heavy rockers & longtime aQ faves Boris, and US shoegaze blisspoppers Asobi Seksu, each band covering the other.
The A side finds Asobi Seksu taking on Boris' "Farewell" from their record Pink. And in the hands of AS, it's transformed into an ethereal swirl of soft focus electro-pop shimmer, soaring and sweetly melodic, female vocals drifting over a lush layered backdrop, all anchored by some stuttery glitchy beats, the sounds building slowly to a full on MBV worthy psychedelic shoegace coda, before slipping back into a hazy vocal/synth dreamlike drift.
On the flipside, Boris take Asobi Seksu's "New Years", retitle it "Neu Years", and proceed to unfurl a heady sprawl of modern electronic flecked indie pop crunch, the sound super polished and sounding like something you might even hear on the radio, with Wata's angelic voice floating atop big booming drums, and soft streaks of choral shimmer, the whole thing rife with strange effects and studio production weirdness, culminating in a cool backwards psychedelic breakdown, before a final burst of exuberant electro indie pop bombast.
Both bands masterfully re-imagine the music of the other, and is revealing that for two bands with dramatically divergent fanbases, and very distinctive singular sounds, they they aren't so different after all!

album cover ASOBI SEKSU / BORIS split (Sargent House) 7" 12.98
As some of you probably realized, this Friday (today) was a Black Friday 'Record Store Day', which is a sort of mini-RSD, to hold everybody over until the real deal actual RSD in the Spring. A much smaller batch of special releases on BFRSD, but a few things we were pretty excited about, and some of those, we even managed to get a bunch of, so our faithful mailorder customers without a local record store to call their own, could still nab a copy, like this one, a limited split 7" between Japanese heavy rockers & longtime aQ faves Boris, and US shoegaze blisspoppers Asobi Seksu, each band covering the other.
The A side finds Asobi Seksu taking on Boris' "Farewell" from their record Pink. And in the hands of AS, it's transformed into an ethereal swirl of soft focus electro-pop shimmer, soaring and sweetly melodic, female vocals drifting over a lush layered backdrop, all anchored by some stuttery glitchy beats, the sounds building slowly to a full on MBV worthy psychedelic shoegace coda, before slipping back into a hazy vocal/synth dreamlike drift.
On the flipside, Boris take Asobi Seksu's "New Years", retitle it "Neu Years", and proceed to unfurl a heady sprawl of modern electronic flecked indie pop crunch, the sound super polished and sounding like something you might even hear on the radio, with Wata's angelic voice floating atop big booming drums, and soft streaks of choral shimmer, the whole thing rife with strange effects and studio production weirdness, culminating in a cool backwards psychedelic breakdown, before a final burst of exuberant electro indie pop bombast.
Both bands masterfully re-imagine the music of the other, and is revealing that for two bands with dramatically divergent fanbases, and very distinctive singular sounds, they they aren't so different after all!

album cover BORBETOMAGUS & HIJOKAIDAN Both Noises End Burning (Victo) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Holy crap!!! Now that's a noise fest...

BOREDOMS Rebore Vol.2 (mixed by Ken Ishii) (WEA Japan) cd 34.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
This is volume 2 in the Boredoms remix series, and continues in much the same manner as volume one (which was an an U.N.K.L.E. mix), with a crazy, seamless 40 or so minute continuous mix of Boredoms mania. This mix is by Ken Ishii, and is quite nice, though it basically sounds like a Boredoms mixtape, which is not a bad thing. Can't wait to hear volume three though, mixed by DJ Krush!

album cover BORIS Attention Please (Sargent House) cd 15.98
Ah, BORIS! The band that everybody loves (or if they don't love 'em, they probably love to hate 'em...). The Melvins-worshipping Japanese "heavy rock" band that started off in the '90s as an import-only cult fave, and eventually got picked up over here by Southern Lord. The next thing you know, they turned into an unstoppable juggernaut of super limited edition releases and unlikely collaborations, and got BIG. For a while, they were definitely a band that could do no wrong, combining that Melvins-y sludge, and equally Melvins-y weirdness, with their own, innate Japanese "WTF?" aesthetic... In addition they boast the presence of a female singer/guitar player, Wata, who is both cute and talented. And making themselves even more potent proposition, they also recruited noted psychedelic guitar whiz Michio Kurihara (Ghost, White Heaven, Stars) more or less permanently into their ranks.
Yet, in recent years, Boris has also been courting a backlash, the way we see it, as anything hyped to the skies usually does. Those aforementioned ridiculously limited editions have something to do with it... and what can come off as a too ironic attitude to everything... and when we've seen 'em live, well, memo to drummer Atsuo: the gong is cool, but the headset microphone maybe isn't so much.
So, we've been Boris fans for a long long time, and still are, but we'll confess to wondering if it could be said that Boris finally (?) "jumped the shark" with last year's BXI ep, wherein they, oddly enough, teamed up with rock star Ian Astbury of The Cult (who is presumably still "big in Japan"). That disc was probably the first Boris release in history that didn't merit highlight status on our list... but hey, nobody's perfect.
But now, as if rising to the challenge, and/or making said challenge all the harder for themselves, Boris are back with not one but TWO* new albums for new US label Sargent House.
There's Attention Please, which undoubtedly will get a lot of attention, and not just 'cause of the glamor shot of Wata on the cover. She also sings on all the tracks, to this is definitely one for all you Wata fanciers out there! The other one is called Heavy Rocks, not to be confused with the earlier Boris album, that's also titled Heavy Rocks. Huh, what's with that, Boris? Why give two totally different albums the same name? Obviously to invite comparison (and for the record, while we're definitely digging this new purple 2011 one, if we had to choose between 'em, we'd pick the original, orange 2002 Heavy Rocks). Naming an album Heavy Rocks in the first place is a bold move, having two of 'em is just silly. Or ironic. Or something. Brilliant, perhaps. Oh, and this Heavy Rocks features another guest appearance from Ian Astbury, doing backing vocals on the track "Riot Sugar". There's other guests on the album as well: Aaron Turner (Isis, Mamiffer) and Faith Coloccia (Mamiffer), and regular Boris collaborator Kurihara. Heavy friends for Heavy Rocks!
First up, let's talk about Attention Please. Of the two albums, possibly more interesting to us as it's really quite a departure for Boris, plus we've always found Wata to be their most appealing singer anyway. Her delicate vocals are accompanied by some of the band's softest, most mellow material yet. There's acoustic guitars, and electronica elements, and it's all really quite nice. At times dramatic, dancey, dreamy, and/or rockin', one thing it's not is sludgey. Not that it doesn't get loud and noisy at times - shoegazing explosion of "Spoon" could probably have gone on the accompanying Heavy Rocks just as easily. But for the most part, if you didn't know it was Boris, well you wouldn't know it was Boris! The nervously rhythmic "Tokyo Wonder Land", with its stabbing psychedelic guitar sizzle, and glitchy tic-tic-tics of drums and electronics, is the highlight here for us, but we're pretty into the whole disc. Utterly captivating. Wata and Boris sound like they're channelling every dreamy girl fronted band from the nineties and beyond: My Bloody Valentine, Blonde Redhead, Adult, Amp, Noriko Tujiko, and even Grouper, and it works. Hopefully we'll hear more from this incarnation of Boris in the future, with Wata on the mic... we suspect we will! We think open minded Boris fans will indeed like this album - and it just might make 'em a lot of new fans too, who didn't have any idea Boris could or would sound like this.
Then, to Heavy Rocks (2011)... Drop the needle on track one, and you're greeted by a mean, heavy chugging riff, and it almost seems like, hey, they've gone full-on metal here, but that track, "Riot Sugar", becomes more of a howling psych stoner rock song, with hushed vocals. Off to a good start. The next track isn't nearly as heavy, it begins with some jangle, then a tangle of guitar soloing from Kurihara in his Quicksilver/Cippolina mode, there's also more of those hushed vox, and a general loud/soft songwriting dynamic, this track having echoes of both Nirvana and Can! Kinda sounds like something Kurihara's band Stars would do. Track three "GALAXIANS" is a more energetic, uptempo attack, lots of whoops and hollering going on, with thrashing drums, noisy guitar and electronic FX...
And so it goes, the album a mix of race-with-the-devil rockers and much moodier, shoegazey stuff. "Missing Pieces" is an example of the latter, a slow build from quiet ambience to almost Merzbowian jet-engine noise. The two final tracks are well worthy of mention, the penultimate, nearly 13 minute "Aileron" (greatly expanded, and of course heavied up, from the brief acoustic guitar version of the same track found on Attention Please), is another of the shoegazier pieces, super heavy, lumbering and lovely, reminding us a lot of Codeine, then after that there's "Czechoslovakia", at the very end of the album, a brief instrumental thrash metal number with electronic embellishments, sounds like something Circle would do in their NWOFHM mode, pretty killer, but of course we have to assume Boris sorta meant it as a joke, oh well, in any case it unfortunately fades out at 1:35, just as it's really gettin' good... if another five or ten minutes of this song as we imagine it actually existed, and were included here, that would definitely make Heavy Rocks even radder. Who knows, though, maybe it will continue on a forthcoming album entitled, Heavier Rocks?? (Our idea, but Boris you're welcome to it, sounds like something you'd do - well actually probably what Boris would do is release ANOTHER album also called Heavy Rocks.)
Anyway, to wrap up, these two new discs from Boris are both pretty darn good & satisfying overall. And both emblematic of the band's dabbling in an almost alt-pop, quasi-commercial (on their own terms, though!) direction, while staying HEAVY as they wanna be.
*There's actually a 3rd new Boris full-length as well, out in Japan only, the cleverly (?) titled New Album, which includes some of the same songs found on these two domestic US releases, though we'd imagine they're different recordings/versions, Boris being who they are (confusing!).
MPEG Stream: "Attention Please"
MPEG Stream: "Tokyo Wonder Land"
MPEG Stream: "Les Paul Custom '86"

album cover BORIS Attention Please (Sargent House) lp 25.00
Ah, BORIS! The band that everybody loves (or if they don't love 'em, they probably love to hate 'em...). The Melvins-worshipping Japanese "heavy rock" band that started off in the '90s as an import-only cult fave, and eventually got picked up over here by Southern Lord. The next thing you know, they turned into an unstoppable juggernaut of super limited edition releases and unlikely collaborations, and got BIG. For a while, they were definitely a band that could do no wrong, combining that Melvins-y sludge, and equally Melvins-y weirdness, with their own, innate Japanese "WTF?" aesthetic... In addition they boast the presence of a female singer/guitar player, Wata, who is both cute and talented. And making themselves even more potent proposition, they also recruited noted psychedelic guitar whiz Michio Kurihara (Ghost, White Heaven, Stars) more or less permanently into their ranks.
Yet, in recent years, Boris has also been courting a backlash, the way we see it, as anything hyped to the skies usually does. Those aforementioned ridiculously limited editions have something to do with it... and what can come off as a too ironic attitude to everything... and when we've seen 'em live, well, memo to drummer Atsuo: the gong is cool, but the headset microphone maybe isn't so much.
So, we've been Boris fans for a long long time, and still are, but we'll confess to wondering if it could be said that Boris finally (?) "jumped the shark" with last year's BXI ep, wherein they, oddly enough, teamed up with rock star Ian Astbury of The Cult (who is presumably still "big in Japan"). That disc was probably the first Boris release in history that didn't merit highlight status on our list... but hey, nobody's perfect.
But now, as if rising to the challenge, and/or making said challenge all the harder for themselves, Boris are back with not one but TWO* new albums for new US label Sargent House.
There's Attention Please, which undoubtedly will get a lot of attention, and not just 'cause of the glamor shot of Wata on the cover. She also sings on all the tracks, to this is definitely one for all you Wata fanciers out there! The other one is called Heavy Rocks, not to be confused with the earlier Boris album, that's also titled Heavy Rocks. Huh, what's with that, Boris? Why give two totally different albums the same name? Obviously to invite comparison (and for the record, while we're definitely digging this new purple 2011 one, if we had to choose between 'em, we'd pick the original, orange 2002 Heavy Rocks). Naming an album Heavy Rocks in the first place is a bold move, having two of 'em is just silly. Or ironic. Or something. Brilliant, perhaps. Oh, and this Heavy Rocks features another guest appearance from Ian Astbury, doing backing vocals on the track "Riot Sugar". There's other guests on the album as well: Aaron Turner (Isis, Mamiffer) and Faith Coloccia (Mamiffer), and regular Boris collaborator Kurihara. Heavy friends for Heavy Rocks!
First up, let's talk about Attention Please. Of the two albums, possibly more interesting to us as it's really quite a departure for Boris, plus we've always found Wata to be their most appealing singer anyway. Her delicate vocals are accompanied by some of the band's softest, most mellow material yet. There's acoustic guitars, and electronica elements, and it's all really quite nice. At times dramatic, dancey, dreamy, and/or rockin', one thing it's not is sludgey. Not that it doesn't get loud and noisy at times - shoegazing explosion of "Spoon" could probably have gone on the accompanying Heavy Rocks just as easily. But for the most part, if you didn't know it was Boris, well you wouldn't know it was Boris! The nervously rhythmic "Tokyo Wonder Land", with its stabbing psychedelic guitar sizzle, and glitchy tic-tic-tics of drums and electronics, is the highlight here for us, but we're pretty into the whole disc. Utterly captivating. Wata and Boris sound like they're channelling every dreamy girl fronted band from the nineties and beyond: My Bloody Valentine, Blonde Redhead, Adult, Amp, Noriko Tujiko, and even Grouper, and it works. Hopefully we'll hear more from this incarnation of Boris in the future, with Wata on the mic... we suspect we will! We think open minded Boris fans will indeed like this album - and it just might make 'em a lot of new fans too, who didn't have any idea Boris could or would sound like this.
Then, to Heavy Rocks (2011)... Drop the needle on track one, and you're greeted by a mean, heavy chugging riff, and it almost seems like, hey, they've gone full-on metal here, but that track, "Riot Sugar", becomes more of a howling psych stoner rock song, with hushed vocals. Off to a good start. The next track isn't nearly as heavy, it begins with some jangle, then a tangle of guitar soloing from Kurihara in his Quicksilver/Cippolina mode, there's also more of those hushed vox, and a general loud/soft songwriting dynamic, this track having echoes of both Nirvana and Can! Kinda sounds like something Kurihara's band Stars would do. Track three "GALAXIANS" is a more energetic, uptempo attack, lots of whoops and hollering going on, with thrashing drums, noisy guitar and electronic FX...
And so it goes, the album a mix of race-with-the-devil rockers and much moodier, shoegazey stuff. "Missing Pieces" is an example of the latter, a slow build from quiet ambience to almost Merzbowian jet-engine noise. The two final tracks are well worthy of mention, the penultimate, nearly 13 minute "Aileron" (greatly expanded, and of course heavied up, from the brief acoustic guitar version of the same track found on Attention Please), is another of the shoegazier pieces, super heavy, lumbering and lovely, reminding us a lot of Codeine, then after that there's "Czechoslovakia", at the very end of the album, a brief instrumental thrash metal number with electronic embellishments, sounds like something Circle would do in their NWOFHM mode, pretty killer, but of course we have to assume Boris sorta meant it as a joke, oh well, in any case it unfortunately fades out at 1:35, just as it's really gettin' good... if another five or ten minutes of this song as we imagine it actually existed, and were included here, that would definitely make Heavy Rocks even radder. Who knows, though, maybe it will continue on a forthcoming album entitled, Heavier Rocks?? (Our idea, but Boris you're welcome to it, sounds like something you'd do - well actually probably what Boris would do is release ANOTHER album also called Heavy Rocks.)
Anyway, to wrap up, these two new discs from Boris are both pretty darn good & satisfying overall. And both emblematic of the band's dabbling in an almost alt-pop, quasi-commercial (on their own terms, though!) direction, while staying HEAVY as they wanna be.
*There's actually a 3rd new Boris full-length as well, out in Japan only, the cleverly (?) titled New Album, which includes some of the same songs found on these two domestic US releases, though we'd imagine they're different recordings/versions, Boris being who they are (confusing!).
MPEG Stream: "Attention Please"
MPEG Stream: "Tokyo Wonder Land"
MPEG Stream: "Les Paul Custom '86"

BORIS Black Original Remix (Catune) 12" 15.98

album cover BORIS Heavy Rocks (2011) (Sargent House) cd 15.98
Ah, BORIS! The band that everybody loves (or if they don't love 'em, they probably love to hate 'em...). The Melvins-worshipping Japanese "heavy rock" band that started off in the '90s as an import-only cult fave, and eventually got picked up over here by Southern Lord. The next thing you know, they turned into an unstoppable juggernaut of super limited edition releases and unlikely collaborations, and got BIG. For a while, they were definitely a band that could do no wrong, combining that Melvins-y sludge, and equally Melvins-y weirdness, with their own, innate Japanese "WTF?" aesthetic... In addition they boast the presence of a female singer/guitar player, Wata, who is both cute and talented. And making themselves even more potent proposition, they also recruited noted psychedelic guitar whiz Michio Kurihara (Ghost, White Heaven, Stars) more or less permanently into their ranks.
Yet, in recent years, Boris has also been courting a backlash, the way we see it, as anything hyped to the skies usually does. Those aforementioned ridiculously limited editions have something to do with it... and what can come off as a too ironic attitude to everything... and when we've seen 'em live, well, memo to drummer Atsuo: the gong is cool, but the headset microphone maybe isn't so much.
So, we've been Boris fans for a long long time, and still are, but we'll confess to wondering if it could be said that Boris finally (?) "jumped the shark" with last year's BXI ep, wherein they, oddly enough, teamed up with rock star Ian Astbury of The Cult (who is presumably still "big in Japan"). That disc was probably the first Boris release in history that didn't merit highlight status on our list... but hey, nobody's perfect.
But now, as if rising to the challenge, and/or making said challenge all the harder for themselves, Boris are back with not one but TWO* new albums for new US label Sargent House.
There's Attention Please, which undoubtedly will get a lot of attention, and not just 'cause of the glamor shot of Wata on the cover. She also sings on all the tracks, to this is definitely one for all you Wata fanciers out there! The other one is called Heavy Rocks, not to be confused with the earlier Boris album, that's also titled Heavy Rocks. Huh, what's with that, Boris? Why give two totally different albums the same name? Obviously to invite comparison (and for the record, while we're definitely digging this new purple 2011 one, if we had to choose between 'em, we'd pick the original, orange 2002 Heavy Rocks). Naming an album Heavy Rocks in the first place is a bold move, having two of 'em is just silly. Or ironic. Or something. Brilliant, perhaps. Oh, and this Heavy Rocks features another guest appearance from Ian Astbury, doing backing vocals on the track "Riot Sugar". There's other guests on the album as well: Aaron Turner (Isis, Mamiffer) and Faith Coloccia (Mamiffer), and regular Boris collaborator Kurihara. Heavy friends for Heavy Rocks!
First up, let's talk about Attention Please. Of the two albums, possibly more interesting to us as it's really quite a departure for Boris, plus we've always found Wata to be their most appealing singer anyway. Her delicate vocals are accompanied by some of the band's softest, most mellow material yet. There's acoustic guitars, and electronica elements, and it's all really quite nice. At times dramatic, dancey, dreamy, and/or rockin', one thing it's not is sludgey. Not that it doesn't get loud and noisy at times - shoegazing explosion of "Spoon" could probably have gone on the accompanying Heavy Rocks just as easily. But for the most part, if you didn't know it was Boris, well you wouldn't know it was Boris! The nervously rhythmic "Tokyo Wonder Land", with its stabbing psychedelic guitar sizzle, and glitchy tic-tic-tics of drums and electronics, is the highlight here for us, but we're pretty into the whole disc. Utterly captivating. Wata and Boris sound like they're channelling every dreamy girl fronted band from the nineties and beyond: My Bloody Valentine, Blonde Redhead, Adult, Amp, Noriko Tujiko, and even Grouper, and it works. Hopefully we'll hear more from this incarnation of Boris in the future, with Wata on the mic... we suspect we will! We think open minded Boris fans will indeed like this album - and it just might make 'em a lot of new fans too, who didn't have any idea Boris could or would sound like this.
Then, to Heavy Rocks (2011)... Drop the needle on track one, and you're greeted by a mean, heavy chugging riff, and it almost seems like, hey, they've gone full-on metal here, but that track, "Riot Sugar", becomes more of a howling psych stoner rock song, with hushed vocals. Off to a good start. The next track isn't nearly as heavy, it begins with some jangle, then a tangle of guitar soloing from Kurihara in his Quicksilver/Cippolina mode, there's also more of those hushed vox, and a general loud/soft songwriting dynamic, this track having echoes of both Nirvana and Can! Kinda sounds like something Kurihara's band Stars would do. Track three "GALAXIANS" is a more energetic, uptempo attack, lots of whoops and hollering going on, with thrashing drums, noisy guitar and electronic FX...
And so it goes, the album a mix of race-with-the-devil rockers and much moodier, shoegazey stuff. "Missing Pieces" is an example of the latter, a slow build from quiet ambience to almost Merzbowian jet-engine noise. The two final tracks are well worthy of mention, the penultimate, nearly 13 minute "Aileron" (greatly expanded, and of course heavied up, from the brief acoustic guitar version of the same track found on Attention Please), is another of the shoegazier pieces, super heavy, lumbering and lovely, reminding us a lot of Codeine, then after that there's "Czechoslovakia", at the very end of the album, a brief instrumental thrash metal number with electronic embellishments, sounds like something Circle would do in their NWOFHM mode, pretty killer, but of course we have to assume Boris sorta meant it as a joke, oh well, in any case it unfortunately fades out at 1:35, just as it's really gettin' good... if another five or ten minutes of this song as we imagine it actually existed, and were included here, that would definitely make Heavy Rocks even radder. Who knows, though, maybe it will continue on a forthcoming album entitled, Heavier Rocks?? (Our idea, but Boris you're welcome to it, sounds like something you'd do - well actually probably what Boris would do is release ANOTHER album also called Heavy Rocks.)
Anyway, to wrap up, these two new discs from Boris are both pretty darn good & satisfying overall. And both emblematic of the band's dabbling in an almost alt-pop, quasi-commercial (on their own terms, though!) direction, while staying HEAVY as they wanna be.
*There's actually a 3rd new Boris full-length as well, out in Japan only, the cleverly (?) titled New Album, which includes some of the same songs found on these two domestic US releases, though we'd imagine they're different recordings/versions, Boris being who they are (confusing!).
MPEG Stream: "Riot Sugar"
MPEG Stream: "Leak -Truth,yesnoyesnoyes-"
MPEG Stream: "Aileron"

album cover BORIS Heavy Rocks (2011) (Sargent House) lp 29.00
Ah, BORIS! The band that everybody loves (or if they don't love 'em, they probably love to hate 'em...). The Melvins-worshipping Japanese "heavy rock" band that started off in the '90s as an import-only cult fave, and eventually got picked up over here by Southern Lord. The next thing you know, they turned into an unstoppable juggernaut of super limited edition releases and unlikely collaborations, and got BIG. For a while, they were definitely a band that could do no wrong, combining that Melvins-y sludge, and equally Melvins-y weirdness, with their own, innate Japanese "WTF?" aesthetic... In addition they boast the presence of a female singer/guitar player, Wata, who is both cute and talented. And making themselves even more potent proposition, they also recruited noted psychedelic guitar whiz Michio Kurihara (Ghost, White Heaven, Stars) more or less permanently into their ranks.
Yet, in recent years, Boris has also been courting a backlash, the way we see it, as anything hyped to the skies usually does. Those aforementioned ridiculously limited editions have something to do with it... and what can come off as a too ironic attitude to everything... and when we've seen 'em live, well, memo to drummer Atsuo: the gong is cool, but the headset microphone maybe isn't so much.
So, we've been Boris fans for a long long time, and still are, but we'll confess to wondering if it could be said that Boris finally (?) "jumped the shark" with last year's BXI ep, wherein they, oddly enough, teamed up with rock star Ian Astbury of The Cult (who is presumably still "big in Japan"). That disc was probably the first Boris release in history that didn't merit highlight status on our list... but hey, nobody's perfect.
But now, as if rising to the challenge, and/or making said challenge all the harder for themselves, Boris are back with not one but TWO* new albums for new US label Sargent House.
There's Attention Please, which undoubtedly will get a lot of attention, and not just 'cause of the glamor shot of Wata on the cover. She also sings on all the tracks, to this is definitely one for all you Wata fanciers out there! The other one is called Heavy Rocks, not to be confused with the earlier Boris album, that's also titled Heavy Rocks. Huh, what's with that, Boris? Why give two totally different albums the same name? Obviously to invite comparison (and for the record, while we're definitely digging this new purple 2011 one, if we had to choose between 'em, we'd pick the original, orange 2002 Heavy Rocks). Naming an album Heavy Rocks in the first place is a bold move, having two of 'em is just silly. Or ironic. Or something. Brilliant, perhaps. Oh, and this Heavy Rocks features another guest appearance from Ian Astbury, doing backing vocals on the track "Riot Sugar". There's other guests on the album as well: Aaron Turner (Isis, Mamiffer) and Faith Coloccia (Mamiffer), and regular Boris collaborator Kurihara. Heavy friends for Heavy Rocks!
First up, let's talk about Attention Please. Of the two albums, possibly more interesting to us as it's really quite a departure for Boris, plus we've always found Wata to be their most appealing singer anyway. Her delicate vocals are accompanied by some of the band's softest, most mellow material yet. There's acoustic guitars, and electronica elements, and it's all really quite nice. At times dramatic, dancey, dreamy, and/or rockin', one thing it's not is sludgey. Not that it doesn't get loud and noisy at times - shoegazing explosion of "Spoon" could probably have gone on the accompanying Heavy Rocks just as easily. But for the most part, if you didn't know it was Boris, well you wouldn't know it was Boris! The nervously rhythmic "Tokyo Wonder Land", with its stabbing psychedelic guitar sizzle, and glitchy tic-tic-tics of drums and electronics, is the highlight here for us, but we're pretty into the whole disc. Utterly captivating. Wata and Boris sound like they're channelling every dreamy girl fronted band from the nineties and beyond: My Bloody Valentine, Blonde Redhead, Adult, Amp, Noriko Tujiko, and even Grouper, and it works. Hopefully we'll hear more from this incarnation of Boris in the future, with Wata on the mic... we suspect we will! We think open minded Boris fans will indeed like this album - and it just might make 'em a lot of new fans too, who didn't have any idea Boris could or would sound like this.
Then, to Heavy Rocks (2011)... Drop the needle on track one, and you're greeted by a mean, heavy chugging riff, and it almost seems like, hey, they've gone full-on metal here, but that track, "Riot Sugar", becomes more of a howling psych stoner rock song, with hushed vocals. Off to a good start. The next track isn't nearly as heavy, it begins with some jangle, then a tangle of guitar soloing from Kurihara in his Quicksilver/Cippolina mode, there's also more of those hushed vox, and a general loud/soft songwriting dynamic, this track having echoes of both Nirvana and Can! Kinda sounds like something Kurihara's band Stars would do. Track three "GALAXIANS" is a more energetic, uptempo attack, lots of whoops and hollering going on, with thrashing drums, noisy guitar and electronic FX...
And so it goes, the album a mix of race-with-the-devil rockers and much moodier, shoegazey stuff. "Missing Pieces" is an example of the latter, a slow build from quiet ambience to almost Merzbowian jet-engine noise. The two final tracks are well worthy of mention, the penultimate, nearly 13 minute "Aileron" (greatly expanded, and of course heavied up, from the brief acoustic guitar version of the same track found on Attention Please), is another of the shoegazier pieces, super heavy, lumbering and lovely, reminding us a lot of Codeine, then after that there's "Czechoslovakia", at the very end of the album, a brief instrumental thrash metal number with electronic embellishments, sounds like something Circle would do in their NWOFHM mode, pretty killer, but of course we have to assume Boris sorta meant it as a joke, oh well, in any case it unfortunately fades out at 1:35, just as it's really gettin' good... if another five or ten minutes of this song as we imagine it actually existed, and were included here, that would definitely make Heavy Rocks even radder. Who knows, though, maybe it will continue on a forthcoming album entitled, Heavier Rocks?? (Our idea, but Boris you're welcome to it, sounds like something you'd do - well actually probably what Boris would do is release ANOTHER album also called Heavy Rocks.)
Anyway, to wrap up, these two new discs from Boris are both pretty darn good & satisfying overall. And both emblematic of the band's dabbling in an almost alt-pop, quasi-commercial (on their own terms, though!) direction, while staying HEAVY as they wanna be.
*There's actually a 3rd new Boris full-length as well, out in Japan only, the cleverly (?) titled New Album, which includes some of the same songs found on these two domestic US releases, though we'd imagine they're different recordings/versions, Boris being who they are (confusing!).
MPEG Stream: "Riot Sugar"
MPEG Stream: "Leak -Truth,yesnoyesnoyes-"
MPEG Stream: "Aileron"

album cover BORIS New Album (Sargent House) cd 15.98
Of the three records Japanese trio Boris released in 2011 (yep, three!), the one we were most excited about was the hardest to get, at least until now. We reviewed both Heavy Rocks (the second Heavy Rocks, confusionally titled the same as their 2002 album), and also Attention Please, which featured all songs sung by guitarist Wata, and of the two, we got kind of obsessed with that Wata one. But we had also been hearing about a third record, also confusionally titled New Album, which originally came out in Japan only, and which featured different versions of many of the same songs from the other two records, but in dramatically different form, with most reports claiming that New Album was in fact Boris' J-Pop record, which sounded pretty dang appealing to us. And while some folks we know (as well as at least one aQ-er) took the plunge and plopped down $40 for the import, it's now finally available domestically, and holy crap it is without a doubt the best of the three. A friend of aQ was giving us shit for digging this so much, claiming that he knew we would, cuz we love that indie pop sound so much, which is actually totally true, and if you're coming to New Album looking for anything remotely heavy, you will be sorely disappointed. Sure there's some crunchy guitar here and there, but it's in the service of electronica flecked indie rock jangle, shoegazey J-pop, synth heavy electro, skittery new wave, and pretty much every fuzzy electro pop nineties style variation Boris could whip up.
And yeah, 4 or 5 of the songs are on other records, but they are dramatically different here, arrangement, instrumentation, everything, and this is one of those times we're not gonna do a song by song blow by blow, just know that of the three new ones, this one is definitely our favorite and sounds more like Blonde Redhead mixed with M83, with some of the tracks sounding like they should have been on the late great French electronic pop label Gooom, some of Boris' best songs ever, alongside some of their weirdest. But if you ever wondered what Boris would sound like playing nineties shoegaze indie rock electro pop, this is the record for you!
MPEG Stream: "Hope"
MPEG Stream: "Party Boy"
MPEG Stream: "Luna"
MPEG Stream: "Spoon"

album cover BORIS New Album (Sargent House) 2lp 29.00
After some delay, NOW ON (SWANK) VINYL!!
Of the three records Japanese trio Boris released in 2011 (yep, three!), the one we were most excited about was the hardest to get, at least until now. We reviewed both Heavy Rocks (the second Heavy Rocks, confusionally titled the same as their 2002 album), and also Attention Please, which featured all songs sung by guitarist Wata, and of the two, we got kind of obsessed with that Wata one. But we had also been hearing about a third record, also confusionally titled New Album, which originally came out in Japan only, and which featured different versions of many of the same songs from the other two records, but in dramatically different form, with most reports claiming that New Album was in fact Boris' J-Pop record, which sounded pretty dang appealing to us. And while some folks we know (as well as at least one aQ-er) took the plunge and plopped down $40 for the import, it's now finally available domestically, and holy crap it is without a doubt the best of the three. A friend of aQ was giving us shit for digging this so much, claiming that he knew we would, cuz we love that indie pop sound so much, which is actually totally true, and if you're coming to New Album looking for anything remotely heavy, you will be sorely disappointed. Sure there's some crunchy guitar here and there, but it's in the service of electronica flecked indie rock jangle, shoegazey J-pop, synth heavy electro, skittery new wave, and pretty much every fuzzy electro pop nineties style variation Boris could whip up.
And yeah, 4 or 5 of the songs are on other records, but they are dramatically different here, arrangement, instrumentation, everything, and this is one of those times we're not gonna do a song by song blow by blow, just know that of the three new ones, this one is definitely our favorite and sounds more like Blonde Redhead mixed with M83, with some of the tracks sounding like they should have been on the late great French electronic pop label Gooom, some of Boris' best songs ever, alongside some of their weirdest. But if you ever wondered what Boris would sound like playing nineties shoegaze indie rock electro pop, this is the record for you!THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Music Is Painting
MPEG Stream: "Hope"
MPEG Stream: "Party Boy"
MPEG Stream: "Luna"
MPEG Stream: "Spoon"

album cover BUFFALO DAUGHTER I (Emperor Norton) cd 16.98
I never really got into Buffalo Daughter until I saw them live in, like, 1998 or something. And man, are they good live, and that's what has made me love their records. The band is two Japanese girls and a guy drummer who seems to change with each album. Anyway, when seen live, Buffalo Daughter's magic becomes clear -- they love Stereolab as much as they love Krautrock like Can and Neu!, as much as they love the weird bombasticism of fellow countrymen the Boredoms. Buffalo Daughter filters all that good stuff thru an art pop filter, coming up with a sound that is totally accessible and yet challenging and charmingly unpredictable. And they do it just on guitar, bass and drums, plus various judiciously-wielded electronics. Nothing unnecessary, nothing sweet, just kickbutt arty new rock. You never know where they're gonna take you next. I just love 'em. You will too. Get this fine new record or start with their best album 'New Rock'.
RealAudio clip: "Earth Punk Rockers"
RealAudio clip: "Ivory"
RealAudio clip: "Five Minutes"

BUFFALO DAUGHTER New Rock (Grand Royal) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Japanese female quartet mix power pop and funk and electronic noodling into a surprisingly appealing whole. Bonus points for throwing Gregg Turkington's "Great Phone Calls" pranks into the mix, barely there but so very there.

BUFFALO DAUGHTER New Rock (Grand Royal) 2lp 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Japanese female quartet mix power pop and funk and electronic noodling into a surprisingly appealing whole. Bonus points for throwing Gregg Turkington's "Great Phone Calls" pranks into the mix, barely there but so very there.

BUFFALO DAUGHTER Sax, Drugs And Rock'n'roll (Grand Royal) 7" 3.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
On this funky lil' 7", Buffalo Daughter bring us a live (and lively) recording from a show in Osaka. They've taken their wellknown song "Socks, Drugs And Rock'n'roll", and ditched the socks in favor of a little sax! Throw in some twisted vocoded vocals and the result is a fun, skronky sample of Buffalo Daughter live action. The b-side is a lovely sonic rendering of a jellyfish. Languid, dreamy, underwater/deepspace-y. A nice little release to tide us over 'til their next full length.

BUFFALO DAUGHTER Socks, Drugs, And Rock And Roll (Grand Royal) 12" 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Remixers include Alec Empire (very recognizable!), Stock, Hausen & Walkman, Money Mark, and U.N.K.L.E.

BUFFALO DAUGHTER Socks, Drugs, And Rock And Roll (Grand Royal) cdep 7.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Remixers include Alec Empire (very recognizable!), Stock, Hausen & Walkman, Money Mark, and U.N.K.L.E.

album cover CASINO, COTTON We Love Cotton (Sillyboy) cd 15.98
The adorable Acid Mothers Temple chanteuse steps out all on her own with this truly solo album (no guests, no sidemen). It's got a bold title, but hey, who doesn't love Cotton? Rather than try to demonstrate that she can match the mothership's psychedelic overload freakout intensity all by herself, she veers off into a more intimate, personal realm of J-pop inflected, melodic voice-and-synth tunesmithery. It's airy and breathy and embellished with the quietly burbling and swooshing sci-fi keyboard sounds she wields so effectively in AMT. Definitely very different from the general run of Acid Mothers side projects, that's for sure! Recommended, if you're in the mood for some gently psychedelic, spacy pop with a wistful feel and exotic ambience.
MPEG Stream: "Melt Down"
MPEG Stream: "Silence"

CIBO MATTO Hotel Valentine (Chimera Music) lp 17.98

CIBO MATTO Viva! La Woman (Warner Mothers) cd 14.98
Pronounced 'chee-boh mot-toh'. 2 Japanese expatriates living in NY make a tasty and very fun racket (that you can dance to) with synthesizers, numerous recognizable or tantalizingly familiar samples, and lyrics solely about food: white pepper, beef jerky, etc.

CORNELIUS Drop (Matador) 12" 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
A decent single spun off from the last Cornelius album Point. This has three tracks: "Drop" from the aformentioned album, and two remixes of the same. The Kings of Convenience sweeten the already-Stereolabbish nature of the Cornelius original. It's kind of a surprise to see them doing a remix at all, since they're Sweden's answer to Belle & Sebastian. Herbert (a.k.a. Doctor Rockit) delivers a much more interesting remix, forcing the song to hiccup and stutter admirably.

album cover CORNELIUS Drop (Matador) cd single 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
A decent single spun off from the last Cornelius album Point. This has three tracks: "Drop" from the aformentioned album, and two remixes of the same. The Kings of Convenience sweeten the already-Stereolabbish nature of the Cornelius original. It's kind of a surprise to see them doing a remix at all, since they're Sweden's answer to Belle & Sebastian. Herbert (a.k.a. Doctor Rockit) delivers a much more interesting remix, forcing the song to hiccup and stutter admirably.
RealAudio clip: "Drop (Herbert remix)"

CORNELIUS Fantasma (Matador) cd 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Both of SF's alternative weeklies have been praising this album high and low, so you can believe the hype, or not. The Aquarius staff thinks this recognizable-sample-heavy party record is merely okay, sounding kinda like a mediocre mixtape as opposed to a seamless whole. We recommend you take Cornelius' lead and get an Omoide Hatoba record instead (Cornelius' own label has released Hatoba stuff, and we feel that they fuck with a million different musical genres AND come out with a sound all their own, something Cornelius is trying not-so-successfully to do...)

CORNELIUS Fantasma (Matador) lp 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Both of SF's alternative weeklies have been praising this album high and low, so you can believe the hype, or not. The Aquarius staff thinks this recognizable-sample-heavy party record is merely okay, sounding kinda like a mediocre mixtape as opposed to a seamless whole. We recommend you take Cornelius' lead and get an Omoide Hatoba record instead (Cornelius' own label has released Hatoba stuff, and we feel that they fuck with a million different musical genres AND come out with a sound all their own, something Cornelius is trying not-so-successfully to do...)

album cover CORNELIUS Five Point One (Matador) dvd + cd 14.98
A dvd and a cd packaged in super jewel case, this is the latest from our favorite Japanese genre-defying pop genius, Cornelius. The dvd features a video clip for every song off of Cornelius' last album, Point. This is cool for two reasons: 1) Point was an awesome album, and 2) if you've ever seen Cornelius live, you know that video art plays a big part in his show and it's great stuff. And when you're done with the visuals (including the bonus TV commercials), there's the whole 'nother extra audio cd featuring a dozen remixes of Point tracks done by fans!

album cover CORNELIUS Point (Matador) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Ah, Cornelius. Japanese soundmeister. Label impresario. Citizen of the world. Promoter of the bowlcut.
A cynic might predict that this album would be full of cutesy lounge music and tired samples... indeed that's what I (non-Cornelius fan) thought. But actually, I'm happy to report this record is kinda really good. Point begins quietly, admirably not screaming for attention, utilizing static to create anticipation. Then it slips effortlessly into a Stereolab-like groove, where the chiming sampled voices of the Stereolab women (that is them, right?) hover over organic, stumbling drums and precise guitar strumming. The entire album runs at this loping, kooky pace. Like the dearly departed Esquivel, Cornelius uses the voices only as sonic elements; the lyrics are relatively nonsensical. And once in a while you'll even hear an honest to gosh distorted guitar solo, or insane speedmetal riffing superimposed over the mellowness, or a sweet cover of "Brazil". (These changes in tone are not gimmicky -- they're worked in seamlessly well.)
This is a consistent, fine album, just don't expect the cut and paste theatrics of his previous record Fantasma. Buy it if you don't like the recent Stereolab albums, this will satisfy that craving quite handily.
RealAudio clip: "Point"
RealAudio clip: "Brazil"
RealAudio clip: "Smoke"

CORNELIUS Point (Matador) lp 11.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Ah, Cornelius. Japanese soundmeister. Label impresario. Citizen of the world. Promoter of the bowlcut.
A cynic might predict that this album would be full of cutesy lounge music and tired samples... indeed that's what I (non-Cornelius fan) thought. But actually, I'm happy to report this record is kinda really good. Point begins quietly, admirably not screaming for attention, utilizing static to create anticipation. Then it slips effortlessly into a Stereolab-like groove, where the chiming sampled voices of the Stereolab women (that is them, right?) hover over organic, stumbling drums and precise guitar strumming. The entire album runs at this loping, kooky pace. Like the dearly departed Esquivel, Cornelius uses the voices only as sonic elements; the lyrics are relatively nonsensical. And once in a while you'll even hear an honest to gosh distorted guitar solo, or insane speedmetal riffing superimposed over the mellowness, or a sweet cover of "Brazil". (These changes in tone are not gimmicky -- they're worked in seamlessly well.)
This is a consistent, fine album, just don't expect the cut and paste theatrics of his previous record Fantasma. Buy it if you don't like the recent Stereolab albums, this will satisfy that craving quite handily.

album cover CORNELIUS Sensuous (Everloving) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
If only Beck's last outing was as creative and colorful as this! Cornelius tends to take his time between albums but when they finally drop and sound this good and this meticulously crafted, we realize it's well worth the wait. With an uncanny ability to be both challenging and so damn catchy, Cornelius continues his streak with great pop record after great pop records, never afraid to explore new sounds while still making the whole sonic experience so fun to listen to. Picking up nicely where Point left off, this new record is perfectly titled as there is a breezy and brainy sensuality at play, and as always Cornelius effortlessly travels in all sorts of directions throughout the record, without ever losing cohesiveness. When other folks try the same sort of thing you usually just feel lost and bewildered by the haphazard musical confusion, but when Cornelius takes you from dreamy to rambunctious, blissed out to bumpin' and fractured to smoothed out, you just close your eyes and let yourself go, being carried away by colorful waves of sound headed for another engaging adventure in sound. So nice!
MPEG Stream: "Beep It"
MPEG Stream: "Gum"
MPEG Stream: "Wataridori"

CORNELIUS Star Fruits Surf Rider (Matador) 12" 7.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Matador UK is acting like the English majors by releasing two singles of the same song when the six tracks on these two releases could easily fit on one piece of vinyl or one cd. Cheesy label tactics. But these tunes are so darn charming, capitalist manipulations soon fly away like air blown popcorn. On blue: a Damon Albarn remix and "Surf Rider Blue" (tres jungley!) and on green: "Ball In -Kick Off" (tres funky!) and "Star Fruits Green" (accoustic guitar with string orchestration).

CORNELIUS Star Fruits Surf Rider (Matador) cdep 7.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Matador UK is acting like the English majors by releasing two singles of the same song when the six tracks on these two releases could easily fit on one piece of vinyl or one cd. Cheesy label tactics. But these tunes are so darn charming, capitalist manipulations soon fly away like air blown popcorn. On blue: a Damon Albarn remix and "Surf Rider Blue" (tres jungley!) and on green: "Ball In -Kick Off" (tres funky!) and "Star Fruits Green" (accoustic guitar with string orchestration).

album cover DOODLES Nokori (Alchemy) cd 21.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Ok, we imagine that some of you might be kind of skeptical about this band, seeing as they're called, ahem, Doodles. Not exactly an awe-inspiring, heavy-psych kinda moniker is it? And with a name like that, and because of the fact that it's an all-girl outfit, you might expect some kind of cutesy "chick band from Japan" (as someone we know who shall remain nameless put it). But this ain't no Puffy Ami Yumi. Or even Shonen Knife. And their music is quite a bit different from the (also great) but much more robustly silly mayhem unleashed by the other all-girl Japanese psych duo reviewed on this week's list, Afrirampo. No, Doodles are a more serious sort of band, despite the name. Far from silly or fluffy. More roughly hewn and melancholic. These ladies (Akiko Terashima on vocals/guitar/piano and Nao Shibata on drums/chorus) play plodding, haunted psych-rock, with storms of guitar distortion hovering on the horizon, and sweet, sad vocals quivering deeply soul-ward. Ringing, reverby chords, jagged strum, staggering drums. Japanese psych-scene fans will understand if we compare 'em to Angel' In Heavy Syrup, Shizuka, and Nagisa Ni Te. But for a (sort of) non-Japanese comparison, we think maybe Blonde Redhead would be a slight parallel. Uh, Blonde Redhead meets Codeine, maybe. They've also drawn comparisons to other punkish/naive Western acts like the Smashachords and Swell Maps. And then there's some Neil Young and VU too. They're definitely a band that we think should appeal to indie-rock lovin' AQ customers beyond just those with Japanocentric tastes! And the Japan-psych fans among you ought to be already into 'em, thanks to their appearance on first volume of Alchemy's great The Night Gallery: 21st Century Psychedelic Underground compilations. Also Akikio plays on the two Jojo Hiroshige discs we've recommended recently. And in fact this is their 2nd or 3rd album after one on Gyuune and at least one cd-r release before that, though it's the first we've managed to stock. But we'll definitely keep Doodles on our list of bands to watch out for more from in the future!
MPEG Stream: "track 2"
MPEG Stream: "track 6"

album cover DORONCO GUMO Old Punks (Holy Mountain) lp 14.98
Part Les Rallizes Denudes, part Maher Shalal Hash Baz, this Japanese super group do a sort of droney, jangley garage psych pop, that over the course of Old Punks slips from woozy indie rock to brooding looped psych rock, playful power pop, to reverby almost ballads to Velvets-y minimal lope. The band is super laid back, the songs are weary and ragged and drawly and shambling, the guitars loose and detuned sounding, the drums spare and simple, the vocals, which might make or break DG for most folks, are sort of flat and tuneless, mumbled and moaned, sometimes crooned, but usually buried in the mix, just another layer of whirling sonic warmth.
Occasionally, things do get weird, some crunchy surf guitars, some strange jumbled group vocals, all tangled and chaotic, and of course bursts of psychedelic solo guitar squall, but for the most part Old Punks traffics in simple stripped down psychedelic rock, laced with bits of folk and pop, and of course shadows of both Maher and Les Rallizes.
Comes with a download card so you can grab yourself a digital copy of the record too!

album cover EDDIE MARCON Shining On Graveposts (Preservation) cd 16.98
This AQ favorite from a few years back is FINALLY available again!!!
Ooooh. Some really nice, gentle Japanese acid-folk here, from this female duo, first heard (by us that is) on Alchemy's Night Gallery 2: 21st Century Psychedelic Underground compilation. If you like Nagisa Ni Te, or L's Holy Letters, or the ghostliest Ghost you'll certainly welcome the embrace of Eddie Marcon's dreamy, folky, psychedelic soundworld. As with Nagisa and L, you'll find here similarly drawn out and sparse compositions infused with strange and subtle atmospheres - mostly acoustic/electric guitars with some snare and piano (cymbal drones, scrapes, gasps - all acoustically hand-crafted). The record also has some haunting horn blasts and lots of rattling percussion, bells, etc., and the whole thing is sedated by ongoing mallet flourishes on drums and cymbals. Vocally, this could be Takako Minekawa or Tojiko Noriko stripped of the electronica element. There's all the seductive conventions of melancholy folk with just enough eccentricities to place this in a continuum of modern Japanese underground psychedelia, such as LSD-march (an early line-up of which apparently featured both Eddie Marcon's singer Eddie and guitarist Marcon - aha, now you see how Eddie Marcon came up with their name!) and the female bass-drums duo of Coa (singer Eddie's other band). Eddie Marcon is quite a bit more quiet and mellow than either of those outfits tend to be, though! And outside of the Japanese comparisons, we'd think anyone into anything in the psych-folk vein from Vashti Bunyan to Islaja might quite find this to their liking...
Australia's Preservation label has stylishly packaged this disc in/with an intriguing minimalist graphic design fold out poster. Totally recommended!
MPEG Stream: "Amime"
MPEG Stream: "Siro No Uta"

album cover EX-GIRL Back To The Mono Kero! (Ipecac) cd 17.98
Yet one more time, let's hear it for Japan! Always pushing things (anything! everything!) to the next level of absurdity and wonder. The highly animated, outstandingly costumed Chihiro, Fuzuki and Kirilo return to take us on another bizarre musical journey to their secret magicland of Kero (that's "ribbit" in Japanese). Definitely a group to be seen live in concert --- it's a spectacle!--- but if you're not one of the lucky ones who've had this joyful experience, their recordings will just have to do. Imagine incredibly organized, playful and strange sonic chaos. A capella vocal acrobatics, punky/prog-y guitars, raw tribal beats. This time they're accompanied by one Mr. Robin Scott. Name sound familiar? Think M. Think "Pop Muzik". Uh huh, he's the voice behind that great, truly new wave tune from 1979 which Ex-Girl cover quite splendidly. Once again produced by Hoppy Kamiyama.
RealAudio clip: "Wipe Out 3"
RealAudio clip: "Frog King"

album cover EX-GIRL Endangered Species (Alternative Tentacles) cd 14.98
More pop-tastic, bombastic, triple-threat vocal mania from Ex-Girl, three hot and insane Japanese women whose band rocks hard and weird and is tough not to like, especially if you're a bit of a Japanophile. Ex-Girl is nothing if not exceedingly over the top, more concerned about being fun and kicking ass than being avant-garde, although they can't help it, especially with cross-dressing keyboard whiz Hoppy Kamiyama as their producer/arranger/main composer. A song you thought was gonna be an overdose of operatic artiness will turn out to be the Hello Kitty version of rap-metal or something. And it's good. Imagine, if you can, a cross between Hundred Sights of Koenji and Faith No More or No Doubt, and a few random techno/electronica DJ cds... Crunching guitars, pounding drums, wild synths, and zany fx abound, with numerous pop hooks taken to the heights of these ladies' impressive vocal capabilities. Dizzying and delightful, loud and lovely. Deserving of their cult following and due for some major commercial success someday we hope! (Not likely in this country, but who knows maybe they're huge in Japan now.)
MPEG Stream: "Hettakorii No Ottokotou"
MPEG Stream: "PUJEVA"

FANTASTIC PLASTIC MACHINE Beautiful (Emperor Norton) cd 14.98
If you've been itchin' for something house-y for your warm summer nights, look no further than this, the third album from Tomoyuki Tanaka aka Fantastic Plastic Machine. Reaching back to the 70s for some soul and house moves embellished with some Brazillian accents and flute flourishes. A comment on the music straight from the horse's mouth, "Comparing my music to a girl, I used to like a 'cute' girl but now I prefer a 'beautiful' girl." And much of his usual sweet, fluffy electronics from his previous self-titled and 'Luxury' releases are certainly absent on 'Beautiful'. That's not to say this isn't another playful outing for Mr. Tanaka. It's just that the 'girl' sure resembled a groovy Barry White this time around. And i just noticed that I'm not the only one who thinks this. Printed right on the front cover is a review clip from the Miami Herald tagging it as "Barry White for a house music age." Okay! Includes a cover of Frankie Knuckles' classic "Whistle Song".
RealAudio clip: "Beautiful Days"
RealAudio clip: "Whistle Song"

FUTABA NAKAYAMA Tomodatiha (Alchemy) cd 21.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.

HANAYO Gift (Geist) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Now domestically priced: Japanese avant-chanteuse Hanayo (whom some will recall from her collaboration with German electronica hotboy Panacea) here presents another collaborative work, this time with a whole host of international electronic/experimental artists, including Terre Thaemlitz, Curd Duca, Merzbow, Patric Catani, Stilluppsteypa, Christophe de Babalon, and others. So it's a varied mix of digital hardcore, electronic pop, abstract noise, and everything in between, with Hanayo's little-girl voice holding forth over all, whether her collaborators provide atmosphere or chaos...nice.

album cover HIKASHU Hikashu History (Tzadik) cd 15.98
Ranging from goofy electronic pop to jazz/rock collage to noise improv, this band really runs the gamut of underground Japanese sound. Of course, they've been at it for about 25 years, so it's not surprising that this collection is so varied and bizarre. "Hikashu History" isn't exactly a "best of" -- rather, this disc pulls together demos, live recordings, and other rare archival material to give an overview of Hikashu's activities since their inception in the mid-seventies. It's a wild, weird bunch of stuff, with leader Makigami Koichi's wacky, dramatic vocals being the main unifying factor. If you've heard of Koichi at all before, it's probably from his solo releases also available on Tzadik, one a twisted solo vocal performance that makes Mike Patton sound like a an amateur, another being a experimental jaw harp duo with Swiss musician Anton Bruhin. But Hikashu is quite another matter, kind of an alternate-universe rock band.
As we said, the music here is quite varied, utilizing toys, mellotron, synths, sax, samplers, cornet, guitars, etc. -- and on the more recent material, there's even some turntable scratching courtesy of Otomo Yoshihide, whose Ground Zero band might have taken some inspiration from the cut-ups of Hikashu. The Boredoms probably did too. It's a mixed bag (some of the more poppish stuff wasn't really to our taste, although it certainly has a uniquely Japanese flavor), but for fans of wacked-out left-field Japanese avant-pop-whatever this is one of the more necessary Tzadik releases to date.
RealAudio clip: "Mask"
RealAudio clip: "Suika No Koushin M"
RealAudio clip: "Rhetoric-S & Logic-S"
RealAudio clip: "Shuffer"

HOAHIO Ohayo! Hoahio! (Tzadik) cd 16.98
Fantastic 2nd (first US) release from this all-female Japanese avant-pop group. Yagi Michiyo on the koto (veteran of a Tzadik solo release), Haco on vocals and other instruments, and sinewave sampler virtuoso Sachiko M (known for her work with Otomo Yoshihide in Ground Zero and ISO). Includes a couple of reworked tracks from the import debut on Sachiko's Amoebic label, and more, new wonderful electronic/experimental pop songs in the same vein, strange and lovely. Recommended.

album cover IKE, REIKO You, Baby (aka Kokotsu No Sekai) (Bamboo) lp 24.00
This sexy sultry silly slab of seventies Japanese exotica, now on vinyl!
Some of you are probably hip to the Pinky Violence films of early seventies Japan, especially with a handful of recently reissued dvd's, an eye popping, mind blowing combination of not so subtle eroticism, extreme ultraviolence and over the top ACTION! The twist, being that the brutalizers tended to be bad ass Japanese women, cat fighting, beating the crap out of men, always seeming to be clad in boots and with their shirts 'accidentally' torn open to reveal their breasts. Which miraculously never kept them from kicking still more ass! What's not to love?
Sort of in concert with the movies, a whole genre of erotic music was spawned, Iroke Kayoyoku, a bastardized version of a more popular music, sexed up as it were with chanteuse like crooning, but most important of all, an amazing array of moaning and groaning and cooing and giggling, as if in the throes of EXTREME passion. And at the time, 1971 (THAT seemingly perfect musical year!) this was indeed pretty dang racy and risque.
The sound is a blend of soft core soundtrack music, groove jazz, playful exotica, a little Spaghetti Western, with Herb Alpert horns, fluttering jazz flutes, Spanish guitars, smokey sax, hip shaking rhythms, marimbas and xylophones, very moody and dreamy sometimes, wild and playful at others, but always with Reiko's sexy croon, and of course her very convincing sounds of passion, including an unexpected bout of spanking at one point (!) accompanied by the proper breathless exhalations of pain/pleasure.
Wow! Wild and fun and sexy, but so so strange. Highly recommended for sure.
MPEG Stream: "1"
MPEG Stream: "2"
MPEG Stream: "9"

album cover ISHIBASHI, EIKO Imitation Of Life (Drag City) lp 17.98
Back in 2007, this female Japanese singer-songwriter (and improvisor, too) made a cd with Ruins drummer Tatsuya Yoshida, called Slip Beneath The Distant Tree, that we really loved. Experimental pop/prog, which included covers of Genesis, This Heat, Soft Machine, and several classical composers. Eiko's multi-instrumental skills were impressive, and her sweet voice appealing - we said then we were curious to hear more from her.
Apparently the ubiquitous Jim O'Rourke is a fan too, and probably had something to do with Drag City releasing this new Eiko Ishibashi solo outing, her vinyl-only domestic US debut, which he produced and also plays on. It's a dreamy set of songs, what Drag City calls "a progressive sci-fi pop album", and we can see why Eiko is apparently already kinda "big in Japan". Her gentle, whisper-ish vocals grace songs that swell with elegant yet jaunty piano melodies; there's tight chamber pop orchestration in back of it all, with rhythms that can get prog-propulsive, though this is definitely more light and airy of an affair than the more mathematically-minded music she made with Yoshida. Quite nice indeed.
MPEG Stream: "Resurrection"

KARIE, KAHIMI K.K.K.K.K. (Le Grand Magistery) cd 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Kahimi's ultra-sweet baby doll vocals twit and twitter around a Gainesbourg/Bacharach-sque melodious stew. Much like a super amped up Pizzicato Five. Lots of Momus here (words, music, production, etc), but Add 'N' to (X), Stereo-Total, and Buffalo Daughter also put in their two bits worth. Soaring pop on a grand scale. Warning: may induce sugar shock.

KARIE, KAHIMI s/t (Minty Fresh) cd 14.98
Super saccharinely sweet female vocals from this woman who has been called a female Cornelius. He guests on this record, as does Momus.

1 2 3 »

top of page