Brother can you spare the time?

Greetings from the frozen cow fields of Niigata ken. This gaijin is avoiding work by drinking genmai cha and staring at the white snow cap of Mount Yoneyama. The weather is bitter here, the music is loud and conjunctions are consistently ignored.

Anyone in the mood for visuals can go here.

Oh what a shameless glutton this land has made me! I've been gorging myself on local discoveries, attacking films and literature, and rolling in wealth like the fiend I am. My only woe is that I have precious few moments to fully digest all I have access to. So I will steal this time like a bandit and share. (GilliamW00t)

But before I rave, I must bitch.

Tokyo Jihen's latest? Blah. Or rather just not my thing. I still appreciate the lingering fragments of Ringo's signature oddness, her juxtaposition of carnal lyrics set to a beat I would rather act silly to on roller skates. I miss her indie rock days. I doubt I will hear them again.

Moving on, I think my dear Communist has a thing for brothers. Can't put my finger on it but if there are male siblings involved, she will perk. One day she introduced me to the uber folksy phenomenon that is Hirakawachi Icchoume.

Or 平河地一丁目 This is actually the name of their old street address in Shizuoka.

They are wunderkinds of a kind and local to my suprise. They write their own songs, compose their own music, sell their own CDs and they're not even out of middle school. I hate them. No, I love them.

The younger brother, Naojiro, does most of the vocals. Ryunosuke writes most of the music. They have somehow managed to steer clear of Pop Jams, a Herculean feat for musicians in their age group. Naokun's voice is angelic if that word appeals to you and Ryukun's lyrics are appropriately emotional. If the younguns here have angst, they are not always permitted to express it honestly. When they do, at times it may seem overdone. Or maybe that is just the language barrier.

The boys don't seem to like Tokyo. Naokun's plaintive singing and Ryukun's even more plaintive lyrics give me the impression that Tokyo is not a place where actual things can be felt. In Shoujo少女 they reflect gently on a dim headed girl sitting on a veranda. Simple, sweet. If their aesthetic can be summed up in a word, I'd choose innocent.

Not necessarily naieve, though. On Hirakawachi Icchoume, innocence is a well-preserved soul confection and not something they seem eager to be rid of. I rented this shock drama of a film called Neighbor 13, which was agonizingly realistic. Like a poorly edited Miike. It moved at a slug's pace. The suspense bordered on boredom. I hated it. As the credits rolled, I heard Nao-kun's voice and balked. はがれた夜 is difficult to translate. はがれた (HAGARETA) means "to become unstuck/undone" and 夜 (YORU) means "night". The lyrics contemplate strength and weakness and how to preserve the self when dealing with the two. This came out of a 12 year old.


I find traditional instruments sexy. Happily for me, the Yoshida Brothers 吉田兄弟 are too.  They're hot, they're young and they play shamisen as though it were a *insert guitar name here*. I prefer their more understated material such as a Hill with no Name 名も無き丘 and Sprouting 萌え. Their hit single Storm did not impress me. Add a techno beat and synthesizers and suddenly the foreigners pay attention? Boo, I say! It just sounds like video game BGM to me.

Like Hajime Chitose, the Yoshida Bros. are trying to reinterpret the ancient. I think they are good at it. Aesthetically, they do not require digital accoutrements or maybe I am just personally against such mergings.

I had more but that will have to wait for another post. I am sorry I can't provide samples yet. I am a retard with a MAC, a hopeless duo if ever there was one.

Songs to Seek: Tokyo/Hirakawachi Icchoume, Shoujo/Hirakawachi Icchoume, Hagareta Yoru/Hirakawachi Icchoume, Hill with no Name/Yoshida Brothers, Sprouting/Yoshida Brothers

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