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)


1 comment:

  1. Really nice article Tom!

    I have to agree 100%. This band owns the clubs they hit, and they are a lot of fun to watch.

    Everyone get out and check out Molice if you haven't yet seen them!