Aug 27 2015

umbrella – Kinematograph (Review)


Review by Jen Wang


The latest mini-album from visual kei quartet umbrella opens with the cranking sounds of an old-fashioned camera projecting film. Indeed the aptly-named Kinematograph does provide a glimpse into the past—the early 90s to be exact, when shoegaze was all the rage. Those hazy guitars float from the intro, “Lumiere”, to the very end, yet umbrella manages to break free from the wall of sound to have a modern rock sound.

The strikingly romantic “Keihaku no Hito” features staccato violin and breathy vocals. The chorus breaks out of the softness but remains catchy enough to be perfect for a TV show or commercial. It ends powerfully with Yui’s voice going into an ethereal falsetto. The next song, “Skyfish”, layers on each band member’s role. Although there is dissonance, the repetitive melodies help maintain some sort of order. That is, until Shu hits a noisy guitar solo that is a bit jarring. The album continues to get heavier and faster, as Yui’s voice goes to a lower pitch for “Tenohira drop”. Sho’s drums go into an ominous march-like pace that adds to the dark mood.

“Zouka” is a song of contrasts, pairing the frenzy of punk rock with the dreaminess that pervades through the album. Shu goes from hard riffs to light strumming to a liberal use of the pedal. In the bridge, his guitar takes a backseat, as Hal’s bass duets with Yui’s falsetto. “Witch?” takes on a completely different tone with spooky electronic elements. Here the falsetto seems out of place as it lightens the mood, making the piece seem unsure. It’s as if the question mark is being sung, a musical version of upspeak that detracts from any haunting effect the howling interlude may have had.

For the finale, umbrella returns to what they know best. The distorted guitars in “Bokutachi ga egaita panorama” resemble what was featured in “Lumiere”. Although predicable, it is a nice way to come full circle (the title even does such with another camera reference). Like Kinematograph, it has some great moments that evoke shoegaze and other alternative rock sounds from a couple decades ago, but it falls under pretty typical J-rock.

Kinematograph / umbrella

Aug 25 2015

Budo Grape releases trailer for third set of 2015 singles


Nagoya’s Budo Grape has release a video trailer for their latest singles “Unmei no bus” and “Angou”. This is the third time this year that the Japanese new wave indies band has released a pair of new songs, following “4-3-2-1 Hi o Tukero”, “Zankoku Na Yasashisa”, “Hakase ni Soudan”, and “Kyou no kare Ashita no watashi”.

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Aug 25 2015

Kamijo Releases LINE Stamps


KAMIJO, who is celebrating his 20th anniversary from his debut this year, will release his first official LINE stamps. His official LINE account will open on the same day. The official LINE stamps will feature a charmingly cartooned KAMIJO with various expressions and phrases including his fan-favorite phrase, “Bonjour!”.

The KAMIJO stamps are on sale worldwide in the LINE app’s Creator’s Market as of August 20. 40 stamps will be included in the pack. KAMIJO’s LINE stamps are the first by a Warner music Japan artist to be released globally.

Aug 20 2015

TsuShiMaMiRe announces new album Abandon Human


Japanese indies girl punk band TsuShiMaMiRe has announced their new album Abandon Human will be released on October 7 from their self-created label Mojor Records, featuring 10 songs. A new music video from the album is also in the works.



Aug 19 2015

X JAPAN Offers Euro Tour Packages To Wembley SSE Arena Concert


Shortly after announcing their new studio album release, documentary film premiere and Wembley SSE Arena Concert event, X Japan announced special travel packages which will be made available to fans across Europe to be part of the London events. The travel packages will offer fans located across Europe an easy and cost-effective opportunity to travel to London for the X Japan’s album release event: #XDAY.

Detailed pricing for the travel packages will be announced soon. Fans can request more information as soon as it becomes available at:

VIP Packages from Live Nation will be available at a later date. For details regarding travel packages for territories excluding Japan and Europe visit

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