detroit7 bassist Nobuaki Kotajima to leave the band in February 2012


On January 8, the following message was posted on detroit7’s official Facebook:

Dearest fans of detroit7,

We have an important announcement.
Our bassist, Nobuaki Kotajima has made his decision to leave detroit7 at the end of February, 2012.
Please find his message below how he has reached his decision. We are very sorry to announce this sad news, but we hope you understand his decision
and we appreciate your continued support.

Warmest regards,

Read complete story…

Dazzle Vision – Live at Sakura-Con 2010

She’s a killer on that stage.

Dazzle Vision – Live at Sakura-Con 2010

Limited Express (has gone?) – We love this country like banana (PV)

Limited Express (has gone?) – We love this country like banana (PV)

Long time, no see LE!

Anger and resilience re: 2011’s Tohaku earthquake disaster:

It’s funny, it’s pissed off, and the last shot of Yukari and her child makes it poignant.

exist†trace – Interview (2011) Pt. 3

Interview by David Cirone
August 3, 2011


exist†trace members Jyou, miko, Omi, Naoto, and Mally gave this interview on April 25, 2011, just 2 days after their debut American live show at Sakura-Con 2011.

In contrast to your normal heavy-rock style, your album “TWIN GATE” revealed a different side of exist†trace with the song “Cradle.” How did that song come about?

miko: I really challenged myself on this song. Recently, within myself, I decided I wanted to widen my desires, to try new things that I hadn’t considered before. In “Ambivalent Symphony,” there’s the song “Owari no nai Sekai.” That song was also a challenge. It’s a bright song, so writing it lifted off one of my chains. At that moment, I was able to think exist†trace can do anything. Up to that point I thought that we would only make dark songs, so I challenged myself even more with “Cradle.” I said to myself, “Make this!” The members were all supportive, but we all had questions, too. “How can we make this ‘exist†trace’?” And within the arrangement of the song, one by one we found our own ways to make it an exist†trace song.

Mally: Every time we play this song live, I feel that we’re growing.

miko: After the earthquake, we put comments on our website, and the music playing behind them was “Cradle”. Fans said they cried reading our messages with that music, that it gave them a lot of power. At that moment I was really happy that we made this song.

Jyou: Normally there are people that live their lives with a lot of worry. They’re sad and they can’t get back up. So there will always be morning. The imagery of “Cradle” is a mother bringing her baby to sleep with that reassurance. Honestly, if we went back in time to talk to ourselves at the time when we first formed the band and played “Cradle” for them, I think our old selves would be completely shocked!

How do you feel you fit into the visual kei genre? Do you think being defined as a visual kei band affects the perception of your music?

Jyou: In Japan, the popular music genres are really separated. There are people who won’t ever listen to visual kei just because it’s visual kei.

Mally: For us, for our band, we’re definitely identified with the visual kei genre. But we have a lot of regular rock fans, too. Sometimes we’ll go to do a live at a place where no visual kei bands normally play, and we go in just as we are and people are accepting of us as-is. No one’s looking at us weird because of how we’re dressed. They can honestly say our music is cool regardless of how we look.

miko: However, it isn’t a bad thing to be called a visual kei band. We like the power of this genre, and we like being able to surprise people with a song like “Cradle.” There are people that say they don’t believe a visual kei band made that song.

Jyou: Not everyone is like that. We’re still reaching new people, and we want to make fans from people who listen to all kinds of genres, but we want to do it without changing our style.

Do you feel you get more respect in the music scene because of your longevity?

Jyou: I wonder…? We’re just doing it the way we want to do it. There are people who accept us because of that, because we’re doing things our own way. But it’s really just up to us to do our best.

Naoto: I want to say “Yes” to that question. Because we’ve done so many live shows, people accept us. That’s a fact.


exist†trace – Interview (2011) Pt. 2

Interview by David Cirone
July 22, 2011


exist†trace members Jyou, miko, Omi, Naoto, and Mally gave this interview on April 25, 2011, just 2 days after their debut American live show at Sakura-Con 2011.

There’s a sexy moment in the music video for “RESONANCE” where miko…

All: Ohhhh! We know what this question’s about!

…where miko gently licks Omi’s neck. It’s a very popular scene among your fans. There are a lot of comments about it on YouTube.

(Everybody laughs.)

miko: In Japan, when we first released the video, it was instantly a topic–

Mally: Everyone was saying, “What’s miko doing???”

Jyou: We didn’t even see it when they were shooting — we saw it later! They were just… in their own world.

Mally: We were really shocked.

Naoto: Because those shots came out so good, something else we planned for Jyou got cut.

Jyou: But I had some other cool scenes, so I got over it.

Is there competition for “cool shots” in your videos?

Jyou: We’re all pretty competitive. We all want to have something cooler than everybody else.

miko: Sometimes, when we see the other members’ scenes, we say “Aw, man…! I have to beat that!”

Jyou: In the video for “TRUE,” Naoto got a really cool scene.

(Naoto gives an intentionally evil laugh.)

Jyou: I’m looking forward to seeing it.

Mally: The drums were shot at an interesting angle, too. I think it’s going to look great.

Naoto: But… the miko and Omi parts… we haven’t seen those yet–!

What can you tell about the relationship between the bass and drums in exist†trace? How do you work together when you’re creating a new song?

Mally: We start out with just a basic beat. Then when we feel solid about that, I’ll add some fill-ins. Naoto comes in and she adds things on top of that. She’ll push harder on a certain moment, then I’ll pull it back, or the reverse. I usually record first, so I actually have a lot of freedom, and the rest I leave up to Naoto.

Naoto: Mally starts, and there are certain kicks that are decided. I’ll match them and decide what to do, but sometimes there are things that shock me. On the day of recording, all of sudden the drum parts have changed. I think, “What am I going to do?”

Mally: I’m passionate even during the recording, so sometimes things change.

Naoto: She surprises me a lot. But I like that. You have to go with the flow.

So you two have a strong trust.

Mally: Yes. Definitely.

Jyou: From our point of view, it looks like they’re really good rivals. That type of feeling comes out in their music, that’s how we get such strong rhythm.

Naoto: We’ve known each other for so long, we know each other’s habits.

Mally: I’ve never said this to her, but sometimes I put in a weird kick rhythm. I think “What’s she gonna do?” It’s a challenge. I don’t tell her where, or anything.

Naoto: No matter what she does, I work with it. I think, “Bring it on!” But nothing ever comes out that I don’t like. She does really cool things.

miko: This is rare!

Jyou: They’re complimenting each other — they’re both probably shocked!


exist†trace – Interview (2011) Pt. 1

Interview by David Cirone
June 12, 2011


exist†trace members Jyou, miko, Omi, Naoto, and Mally gave this interview on April 25, 2011, just 2 days after their debut American live show at Sakura-Con 2011.

Over 3000 fans attended your first one-man show here in America. How did it feel?

Jyou: I was so shocked. I’m still shocked.

Mally: I really can’t believe it.

Jyou: It’s not just that there were a lot of people, it’s that we were so afraid that no one knew us here.

During your Sakura-Con live show, you performed the title track from your upcoming EP “TRUE”. Fans are familiar with your other songs from music videos and your previous releases, but this was a song that no one in the audience had ever heard before. Was it a risky choice to include it?

Jyou: Our major-label debut CD “TRUE” is coming out soon, and we wanted to give our fans a glimpse of the future of exist†trace, not just the past. The other day we just finished shooting the PV for this song in Japan.

Speaking of PVs, your music videos have been very successful in building your international audience. How important are music videos to the band?

miko: With videos we’re able to express ourselves through a visual format. Our songs all start just as audible experiences, so the videos bring a new dimension. For our overseas fans who can’t see us regularly in Japan, it’s the best way for them to get to know us.

You’ve talked about wanting to do more shows in America. Why is America an important audience for you?

Jyou: From the beginning, it was always our dream to go to America. Miko especially really loves America!

Mally: Because we’d already been to Europe twice, one of our dreams had been realized. So it’s natural for us think about the next dream. And here we are.

Naoto: Simply stated, 10 songs wasn’t enough. As soon as the last song finished, we all knew we wanted to do more.

Why do you choose to become a visual kei band?

Jyou: When we started, there were no female visual kei groups. We didn’t think there was any reason there shouldn’t be one.

Naoto: Growing up, I was really affected by visual kei style. This style allows us to express ourselves. It didn’t seem wrong that there could be a group of all girls, so why shouldn’t we be the ones?

Does visual kei allow you to create a new persona? Does this give you more freedom?

Mally: I agree, I can express myself more freely. I have a lot of complex feelings inside, but I can express myself this way. I think my true personality can come through, and it makes me feel really strong.

Omi: I can become the person I want to be. Within this style of performing, I’m doing what I want to do, and it’s got nothing to do with being male or female. It’s really fun. I love doing it.


TAIA – Seeds of Rain (Review)

Seeds of Rain

Review by David Cirone


TAIA’s fearless use of keyboard synthesizers and trademark mid-song tempo changes set them apart from the current wave of female-fronted J-Rock bands. The 6th band member on keyboards isn’t just an afterthought — it’s an essential part of their dramatic rock style. Their album Seeds of Rain foregoes mosh-pit metal in favor of thoughtfully designed and soulfully executed musicianship.

Opening tracks “Praise,” “Magnolia,” and “Asagiri” prove they’ve got their rocking hearts in the right place, but the blending of hard-rock guitars, ethereal keyboards, and SEIKA’s vocals solidifies in the album’s mid-section.

“Tapestry” and “Whiteout” are a powerhouse combination of tracks that start a magical and turbulent dream-like section within the album, diving deep into subconcious desires. The instrumental “Light pierce a cloud…” seems oddly placed at first until it connects seemlessly with “Ametosumato’s” hypnotic rhythms.

“Another Aspect” and “Shine, at last” are strong guitar-rock tracks to finish the album.

Recommended tracks: Kazamai, Tapestry, Magnolia, Another Aspect

Seeds of Rain - Taia
Download TAIA – Seeds of Rain on iTunes

tokyo pinsalocks – LU-LA Hallelujah (PV)

tokyo pinsalocks – LU-LA Hallelujah (PV)

For anybody who didn’t already know about tokyo pinsalocks’ not-so-secret crush on Devo, the Japanese all-girl techno-synth trio just released their new video for “LU-LA Hallelujah” from their January 2012 album Hallelujah Girls. ハレルヤガールズ

Drummer Reiko seems to be the most transformed by the neon makeover — it’s a creepy-cool effect that warps into the tokyo pinsalocks’ swirly, psychedelic space-travel visuals.

SpecialThanks – SEVEN LOVERS (Review)


Review by David Cirone


Indie Japanese pop-punk group SpecialThanks’ first full-length CD SEVEN LOVERS builds on the success of their earlier EPs SEVEN COLORS and SEVEN SHOWERS. The 14-track album puts vocalist/guitarist Masaki squarely at the forefront, but benefits from solid instrumental and background vocal support from band-mates Lupin (bass, backing vocals), Sean (guitar, backing vocals) and Nochi (drums).

Opening track “1.2.3! 4.5.6.!” shows off Masaki’s ready-for-anything, spunky attitude (standard for girl-fronted J-punk), but the album confidently shifts to a surprising melody in the next track “You = Music I Love”. This sets the stage for a series of songs revealingSEVEN LOVERS’ overall theme of personal relationships.

The lead single “Hello Colorful” is solid pop, with a chorus that will stick in your head all day. Masaki’s vocals are especially confident here and in the following “Morning Coffee,” where she repeats “I will do better than her” over and over through the song’s climax.

In “He looks tired these days,” Masaki finds clarity in a relationship that may be taking its final turn. Nochi’s drums and Sean’s guitar work add dramatic urgency and finally take over the end of the song where words no longer help the situation.

Just in case you think things have gotten too serious, the short-and-sweet “Make You Happy” shows the band’s aggressive side and slaps you in the face for a minute-and-a-half before making a quick getaway. “My name is SUN” is a trippy detour that betrays a Beatles-leaning sensibility. “Anything” is SEVEN LOVERS’ longest track (over 6 minutes) with a traditional verse/chorus structure, and it’s a credit to the versatilty of the band that it doesn’t seem out of place in an album scattered with power-punk.

With SEVEN LOVERS, SpecialThanks has created a fun and fast-moving album that signals a step forward past their pop-punk roots.

Recommended tracks: Hello Colorful, He looks tired these days, Anything, You = Music I Love

Buy SpecialThanks – SEVEN LOVERS at CDJapan

Seven Lovers - SpecialThanks
Download SpecialThanks – SEVEN LOVERS on iTunes

Onmyouza – Kongo Kyuubi (Review)


Review by David Cirone


Onmyouza is a 10-year legend for metal fans in Japan, and they dive deep into their mythological roots for their latest full-length CD “Kongo Kyuubi.” The album takes its title (meaning “Dazzling Nine Tails”) from the Japanese folklore character Tamamo-no-mae, and the jacket art features lead vocalist Kuroneko portraying the evil, nine-tailed fox spirit.

Magical chimes and a haunting male voice (bassist Matatabi) set the tone with opening track “Baku” (a dream-devouring creature in Japanese folklore) before “Aoki Dokugan” pushes the album into top gear.

“Kuzaku Ninpocho” (“Peacock Ninja Stories”) is a dead-on re-creation of the band’s live-show style, and “Izayoi no Ame” is perhaps the most iconic Onmyouza track on this album, with a signature trade-off between Kuroneko’s vocals and the dual guitars.

After a series of fast-paced shredders, Matatabi borrows the vocal spotlight for a soulful performance on “Banka” (“Elegy”), followed by the mixed-vocals of “Soukoku,” (fittingly titled, “Rivalry”). “Doukoku” (“Lamentation”) brings back the magical feeling with a measured, beautiful vocal by Kuroneko.

This theme of shifting balance and the pattern of “3” is a warm-up for the majestic 20-minute “Nine Tails” Suite (collectively titled “Kumikyoku Kyuubi”). “Tamamonomae” starts out with Kuroneko assuming the title character’s unapologetic point-of-view, and it’s a slow-build setup for “Shoumakyou” (the mirror that shows the true figure of evil). “Shoumakyou” features a fantastic guitar bridge and dual-vocal harmony, shifting into Matatabi’s animal-like growls. (Listen with your headphones to catch some precise drum and bass support on this track.)

“Sesshouseki” (“Killing Stone”) ends the trilogy with escalating guitar solos and a final lament from Tamamonomae before her betrayal is punished. Onmyouza pulls off this dramatic narrative with a confidence that couldn’t be achieved by a younger band, and there are multiple layers to discover with repeated listens.

-“Soukoku” is the opening theme of Nintendo DS game “Inugamike No Ichizoku”
-“Doukoku” is the ending theme of Nintendo DS game “Inugamike No Ichizoku”
-“Aoki Dokugan” is the main theme song for the pachinko game “CR Sengoku Ranbu -Aoki Dokugan-“

Recommended tracks: Aoki Dokugan, Banka, Kumikyoku “Kyuubi” (3 parts)

Buy Onmyouza – Kongo Kyuubi at CDJapan