The next person who suggests that I get married this year so I can get thrown off that cliff is going to get their stomach fenestrated.
…I mean…Welcome to another glorious update to Szkandelous.com! By now you are no doubt aware of my endless affection for UA. But, what you may not be aware of is that I am a horribly mean person!
What I’m trying to say is, what’s going on with UA’s face? I mean, have you seen her latest album? Here let me guide you through UA’s seemingly intentional metamorphosis from cute diva to feminist art icon!
Ok, in 198…er, 1995 we get the single “Colony” off of her first major album. Her look is what, 1980’s Cure or maybe Scream-era Michael/Janet Jackson? Cute, no? “and boooooys dooooon’t cryyyyy”
In 1996 we get her second full-length album, “11”. Here she’s reminds me of the girl from “Another Heaven” (…ok, I thought she was cute). Jeez, that movie sucked. Anyway, this album represents a shift to a definitely 1996 style aesthetic. “Yay! The dot-com boom is about to happen and girls are cute! I bet I could find a job straight out of college!”
1998’s “Ametora” marks UA’s first step to scariness. Weird colored skin, a twisted grimace, baby-doll dress: this cover is like a nightmare from Courtney Love. Boys start crying. I almost didn't get this album out of fear. Which is a mistake by the way, “Ametora” is nearly as good as “Turbo”.
The cover for 1999’s “Turbo” is a painting so this time around I’ll use the cover for the (also magnificently good) song “Skirt no suna”. Here we get UA sans-makeup on a beach. The windblown look fits her as she peers into your soul. Maybe she’s going to dump you right there…you don't know! We love you UA!
Ok, here she’s not so cute, but maybe she’s trying to entrance you into liking her with her happy naked bird dance…so she can kill eat you for dinner!
…and then she can mop up all the blood when she’s done…
Last year she released a greatest hits collection by the name of “Illuminate”. Woh there…
…Frida Kahlo. If whatever it is you’re eating there tastes that bad, STOP EATING IT!
Right now I’m listening to this band called Tipographica that Illin’ Kim(ura) Jong Il lent me. It sounds like the musical equivalent of “Warioware”: a tour of simplified musical genres taken at the speed of one every five seconds. Do I like it? I like a lot of the parts just as much as I enjoyed playing the original “Zelda”, but like “Warioware” you wish some parts were longer and ultimately you’re left picking your nose.
“LaLaHaHa LaLaHaHa LaHaHa yeah, hitomi tojita mama/ mune moto ni kuchizukeru/ kimi no kuse ga suki da yo.” -UA
1/18 “Kurushikute aaa Love of Laundry”
I am stricken in love with the UA song “Laundry yori ai o komete” from the “Turbo” album; it’s like the audible version of waking up on a summer day because your bed is too hot. Every morning I end up turning off whatever music I happen to have put on and replacing it with UA, and then putting the song on repeat until I have to hear “Private Surfer”. I’m just going to warn you now; I’ll probably end up quoting the song all over this update.
“Frypan ni oil nagashinagara/ totemo kirei na kimochi ni naru. Togarashi no iro oboresasete/ Dokoka de aa yonderu”
The whole album’s absurdly good. Even the dubbed-out cover of the Japanese folk song “Ringo Oiwake”. UA’s voice is like the manifestation of contained disappointment attempting to guide you through the paired down instrumentation and gigantic bass lines of the ups and downs of everyday life. Yeah, the bass is P-H phat; you might not fit into that bikini after listening to it.
“Tokei no ugoki ga modokashikute”
Jeez how time flies when I’m not at work . I meant to finally put up a gallery of Matsunoyama photos today but was sidetracked by the deceptive simplicity of Propellerheads’ Reason (a music program). Let’s pretend this is a picture of my drive to work:
“Ugokenai aa Shinjitutsu la la la nanika kogeteru mitai”
So, you are no doubt wondering why there are pictures of people flying and arctic blackfaced me below. I was not kidding when I mentioned that we have a groom throwing festival. Every year on little New Years (the 15th of January) they collect all of that year’s new grooms, carry them up to a shrine at the top of a hill and throw them off into the snow. Then everyone collects around a bonfire a little lower down the hill and when that is done burning they take the ash and smear it on everyone else’s face. This year there were two separate TV crews and both of them got as covered in ash as I was.
Yeah, I get it, it’s the country…
“Anata wa itsudemo shiranpuri de/ shiwakucha no shatsu tatanda/ pocket no kazu o omoidashite/ dokoka de dareka ga waratteru.”
“Kurushikute aa Love of Laundry/ iki no shikata wakaranai yo/ itsu made mo tada kono mama/ pan ni butter toketa koro”
1/15 Happy Groom-Throwing Festival
I will explain this all later.
1/10 Now I Wanna Be Your Dog
Some of you might not realize this but I run this site in both English and Japanese. Yeah, I’m looking at you America. Ahem, here are my most current web site stats:
Notice how US Commercial ranks only slightly above Belgium, and how non-Commercial America doesn’t make the list at all.
Also, I think a lot of people are wondering why I didn’t take any pictures of the concert or talk show thing. Well, for one, whenever I go to a show that means I have to actually travel to Tokyo, which means my bag is full of stuff. Also, my camera is gigantic, look:
And from another angle:
Wait, is that…
...Japanese TV’s own Papaya Suzuki?
Anyway, thanks to an update to Thai Pop Standard’s links page, I can now provide you with more information on some of the Thai artists I listed before.
Ok, this is Futon:
You can go to their fabulously named homepage “RehabisFab” by clicking on the link or picture. There are audio clips and lyrics too, if that’s your inclination.
For kicks, I looked up My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult…‘ere I am J.H:
I have a link too, if you want that. Apparently no one has cared about My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult since 2001 so we can all step back through time and check out the web…as it was in the past! Sadly, the audio/video links aren’t working; though you can compare TKK’s lyrics with Futon’s…and LAUGH at their similarity!
And this is an illustration done by Wisut Ponnimut.
Cool, no? I would direct you to a Wisut’s site but sadly it is still in development.
Tell me what you guys think, ok?
1/4 A Happy New Year From Futon
For those of you that don’t know, Christmas in Japan is more like a recap of Valentine’s Day than it is a holy day (the holiday where you hang out with your family and go to a place of worship landing squarely on New Years). I, in perhaps the lightest sense of the word, chose not to participate in this year’s festival of love-love-ing and making poor, single people feel bad for themselves by spending the evening with my friend Brian’s host family.
Their youngest son was infatuated with Ultraman and repeatedly showed us a video introduction to the many monsters of the series, pausing at each new monster to re-focus the attention of everyone in the house onto the TV screen so that he could shout the monster’s name. Sometimes, when walking, he would stop suddenly and shout “Sphinx!”
We stayed up late talking with the family and had a good time. Not quite as cool as having a girlfriend, but definitely cooler than say finding out that someone you like is dating the yakuza or being stalked yourself by a 15 year old girl.
Other holiday fun; on the 22nd I went to an exhibition of modern Thailand’s explosive new underground culture. The major focus of the event was on Wisut Ponnimut, a Thai comic artist gaining popularity in Japan. You can see some of his work here.
There was also a group discussion regarding Thai’s flourishing music scene. I was enraptured with a band named Cliquetpar who will soon be distributed on Nobukazu Takemura’s Childisc label. I’m tempted to call them Aphex Twin-influenced, but I don’t think that quite hits it. They sound distinct from Nobukazu Takemura and Aphex Twin, but definitely at home on Childisc. They’re genre is “lock yourself indoors on a sunny day” music. How cool is that?
I was also introduced to a Thai band composed almost entirely of people from England called Futon. They are loud, brash and sexy electro-punk. Some might say they sound like Marilyn Manson but I would say My Life With The Thrill Kill Cult is more accurate. I am not confident yet, but I think I might like them.
However, the highlight to my two weeks of winter vacation would have to be the New Years concert at Kichijoji’s Star Pines Café. I went with Brian, who came all the way from America for winter vacation, and Kei who came all the way from her house in Tokyo.
I’m not going to write a full review but I will give a brief description of each band I remember seeing and their rating compared to the obscure Thai band Futon. Since my only experience with Futon is a cover of Iggy and the Stooges’ “I wanna be your dog” and a chemically addictive amalgamation of “My Sharona”, David Bowie’s “Heroes” and the desire to be gay, I’ll fill in the holes in my knowledge with comparisons to an actual futon.
Kahime Rakudan (aka: SingerQueenBand):
Lively, jazzy music in the Showa-style. The singer sounded like Yuki from Judy and Mary and the band had the sound of Ego Wrappin’. So good I bought their CD…just can’t get enough Ego Wrappin’.
Futon rating: Nothing at all like Futon but the lead singer’s kimono had a similar pattern to the one on my futon.
As far as I could tell, a man with a giant afro and an acoustic guitar and his poor friend that he made learn to drum for the show. They were about two months of practice away from being an ok Jpop band and about two weeks away from being worthy to play on a corner in Shibuya. They did a cover of the theme to the Japanese series “Sakura”. Should have called their cover “Suckura”.
Futon rating: Well, they did do a cover so I guess they are sort of like Futon. Bonus futon points for having an Asian guy with funny hair.
Laid back funky rock music with an excellent guitarist. My first impression was that they may be a little too light but after a half hour set and a gin and tonic I was in the mood…to buy their CD.
Futon rating: Softer than Futon…but which is easier to sleep on?
ZOOBOMBS! When I bought their CD back in America it had a sticker on it that claimed they were “Japan’s #1 Funky Hardcore”. You can’t step to claims like that and their performance certainly backed up their claims. If you’ve never heard a Zoobombs CD, “you need to get mo’ funky”.
Futon rating: Loud and genki like Futon but a little more lighthearted and a lot less weird.
From my seat the only thing I could see of the band was their GIGANTIC and agile bass player. So I stood up…and saw that their lead singer was Japan’s Kelly Osbourne…and backing her up was their drummer the Japanese Jesus Christ (who struck a cross pose during one of the songs) and a dancing ninja. A dancing ninja that shot fire! I kept thinking to myself that I had heard them somewhere before when it hit me, they sounded almost exactly like Futon…or at least how I remembered Futon.
Futon rating: Astro-B is Futon with Kelly Osbourne.
On the lighter side of rock. Kei says they sound like they are going to sell a lot and I can’t really counter that. I had actually seen them before at Heaven’s Door and was impressed with them then. This time around they were still good but after the bombastic Zoobombs and wacky Astro-B it was a little jarring to return to regular rock. Still very good though.
Futon rating: Both bands have members from England and members who are Japanese but speak perfect English so I guess they are similar like that. Oh yeah, both band names begin with the letter “f”!
Small Circle of Friends:
Relaxed and dancey hip-hop. I think four out of the five Japanese people I’ve met have not liked the male lead’s voice but I have not met a single person who has seen them live and not enjoyed it. It got me out on the floor at 3 in the morning! I think they were the highlight of the show (though the Zoobombs set was definitely a close second). “Round&round, clap your hands, come on, boy meets girl”.
Futon rating: 9 billion
“The unfortunate get preyed on by vultures eyes, 86 cents in these pockets of mine, you can take my money, you can take my time, but you can’t take my heart it’s in the city behind.” -- Rancid
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