Japan Nite US Tour 2008

jnheader.jpgA look at 6 bands from the land of the rising sun, taking a trip Stateside this March.


Following on the heels of the Japan Nite showcase at SXSW, Benten Records Tokyo once again brings the finest in Japanese rock n’ roll on the road for the annual Japan Nite tour. Read below for more on this year’s adventurous lineup, and visit www.myspace.com/japannite to sample the bands for yourself!


Petty Booka : [Myspace] [Website]

I don’t know how well Kentucky bluegrass grows in the Japanese countryside, but one thing’s for sure: Japanese bluegrass sure sounds great in the hands of ukulele-playing duo Petty Booka. The pair’s latest album Tokyo Bluegrass Honeys (their eleventh in a 13 year career) features bluegrass renditions of songs from across the American pop spectrum, from Alan Jackson’s country rave-up "Don’t Rock the Juke Box" to a fiddle-fueled run through Earth Wind & Fire’s "Getaway." There are other weapons in Petty Booka’s arsenal, however, including the steel drum-laden, "Under The Sea"-esque calypso version of the Kinks’ "Come Dancing," but the best moments are when the music takes a backseat to let the flawless vocal melodies take over. UB40’s mellow "Please Don’t Make Me Cry" is a heartbreaker, but it’s the reimagining of the Clash’s "Lost in the Supermarket" as a gorgeous, mournful ballad backed by just an acoustic guitar and mandolin that will really stick with you.


THE EMERALDS : [Myspace] [Website]

Self-described "original 21st Century International Love&Peace Rock Band," the "Japanese SAMURAI Rock n’ Roll" of the Emeralds is well known around Austin, with four consecutive SXSW appearances already under their belt and a series of successful tours, including a stint opening for Peelander-Z in 2005. The Emeralds have the sound of a tried-and-true power trio, with Osuke’s rumbling bass and Akio’s crackling drums building a solid foundation for Kazuya’s serpentine surf guitars and tongue-twister vocals on songs like their new rock n’ roll rave-up "Kiss Me Baby." Though they have a bit more of a classic rock flavor to their sound than the Pillows, fans of that power popping J-rock band will find much to like in the Emeralds.


ketchup mania : [Myspace] [Website]

Singer Hiro may have a cute, girlish voice, but don’t let that fool you: ketchup mania are no toothless pop band. Dai’s guitars blazing fast guitars hit with heavy metal fury on the shoutalong single "Bad! Bad! Bad!" and Yosei’s liquid-groove bassline adds a funky flavor to the ska-punk of "Pink Water," but it’s Wani’s rapid-fire drumwork, hitting with the machine gun precision of blink-182’s Travis Barker, that really seals the deal. This is pure, unadulterated female-fronted pop-punk at its finest.


detroit7 : [Myspace] [Website]

Karen O. would be proud of detroit7, a three piece rock outfit built around experimental arrangements and the distinctive vocals of frontwoman Tomomi Nabana. Where detroit7 distinguish themselves, however, is with their guitar solos, snarling, beastly things rung from the neck of Nabana’s infamous white, lefty guitar. The rest of the band are no slouches either, with Nobuaki Kotajima’s bass keeping it all together as Miyoko Yamaguchi’s crashing cymbals and disco-tastic drumming make the perfect bedrock on song’s like "Fatman Blues" and "In the Sunshine" for Nabana’s melodies, sung in English and catchy enough to drill their way into your head.

THE BEACHES : [Myspace] [Website]

The beach always means sand, surf, and good times, and if there’s one thing the band THE BEACHES stands for, it’s good times. After a decade touring the world as Jerry Lee Phantom, the group disbanded in 2006 (supposedly after they first heard MIA) and reformed as THE BEACHES. The band’s up-tempo, keyboard-driven reggae sounds like the sun-soaked good vibes of Sublime or Len played at triple-speed. With their second album Hana Hou (featuring tracks like the surprisingly Arabic sounding "wikiwiki") just released last summer, THE BEACHES have plenty of new material to help bring some fun-in-the-sun attitude to the tail end of winter ’08.


SCANDAL : [Myspace] [Website]

Not to be confused with that other Scandal (the Patty Smyth-fronted, "Bang bang, I am the warrior" one), the Japanese SCANDAL formed in August 2006 in Osaka while the band’s four members were still in high school. With four cute Japanese high school girls, you might think that substance would take a backseat to style, but not here. These girls have massive musical chops, with tightly constructed, catchy-as-all-get-out guitar-driven pop songs; think the Donnas, sans the hair metal window dressing. Their debut CD just reached Japanese store shelves in early March and the foursome already has two more CDs, an animated series, and this upcoming US tour under their belts. Expect them to conquer the world soon after. | Jason Green


Japan Nite US Tour 2008

March 16th (Sun) NEW YORK @Knitting Factory

March 17th (Mon) BOSTON @ TT The Bears

March 18th (Tue) CHICAGO @ Empty Bottle

March 19th (Wed) DENVER @ Hi Dive

March 20th (Thu) SEATTLE @ Hi Dive ( *ketchup mania is not performing here)

March 21st (Fri) SF @ TBA @ Independent

March 23rd (Sat) LA @ Knitting Factory


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