I haven't written anything here in ages - I kept on meaning to write some sort of a review of 2003, before 2003 actually ended, but people I meet for the first time this year are still saying "Happy New Year" to me so I figure I'm still in the New Year zone where reviews are acceptable ..............
Kicking off - the best albums category is headed by The White Stripes - Elephant. I hadn't heard much about White Stripes before, except that they were in the same retro rock genre as The Strokes - and I hated the Strokes, so I avoided The White Stripes until I read a review somewhere - on B00mb0x I think - which presuaded me to give them a go. Its a great album. I saw them live around November last year. I was under the impression that they were a conventional full four piece rock band so I was a bit surprised to find that there was only two of them. And that one of them was a woman. And that they were brother and sister. It was a great gig all round though. It was on in Shibuya AX - which is a great venue for a gigs like this. Loads of energy, loads of classy songs, loads of everything. Lets hope they can keep it up. I listened to White Blood Cells recently and it's pretty good - if a bit less polished than Elephant. If they can keep to the same upwardly mobile graph their next album should be a real gem.
Radiohead - with Hail To The Thief come next. They just never disappoint. Even with their experimental albums like Kid A and Amnesiac - on the initial few listens you might be disappointed but if you persevere, you will be rewarded. Hail To The Thief is a lot more accessible and is full of great songs. 'There there' and 'Wolf At The Door' are my personal favorites. They played at Summersonic this summer - a two day music festival out in the suburbs of Tokyo. The tickets sold out for Sunday before I could get one and I was not happy. I saw Radiohead live once before in Galway for the Big Day Out - just after they released the Bends. It is still the benchmark by which I mark all ather live gigs - and no-one else has come even close. So the news that they were coming back to Tokyo in April for the Thief tour was greeted by great excitement and agitation. I bought my ticket in November - 5 months in advance - just in case.
Queens Of The Stone Age - Songs For The Deaf. Did this come out in 2003 ? Not sure about that, but its a great album. Hard edged rock great for listening to on Friday evenings before hitting the town. The Rapture - Echoes was a great album as well. Very Cureish but thats not all bad I suppose. Also 2 Many DJ's - As Heard On Soulwax Radio Part 2 I think this is pretty old, but I only discovered this gem towards the end of last year. Underworld were playing out in Makuhari Messe and a big gang of us went along. Felix da Housecat and 2 Many DJ's were supporting. I'd never heard of either before, but I'm an avid fan both now. Brilliant night. Underworld were great, but for me they were eclipsed by their support. 2 Many DJ's really know how to have everyone really enjoying themselves.
I got back into Clubbing in a big way since I've come back to Tokyo. The options are limitless here. For hardcore techno Takkyu Ishino and Shin Nishimura would probably be my favorite two DJs, along with the teutonic maestro himself - Sven Vath. I've met All three of these DJs. One of the cool things about the techno scene is that the megastar DJs are all happy to wander around the clubs before, after and even during their sets. John met Sven Vath once while he was supposed to be at the decks, so John asked him who was up there instead. Sven told him that he was dying for a piss and just put a really long track on - he reckoned no-one would notice ........... class !!
The Underworld night was definately one of the clubbing highlights of the year along with when Carl Cox played in Ageha supported by Takkyu Ishino. Ageha is - in my humble opinion - the Best Club In The World !! It's a huge refurbished warehouse out by Tokyo Bay. Out the back is a swimming pool and poolside bar - brillant in the summer and for watching the sunrise at 6am in the morning. Carl Cox night was great, although I preferred Takkyu on the decks. He managed to mix White Stripes - 7 Nation Army - into one mix and the floor went mental !!Thats about it really. b00mb0x went huge in 2003 - Jesus, from about 10 - 15 mixers, to - how many are there now ?? Shitloads !!! the mixes I most enjoyed (apart from my own two masterpieces) were 'Free For All' from DJ Riko, and 'Vol 1' from Soundadvice. 'Change In Sequence' from Crypticon was great as well. What am I looking forward to in 2004 ? one word, Radiohead - can't fucking wait !!