Monthly Archives: October 2013

jpop – The perfect music for preparing our trip

It wouldn’t be a blog about Japan without talking about Japanese music. I thought I’d share some of the bands we’ve been listening to while we get ready for our trip, some you might know, others I’m 99% sure you won’t have (unless you’re already into this kind of stuff of course).

If you’re here as a jpop / jrock fan, this isn’t in any order and it’s not intended to be a “top ten greatest bands ever” or anything like that, so feel free to comment if you want to recommend something but please avoid things like “OMG I can’t believe you picked Laruku over AKB LOL KTHXBAI” – there are forums for that ;)

If you love any of the bands so much you feel the urge to buy a CD, clicking the link below will take you to a great website, and help keep this blog going :)

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First Up, Base Ball Bear (AKA BeBoBe)

 

One of the things I love about a lot of Japanese bands like this is the talent and technicality invested in every member. Base Ball Bear are a recent discovery we made via NHK World’s J-Melo and they have an extensive back catalogue on Spotify; they have catchy bass riffs, complimentary backing vocals, interesting guitar melodies and tight drum patterns, but all gelled together in a digestible summer pop sound, with the occasional disco vibe thrown in for good measure. Their songs are the perfect accompaniment to the DIY we’ve been finishing around the house.

Number 2, Momoiro Clover Z (AKA MoMoClo)

To me, Momoclo are the epitome of J-Pop. They’re not particularly great singers, but what they lack in vocals they make up for with energy. The music is fun, the videos are imaginative and they have ex Megadeath guitarist Marty Friedman backing them up. They have a backstory, they’re Power Rangers style super heros on the weekend, they’re super-cheesy and they don’t care who knows it.

But then recently they flipped a switch. Single ‘Neo Stargate’ is fantastic; not in a ‘I love this it’s fun and cheesy’ way but in a ‘I want to put this on a commuting playlist and give it my full attention’ way. They’re fun, they’re catchy, that’s about it.

Moving on with CrossFaith

Recently these guys have been moving around the UK touring and playing festivals, so they’re probably the most well known on the list so far. When I first heard them I thought they were OK but dismissed them as another synth-metal band to put on the pile for later. Catching them live at this year’s Leeds festival was an instant 180. This live video gives an idea of why.

 

Finally for this post is one of Diana’s favourites. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu burst onto the Harajuku scene last year (or was it the year before…?) with the oh so typical ‘look at this kooky Japanese music video’ for Pon Pon Pon. She quickly became popular and released an album with one or two catchy tunes and a tonne of filler. Fast Forward a year and her 2nd release ‘Nanda Collection’ is completely different. The lyrics still make no sense, and the videos are still crazy. She makes me think of The Mighty Boosh with all of the strange characters that appear in the video, in particular getting drunk with…I’m not sure what it is… or in one of the more normal scenes gunning down the onion king while wearing a pink flower dress.

There are plenty more great bands in the playlist and I’ll be talking more about them in the future, but for now, just have a listen to some of the music and let me know what you think in the comments.

 

My Playlist:

 

Some recommendations from other people

Letting our house – it’s happening!

Things have moved a bit slower than anticipated with our big move to Japan. Nothing major has got in the way, but a culmination of smaller things has led to us taking a bit longer to get the plan moving.

Following a bit of decorating and fixing of DIY mistakes that we’ve put up with for the past five years, the house is now ready to start offering out to rent. So far, the process has been pretty simple; we invited three independent letting agents to give us an estimate, and have decided that, as we’ll be half way across the world, we would also opt for a managed service.

This basically means that for 10% (as an average, landlords may vary) of the monthly rent the landlord will act on our behalf to keep an eye on the place and fix any minor problems. If there are bigger problems, they’ll sort out a contractor. We opted for a company called Lets Go Professional because they only deal with rentals (rather than lettings and selling) and also after meeting the landlord that would represent us, we felt they offered the right amount of communication and involvement.

They did a great job of taking pictures and describing the house and you can see the listing here

To be honest it’s all a bit surreal at the moment, and although we’ve been trying to cut down on clutter for years, this move has been the final push. So far we’ve gotten through 5 boxes to the charity shop and about the same amount of junk to the tip.


The empty bedroom. Until last week those shelves were full of collectibles.

It’s also been quite mentally exhausting. I take after my parents as a bit of a hoarder and this has made clearing out hard for two reasons. One is the financial value of things; I’ve never been able to part with games knowing that I’m only getting a fraction of the value I originally paid out, but this exercise has been a great way to get my head around the idea that I’ve had my monies worth of entertainment out of them. The other, and more substantial mental block is the ‘that might come in handy later’ complex. For example, over the years I’ve been a collector of gaming goods, but seeing a stack of almost 100 GamesTM magazines in the middle of the living room floor that I knew full well we’re unlikely to be read again. It was time to let them go, but as ridiculous as it sounds every time I went to move them I’d flick through one and think about the retro articles, and what if I want to read them when I come back…

The next step to renting the house was cleaning it up. As you might expect, we have a fair amount of fun stuff dotted around. Our house is like one big otaku teenager’s bedroom, full of Hello Kitty, Totoro toys and Gundam model kits; hell we even have a projector set up in the bedroom for when we’re feeling particularly lazy, but we need to show the house for the home it could be, not what we’ve made it.

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So the rooms are empty, save for equipment we use every day like cameras and computers, the TV etc. and hopefully the next post will be in a few weeks to say we’re leaving!