Author Archives: ryotaroao

Song of the Day: Ulm – “Flood of Light”

Nagoya post-rockers Ulm released their first EP, after dark, earlier this summer. While clearly influenced by the likes of MONO and World’s End Girlfriend, the band also has a distinctive metal foundation in their sound. There is a bleakness and “blackness” that runs throughout the music that evokes bands more like Jesu and Vampilia, and […]

Song of the Day: MONO – “After You Comes The Flood”

One of the first things apparent on MONO’s latest track are the drums. Courtesy of new drummer Dahm Majuri Cipolla, the pounding sounds are big, beefy and heavy. Cipolla replaces original drummer Yasunori Takada, who abruptly left the band after an 18 year tenure. After the seeingly career-defining magnum opus, Requiem For Hell, the first […]

Song of the Day: YOSHIKI feat. HYDE – “Red Swan”

After a very public incident of changing the song’s credited artist from “X JAPAN feat. HYDE” to “YOSHIKI feat. HYDE,” the ever ambitious drummer and X JAPAN spokesman has revealed his latest opus. Serving as the opening theme to acclaimed anime series Attack On Titan, “Red Swan” features all the operatic sweeps and epic qualities […]

The Japan Times: J-pop duo Scott & Rivers on writing Japanese lyrics

When American musician Scott Murphy first came to Japan in 2001, he could only say a few phrases in Japanese. “I learned how to say little things on stage, like みんな、楽しんでる? (Minna tanoshinderu, ‘Are you guys all having a good time?’)” he says. “When you say it on stage the kids just go crazy. So […]

The Japan Times: Figuring out who to watch at this year’s Fuji Rock Festival

Young acts like Yogee New Waves, Never Young Beach and DYGL are bringing feel-good vibes, but for something more moody check out The Novembers at the Red Marquee on Sunday, or the haunting post-rock combination of Jun Togawa with Vampilia. And don’t forget to see reformed shoegaze legends Slowdive on Sunday. Catch Nengu on the […]

The Japan Times: For Uhnellys, surviving Tokyo’s live-scene circuit has been an exercise in perseverance

When you’re an independent rock band, maintaining a do-it-yourself ethic long-term can be difficult. Many acts eventually have to scale back, and dreams of a musical career turn into the reality of having a really cool hobby. Uhnellys, however, have kept up the fight. “I see other bands our age and I can’t help but […]

The Japan Times: Rock act Boris marks 25 years with an album inspired by fans

Halfway through my conversation with Atsuo, drummer and spokesman for drone metal trio Boris, I bring out an original CD copy of the group’s 1996 release, “Absolutego.” “This sure brings back memories,” he says, looking at his band’s self-released debut. The record is, in a way, relevant to the group’s latest release, “Dear,” because depending […]

The Japan Times: Review: After Hours provides powerful rock and a strong statement of intent

“Standing against those that ruin art,” was the tagline for the After Hours festival, which took place across four venues in Shibuya on April 9. The sponsor-free event, curated by the bands Mono, Downy and Envy, featured more than 30 artists from a wide range of backgrounds and genres, coming together to provide an antithesis […]

The Japan Times: Dustin Wong is open to opinion on his latest album with Takako Minekawa

Musician Dustin Wong returned to Japan five years ago and, despite having grown up here, he encountered a few cultural differences after coming back. Sipping on a strawberry milkshake at a cafe near Shibuya Station, the composer and guitarist speaks carefully, but candidly, about those differences, one of which is a general lack of critical […]

The Japan Times: Envy, Mono and Downy devise a dream lineup for After Hours music festival

It’s no secret that the Japanese music industry has a hollowing-out problem; you are either a pop act on a major label with high levels of exposure or an obscure underground act for whom not losing money on a show is a major success. Guitarist Nobukata Kawai of hardcore band Envy knows the latter reality […]