Showing posts with label Japan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Japan. Show all posts

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Handsomeboy Technique - Adelie Land (2005)

I hear the drummer strike the sky. I hear the drummer strike the sky!

   ... So naturally, as a consequence of becoming enraptured by Shibuya-kei and J-Pop over ten years ago, I thought it prudent to see what had become of Japan's alternative hip hop produce since everyone's favourite abstruse-trivia-wielding-and-limited-edition-promotional-toys-branding, abstract instrumental hip hop label Mo' Wax first enticed me with it in 1997. Finding the very moment where Japanese hip hop very much became something worth taking seriously (and to much surprise, that moment actually occurred before the end of the 1980s),  James Lavelle's infamous concern issued a beautifully sturdy and artfully rendered boxset of over 40 songs released by Major Force, an exuberant imprint with a fine niche in broken English rap, deeply technical sensibilities, sample-seeking nous to rival their American counterparts and a particular attention to composition that broadened the compilation's appeal amongst demographics that could not easily stomach mangled hip hop slang in slightly off-putting vocal timbres

   8 years following my first experience with "Dope up cyber-rap from Tokyo" brought time wasted with DJs like Halfby and wee papa girl rappers like Halcali - a mainstream-breaking duo not much unlike their Major Force XX chromosome MC forebears The Orchids - but for all their talent, none were as adept at the indelibly memorable, 1970s-impelled party record as the one they called Handsomeboy Technique. Probably a disco biscuits-thing

   Adelie Land comfortably rests in the cut-and-paste party music canon that bursts with luminaries such as Steinski, The Dust Brothers, Coldcut and other DJ-producers for whom the 1980s was a testing ground for musical domination, though the beatific sequences, jaunty 1970s radio polish and heady psychedelic thread that distinguish the record are more in thrall to the itinerant beauty and density of The Avalanches' Since I Left You. Be that as it may, Yoshitaka Morino's debut LP is light on complexity and motors along on repetition, but it also simply gorges on effusiveness and what some particularly enthusiastic dancers and afficionados like to refer to as "the funk." And had this album a wider reach beyond its native Japan, many a breakdancing competition sequence could have been choreographed to the likes of the 'Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)'-sampling 'Miami Radio Flash' or the cheery, vintage rap of 'Season of Young Mouss,' whose childish go-go delights also mark Handsomeboy Technique as a potent contemporary of that more ramshackle and less rewarding concern, The Go! Team

   But in taking cues from his forebears to craft a wider scope, Morino successfully taps not only into the celebratory, but the wistful sides of nostalgia that can make it a more compelling aural aesthetic. The soulful 'Quiet Place' is one contemplative mood shy of a megrim, with bursts of strings and keys that apparate like primary colours in a paintball contest. This is also felt in the lone piano opening of 'Adelie Coast Waltz' (practically a direct reference to the exceedingly similar 'Two Hearts in 3/4 Time' of Since I Left You) through to the sweep of its twee disco romanticism that sounds much like the end of a beautiful "something" should, whilst my favourite cut, ''8000 Laurels,' combines the exuberant patter of a motoring hip hop break and a beatbox with a hooky tempest of turntable swerves, minor key choral vocals and orchestral grandeur gone pop, thanks to a particularly indelible keyboard line. With such a percolating emotional reach, it is no wonder that the closing 'Your Blessings' emphasises - thought not overwhelmingly so - the celebratory approach to end the proceedings, but cannily, it chooses the joy-in-living sonics and sentiments of Freda Payne's 'Cherish What is Dear To You' or the Motown sound (or rather a sample of The Cake's Spector-esque 'Baby That's Me') over simple, hedonistic joy. And that, to me, is always a tune worth stepping out to


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Utrecht - Phantom of Indie Boyz (2006)

   It's Tokyo time again:

"Do you know there are discos in hell, too?
Six people died at the party when we played there"

   Obscure enough to only allow me one YouTube link, there's still a lost mass appeal to this trio's output. Utrecht is something of a Neo Shibuya-Kei supergroup, with the genius-level sample manipulator Tomonori Hayashibe of whimsical, super-speed pop exemplars Plus-Tech Squeeze Box joining the more Francophiliac stop-start dance purveyors Gikyo Nakamura, a DJ better known as The Pegasuss, and Ukai, leader of COPTER4016882 and a labelmate of electro disco svengali Yasutaka Nakata, a one-time upstart in Shibuya-Kei traditions whose work ethic and guidance of the successful trio Perfume and his band Capsule have seen him obtain cottage industry prestige and Asia crossover success

   The trio's first record, New Beach, bore a label recommending them to followers of Mylo, The United States of Electronica and other such groups they are a touch more interesting than even if they paddle in the same pool. In common with the upbeat  inclinations of their previous turnout, that production was their Digital Disco of Love album; this is the synthetic, yearning, warehouse rocking-derived follow-through, suitable for a long cruise through a Mirror Universe Miami twenty five years ago. And this casual drive still faces occasional interruptions from the lightning strikes of the rock gods

   That squelch of music that one would hear at the slow push of a pause button on a tape deck impels the album as '1980' rolls around; an unspooling soundscape of synths and what is either woodwind or backwards strings proceeds in a fashion that suggest the song has ensued in reverse. This effect lasts around 30 seconds before plucked guitar notes and a mildly plaintive melody elicit two reactions - "Don Henley" and "Mature Sophomore Recording." Whilst this is built on with the unison, wistful harmonics of the trio's singing - it should be noted here that as a result of singing in broken English, Utrecht provides little intelligibility to their vocals - snares that may have been devised by turntable cutting and a fast pace, there is still enough downbeat atmosphere to ease one into the record gently
"It's not so bad to start from a wasteland
I'm the chosen

I can imagine vividly
Scenery seen far away
I can get everything
Luxurious dinners and a precious girlfriend"
   If Phantom of Indie Boyz bore a similar sticker to its predecessor, the reference points would most likely be the skinny jeans, indie dance heroes of five years ago it slots alongside - Justice, LCD Soundsystem and my personal favourite, Cut Copy - with the odd lashings of M83. Apparently, the scowling electro-rock song 'turntable still burning' is constructed from references to various genre tracks from that year, whilst the preceding 'morning haze' contains dream pop-like textures comparable to M83's synthesised swoons. But it is pop music that buoys Utrecht's best work, as it did on their previous record, and this is clear from the ones I love best: the eponymous and snappy neon night ride, 'phantom of indie boyz;' the aptly named second track 'stay gold,' a yearningly romantic, excellently produced and composed dance-pop number in the St. Etienne-with-low-end mould; and 'kiss me, kiss me,' a softly funky, minimal electro-disco piece that is referential to other music in a different manner to the aforementioned 'turntable...', bringing the melody and lyrics of the first album's 'first kiss' into a new setting of indelicate lyrics and very dégagé, very Japanese rapping - cut-and-paste to the core

   Sound samples are available here; lyrics are found there

Friday, 26 August 2011

FRAPBOIS 2011-2012 AW Collection "EL Quijote" feat. Plus-Tech Squeeze Box

   Ahead of the next brace of Fashion Weeks, an engaging presentation from Japanese streetwear label FRAPBOIS. Since I have been making noises here and there about wanting to explore a different personal aesthetic one day, some of this might prove inspirational in time, although I draw the line at drop crotch trousers

   This is also a good reason to finally post music from the Japanese duo Plus-Tech Squeeze Box, who have produced a considerable amount of my favourite records, remixes and one-offs over the past 10 years. Paradoxically accessible yet provocatively an acquired taste, they have only given the world two albums, yet pack fifty times that amount into every piece they make. All hail the sampler:

Monday, 2 May 2011

Beastie Boys - 'Make Some Noise' (Cornelius Remix, 2011)

All I can say is, they have all made me a very happy man today. Given the influence the middle-period Beasties had on Cornelius's middle-period 69/96 album, this is a more natural pairing than one may initially be led to assume

Maestro? Some noise, please:

Monday, 18 April 2011

Shiina Ringo - 'Supika' (2002)

   I've been intending to introduce the music of Shiina Ringo to Mode Parade through a review of her extensive body of work; the nous and attention required to do so has unfortunately eluded me over the past few years. Suffice to say, nothing is new there, oh semi-regular readers

   So, to impel myself into some form of action, I offer up one of my favourites from her salad days; a cover of a comparatively conventional ditty by fellow Japanese rockers Spitz. This makes for a rather nice gateway to her 'Ringo Catalogue;' present and correct are the slightly woozy production tics and offbeat use of low-end that she likes, her soft-to-aggressive-and-back-again delivery, a distinctly feminine maturity - which I stress because most other Japanese female pop singers I'm enamoured of trade in a particularly kittenish or innocently/knowingly kawaii sensibility - and her ability to create some rather pretty melodies out of what would otherwise be construed as blithe and abrasive sonic chaos

   Even though she is not the song's writer (fun fact: the title, which I prefer to spell as 'Supika,' but is also (more) acceptable as 'Spica,' refers to the 15th brightest star of the night sky) Ringo Shiina is one of those disgustingly Machiavellian Japanese musical types that can do any and everything her way, which resulted in her becoming one of her country's most successful popular stars despite trading for a time in music that grew increasingly dense, baroque, fractured and foreboding to the extent that her third album, whose title contains the word "semen," was considered a commercial failure for falling under the million sold barrier, unlike her previous output. One would not be too surprised to learn she has some obsessive tendencies; that same album is also notable for a rigorous symmetrical arrangement that determined the order of her lyrics, the number of letters in song titles and the running order of the album itself

   She's quite a talent, really

MP3 here

With this hill road soon to come to a peak, so too are the ridiculous lies about to vanish
When I picture my favorite season on its way
With a beautiful cord at just the right time, I’m about to reach staggering heights
Longing for us to touch each other beyond words, I’ll push my way on to you

These painful palpitations rush out like powder
Just for now, I’ll look right at you and won’t run away
On a random serious night, why is it that I’m about to cry
Even as happiness gets interrupted it’s continuing on

If even a stray monkey can be in a good mood, then even an unchanging tomorrow is laughable
When I turn to look back, it was in a kind-seeming era starved of kindness

The beginning of a dream still has a bit of a sweet taste
Shouldn’t you carry the broken pieces you have in your hands?
The ancient starlight illuminates us – there was nothing in the whole world except for that

If I were to entrust the scraps of my heart to the flowing clouds in the southbound wind, I would follow...

These painful palpitations rush out like powder
Just for now, I’ll look right at you and won’t run away
On a random serious night, why is it that I’m about to cry
Even as happiness gets interrupted it’s continuing on – it’s continuing on

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Lou Reed - 'Sad Song' (1973)

I'm gonna stop wastin' my time
Somebody else would have broken both of her arms

   Sadness for the weekend? Perhaps this inappropriate, ever moving threnody is on my mind due to the tsunami tragedy of Japan that has occupied hearts and columns of late. Elizabeth Avedon is currently promoting a charitable auction of photographic works for the cause. Mayhap others will follow

  Funny what other interrelated trivia comes to mind - 'Sad Song' was sampled by the plagiaristic yet innovative Japanese under-to-overground pop stars Flipper's Guitar (the training ground for my favourite recording artist, Cornelius) as part of their psychedelic song cycle, 'The World Tower,' produced by Salon Music's Zin Yoshida

   Spent energy, bitterness, ruing, catharsis; bitter pills don't come much sweeter than this

Friday, 17 September 2010

Matryoshka - 'Evening Gleam Between Clouds' (2007)

Matryoshka is a Tokyo, Japan based band consisting of the track maker Sen and the female vocalist Calu. During the days when they were playing in the band Parachute Coats, their material was released as a 7 inch vinyl by a fan in Netherlands and received good attention in the club scene there. Only a year after the band was formed, they had already received sponsorship offers from Yamaha and were digitally distributed on their download site.

Their music can be described as Modern Classical, IDM, and Experimental.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Ivy Friends (Plastic Curio Objects No.1)

Perhaps the only Trad memorabilia that I find interesting these days

Friday, 11 June 2010

Cornelius (コーネリアス) - 'Ball In-Kick Off' (1998, Live)

And it's a fair haired, slight balding Charlton to Kick Off, Ball In - Kick Off

   In recognition of what day it is, Let The Games Begin

   Five years ago, my ILM friends and I once cultivated our own themed compilations. I forget the reasons for it, but we sought to acquaint each other with the sound recordings that, to us, aligned with the premise of each collection

   Geeks make the best musical archivists, after all

   The title of the collection that I submitted this for might be obvious. You've perhaps seen the way that I dress - what other subject could I have a particular musical view on than Maximalism?

   My review drips with dork cachet, but then I was almost satirically effusive in my writing during those days, usually because my fellows were genuinely so in theirs

   Of course, this artist is one of my inspirations. With him, my effervescence tends to be warranted

Friday, 21 May 2010

Kahimi Karie - 'A Fantastic Moment' (1995)

   The charm of following a polymathic musician is in the phases they experience, always casting off their previous manifestations as definitive statements on their transitory fancies

   In 1995, Mari 'Kahimi Karie (カヒミ・カリィ)' Hiki and Keigo 'Cornelius (コーネリアス)' Oyamada were in something of a shared romantique nostalgia, or a relationship, to you and I. The Girlfriend was something of a sylph with a singing voice more incisively described as an airless, tranquil whisper, whose luminescent face, stoic demeanour and protean imagery that included Rococo opulence, French Mod Sex Kitten and Tokyo demureness made her a star; The Woman of a Thousand Fantasies, if you will

   The Boyfriend was running one of the trendiest yet most substantive record labels in the world - Trattoria Records - touring, remixing, producing and playing when he could and collaborating on portable record players, G-Shock models and other playthings that bore his brand. His latest incarnation at that time was an idiosyncratic bouillabaisse of 1960s psychedelia, 1970s heavy metal (he was a self-taught guitarist who developed through playing Kiss records), 1980s hip hop and 1990s electronic noise; at once the classic Japanese refiner of Western developments and the alien refractor of cultural traditions that he interacted with from afar

   Today's selection shows them in a very deliberate Gainsbourg and Birkin-like reverie; aside from their romantic status at the time, Karie can also speak French and English, and the 1960s and 1970s were rather a la mode in the Shibuya-Kei landscape of foreign musical history made modern day blended pop. Oyamada has long been an arbiter at home; his diverse musical knowledge threaded itself through every record he was involved in, no matter what year it was

   In either flavour, 'A Fantastic Moment' is probably one of the most beautiful pieces of music either has released. You barely even notice the Lou Reed sample

   A translation:

We run, cutting straight through the wind
Nothing can stop us as we head straight for hope
We might find it over on that hill maybe, I hope...

La la la when you gently take my hand
Everything around us changes to perfection
All of the world's sunlight shining just for me and you

...And the bugs, they laugh...
...Melting into the ground...

The two of us can do anything. Right?
See, we can even jump over that rainbow.

...And the time stands still...
...The flowers are waving...

The two of us are laughing high above the clouds
Our laughter leaking down as sun beams in the forest
Just now the rain of sadness is turning into a rainbow

Away with the gloom
The grass gently waves
And the birds peacefully fall to sleep

One day...everything...I hope...

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Salon Music - 'Chew it in a Bite' (1996)

   Salon Music is Yoshida Zin and Takenaka Hitomi. In operation since 1981, their career encompasses intricate synth pop, full bore rock'n'roll, ethereal shoegaze, krautrock and breakbeat-impelled psychedelia

   I'm specifically fond of their version of 'Say Hello, Wave Goodbye,' recorded with Sparks

Monday, 4 January 2010

Cornelius - '2010' (1997)

   This bears a warning - it should not be listened to, under circumstances, by those of a nervous, or staunchly classicist, disposition. For it is perhaps the most gleefully childish and senses free cover of Johann Bach's piece that exists. And I say that despite being no authority on Bach covers whatsoever

   Every Cornelius album since 1995 has borne a cover of a reasonably well known song; this rather makes that year's somewhat disquieting fusion of Vivaldi's 'Concerto No. 3 From The Four Seasons' and Black Sabbath's opening riff to 'Iron Man' (complete with bizarre neo-psychedelic electronics and the title 'Pink Bloody Sabbath') seem like relaxation music by comparison. But then how else should a downloaded MIDI over drum'n'bass and wild samples from deep space satellites and the Oscar-winning classic Amadeus make one feel?

   As far as I'm concerned, pretty bloody marvellous; at least where the first few days of this year are concerned. Happy New Decade, and do I wish that I'd been able to post this last Friday

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Cornelius and Ryuichi Sakamoto - 'Turn Turn' (2008)

   'Turn Turn' is one of the songs that I listen to precisely because of how it plays with my head. Most folk unlucky enough to be aware of my aural relaxation proclivities would decry this revelation as just another footnote in my ongoing adoration of Cornelius. They're probably right

   A cover of a song by the Japanese band Sketch Show, it was originally written by electropop legend Haruomi Hosono, who is also a core member of the trailblazing Yellow Magic Orchestra (for the kids - J-Lo sampled 'Firecracker' for 'I'm Real'; the version without Ja Rule, that is) with his Sketch Show partner Yukihiro Takahashi. The cover features on the album Tribute to Haruomi Hosono, which leads to the involvement of Academy Award-winning composer (for The Last Emperor) and third of the YMO trio, Ryuichi Sakamoto, as well as the pictured international EP by Cornelius. Keigo 'Cornelius' Oyamada? He's merely a longtime fan who got to play guitar on 2007/8's live performances by the trio and has maintained a successful, eclectic and evolving musical career since his start in whimsical pop band Flipper's Guitar in the late 1980s that includes international releases for his last 3 albums and headlining sets at The Budokan

   The original 'Turn Turn' is the kind of song one would expect of modern YMO - it's a touch awkward, a little bonkers, lackadaisically funky and it's so synthesised and - in spite of its light melodic touches - oddly atonal that the result is somewhat alien, albeit trippily so. The cover is even odder for managing to achieve what sounds like a meditation on mild insanity. Many of the present Cornelius techniques are in force, including the 3D-like stereo panning of half the instruments per song that makes his music an audiophile's delight in triplicate (God knows how he does it, but it's a technique so subtle - especially compared to his contemporaries and challengers - that it tends to mesmerise the listener without inducing insanity. Unless it's one of the songs where he's actively trying to drive one insane). And the contemplative mantra of the chorus - "You must come full circle to find the truth/We must come full circle to find the truth" - offers an ideal premise for this thoughtful duo, who employ a bare bones approach of bass, guitar, light-but-whipcracking snares, goofy effects and good old Japanese exoticism. These elements then lightly intersect with each other underneath the synchronised vocals of Oyamada and Sakamoto, who sing with a soothing detachment

   The general mood is of calm until somewhere between a DJ cutting on turntables and a spinning top, there's the crazed tape effect in the breakdown as androids chant a synthesised "Turn" with ever increasing urgency until the effect releases itself across the speakers and a long synth note washes over the rest of the song. Chimes tinkle, a gong rings and the music ends in the exact same way it began: a faded note skipping across stereo channels, signaling a mood of reflection, quiet and strange contemplation

   Yes, it has that kind of effect on me

A live performance of this version of 'Turn Turn', also featuring Takahashi (without the crazed breakdown)

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Neil & Iraiza - New School (2002)

   For context, please note that this was written prior to the Sugababes review. This is most apparent in the opening paragraphs:

   I started around 7am. The insomnia is working mondo overtime, as I'm so very fond of saying, though it bears pointing out that the saying sits loftily on my monument of "Turns of Phrase I Wish I Had Devised". For as long as my sleep has been disordered, I've wished for it to amount to something - anything - productive instead of procrastination or zombification or trying to roll my eyes into the back of my head (purely experimental)

   Bearing in mind that this started far back around my 14th year, I recalled sometime after 2am this morning that I used to have a wider variety of coping methods beyond fatalism and rubbing my temples in what I hoped was a hypnotic rhythm. Such as music. And there was something "productive" to be followed, for there was a promise I made to myself and, by extension, the 3 people who peruse this journal on a regular basis regarding what used to be on my iPod, as well as what might be on a future model. To specify, little missives about what I consider to be among the best records of the past 9 years

   New School is rather easily one of the top 5

Via Last FM: l-r: Hirohisa Horie ('Iraiza') and Gakuji Matsuda ('Neil'). I'm planning to acquire sunglasses like Horie-san imminently

   This is, as far as anyone's aware, the final long playing collaboration between the abovementioned band members, who have maintained stalwart status in Tokyo's alternative music corners since the dearly departed King of Pop was onto his sixth new face in the mid 1990s. Matsuda, aka DJ Chabe, is best known under his Cubismo Grafico alias, tying together lounge, classical strings, Brazilian pop, French House, reggae, electronic exotica and a dab of Philly disco to almost unimpeachable effect over multiple albums, EPs and singles, all impeccably produced and played. And he sang too

   Horie is even more disgustingly talented - a multi-instrumentalist who flies the world with former Shibuya-kei figurehead and lauded sonic maestro Cornelius as his live bassist (which means that I've seen him in person twice), and has an almost inexhaustible gift for honing psychedelic rock experimentation into unforgettable melodic hooks and uncontrived arrangements, using his cheerfully wistful and whimsical persona to imbue a winning warmth in his writing (he's also a frequent collaborator of pop star Hideki Kaji, whose recent unfortunate assault was reported a few months ago - their 1999 Tokyo Tapes EP as Dots and Borders is worth five LPs put together). Given the close-knit nature of the scene, his list of collaborators is naturally extensive and, up until N&I's first releases, more used to taking center stage

   On the face of it, it's Eclectic Dance Producer meets Ecelectic Indie Pop Lifer, but the common thread between the two men - unabashed FM radio adoration - makes them entirely an entirely natural pairing. Over two EPs and the first album, charmingly titled Johnny Marr?, as well as New School, the division of labour runs thus: the duo split lyricwriting duties, Horie handles anything with a keyboard, leads on vocals and creates the bulk of the guitar work, arrangements and ultimately, the majority of the music. Matsuda handles choruses, secondary vocals and keys, and an array of percussive instruments including the occasional drum. Friends play parts N&I believe to be better served by other talents. And naturally, Horie and Matsuda produce everything

New School's sole (Japanese) single, 'Wasted Times'. It scores highly with me for the callback to early song 'Five Idle Days', amongst other things

   In my own way, the first adjective I use to describe the album is "consummate." There seems to be an utter lack of limit to the deft touches the two artists leave on the 12 songs. Although their earlier work had a certain ramshackle charm that was nevertheless in tandem with the breadth of their skill, the songs of New School are full bodied, tightly arranged and winningly melodic; hook filled enough that English indie label Ochre Records, released tracks 4 and 11, 'This is Not a Love Song' and 'Oracle Noises' as a 7" in 2003 as a way to increase their cult profile. As an international introduction, the single captures the sunny, charming FM pop side of the duo, who create the most perfect country-inspired jangle pop record of the decade in a little over 2 minutes on side A and then delves into their effects-led psychedelic introspections on the flip, thereby providing a snapshot of the entire album

   I adore every single cut, but aside from the delights of the aforementioned selections, there are many great tricks performed successfully here. Take 'Human Dust Bin' - silly title, sillier risk in leading with beats, keys and sax that resemble mid-1980s synth soul and r'n'b (or Simply Red, if you're feeling mean) and in a possible moment of self consciousness, Horie even sings "Out of my head, that makes no sense, you know" in the middle, but it's an undeniably charming concoction of songwriting and melody that soon papers over the desire to sneer and might even move one to reconsider the source genre. 'Our Housing' is another excercise in such near-3D thought - if the reference to Madness in the title isn't immediately obvious, then the opening soon reveals the extent to which 'Our House' influences the song - the bassline, the horns, the famous guitar lines and the chorus harmony are all present and correct, but it's nevertheless a different entity in rhythm, arrangement,and lyrics, dipping through all the wistfulness and emotion that accompanies nostalgic reflections on a childhood home and providing a strong example of inspiration made good where other efforts are cynical and poor (Christina Aguilera's 'Make Over' of Sugababes' 'Overload') or simply accidental (The Flaming Lips' 'Fight Test' and Cat Stevens' 'Father and Son')

   'Wednesday' is a spirited dash of Kinksian whimsy that manages to seem original through the strength of the melodies and playing, the unexpected soft pop/light reggae collision of 'Hello Young Lovers' is soothing and oddly moving (blame it on Horie's cooing choral lead-out), while the energetic instrumental (save for a whistled lead tune), 'Fez', gallops through lighthearted 60s freakbeat and 70s keyboard wizardry but avoids total antiquity through the  detail and clarity of its production

   Special mention goes to 'Supreme Day', a superficially simplistic drum-pounding jaunt, upon which all manner of instruments and hooks surmount, most prominently a recorder. And then there's 'Mall Rats', possibly my favourite contender for rock'n'roll song of the decade. It's exuberant, confident and practically viral in its memorableness, from its opening riff to its cute, child's-view-of-consumerism-and-defiance lyrics to its slightly dizzying, percussively danceable finish. Best part? It's the second song on the album, and, therefore, the strongest assurance that the record to follow will be one that remains in the memory

   It pulls off the best trick of much of Shibuya-Kei - making the past sound like the present and/or the future - but the childish whims and viewpoints of many of their peers are made more adult  and refined in the hands of Horie and Matsuda. And as an album from the final days of "old" Shibuya-Kei, New School is very much the capstone that the movement deserved