Issue Index

  Mini Features
  Cultural Features
  Life in Japan
  Big in Japan
  Rant & Rave
  Cars & Bikes
  Health & Beauty
  Money Talks
  Tokyo Tech
  Web Watch
  Food & Drink
  Restaurant Reviews
  Bar Reviews
  Word of Mouth
  Travel Features
  Japan Travel
  International Travel
  Tokyo Talk
  In Store
  Japan Beat
  CD Reviews
  In Person
bar news and views
bar news and views
bar news and views


776: Yoko Ono
775: Boredoms
772: Kurofunedan
768: Merzbow
766: Oshiripenpenz
765: YMCK
763: Shizuka Kudo
762: Mo’some Tonebender
761: Soil & “Pimp” Sessions
756: Tokyo Conflux 2008
754: Ed Woods
753: 8otto
751: Para
750: Fuji Rock Festival 2008
748: Katan Hiviya
745: Who the Bitch
742: Low IQ 01
740: Shake Forward!
738: iLL
736: Tobu Ongakusai
733: Yanokami
731: One Night in Naha
729: Shugo Tokumaru
727: Japan Nite
725: Getting out the vote
723: J-Melo
721: Electric Eel Shock
717: GO!GO!7188
715: Yura Yura Teikoku
712: Midori
710: Seigen Ono
708: Wrench
707: Shinichi Osawa
704: M-flo
701: Freesscape
699: Versailles
698: Fuji Rock Festival 2007
697: Uri Nakayama
695: UA
693: Shonen Knife
690: Kemuri
689: Ikochi
686: Best Japanese Albums
684: Monkey Majik
682: Shibusashirazu Orchestra
681: Jon Lynch and Juice magazine
677: DJ Kentaro
675: Sadistic Mikaela Band
673: Osaka Monaurail
672: Teriyaki Boyz featuring Kanye West
666: Oki
662: Amanojaku
659: Polysics
657: Oceanlane
655: Cornelius
651: Bomb Factory
642: Soul Flower Mononoke Summit
640: African JAG
637: Buffalo Daughter
635: Ryukyu Underground
633: Mazri no Matsuri
631: Mono
629: Coldfeet
628: Crystal Kay
625: J-pop goes def
623: Ken Yokoyama
621: Zazen Boys
619: Monday Michiru
613: PE’Z
611: Afrirampo
609: Sherbets
603: Double Famous
601: Meltone
599: Michiyo Yagi
597: Hifana
594: Guitar Wolf
592: Rip Slyme
590: Little Creatures
588: Bliss Out on Hougaku
586: Hoppy Kamiyama
584: Bliss Out on Hougaku
582: Mazri no Matsuri
580: Mari Natsuki
575: Towa Tei
573: The Beautiful Losers
571: Fantastic Plastic Machine
569: Nippop
567: Brahman
560: Shonen Knife
558: Nice Guy Jin
556: Toru Yonaha and Kinohachi
554: Hiromi Uehara
551: Nicotine
549: Ego-Wrappin'
545: Eastern Youth
538: Inside tracks
536: Outside the Box
534: Rainbow Warrior
529: Breaking the mold
527: Sadao China
524: The sound of cyberpunk
522: Ryuichi Sakamoto's Chasm
516: Ken Yokoyama
514: Jan Linton
512: Jazz messengers
509/10: Naoko Terai
507: Akiko Yano
504: Kotaro Oshio: Solo Strings
502: Refurbished rhythms
494: Resonance
492: cyber-swordsmen
490: Loop Junktion
488: Ryukyu Underground: Okinawan Odyssey
484: Gocoo: Reinventing taiko
481: Leonard Eto
479: Gaijin à Go-Go
477: Enemy music
475: Yoriko Ganeko with Chuei Yoshikawa
472: DJ Kaori
469: Yuki
467: Wrench
464: Young and swingin
462: Jazzy Live 2003 from Blue Breath
460: Shonen Knife
457/458: Date Course Pentagon Royal Garden
456: Yuka Kamebuchi & The Voices of Japan
454: Jude
452: Kokoo
451: BBQ Chickens
449: Man and the machinery
446: Crystal Kay
443: Lava
440: Jazz on Leave
437: Rip Slyme
434: Boom Boom Satellites
432: "Rambling" Steve Gardner
430: Dry & Heavy
428: The Birth of OE
426: Anmitsu
424: Happy Kamiyam
422: Shing02
420: Supercar
418: Ryuichi Sakamoto
416: Kick The Can Crew
414: King Brothers
412: Kazufumi Miyazawa
410: Japanese Independent Music
408: The Yoshida Brothers
406: Love Psychedelico
393: Mikidozan
391: Shelter 10th Anniversary
389: The beautiful losers
387: Junpei Shiina
383: Umekuichi
381: P'ez
379: Boredoms
377: Dai Sakakibara
375: Dreams Come True
373: eX-Girl
370: Pizzicato Five
368: Dub Squad
366: Buffalo Daughter
364: Phew Phew L!ve
362: Fumio Yasuda
360: Boom Boom Satellites
358: Kei Kobayashi
356: Cool Drive Makers
354: Bird
351: United Future Organization
349: Audio Active
347: Ondekoza
345: Misia
343: Brahman
341: Puffy
339: Ryukyu Festival 2000
337: Rappagariya
335: Lisa Ono
333: Air Jam 2000
331: Feed
327: Tenkoo Orchestra
325: Wrench
323: Sadao Watanabe
321: Dry & Heavy
319: Bonny Pink
317: Sakura Hills Disco 3000
315: Aco
313: Rovo
311: The Mad Capsule Markets
309: Coldfeet

Gaijin à Go-Go

Unbridled kitsch

"Fun, fantasy, not fame," wrote singer Petra Hanson aka Kiku Kimonolisa in the ad she placed in a New York newspaper for a band she was seeking to form back in 1999. This was not to be your garden-variety rock band, but one that looked primarily to Japanese pop culture for its inspiration.

Responding to the former model and clothing designer's ad were bassist Sanford Santacroce (aka Saiko Mikan), drummer Jon Young (aka Tatami Matt), keyboardist Catherine Carney (aka Mikasa S. Sukasa), and the token Japanese, guitarist Yuji Horibe (aka Kinki Pajamamoto). And so was born Gaijin à Go-Go, New York's offering to all things kitsch and Japanese.

With an approach that echoes the deliberately naive retro-modernism of the former Pizzicato Five and the untutored technique of Shonen Knife, Gaijin à Go-Go take their cue from Japan's Group Sound (GS) wave of the '60s and '70s. Wrap those jangly guitars, goofy choruses and tambourine-beats in a package of mini-dresses, mod suits and platinum-dyed hair, and the package is complete.

So complete, it seems that when veteran producer Joe Blaney (The Clash, B-52s) saw them onstage at downtown venue Irving Plaza, he decided to take them under his wing. The collaboration led to a debut EP in 2001 and, ultimately, their major label release, this spring's Happy-55-Lucky for Sony. Gaijin à Go-Go also backed J-pop duo Puffy in a recent mini-tour of the US, and are now being exported to Japan.

But the real litmus test for Gaijin à Go-Go is: Are they funny? Kitsch-appeal only takes a band so far, and with song titles such as "Tempura Mental" and "Wasabi Man," their brand of humor is not exactly subtle. In fact, Gaijin à Go-Go's parody of Japanglish (eg., "The singer takes you into the paradise of the candyland peaceful!") approaches puerile offensiveness.

But for the most part, their humor and sheer awfulness are harmless and in good fun. Singing mostly in mangled Japanese, the band realized that they had to offer something in English for their New York fans, so they came up with the anthem "Foreign Barbarian." The song includes such gems as "When no means yes & yes means no/When the light says stop…Gaijin go!"

Gaijin à Go-Go have also this week released a CD, Merry-55-Round, with remixes by Yasuharu Konishi of Pizzicato Five and dance producer King Britt, in addition to a new track that lionizes Japan's latest export to US Major League baseball, Hideki Matsui of the New York Yankees ("He's mister Yankee/Big show Yankee/Gambare mina no super cutie").
Gaijin à Go-Go, it seems, may have got their unwanted fame anyway. Good thing that in this age, as Andy Warhol established, fame is limited to fifteen minutes.

Happy-55-Lucky and Merry-55-Round are available on Sony Music Japan International. Info:

credit: SMJI