Sunday, June 10, 2007

Japan is Not for Sale!

Another fine sampler of bands who played Japan Nite during SXSW in 1998. These CDs were never released for sale but given away at SXSW events as promotionals for the bands who played at Japan Nite. Eventually, Japan Nite became so popular that a second event titled Japan Not For Sale had to be started as a result of the deluge of Japanese bands who wanted to perform during that week of insanity in Austin, Texas.

Tengoku Jack: They are drastic rock band from Japan! The literal translation of the band name is "Highjacking of Heaven." Two of the members of this band went on to form Noh-Suspend. They played a gig in Seattle about two years ago. More posts from these guys later as they provided some free music as gifts back in the late '90s. Their stuff can still be found in used bins in Texas despite the internet's complete erasure of their presence from the face of the earth.

The Kokessies: This band ended up breaking up in 2003 it seems. They had toured quite a bit from 1999 until the demise of the band. At this point, they splintered into two different groups: Pigeons and MAGO. Very cute gals playing very cute music. They actually rapped on stage.

O*N*T*J: Avant lounge music put together by Japan's best dressed transvestite keyboardist/band leader.

Balbora: Named after the famed film character Rocky Balboa, this band has actually played gigs at CBGB's. Crazy mixture of swing, punk, funk, blues, grunge, doom, and God knows what else. These guys kick ass and they don't quit!

Cocco: Cocco actually played the Japan Nite gig the year this sampler came out. Her performance is so emotional that the rawness of the sensation that she generates on stage reaches right out and touches you. The emotional honesty of her presence in the band is unlike anything that you will ever experience. She actually had to have her own bouncers to protect her from the hordes of would-be suitors and fanatical teenage Japanese-American girls. She doesn't really do any recording on her own anymore but she has been involved in side projects alongside other Japanese musicians.

Zoobombs: Here's a fucking crazy blender-full of genres wrapped up into one crumpled package- swaddled in funk, the blues, rock, and rap music. Who cares if they had to speak in English from a cue card? These guys and gal really knew how to work the crowd into a frenzy!

Smile Like Dog: This band had one album release on Benten Records and appeared on quite a few compilations. Since there aren't any photographs of them anywhere, they are shrouded in mystery. Their music is in the same vein as O*N*T*J and has been described as ""Pizzicato Five meets Violent Onsen Geisha." They combine a manic techno beat with Polysics-like synthesizer effects and banjo and then in the next song will throw in a few profanities accompanied by ukeleles and Hawaiian steel guitar. You've gotta hear it to believe it! Unfortunately, they have completely disappeared without a follow up band to track them down.

Riyu Konaka: Riyu Konaka spent her childhood in Chicago and New York and became heavily involved in music after returning to Japan in her junior high school years. This engendered within her an appreciation for the cultural diversity in her American classes and the need for this type of social diversity always rang in her mind as she grew older. She is not only a singer but poet/comedienne as well and enjoys writing lyrics and poetry in different languages.

Petty Booka: Listen to their famous rendition of Madonna's Material Girl right here on this compilation. You haven't heard American pop until you've heard it performed by a Japanese duet playing it on ukuleles.

Editing note: Did you know that the word ukulele has two spellings? Look it up!

Finally.... here's the CD!


wassonii said...

I have to have this for the ukes alone:) Thank you!

b3A7n1k said...

Yeah, these gals are pretty awesome. They've been touring in the US for years. See their website here:

Petty Booka

Mr.Tug said...

Thank you for posting this. I once owned this, having found it for sale in a used CD bin at a Seaville, NJ RadioShack in 1999. My house burnt down in 2006, I figured among the thousands of CDs I lost, this was one that I probably couldn't replace. This and the Ricky Watters 2-track rap CD he released when he played for the Seattle Seahawks. Your blog brings me hope. Thanks agsin.

Savi said...

Hey! I understand that this is an old post but could you refresh the CD share? I had this CD as a little girl (my dad brought it home to me) I'd really love to hear it.

Skillcrane said...

I was lucky enough to be at that show. There were two standouts. The first were Zoombombs, who kicked the ever-lovin' shit out of the audience with their crazy brand of rock n' roll. They were so enthusiastic that you just had to dig them. Even the jaded were moving around when they were playing.

The second stand-out was Cocco, who was one of the greatest performances I was ever lucky enough to witness. Raw & emotional is right. She was literally crying while performing a few of her songs. It was hard to have been in the club & not become one of either the "teenage school girls" or, in my case, a "potential suitor". I wanted to marry that woman by the end of the set.

I ended up getting tight with her management at the time, & she promised to show me around Osaka when I visited later that Summer. Sadly, my trip, & the site-seeing never happened due to being a broke college student.