Wednesday, January 12, 2011

ATP/Motor Pool/音の歩きかた @Club Doctor

Maki & Datch
Motor Pool
@Club Doctor
Contributor: Cori
January 11, 2011

I haven't been to any live shows in awhile, but headed out to Shinjuku Club Doctor on Tuesday night to catch up with ATP.

I got there a bit late so I missed the 1st show from Maki & Datch.  As an update to this article, I did talk to Datch after the show and will catch up with them next time. They seem to be a regular band at Club Doctor, and quite good from what I remember.

Motor Pool was the second band to play. It seems they have known the members of ATP for quite some time. I talked to Mug before their show and he told me they have also helped with them with their CD, and sometimes play with them.

Motor Pool is a really great band. They seemed to be more calm and mature than a lot of the other bands I've seen on the circuit here in Tokyo. In fact I was heavily reminded of bands like The Motels when I saw and heard them. The singer is the bassist. She has a very clear, loud and great voice. I was very surprised. Their first few songs were really slow and seemed well under their abilities, but the last 2 songs they really picked up the pace and started shining out.  The guitarist played a Rickenbacker and the song was cool and unmistakable. The drummer was a very mellow kind of guy but very skilled drummer.  I would recommend this band to people who love more classic rock style and in a more mellow arrangement.

 The next band was 音の歩きかた (Sound of the way of walking). This was a Japanese trio, rap band. I've never seen a rap band live in Tokyo, but this band had a very cool twist on rap. Their style reminded me a lot of 311 mixed with The Plugz topped with M&M.

I was pretty impressed with the almost hypnotic sounds of the guitarist. He was playing a lot of atmospheric, kind of psychedelic while the bassist was grooving to his own funk. It worked great and this band blended very well. It was just like something you might here from Southern California. In fact I talked to the drummer after the show and called him "So-Cal" hahaha. He didn't get it I think, but it was a compliment.

I would recommend this band highly because they were a lot of fun to watch, and their blend of sounds is very cool.

The final band of the night was ATP.  This was a pretty interesting show because Taata had Influenza and she couldn't sing. She wore 2 layers of masks to keep from infecting anyone. I think they tried to cancel but they were the headliner, and so it was impossible to cancel at such a late date.

As you can see from this pic, the lead singer from Motor Pool joined for 1 song to sing, and she did a really good job.

For the other songs, Mug was singing. It was pretty cool because I had never seen him sing before. His voice was very quiet so I don't think people heard him much.  It did change the style of their show a bit. Taata's voice is really amazing so it's easy to miss hearing that.  I did notice that the band really picked up how loud they were playing, and it worked out very well.

Instrumentally, ATP is one kickin', powerful band, and they are a pleasure to listen to just to hear the instruments. I always highly recommend ATP for anyone. They are one of the greatest bands playing out there. In fact, I haven't heard any other bands with this level of talent that aren't already very famous.

Another cool thing, before the show they were playing intro music from the band "Love". This is a late 60's band, and gave a very cool intro to the show.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Broken Doll @Club Doctor, Shinjuku

Broken Doll -
November 11, 2010
Contributor: Cori

I got out to Club Doctor on Tuesday night to catch up with my friends from ATP.  While I was there I caught another fun band called Broken Doll.

These guys seemed a bit over the top at first. I mean the guitarist guitar was florescent green with pink knobs, and the girls had pink and green hair, and everyone was dressed like it was the 80's all over.

After I heard them play tho, I really got a good feeling from their music, and judging from the crowed it seemed most everyone liked them, including my friend Taata from ATP, and she's hard to please. At least she said they were cute.

Anyways, the music was a mix of 80's punk, new-wave, with a kind of blend of j-pop and heavy synth. I was surprised that the mix worked so well, but the singer Sachi's voice is so damned cute that it just really pulled the whole thing together brilliantly. In fact her voice was pretty sexy I was thinking by the end.

The group has some pretty decent talent overall. I was pretty impressed with the guitarist, Kensuke. I guess because I saw his guitar first, then heard him play it, it sounded better than I thought it would.

Also the female bassist, Shiori, was pretty good. Her fingers were long and nimble and she played the bass like she was born with it in her hands.

The drummer, Youhei was a bit of a metronome. He kept a pretty simple but workable beat for this band. I felt he could probably get a bit more rest by adding a bit of variety through some changes and let the bass carry more.  He did drop his stick at one point too, but he covered it pretty well.

Overall this band had a very upbeat sound and the feeling made you want to get out and dance. It reminded me of those 80's Raves we used to have back in the old days, so I got a great vibe from these guys.

I talked to Shiori and Sachi after the show. They are so much fun! 

If you get a chance to see this band you will surely have a good time!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Shinjuku - Club Doctor Review

Club Doctor - Shinjuku
Contributor: Cori
November 10, 2010

Tonight I made it back out to Club Doctor in Shinjuku. It's been awhile so I wanted to wait until I went back to give them a proper review.

The place is very centrally located which for me is a huge plus. I mean it's only a few minutes walk right down the street from Shinjuku Station, and you can't miss it.

I talked to the booking girl at the door Ami, and she was hella cool.  She informed me it was free drink night. Wow, never in my 5 years in Japan have I seen free drink night at any of the clubs.  It was great.

I got there a bit early and there was only a couple of people there, which was surprising since every time I've been, the place is always packed.  I waited a bit and it filled up slowly over the night. By the end of the night it was packed with a lot of people and becoming a very fun atmosphere.

The club itself has a great layout. Nice large area for the audience, great setup with a backstage area and everything. One thing is there's not a lot of space backstage, so there's a separate area the bands sometimes keeps there gear over near the restroom, but at least there is a big drape hiding it. Pretty clever use of space.

The sound at Club Doctor was really good. I was impressed. I heard from some of the bands that the equipment was not so great, but not bad either. I find that hard to believe because the sound was great. I guess that's the important thing.  I do thing they could use some more bass. Lower dB's seemed not so audible, but other than that it was great.

All of the staff at this place was very helpful and cool.  I was very glad to get to meet with Ami, I introduced her a bit a friend's band (ATP), and she seemed happy about that too. I hope they can play there more often.

The lighting for Club Doctor was not bad, but it wasn't that great either. I think they could do a lot with some great blacklights, more spot lights, etc. Give me Trippy!? Ya! Do it now! Actually that would have looked great from one of the 80's punky/new wave bands called Broken Dolls that played here. They were all wearing florescent great, it was great! :)

Actually, Club Doctor is becoming one of my favorite live houses.   If you can get the chance, by all means, head out to Shinjuku, take the west Exit at the street level, cross the street, turn right, walk about 5 block and you'll find Club Doctor in the basement on your left. Tell Ami that I sent you. Maybe she'll hook us up with free drinks again next time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

ATP Shibuya Lush Live

August 12, 2010
Contributor: Cori
Got out to see ATP tonight. Really nice show this one, because the sound system at Lush is great. You can check out my review of Lush to see what I said about that.

I really got a great feel from the band lately. They seem to be getting back to their roots a bit, and more into a new feel of some older sounds such as from the 60's and psychedelic era.

From the 1st song, I don't know if it was the almost candlelight feel from the Live house, but it sounded a lot like The Doors. I kind of got that same excitement.

Taata started off the show talking about being short their violinist. Me and Taku (another of their friend) looked at each other and laughed. Certainly they've never had a violinist.

The show consisted of only about 4 songs. This is pretty typical of most of the shows due to how many bands that generally perform. They each get about 40 minutes to play.

The sound tonight was just amazing. I could see it from the crowd there too. They just stared with their mouths agape, totally not expecting to see this level of music from an ordinary live house showing.

ATP's music is truly professional, so I feel lucky I get to see them each time.

Unfortunately, on this night I didn't have my camera or anything. Taku brought one of his. Hopefully I can see some of the video he recorded and/or get him to post it here.

I really had high hopes for my iPhone to do some better video at the live shows, but the microphone is horrible. I can only hope to bring a good camera. I do plan on getting a more compact camera with HD video soon so I can always keep it with me and post stuff from the live shows.

Getting back to the show, Taata's voice was amazing tonight, and so was her keyboarding. I feel for them a bit because they are short a bass player. Taata fills in nicely tho with the keyboards and synth.

Mug was flawless on the guitar as well. He's really stepped up lately as well due to missing bassist. He's also having to play some new rifts more psychedelia related. So it's been very fun to watch.

I talked to Kaz for a bit before the show. He seems to have had some driving trouble lately :) Good thing for him he doesn't have any problem with the drums.

I being a drummer myself, am in awe sometimes at the licks he plays, and the way he makes it look effortless.  The guy is one kick-ass drummer, and he really brings the whole show together.

As you can see he's usually in the dark, but they really need a spotlight on him at times. Great job to Kaz as always!

If you haven't been to an ATP show, you really need to make it out to see this band. They are definitely one of the top bands I've seen in my 5 years here in Japan. You won't be disappointed.

Check out a few videos from one of their live shows:

ATP Live Show Chiba-ZX Part 1
ATP Live Show Chiba-ZX Part 2

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Shibuya Lush

Lush - Shibuya
Contributor: Cori
August 12, 2010

I had the chance to make it out to a new place this week! At least for me that is. The name of the place is Lush, and it's located in brilliant Shibuya.

The club is about a 5 minute walk from Shibuya Station. Take Hatchiko Exit and turn right, walk down behind the station, cross the main intersection, then turn left and cross over again. Turn right and walk up the street 2 rather long blocks, take a left, and about 20 yards down take a right and you will see it on your left. It's in the basement. Look for some red marble stairs leading down.

The club itself was rather uncrowded, which is pretty typical of most of the Japanese live houses. It was great for me because it gave me room to walk around and pick a good spot to watch the bands from.

There was very few chairs, but it seemed as if there was just enough crowd to fill the maybe 20 chairs and 3 tables they had, plus a few (like me) standing.

The lighting in this live house was not great. It looked pretty cheap. They did have a mirrored ball, but it was in the corner and it didn't even disperse the light. The stage lighting was just a few colored can bulbs as well. One thing I did like about the lighting is that between sets, the had a low incandescent lighting which gave the feel of candlelight.

A few things that really shined about this club was the amazing sound system. It was crystal clear, and sounded like a great theater sound system rather than a live house. I was pretty impressed. I didn't feel like I was getting shock hammered from all sides like in most of the live houses, and I could really enjoy the music more.

Another thing was that the staff was very cool here, drinks were cheap and when I ordered my Gin & Tonic (extra strong) they quickly hooked me up with no complaints, and even gave me some complimentary snacks! Very cool!

For a centrally located live house, with a great sound system, this is surely a great place to go hang out. There is also a Kuiana Burger right behind their building in case you are hungry :)

I'd give this place a 4/5, but if they'd do something a little more dramatic with the lighting they'd easily get 5/5. This place is well worth the visit, and I will be seeing more shows there in the future.


Contributor: Cori
August 11, 2010

I was out at a new club called Lush out in Shibuya on Wednesday night to catch up with Mug, Taata, Kaz & Taku from ATP, and I got to see a rather young band with some potential.

They are fronted by a female vocalist/keyboardist (Maho) who has the voice of a siren. Honestly, their first cut was very experimental sounding with elusive, winding background melody, and Maho weaving her siren's spell.

I was really excited at first because it had an amazing feel, somewhat similar to Sígur Rós, who's antics of singing non-lyrics and ghostly harmonies still draws in many a would be melancholist.

I did become a bit disappointed however, because the band seems to be mismatched. The guitarist kept cutting into a tirade and leading the band to a style which seemed at least to me, not to suit them. He was a very *good* guitarist, but I felt as if Maho's lyrics and singing style are much different.

I felt myself going through mood swings during the show as they sometimes hit these perfect experimentals, while Maho worked the crowd with her beautiful voice, but then, off they go into a pop song, and back. I wasn't sure where they wanted to go, or even if they knew where they were going.

I haven't heard this much potential from a young band in a while. If I could offer my advise I would tell them to tone back the fast rifts, work the experimental, slow and haunting background sounds, and let Maho lead and work her magic. This bands power is their vocals.

I talked to Maho after the gig, and told her how beautiful her voice was. I also asked if they had a website, which sadly they don't still. I think they are a bit young, but I'm holding out high hopes for them to pull it together!

I will probably go see this band play at least once more to make sure I have a proper feel.

If you like melancholy, experimental styles, this band might be for you.

Monday, August 9, 2010


By Tom Melesky
In 1995 my friends and I in Boston, Massachusetts were convinced that Japan was the source of international chic when it came to pop culture.

Of course when it came to places outside my home country, we were mere babes in the woods. What we actually knew of Japan was minimal, but how could a country that put out things like Akira, Resident Evil, Ghost in the Shell, and Tekken 2 not be the coolest place on Earth? The worlds that were conjured up in these games and movies left us in a child-like state of awe.

Cut ahead a few years and I had made the continental leap to Asia. Reality had caught up with me and I found out that Japan was like every other country with features both good and bad. Johnny's overexposure, unfunny tarento overacting, NOVA, saigen dramas, and hamburgers w/fried eggs on top had cooled my love affair with the country.

But, occasionally, flashes of brilliance with a level of inventiveness and newness that appealed to my western sensibilities shone through and took me back. Over the next 10 years I encountered things like Kasou Taishou(Matrix Ping Pong), Shiodome, Genki Sudo, Paprika, anything w/Hayao Miyazaki (pre-Haru no Ugoku Shiro), the A-Tribe stuntmen, Fuji Rock, and Summer Sonic, but these were few and far between and my cynicism level was on the rise.

So imagine my surprise in 2007 when I discovered that feeling of awe again one night in Shibuya's O-Crest. It was a quiet night when a female fronted, 4 piece band took the stage. Unfazed by the low numbers, this opening band tore into their set and never looked back, making me all but forget the other 4 bands on the card. It was my first experience seeing Molice live, but most assuredly not my last. (At last count, it was 25 times, spanning 3 countries)

With skills honed originally in the band China Chop, lead singer Rinko & guitarist Yuzuru distilled and focused their vision of what would eventually become Molice before recruiting bassist Ikuhiro and drummer Takashi Koyama.

Your typical Japanese listener would consider them the unJ-Rock Japanese rock band. And that's a title that would suit Molice fine.

Many terms have been thrown around when describing their music: alternative, surf-rock, retro, shoegaze, pop, punk....but at the same time each song retains its own distinct flavor, from the dancey "Headphone," to the funk inspired "Romancer," to the more introspective "Awai Kaze" and " Fine Wave" There's only one word that doesn't come into the equation: formulaic.

But that still doesn't tell the whole story. Molice's albums have a cinematic sense and are usually themed after one of their favorite movies. The first was inspired by Blade Runner and the second, Farenheit 451. A look into Molice's name reveals a little more. It's a combination of the katakana pronunciations of Police, Morrissey, (Jim) Morrision, and Maureen (Tucker) A look into Molice's influences peels back another layer. In addition to the aforementioned, the list includes the Pixies, Beatles, and Television. So which is it? The truth is, it's all of those and more.

To truly take Molice in, you have to see them live. That's where the power the music really hits you. (listen to the break in Headphone or the transition from Jewel Story to Superstar) Someone high up in Japan's music scene must have seen this when the fledging band was selected to perform in 2007's Summer Sonic only months after their formation.

They steadily progressed upwards from there. After the release of their 1st album, Doctor Ray, the band received critical praise, international radio broadcast, and airplay of the videos "Ms. Panic" and "Headphone" on Space Shower TV and France's Nolife TV. Interestingly, despite the fact that 90% of Molice's lyrics are in Japanese, a majority of the coverage received was by the English speaking media (through J-music websites, magazines, and blogs.)

The bands international debut came in London at the end of 2009, but it was soon followed by a breakthrough performance at the C.A.M.A. 2010 Festival in Hanoi, Vietnam. This came a couple of months after the bands 2nd release "Catalystrock" which saw a big jump in press coverage and Molice's first personal TV appearance on Fox Japan's "Backstage Pass"

3 1/2 years is not a long time for accomplishments like these but on the heels of this list more is yet to come. Molice is scheduled to be the main musical event of the Anime Weekend Atlanta, one of the 10 biggest anime Conventions in North America. Not a bad way to make your US debut.

I trust people have moved on past Tekken 2, but I expect more than a few reactions to mirror mine.

Don't take my word for it. Check the following official Molice videos and see if you agree:

Ms. Panic


Awai Kaze (Pale Wind)