Tag Archives: japan

A Black Sound Selection

Kuroshitsuji II (aka the second season of Black Butler) is finally available this week here in the States. As you can imagine, yours truly is pretty freakin’ stoked. I’ve seen the subbed version, but I can’t wait to hear J. Michael Tatum’s smooth English version of Sebastian as he battles a new boy and his butler. To celebrate, today’s video is a live performance of “Kagayaku Sora no Shijima ni wa,” by Kalafina, which is used in season two. I think it’s fitting since the first season of Black Butler introduced me to this fantastic Japanese band, and my love of one keeps fueling the other. I could listen to these glorious ladies sing all day (and many days I do just that). This video proves that they are just as incredible live as they are on their albums. You can be certain that if the chance ever arises for me to see them in concert, I’ll take it in a black and bloody heartbeat.

Happy hump day, little earbuds. May you find something in this week that gives you just as much joy as this music and my new limited edition DVD give me.

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The Immortality of Vampires: Even More BUCK-TICK

Last week I talked about my latest (possibly greatest? It certainly feels that way right now!) new musical obsession, the visual kei phenomenon known as BUCK-TICK. Surely, dear reader, you didn’t think I could end it at that, did you? While all of the videos that I shared last week were undeniably fantastic (they were! I challenge anyone to deny it!) I acknowledge that they were all relatively recent videos. Because BUCK-TICK have been around since 1983, there’s a whole lot more to them than just the most recent wave of highly intoxicating songs. To prove that this band may indeed be one of the greatest in the world, I’ve decided to delve a little deeper into the BUCK-TICK backlog and share some other facets of this marvelous menagerie of musicians.

Dress (circa 1993)

Hard to believe for some, but 1993 is quite old now. In fact, in another year and a half, 1993 will be twenty years old. That’s two decades ago! Yet even then, BUCK-TICK were on the scene making deeply seductive music flavored with gothic romance. Which makes sense when you realize that BUCK-TICK were influenced by the seminal goth bands of the Eighties such as Bauhaus, The Cure, Love & Rockets, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and The Sisters of Mercy. Lead singer Atsushi Sakurai in particular has spoken openly of his fondness for all things “dark,” which is clearly visible in his appearance, performances, and lyrics. In “Dress” we see a young cross-dressing Atsushi who exudes prowess and innocent allure while crooning in a beguilingly knowing way. If I ever get the boudoir of my dreams (a room swathed in deep crimson veils lit by candles) this song will be playing on constant repeat. So sexy!

Razzle Dazzle (live in 2010)

God, I love that moment in a concert just before the artist hits the stage. The excitement, the frenzy, the anticipation! This video captures all of that flawlessly. A band that’s just as great live as on their albums is some kind of heaven for us music geeks, and BUCK-TICK are the archangels of that heaven with their showmanship and dedication to the dramatic in their musical craft. And did I mention that this was filmed just last year? Oh to have been in that audience! The opening is delicious, but if you’re impatient, forward to 3:17 for the good stuff.

Dress (abingdon boys school with special guest Atsushi Sakurai)

This is one of my favourite videos to watch over and over again. Just look at the faces of the fans in the crowd after Atsushi takes the stage with a.b.s! I get goosebumps from all of the intensely palpable energy they created, and I’m just watching this performance on YouTube. Imagine what it was like to have actually been there! The fact that not only do newer (and quite popular) bands like a.b.s. choose to cover BUCK-TICK songs, but also that Atsushi blends so seamlessly into this performance speaks to the timelessness of their work. They were great two decades ago, and they remain great now.

BUCK-TICK make amazingly lush videos and they put on incredible live concerts. Not to mention their influence speaks to a whole new generation of fans year after year. Now do you see why I would nominate this band as one of the best in the world? I could seriously make a blog that’s only devoted to BUCK-TICK, so great is my love for this band. In fact, they even inspire me to break with my traditional Top 3 format and include something extra: a live performance of what is possibly my favourite BUCK-TICK song (or at least my fav for the moment), “Dokudanjou Beauty,” from the same concert above, performed last year on the Razzle Dazzle tour.

Ah, perfection. Hisashi Imai has his Keith Richards rock-god-kick goin’ on, while Atsushi just sneers at the camera. He knows that he commands the attention of the entire room, and he doesn’t even need to try. I honestly don’t know which version I like better, the studio single or the live recording. And that, to me, is the sign of a truly awesome band.

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Visual Kei For Vampires: Put Some BUCK-TICK In Your Brain

You know about visual kei, right? It’s just one more example of why Japan is cooler than anywhere else on the planet. I always admired the fashion of visual kei, but never found my way to the music. Then I watched Trinity Blood, and there at the opening was my key to a whole new world of fandom: BUCK-TICK. I liked them from the first time that I heard them, getting drawn in especially by the melodious vocals. The name of the band references the Japanese word for “firecracker,” which I find very appropriate. Sure, they’re one of the biggest bands in Japan, but as I am not Japanese, I discovered them a scant two weeks ago. Yet from that point in time through the present, I CAN’T STOP LISTENING TO THEM. Their music is exciting and extravagant, dark and sexy, and the only thing better than listening to them is watching them perform. Today I give you three videos from my new number one band-crush, but I dare say there will be more posted in the future. How can I stop at just three when the videos (and music) are this good?

3.) Dokudanjou Beauty

This video is pretty much the perfect amalgamation of everything I love: punk, goth, renaissance, roses, swords, dangerous jewelry, boys in black with awesome hair, you name it. All they need is a cat walking through the background and I’m in heaven. The music is powerful but still bouncy, definitely worthy of fist-pumping at top volume with the windows down in your car. And how badass is that wishbone-esque guitar? One listen and you’ll be hooked, I guarantee.

2.) Romance

Preeeetttttttttty. *Drool* If you don’t believe in vampires, you will after watching lead singer Atsushi Sakurai in this video. This time BUCK-TICK amps up the gothic quotient to fantastic proportions (which is especially delicious for us darklings in the audience). Even without understanding the lyrics, the deep sensuality is quite palpable in the slow, seductive rhythm of this song. I could go on, but I believe that YouTube commenter Vinerilla sums it up best:

Ok. Five years ago, I heard this man’s voice for the first time. My jaw dropped to the floor. I couldn’t believe my ears. It was the most sensual voice I had ever heard in my life, smooth as liquor, like liquid velvet, dripping with raw emotion. I went to Youtube. I looked him up. And I found THIS. The most beautiful man in the world, to match the most beautiful voice in the world. How is that even FAIR? x____x 

1.) Kuchizuke

This was the first BUCK-TICK video that I ever saw, hence it will always hold a special place in my heart. This video showed me that there was more to love than just “Dress (Bloody Trinity Mix).” Oh so much more. I would like to state here and now that I understand that bands are composed of more than just a lead singer, and this entire band is marvelous. But I have to take a fangirlish moment to say that the part with Atsushi and the apple is so sexy that I think I might expire on the spot every time I watch it. I’ve seen him when he was younger, and he only gets better with time! That man has the Johnny Depp cheekbones to carry him into an elegantly sexy old age. However, even though this blog entry is about visual kei, it all comes back to the music. And this song is incredible. The pounding drums, the crunchy guitars, the gorgeous vocals (which is what first drew me to BUCK-TICK) and even the twinkling chimes combine to make this audible gold. The dark fairy tale of a video is really just icing on the cake (but it’s that super luscious icing that you could eat even without cake).

Just as Black Butler and Vampire Knight provided a gateway into anime for me, BUCK-TICK is opening up an entire universe of visual kei for me to feast upon. I feel almost giddy at this discovery, and I can’t wait to find even more visual kei bands to absorb into my ever-expanding fandom. Now, to watch more BUCK-TICK videos. *Swoon!*

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The Eastern Sea’s So Blue

Unsurprisingly, I’m really feeling the Eighties lately. I’ve also been going gaga for all things Japanese (as evidenced by my Music For Otakus series, and by an upcoming entry on visual kei). So what could be better than a new wave Eighties hit about Japan, sung by a German band? Exactly. Nothing.

I still distinctly remember the first time that I caught this video on VH1’s late late late night videos. I taped it to show my sister and laughed about the cheesy effects, but secretly I was already digging on the song. Flash forward to a scant few weeks later and I had Forever Young and Other Hits by Alphaville in my hot little hands. The entire album was only $5, but to my surprise there were loads of great songs on there! So what’s the point of this wee vignette, you might be asking? All I’m saying, dear little earbuds, is that you should never judge a song by its video. And don’t be afraid to fully chow down on the cheesy goodness of decades gone by.

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With Reflection: The Devastation in Japan

Today I was going to post a new album review, but in light of the current circumstances in the Pacific, instead I’m dedicating today’s post to all the people affected by the earthquake and the tsunami, especially the country of Japan. If you’re looking for a way that you can help, try here, or simply text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone.

Today’s music offering is a beautiful fan-made video for the song “Chowa Oto -with Reflection-” by Kokia, with visuals taken from the gorgeous anime Mushishi. Even if you can’t understand the actual lyrics, the emotion is nearly palpable. I have yet to visit Japan myself, but Japanese culture pervades some facet of my life on a daily basis. I deeply admire and respect all that the country has offered to the world on a global level, and my thoughts and prayers are with everyone there, as well as those in other countries struck by this devastation.

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