Since picking up and moving to Japan to help Mrs S take care of a dying mother with ALS, numerous people keep asking me about life in Japan. It’s remarkably different in a lot of ways, but one thing that isn’t different is that good music can be found anywhere in the world. I’ve been with my wife for over 16 years, and let me tell you something. For most of us, music is usually one of the first things people initially bond on when making new friends and acquaintances. I’m sure you all know that when you meet or start dating someone new, most of us put our best foot forward. Remember the good old days of the “mix tape” being the thing that you would put your time and effort into in hopes of wooing a woman or a man? Perhaps you don’t, maybe I’m giving away my age even asking that question. Let me be real with you for a moment, and I know that I’m probably going to get a few boos from the peanut gallery. But there is an extraordinary amount of shitty music out there, especially over here in Japan.
Don’t get me wrong, I love it here, surely I do. But there’s more noise pollution that you could ever believe and the musical tastes of the majority of the public is rooted in absolute garbage like AKB48. Now I’m not trying to be a total dick, but a little bit. It’s one bad pop band after another pop group after another boy band after another terrible soloist. I would even go so far as to come right out and state clearly that most of what I hear when I go to the local grocery store or department store or electronics store is nothing short of being worthy of being labeled as straight up noise pollution. I know there’s plenty of Puffy Amiyumi fans out there in the USA who might disagree with what I’m saying here. But I’m not necessarily talking about them. I actually enjoy some of their cuts, not many but some.
However, let me hip you to someone that I do actually like. Shiina Ringo, 椎名林檎, is a pop-rock artist of Japan that I happen to really enjoy, mainly because she has a way of surrounding herself with strong musicians and producers. She puts on a great show, however, she’s not exactly what you might label as a big star. She’s well known, but like I said, people mostly tend to listen to garbage that gets crammed down their throats by the corporate overlords. When I first my Mrs S, she really did put her best foot forward. It wasn’t this, in fact we kinda discovered Shiina Ringo (椎名林檎) together. But she turned me on to a lot of music from the 1970s Japanese music scene, which also goes along with my other hypothesis about the true pinnacle of contemporary music was in the 1970s. I don’t care if it’s rock, pop, R&B, country, jazz, Latin, or Japanese music, the 1970s was this time of musical evolution that was occurring before corporate culture turned it to shit, but I digress…
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