April 7, 2013

Announcement

Hello fellow music psychos! 

Thank you very much for coming to my site and reading reviews that I have been writing in the last few years. This is definitely a passion of mine and I cannot thank enough for those who were involved in my Music Psychos page.

Today I wanted to let you all know that I have decided to take some time off from writing. In the past few months, I have struggled with writing articles, especially about bands that I 'had to' write. It has been always on my mind to figure out the reason and this article may explain well on how I feel. 

I used to be brave enough to write bad reviews based on how I really felt about the band/music/album. About 2 years ago, I wrote this review of Super Chunk opening for Broken Social Scene and I got badly bashed for it. I received a number of emails and comments that made me scared of writing a true review. So I decided not to write anything if there is anything good for me to say about it. But then what is the point of writing about music when I cannot comfortably express how I feel? This is the main reason that I am taking a break until I become truly comfortable with what I write here. 

Secondly,  I have other priority now in my life and I need to put this on hold in order for me to focus on what matters the most to me. 

I don't know how long this hiatus is going to be. but I am sure that I will be back when I am ready.

Thank you very much for all your supports and don't forget to follow your heart on what you do.

Cheers,

Kanae Doi
April 7th, 2013. 




 

March 31, 2013

CMW interview with Yuichiro Tokuda


It was the second time for Japanese jazz artist,  Yuichiro Tokuda to participate in Canadian Music Week with his band Ralyzzdig." There were lots of people came to see our show last night thanks to Jazz FM being a sponsor this year." Tokuda performed at Court House two nights in row as a part of the Jazz festival showcase during CMW and it seems like he had a blast. (I was so bummed that I missed it...) Tokuda kindly sent me the video of their performance that night. 




This Japanese jazz quintet, Ralyzzdig is the super group of Japanese Jazz scene as many of them are internationally recognized after winning several awards in the past. The band name, Ralyzzdig is a made up word pulled together by Tokuda. "Ralyzzdig contains English words of "Ray" "Lyric", "Jazz" and "Dig”. The name was created with the wish to discover a flash of lyrical jazz throughout their music."

Ralyzzdig has a full length album that is on the horizon, Crossing Colours is now set to be released on March 27th. (Released this week!)  "I started writing songs after last year's Canadian Music Week. Before that, we had an opportunity to play in China and Malaysia and came to Canada. The more chances that we had played overseas, the more I started thinking that I would like to craft songs based on what I gained though people I met from different cultures. Colours in this context means races and wanted to make a bridge made of music to cross over the difference. We will always have a difference, but we can still have the same ground somewhat. That was what I was seeking to create with our music." 

There is a cover of Japanese traditional child song, Aka Tombo (red dragonfly) in the album. The song is a fresher version of the traditional style yet it has the scent of nostalgia. "I have roots in Okinoerabujima, Kagoshima (an island located near southern part of Japan.)  I started writing songs about the place and also arranged Japanese folk songs in the past. (Note: Okinawa Island and southern islands are known for their unique traditional folk styles.) It has such a beautiful melody line to it. I don't just pick up any songs to cover." Another song off the album, Hamabe No Uta, (Song of the seashore ) is covered for the same reason. This song also has a special place in Tokuda's heart. "This song is for those who suffered from the huge earthquake Fukushima, 2 years ago. In May of 2011, we first visited Malaysia and it was just 2 months after the earthquake and we weren't sure if we could make it. So when we were on the stage we performed this song thinking of Japan. We were performing this song prior to the earthquake, but I feel like there is a special meaning to this song when we perform it. This Hamabe No Uta is from Tohoku region, (Northern part of Japan which was worst hit by the earthquake.) The composer was from Akita. (It is located in the same region of Fukushima in Japan.) He wrote the song for being nostalgic after looking at the beaches. I've volunteered in Tohoku region in the past and played this song so many times."

The title song, Crossing Colours has two versions on the album, Crossing Colours-Element and Crossing Colours-Harmony. The first one focuses more on percussive melodies whereas the latter has the resonant piano tunes. The reason that he put two arrangements of one song in the album is the remake they've worked on. "We had to record Crossing Colours three times. I felt like the theme of the song was very big and I couldn't finalize the form of the song for a long time. When we first recorded, it sounded good, but it wasn't great enough to convince me. So we recorded it again, which is the Crossing Colours-Harmony. At last, when we recorded the last version of the song, it became Crossing Colours-Element. The tune has changed from major to minor and the image of the song has drastically changed."

There is another cover song in the album, Kiseki, miracle. by Japanese pop group, GReeeeN. "The reason behind it was 4-5 years ago, we visited a junior high school in a very small town, which was about to close down and played for the graduation ceremony. We were requested by the students to play one of the popular songs then and that as this song. I wanted to show them what a Jazz band really is throughout the song. We didn't play it for a long time but just around a year ago, we started playing the song again, and started feeling like the song fit the band really well, then we decided to play it again."
https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/images/cleardot.gif

With this album, Tokuda will continue touring Japan and Asian counties in this spring. But he didn't forget about the Canuck fans. "Thank you very much for your support and I really would like to come to my shows next time that I come to Toronto and listen to my new album.”

March 24, 2013

CMW Interview with Takashi Kamide


I believe that the element that makes musicians very attractive is the passion toward music. Who cares about missing one key during the set. When their enthusiasm transmits through their soulful performance, it spices up the live show.

 When I first watched a YouTube video channel of  Japanese accordionist, Takashi Kamide, where he has recorded his original songs and covered various Japanese pop songs, I was withdrawn to the computer screen and proceeded with one after another for a while. Even though they were self-recorded on his iPhone, the quality of the videos didn't bother me at all (it's retro and artistic anyways,) and rather, I couldn't help noticing the joy of playing music that he was expressing through the melodies that he seamed together.

So who is Takashi Kamide?  He is an accordion player /songwriter from Nara, Japan, who explores the possibility of what this traditional instrument can do in collaboration with various genre. His international experience including SXSW (2010 and 2011) has raised up his profile internationally and he has participated in this year's Canadian Music festival for the first time. Not only the defeat of illness in early his life, (You can find out more about that from his biography.), but also his positive attitude toward life enhances the taste of his music. His unique style of the combination of organic musical instrument and adaptation of today's technology is a must-listen. In short, he is a true music geek that embraces music from the bottom of his heart and enjoys it at the fullest in every respect. 

Kamide started playing accordion aside from jazz piano when he was a teenager. " When I was practicing jazz piano, I struggled with it a couple of times and wanted to play other instruments to take a break from it. I picked an accordion as it has the keys like a piano so it was easy for me to play. Gradually I started being very interested in it and I discovered lots of talented artists and it thought it would very interesting for me to try it out. I was already writing songs as a hobby when I was in middle school. Composing songs came to me very naturally without any instructions by anyone."


Kamide has just released a mini album called, Reborn on March 20th"The title of the song is related to a song off the record, Tomorrow" Said Kamide. "A dog that I had for about 10 years passed away two years ago and this song reminds me of the happiest time that I had with him. I wrote this song before the incidence, but I was so depressed about his passing and I didn't feel like making any music or performing. So I just did a few works to make living. However, around last year, I finally felt like I was ready to start making music all over again a little by little and I started recording songs. So I felt like my mind was "reborn" in that way. I used to write songs that were hard to understand by most listeners.( It was very experimental and it didn't have a clear melody line so it was hard for the listeners to follow.) Musicians like to create songs like that, but I was advised that my music can only be understood by music geeks, so it might be a good idea for me to try something more melodious for people to understand. I used to write songs like that in the past. It was after the fact that my participation for CMW was finalized and I was writing songs that were very geeky. So I wanted to try something new after receiving the advice. In this way, the title,  Reborn  made sense to me. These songs contains a sold melody line that people can sing along with after their first listen, but still interesting for musicians to perform. This change in the style of the album forced me to postpone the release of the album. ( Originally it was scheduled to be released last year.)"

This 5 song mini album contains a very unique album illustration as well. " It was done by Satoko Takahashi, an engraving artist. The image of the person holding the egg looks like playing an accordion. Also I thought the egg in the art implies reborn."

One of the songs off the album, Pure and Dark  features this interesting instrument called accordina, which he has used a couple of times during CMW. "The reaction that I got from the audience was good." Said Kamide as he eagerly showed me the French instrument that I'd never seen in my life. The challenges that he takes to make traditional instruments as an artist are something that you don't wanna miss out. 



CMW Review: Japan Nite Four Minutes til Midnight

What a day for Japanese/U.S funk rock band, Four Minutes Til Midnight! First off, the original member/guitarist, Kenta Hayashi who plays a big role in the band is not touring with the band due to his visa situation in the States. Secondly, the lead singer, Eli Taylor didn't make it to the flight to Toronto so he had to take a greyhound bus from New York for 13 hours and barely made it to their show, just one song after their show has started. (It was more like 15 mins after Midnight, get it?) The moment Eli jumped on the stage, there was a relief on the faces of the members and it felt as if it was their reunion show. It just made EVERYONE in the venue smile and so more excited.

Once Eli got ready to rock out with the Canuck audience for the first time, they blasted their funkyest bass slaps and guitar howls to the loudest. Their unique style of the funk/jazz/rock infusion was a reminiscent of Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their boarder-less musical style was intriguing to witness. Despite the 13 hour bus ride, Eli Taylor was very energetic and showcased his hand dancing with rhythmical rapping. It was 5th band of the night where the audience usually get tired out by the end. However, the energy of the whole venue kept up very high and the audience swayed along with the groove as if it was transmitted from the stage. This is definitely a band that you want to keep eyes on. Let's talk a little bit about their history as Music Psychos had an opportunity to speak with the bassist Yu-suke prior to the show.

This unique quartet from two continents started back in 2005. The guitarist, Kenta and singer Eli met in a music institute in L.A and shared a common music ground and started playing together with the bassist,  Yu-suke from Japan who was also living in San Francisco back then. " I used to live in California and played with Eli, but we both (Kenta and Yu-suke) had to go back to Japan last year due to our visa situation. The visa expiration in the State forced us to go back." Said Yu-suke.

Prior to the departure from the States, Four Minutes Til Midnight has released a self recorded album called, Find My Way. A single off the record, Cold Lonely Train has marked #1 spot in Japanese indie rock radio chart, Usen, which made them buzzed up in Japan. They've also participated in the world biggest battle of the band, Emergenza Music Festival and won the second place. All the buzz from media outlets and labels landed them with an opportunity to provide a cover song, Lounge Act in the Nirvana's tribute album, Never Mind in 2012. "We are not really famous in Japan yet. ( we are going to be!) so we had to choose a song that was left on the table after other artists chose theirs. I was happy with the choice it was the song that I wanted to play, but other members wanted to play other songs. Kenta rearranged the whole song and brought it to the band." The cover song is spiced up with their signature funk taste to it."






This contribution has made them even hotter among major labels, and finally Four Minutes Till Midnight was signed by Universal Music Japan. " It was a great timing that our band got signed with a Japanese major label ( to be back in Japan.)"

After landing in the homeland, the band was physically parted but not spiritually,one of the hardest things for Yu-suke was to adjust back in the Japanese culture. "I've been living in the states so long that when I went to back, I was shocked. Japanese people are very shy. Japanese audience seem like when bands are playing the song, they kinda watch it and taking all in, whereas American audience are lively aggressive. So it can be very intimidating to play in Japan. Everyone is watching and being very attentive. In America, it's so much like a party. I miss the culture here and I wish I could move back to the states. I love Japan, but I prefer the North American culture better."

They've released their debut album through Universal Music Japan last year. One of the songs off the album Brothers has such a strong message to it along with its alluring funk rock melody."Kenta made the melody line of the song first. At the beginning of the song, there is a old man narrative. Eli works in a supermarket and he met the old guy in the store and he talked about WW2 with him and he did an interview with him and recorded the narrative portion and we used it in the song."




After this Japan Nite U.S tour, Four Minutes Til Midnight has a recording plan lined up. "We are going to record a new album next month in Mexico. It is set to be released in Nov 2014. I feel lots of pressure now that we are living in different countries that we can't record or practice often. But I hope the recording in Mexico will go well." 

March 23, 2013

CMW review: Day 2 and 3 by Idio Teque

While Kanae was super busy interviewing all Japanese bands/ artists who are in town for this year's Canadian Music Week, my dear friend, Idio Teque has offered some reviews of what he witnessed over the last few days. Check it out! 

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Meet The Blue - March 20th @Gladstone

I'll admit, this is the first time I ever made my way the North Ballroom at The Gladstone Hotel, and it was somewhat at a whim. Wednesday night of CMW didn't have a whole lot that caught my eye, but this show had a few bands from Europe so it seemed like a worthwhile event to attend. This is what's listed on the CMW website about Meet The Blue:

"Meet the blue are an alternative indie duo from Ireland, the band has been in existence in some way or another since the beginning of time. Playing shows and house parties in Ireland, self releasing demos and singles and finally releasing their debut EP in 2012 after a busy year of shows and recording in Toronto. Meet The Blue is Darragh O' Sullivan (guitar/vocals/synth) and Paul Cosgrave (drums) The band is currently working on a follow up EP."

Originally from Ireland, they've made their home in Toronto recently, and while there were not a whole lot of people at The Gladstone, they definitely rocked out hard and brought to mind such power duos as DFA1979 for those of you who like comparisons. While not the most original thing I've ever heard, hearing an Irish voice bellowing is not something you'll see often in Toronto. Definitely a band to look out for in 2013. And just when I thought I'd seen the best act of the night, Denmark's Reptile Youth took the stage.

Reptile Youth - March 20th @Gladstone

From the opening of the first song, I knew these guys meant business. At this point, there were maybe 30 people sticking around, and most of them were lingering near the back, but as their first song, "Black Swan" filled the venue, lead singer Mads Damsgaard Kristiansen (Danish enough for ya?) held out his arms wide for almost the entirety of the song in a manner that was simultaneously menacing and inviting. It didn't seem gimmicky at all, this guy is legit.

Their music is electro-pop, but not the bubble gum type; these guys are as edgy as they come. The songs are infectious, and surprisingly enough, you pretty much know the words to every song after you hear it once. Every breakdown was an opportunity for Mads to do some serious dancing that resembled autistic frenzy. When he first addressed the audience between songs, he said in a very European accent "Vee are from Denmark, and vee didn't travel halfvay around the vorld to play a shit show" at which point he leapt off the stage and shook people until they moved to the music. Literally, he shook them. And jumped on them. And terrorized them a little, I imagine. But it worked, because the audience finally woke up and crowded to the front to enjoy the rest of the night. The lead singer continued to literally bounce off the walls in such a fashion that I was concerned for his well-being, but suffice it to say, this is not the kind of thing Toronto gets to see often, and when I spoke to the guys after the set, I promised them I'd be there for their show the next night at Annex Live, which takes us to Thursday, March 21st.

Highs - March 21 @Annex Live

I know they say that if you have nothing good to say, don't say anything at all, but I'll say a few things. These guys are listed as "Indie, Pop, Surf" on the CMW website. I got there about halfway through their set, and maybe they were done with the surf portion of their set by that time, but I don't really understand how anyone could classify their music as surf. It's Indie Pop, and pardon the redundancy, but it's very generic Indie Pop. I guess you have to give them credit for wearing some kind of war paint on their faces and matching arm bands and taking breaks to pound on floor toms, but seriously, doesn't everybody who has nothing original to offer resort to the matching outfits and floor tom schtick? But more on that later, next up was Reptile Youth once again.

Reptile Youth - March 21 @Annex Live

I ran into the guitarist from the band on my way in, and he was really excited that we came back. It's kind of crazy how nice these guys are when they have such an edgy performance. I couldn't help but smile when I saw that there was a decent crowd already there, but I was a little worried that the lead singer would injure himself, because the Annex Live is not a big open space like the Gladstone, it's got all kinds of perilous steps and railings and tables everywhere, and just as they were setting up, I couldn't help but think that this polite crowd of young Torontonians does not know what they're in for. Mads was jumping on tables, jumping on people, and at one point he tried to jump off of what he thought was a wall behind the curtain to the side of the stage only to realize that there was nothing but empty space, and he took quite a tumble. But right back up he got. The crowd was a lot more into it this time, but not enough for Mads! When he attempted to crowd surf, as I predicted, people moved out of the way and he might actually have lost a tooth landing face first on a railing. He crawled back onto the stage, shook his head a few times, walked backstage to wipe up, and came right back in 30 seconds spitting out a little bit of blood. And then off came the t-shirts and with a renewed ferocity they continued on to their outro, and man, this was one hell of a show, as any who was there that night will tell you. Look out for Reptile Youth, because these guys can put on a show. Also, their songs are quite catchy!

Wildlife - March 21 @The Great Hall

I was thinking that The Great Hall would be packed since there was little secret to the "Secret Guest" slated for 1AM as anyone with a smartphone and a twitter app will tell you, but there was no lineup to speak of and that was ok with me. PS I Love You had just played, and since I had seen them numerous times, I elected to catch Reptile Youth instead, but I'm sure they did a great job as they usually do. And so Wildlife begins their set. Once again, if not nice things, then few things shall I say. It could just be because I had just witnessed the genuine ferocity and authenticity of Reptile Youth and was anticipating the greatness of the "Secret Guest" to follow, but everything about Wildlife seemed painfully contrived, from the ample use of floor toms (you see a trend here?) to the arm bands (you think I'm kidding, right?) to the all-black dress-up (I'm not making this up) to the absolute generic nature of their music. But hey, twitter was a-buzz with posts about these guys, so they must be amazing and I must be wrong! Now, onto...

The Darcys - March 21 @The Great Hall

It's no secret that I think that The Darcys are the best band out of Toronto right now, bar none. The crowd had filled to its fullest for these guys, and for good reason. Their music is well thought out, purposeful, and above all, unique and original. Just take a listen to their self-titled LP which you can still download for free from their website. The sound guy was obviously outmatched because their monitors were feeding back a bit, but when you've got 2 pedal boards that can each sink a ship and 2 keyboards (no Rhodes this time) and samplers out the arsehole along with bass and drums to boot, this is not a sound guy's fantasy, and this guy was no Kip (a la Horseshoe Tavern). But, The Darcys prevailed, opening with Don't Bleed Me and having all their songs segue seamlessly into each other was eargasmic, as anyone with ears who was there will corroborate. As promised they played two new tunes off of their forthcoming release, which I believe will be released in Fall (release it already!!) and they did not disappoint. Lead singer Jason Couse exercises his vocal range to the fullest, and indeed, guitarist Mike LeRiche does the same on these new songs, and I like that they sound like Darcys songs but are definitely a bit of a departure from the first LP, and in a very good way. These guys never struck me as the kind to repeat themselves, and I just got even more excited for this new record. When they closed with Edmonton To Purgatory, you better believe the crowd was singing along with them. My personal favourite part about the way they play that live now is Jason's keyboard mashing leading up to the acapella bit. Amazing. I can't say enough good things about these guys, and there was no way any band could follow that up, but unfortunately, there was yet left a band from Dublin, Ireland who had to try.

Heritage Centre - March 21 @The Great Hall

Playing at 2AM on a Thursday in Toronto is tough, especially if the venue is not Horseshoe or Lee's, and Heritage Centre had their work cut out for them. There were maybe 20 people left at The Great Hall for their set, but they still gave it their all. It wasn't terribly original, but they are by far a lot more worthy of twitterbuzz than many buzzing bands, I'll say that about them. Their music is similar to Weezer as it says on the CMW website, and they were definitely fun and easy to listen to. So for those of you who like "chill out" music, give these guys a try. And thus ended night 3 of CMW for me, looking forward to a few more nights to follow.

March 22, 2013

CMW Review: Japan Nite Josy


"We are saying German words in the states. I guess we got used to using them"- It sounded like Japanese psychedelic girl rock band, Josy had a great time in Germany while staying there for two weeks prior to the Japan Nite U.S Tour." The audience was so warm and they listen to our CD." Josy had multiple shows in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, which made them keen to explore more cities in Europe such as France and Berlin in the future. It was also the first time for them to participate at SXSW despite the fact that they've joined Japan Nite tour in the past. "It was so exciting and the city was filled with music everywhere we went."  

It's been three weeks on the road and their month long world tour is coming to the end after a few more shows with Japan Nite. "Toronto's (audience) was very similar to Japan. But by looking their faces I knew that they were listening to our song attentively so I was glad that we made it to Toronto. Not only was it the first time for us to play here, but also it was for Japan Nite as well. So I hope that we can come back to Toronto sometime in the future in summer."

When the girls of Josy showed up on stage confidently and dressed up colorfully, I felt that the audience was wowed by their stage appearance and they rather couldn't figure out what to do with the dynamic of their performance. The lead singer, Kumi, invited them to step closer to the stage. However the shy audience moved only inches and left some space between stage and the crowd. Yet, it didn't stop Josy rocking out the fullest. Their funky and fetching melodies enhanced by Kumi's powerful vocal captured my attention for the entire time. (It's so hard to believe that the compelling voice was coming out from such a tiny little girl.) Their stage presence was so strong that I didn't want to miss any bit of the show. While I was taking pictures, I couldn't help noticing the expression that Kumi had throughout her performance, which was very engaging and alluring. 

The band name, Josy isn't referring to the English name "Josy" It is a made-up word in Japanese based on Joshi and Josei -" Joshi (girl) and Josei (woman) "We can have both feelings of a woman and girl and also enjoy as a girl or woman forever. I think every woman can relate to that to some extent that sometimes they want to be playful like a girl forever and we wanted to express it through our music." Their style is hard to express in one word or one genre. It was just like their expressions throughout their performance changed with each song: Sometimes they appeared as cute girls, other times they had a face of a strong woman. Josy is the perfect example of the new generation of Japanese Yamato nadeshiko. 

CMW Review: Japan Nite Jake Stone Garage


"SXSW was such an awesome event. We had a day off during the festival and walked around the city to see various bands performing on the street. No matter where we went to, we were able to listen to music. It was as if we were living in music. I was so glad that we could be the part of the festival this year." 

Acclaimed by the lead singer/guitarist, Satoshi Watanabe of Japanese rock trio from Hokkaido, Japan, Jake Stone Garage. He was impressed with the impact of  SXSW and Japan Nite despite the fact that there was some delay of their flight due to the bad weather in Japan, which caused them to cancel one of the showcases at SXSW. Yet, they were still able to enjoy the festival and the Japan Nite tour in U.S and join the rest of the crew that arrived in Toronto for Canadian Music Week. 

"Toronto audience reminded me of Sapporo crowd."(Sapporo is their home town. It is the capital city of Hokkaido Prefecture, located the northern island of Japan. I know you recognized the name of the city by the famous Japanese beer.) "Not only the climate, but also the reaction of the audience was similar. They were very cool. When we performed in Columbus, U.S, the audience reacted to the music directly and expressed the excitement through their body, however, New York was very cool and Toronto was somewhat like that. But they were very attentive and eagerly pay an attention to every detail. I thought I was playing in Sapporo." 

Jake Stone Garage piercingly kicked off their set with thunderous guitar riffs and heart throbbing bass and drum beats. The Toronto audience didn't jump right into the overdrive immediately, however, their eyes were nailed on the stage for the entire set, trying to study their performance thoroughly. Their raw and vigorous performance even made the attentive Toronto crowd start to head bang a little. (It started off very settled like a baby headbang, but expended gradually.) The show heated up with Nirvena's cover song, Smells Like Teen Spirit. When I heard the intro of the song, I literally screamed and jumped around. "I thought it would be a great idea to bring a song that everyone knows as they probably haven't seen us live before. " Said Watanabe. Yes it was a brilliant idea! 

Jake Stone Garage consists of a great balance of the melodic sensation and boisterous rock n' roll tunes and it was so hard to stay still while taking pictures. (Not only they were moving like there is no tomorrow but I couldn't resist bouncing with the music!)

I really really hope that Jake Stone Garage will be back for NXNE as they can showcase to the Canadian audience what Japanese Rock N' Roll is.

March 21, 2013

CMW Review: Chihiro Yamazaki + Route 14


After Jake Stone Garage rocked the hell out of the venue, the atmosphere drastically changed with the appearance of Chihiro Yamasaki and her band, Route 14. Chihiro is best known as a trumpeter of Japanese brass band, Tokyo Brass Style who have successfully sold 20,000 CDs in Japan. Yet she started a new project in summer 2010 being in the spotlight as a new instrumental band with Route 14. 

They opened up the set with the cover of Nini Rosso's Il Silenzio (Silent), The up-tempo version of the tune made the audience groove instantly. Chihiro was the centre of the attention as soon as she put her feet on the stage. She was cuter than a teddy bear and shinier than starlight. She dressed up in  her A-line dress and braided hair pined up by a hair buckles with a white flower. The moment that she commenced  playing her trumpet, it was as if the entire venue was lighted up brighter. I couldn't take my eyes off her, not only because of her cute appearance, but also it seemed that she was having the most fun among all of us being on the stage. She hopped and jumped around with the orchestral melodies that Route 14 crafted. She calls the band instrumental style as "Singing Instrumental." I sometimes find it hard to listen to instrumental songs for an entire set, however Chihiro Yamasaki + Route 14 was different. Their expression through their instrument sang louder than words. 

They've also played some original songs. One of which I recall vividly was a song called, Ninjin (Carrot) that Chihiro composed. The jubilant tune was a reflection of her personality and adoration toward music. 


CMW Review: Japan Nite-Pirates Canoe



My first night at this year's CMW started off with Japan Nite at Clintons last night. Japan Nite is an annual US tour with various Japanese bands organized by Audrey Kimira since 1996 and their showcases are best known for their SXSW appearance. (Hats off to Audrey for being so passionate about the bands and thinking the best for them.) It is not an understatement to say that it started off slowly compared with any other US shows (At the SXSW showcase, it usually packs not only the venue itself, but also the balcony.) However, these five bands deployed their uniqueness and enthusiasm at the fullest during the showcase.

The first performer of the night was Kokyo based Roots/Americana trio, Pirates Canoe. All cutely dressed in green, each member crafted seamless laces of exquisite melodies from their strings. The lead singer and guitarist, Reika Hunt cast her flawless vocal that floated in the air of the venue with Sara Kohno`s banjo. On the top of that Kanako Keyaki sugarcoated it with the dulcet fiddle verse that made the sounds more resonating. The balance of the trio was very cohesive and relaxing. It was as if they took the audience to a field trip to a beautiful country side. Between the music, Reika impressed the audience not only with her more-fluent-than-Canadian- English, but also with the traditional sounds of Americana that's hard to find in Japan. Pirates Canoe ended their set with an instrumental tune that withdrew the audience to the field trip again and I wished that it would never end. 

March 19, 2013

CMW Preview 2013: Spotlight on Japan



I couldn't be more stoked to participate in this year's Canadian Music Week after finding out that Japan was in the spotlight this year. Last year, only two Japanese bands, Rize and Fade, made it to CMW, who I was fortunate enough to interview and review.

This year's Canadian Music Week is more enthralling than ever. One of the reasons is CMW is going to host the very first Japan Nite in Toronto. Japan Nite is the best known during SXSW, where a number of Japanese artists showcase their mind-blowing performance to the North American audience during the endless nights of the festival. My favorite band of all time, GO!GO!7188 has participated in the past.

This year, Japan Nite has extended their legs over to the Canuck Land for the first time with Jake Stone Garage, Josy, Chihiro Yamazaki +Route 14 Band, Four Minutes Til Midnight, and Pirates Canoe at Clinton tomorrow night, Wednesday, March 20th. It's only $10 at the door or you can grab a wristband to check out countless performances across the town this week.





March 11, 2013

July Talk Meets Southern Souls


I almost jumped out of my chair this morning when I found out about this stellar collaboration.- Toronto rock N' rollers, July Talk have teamed up with Southern Souls,  a Hamilton based project who capture live performances by local artists, founded by Mitch Fillion. July Talk perform two songs off their debut album, I've Rationed Well and Paper Girl.  This video captures the enthralling raw feeling of their live performance so well that I was nailed down in front of my computer for the whole time. Give a listen from the below link.


March 10, 2013

Buke and Gase: General Dome



New York experimental noise rock duoBuke and Gase have unleashed a new music video, General Dome. Their new album was released early this year and the duo have been on the road across North America and heading to Europe in this Spring.


Buke and Gase consist of Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez who maneuver peculiar synth beats an percussion which craft peculiar yet riveting frequency that catches listeners ears from the very first listen. This compositional revolution should be well noted by anybody who adores noise rock. Give it a listen! 



The Belle Game: Wait Up For You


Vancouver based dark pop group, TheBelle Game's new single, Wait Up For You has been on a heavy rotation on my playlist lately. This single is off their debut album, Ritual Tradition Habit, which is set to be unleashed on April 16th, 2013 via Boompa Records and Bella Union. The cinematic music video features a story of two women in a small village back in 70', where the diversity in sexual preference wasn't well accepted. The drumroll at the beginning escalates the intriguing pop sensation with resonating vocal. 
If you are around for SXSW, The Belle Game is performing two official showcases during the festival. Check them out. 

Thursday March 14 - Midnight @ Brass House, 15 San Jacinto Boulevard
Saturday, March 16 - 5 p.m. @ Friends Bar, 208 E 6th Street, (part of the BC Showcase at Canada House)


March 8, 2013

Callan Furlong: The Fool I Was Before


A Toronto based youngster, Callan Furlong is ready to showcase his very first EP, The Fool I was Before to the world . The alt country singer/songwriter is only 21 years old, but his music is infused with good old mellow country tunes, that you wanna listen to on the bench in the country side. (Just like I am doing right now in Spicewood, TX before hitting the super busy SXSW.)

You can have a listen from the below link. Also If you are in town, He is playing a EP release party at the Dakota Tavern on March 14th. 


March 3, 2013

Introducing The Beau's Mixtape

One of the Toronto's best free news papers, The Grid has teamed up with Beau's All Natural Brewing Co. to launch The Beau's Mixtape this last week! It is scheduled to be released every 3 months and it is filled with Canada's finest indie rock bands, including The Balconies, Paper Lions and Hollerado. From the link, listeners can stream and download the tracks! ( What a generous offer!!!) You don't need to look for your favorite playlists from anywhere else such as Songza and Grooveshark anymore!!!






February 26, 2013

CMW Preview 2013: Esther Maria


Can you believe that this year's Canadian Music Week is less than a month away? Time flies! This year it takes place across the city with countless talented musicians from all over the world between March 19th-24th. Music Psychos will ensure to provide you an inside scoop of the festivals.



My first CMW preview of the year is Denmark singer songwriter,

With the recent release of her new album, The Abyss, Maria has showcased her cinematic portrayal of each story with her profound and plaintive vocal. Her voice echoes with soft-touch guitar jams as if the voice was crafted not from vocal cords, but the bottom of her heart, while her soul is wrapped in a leaf of words. The level of expression that she can bring to a song is superb. 



Watch her music video, Arms Above 

Esther Maria is performing during CMW on Saturday March 23, 2013 @ 8:30PM
Tranzac (Back Room), 292 Brunswick Ave. (19+ All wristbands accepted)




Born Ruffians: Needle


Are you one of the 100,000 listeners who embraced the release of the new single, Needle by Toronto pop rock band, Born Ruffians? The single is off of their new album, Birthmarks, which is set off to be unleashed on April 16th. 

The intro has a Fleet Foxes reminiscent melodic folk harmony, which leads to an intriguing pop sensation. I'm sure that I am not the one one who is dying to hear the entire album and see them at a live!  


February 17, 2013

Kishi Bashi at the Great Hall on February 11th, 2013


" We've decided to come up to Toronto in the middle of winter and we are so glad that we made it"-excitedly exclaimed K Ishibashi, Seattle born violinist, who leads an experimental pop project,  Kishi Bashi. They'd safely arrived to Toronto in the severe winter weather in the North East region and wowed its audience at the Great Hall on Monday Feb 11th. 

The stage was gradually filled up with smoke prior to the set as a part of the visuals, which created a very artistic feel in the venue. The excitement reached its peak when a blond soft mohawk violinist, lushly dressed up in a black shirt with bold bow tie and spandex, appeared on the stage with two fellow musicians. He instantly started crafting beautiful melodies with his violin and his dreamy voice, while his members sugarcoated it with lively banjo, keys and percussion.

When I listen to the latest album, 151a, I imagined his performance to be created by tons of musicians filling a stage (sort of like a orchestral setting.) Instead, only three talented musicians maneuvered their instruments while K looped layers of flawless violin waves, his mellifluous harmonies and captivating beatbox, which expanded the sounds of the trio to the fullest. When they performed quieter songs, such as Wonder Woman, Wonder Me and I am Antichrist to you, the entire venue was withdrawn to the world of Kishi Bashi, where a pin drop can be heard. On the other hand, the audience enjoyed dancing to the jubilant up-temp tunes, including Bright Lights. "I wrote a song back in 1987 about the Orinoco River..." Jokingly introduced the cover song, Orinoco Flow by Enya,  K sang it as if he put his heart out on the song. He finished his set with a resonant melodic sensation, Manchester, which added the emotive finish to the breath-taking show. 

Kishi Bashi's latest album is called 151a, which is pronounced it as "Ichigo Ichie."-(一期一会) This word means one time in one life time. The concept of the word derived from the world of Japanese tea ceremony- the motto for tea master to make each tea serving unique and special. In this world, it is almost impossible to gather the same people in one room again, especially a big show like this one. The experience of Kishi Bashi was definitely served as Ichigo Ichie, which will always stay somewhere in my memory.

February 10, 2013

Acres of Lions: Bright Lights


Victoria BC based pop rock band, Acres of Lions  are keeping them hectic, yet excited for the upcoming months. They've recently announced their third album release in the upcoming spring,  two years since they wowed us with their sophomore album, Collections

As a sneak-peak of the new release, the band has decided to drop a single, Bright Lights off the album on February 12th. They didn't forget about the fans who’ve been patiently waiting for the new release. You can listen to their single via their Facebook page (All you have to do is to like their FB page.) Go to their page ASAP and add their buoyant song on your playlist! 

Acres of Lions are performing in Toronto on March 21st at Dakota Tavern. (check out their full lists of this Spring tour from their website.)



Old English: Pross & Kahns


Toronto experimental pop project, Old English, has just released their first album, Prose &Kahns on February 5th. It's been a long journey for them to release this album as it took three years while working on the album in six cities, three countries and countless collaborators, totaling twenty people. Starting off in the bedroom of the lead singer, Matt Henderson the band expended its scale to a full band shortly after to pursue their musical path.

Old English has crafted songs which breathe in raw feel, yet it leaves a strong connection to memories at the back of my head with its beautiful melodies and narrative lyrics. They've selected the best 11 song out of 27 tunes written for this new album. You can stream and purchase the album from their Bandcamp site  Check it out! https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/images/cleardot.gif






The Rest: Always On My Mind

Hamilton based rock band, The Rest, have unleashed their third music video off the record, SEESAW. As the band members have been keeping themselves busy with the series of video releases, where they are going to create a music video for all the songs in the album. This is my favorite song of the album by far! Be sure to check out the beautiful cinematography by the director  Karl E. Richter along with the emotion provoking melody. 

February 4, 2013

Jane's Party: Til You Got Yours


One of the most exciting parties in Toronto is Jane's Party.-Toronto based pop rock quartet who embrace melodic sensations through their harmonies and catchy chorus that reminds me of classic pop rock bands such as the Beatles and the Band.

Jane's Party spent 2012 playing countless shows in the support of their 2011' EP release. They've recently unleashed a new single, Til You Got Yours. I was all ears to get a taste of their new release and it exceeded my exception by far with less poppy, yet more raw and matured sounds of the new song. This groovy 60's pop song epitomizes their ability to craft the perfect balance of bare-bone harmonies and alluring guitar jams.  It is just a matter of time until Jane's Party will sow their infectious tunes to more listeners. 


February 3, 2013

Illitry: Goshen


Hamilton alternative/experimental rock duo,Illitry unleashed their first single, Goshen, which is now available on their Bandcamp site.

This song kicks off quietly with a tide of synth verse, then slowly brings the melodic melancholic vocal, which floats in with emotional resonance. The collision of raw feeling and sweet voice sparks as it progresses and reaches the emotional vertex, which was a reminiscent of Death Cab for Cutie. Check it out 





January 30, 2013

Ty Segall: Twins


It is not an overstatement to say that 2012 was the year of Ty Segall. Orange Country rock n' roller somehow managed to release three albums last year and spent endless hours on the road, while participating in a number of festivals such as SXSW, CMW, and NXNE.  I found his name included in best-of articles throughout the year wherever I go.




Segall kicked off 2013 with a North American tour in support of his latest album, Twins and released a brand new peculiar video, Thank God For Sinners. This song indicates that this young gun is not confined within his main genre of lo-fi garage rock, which set him apart from other musicians by far. Sparkles of glam rock in the tune shine through the entire song and spices up his psychedelic garage melodies. When I first saw his performance of this song on Conan last year, I got goose pumps all over. His charismatic performance reminded me of the moment that I witnessed Jack White on TV when I was teen. (White Stripes at the time) That's how excited I am for Segall to see what he can deliver in 2013. 


If you would like to witness what I mean in person, you are in luck. Ty Segall is performing on Wednesday, February 6th at the Phoenix Threatre.