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So Damn Happy
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774: Presidents of the United States of America
773: Keith
767: Tony Williams Lifetime Tribute
764: Kaiser Chiefs
760: Tim and Puma Mimi
759: Ice Cube
758: Vinyl Soul
757: Bajofondo
755: The Troubadours
752: Spiritualized at Summer Sonic
749: Cajun Dance Party
744: Heat and Noise
739: The Checks
737: Blue King Brown
735: Asian Dub Foundation
734: Scouting For Girls
732: Buzzcocks
730: Old Man River
728: The Kills
726: KT Tunstall
725: Jason Collett
722: Brotherís Sisterís Daughter
720: Sufjan Stevens
716: Gossip
714: The Go! Team
713: Cafť Tacvba
711: Celtic Woman
709: Jack PeŮate
706: Soulive
703: Animal Collective
703: Reverend and The Makers
702: Battles
700: Dinosaur Jr
696: The Polyphonic Spree
695: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
692: Golden Age of Rock
691: One Fine Day
688: Rhombus
687: Corneille
685: The Cinematic Orchestra
683: 747s
680: Pete Murray
679: Mice Parade
678: Enter Shikari
676: The View
674: !!!
671: Donavon Frankenreiter
670: Herbie Hancock
669: Krystal Meyers
668: The Roots
666: Lily Allen
664: Two for Christmas
663: The Datsuns
661: Peaches
660: Tapes ín Tapes
658: Mystery Jets
656: Shayne Ward
654: The Beat
653: Eumir Deodato
652: Mt. Fuji Calling
650: Juno Reactor
649: Yo La Tengo
648: Hyde Park Music Festival
647: Juana Molina
646: Sierra Leoneís Refugee All Stars
645: Tool
644: Juan Formell y Los Van Van
643: The Benevento-Russo Duo
641: TV On The Radio
639: Summer Music Festival Guide 2006
638: ESG
636: Editors
634: Greenroom
632: Ben Harper
630: Matmos
627: Arctic Monkeys
626: Erykah Badu
624: Cake
622: Bent Left
620: Mogwai
618: Deerhoof
617: The Album Leaf
616: Tristan Prettyman
614-615: 10, 9, 8....
613: Madonna
612: John Tropea and Incognito
610: Boy
608: Underworld
607: Niyaz
606: The Beautiful Girls
605: Miho Hatori
604: Doves
600: Bang Gang
598: Feist
596: Fantomas
595: Hyde Park Music Festival
593: Little Barrie
591: Juliette Lewis
589: James Chance & The Contortions
588: Carnival: Vice Bongo 1st Anniversary Party
585: Stereophonics
583: Little Joe Washington
581: Caetano Veloso
579: Maximo Park
578: Moe
577: Death From Above 1979
576: Destiny’s Child
575: Megadeth
574: Bandstand
572: Ozomatli
570: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
568: Prefuse 73
566: Pat Metheny
565: Rachel Yamagata
564: The Shins
563: The Music
561-562: Metropolis music survey 2004
559: Blues Explosion
557: The Libertines
555: G. Love
554: Dropkick Murphys
553: Kasabian
552: Fertile Ground
551: Recliner
550: Jah Shaka
548: Faithless
547: Tokyo Rotation
546: Yokosuka Reggae Super Bash
545: The Roots
544: True People's Celebration
543: Trans Europe Fes
542: Matthew Sweet
541: Heaven Artists
540: Manolito y su Trabuco
539: Rabble rouser
537: The Offspring
535: Janet Kay with Omar and Thriller U
533: Critters Buggin’
532: Cyndi Lauper
531: Cat Power
530: Standing in the shadows
528: Missy Elliott
527: Stereolab
526: Organic Groove
525: Questions of the day
523: Tough Cookie
521: Conversion
520: Iggy's inner artist
519: Control freak chic
518: Down to the Wire
517: Incubus
516: Kraftwerk
515: Black Eyed Peas
514: Pretenders
513: Sonicmania
511: Suburban funk boys
509/10: Incognito
508: Celtic Xmas 2003
507: Limp Bizkit
506: Robert Randolph and the Family Band
505: Out on a limb
503: Electraglide
501: Super Furry Animals
499: Geezer's groove
498: Ashanti
497: Syn city
496: Slacker rock rules!
495: Television
494: Lou Reed
493: Joao Gilberto
492: The Used
491: Gypsy Summer 2003
490: The Lucksmiths
489: Maxi Priest & Shaggy
488: Chuck Berry
487: Summer Sonic
486: The redheaded stepchild makes good
485: Positive punk mom
484: Duran Duran
483: Unapologetically acoustic
482: Break and Remake
481: Ron Sexmith
480: Folk Implosion
479: The Brand New Heavies
478: The Blood Brothers
477: Eminem
476: The Kills
475: Jackson Browne
474: N.E.R.D.
473: Shred a tabloid, make music
472: Garage Redux
471: Bringing the jams east
470: Asian Dub Foundation
469: Badly Drawn Boy
468: Massive Attack
467: Teenage Fanclub
466: The All Wave Grrls
465: J. Mascis + the Fog
464: Catching up with Sonic Youth
463: Deep Forest
462: Magic Rockout
461: Jurassic 5
460: Snuff
459: Queens of the Stone Age
457/8: On the phone: The Jeevas
456: K-Ci & JoJo and The Roots
455: Sleater-Kinney
454: Beast Feast
453: Contrasts in young UK rock
452: Tahiti 80
451: Pink
450: The Artist (no longer) formerly known as..
449: Paul McCartney Previewed
447: Jamiroquai
446: On the phone: Taxiride
445: Bad Religion
444: Jennifer Love Hewitt
443: Camp in Asagiri Jam
442: The Cinematic Orchestra
441: On the phone: Moby
440: True People's Celebration
439: Roots Revival
438: The politics of sampling
437: Summer Sonic sampler
436: The Jazz Mandolin Project
435: Indie icons
434: Cato Salsa Experience
433: Get's Bossa Nova 2002
432: Janet Kay with Omar
431: Kottonmouth Kings
430: Bowes & Morley
429: Christina Milian
428: Elvis Costello
427: Space Kelly
426: Diana Krall
425: Jay-Z
424: The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
423: The Brian Setzer Orchestra
422: Weezer
421: The Music
420: Lenny Kravitz
419: Speech
418: Tool
417: Green Day
416: Chuck Berry & James Brown
415: Ozomatli
414: Britney Spears
413: Music Mary J. Blige
412: Incubus
411: The Chemical Brothers
410: David Byrne
409: The Prodigy
408: Roger Walters
407: Ozzy Osbourne
406: Lisa Loeb
405: Aerosmith
404: Garbage
403: Sloan
402: Jamiriquoi
401: Park Tower Blues Festival
400: Mercury Rev
399: Bjork
398: The Isley Brothers
397: Janet Jackson
396: Ian Brown
395: Tortoise Orchestra
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel
392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana

by Dan Grunebaum

Syn city

Producer Nick Wood charts a decade of change in the Tokyo music scene.

"They wanted to connect with the youth culture, to reinvent themselves," explains the slightly ruffled but intense Englishman. Sitting across the conference table in Metropolis' office, music producer Nick Wood is talking about Ÿber-trendy eyeglass designer Alain Mikli, for whom he has just produced the new compilation CD, Méli-Mélo.

In addition to providing the designer with a hook for a young demographic, the spirited collection of rock covers, released this week, offered Wood's Syn Entertainment label and studio an alternative avenue for distribution at a time of historic change in the way music is created and marketed.

"To get shelf space in Tower or HMV that stands out without paying millions of yen in promotion money-it's become a real problem," Wood explains. "So from my point of view, the association with a fashion brand like Mikli that has 200 outlets is a really nice way to market our product."

Méli-Mélo is not just another forgettable trendy DJ compilation for fashionistas. The album boasts A-list contributors in the form of '80s rock sharpman Robert Palmer, Madonna producer Mirwais, recently deceased punk legend Joey Ramone, and Syn partner and Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon. There are also edgy tracks by emerging acts such as Japanese grrl punkers Lolita No.18 and UK electroclash duo Robots In Disguise.

The raw feel of the CD and the selection of trashy '60s and '70s classics such as T-Rex's "20th Century Boy" reflects the album title, which Woods explains means "all mixed up" in French. "It's not an ultra-cool, serious thing," he says. "It's done with humor-more of a rock 'n' roll wild feeling, as opposed to something sophisticated and smooth, which fashion brands have a tendency to be attracted to."

The CD is just the latest project in over a decade of music in Tokyo that has taken Wood from in-house music writer for a Japanese television company to owner, along with Le Bon, of Syn Entertainment. First signed to Virgin with '80s pop act Appassionata at age 19, Wood got to know Le Bon when the two collaborated on the soundtrack for the documentary Drum.

When Wood scored a surprise hit in Japan in the late '80s and subsequently moved to Tokyo and decided to launch his own studio, Le Bon came on board. "Simon is the chairman of Syn," he explains. "He is very active. The best way to describe him is as our ambassador. He loves being associated with Syn, and it has allowed him to try new things away from Duran Duran."

Wood's first hit was actually a song he composed for a commercial for Japanese telecom firm KDD. While the symbiotic relationship between music for commercials and commercial music is now well-established worldwide, at the time Japan was the trendsetter. "It was unheard of in England, but of course it happens all the time now," Woods says. "Back then Japan was way ahead of everyone else, and I thought 'Wow, that was really interesting.' I saw I had something to offer the Japanese advertising community that was different, because I'm Western and had a more global perspective on music."

The intervening decade has seen Woods compose music for Japanese corporate heavyweights like Sony and Subaru, as well as scoring soundtracks for such films as Wim Wenders' 1998 Love Kills. His latest coup was his hit "Passion," a theme song originally written for Kirin Beer's sponsorship of the Japanese national soccer team, which went to No. 1 at the time of last year's World Cup.

In the '90s Woods has watched the Japanese music scene become ever more Westernized, something he laments. "I wish there were a few more Japanese artists that sounded Japanese. When you listen to YMO ['80s electro-pop group Yellow Magic Orchestra], they definitely had some interesting sounds that captured the Japanese spirit."

Woods cites as one example of a contemporary Japanese pop act that "sounds Japanese": pop chameleon Cornelius. "A lot of Japanese artists are trying to export their music," he says, "But you'll find that the ones doing it successfully are the ones that are doing something different from what people in the West do. People like Cornelius have something quite unique."

Woods scoffs at attempts by J-pop acts such as Hikaru Utada to sell their music in the US. "Japanese singers singing in English doing hip-hop or R&B? I don't think so-not yet," he says. "I think with those big stars it's an ego trip. But it could also be quite clever as a marketing strategy, to make them look international to their Japanese fans."

The only blip in Syn's upward trajectory came a few years ago when Woods and Le Bon caught the millennium dotcom fever, which turned more than a few sensible heads at the time. "The biggest challenge I faced was when we tried to diversify in year 2000 and hired a new CEO who tried to take us away from our DNA of music and entertainment into a more dotcom thing. It nearly killed us," he recalls. "It seemed like a good idea at the time... Selling music online? That looked really possible, but it was a bad call."

2003 finds Syn in a good position, with business rebounding and a new office in LA. "Ten years ago or less, if you told people you wrote music for commercials, it was kind of like a B-grade job," he says. "Japan has always known about its power, but now the US and Europe have woken up. It has now become a really important part of making hit records, and as record sales decline and more people download, one aspect of the business that is growing is licensing and using music in movies and commercials. I feel so fortunate that we went that direction-we could have been out of a job otherwise!"

credit: Syn Entertainment

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