GUEST ROOM | A Newcomer’s Guide to the Marvel of Japanese Music

The plight of a white boy from Connecticut trying to rationalize the fantastical Japanese underbelly of music – while by the same token trying to sympathize with the audiences and societal dispositions directed towards these Japanese music forms – is definitely real. On this note I admit that my first year writing seminar entitled “From Zen to J-pop \(^o^)/ Japanese Society through Music” has taught me more about identity, culture, tradition, human behavior and why we listen music than I could’ve imagined. And it is for this reason why I’ve become so curiously intrigued with the entrancing charm of the holographic Hatsune Miku along with the sheer gravitational pull that pop groups such as AKB48 have on the media and the lives of Japanese people. For those confused as I once was, Japanese music (specifically post-WWII) is a whimsical fantasia of westernized corporate giants churning out record labels and hit songs almost systematically contra anti-establishment, provocative underground artists, whose sets are normally performed during the late hours to a crowd of dedicated listeners who share the same iconoclastic, or “stick it to the man,” attitude. Here I’ve stumbled across listening to artists such as DJ Soybeans, 7e, DREAMPV$HER and BLACKPHONE666; an eclectic group of underground artists I can only hear on Soundcloud playing the late hours for clubs in which they usually aren’t even the main attraction.

Jake Shimabukuro Brings Ukelele Mastery to the Hangar

It’s not often you get to hear the world’s foremost ukulele prodigy. That is, of course, unless you’re Jake Shimabukuro, in which case you get to hear yourself every day. At the Hangar Theatre last Friday, ears on both sides of the equation united to witness his artistry firsthand. The Honolulu-born star has singularly redefined the capabilities of this humble four-stringed instrument for new generations of listeners and, as evidenced by the handful of fans waiting to get their ukes signed after the show, players as well. As Shimabukuro himself said at one point between songs, “I bet you’re not having as much fun as we are up here.” To be sure, he gave back two parts passion for each of appreciation lobbed from an audience that was smiling ear to ear.