Even less news this week for indiepop as far as I know. The only worthy piece of news for me was the new video that the New Zealand band, The Prophet Hens, have published on Youtube for the song “Popular People (Do Popular People)” that is included in their 2nd album “The Wonderful Shapes of Back Door Keys”. I played this album a lot last week, so that was quite cool that their video coincided with my listening.
I promised reviewing the Lima Popfest spring edition lineup. Sadly it seems I mixed up the weekend it was happening and well, it happened last Saturday. I don’t know how it went, hopefully it was a success, but I’ll go ahead and do a review of the bands for all of us that are not aware of many of these South American bands that were part of the festival.
- Tobogán Andaluz – I guess this Buenos Aires, Argentina, band was the headliner. I’ve seen their name many times in many of my South American friends Facebook. They must be somewhat popular. They have played not only in their home country but also in Argentina and now Peru. They also have a bunch of releases available on their BandCamp being “Luz Satelital” their latest effort (2016). So I have a listen now to the 8 songs on this release. I like alright their songs but they are more rockier than my usual indiepop day to day fare. There are some very nice guitar passages in some of his songs, and perhaps that’s why I quite enjoy this, though I won’t go far saying I’m a big fan of what I’m listening.
- Niños del Cerro – The kids from the hill, that would be the translation for their unusual name. This band hails from Santiago, Chile, and they have a Soundcloud from where I start listening their songs in order. Poppier than Tobogán, the guitars are closer to what I love, though the vocal harmonies on their first song “Nonato Coo” make me feel weird. So I try the next songs. And again, the music is really nice but the way the lyrics are sung, well they leave me a bit cold. Perhaps that’s due to their influences? I don’t know. I think simpler vocal harmonies, or less flashy, could work better with such music. But that’s just me. I believe they have a lot of followers down south and that is what matters.
- Chico Unicornio – A one man band from Lima, Peru, that is quite well known around Latin America. I have lost track of the artist for many years. I remember he used to have some sort of indie project many years ago, but now I can’t remember the name, was it Inerciados Pusilánimes (?). Someone might correct me. I listen to his latest track on BandCamp and even if I’m not a big fan of this sort of power pop style usually, by now I have to say I’m liking this much more than the previous two bands in the lineup. But then I change to other BandCamp releases and well, they are just some sort of experimental music? I think this is a bit too eclectic for me. Sometimes it is good, sometimes I just want to press skip.
- Banana Child – they also hail from Lima and from the illustration on the top of their Bandcamp I assume they are a quartet. They describe themselves as a surf rock band. The first song though, “Waves”, sounds really good, poppy, and with the right way of singing. Even the terrible English pronunciation is lovely. This is nice I think, a good discovery. But wait, let’s not call it a victory because I liked one song, let’s listen some more. So I continue listening the songs on their album “Empty Room”, and alright, I don’t enjoy the next few songs, too much surf in them, but then “Every Night Seems A New Morning” does sound fine. I guess a bit hit and miss, but quite a discovery when they get it right.
- Los Lagartos – The Alligators, from Lima, Peru. They’ve been around for a couple of years now. They have a bit of a following I gather. And it is well deserved. They have very fine songs, with good music and witty lyrics. I do hope to get some of their releases when I go to Lima in January, especially this split Mini CDR they released with Dan Dan Dero (another very fine band). I don’t know the members of the band but they seem to be listening to the right bands and crafting some very good songs. So far, in this review, my favourite band.
- Hiroshima Dandys – also called Mambo, or by his real name Pablo Rivas, this artist comes from Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires and makes some interesting pastiche electropop. Of course this is not the kind of music I usually listen to. But I can tell this is well done and actually sounds like fun. Good for a party. Not indiepop at all mind you.
- Electrochongo – another band making electropop from Argentina and also quite fun. I can picture it making the crowd dancing at the festival. Easy lyrics, good rhymes, they remind me of a bunch of bands from Spain that were making “tontipop” back in the early 2000s. It sounds like a time machine for me. I was listening to a lot of similar music back then. Because of nostalgia mostly, I enjoy the 4 songs on their Capo Ep that is free to stream on their Bandcamp.
- Poder Fantasma – last band in the lineup comes from Santiago, Chile. And I might think this is my least favourite sounding band. I listen first to the song “Tierra” and it is way too rocky for my taste, it even gets a bit anthemic on the vocals. And you know, I don’t like that. The next song, “Por Qué No Tiramos una Bomba en La Moneda?”, has good intentions definitely, the lyrics speak rightly, it has the punk attitude, but the music ends up being too messy for me, me not being fond of the electronic beats on it. Oh well…
I hope I’m not being too harsh. All in all, the even, Lima Popfest, does a fantastic job bringing bands from the region and fans together. That is what matters in the end. And to have fun. Maybe live these bands sound totally different too. I would have loved to attend. Also it matters the taste of the locals, and they really love some of these bands, I’ve seen them hyped by Tobogán Andaluz and Los Niños del Cerro for example. Me, I’d be hyped by Los Lagartos, but then, people are never usually excited for local bands. They want the ones from abroad. Same thing happens to me!
I wish that Popfest continues, even this exercise of listening to new music is really rewarding for me. There should be more Popfests, more gig organizers, that way even if I can’t attend, at least, I’m going to be able to listen to new music, sometimes I will like it, sometimes I won’t. But I will give the links to you, popkids, and maybe you like ones that I didn’t like, and dislike the ones I liked. That’s the beauty of it.
Been meaning to “introduce” you to Pastelshot for some time now. Maybe you already know them, they are not new. I only discovered them this year.
True, it is not often that I feature obscure Japanese bands in the blog. But there are times when I have to. Especially because Japanese bands are usually obscure for us Westerners. We don’t get to know much about their members, their gigs, what happened to them after or before the band and so on. Maybe that information is actually available in Japanese on the web, I don’t know. I don’t know Japanese, so it ends up being very difficult to track down Japanese bands and find information. In that sense, it would be great if Japanese fans can help me uncover the mystery of Pastelshot.
I don’t know when their mini-album came out. I can’t find a year. It came out on a label I mean to explore in a detailed way, abcdefg*record (catalog a-g007). I remember this label from the Myspace days, they released a band I really like, Naivepop or Petitfool. I never got round buying their records so maybe now I could start with the magic of the internet. I wonder though if all their catalog, all those bands I’ve never heard before like Strawberry Machine or Yucca, are as good as Pastelshot is.
Through the catalog I kind of have an idea when was the their mini-album “Hush, Little Baby” released. I think it must have been in either 2001 or 2002. It included 8 songs and it was released in CD format. The songs being: “Fade Into the Clouds”, “Red Bus Goes Through Our Days”, “Walk Or Not”, “Drops”, “Night Moves On”, “White Bird Sings Another Song”, “Hesitation” and “Funny Card”.
I’ll go over this record again in a bit. The thing is, that before the mini-album was released they did appear on a compilation titled “The Lucksmiths Japan Tour Sampler”, a CDR that I’m guessing was sold or given away while the Australian band toured in Japan/ This CDR was released by a classic Japanese label, Clover Records (catalog CLCDR-824) in 2001. The song the band contributed was “Red Bus Goes Through Our Days (Demo Version)”. I’m assuming this is a very rare record.
There is another compilation appearance listed on Discogs. On the compilation “ABC Make Up On Monday” released in 2009 by abcdefg*record (catalog a-g 004) they contributed “Summer Song”.
Luckily I have the mini-album and can now unveil some details about the band. We know the band is actually a duo formed by Keisuke Kamiya and Mamiko Yokote. They got the help of many friends on the record like Noriko Yamada (drums), Yasuaki Takahashi (bass), Kei Matsuura (guitars), Makoto Sasaki (flute) and Akiko Sumino (cello). The record was mixed and also disigned by Yukio Hirai and mastered by Kasuya Nagae.
There are some thank you notes as well and I can see they thank some bands like Harmony Hatch or Hazel Nuts Chocolate. They also thank the Blue Badge Label’s head honcho Toshiyuki Higumi. What a great label is the Blue Badge Label, right?
The beautiful illustrations on the booklet were made by Tamami Yokote. Maybe Mamiko’s sister?
I look for Keisuke Kamiya on Discogs. He seems listed on a band called Tiala. But it sounds PUNK! Is this the same Keisuke Kamiya that makes such gentle pop on Pastelshot? For the other people involved in the record, I find no info.
I find a small review entry on the Tonevendor mailorder site. Actually you can get their record there for a good price if you are not in Japan, that is a good tip. It is said that the band had 3 independently released cassettes before the CD came out. Now Pastelshot got all my attention. I want to listen to these three tapes!
Tonevendor accurately describes their music: Like a soundtrack to a movie, this is “the melody of small love”. Heartbreaking, warm and touching you brightly. Boy/girl vocals complete the sound perfectly. 8 tracks. Japanese import. From this review we know this was a long-distance band, one of them was in Tokyo, the other in Nagoya. Who was who, and how did this work out for them?
Ok, so they were on other compilations. Perhaps they were on Blue Badge compilations? It would make sense if they thank the label. So yes, in 2002 they appear on the compilation “Send My Badge” with the song “Walk Or Not” and then on 2000 on the cassette compilation “Her Breast Pocket” with the song “Ray of Snow”.
Now, where else to find them? Where are they now? It’s been around 15 years or so since they released this lovely mini-album. What did they do after? I’d love to listen to the songs on compilations that don’t appear on the CD, and also of course, those three tapes they released before joining any labels.
I google and only find a bunch of Japanese and Chinese sites that seem to sell the record. I go to the abcdefg*record site. There’s no information there either. The band just vanished.