Monday, December 15, 2014

Best of 2014

2014 was an interesting year in Japanese music. This year was the most active ever for my label, MeatCubeLabel. Five out of the 6 releases were Japanese bands, and in my opinion were some of the best being released anywhere.

We also saw more Japanese underground music being released outside of Japan, with the Blue Friend LP being released by Dog's Knight Productions in England, Heaven in Her Arms/Cohol split LP from Moment of Collapse Records in Germany, and several Japanese releases from the now-defunct Keep It Together Records (USA) and Imminent Destruction Records (UK). All in all, a banner year for Japanese music and 2015 looks to be even better!

Before we move on, thought, let's take a look back at some of the best releases from this year. This is totally my opinion, so don't be offended if your favorite release isn't on here.

1. Tetola93 - Self-Titled

It should make sense that a record I sunk a crap-ton of cash into this year is the same that I loved the most. I've been watching Tetola93 since around 2011 when I first heard them, and I'm thankful that I was able to help get this out. This album is Tetola93's final output, re-recording some of their best songs and adding in a few new ones. From start to finish, it is breath-taking, with a focused originality that few bands have these days. Taking queues from German emo-violence bands and Japanese epic screamo bands, Tetola93 create a unique sound entirely their own. For that reason, I suspect that a lot of people won't truly get what they're doing. That's always the case with bands breaking new ground, I guess. Years later, people might actually appreciate or copy what they're doing, but for the present only a few of us will recognize the best album of the year for what it is.



2. Isolate - Hibinokoto

Since Isolate's first mind-blowing EP, they've constantly evolved with each output. That first EP was so good and focused, that with their subsequent release's exploration of a more atmospheric sound, I was a little bit lost. This album, their first full-length, pulls it all together. Isolate has truly harnessed their exact sound and they ruthlessly drag the listener through 14 tracks of their madness. I was so excited for this, I pre-ordered it from Japan, and it totally blew me away. Typically Japanese bands have a certain type of recording quality, a certain type of song-writing, and this is what I love about Japanese music. With this album, Isolate has really split from their country and created something that is quite place-less. The recording quality is claustrophobic and punishing, the melodies occasionally nostalgic, like most Japanese bands, but also bizarre and frightening. The entire album feels extremely focused and cohesive. With an album like this, I really think that Isolate has potential to break out in the world. Irregardless, if you don't get this, you're missing out on the cutting edge of heavy music.




Amazon USA (Digital)

3. Fog / Weave split

I'm not sure I can communicate how important Bluebeard was/is to me. When I was studying in Japan, I'd listen to their Self-Titled EP over and over and over. It was essentially flawless, and it became irremovable from my experience in Japan. It had a certain style heavily influenced by late-90's US emo, but added fascinating guitar work and a more epic song structure. 12 years later, several bands are starting to show a strong influence from Bluebeard, and I couldn't be happier.
Here we have a split album showcasing two of the best emo bands in Japan. Both are showing some Bluebeard influence, but have such strong song-writing they don't sound derivative or boring. The bands share every other track, so both sounds are interwoven on a single listen. Usually this approach can be pretty painful when one band is weaker than the other or if the genres are too disparate. But this split is the exception where both bands are similar enough that they play on the same emotions but different enough that each one is unique.
Fog is from Kyoto, and this is their first proper release. Their songs are truly magnificent. Their early sound was more screamo, and you can tell they have a tendency to get aggressive and epic in their tracks. Looking forward to more from them, for sure.
Weave is from Tokyo and this is their first follow-up after their excellent 2013 full album. They continue to show that they are one of the best emo bands in Japan right now, with a solid and consistent sound. Three tracks that definitely up the quality over their album.



4. Zdzis Law / Herlens split

Zdzis Law's 2011 demo was a revelation. I hadn't heard a Japanese shock me so much since Tetola93 (not a long time, sure) and I listened to the 5 tracks over and over. Super tight emo-violence that rivaled anything coming out in the world. That's one of the main reasons I was so damn hyped for this split. New Zdzis Law tracks! Only 3 years later, haha....
Well, the Zdzis Law songs do not disappoint. Five tracks here that are impossibly fast and precise with tons of passion. They do take some liberties in the tracks to expand on their sound that I find a little out of place, but I wouldn't say it ruins any of the songs.
Herlens is definitely a surprise on the last part of this split. From Osaka, I've heard their name for some time but somehow thought they were a pop punk band (not that there's anything wrong with that, John). Their 5 tracks here are definitely not pop punk. They're more of a mix of Japanese epic screamo and a tinge of emo-violence. It's hard to place them, but they definitely play solid, heavy screamo.



5. Heaven In Her Arms / Cohol split

This LP release was a wonderful surprise, coming from Germany's Moment of Collapse Records. I already had the CD from it's initial release in 2013, but vinyl is always more welcome.
Heaven in Her Arms. You've all heard them, you all love them. Here are three new songs that are more brutal and post-rocky than ever before. It's nice to see their style continuing to develop. It seems like they are really taking a lot of influence by blackened screamo like Celeste. I only wish there was less post-rocky songs (only one of the three tracks even has vocals).
Cohol's songs really impress on this split. Cohol has been around for over ten years now, and in that time has developed a completely unique metal sound that takes a lot from the Japanese screamo scene (guitarist/vocalist Itaru was also in The Black Line Fever and Henoa). These three tracks capture the oppressive viciousness that the band has always been searching for.



6. Asthenia / Blue Friend / Calculator split

Released in conjunction with the Calculator tour of Japan in August 2014, hosted by Blue Friend & Asthenia, this split CD sees the best songs from all 3 bands on one release. Blue Friend presents two tracks that weren't on their 2014-released album. Honestly, I like these songs better than anything on the album. They feel much more confident in their sound and are more cohesive, mixing the European screamo sound with the Japanese aesthetic. Asthenia's track is solid, continuing the approach from their recent 10" release. Their sound is consistently awesome, channeling old school US and UK screamo. The two Calculator tracks are re-released from another split. They are awesome, as expected. 




7. Saisa - Aftermath

Saisa continue to put out some of the best post-rock in the world. Aftermath, their 2014 EP, is only 3 tracks long, but demonstrate just how it's done to all the other wannabes. Adding some strong piano to their tracks and a touch of synth only adds to the epic, dreamy nature of each track. There are no surprises here, but that's kind of what I wanted. Great recording quality, great song-writing. After a full-length in 2013, I hope that this is just a stop-gap for an album in the works for 2015.



MeatCubeLabel (USA)

8. Zenands Gots - 暗夜に蠢く

Zenands Gots was mostly a mystery to me before this album. I'd seen their name on flyers of Stubborn Father concerts, but couldn't find anything online. When I got my hands on this album, I knew the wait was worth it. Zenands Gots is a two-piece experimental grind band from Tokyo. Their music is fascinating and brutal, the recording belies the band's few members. The drums especially stand out with complex rhythms that are constantly interesting and changing. The only downside to this album is how short the 14 minutes (7 songs) feels, since it blazes by at a breakneck pace.  



9. Swarrrm - Flower

Swarrrm has long been one of my favorite bands. Each new album brings new experimentation in grind, they constantly keep things fresh and unexpected. 2014's Flower is no exception. The album starts out with an almost acoustic track with rumbling growled vocals over it. The second track sounds like some sort of rock ballad with the same tortured vocals. By the third track, the grind engine has started and things get expectedly grindy. Throughout, Swarrrm pushes the envelope on song structure, rhythm, melody, and instrumentation. Flower sees Swarrrm trying some new things, but they maintain their position as the kings of Japanese grind.



HandShake Inc. Releasing on Vinyl Soon! (USA)
Amazon (Japan)

10. Stereo Type - Anthology

Stereo Type, a long-running post-rock band from Tokyo, announced their disbanding earlier this year. As one final hurrah, they released a best of album, Anthology, to prove to everyone that they were one of the best post-rock bands ever. I've followed them for awhile, but really started to take notice with their Out of Sight, Out of Mind EP from last year. This final album collects songs from all over their history and gives the listener a wide range of styles to illustrate Stereo Type's mastery of them all. Post-rock is not my favorite genre, but strong songs that have a defined sense of mood to them definitely appeal to me. That's what I get out of this album, very focused songs with expert instrumentation. Definitely one of the best instrumental rock releases of the year.



Strange Tales Records (USA)
Further Platonix Records (Japan)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Where to Start: Japanese Emo

     I guess the logical step from Screamo would be to look at the Japanese emo scene. Right off the bat, I'd like to say that I don't know a ton about the emo scene. I enjoy the music and try to do my best to keep up with current stuff, but my tr00 passion is screamo stuff.
     For anyone who doesn't know what I mean by emo, since it's a completely arbitrary word and applying it to bands is completely subjective, I'm talking about stuff that is influenced by bands like Mineral, Knapsack, Deep Elm bands, stuff like that. I'm not interested in arguing the term, just check out these cool bands.

     Cool kids use the Emo tag to browse my site for Japanese emo bands.

     As far as I can tell, emo came to Japan at around the early 90's. Bloodthirsty Butchers was one of the earliest bands, releasing their first album in 1990. Eastern Youth changed their sound from punk/oi to bring in a lot more emo influences in the early 90's. [Note: those bands are both huge, so I'm not going to bother mentioning them otherwise.] Dignity For All was one of the breakout bands in the late 90's, doing a split with Jejune which was release in the USA by BigWheelRecreation. Naht was another, touring Japan with Fugazi, Bluetip, and Burning Airlines, and even doing a North American tour in early 2000. From there, the sound spread throughout Japan with bands popping up all over. Lately, there has been a bit of a resurgence with the "jangly" emo sound, ala Cap'n Jazz & Algernon Cadwallader.
     Pretty notable at this point is documentary made in 2000 on emo (and other styles) in the Japanese scene. It was directed by a fledgling film maker and features the more prominent bands in Tokyo at the time, especially those that spoke some English. Check it out here: Tokyo Below.

Starting Point - Bluebeard

     Bluebeard started playing around the mid to late 90's. There's honestly almost no information on them to be found, so I don't know that much. They released a 7" in 1999, a split with Nine Days Wonder the same year, and their amazing self-titled EP in 2001. After they broke up, the guitarist/vocalist formed As Meias and the other guitarist went on to play in Naht and Turtle Island. Here's a Japanese page with a sort of history of the band.

What to listen to:

     Their self-titled EP from 2001 is their swan song. 9 tracks of perfectly executed, dreamy emo with sustained vocals playing over dreamy guitars. I've never gotten tired of these songs, which is really rare.

Where to get it:

     Nowhere, really. I post their EP here, so you can listen and view the art, but it has been sold out for many years. The CD may occasionally pop up on Yahoo! Auctions, but you'd have to grab it fast.

What to watch:

     Bluebeard @ Shimokitazawa Shelter (1997)
     Bluebeard Studio Live (1998)
     Bluebeard PV (2000)

Next - Sora

     Sora started out as a screamo band in the early 2000's. I saw them play a studio show in 2003, it was one of their first, and were the perfect openers for After Forever and Gauge Means Nothing. After their first demo, they replaced their screaming with singing, but kept their intense and melancholic melodies. The result is some of the most interesting and ground-breaking music coming out in the past decade. Their sound has not (can not?) be replicated and their breakup in 2012 nearly brought me to tears. A one of a kind band that will never get it's fair share of popularity.

What to listen to:

     It's a tough call. I would say to listen to their final album first, because it's my favorite, but their preceding EP's might better prepare the listener to appreciate the last album. For simplicity's sake, check out their first tracks when they converted to singing, from their 4-way split on Impulse Records.

Where to get it:

     Sora's final album is available to non-Japanese through CDJapan at an incredibly reasonable price. With shipping, I think it was $20USD even, which is a steal for Japanese CD's. You can also check out the rest of their discography at The Song Of Delight blog.

What to watch:

     Sora @ WARP (2010)
     Sora @ Nagoya Club Rock'N'Roll (2012)
     Sora "灯台の上で待つ" Release tour movie

Next - Balloons

     Balloons started playing in the mid-90's, but didn't release their first album until 2003 on Stiff Slack. In 2005 they did a two-week tour of the East Coast USA, which coincided with a re-release of their debut album on 31knots' label 54º40' or Fight!  Since then, they're released two more albums in Japan, jumping to different labels for each one. They're currently pretty big in Japan, for an independent band, headlining shows with Toe and the like.

What to listen to:

     Definitely their first album, 9:40 p.m. It is a solid, timeless masterpiece dedicated to angular, mathy emo. From there, though, I'm not really sure. I haven't got a chance to hear their later albums, so I can't vouch for the quality. Still, anything you can get your hands on will be good.

Where to get it:

     You can listen to a limited selection at Balloons' Bandcamp from their early releases. CDJapan has all but their earliest releases for sale. You can check out their debut album here on the blog.

What to watch:

     Balloons @ UNIT (2011)
     Balloons @ UNIT (2011)
     Balloons - Intensity PV (2010)
     Balloons @ ERA (2004)

Next - Curve

     Curve was a two piece for much of their existence, only gaining a third member with their most recent album. They've also had quite a bit of exposure throughout the world, touring through Malysia/Singapore and appearing an a split in the USA. They started playing in the early 2000's, and always reminded me of early Jimmy Eat World. Their more recent sound brings in some post-rock elements and the songs get seriously epic.

What to listen to:

     Curve has definitely been around the block, and have at least 3 full lengths you could check out. I say to start at the best (in my opinion), Till The End, which was released last year from Impulse Records.

Where to get it:

     You can buy Till The End from CDJapan. There's a couple of things posted on my blog, the best being their single from 2003. And you can get their 6-way split on Bear Records at the MeatCube store.

What to watch:

     Curve @ ERA (2012)
     Curve @ Shinjuku Nine Spices (2011)
     Curve Live (2010)
     Curve Acoustic @ Senseless Records (2009)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Where To Start: Japanese Screamo

     I've had several people mention that they don't really know where to start when getting into Japanese music. I can definitely see how, when faced with hundreds of awesome bands that are equally obscure, it can be a daunting task to get your feet wet. Hopefully I can help out with that, and I'm going to try to do a series of posts that basically aim to gracefully get you, the reader, into some of the best music you'll ever here. The first subject will be my favorite, Japanese Screamo.

     To check out more Screamo, you can browse using the screamo tag.

Please leave feedback on what you want to see with these. I'm sort of shooting in the dark as to what is the best way to help newcomers dive in.


     Screamo (or Emotional Hardcore) came to Japan in the early 90's. There are early traces of Japanese people contributing and sending in stuff to Heart Attack magazine, and appearances by Sawpit on the label, Ebullition, and Bonescratch doing splits with foreign bands. The late 90's saw the Tokyo and Sapporo scenes both getting pretty busy. Tokyo had bands like Swipe, Envy, and Kulara; Sapporo had bands like Next Style, The Carnival of Dark-Split, and Black Film Dance. From there, screamo blossomed, spawning small scenes in nearly every large city in Japan. There have been countless bands over the past 20 or so years to play this awesome style, so let's dig in! These four groups represent the four pillars of Japanese screamo to me. Yes there are more! And I'm already sorry that I may or may not have included your favorite band. This is all just my opinion.

Starting Point - Envy:

     Envy is basically the glass through which the rest of the Japanese screamo scene should be view through. They began in 1992 and have had the same members for nearly their entire existence. Their style has been copied and modified countless times and nearly every Japanese screamo band has traces of envy in their sound.

What to listen to:

     Envy dropped their first proper album, From Here to Eternity, in 1998, and the Japanese scene has still not recovered. In my travels, it has consistently been the favorite envy album for most of the Japanese musicians I talk to. It's a very raw album, with gorgeous melodies and tons of passion.
     My favorite album and envy's masterpiece is All The Footprints... released in 2001. This was 11 of the most daring tracks to have ever played. Marvelous compositions, soaring melodies, crushing heaviness. It was everything envy hinted at, fully realized. THIS is what the scene really took from and built on. To me, this is the epitome of Japanese screamo.

Where to get it:

     Envy's catalogue is fairly easy to get. Temporary Residence Limited is there US label, and has re-released most of their back catalogue. MP3 versions are available through Spotify, Amazon, ITunes, and more. TRL just released a jaw-droppingly amazing boxed set of envy's entire recorded output, 14-LP's. It's a bit of an investment, but it will give you everything you need to understand and appreciate this important band.

What to watch:

     Envy @ Sendai Birdland (1998)
     Envy @ Shinjuku Anti-Knock (2002)
     Envy Transfovista DVD (2007)
     Envy @ Kaikoo Popwave Festival, Osaka (2013)

Next - Gauge Means Nothing:

     Gauge Means Nothing started playing in the late 90's. Their first EP came out in 2003, from their label and mine. They are the band that got me into releasing things and energized me to preach the Japanese music gospel. They broke up in 2005, and left behind an EP, split with My Precious, and a last song. They aren't for everyone, and you'll probably either love them or hate them. They take the Japanese screamo sound of envy, and add emo, metal, hardcore, and J-Pop. Their music is always emotional and passionate, and you can tell they are having a blast playing it.

What to listen to:

     Their first EP, The Absent Trail of an Echo..., (which this blog is named after), is the best place to start. There's five songs on there, totaling around 30 minutes of music. Their later stuff gets even more interesting, but there were some changes in songwriters and the personality is different. Check out this EP first.

Where to get it:

     So glad you asked! You can buy copies of The Absent Trail of an Echo... on CD at the MeatCube store.   You can listen to it on MeatCube's bandcamp page. And when you're ready to move on, you can also listen to their split with My Precious, although the CD is out of print.

What to watch:

     Gauge Means Nothing @ Tokyo (2003)
     Gauge Means Nothing - Right Hand PV
     Gauge Means Nothing @ Nishiogikubo Watts (2004)

Next - Killie:

     Killie started playing in the mid-2000's. They pretty much formed as a super group with members from 3cmtour, Cleaner, Anthropic DiseaseSora, and The Black Line Fever. Their image and brutal sound has made them gain popularity fairly quickly. They've released several splits, singles, and EPs to this point, and are working on their first album now. Their sound is based on envy's sound, but add lots of time changes, depressing melodies, and intensity ala Louise Cyphre or Orchid.

What to listen to:

     Killie's first EP, Want to Escape From the Underground..., is my favorite. It mixes their raw intensity with some amazing melodies. They've moved on to a more broad sound since then, but the brilliance of that EP overshadows their other stuff, for me. The next step is to check out their EP, After all, the opinion.... Two long songs on one side of an LP.

Where to get it:

     Unfortunately, nearly everything Killie has ever released is sold out. You can keep an eye on their Discogs page to see when people sell things second hand. Their 2xCD split with Off Minor is usually the first thing to show up. Otherwise, you can download almost their entire discography from this post here. Hopefully their upcoming album will have more copies produced and be distributed out a bit better.

What to watch:

     Killie @ Arayakushimae Studio LIFE (2005)
     Killie @ Tokyo (2007)
     Killie - Resurrection DVD (2008)
     Killie - Taipei, Taiwan (2013)

Next - Dip Leg:

     Dip Leg started playing in the early 2000's in Okayama, which is kind of in the middle of nowhere. They developed their own offshoot of screamo which built from envy's sound, and added angular guitars and deep, soulful grooves. Their album was the second thing I released, and they released another EP before splitting up. Their sound is very approachable, with warm melodies and perfect instrumentation. Their vocals are high-pitched and may take some getting used to, but meld well with the rest of the music.

What to listen to:

     Their debut album is classic Dip Leg, The Sympathy Without Love. It has 8 songs, and every one is a winner. The album is pretty much another Japanese screamo masterpiece, perfectly conceived and executed.

Where to get it:

     Their album is still available on CD at the MeatCube store. You can also listen to it here. Once you've consumed that, I also posted their followup EP here.

What to watch:

     Dip Leg Live (?)
     Dip Leg - Videos from EP (2006?)

Shake Your Tambourine - Issue 3

Another awesome Japanese zine from the early/mid 2000's. This one has an interview with toe, a history of Japanese hardcore group Foodchain, some reviews, and some stuff from American emo acts of the time. Check it out!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Better Done Than Better Said - Issue 1

Another awesome zine from 2003. Some awesome photos from all sorts of bands and interviews with some great bands. Pics from Boiler Frog, Cuthbarts, The Sun, Tiala, I Eat Me, Dip Leg, Yarmulke, Nitro Mega Prayer, Five Kinds Square, The Black Line Fever, 3cm Tour, Sora, Womb, After Forever. So, pretty much everybody from that era. Check it out!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

[WeAre]Off! - Final Issue

[WeAre]Off! was an Osaka based zine active in the early 2000's. I only have one issue, but this one is jam packed with some of my favorite bands. Local Kansai acts like I Eat Me, S41, and R3-N7 join Tokyo acts Gauge Means Nothing, After Forever and Neoteny. Pretty great. I'm not able to translate anything into English, but this is still a pretty cool snapshot of the Japanese underground scene circa 2002. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Best Albums of 2012

Yes, I know 2013 is almost halfway through. I also know I haven't touched this blog in a long time. Whatever. I'm a walking contradiction! Anyways, I recorded this best of 2012 podcast awhile ago and thought I'd post it with my write-up as well. Enjoy!

sora - echo
mother - 1990
tetola93 - 腐敗の一死報国
saisa - Faith In Ordinary
birth - 音楽は変わった

My Top 5 Releases of 2012:

Sora - 灯台の上で待つ
     - I feel almost a responsibility to put this first. Sora split up in December, playing their final show after almost 10 years (I saw one of their first shows in 2003). Before they left us, they recorded a proper album which is the true summit of their monumental climb to perfect their sound. From their beginnings as crucial Japanese screamo, through their delvings into post-screamoish rock, they finally hit at this ultimate sound. Japanese style indie rock, but intense in a way that only epic screamo bands can be. Vocals which are passionate and emotional, but smooth and nice on the ears. I loved this hard when it came out, and on 12/31/12 with no close contenders, I have to call it my Best Album of 2012.

Mother - the Living Dead
     - After a demo in late 2011, Kyoto's Mother release their debut album through Impulse Records and ruin everyone else's hopes of making better music. The vanguard of a newly coagulating Japanese sound, Mother builds on the shoulders of predecessors like Turbostaat and 1000 Travels of Jawaharlal. They dabble in the same genre as Infro and Eye, but this debut album really cements exactly what they are about and where they're going. Fantastic album.

Tetola93/Visyaaa split
     - My first listen of Tetola93 left me in total confusion. Emo-violence? Singing? Thrash? I couldn't wrap my head around this mass of chaos, emotion, and melody that was blaring through my headphones. But it was addictive, like crack. Each song was only the good parts. No lukewarm bridges or lousy verses. Short, sweet, and perfect, I had to re-listen to each song over and over and over. This split in particular is their newest and greatest. Tetola93 is essential; they are the shape of Japanese screamo to come. Visyaaa is good too, but unlucky being paired with another band that overshadows them so much. Tetola93 played their last show in 2012, but our in the process of recording an LP to be released by MeatCubeLabel in 2013.

Saisa - This Empty Space Returns Your Solitude
     - Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I don't mind listening to really good "imitations." So, to get it out of the way, Saisa sounds a lot like Sigur Ros. This is not a bad thing. From there, Saisa develop their own sound from the Sigur Ros-ian mold to deliver some of the most soothing, soaring, peaceful, passionate, heavenly, earthly sounds this side of Tokyo. And they do it all with three people. Keep It Together Records released this, their debut EP, on cassette last year. It's one of those incomprehensible moments where a band that should be playing stadiums is actually completely unheard of. Anyways, this is worth it and was really one of the best things out last year.

PS Burn This Letter - Written There For All
     - Something like 3-5 years in the making (the songs were recorded in 2009 I think), P.S. Burn This Letter's first, final, and only release finally makes it out on 7" & CD-R. This band seemed to be custom made for me. Members of Gauge Means Nothing, Tiala, and Box the Compass. This EP (Single?) sounds exactly like you would expect. Carefully crafted emotional hardcore reminiscent of late-90's, early 2000's Ebullition and Japanese screamo acts. In many ways I've moved on to shorter, faster fare, but these songs take me back and do it so good.

Short List (Good albums worth your time & hard-earned money):
Alt Of The Society - Yobikakerukoegakieteiku
     - Debut EP of this Tokyo act, mixing Envy/Heaven in Her Arms style post-rock screamo with Sora-like, intense singing. Pretty blown away by this and the band keeps getting better in their recently release split with Nonrem. I listened hard.

Birth - Ishiyo
     - Finally, a proper full length from these guys. The heavy grooves really surprised me, adding a new dimension to their 3cm tour influenced sound, and making their songs surprisingly danceable. You know you wnat this.

Stubborn Father x R3-N7
     - A complete surprise for me. I'd only heard one song from Stubborn Father before, so this split was so good to hear. Complex and cerebral grindy, thrashy hardcore. Stubborn Father is a visionary band. On the other side is R3N7's most recent crusty demolition trip. The songs are good, but can get monotonous. Odd to see a band go from screamo to synth-spazz-whatever to crust.

Low-Pass - Trimurti
     - Release on cassette through Keep It Together Records this year, Low-Pass's most recent album is finally accessible to the world. Some of the smartest and smoothest instrumental rock heard in many, many years.

Atata - Tatat
     - I was over the moon when I first listened to this, and it's still an amazing album. The intensity can be exhausting once you've listened to the album for awhile. Still, if you haven't picked this up, you're doing yourself a disservice.

To Overflow Evidence - また空をみるために白紙に描く日々の事
     - The 2011 Japan tsunami hit on the same day these guys were doing some final tracking for this album. While it might not technically be reflected in the recording, there is definitely a strong melancholic optimism shining through this album. A full 11 songs of pure Japanese screamo melodies with mid-tempo drums and some surprises. This was a solid album.