Thursday, 2 December 2010

Fashion Crisis (December 2010)

The last Fashion Crisis of 2010 with this month's guest DJ the incomparable Clay Jarvis, and an acoustic live performance by candy-punk duo Puffyshoes.

Place: Koenji Bar One
Date: 12/4 (Sat)
Time: 7:00p.m.~11:00p.m.
Cost: FREE

- Puffyshoes (acoustic set): Honey-sweet, lo-fi 60s girl group melodies in a stripped down, acoustic form.

- Clay Jarvis (Teenage Desires/Vee Dee)
- James Hadfield (Metropolis)
- Ian Martin (Call And Response Records)

Friday, 19 November 2010

Telephone Club in Fukuoka (November 20th 2010)

A quick note on tomorrow's Telephone Club event in Fukuoka, just to say there are six fantastic bands, including several CAR favourites and that anyone in town on that day should definitely make it down.

Place: Yakuin Utero
Date: November 20th (Sat)
Time: 6:30/7:00
Cost: 1800yen + drink

- Nontroppo
- Hyacca
- MacManaman
- Zibanchinka (from Kagoshima)
- The Mornings (from Tokyo)
- Cynical Smile is Your Favorite (from Kumamoto)

- Ian Martin (Call And Response Records)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Switched On! + Japan Music Week: Post-Punk Festival

The first part of Switched On!'s contribution to Japan Music Week 2010 is this post-punk and new wave event, featuring some of the finest new bands in Tokyo, as well as international guests The Stingrays, who were among the founding members of the Bristol punk and new wave scene in 1977.

Japan Music Week wristband holders can get in for half price (1000yen) by showing their wristband at the door.

Place: Shibuya Star Lounge
Date: 11/9 (Tue)
Time: 18:00 Open/Start
Price: 2000yen (adv) / 2500yen (door) + 1 drink (1000yen with JMW wristband)

- The Stingrays: Leading figures in the first generation of Bristol punk and new wave through their work on the Heartbeat and Fried Egg labels, The Stingrays are often described as Bristol's Ramones, although their sense of humour and less rigidly punk style makes perhaps The Rezillos a more apt comparison.

- She Talks Silence: Gorgeous, lo-fi post-punk, with sweet, whisper-voiced melodies drenched in feedback, recalling elements of The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Vaselines.

- The New House: Wide-ranging, psychedelic tinged indie music from Tokyo, as well as being veterans of SXSW and touring partners of the Vivian Girls (

- Anisakis: Garage rock influenced post-punk, reminiscent of classic psychedelic era bands like The Monks, as well as the kind of edgy, post-Wilko Johnson guitar style of the British post-punk era.

- Umibachi: Born out of the ashes of Tokyo's late 90s new wave revival, Umibachi retain that generation's B-52's and Devo influence, wedding it to psychedelic and dance influences.

- The Bitchs: Totally unreconstructed, none-more-Ramones, Japanese punk rockers.

- Sumire (Twee Grrrls Club/Violet & Claire): As well as being the founder of Tokyo's premier all-girl DJ team, her unerring, under-the-radar instinct for great music means Violet & Claire label was the first place to discover both The New House and She Talks Silence.

- Wizz Jones: Music geek extraordinaire and 80s indie/post-punk encyclopaedia.

- Ian Martin (Call And Response Records): Retro post-punk and new wave.

Friday, 5 November 2010

The Stingrays (From Bristol) Japan Tour

One of the classic first generation punk bands from my lovely home town of Bristol, The Stingrays, are in Japan from today (November 5th). The Stingrays were one of the key bands on Heartbeat Records' Avon Calling compilation, which remains to this day the classic document of Bristol punk and new wave, as well as being a notable local band in their own right through their association with Fried Egg Records.

Call And Response, along with the brilliant Hide from Ultra Bide and Kevin from Big Jugs Experience, has been helping book their current Japan tour, so please come along to any of these shows that you have a chance to.

Kobe Helluva Lounge
w/ après-guerre napoto, The Young Pennsylvanians, Ittanbu
Open 18:00/Start 18:30 1,500yen adv./18,00yen door

・11/6 Osaka The Cellar
Big Jugs Experience event:
w/Boys of Hong Kong, Penumbra, DJ Clever Dan
Open 13:00/Start 13:30 1,100yen (Including 2 drinks)

・11/7 Osaka Socio
w/Juggling Dubs, Cockney Cocks, H.O.G, Niwatori Obake, Jump and Fall, Cannonball (Tokyo), Explosion Sack, wooOrmz, Minerals, Animal Video, Shiraiwa Hiraz
Open/Start ?

・11/8 Kyoto Socrates
A Seed Night (Ultra Bide event):
w/Ultra Bide, Psychedelic Desert, Whales, DJ AFRIphonicAAA (UK)
Open 18:00/Start 18:30 1,500yen adv./18,00yen door

・11/9 Shibuya Star Lounge
Switched On! Post Punk Night (with Japan Music Week)
w/The New House, Umibachi, The Bitchs, She Talks Silence, Anisakis, DJ Sumire (Twee Grrrls Club/Violet & Claire), DJ Wizz Jones, DJ Ian Martin (Call And Response Records)
Open/Start 18:00 2,000yen adv./2,500yen door (1,000yen with JMW wristband)

・11/11 Shibuya Hobgoblin
Japan Music Week - Wales Night: Russ Mainwaring DJ set
Open/Start 19:00 1,000yen adv./1,500yen door (FREE with JMW wristband)

・11/13 Shibuya Rock West
Japan Music Week - Bristol Night (trip hop, drum'n'bass, Sarah Records, punk & new wave):
w/DJ Sumire (Twee Grrrls Club/Violet & Claire), DJ Carbon, DJ Alex Cox, DJ Ian Martin (Call And Response Records)
Open/Start 17:00 1,000yen adv./1,500yen door (FREE with JMW wristband)

Friday, 8 October 2010

NEW RELEASE: "Ex Shanti / Future Shanti" by N'toko

Call And Response released the new English-language album by Slovenian rapper N'toko this Wednesday (October 6th). Writing about the album on his blog, N'toko describes his aim to create:
" that draws from electropop, Bollywood, and French house while keeping the darker, more aggressive and underground attitude of old school hiphop (I'm talking about guys like Public Enemy, Erik B and Rakim), EBM, industrial, goth."

Ex Shanti / Future Shanti (CAR-88)
1. Superhuman
2. Astroboy and Catwoman
3. Masterplan Intro
4. Masterplan
5. Posing
6. Pillow Fight
7. Fashion Crisis
8. Ex Shanti / Future Shanti
9. Masterplan (BeatMyth Remix)

The result is a sometimes dark, always playful, mini-album that fuses hip hop with 1980s electro and technopop sounds, and a post-punk attitude.

Partly recorded in Japan during his stay in the country through late 2009 and early 2010, Ex Shanti / Future Shanti also features the track Fashion Crisis, named after the Call And Response event, and recorded with guest vocals by Kim from Uhnellys.

N'toko is on tour in Europe at the moment, and will be touring Japan starting on March 5th next year.

Available at:
Bridge Inc.
Tower Records

Friday, 1 October 2010

Fashion Crisis (October 2010)

The next monthly Fashion Crisis at Koenji Bar One is this Saturday. With regular DJ James Hadfield off touring Europe's fashion capitals, taking his savoir faire in search of the finest haute couture, and no doubt sampling cordon bleu, displaying sangfroid, and dabbling in je ne sais quoi (or else just getting wet somewhere in England), there will be a fresh roster of guest DJs joining me for your enjoyment.

Place: Koenji Bar One
Date: October 2nd (Sat)
Time: 7:00pm~11:00pm
Cost: FREE


- Lotus: not only the geek-chic fanzine goddess of Weekend Never Dies fame, but also an October 2nd Birthday Girl.

- Wizz Jones: after his awe inspiring set at September's event, there was no choice but to invite him back for a reprise.

- Evil Penguin: the mysterious, evil moustachioed Tasmanian deck wizard from Super Deluxe's Test Tone events promises a selection of deep, dark new wave.

- Ian Martin: fresh from scandalising the music world in the pages of the Japanese press, I'll be back to my old self, playing the usual mix of David Bowie, various stuff, David Bowie, and more Bowie.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Koenji Pop Festival 2010 Timetable

The timetable for the 2010 Koenji Pop Festival on September 18th (Sat) is sorted now, and if things go according to plan, should run like this (note: things almost never go according to plan).

4:00 open
4:10-4:25 Natasha Forrest
4:40-5:05 Owllights
5:20-5:45 Issei Kuramoto
6:00-6:25 Yamaco
6:40-7:05 Quick Explosion Scratch Hurricanes (Ex. Andersens)
7:20-7:45 Praha Depart
8:00-8:25 The Students
8:40-9:05 Creepy Pop
9:20-9:45 The Mornings
10:00-Finish Zibanchinka

Friday, 10 September 2010

Koenji Pop Festival 2010

This year is the sixth annual edition of the somewhat ambitiously named Koenji Pop Festival and the third at Koenji's venerable and, erm, "intimate" Penguin House. As usual, there will be a cornucopia of musical fucked-uppery, with the messed-up all-girl garage punk of Kagoshima's Zibanchinka, the explosive post-punk of The Mornings, the delicately-formed new wave pop of Yamaco, the quirky alt-rock of Owllights, and various happenings inbetween.

As usual I'll be doing that thing with the horrible wine.

To accommodate all the bands, the event starts pretty early (4:00PM), with my never knowingly over-rehearsed band Natasha Forrest kicking things off, so if you don't want us to be lonely, come by for the start.

Place: Koenji Penguin House
Date: 9/18 (Sat)
Time: 4:00PM
Price: 2000yen (adv) / 2300yen (door)

- Zibanchinka (from Kagoshima)
- The Mornings
- Creepy Pop
- The Students
- Praha Depart
- Quick Explosion Scratch Hurricanes (Ex. Andersens)
- Yamaco
- Issei Kuramoto
- Owllights
- Natasha Forrest

Friday, 6 August 2010

Fashion Crisis (August 2010)

With this year's Summer Sonic plumbing comically abysmal new depths of sickening atrociousness, August's Fashion Crisis is here to rescue great music with a selection of offbeat electronic and technopop live sounds plus the usual mix of new wave, post-punk, dub, electro, indiepop, krautrock, 60s pop, 'pataphysic rock and more from behind the decks.

Place: Koenji Bar One
Date: 8/7 (Sat)
Time: 7:00 P.M. - 11:00 P.M.
Price: FREE

Fashion Crisis' favourite all-girl bass-guitar-rhythm machine duo are back, with more musical confectionery from their lo-fi new wave sweet shop.

-Living Astro
This electronic duo specialise in sending short, sharp, intense blasts of musical information directly into your brain. Mysterious combinations of unexpected sounds, like a smaller, more intimate Der Plan.

-Chihiro (Twee Grrrls Club/Full Circle)
-James Hadfield (Metropolis, Ecchi Shoushin)
-Ian Martin (Call And Response Records)

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Telephone Club (July 17th 2010)

Live music and pre-recorded sounds transmitted via the medium of compact disc to your ears, courtesy of some of the finest musical brains in the metropolis of Tokyo, this Saturday in Koenji.

Place: Koenji Penguin House
Date: 7/17 (Sat)
Open/Start: 6:30/7:00 P.M.
Tickets: 1,800 adv/2,000 door


tacobonds - Explosive post-punk band, who have been tearing up live spaces in Tokyo and beyond for years. The sound of rock & roll being broken on the wheel.

Puffyshoes - Dirty garage punk poison delivered in the form of honey-sweet 60s girl group melodies. The best tunes, played on instruments wielded like weapons of mass destruction.

Steiner - Sharp-edged, 80s-influenced post-punk, recalling Gang of Four, Einsturzende Neubauten, and The Pop Group, like a disco under the shadow of nuclear war.

Uruseeyo - Losing themselves, like a punk rock Dylan, Uruseeyo are raw power, spat out in a machine gun rattle of sprawling, poetic fury.


Fresh from Koenji's regular Fashion Crisis events, James Hadfield of Metropolis fame and Ian Martin of Call And Response Records will spin tunes from the darkest recesses of their record collections, but better than that sounds.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Track list from last Saturday's Fashion Crisis

Since this was one of those rare events where I basically remember what I played, I'm taking the step of posting up the playlist from my DJ set at Bar One last Saturday. Guest DJ Sumire has already posted her sets on the Twee Grrrls Club blog.

It was also a rare set for me in that I dusted off some of my vinyl (mostly for the first set when I could count on being sober enough to deal with it). I don't really like the fiddlyness of playing vinyl, but there are some songs that I only have in that format. If anyone ever wondered (God knows why you would, mind) why I play so many songs off XTC's second album and hardly anything off the rather better first and third albums, it's because the second is the only one of their early releases I have on CD.

I also managed to squeeze in a couple of tracks that bands have sent me over the past few months that I've really liked. The first is the track "Harmony" by Bristol punk/power pop band The Stingrays, who are planning to visit Japan in November; the second is the track "Gesa" by Berlin post-punks Krysmopompas.

Anyway, here it is, to the best of my recollection.

1st set:
Puyo Puyo - Hikashu
Spinning Top - XTC
One After 909 - Laibach
Trouble - The Music Machine
Tout Ce Qu' On Dit - Francoise Hardy
Oo Chang a Lang - The Blue Orchids (60s girl group)
Work - The Blue Orchids (80s post-punks)

2nd set:
Spring Rain - The Go-Betweens
Living a Lie - The DBs
Keep an Open Mind (Or Else) - McCarthy
Original Love - The Feelies
Heads Watch - Josef K
The Lighter Side of Dating - The Monochrome Set
Motorbike Girl - The Would Be Goods
You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It?) - The Undertones
Harmony - The Stingrays
Mannequin - Wire
Brave Boys Keep Their Promises - The Teardrop Explodes
Your Turn to Run - Malaria
Thirty Frames a Second - Simple Minds
The Baby Screams - The Cure
Gesa - Krysmopompas

As a bonus, here's Francoise Hardy freezing her arse off in front of Tower Bridge in 1965:

And here's the The Go-Betweens camping it up shamelessly:

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Fashion Crisis (July 2010)

Fashion Crisis is in indiepop mode this weekend, with a trip through our magic time travelling mirror to a dirty, fuzz-drenched 1986 populated by whisper-voiced post-punk musical scientists and their unwitting experimental subjects.

Place: Koenji Bar One
Date: 7/3 (Sat)
Time: 7:00 P.M. - 11:00 P.M.
Price: FREE

- She Talks Silence
Stripped-down musical heartache in the mould of Josef K or The Vaselines; like getting stood up for a date with the class sweetheart, only to stumble, drunken, into the bar that all the cool kids hang out at, where you meet the girl of your dreams.

- Yamaco
Fashion Crisis' melodic indie princess Yamaco returns for the second successive month, with her increasingly fearsome arsenal of leftfield pop harmonics set to grow only more insidious the more access to your brain your ears allow her.

- Sumire (Twee Grrrls Club/Violet & Claire)
A deceptively small package, within which beats a giant brain full of every lost classic 7-inch ever made by humans, plus many made by the Scottish.

-James Hadfield (Metropolis, Ecchi Shoushin)
Taking a break from last month's saxophone-bothering live excesses, Mr. James returns to his lair behind the decks -- the place he does the most damage.

-Ian Martin (Call And Response Records)
As usual, just happy to be there.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Kyushu Pop Festival (June 12th 2010)

Special Call And Response event with the focus on bands from Kyushu, in a wild parade of Mentai-Rock, Kabosu-Pop, and Kurobuta-Punk.

Most of the bands on the lineup for this show are either travelling from Kyushu to take part or musicians with roots in the area, with able assistance from some of the hottest sounds from the Tokyo underground scene.

Place: Shinjuku Motion
Date: Saturday June 12th
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Cost: 2000 adv / 2300 door (+ 1 drink)

-Hyacca (百蚊): Gloriously fucked up yet undeniably accessible post-punk band from Fukuoka, with great songs, a wicked sense of humour, and fearsome energy to spare.

-Zibanchinka (地盤沈下): Eccentric garage punk quartet from Kagoshima, with one of the fiercest all-girl front lines in music.

-Bo-Peep: Originally from Fukuoka, Bo-Peep have carved a place for themselves as Tokyo's leading exponents of heavy garage punk, with successful tours all over the US and Europe to back them up.

-Me I Sashimi (ミー愛さしみ): Sharp edged Fukuoka instrumental post-rock trio.

-ruruxu/sinn: Pronounced "lulue-shin", experimental indie popsters ruruxu/sinn are one of the hottest young bands out of Fukuoka now, with last year's excellent album "Picnic" one of the finest Japanese indie debuts in recent memory.

-Puffy Shoes: Representing the Tokyo area, and formed only last year, Puffy Shoes are the perfect collision of chaotic lo-fi scuzz-punk discord and sweeter than honey 1960s girl group melodies.

-FUN☆ANA: Featuring guitarist Yoshida Hajime from Fukuoka/Tokyo experimental Beefheart-punk legends Panicsmile, FUN☆ANA are a psychedelic kaleidoscope of post-punk guitar, vintage 70s Japanese hairy alt-rock, and pure, unreconstructed hard rock.

-Chewz: At the forefront of Tokyo's current new wave of no wave, Chewz are angular post-punk sex at its fizziest, fuzziest and funkiest.

-DJ Hiropo: Originally from Oita Prefecture, formerly of new wave "Nintendo-Punk" outfit Binary Kidd, and currently of new project Dotama Kachi World, DJ Hiropo promises "Humour and pathos comedy DJ". Be afraid...

Fashion Crisis (June 2010)

To get us in the mood for the summer, Fashion Crisis takes a dark electronic twist this month, with the dystopian industrial factory sounds of Koenji's own Darklaw, and regular DJ James Hadfield's newly spawned Ecchi Shoushin battling it out against the sweetness and light of Yamaco and DJ Noriko.

Place: Koenji Bar One
Date: Saturday June 5th
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Cost: FREE

Ecchi Shoushin
Yamaco (ex. Her)

Ian Martin
James Hadfield

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Fashion Crisis (May 2010)

Regular headliners Candles will be away in Osaka for this month's International Workers' Day edition of Fashion Crisis, but with legendary picopico maestra Hosaka Akane and the wonderful Students, whose off-kilter new wave guitar pop has been thrilling Call And Response since they opened the first ever C.A.R. event in 2004, coming instead, it will no doubt be every bit as charming an experience.

Elsewhere, another old friend Grant McGaheran of Abikyokan joins on decks, while myself and Metropolis' own James Hadfield will be rocking a musical parade of our own up for the proletariat.

Date: May 1st (Sat)
Place: Koenji Bar One
Time: 7:30 P.M. till 11:00 P.M.
Price: FREE

-Hosaka Akane
-The Students

-Grant McGaheran (Abikyokan)
-James Hadfield
-Ian Martin

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Fashion Crisis Anniversary Party (April 2010)

Fashion Crisis is one year old this week, hence another mega-celebration and another change of day, this time to Friday 2nd April. This time we're going to party hard, like Andrew WK, deep into the morning, to an embarrassment of cool sounds, unlike Andrew WK.

For this live and DJ extravaganza, we've gathered a bumper collection of some of our favourite acts from the last year with more DJs and live acts than you can count on the fingers of two hands (i.e. more than ten, just).

Date: April 2nd (Fri)
Place: Koenji Bar One
Time: 8:00 P.M. till 5:00 A.M.
Price: FREE

-Back in Tokyo
-Kiyokazu Onozaki (Andersens)
-Umbrella-X (acoustic set)

-Beau Brummell & the Wheels of Steel
-Kaname K
-DJ Petit
-James Hadfield
-Ian Martin

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Fashion Crisis (March 2010)

Still resolutely refusing to settle on any one particular day, Fashion Crisis is back to Saturday again, with the usual aggregation of pop scientists and amateur indie miscreants. Special live guest Yamaco, a.k.a. Yamada Noriko, formerly of indiepop duo and longtime Call And Response friends Her will be playing for the second time, and post-punk heart-throb Urano from Creepy Pop will DJ. Also spinning discs will be Slovenia's sexiest Bret-from-Flight-of-the-Conchords lookalike N'toko and his lovely wife Caroline from Paradise Kiss, as well as regular Koenji ne'r-do-wells James Hadfield and myself.

Date: March 6th (Sat)
Place: Koenji Bar One
Time: 7:30 P.M. till late
Price: FREE

-Yamaco (ex. Her)
-Urano (from Creepy Pop)
-N'toko & Zana
-James Hadfield
-Ian Martin

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

NEW RELEASES: "Valentine's Candies" V/A and "Live at Koenji Pop Festival '09" by Mir

New release time from C.A.R. and there's one belated piece of news plus confirmation of the results of the last couple of posts' Candies fixation.

First up, the new Mir live DVD/R was actually put together by the band themselves back in November last year, but since it's only been available to customers of Mir's own gigs, it's languished rather on the back burner. Nevertheless, it's a rather nice video in an attractive, if retina-damaging, fluorescent yellow case, with five excellent performances for a perfectly reasonable 500 of your Japanese yen.

Live at Koenji Pop Festival '09 (CAR-92)
1. 時代と個人
2. 愛の小舟は打ち砕かれない
3. 待ち合わせ場所を決めておこう
4. 世の中みんな批評家
5. ダンス

In the continuing absence of a Call And Response online store, anyone wanting to get hold of this DVD can either ask the band directly at one of their shows, or mail me here and arrange some kind of PayPal-based web sorcery.

Secondly, Call And Response's CD/R cover album of glorious 1970s pop trio the Candies is available via Koenji's finest purveyor of weird underground musical discs, Enban. Of course I still have a few copies and I can always make more, so if you see me around, feel free to enquire. The cost is 800 of those yens of yours for the full 14-song extravaganza.

Valentine's Candies (CAR-91)
01. その気にさせないで / Yamaco
02. 春一番 / TE☆SY (From Cand☆es)
03. ハートのエースが出てこない / Umbrella-X
04. 春一番 / 春風堂
05. 年下の男の子 / cottonioo
06. ハートのエースが出てこない / Trinitron (N'toko+Ian Martin+friends)
07. あなたに夢中 / Puffy Shoes
08. 危い土曜日 / 地盤沈下
09. 二人だけの夜明け / うるせぇよ
10. 春9000 (「春一番」のカバー) / やまのいゆずる
11. A muk aihsa say (plaque translation therapy) (「やさしい悪魔」のカバー) - snip n` zener
12. 年下の男の子 / Jahiliyyah
13. 暑中お見舞い申し上げます / ruruxu/sinn
14. 微笑がえし / Killer Condors

As before, if anyone is unable to get the CD directly or from Enban, drop us a mail and we should be able to arrange something.

Friday, 12 February 2010

The Candies and why no Japanese pop group will ever be as good as them again

(Cross-posted from my Myspace)

Looking at the Japanese pop charts nowadays, with the ugly, airbrushed tedium of Avex Trax and the waxy creepiness of Johnny's Jimusho, it might seem hard to believe, but for a brief period in the 1970s Japan was home to some of the greatest pop music ever made. With its roots in the 60s Showa Pop scene, the 1970s was dominated by a succession of brilliant female idols, from the ambiguous charm of the glorious Yamaguchi Momoe to the spicy, saucy, and outright sexy Yamamoto Linda.

It wasn't just solo stars though. Before the embarrassment of their early 80s U.S. TV series, Pink Lady were laying waste to the Japanese pop charts of the late 70s using a combination of eye-mounted laser beams and goofy yet insanely catchy pop music, and for a period of five short years the Candies were releasing a string of the most extraordinary pop singles Japan has ever seen.

Back in those days the ideal size for an all-girl pop group was two or three members rather than the absurd idol inflation that came to characterise the industry from the late 80s when Onyanko Club went through more than 50 members in the space of about two years, and now leaves us in the dizzying position of seeing behemoth clone armies like the slick, horrifying AKB48 with their cold, dead, fishlike eyes battle it out with the forthcoming, and frankly terrifying sounding, HRJK96. Where nowadays you need a degree in advanced life-avoidance to memorise the names of every member of an idol group, back in the 70s everybody in Japan could name Ran (the romantic one), Miki (a little bit boyish) and Sue (slightly sentimental). Not only that, but every member of your family, from baby sister who's just learned to speak to grandma who's rapidly going deaf, could sing along to songs like Haru Ichiban and Shochū Omimai Mōshiagemasu.

The 1970s was a strange time in Japanese postwar cultural history. The excesses of left wing radical group the United Red Army culminating in the 1972 Asama-Sansō Incident marked the end of ideological student radicalism in Japan, and the initial airing of Mobile Suit Gundam in 1979 helped kick off the explosion of otaku culture that in many ways replaced the unifying narrative and lifestyle offered by radical politics with a safer, fictional narrative and associated lifestyle among awkward, alienated youth. Into the hole dividing these two social movements came the explosion of 1970s pop culture, filling the ideological void with superficialities, confections, and, most importantly, Candies.

With a career lasting from 1973 to 1978 the Candies could almost have been designed to ford this particular Rubicon on Japan's journey into postmodernity, and their combination of innocent charm, simple yet affecting lyrics, and
sweet, sweet melodies was the perfect antidote to the turmoil of the dying days of the student movement. They were also the product of an era before pop culture became the Balkanised mishmash of subcultures that we have today, all hiding in their niches, eyeing each other suspiciously, communicating only to shout over the Web at the aliens in the cave next door. This was an age where pop music was a uniting cultural force, not a divisive one.

The group released 18 singles including the posthumous Tsubasa, although only the farewell hit
Hohoemi Gaeshi reached number one in the charts. Nevertheless, every one of them is a stark naked, face-melting classic. A few highlights of the highlights (and I can't express strongly enough, every song is a highlight):

Debut single Anata ni Muchū (above).

Sono Ki ni Sasenaide (above)

Heart no Ace ga Detekonai complete with extended intro (above).

Through my label, Call And Response Records, I've been gradually over the last couple of months collecting a number of cover versions of Candies songs by Japanese underground musicians for release on a limited edition compilation CD/R. The results have been fascinating, with fourteen songs now in, from technopop to garage rock to avant-garde electronic music to guitar pop to noise, reflecting the fractured musical times we live in, but also joined in a fierce appreciation of the frivolous-yet-unifying power of pure pop.

V/A 「Valentine's Candies」 Call And Response Records (CAR-91)

01. その気にさせないで / Yamaco
02. 春一番 / TE☆SY (From Cand☆es)
03. ハートのエースが出てこない / Umbrella-X
04. 春一番 / 春風堂
05. 年下の男の子 / cottonioo
06. ハートのエースが出てこない / Trinitron (N'toko+Ian Martin+friends)
07. あなたに夢中 / Puffy Shoes
08. 危い土曜日 / 地盤沈下
09. 二人だけの夜明け / うるせぇよ
10. 春9000 (「春一番」のカバー) / やまのいゆずる
11. A muk aihsa say (plaque translation therapy) (「やさしい悪魔」のカバー) - snip n` zener
12. 年下の男の子 / Jahiliyyah
13. 暑中お見舞い申し上げます / ruruxu/sinn
14. 微笑がえし / Killer Condors

A release party will be held at Koenji Roots today (February 12th) from 6:00 P.M. until 10:00 P.M.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Fashion Crisis: Valentine's Candies Live Special (Friday Feb 12th)

Valentine's Candies is Fashion Crisis' first ever event at a "proper" live house (one with a PA, a stage and all the gear), as well as functioning as a release party for Call And Response's first new release of the year: an album of Japanese indie and underground bands covering the legendary 1970s idol trio The Candies.

A number of Fashion crisis favourites have contributed songs to the CD, including Yamaco (formerly of Her), Umbrella-X, and Candies' near-namesakes Candles. Fashion Crisis/Switched On's regular Slovenian collaborator N'toko and Call And Response's Ian Martin both feature as members of the band Trinitron.

Other bands contributing songs to the CD include eccentric pop duo cottonioo, Fukuoka's ruruxu/sinn, noise trio Jahiliyyah, experimental something or other snip n` zener, post-punk band Uruseeyo, up and coming girly garage punk duo Puffy Shoes, electronic genius Yamanoi Yuzuru, electro rock band Killer Condors, and more super musical things.

The release event will be this coming Friday, featuring some of the musicians who contributed to the CD and all the regular Fashion Crisis people in a broad celebration of the ordinary girls of The Candies.

Date: February 12th 2010
Time: 6:00 P.M.
Place: Koenji Roots
Cost: 1800yen adv / 2000yen door
Live: Candles / Puffy Shoes / Yamanoi Yuzuru / N'toko
DJs: d.o.o.t. (from Jahilliyah + snip n` zener) / James Hadfield / Ian Martin

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Fashion Crisis (February 2010)

Fans of fluffy-haired Englishmen can rest easy knowing that in tomorrow's Fashion Crisis regular DJ James Hadfield returns from his Kansai-bothering taiko trip with presumably more of his exciting world sounds. As usual he will be faithfully supported by all the usual suspects. Guest live is electronic pop person yu-tamitsu and DJ Ryan Erik Williams.

Date: February 1sth 2010
Time: 7:30 P.M.
Place: Koenji Bar One
Cost: FREE
Live: Candles / yu-tamitsu
DJs: Ryan Erik Williams / James Hadfield / Ian Martin

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Motocompo + Switched On! Double Feature

Switched On! is busy this past month or so, with yet another party in yet another part of Tokyo. This time there's a funny sort of double-feature event at Shibuya Home, starting with a one-man live from event founders Motocompo, and continuing with an all-night DJ party at the same venue, featuring all the usual team, plus guest DJ, the impossibly arty/designy Yuri Suzuki.

: 1/29 (Fri) Shibuya Home

--PART 1--
Back to the Border: Motocompo One-man Live
Open: 8:00PM
Ticket: 2500yen + drink (adv) / 3000yen + drink (door)
LIVE: MOTOCOMPO / Candles (Opening Act)
DJs: Mince (The Frap Frap Fraps) / Ian Martin (Call And Response Records)

--PART 2--
Switched On!: Motocompo After-Party
Open: 11:00PM
Ticket: 1000yen + 2 drinks (2000yen total)
DJs: Yuri Suzuki / Kovacs (Petit Mit) / Katsumi Suzuki / Tonegawa (Wicky Records) / Mince (The Frap Frap Fraps) / Ian Martin (Call And Response Records)

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Switched On! Side B (January 17th)

After all the amazing fun of last night's Bar One event, there's more. Switched On! has one of its occasional "Side B" events, this time at Shimo-Kitazawa Three, featuring a more rock and electro orientated sound than the usual new wave and technopop experience.

1/17 (Sun) Shimo-Kitazawa Three
5:30 P.M. - 11:30 P.M.
2000yen adv. / 2500yen door

Ian Martin (Call And Response Records)
Mince (The Frap Frap Fraps)


Yamaco (ex. Her)
The Bitchs
Creepy Pop
Diskow &
N'toko (from Slovenia)
Dr. Usui

Friday, 15 January 2010

Fashion Crisis (January 2010 - New Year Party!)

An extra special Fashion Crisis new year party tomorrow (Saturday 16th) with an expanded lineup, some super guests and some old friends. Hot on the heels of his ace DJ set at December's event, Slovenian electro/hip hop sensation N'toko will play a live set. Guest DJs abound with sets by DJ Petit of electro disco group Frap Frap Fraps, Nakayama Takashi, formerly of Skyfisher and currently playing with his group LABSiCK Man-Machine ReMiX, and a debut DJ performance by Kim from prog/jazz/hip hop duo Uhnellys. Regular DJ James Hadfield is off in terrorising Kansai people with his taiko group, but DJ Ian Martin and house band Candles will be there as usual, along with frequent guest live act Back in Tokyo.

Date: January 16th 2010
Time: 6:00 P.M.
Place: Koenji Bar One
Cost: FREE
Live: Candles / N'toko / Back in Tokyo
DJs: Nakayama Takashi (LABSiCK Man-Machine ReMiX, ex. Skyfisher) / DJ Petit (Frap Frap Fraps) / Kim (Uhnellys) Ian Martin (Call And Response)