Ongakuyōbi: Number Girl

Number Girl are from my neck of the woods – Fukuoka, Japan.

Their sound is definitely a product of the 1990’s, with clear influences from Pavement, The Pixies, and Sonic Youth: Melodic, explosive, and (maybe) just a little whiny. But hey, it was the 90s!

Number Girl was founded in 1995 and broke up in 2002. It’s hard to get a sense of how popular this band was, or why they broke up. This is further complicated by the production values of their videos, which are either cheap or just wrapped into that whole lo-fi, cheap 90s aesthetic.

But I have to say that this band stands in pretty stark contrast to expectations of Japanese music, even underground Japanese music, for one reason: It’s sloppy. One of my steadfast beliefs about Japanese indie music has been that it would always be more sample-based, like Pizzicato Five or Towa Tei, than it would be lo-fi, simply because of the Japanese culture’s love of technical skill.

But that’s what’s tricky about Number Girl. It takes a lot of skill to sound this messy. The drumming is impeccable; the band is completely tight even if it sounds like they’re falling apart. The comparison to Pavement stands: Everyone probably thinks their band would sound like this, but it never, ever would.

The bulk of the band is still around as the Zazen Boys, but for some reason – maybe because they’re making contemporary music instead of 90’s alt.rock – I just can’t get into them as much.

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