Shimokitazawa Sound Cruising

In just 3 days Shimokita Sound Cruising, a town wide music festival celebrating the Tokyo underground music scene. Spread across 17 different venues around Shimokitazawa station, over 100 Indie bands from not only Japan but even as far as Poland. Every genre of music will be covered, from experimental noise, to Tokyo pop idol. If you have a chance make sure to come by Saturday.

 

As part of the event, Tower Records Japan will be opening up a special Shimokitazawa store until Sunday the 28th. On top of that, Tower Records will be releasing a special compilation cd featuring 21 different bands of all sorts of styles.

Young Cans will be there as well covering as many bands as we can getting you interviews and opinions straight from the heart of the Tokyo underground music scene. If you get a chance to go we personally recommend Kidori Kidori (Experimental Rock). Kotori (Pop-Rock) and Yunomi (Electric Tokyo Pop).

 

Shimokitazawa Sound Cruising will be held on Saturday, May 27th 2017

English Ticket Information can be found here as well as a full line up and timetable.

Mac Demarco – My Old Man

Mac DeMarco is back with his third album, his first album in three years and his second album after  my personal favorite, Salad Days, which was his last album before he released his first the EP Another one in 2016. DeMarco has grown a lot since his debut Rock and Roll Nightclub in 2011, not just in terms of popularity but also maturity and in his songwriting ability. On his third album on Brooklyn indie label Captured Tracks, DeMarco showcases just that, and with pretty good results. 

The album opens with the track My Old Man, a slow acoustic song following the classic DeMarco verse-chorus-verse-chorus-cuminpantsnostickend recipe. The chorus introduces some nice effect pedal guitar and is all in all a pretty good song. The acoustic guitar is something that suits DeMarco really well and it leaves me wondering why he hasn’t done more songs like this before. Something that’s different though from previous DeMarco is his lyrics, which is not exclusive to this particular track but is noticeable on most tracks on the album. He’s not just writing light hearted love songs anymore! I know that he’s done more introspective stuff before, like on Salad Days Chamber of Reflection, but never with this depth. The whole album, as far as I’ve understood, is dedicated to his father, whom he thought was going to pass away before the album was released. (Turns out he didn’t, which is gre4t news). It also seems like DeMarco did not have the best relationship with his father, which he also talks about in his lyrics, and how he seems to become more and more like him as time goes by. 

DeMarco has not just grown in his ability to write lyrics, his songs are now more complex than ever before and This Old Dog is his most varied album in terms of sound and instrumentation to date. DeMarco experiments freely with drum machines and synthesizers, which results in some of my favorite songs by him so far. For The First Time, the fourth track on the album, is one of them. It has one of his best choruses so far, and ever since I first heard it in an Instagram snippet he posted a few months ago when the album had just been finished, I’ve been hooked. It’s a slow synthesizer heavy track with bittersweet lyrics with minimalistic and small sounding instrumentation, which empathizes the great vocal melody in the hook. 

Just like seeing her, for the first time, again.

It’s pretty beautiful. Other great tracks include title track This Old Dog, which might be the coziest track DeMarco has ever put out, with a great bouncy round synthesizer in the chorus and a minimalistic old ass sounding drum machine pattern, all rolling to a looped nice little acoustic guitar  chord progression. Another favorite is Sister, another acoustic guitar based song. It’s a short track at just a little bit over a minute long but its sweet lyrics and Across The Universe sounding guitar turns it in to something great. 

This Old Dog is Mac DeMarcos most complex and introspective album to date, while still simultaneously obtaining dat DeMarco effortless simple feeling to it. Some fans will miss the more easy going not so depressed DeMarco, a majority of them being the 15 year olds who dress like him and smoke viceroys cigarettes, which also happens to be the majority of his fanbase, but I don’t think Mac really minds at all.

7/10

Animal Collective – Meeting of the Waters

For the first time since the founding of the collective, Avey Tare and Geologist work as a duo and together they produce one of the best Animal Collective projects of the decade so far. While I really enjoyed the collectives last album, the fast paced and fart synthesizer heavy project Painting With, it was met with a pretty mixed reception from both fans and critics alike. While I thought the project had some of the collectives most interesting songwriting to date, with lots of key changes and fast hockety hooks, those very things were probably what turned the majority of the haters off from the album. Meeting of the Waters however is a sort of return to their early sound, with lots of field recordings and slow paced more freely structured music. So while there has always been a clear progression of the collectives albums, this project sounds like it could have been released 10 years ago.

The entire EP was recorded in the Amazon rainforest, which results in a very jungley and watery soundscape. Geologist samples everything there is to sample in a rainforest and it does a great job of setting the mood. The opening track Blue Noses is a 13 minute long campfire like song with slowly strummed guitars and frog chirps that makes you want to close your eyes and dream away to the mysterious as fuck lands of the Amazon river, without the trouble of actually having to go there, which is nice because it’s actually really far from here. Like It’s literally on the other side of the world from me. Anyways, the AnCo songs-that-flow-seamlessly-into-each-other trademark makes a return and the next track, which is also the best track on the EP, Man of Oil starts before you even noticed the track changed. The track has a nice jazzy electric guitar chord progression and a catchy sample based hook. The constant sample in the background that works as percussion reminds me of Golden Chords from other member Deakins last year album. It also features some of the best vocals to come out of Avey Tare ever. He sings softly and in a high register, and his delivery is great with every line being delivered with real emotional weight under it. The lyrics are longing and filled to da brink, da very brink, with emotion.

I woke to sweats in the night

Strange sensation to feel alive

I find it so hard to tell you

I’m afraid to forget the smell of you

Oh man, all that emotion. The EP brings the slow paced and mysterious mood to the next level with the next track, Amazonawana / Anaconda Opportunity. The track is all instrumental and does a good job of keeping the dream-away-to-the-amazon-river mood intact. Finishing track Selection of a Place – Rio Negro Version is another EP highlight, with plucking guitars and insect field recordings. While this EP works as a return to their earlier sound, I do not think it necessarily is a sign of things to come but more of a one time thing and I expect the next Animal Collective album to sound more like to how the logical next step from Painting With would sound like, which I to be honest, have almost no idea what that is. But for all the fans out there that have been dying to hear the more freeform, field recording heavy and slow Animal Collective, stop dying, it’s here.

7/10

Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

While I love you honeybear was all about honesty, love and marriage, Pure comedy is a grand statement on society and humanity itself, according to the cynical and funny worldview of J.Tillman. With 13 tracks, including the 13 minute long Leaving LA,  running at a total of 74 minutes, it is also Tillman’s longest record to date. The opening and title track pure comedy, takes us on a grand journey from the birth of humanity to the current state of society, cynically and humorously narrated by Tillman.

The comedy of man starts like this

Our brains are way too big for our mothers’ hips

And so Nature, she divines this alternative

We emerged half-formed and hope that whoever greets us on the other end

Is kind enough to fill us in

And, babies, that’s pretty much how it’s been ever since

Ain’t that some shit. The track does a great job of setting the tone of what’s to come and has one of the best instrumentals on the album. The short crescendo in the middle of the track also has one of Tillman’s best chord progressions to date, topped with screeching anxiety inducing horns. The following track, total entertainment 4ever, is about Tillman’s view on entertainment and how it is fundamentally stupid as a concept. Tillman does receive a lot of criticism from haters calling him a pretentious hipster asshole, and while I definitely can see where they’re coming from, with Tillman himself being an entertainer and all, he comes across as very self aware of this fact himself and goes on to make fun of it during the course of the album. The track is one of the most upbeat and fast on the entire album and also comes with a great music video featuring that guy from the home alone movies with the weird name that I’m not even gonna try spelling out. The next track, Things that would have been helpful to know before the revolution is one of my favorite songs on the album and is about what it would be like if mankind returned to its native state. 

Sometimes I miss the top of the food chain sings Tillman and it works pretty good as a sum up. 

The album is a lot slower and heavier in its tone than his previous work and while some fans might be put off by that, some will like it. That’s how things are sometimes. It’s more cohesive than his previous albums too, with all of the tracks sounding more similar to each other in terms of instrumentation. All in all, I think it’s a great album but it does require more attention from the listener in order to fully enjoy it and appreciate the often complex and witty lyrics.

8/10

Little Dragons Season High Review

Little Dragons has me disappointed, because for a band who can do so much, they left me wanting so much more

 

 

Little Dragons has been everywhere and done everything but somehow cannot bring any of that experience into their own music. Lead Yukimi Nagano finds stellar collabs on Big Boi´s Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors and Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach, but the Swedish based pop group hasn’t been able to translate that same quality to their own works.

 

For a band who has been coming to their own via huge features on progressive albums with huge casts, Little Dragons’ latest album Season High feels like just more of the same, and not in a best hits kind of way. Rather than bring in some of their wide catalog of collaborators, Little Dragons finds comfort in controlled, technical mood music that lacks its own identity. Season High feels like an extension of Nabuma Rubberband, but without any growth from the band’s other collaborations.

 

There’s no doubt that Season High doesn’t have the tried and true Little Dragons polish, but in an over-explored 80’s throw back soundscape, that technical precision isn’t enough to carry the album. Overall it just feels dispassionate, another forced album to complete a contract with no real soul or feeling despite its R&B feel. For all the references to the greats, their seems to be no inspiration or strong influences. Nagano seems almost bored. In a band that thrived on presence, she seems to be more of a mouth piece for bland, flat songs that she has no interest in.

 

For a band that has been pushing a narrative of going back to their own work, bringing the collars into their own music, it seems that thought was forgotten in the recording room. As much as Little Dragons wants to be their own entity, it seems they just cursed themselves to be that band you heard of on someone else’s album. Their collaborations have been great, but they need to take a moment and find the magic we see they can have, within their own music sphere.

 

If it was 2010 and this was Little Dragons’ debut album, I would be excited to see what they have to offer, but now I’m wondering if they’ve just run their course.

 

I give Season High a 4.7/10