A RANDOM A-Z OF SINGLES : GOOD FOR SOME REASON

The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

G is for Good For Some Reason recorded by Say Sue Me and released as one-half of a split single by Damnably Records in December 2017.

Say Sue Me are from Busan, South Korea, forming in 2012 since when they have recorded two full-lengths albums, along with four EPs, three stand-alone 7” singles, one digital single and one split 7” single. The band members nowadays are Sumi Choi (vocals), Byunggyu Kim (guitar),  Jaeyoung Ha (bass) and Changwon Kim (drums).

They came to prominence after debut album We’ve Sobered Up (2014) and the subsequent EP, Big Summer Night (2015), were moderate chart successes in South Korea, released on the  independent label, Electric Muse.   The music, which blended elements of surf-rock with the sort of sounds associated with the mid-80s golden era of UK indie-pop, came to the attention of the London-based Damnably Records, and deal was signed, with the first release, in 2017, being a self-titled compilation pairing the two Korean releases together as an 18-track CD in 2017.

In December 2017, a 7″ single was issued, with a run of just 400 copies to mark Damnably’s 11th birthday. It was a spilt single with Say Sue Me on one side, while the other was taken up by Otoboke Beaver, an all-female Japanese hardcore punk who were, at the time, being nurtured by Damnably, and indeed later signed with the label:-

mp3: Say Sue Me – Good For Some Reason
mp3: Otokobe Beaver – S’Il Vous Plait

Say Sue Me released a second album, Where We Were Together (2018) on which their indie-pop and indie-rock tendencies came to the fore as the earlier surf-rock sounds took a bit of a back seat, best exemplified by the song Old Town, which gathered a lot of radio play back home and also became a bit of a favourite among a number of DJs on BBC Radio 6. The new album was followed soon after by the Record Store Day release for 2018, It’s Just a Short Walk!, which was an EP comprising covers of songs by Blondie, The Ramones, The Velvet Underground, and one made famous here in the UK by Cliff Richard and in the USA initially by Bobby Freeman and later by The Beach Boys. A triumphant year was rounded off with two further releases – a stand-alone single of a track that hadn’t quite been finished in time for the album followed by an EP, Christmas, It’s Not a Biggie, of four new songs with a festive theme.

2019 got off to a tremendous start at home with nominations in five categories at the Korean Music Awards – Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Modern Rock Album of the Year, Best Modern Rock Song of the Year and Artist of the Year – something quite unprecedented for a band on a small label and from a city other than Seoul. They were winners in two categories – Best Modern Rock Album for Where We Were Together, while Old Town was named Best Modern Rock Song. These accolades were followed by a hugely successful return visit to SXSW in Austin, Texas at which they performed one of the best-received sets of the entire festival, and after a short time back home in Busan, they embarked on a European tour.

The onset of COVID could not have come at a worse possible time for Say Sue Me, and indeed Otokobe Beaver whose own career was also on an upwards trajectory. Planned visits to Europe and the USA had to be cancelled, and the momentum from the hard work of the previous three years has been lost.

It’ll be interesting to see what emerges from both bands in 2022, with both bands having spent much of the past year trying to deliver on-line shows for their fans outside of South Korea and Japan.

JC

AKIMAHENKA

I’ve mentioned before that Otoboke Beaver, an all-female punk band from Kyoto, Japan, provided my favourite live music experience of all the gigs I attended in 2019.  As things turned out, they achieved similar in 2020, albeit there were only around five live shows taken in prior to COVID leading to everything being closed down fourteen months ago…..

The band came together as far back as 2009, but releases have been, until recently, quite sporadic as nobody was a full-time musician.  The UK-based indie label, Damnably Records signed the band in 2016, quickly issuing a compilation album that brought together the material released over the years on various Japanese labels along with a new song, released as a single-sided 7″ vinyl in Japan for Record Store Day 2016:-

mp3: Otoboke Beaver – Akimahenka

It’s 81 glorious seconds and a total earworm of a tune.

Believe it or not, an even faster version, lasting just 74 seconds, was re-recorded in 2019 and issued on the album Itekoma Hits, itself a magnificent bundle of noise and energy which offers up 14 songs in less than 27 minutes.

Here it is live, as performed in Kyoto in late 2015:-

I do hope it’s not too long before we all get the chance to enjoy live shows again, and that Otoboke Beaver are back on these shores in due course.

JC

STUFF BOUGHT IN 2019 (4)

I’ve already mentioned that The Twilight Sad released my favourite album of 2019, but surprisingly they didn’t, for once, provide the best live experience of the year.

Step forward Otoboke Beaver. As I said, last May in a review of the gig:-

But nothing had prepared me, or indeed Aldo or Mike G, for Otoboke Beaver. I’ve been going to watch live music for more than 40 years now, and so I will have been to at least 1,000 shows in my time. But I have never experienced anything quite as dynamic, uplifting and plain bonkers as the hour of entertainment provided by these four ridiculously talented women, Accorinrin (Lead Vocal & Guitar), Yoyoyoshie (Guitar & Vocals), Hiro-chan (Bass & Vocals) and Kahokiss (Drums & Vocals). The studio recorded stuff is fine, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to capturing the magic of actually seeing them and picking up on the energy they generate with each performance.

It was a genuine jaw-dropper of an evening.

Here’s the thing…..I’ve listened more and more to the studio stuff and it is more than fine. The live experience was such a mind-fuck that it was impossible to be properly objective about the album Itekoma Hits that I purchased at the end of the gig.

14 songs in 27 minutes. If you’re not fond of something, then don’t worry as something else will be along before you know it.

Otoboke Beaver first released music as long ago as 2011 but it wasn’t until Damnably Records signed them in 2016 that their material became more widely available beyond Japan. All the band members held down full-time jobs which restricted their abilities to record and tour – indeed their visits to the UK have been for what they have called Golden Week tours, using up precious annual leave from their employers. Such tours were underatken in 2017 and 2019 while other holidays were used for shows in the USA at events such as SxSW in Austin, Texas.

They are coming back to Glasgow tonight and I’ll be there again. There’s a major difference in that the band have now all quit their jobs and are going to have a real go at making a success of their music. I’m fairly confident that they will, not just based on the live shows and the compilation album I picked up but that some newer material, in the form of a 5″ red vinyl single, released at the end of last year, was equally wonderful. And at 1 minute 40 seconds, it faithfully followed everything that had gone before.

I’ll just post one song from Itekoma Hits but offer up a few videos so that you get the idea:-

mp3 : Otoboke Beaver – Datsu. Hikage no onna

At 2 mins and 5 seconds, it’s one of their longer efforts!

 

JC

 

HISTORY REPEATING

A few weeks ago, on Saturday 4 May to be precise, I went along to the CCA in Glasgow in the company of Aldo and Mike G.

As the poster indicates, it was to catch three bands playing on the Golden Week Tour 2019, with Glasgow being the closing show after Manchester, Leicester, Bristol, London and Leeds.  Here’s an edited review of the Golden Week Tour show in Glasgow as written by Martin Wilson for the Overblown website:-

The Golden Week Tour has been a bit of a masterstroke by Damnably who have brought Japan’s Otoboke Beaver and South Korea’s Say Sue Me over to the UK for a quick five date sprint around the country on the back of releases for both bands on Record Store Day. In Japan the Golden Week is the longest holiday of the year and given that all members of Otoboke Beaver work full time, it’s the longest period they can take off. It’s very much the UK’s gain that they did.

Say Sue Me’s sound is mainly sun-drenched indie pop, perhaps along the lines of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart or Alvvays. The occasional song veers into fuzzier territory and I’m reminded of Jesus and the Mary Chain at times. Regardless of who they remind me of they are utterly charming to watch live. They sound pristine, they look like they’re having a fabulous time and it seems the crowd are too. I’ll forever be smitten by harmonies, hooks, punchy bass lines and driving guitars and Say Sue Me provide all that in spades. Come back soon.

Then it’s the turn of Otoboke Beaver and Oh. My. God. They’re a photographers dream, I’m pretty convinced I loved them before I’d ever heard a note simply because of the imagery on social media, limbs flailing, bodies all over the place, punk rock pandemonium personified. Thankfully their sound reflects all this precisely.

What strikes me first is the ludicrous levels of musical ability these girls have. They should be adorning the covers of every muso magazine in the world, stamping a high heel in the face of whoever the latest guitar hero dude is on the way. Their ability squeezes every inch out of their songs which are of the breakneck speed variety. There’s fragments of all sorts in here, hardcore punk, indie rock, sometimes verging on metal. Can you imagine Bis covering System of a Down? No, neither can I but I don’t think it’d be miles away from the sheer mayhem of sound Otoboke Beaver conjure up.

It’s frankly impossible to take your eyes off them even to simply catch your breath for a second. They’re like an exaggeration of something from the battle of the bands in the Scott Pilgrim movie but they’d wipe the floor with any of that cinematic nonsense. There’s a lot of posturing for sure, the performance is all rock posing, call and response vocals, stop-start songs, huge riffs, crowd surfing and to be this good it’s surely all been rehearsed within an inch of its life. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t come across as rehearsed, they carry and organic sense of chaos like they’ve arrived on stage, planted their roots and are now gonna spread across the venue like creeping ivy on speed, smothering every inch of the room and destroying anything in their path.

The language barrier is irrelevant with music this good. Between songs they’ve picked up enough English to explain they’re broke and we must buy their merch. “Now dancing, after shopping” and “We have no money, buy so no go back to work” seem to be the useful phrases picked up on tour. Their English is infinitely better than my Japanese and they say this between just about every song. Guitarist Yoyoyoshie leads us into another blast of music by screaming the band’s name into the mic and manically waving her arms like she’s trying to raise the dead into some kind of vengeful maelstrom. It works. Every time.

I’m not sure when I’ve seen a performance like this before, or when I will again but I hope Otoboke Beaver will be back. If not, that’s it, I’m packing my Glasgow bags and moving to Kyoto. These four girls should be superstars. Don’t rest until they are.

Here’s the thing.   That’s the review from the Golden Week tour back in 2017.  It was one I only read a few days after I’d been along in 2019, but word-for-word it was exactly how I felt at the end of the night.

The reason for going along was to catch Say Sue Me having fallen heavily for their charms when they headlined a show at Stereo in Glasgow last Autumn.  It was one of my highlights of 2018 and the set in 2019 will live long in the memory….and I’m hopeful, like last year, they will come back for their own headline set given they are full time musicians and not quite restricted in their ability to come to the UK as the headliners (indeed, Say Sue Me toured extensively in Europe, the UK and Ireland on either side of Golden Week 2019).

But nothing had prepared me, or indeed Aldo or Mike G, for Otoboke Beaver.  I’ve been going to watch live music for more than 40 years now, and so I will have been to at least 1,000 shows in my time.  But I have never experienced anything quite as dynamic, uplifting and plain bonkers as the hour of entertainment provided by these four ridiculously talented women, Accorinrin (Lead Vocal & Guitar), Yoyoyoshie (Guitar & Vocals), Hiro-chan (Bass & Vocals) and Kahokiss (Drums & Vocals).   The studio recorded stuff is fine, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to capturing the magic of actually seeing them and picking up on the energy they generate with each performance.

It was a genuine jaw-dropper of an evening.

Oh, and I should also add that Drinking Boys and Girls Choir, the opening act on the night, were also hugely entertaining.  I’ll be picking up physical copies of their material in due course.  In the meantime here’s some tunes:-

mp3 : Say Sue Me – Old Town (single version)
mp3 : Otoboke Beaver – S’il Vous Plait

And some footage:-

JC