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Connie: Tokyo Telephone

April 1, 2011

I completely forgot to post my music suggestion on the last day of March! But that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with posting it a bit late, right? I remember years ago in my hometown the popular radio station was meant to give away a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, but someone at the station dropped the ball, so instead they gave away a post-Mardi Gras trip and called it Tardi Gras. This is something like that, only I’m not giving away anything that cool (or lame, depending on how you view it).

But I digress. I actually can’t believe I haven’t suggested this band before. I’ve been entirely infatuated with their music for a very long time now. Out of all the bands and artists I listen to, I truly believe that this group is one of the most skilled and stylistically creative. They are the lovely Merry, a band whose name is almost impossible to google.

While this band tends to be grouped with other visual kei bands, they are technically part of a genre called アングラ系 (angura kei), which is kind of a bastardization of the English word “underground”. So the genre’s name means “underground type” and, while groups in this genre are always lumped in with visual kei groups, their focus is a bit less on the visual and their music tends to be more approachable. Merry actually evolved into this angura kei after starting as エログロ系 (eroguro kei), which is another Japanized version of the English for “erotic and grotesque type”. This genre is actually not as much of a shock-genre as it might sound; there is actually a Japanese art movement from the 1930s with the same name. So while you might pick up one of their older CDs and raise an eyebrow at the cover or wonder why the vocalist slowly loses pieces of clothing as their live shows drag on, in the end it’s really a reference to an art movement. These days, however, they’ve toned it a bit down.

As for Merry’s music itself, they are heavily jazz influenced. This is why I find them so fascinating to listen to. You have all of the elements of visual and hard rock along with walking bass lines and swung percussion. The vocalist’s sound is a bit strange, and you realize that in any genre but the one Merry has concocted, it might sound off. However there’s something about his lilting voice that really rounds it off.

I also feel I should mention that the percussionist, Nero, is just about the best drummer I’ve ever heard. I’m sure if you search youtube for his drum solo you won’t regret it.

They played in Okayama yesterday, but unfortunately I lacked the funds to go see them. I’m hoping they’ll do a nice outdoors show somewhere in the summer. Everyone says they’re absolutely stunning live, and the clips I’ve seen suggests the same.

Here is the jazz piano version of my favorite song of theirs, Tokyo Telephone. If you like it then I suggest you try listening to the rock version as well.

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