A recent conversation with a friend has unearthed a common problem when it comes to music fans in Japan: J-Pop has drowned out everything remotely cool about this country’s music scene, and it’s hard to find stuff that isn’t AKB48.
To help with that problem, I’m going to semi-regularly post videos from Japanese musicians who made, or are making stuff, as an alternative to standard J-Pop fare.
The first act on the dub plate: The Pizzicato Five, leaders of Japan’s Shibuya-Kei music scene of the early-to-late 1990s. While American kids were plugging into “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Japan was blasting the P5: A weird mix of Bossa Nova, French Ye-Ye and Electronic/Trip Hop music.
Pizzicato Five also had a great sense of style, incorporating French ’60s fashion with a tongue-in-cheek attitude, clear in their black-and-white videos, big boots and bright fonts.
That said, when I saw these guys live just before they broke up in 2001, I was also treated to a show that made heavy use of edited footage from the “Air Bud” films. (Can’t find that on YouTube, unfortunately).
Anyway, the band sort of drifted into smooth-jazz territory by the end of the decade, and finally broke up in 2001.
I have their album, ‘Happy End of the World’. More twee than Belle and Sebastian, but I like some of the songs, including ‘It’s a Beautiful Day’, above. My favourite is ‘The World is Spinning at 45Rpm’, and I’d give you a Youtube link, but they only had some remix that sounds nothing like the original.
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