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Archive for November, 2012

Otto Chikan!

Otto chikan! – Onyanko Club

Here’s a translation of the lyrics i found:

Look!
Look! Look!
Somebody is, somebody is checking me out!

The morning rush-hour trains
are over capacity, jam-packed
Uh-oh, that creepy looking guy
is right near us.

Girls say that he’s a big pervert
And he wears those big glasses,
Probably a spoiled brat.
He’s rude in class
and always wears all gray clothes.

Let’s bully him a little!
He just rubbed my hand!
Let’s bully him a little!
On behalf of all women.

That guy is a pervert! Shout it in a scared voice!
That guy is a pervert Everybody now!
We’ll get rid of him – get rid of the trauma!
We’re so lucky!

Look!
Look! Look!
Pretending like he doesn’t know what’s going on!

My school uniform might get messed up
If I keep jumping around like this
But it’s fun screaming like this,
And pretending to cry.

Even a sweet high-school girl who is scared of bugs,
if not treated well she’ll be vicious and make you hurt!
That overprotected daughter may act all gentle,
but when she finally snaps, she really really snaps!

Let’s keep teaching him a lesson!
I just got a great idea
Let’s keep teaching him a lesson!
I pinched him hard!

“S-so-sorry!” He’ says with a confused face!
“S-so-sorry!” He says so awkwardly!
He just wanted to give me a note that said “I like you.”
“I’m sorry!”

That guy is a pervert! Shout it in a scared voice! (Waa!~)
That guy is a pervert Everybody now!
We’ll get rid of him – get rid of the trauma!
We’re so lucky!

Great! Directed venom. There is that penultimate chorus where the threat is alleviated and made an innocent love game, but that is bucked as they say “No!” and return to the main chorus. My trouble with this song is that it calls the chikan, the person and the practice, into being, and i was worried not knowing the content that it might have been teasingly along the lines of: “Come be a pervert around us. We’re a site for it. It’s safe. We’re cute and we don’t really mind. It’s all a game. Grope away.” Something about it and the way people talk about the Onyanko Club just seemed like it would fall to that.

Thankfully it does not, but is a song that lays revulsion to a horrible reality and one that serves as an agitated rallying cry to it. It is a song not for the boy, chikan or not, to identify with, but one completely directed at the girls: to shake them, to unify them, to call them to action, to end this. An anthem to the power of just saying something. Cutting through the silence that only perpetuates things, calling out, naming, shaming… pinching… Yes, it’s not the manifesto of collective murder one would hope for, but in identifying and saying “No more!” to it, in promising retaliation, and most crucially in establishing the power and safety in unified retaliation and female unity in general, it is still such a wonderful thing to find here.

Interestingly, the chikan of the song is a young man, still in school, one they can more easily hold dialogue with, and not the typical older creep. It might have been better if it were the latter, but it is still effective in that it is not just the stereotypical older male who is this threat. In fact, the younger one poses the greater threat while wearing a friendlier mask, and it is an important thing to establish that. And to establish where the older chikan comes from. To stop it all. Potential chikans all are we. This morning i like the Onyanko Club just that little bit more.

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The Light’s On You

The light’s on you – Fastbacks

There’s this thing about Kurt Bloch’s guitar playing with the Fastbacks, especially on their first album, where it seems so excessive and anomalous to the music underneath that i imagine it being not part of the original recording at all, but rather the result of someone so familiar with the Fastbacks and the guitar, living and breathing both, just playing over the top of the record in their room. From a mix of bedroom boredom and elation come these liberties, still wholly reverent to the music yet apart from it as well, that sound like someone’s one wish to be a part of the group. It would not be the same without it.

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Taking Too Long

Taking too long – Wipers

The Wipers to me are a band who never seemed not to know completely what they were doing. From the very beginning, everything seemed born out of this complete mastery, effected so assuredly. And nothing really came before them to make it easy. The tools and inspiration were there, but no one used them the way the Wipers did – used music the way they did. Nor used the music industry. Total control: recording their own music, pressing their own music, keeping to their at that time forgotten corner of the United States. i don’t know. They had to happen. Some singular creative boom of determination and detached brilliance. An uninfluenced birth of influence.

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Run

Run – Look & Listen

This song also has a video. Let’s watch it together! Drumming for a band like this would be my dream job, so let’s make this guy disappear in some Spinal Tap accident so i can move in.

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Run

Run – Look & Listen

Part of the reason i’m so invested in the pop side of Korean music is that most of the rock stuff i have found is total garbage. Well maybe garbage is is too strong, but it all seems to skirt a line between dull, safe Interpol/Muse space-rock clones, Jason Mraz torture and is-this-christian-rock? rock, and my interests by their very nature cannot live on that spectrum. I know the stuff i want exists, but like everywhere it is overclouded by the boring things. It’s made harder in that not being on the ground and not speaking the language, i’m left reliant on others to delve in and disseminate, and what they do disseminate lies strictly and comfortably on that spectrum – all of which i’m coming to find is from a similar machine to the larger Korean entertainment industry, so why don’t i just listen to K-pop?

Even the punk bands in Korea seem devoid of the important things – the DIY, non-contrived things. What i want is music that is satisfied with a small reach, and the exiting things that happen under such satisfaction. The weird stuff not beholden to image or construct – music that just is, made by kids in highrises or parks, played anywhere to anyone for no good reason. I know it exists – it can’t not – but it is hard to find. I found it so brilliantly in Mukimukimanmansu (who i’ve never written about here for i’m assuming the same mental block that’s made me never write about Fugazi or Minutemen or Sleater-Kinney or the many other bands who mean too much to me), and also, for today, Look & Listen.

This is loaded and makes me uncomfortable to say, but to me they are a Korean Shonen Knife. That’s an obvious comparison to put to a band of Asian girls playing simple, goofy, ceaselessly fun, perfect, punky guitar pop, but i’d like to have it come across as an apt one and not one feeding into the “Korean version of __________” line. And it is not a lesser comparison: Everything wonderful, exciting and vital in Shonen Knife i see as well in Look & Listen. And it seems something that could not happen, or at least happen in this way, if it were not for the trails Shonen Knife cut. They could entirely be an influence, and to say no to that is to ignore the intra-Asian impact of Shonen Knife, or indeed any Asian music we feel in the West. We’re not the only ones who listen to music – who are served and moved by it.

Anyway, if not directly influenced by, they are drawing from precisely the magic that made Shonen Knife as fantastic as they were, although Look & Listen do sing less songs about food. If only Beat Happening had toured Korea nowdays instead of Japan twenty-five years ago. The final comparison i’ll make is that like Shonen Knife’s songs, this song is sung in English. Most of Look & Listens are which is a little unfortunate. But they are great and they are fun and they are now! So check them out!! I never say that!!! 룩앤리슨!!!!

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Kindan no Telepathy

Kindan no telepathy – Kudo Shizuka

This was her debut single, so everything was set right from the beginning. I’ve only really kept to the beginning. It seems i’m anchored to 1986 in Japan’s pop history, taking baby steps beyond and before that date, where everything seemed to attain perfection. Here we are at 1987, but what about 1988? What about today? We’ll get to that. This is my favourite song of Shizuka’s that i’ve heard. I especially love the way it returns to the last chorus after the left-right panning synth break, where alone she sings and goes off time, punctuating the drums as everything kicks back in. I’m good at describing music.

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Bringing Up Baby

Bringing up baby – Talulah Gosh

I had to look up the lyrics to this song to see how close it was to the film Bringing Up Baby, or moreso Katharine Hepburn, complete with her name at the end. It’s in plain English – the plainest – but i’ve never been able to hear it before. But it’s not exactly congruous with everything in her life or movies, and it drives me crazy. What is this song about? Maybe it just is about her, and everything that doesn’t fit is the result of misheard details that ring too much suitable for their venerated image of her to be fact-checked. Sometimes the particulars simply don’t matter. I’m just glad there’s not only a band who sounds like this, but sing songs about things such as this. A chart hit for Talulah Gosh. The indie charts, but still it was a hit.

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