Thursday, June 12, 2008

Shake the World

Lillies and Remains (Rock/Post-Punk)
EP: Moralist S.S. (Fifty-One Records, 2008)

On Monday nights it's my custom to repair to my favorite Kyoto restaurant for some excellent Japanese food. I thoroughly recommend Hiroshi Goto's Kura Kura izakaya if you can find it among the maze of side streets near Kyoto station.

But I digress.

Ma-sa, one of KK's servers, drums with a local rock band called Lillies and Remains. They got their curious name from a Bauhaus record. Ma-sa timidly handed me the band's flyer a few weeks ago, and yesterday I finally got around to checking their home page.

To be honest, I was gobsmacked.

Lillies and Remains are easily one of the best Japanese post-punk bands I've heard, and a welcome antidote to the insipid J-Pop which dominates the Japanese music scene. They're not entirely my cup of tea, and lyrically I'd say they have some work to do, but the streamlined, edgy goth-pop featured on their debut EP is catchy and exciting, and clearly owes a debt to western groups like Bauhaus, Josef K and especially Interpol.

The British influence also reveals itself in the vocals. The Lillies understand that Japanese ain't no language for rock 'n' roll. Even if its lyrics are impenetrable, Moralist S.S. is sung in some form of English patois.

If they can keep delivering the goods, I can definitely see the Lillies making it in Japan, if not in the west. The video of Moralist S.S. is a beautiful piece of work which shows that these guys have either some serious cash or a friend who's a genius art director.

Judging by the band's web site, confidence shouldn't be a problem. Their bio celebrates their "killer tunes" and modestly proclaims they are "most likely to be “THE BAND” of the Japanese indie rock scene." Not only that, they promise to "shake the world. "

If they're right, I have a feeling Masa may not be serving up tori karage and sashimi for much longer. That may be Kura Kura's loss, but Japanese rock fans will, I'm sure, be mighty thankful.

Artist web site:

VIDEO: Lillies and Remains, Moralist S.S.


spaewaif said...

Hello Shiffi,how are you doing? I do check in here from time to time see how my ex-colleague is faring...
These Lillies are certainly a *LOT BETTER* than most things you hear!!!
And true,the English at least "sounds" English,quite an achievement.
I agree about J-Pop,one song every five years or more seems to be getting somewhere but always stops short of reaching any purpose.
I am always shocked at the capacity of singers/bands to destroy a song after it begins semi-decently.
More often than not,a song will also contain a variety of styles and genres so that it can be sold more widely.
I don't even like most of the "alternative" names you mentioned.I am sick and tired of seeing the same old bands in a multitude of new names and formations amidst themselves in every week's gig-listings.It is just the same bloody bunch of people doing yet again the same thing under a different guise.
Is music dead in this country?
Take a gig,whyever the need for constant spectacle?! Or the rants between songs about,well,nothing?
So,when something like this song pops up,you think that somewhere,somebody must be doing things differently.
Mind you,I bet the singer for this outfit has imitated
Interpol's singing style to infinity,maybe even at a language school with his teacher...
Ooops,have I lost all faith?

Shiffi Le Soy said...

Hi spaewaif,

Great to hear from you and good to know you visit these islands of ecstasy from time to time! I wish more folks would leave comments on my rants!

As you say, the Lillies are above average at least and especially excitng cos I found 'em at the local restaurant!

But as for the "alternative" names, what can I are right and I guess I wuz trying to accentuate the positive. Those bands have been around a good while, even if they are unknown by the greater majority.

You never know though, whenever things get predictable there's often some punk ready to burst out of his bedroom and slay us all with the sound of the future.

Well, I can dream, can't I?

For instance, that guy Dale Ward is pretty good, whoever he is. Didja check him out? :P

I am afraid you might be right and perhaps music is dead in this country. But since I get most of my musical refreshment from other sources, it ain't no big thang to me.

The rants between songs about nothing are an irritation, though. If you havent been to a Japanese gig you won't know what we're talking about. But it's 4 mins of music then 10 mins of talking, so sets are often not allowed to build momentum or atmosphere.

>Ooops,have I lost all faith?

No, dear, you just had too much reality for breakfast

spaewaif said...

Oh,I did check that Dale,yes I did...
Good photos...

spaewaif said...

Just found this clip by Brazilian unsigned band Radio de Outono and found them to be a good example of how to create a fresh simple pop song that most Japanese bands cannot even dream of... dunno,what do you think?

Shiffi Le Soy said...

Yeh, I checked out their MySpace. Nice one! As u say, nice fresh feel.