Monday, May 25, 2009

I wish I had a picture...

There is a Bon Jovi slot machine in Japan now...

Unless you know what a pachinko parlor is you are probably wondering why there are slot machines in Japan (especially when gambling is actually "against the law").

Check out the Bon Jovi slot machine site here.

I actually met Richie Sambora once...which is why the title of this post is "I wish I had a picture" because I didn't take one...grrr.

New stuff

I haven't listened to them all but I am pretty happy with my new stack of CDs...some of which are shown above.  

HOWEVER, I'm gonna be honest... 

I haven't found anything new that really moves me.  

Everything is nice.  Nicely packaged,  nicely promoted, nicely recorded, but nothing grabs me the way music used to.

I hope this is just a faze, because music has been the vitamin of my soul for such a long time.  I'll suffer from malnutrition if this goes on.

In the meantime...I did get something that makes me smile big time.  

Tickets to Simon and Garfunkel's concert to be held in Osaka in July.
Yep, they are concerting together and I will be there to witness it.

This will be my second time to see them perform.  I am extra happy though because of this music draught I am experiencing. 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

lucky me

I have been very lucky in life...I suppose.  I have had jobs in the past that bestowed upon me "free stuff". 

When I worked at a bookstore/publishing importer, I got a bundle of copies (I miss this...) and when I worked in the radio business I got lots of sample CDs.  Some of the CDs were like this:
This is the latest promotional sample CD by Warner Music Japan.  (This CD is NOT for sale.)

Sample CDs are not always filled with the latest releases.  Sometimes they have old hits to help remind people in the media of upcoming concerts or other events of "promotional value".

Here are a few of my favorites from this CD...Green Day's new song (that goes on sale in Japan tomorrow) "Know Your Enemy", Keziah Jones "My Kinda Girl", Alain Clark "Father and Friend", Jack Penate's "Tonight's Today" is rather interesting too.

Sweetbox has a new singer...the prior vocalist for Sweetbox (till 1996) was Jade Valerie.  
I remember meeting her when she started her solo career.  She was so sweet (no pun intended) and I hope that she will continue to release new albums.  (I think she is working on releasing one right now...)

The gem on this sample compilation would have to be a re-mastered version of Mr. Big's "Next Time Around"...  The regrouped band will be in my area of Japan one month from today and I am psyched.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Melody Gardot's second album "My One and Only Thrill" is on sale from today in Japan!
It's absolutely precious!

Check out her website too!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sakamoto Ryuichi solo piano concert @ Osaka Sankei Hall March 28th

The concert began at 4 pm.
All of the lights were dimmed...even the emergency exit lights.
I could feel the blanket of darkness and silence cover the audience, its texture, soft and cool. It was a moment to prepare our faculties of perceiving sight, sound and touch. This was the gateway into the world of Sakamoto Ryuichi.

Through the dark and quiet came the sound of trickling water. Then a deep tremor, different notes slowly vibrating. Synthesizer? Not exactly. It was mechanical yet organic. The darkness slowly gives way to a glowing halo. The darkness becomes evanescent in the light and we can finally make out the lines of a man hunched over a grand piano, not at it’s keys but at it’s strings. He looks like a mad scientist reaching into his mechanical creation, tweaking at knobs and buttons. Unaware that he is being watched.
As I am mesmerized by the plucking of piano strings, the mad scientist figure seems to evaporate, molecules of human and piano become undistinguishable. Silence brings the end of the piece Glaciers from his latest album Out of Noise.

Sakamoto relocates before the keys, stunning my ears this time with the clear timbre of the piano, gradually evolving into music.

He continues to play several pieces from his latest album and then takes time to reach for a microphone as the applause rises like a wave from behind me. I finally realize I am in the 7th row, right in the center of my isle.

Sakamoto, aka Kyouju (Professor) is used to talking about his music since he has his own radio show and is not as shy as he looks. But he does not shout or over express, it is more like a friend mumbling about the oddities of the entertainment business and the passion he has for music.

His other passion, the environment is also profiled on the screen behind him.
Pictures reduced to slits of what look like flowers or butterfly wings… mere glimpses of our Earth.  

One of my favorite pieces from his latest album is played, Hibari (Skylark).
Random notes signifying the voices of newborn larks just learning to sing. Their songs overlapping, hitting flats, wavering, not confident yet. Gradually they become more competent the skylark learns the joy to sing.

He also performed pieces that have made him the icon that he is, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, Behind the Mask and the theme from the soundtrack to The Last Emperor.
A different set list can be found here.
(It is not the same as the March 28th concert although similar.)

After two encores, the lights went up and people started to leave…I was sent to another level of the building and passed into a back corridor leading to dressing rooms. A small room full of people were to be introduced to the man behind the magic.
You could see the tension but I was far from tense…it felt like I was in a dream…

When he entered the room, because of where I was standing, I became first in line to shake hands with the Professor. 
My spiel of how honored I was to meet him was rehearsed in my head in Japanese, but it came out in English. 

He lives in New York most of the time so it didn’t seem to bother him, he quickly replied in English “thank you”. 

He made his rounds, and before leaving the room, I was again standing in front of the man I admire so much, not only as a musician but as an activist as well. He said thank you to me again and I think I smiled… at least I hope I did.

For better pictures check out:

and of course please check out his website at

The following video was taken at the concert by yours truly's is not illegal! 
The piece he is playing is for a Samsung mobile phone commercial.  The audience was allowed to take videos and pictures during this one short piece.  The details are hard to see, but Sakamoto is smiling and having a good time... but at the end of this piece, he tells us how nerve racking that was!  He is a good sport. ;-)

for better sound and visual quality here is a PV...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Red / Innocence & Instinct (Japan special edition)

I've been having a hard time remembering band names these days...and when the band includes, or focuses on Death Metal vocals, my memory is at a complete loss.  However, things are starting to look better for me with the band Red.
They are not a Death Metal band but some of their songs do have a bit of that "shouting".

I am happy to say I like it.  Mike Barnes, the lead vocalist has a very melodic voice that is (according to the liner notes) frequently compared with Doug Rob (Hoobastank) and Chester Bennington (Linkin Park).  

I am going to go out on a limb and add Morten Harket (A-Ha).

My conclusion: he can shout like any Death Metal singer and he can pull of country-esk folk sounds, pop, pop rock and even a ballad.  

Strong guitar, heavy bass, tight drums

Woah, currently reached track number 9 on the album and it's "Ordinary World"....yyyyeeeeesss the Duran Duran "Ordinary World".  (See, he CAN sing pop tunes)

OK, these types of covers I like to call "cheating".  Not with a venomous spit but I say so lovingly.  This is a very good song and it would be a crime if you did not play this with a certain amount of perfection.

They have chosen their next song, (number 10) "Out From Wonder" very wisely.  It is a good segue from "Ordinary World" into their own metal influenced sound.  Vocals on what sounds like an arena equalizer and then a megaphone equalizer blends in with a sad melody that crashes into a bit of death metal shouts.

The Japan special edition of their album "Innocence & Instinct" (released on March 4th) is special because:
There are two bonus tracks ... "Breathe Into Me" and an acoustic version of "Already Over".
There are also three music videos: Death of Me", "Breathe Into Me" and "Already Over".

This album gets four and a half stars out of my five star rating.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Mr. Big is back!

An American band that is very popular in Japan... Mr Big.
(Has nothing to do with S&TC.)

They are most famous for their songs "To Be With You" and their rendition of the Cat Stevens song "Wild World". In Japan their latest hit was "Superfantastic", a song that was like an ode to the above two songs.

Paul Gilbert (guitarist) left the band in 1990 and Richie Kotzen took his place. 
However, Mr. Big disbanded in 2002 and went their individual ways. Each musician has solo albums and other band projects going on (Niacin, Racer X etc.) but it is great to be able to see these guys back together again. (Richi Kotzen will not be in the band but he has his own solo stuff going on too. Check his official site!)

I hope this will give the band a long deserved chance to be Big not only in Asia but in the U.S. as well. Their talent deserves the recognition. 

For more info in English

They will be in Japan in June for their concerts...

for concert info in Japanese check 

*The CDs in the picture are autographed by Pat Torpey (drums) and Eric Martin (vocals) when they were in Japan to promote their solo work. I had the wonderful opportunity of making special radio programs with them on several occasions and they were both wonderful people!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Artist: Wagner Love / Album Title: Everything About

According to the liner notes the band currently resides in Frankfurt, Germany.  However, I'm wondering if they are originally from Denmark.  Band members are Jacob Vetter, Ravel Meeth, Tilmann Kollner (there is an umlaut over the "o" ) and Marcel Meeth (Yes, brothers).

The lead track in Japan is the first song on the album, "Doin' It".  (As a bonus track for Japan there is a remix version at the end of the album as well.)
A bit of a Motown flavor with a dash of Chicago and a sprinkle of Maroon 5.

HOWEVER, as much as I hate to say this (only because it sounds critical), the lead vocalist has captured my attention much stronger than with Maroon 5.  Maybe not as smooth as Peter Cetera (Chicago) but not bad for a new group!  (The space between my nose and upper lip get longer as I bounce my head to the beat.)

Oh, maaaaaan.....I have just checked out their myspace website for the very first time and there are pictures of Japanese CD shops with hand written pops saying that "they've topped Maroon 5" etc...Well, there goes my vain "originality" flying out the window....look how it flutters away...
But I must add that there is a bit of 80's pop music embedded in here too.  Especially "They Don't Even Care".  Sort of boy bandish but not so much that you want to go puke in a nearby coffee cup.  (Oh, I don't really dislike all boy bands...ehem)

Track 7, "Too Many Ways" is a jazzy acoustic little ditty...if you are an Amos Lee fan, like me, you might like this.  Kind of makes me want to go out for a walk with a cigarette in hand and flick it onto the rail tracks or somethin'.  (I don't smoke and I don't recommend littering either.)

Mmmm, track 8 "Long Road".  I like the lyrics...."it's a long long road to love".

Track 9, "so far so good, came this far without losing our heads" is how the track "Everybody Runs" starts.  My Thoughts exactly.  I haven't tired of the album once so far.

Track 10 "Ghost" was a little too slow for me, but that might just be the mood I'm in today.
Track 11 "Onetwothree" reminds me of another song I can't remember the title of (a Simply Red song maybe?)

Anyway, the album gets 4 stars out of my 5 star rating!


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

some old stuff

Went through parts of my music journal and found some stuff to post here just to spice things up...they are old entries, I know.
But the music flat is in dire need of residents...

I am currently listening to the new U2 album "No Line On the Horizon". So far, up until song 9 "White as Snow" it feels like one long song. Currently on number 10 "Breathe" and it is reminding me of the The Beatles, Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon all at once. I will try to give it a fair review later , after listening to it some more. Off to work now....
the front of the CDthe back of the CD

Coldplay 2006 concert in Osaka

Unfortunately I was not able to go to the Coldplay concert held earlier this month...but I did find my live journal from 2006:
Their sound was perfect. However, there apparantly was one song from their first album that did not go as planned because after the tune someone in the band said "What the f*** was that!?" After each song I understood why Bono from U2 would want to say that Coldplay can be called true rockers and an official U2 successor. My thoughts are that they are no longer a successor of anyone they are truley their own band that future bands will be compared to, in that way, just like U2.

Anyways, the whole band was awesome, tight in their peformance and they seemed to be enjoying themselves, which is always very important.

Lead vocalist Chris, was aware that a lot of people didn't understand him but he still did his best to communicate with his fans and his kindness shined through with the comments that he made. (Simple Japanese terms like "arigato" and "I'm sorry I can't speak Japanese") The best part of the concert for myself (and probably the rest of the people in the back of the arena) was towards the end where Chris seemd to "pop out of nowhere" unto a platform in the middle so that we could get a better glimpse of him. If I remember correctly it was during "In My Place". I liked how they ended that particular song...I think Chris was having a hard time getting back to the main stage or something and he ended the tune with a kind of "sigh".

The Upper Room (2006)

from my September 2006 music journal...

The Upper Room ( a band of four guys from Brighton). Their debut album is released by Sony titled "Other People's Problems". Lately I have been getting rather bored with new young bands because everybody sounds the same (either that or I am getting old and everything young people do is starting to sound the same lol). These guys do sound like somebody but the glory of it is that I couldn't care less! They are rather uplifting (despite some of the lyrics, one song is titled "kill, kill, kill" but it isn't a song that makes you want go postal), their sound is tight, the singing is great. This feeling reminds me of the first time I listened to Coldplay.

Amos Lee (2006 and 2008)

from my November 2008 music journal....
Just got finished listening to Amos Lee's new album "last days at the lodge".
His last CD "Supply and Demand" was a powerful (in his slow, calm and intense way of being powerful) package of songs, something hard to top.
However, "last days at the lodge" is just as powerful, if not more, with a much wider variety of melodies and rhythm. Blues, soul and a little bit of rock n' roll. His ballads are simple, sort of sepia colored and make you yearn for an old fashioned kind of love.
"Kid" is a beautiful song...if only I could sing and play the guitar, I'd be playing this too as well as the song that follows, "ease back"...I'd need a banjo for this though...
"Listen" and "Truth" are my current favorites.

from my September 2006 music journal...
Amos Lee "Supply and Demand"- I think I like this album more than the previous one.
The first song "Shout out loud" is so uplifting.
"Sympathize" reminds me of somthing that I can't put my finger on...
"Freedom" is a beautiful song that I wish Pres. Bush would listen to.
"Careless" makes want to drink a whole bottle of wine all by myself.
"Skipping Stone" is a short but beautiful song, more like a hymn. The way he just jumps into singing is awesome and the organ is beautiful too, makes me want to go to church although I have never set foot in one for....gee can't even remember for how long.
"Supply and Demand" is a soulful country-ish tune. It reminds me of a friend I had in elementary and junior high school. Mellisa, she had horses and her father built their house all by himself, and this was one huuuuuge house. I wish I knew where she was now....
"Sweet Pea" is such a "sweet" song, really.
"Night Train" to me, encompasses the pain and simple pleasures of being a not so wealthy American.
"Southern Girl" is a beautiful song but I don't know much about being a southern girl so...
"The Wind", "Long Line of Pain" and "I'm Not Myself" are also beautiful acoustic songs.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Jeff Beck 2009 concert in Osaka Koseinenkin Kaikan (Japan)

Jeff Beck concert in Osaka Japan - February 19, 2009

I wanted to get a set list of the concert (I usually do...) but this day was a no can do.
I did find a blog in Japanese that seemed to have it can check it out here.
Do not fret, the song titles are in English.

The band members were as follows:

Guitar (of course) - Jeff Beck
Drums - Vinnie Colaiuta
Bass - Tal Wilkenfeld
Keyboards - David Sancious

All of them are fabulous musicians in their own right and really don't need introductions.  However, some people may not be familiar with the youngest of the band, Tal.  Now, after you have read this, you have no excuse...check out her websites (myspace too) and I promise you will be happy that you did.  Despite the difference in career length with her fellow musicians, she chopped away as if she was born with a bass guitar in hand.  The crowd loved her!

Jeff Beck is, without a doubt, The Guitar God.  He plays as if it were easy as breathing...  either that or he is a robot... absolutely perfect.  I can't even make a full sentence, I am still in awe.
Sometimes at an all instrumental concert I will get a bit "bored" and wish that someone would sing... but at a Jeff Beck concert?  I would probably throw a banana at whoever would dare sing over his guitar...which makes me wonder what the concert in Tokyo was like...the one he did with Eric Clapton!  (in Saitama)
I don't think I would throw a banana at Eric Clapton ;-)

Jeff Beck hardly said anything into the microphone, as usual, but after each song, he would express how excited/happy/rockin' he was in his own unique (sometimes cute...) way: raises both hands, bows and loosely embraces applause....shows respect to fellow band members by applauding them...I wish I had pictures...

Speaking of pictures, there was a guy in front of me (in his 50s) with a funky crochet cap on, who started filming the concert from the encore !  He got caught by one of the guards.  They took away his camera and he had to leave.  I don't think he was doing a very good job at filming anyways, he started bouncing around in 'odd ways' that would have made me sick if I had to watch that video.

It's only been a few days since I saw the concert, but I am already ready for another Jeff Beck concert!  Maybe 2010?  I'm keeping my phalanges crossed!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Welcome to the Music Flat !

Music is a universal language.  
I would like for this blog to be the beginning of a hodgepodge of music reviews.  An apartment complex  for any type of music!
For starters, this is some of the music in my i-pod right now:
starting from "A" ...
Aby N'Dour
Adam Sandler (?!)
Afro Celt Sound System
Al Kooper
Alanis Morissette
Albert King
The Alegre All Stars
Aleksander With Ali Farka Toure
Alicia Keys
Amiee Mann
Amos Lee
Amy Grant
Andrea Bocelli
Angelique Kidjo
Annie Lennox
Anouk Apollo
Arctic Monkeys
Arto Lindsay
Astrud Gilberto
Avril Lavigne
Axe Riverboy
B-Side Players
Baka Beyond
The Band
Bebel Gilberto
Ben E. King
Ben Harper
Ben Jelen
Ben Kweller
Ben Westbeech
Benny Goodman
Beth Orton
Bill Withers
Billy Joel
The Bird and the Bees
Black Eyed Peas
Black Sugar
The Blue Van
Bob Dylan
Bob Marley
Bon Jovi
The Boom
Born Crain
Bowling for Soup
Brian Setzer
Brigitte Fontaine
Bruce Hornsby
Bruce Springsteen
Bryan Adams
Buddy Holly
Caecille Norby
Caetano Veloso
Cannonball Adderly
Carbon Leaf
The Cardigans
Carl Perkins
Carla Thomas
Carlos Vives
Carly Simon
Carole King
Caroline Leander
Carolyn Hester
The Carpenters
Carter Burwell
Cassandra Wilson
Cat Stevens
Celia Cruz
Chaka Khan
The Charmels
Cheb Mami
Cheikh Lo
Chelo Cheo
Chet Baker
Chick Corea
China Chingon
The Chordettes
Chris Minh Doky
Christina Aguilera
Chubby Checker
Chuck Berry
Citizen Cope
The Clash
Cloudberry Jam
The Coasters
Coco Freeman
Cocteau Twins
Collective Soul
Corrine May
Craig David
The Cranberries
Crosby Loggins and the Light
Crosby Stills and Nash
Cyndi Lauper .......will get to the Zs sooner or later...

Monday, February 2, 2009


With Columbia I am going to start with the obvious choices...these artists are excellent for "beginners"...

Carlos Vives ... one of the most well known artists from the country and I can't find an official website...  There was miraculously a very nice site in JAPANESE...

Shakira  ... do I need to introduce her? official website

Juanes ... "the music ambassador of Columbia" his official website
Ehem! I have actually seen this guy perform!  Very, very cool.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Papua New Guinea

Telek ... absolutely brilliant.  Nothing too fancy, acoustic, you will want to travel to Papua New Guinea... His official website