Artist Spotlight: advantage Lucy, music

Artist Spotlight: advantage Lucy (week one)

(It is incredibly hard to find good pictures of this group, photo from Smashing Mag)

While some of the groups that made up the Shibuya-kei scene of the ’90s had gotten their start in the previous decade (such as previous Spotlight groups Pizzicato FiveFlipper’s Guitar and Original Love), the late ’90s found the genre’s explosion in popularity leading to a whole slew of new artists coming on to the scene. Unlike many of the derivative acts that would come up as the 21st century dawned, these late ’90s performers further diversified an already varied Shibuya-kei musical palette, taking elements from what musicians such as Konishi, Oyamada and Tajima had started and running with them every which way. Yukari Fresh, Cymbals, ROUND TABLE, Fantastic Plastic Machine – some of the most beloved names in Shibuya-kei made their debut in the latter half of the 1990s, including this month’s spotlight group advantage Lucy (although they weren’t always called that!)

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Artist Spotlight: Original Love, music

Artist Spotlight: Original Love (week two)

Every month, Memories of Shibuya will be taking a look at a different artist or group, with featured songs – one per week – highlighting the peaks (and, occasionally, troughs) of their musical career.

Original Love underwent some dramatic changes along with the transition from an indie label to the major leagues, and one of the most dramatic changes was in the adoption of a completely new sound – one far more in line with the Shibuya-kei movement that was quickly picking up steam than the rock music that Tajima first made his name with.

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Artist Spotlight: Original Love, music

Artist Spotlight: Original Love (week one)

Ema9lPXhEvery month, Memories of Shibuya will be taking a look at a different artist or group, with featured songs – one per week – highlighting the peaks (and, occasionally, troughs) of their musical career.

Even as the internet obliterates most barriers to attaining information, and just shy of all the world’s music is conveniently accessible from anywhere across the globe, there still remains a fairly strong divide in terms of which Japanese groups fans outside of Japan do and don’t know about. Former Matador signees Cornelius and Pizzicato Five sit comfortably on one side of this divide, having gained significant cult followings outside of their home country, while on the other side sit acts like Love Tambourines and this month’s spotlight group, Original Love. These groups never released albums or performed overseas like their more well-known scene counterparts, and as such they remain far more obscure on the global scene. So, naturally, Memories of Shibuya is here to step in and shine some light on a more obscure corner of Japanese history, with our spotlight falling on former Pizzicato Five vocalist and sometime Negicco collaborator Takao Tajima’s long-running band, Original Love.

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Artist Spotlight: Towa Tei, music

Artist Spotlight: Towa Tei (week four)

Every month, Memories of Shibuya will be taking a look at a different artist or group, with featured songs – one per week – highlighting the peaks (and, occasionally, troughs) of their musical career.

Concluding our four-part series on Towa Tei a couple days late (all apologies, sometimes life gets in the way of these things), this time around we take a look at the man’s work in the last decade – work which is still ongoing, with his latest single having been released just last month.

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Artist Spotlight: Towa Tei, music

Artist Spotlight: Towa Tei (week three)

 

Every month, Memories of Shibuya will be taking a look at a different artist or group, with featured songs – one per week – highlighting the peaks (and, occasionally, troughs) of their musical career.

Towa Tei’s work has always had more going on beneath the surface than it would initially appear; this week we take a look at what is easily his most controversial work. Like rap CDs back when we used to buy those, consider a “parental advisory: explicit content” sticker stuck on this one.

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Artist Spotlight: Towa Tei, music

Artist Spotlight: Towa Tei (week two)

Every month, Memories of Shibuya will be taking a look at a different artist or group, with featured songs – one per week – highlighting the peaks (and, occasionally, troughs) of their musical career.

After leaving Deee-Lite and heading back to Japan, Towa Tei embarked upon a solo venture that found him taking his rightful place in the canon of Shibuya-kei artists. The Japanese scene welcomed him with open arms, bolstered both by his major-label connections from the Deee-Lite days and his own Shibuya-kei style, which could hardly have been more perfectly suited to the J-pop zeitgeist in 1994.

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Artist Spotlight: Towa Tei, music

Artist Spotlight: Towa Tei (week one)

Every month, Memories of Shibuya will be taking a look at a different artist or group, with featured songs – one per week – highlighting the peaks (and, occasionally, troughs) of their musical career.

While the majority of Shibuya-kei stayed confined to the fringes of Western pop culture, endorsed by the darlings of the 1990s alternative scene but never made too visible (with collaborations often limited to remix exchanges, like Damon Albarn of Blur reworking Cornelius’s “Star Fruits Surf Rider” and Oyamada returning the favour with a remix of Blur’s “Tender”), to Western radio listeners in the ’90s, Towa Tei was something different entirely: a one-hit wonder. Odds are you know the song, but its connection to Shibuya-kei may possibly come as a surprise. What was this one hit? Well, if you look in your heart, you might find it…

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Indie spotlight: color-me frog

As you may have noticed while reading Memories of Shibuya, we often focus on the songwriters – those crafting pop songs from behind the scenes – far more than the singers themselves. With this in mind, color-me frog makes a perfect choice for this month’s indie spotlight, as the project is one of the very rare cases where a songwriter is front and center. Shin-ichiro Aoyama, a music-industry lifer who has worked on everything from Kamen Rider to Mega Man, broke with convention to start up his own netlabel, Honeyeater Records, and as color-me frog he’s been seeking to bring lyrical creativity back to Japanese pop music.

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Artist Spotlight: Kahimi Karie, music

Artist Spotlight: Kahimi Karie (week four)

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Every month, Memories of Shibuya will be taking a look at a different artist or group, with featured songs – one per week – highlighting the peaks (and, occasionally, troughs) of their musical career.

Concluding his series on the artist whose work he is perhaps most well-known for collaborating on, Momus writes here about the end of an acclaimed and productive working relationship, and the 20th century along with it.

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