Release Date: Aug 11, 2009
Record label: Smalltown Supersound
Genre(s): Rock, Experimental
Unlike Neji/Tori, Destination Tokyo doesn't have any songs named for the bands Nisenennmondai admires, and with good reason: these focused yet still unpredictable excursions are utterly theirs. The trio dives even deeper into the grooves that drive their music, expanding them and streamlining them into something challenging yet fresh and immediate. Once again, however, the album's song titles reflect the band's aims just as clearly as their playing, especially on the 12-minute epic "Mirrorball," which pits layers of sparkling staccato guitar counterpoint against a slowly revolving bassline and swift hi-hats that sound like fast-forward disco.
For Neji/Tori, their 2008 introduction to America, Tokyo's Nisennenmondai wore their influences on their track list. With songs named after the Pop Group, Sonic Youth, and This Heat, and cuts that careened from freak-out to free jazz, Neji/Tori was an explicit homage to the band's points of origin. This five-song EP, Destination Tokyo, is about where those influences may take them.
On paper, Nisennenmondai are the stuff of indie boy wet dreams. Three cute Japanese girls, unexposed to Western rock music until a decade ago, who picked up their instruments and wrapped chiming kraut rock up with pulsing disco beats and shredded feedback. Learning their instruments by playing along to Silver Apples, Sonic Youth, Neu! and This Heat, their intensely mechanical outsider take on Western musical history has garnered them mass appeal from an army of beard scratchers and musical orientalists.
Nisennenmondai has awesome written all over them. A Japanese all-female trio who plays jagged instrumental post-punk in the vein of This Heat, the Pop Group and Sonic Youth? Yes, please. This awesome-factor only increases when considering such other diverse Japanese groups as Melt Banana, Yura Yura Teikoku, Guitar Wolf, and Boris that have crossed the Pacific and found their way into the hearts and minds of obsessive indie-music lovers.
Ledisi For the R&B singer-songwriter Ledisi change is good even when it hurts, and there’s no point in resisting it anyway. “Turn Me Loose” (Verve Forecast), due out Tuesday, is her dissertation on the subject, inspired less by a recent presidential slogan than by a distant blues-rock anthem: “Them Changes,” a snarl of a tune by the former Band of Gypsies drummer Buddy Miles. Ledisi covers it here as a bonus track, working her strident, soulful voice into a fury.