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Archive for the ‘Japanese Breakfast’ Category

[ATTENDED: October 29, 2019] Jay Som

A few years ago, I listened to a podcast on All Songs Considered, in which they talked about Jay Som, Japanese Breakfast and Mitski as being similarly-minded songwriters.

I made a point to try to see all three of them and Jay Som was my third.  I feel like her songs might be the most commercial-sounding (I mean, “Superbike” is awesome!) and yet she played in the smallest venue of the three.  But the fans were really into the show!

Jay Som is the creation of Melina Duterte.  She came out last after her band set up and checked out to make sure everything was cool.  When she came out on stage there was much applause and she thanked us for coming to her show while Sum 41 was playing downstairs.  he said that she and the band checked out a few songs before their set started.  Actually their set was so short, they could have easily gone down afterward and heard more.

Up on stage with her were Oliver Pinnell on guitar, Zachary Elsasser on drums and Dylan Allard on bass and keys.  There was also a fifth person on stage.  A woman.  And that’s all I really know about her.  I’m sure she was introduced, but I never caught her name.  And, because of the position of the keyboard rack, I literally never saw her face.  She played keys and bass.  When she stood in front of the keys, the upper keyboard blocked her face and when Dylan played keys, he totally blocked her.  So, apologies, unknown band member. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 3, 2018] Japanese Breakfast

Japanese Breakfast is the creation of Philadelphia-based Michelle Zauner.  She sings pretty melodies and has a variety of tones when she sings–some high-pitched notes and some lower parts as well.

A lot of bands celebrate in some way when they play a home town.  Sometimes its an extra song or a guest.  I don;t really know how this show deviated from other in terms of set list, but Zauner had a lot to celebrate being back at Union Transfer.

[Quotes and quoted passages are from an article in The Key

“I fucking used to work coat check here,” Zauner told the audience as she gazed into the sold out crowd at UT.

She said this just after she’d sung her first song “Diving Woman.”  It was the first time she had headlined Union Transfer.  She said she felt a bit shy playing here because so many friends and family were in attendance.  And she talked a lot about her connections to the city.  She graduated from Bryn Mawr college and she recorded both Japanese Breakfast albums in Philly.   (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JAPANESE BREAKFAST-“California Dreaming'” (2018).

As I was thinking about what song to put with this book, Japanese Breakfast released a cover of the wonderful original.  I don’t know too many songs by The Mamas and the Papas, but this is one of my all time favorite songs in general.

I was a little disappointed as the song started because it just Michelle Zauner singing over a delicate organ (it’s the harmonies that I love so much about the original).

But then it becomes evident what Zauner is doing.  The song is dirgey and cold, as the lyrics suggests, which is kind of cool.

And then after for the second verse she drops a big beat which adds a cool guitar lick and backing vocalists.

It brings a cool, sensual twist to the song which in the original is kind of poppy, yet dark.  The production of the song is quite nice, but it really can’t beat the amazing harmonies of the original.

[READ: July 20, 2017] California Dreamin’

This is a delightful biography of the woman who would become Mama Cass.  I knew little about The Mamas & The Papas, and I knew even less about Mama Cass, so this proved to be an excellent and fascinating introduction.

And it is all told with Bagieu’s wonderful drawings–there’s something so wonderfully French about her drawings of the hippie sixties in the US–it’s wonderful.  She also makes Mama Cass–who could be drawn fat and unpleasant–as perpetually pretty and sexy, which is pretty cool.

The scene opens in the summer of 1965 (although in the shopping center there is Kohls which I don’t think was in California in 1965, but whatever).  A DJ is asking kids what they love about the Mamas and the Papas.  They all say Cass obviously,  she’s the nicest and coolest.

Then we flashback. And I love the way that she has constructed this story–it focuses on a different person in each chapter. (more…)

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diaSOUNDTRACK: JAPANESE BREAKFAST-Tiny Desk Concert #663 (October 25, 2017).

I had it in my head that Japanese Breakfast was a weird band–psychedelic or wacky indie or something.   And maybe they are.  But certainly not here.

For this concert, the band is all acoustic (except for the electric bass).  For the first two songs there is a sting section.  Interestingly, the string section is Rogue Collective who also performed with Landlady on a recent Tiny Desk.   [Landlady’s Adam Schatz told Zauner that the Rogue Collective make pretty great Tiny Desk partners].

So the blurb corrects me about the band, describing their music as having “gauzy, astral synths.”  Those are clearly not present here.

As Japanese Breakfast, Michelle Zauner writes sparkling, opulent dream pop about grief and love (and, occasionally, robots). After releasing its debut album, Psychopomp last year, the band returned with this year’s stunning Soft Sounds From Another Planet. Where Psychopomp, written in the immediate aftermath of the death of Zauner’s mother, zeroed in on the experience of Zauner’s grief, Soft Sounds widens her aperture, featuring paeans to her coping mechanisms, ruminations on crooked relationship dynamics and said sci-fi robot fantasy.

“Boyish” aches with sadness (“your boyish reassurance is not reassuring”).  The melody (her guitar and Deven Craige’s bass to start) is lovely and heartbreaking.  Then the strings really punctuate the sentiment of these great lines.  And there’s some great backing vocals from drummer Craig Hendrix.

If you go to her don’t expect to come home to me.
I can’t get you off my mind /I can’t get you off in general
I want you and you want something more beautiful
I can’t get you off my mind / you can’t get yours off the hostess

I love the opening lines to ‘Till Death,’ which really sums up the end of 2016:

all our celebrities keep dying / while the cruel men continue to win.

She says the song is about marriage (and then chuckles).  The blurb says she sings “as she often does, in a way that strains her voice to the crackling, taut edge of heartbreak.”  This song is really lovely–the melody is a knockout.  The piano and bass start the song.  After the first verse the strings come in and Hendrix adds more backing vocals.

I love a song that ends with this final line:

PTSD, anxiety, genetic disease, thanataphobia

Everybody leaves for the final song, “This House.”  Except Hendrix moves from drums to piano.

Another great lyric opens the song:

This house is full of women
playing guitar cooking breakfast
sharing trauma doing dishes
and where are you

The song describes moments in love that are more fearful labor than bliss, the hazy space where commitment, confusion and longing intersect. Like much of Japanese Breakfast’s music, the performance shows Zauner looking unblinkingly at fear and pain, daring us to do the same.

Interestingly, for this concert, Rogue Collective has a different lineup.  They are a trio: Alexa Cantalupo (violin) and Natalie Spehar (cello) are back but Kaitlin Moreno (violin) is there while Livia Amoruso (violin) and Deanna Said (viola) are not.

In a cool footnote, the blurb says “The Collective practiced with Japanese Breakfast the day before the Tiny Desk, and was a featured guest later that night at the band’s D.C. show.”

I enjoyed this Concert a lot and will have to give a closer listen to their new album.

[READ: March 1, 2017] El Dia Mas Largo del Futur

This book came across my desk at work and I loved the look of it right away.  I can stumble through some Spanish books, but imagine my delight to see that this one had no words at all!  It is a wordless graphic novel (novela gráfica).

I especially liked the look of it because it reminded me in some ways of Chris Ware–very detailed, incredibly crisp lines, and really pleasing shapes.  It is also very dark, like Ware’s work.

But the comparison ends there.  This story is set in a dystopian future where violence is the norm, where robots can be easily programmed to kill and where love seems an unlikely prospect.

And NOW, after having read it, I have just learned the total history of this book.  It was originally written in French as Le Jour Le Plus Long du Futur.  Varela is from Argentina.  It has also been published in English as The Longest Day Of The Future by Fantagraphics books.  So even though I felt proud about “reading” the book in Spanish, I could have just found it in English too.  Well, I’m keeping with my original post, so….

You can see more details of the book from the publisher website.

But here’s what the site says (in Google-translated English, no the irony is not lost on me): (more…)

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