Reviews: Aiha Higurashi, Sex Machineguns, The Boot Conductor

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9 juin 2006, 22h09m

More from my Japanzine review archives:

Aiha Higurashi
Platonic
Ki/oon Records

Why are solo albums such bring-downs? Ms. Higurashi has been rocking it as the front-woman for Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her for years now, and what possessed her to leave, we may never know. What we do know is that, predictably, the melodies are catchier, but the rough edges have not been so much as trimmed as sandblasted off with extreme prejudice. “YUMEMITAI” starts things off hopefully, with jerky guitar hooks and nice vocals in both English and Japanese. Then it comes time for guess the influences. “Till the Time Comes” is Cibo Matto all over (and in a good way), “Dead Horse” is the Cure note for note and “Living Source” is just SO YMO (circa 1985). Not to say that this is crap in any way, shape or form, but from Aiha, a veteran of one of the more daring and influential roots rock bands of past years, one expects a little more. Here’s to hoping for a little less sugar and a little more spice next time.


Sex Machineguns
Heavy Metal Thunder
Toshiba/EMI

Suppose, just suppose, it’s 1988. While exploring a glacial rift somewhere in the wilds of Northern Alaska, a Japanese heavy metal band is tragically buried alive in a freak avalanche. Fast forward to 2005. Fortuitously, two Eskimo children discover the remains of the band frozen solid in a block of ice. After application of an ancient Inuit salve and copious amounts of hot cocoa, the band miraculously revives and returns to Japan only to find that the true spirit of heavy metal has long since fled these islands (probably about the same time X Japan guitarist Hide was found hanging from a doorknob in 1998). Making it their mission to once again bring metal to the masses, Sex Machinguns are back, bringing you all the novelty speed metal songs about yakinuku, pandas and of course “Heavy Metal Thunder” you’ll ever be able to handle. Gotta hand it to ‘em, they rock hard and are technically PERFECT, but to be honest I’d much rather be listening to my old Feel So Bad and Kinnikushojotai records. Like every bad anime ending theme you’ve ever heard oak-aged and distilled to 150 proof...

The Boot Conductor
Healing Basics
Royalty

Vinyl junkies in Japan know that a determined music geek can find the most amazing selection of “rare groove” soul records here. The Boot Conductor (aka DJ Kiyo) knows this too, and Healing Basics, an amazing collection of 60’s and 70’s Motown, R&B and reggae, is nothing short of buzz-worthy. To be sure, the artists included here are often far from obscure, but track selection is as bizarre as it is inspired The orchestral vamping of “Ready Or Not” by The Delfonics provides a deft transition into The Jackson 5’s sitar-infused “Maybe Tomorrow”, and The Soul Children’s funky “Move” is a great prelude to the Alicia Keyes-sampled “Prove My Love To You”. And with both classic and rare cuts from Curtis Mayfield, The Sylvers, Heatwave, Aretha Franklin, John Hold, Graham Nash, Max Romeo and many others, skillfully mixed with hip-hop scratching and sampled interludes, you’ve got a booty call soundtrack for the ages. Although not as essential as similar compilations by David Holmes and Fantastic Plastic Machine, DJ Kiyo’s scratchy, straight-from-vinyl recording has just as much charm.


Aiha Higurashi
SEX MACHINEGUNS
The Jackson Five
Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her
The Soul Children
Curtis Mayfield
The Sylvers
Heatwave
Aretha Franklin
John Hold
Graham Nash
Max Romeo

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