Good Charamel Releases I Love J-Rock Compilation

Shonen Knife

Shonen Knife's current line up.

Four thousand people in the audience, and I get stuck sitting in front of the woman packing heat. No, not the kind you load with bullets. Much worse. Balled up into some sort of cotton torpedo and wedged into the pocket of her designer jeans was a pair of granny panties on which various love notes to John Rzeznik were scrawled in T-shirt paint. Halfway through the Goo Goo Dolls set, Granny Panties awkwardly snuck toward the stage and let ’em fly…right into the back of some dude’s head. I wonder if he figured out what hit him.

What was I doing at a Goo Goo Dolls show and why am I bringing this up on a blog supposedly about Japanese music? Would you believe it if I told you Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac started a record label that releases Japanese albums called Good Charamel Records? I didn’t believe it either until he responded to my e-mail asking if he’d like to spend a few minutes talking about it while he was in town.

One full set and an encore later, a buddy and I waited at the front of the stage for Mr. Takac to come out and chat. He showed up bearing gifts; namely Shonen Knife’s new English album Free Time and Good Charamel Records’ latest J-Rock compilation I Love J-Rock.



It’s the compilation that piqued my interest. First of all, it prominently features Shonen Knife, a band of Osakan females lead by Naoko Yamano who admittedly deserves much more discussion than I’m going to devote to them today. Suffice to say, they’re about as successful as a band can be and still consider themselves indie. They toured with Nirvana. They played Lollapalooza. They still regularly tour in the states and in Japan. They’re a big deal. Maybe that’s why they’ve got three of the twelve tracks.

First up is “Perfect Freedom” from the aforementioned Free Time. Part Ramones, part Beatles vocal harmoney, this track is a great example of Shonen Knife at their best: simple, catchy and just plain good. There’s also a live version of “Explosion” an older track (and a personal fave) from the 1997 album Brand New Knife and “Ramones Forever” from Fun! fun! fun!.

Aside from Shonen Knife, there’s TsuShiMaMiRe whose song “J-POP” is almost a spoof of J-pop hooks ranging from sparking background effects, higher-than-normal pitch, and a random children’s chorus for no reason. Much more indicative of their overall sound is “Strobe,” a piece that walks that fine line between sugary sweet and straight aead rock that just about every anime ending theme seems to have in common.

Erupting out of a fuzzy bass with piercing guitar goodness is LAZYgunsBRISKY who appear on the comp with tracks “Navy Star” and “Bitter Day.” There’s also a track from DJ Sashimi called “Japanese Girl in New York” a play on Sting’s “Englishman in New York.”

The best track on the disc is easily “Romancer” by Molice. What starts off with an atmospheric, guitar lead-in quickly turns into a funky dance jam. It’s seductively menacing and yet you can’t help but shake it even though you know its a trap. The compilation is worth checking out for this song alone.

Speaking of which, how can you get a copy of this disc without reaching out to the Goo Goo Dolls? Check out Good Charamel Records’ store where you can pick it up for the low, low price of $10.

While you’re listening, ponder this: What drives a successful American musician to start releasing albums from Japanese indie bands? The answer to that question and more quips from Mr. Takac are coming soon.


~ by Jonathan McNamara on 2010/08/30.

4 Responses to “Good Charamel Releases I Love J-Rock Compilation”

  1. Those are the exact outfits Shonen Knife was wearing when they played in our area early this year.

    Anyway, this is really encouraging news. It’s nice that indie rock bands are being recognized. Not too fond of the album title though.

  2. Yeah, bit of a generic title. Ah well. The content makes up for it.

  3. Well, what can I say. I jrock too. LOL. By the way, mind if I add your site in my blogroll?

  4. Please do! I’d be honored.

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