Tag Archives: hotel mexico

Hotel Mexico Cover Ed N.Stead: “Under Consideration”

Hotel Mexico have so much exciting news to share with the world today, that a cover of a song by Ed N.Stead (an artist who, based on a Google search, released one album) isn’t the most exciting. The Kyoto group have launched a new web page which looks quite nice, and even better, they have a show lined up in America for this August. They will travel to New York to play The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn (look here), so if you are in the area you best go to watch them and make me immensely jealous. And yeah, a cover of a song from an obscure artist, which is fine and all too. Watch that above.

Hotel Mexico, Jesse Ruins And Sapphire Slows Team Up For “Yubiwa”

So this is sort of a big deal – three of the heaviest hitters in Japanese indie music today (which is to say, they are all signed to international labels of some sort) have collaborated on a song called “Yubiwa,” which is basically The Avengers of shadowy sounds from Japan. The players: Kyoto’s Hotel Mexico (on Double Denim), Tokyo’s Jesse Ruins (of CUZ ME PAIN and Captured Tracks) and Sapphire Slows (Not Not Fun). The obvious fear going into a track like “Yubiwa” is that too many home-recording artists could spoil the song, what makes each of these acts stand out would end up lost in an effort to democratize everything. Impressively, that doesn’t happen on “Yubiwa” – each artist stands out, their skills combining just right to make a pretty exceptional song. Hotel Mexico brings the most obvious style, as “Yubiwa” features real guitar and drums, sounds rarely floating around in the ethers Sapphire Slows and Jesse Ruins create. Slows’ voice haunts the back of the song, and she also contributes the same ambient touch that makes her swirling songs so compelling – they are mysterious yet inviting at the same time. Jesse Ruins, meanwhile, bring the dreamy electronics to “Yubiwa,” their synths grazing the song, adding a touch of out-body-experience to the track. It’s a fantastic song, one summing up what each of these artists has done so well over the past two-and-a-half years. Listen below.

You can here remixes the groups did of each others songs here.

New Hotel Mexico: “Wolves Running Through The Desert”

“Wolves Running Through The Desert,” the B-side to Hotel Mexico’s forthcoming Double Denim single, shouldn’t be such a slippery song to think about. “A Space In The Loveless Field,” the A-side, seemed more demanding of introspection, the track’s slowly unfolding structure and general ennui the stuff that usually trips one up when trying to describe a piece of music. “Wolves” is much more straightforward – slightly faster pace, attention-grabbing guitar riff, the Kyoto group’s signature high-pitch vocal delivery. It gets a little more shimmery near the end (more on that in a bit) but for the most part feels like one of the group’s most immediate offerings to date.

Naturally, all of that leads to the revelation that this has been a slipper song to think and write about, because Hotel Mexico turn “Wolves” into such a dreamy affair that what seemed relatively uncomplicated suddenly starts looking like a mirage. “Dreamy” isn’t a new adjective to throw around these guys, but I’m using it not to stand in for the similarly overplayed (guilty as charged) hazy but because “Wolves” reminds me of driving down a freeway in August and thinking there are puddles all over the road. That central guitar line conjures up mental images of the Taj Mahal during a particularly sweltering summer, and then Hotel Mexico lets everything get a little wild with the back half of the track, where voices float away from bodies and pop up in the most unexpected places. A friend who also listened to this song said the reason he likes Hotel Mexico is because they manage to be both accessible to everyone while also adding enough experimental touches to their songs to make listeners go “whoa.” “Wolves” showcases that opinion perfectly. Listen here, or below.

Self-Promotion Plus: Writing About Pictureplane For The Japan Times

This weekend, American dance-punk artist Pictureplane will play two Japanese shows this weekend, one in Tokyo on April 6 and one in Osaka on April 8. In advance of that, I wrote about Pictureplane for The Japan Times today. You can read that here.

The shows themselves look to be really good too. The Tokyo show, at Seco Bar, also features CUZ ME PAIN acts Jesse Ruins (who just released a heavyweight remix) and Faron Square who will be playing new material. The Osaka show, at Nuooh, includes Hotel Mexico and Seiho on the undercard.

New Hotel Mexico: “A Space In The Loveless Field”

And at long, long last, Kyoto’s Hotel Mexico get some foreign love. The group have a new single coming out on Double Denim Records…who also put out Jesse Ruins’ first Western release…called “A Space In The Loveless Field.” Considering that Hotel Mexico have been catching the eyes of various overseas blogs…Gorilla Vs. Bear, Pitchfork, Altered Zones (R.I.P.)…it’s about time they get a deal like this. Glasses up.

Yet what makes this extra special is that “A Space In The Loveless Field” stands as one of the band’s best songs to date. Double Denim themselves write that this track “recalls the glow of Ariel Pink at his poppiest.” I mean, I’m not gonna poke their PR department in the ribs here, but Hotel Mexico already did that last year with “Dear Les Friends,” which drew a lot of inspiration from Pink’s Before Today (his poppiest). Pink has never sounded as rich as Hotel Mexico do on “A Space.” The group rarely come across this clear, the guitars and drums free of the swirly feedback of earlier songs. Only the main vocals remain a bit obscured, but even at their most nasally, Hotel Mexico add a pretty clean line of harmonizing vocals behind it, a trick that reminds me of the powerful build of breakthrough single “It’s Twinkle.” What makes “A Space” the best they’ve done since “Twinkle” is what Hotel Mexico wring out of the instruments. Whereas some of their songs can dissolve into a sonic cloud akin to staring at a ceiling fan for too long, “A Space” lets the instruments…especially the minor-key guitar on the back half…stick out. Like “Twinkle,” “A Space” engages directly. Double Denim have themselves a gem. Listen below.

CUZ ME PAIN Preps Second Compilation, Featuring Jesse Ruins, Sapphire Slows And Faron Square

A lot has changed for Tokyo’s CUZ ME PAIN label since they released their first compilation a few years back. AAPS called it a day, Jesse Ruins grabbed some blog love and got picked up by Captured Tracks, Lovers In The Wind remain a complete mystery and Melancholic Masculinity just goes by Masculin now. In early March, the label plans to drop compilation number two, featuring a lot of familiar faces from the still-fascinating shadowy Tokyo scene and a few new ones as well. The major projects that laid down the foundation for CUZ ME PAIN – Jesse Ruins, Nites, Faron Square, :visited, Atlas Young, The Beauty and Masculin – each show up on this new release. Sapphire Slows drops by for one song, while label friends Hotel Mexico and Magical Gang contribute remixes of a Nites song and a :visited jam respectively. Yet it wouldn’t be CUZ ME PAIN without a little mystery (or lack of information, at least), and that’s where two new acts enter the picture. Naliza Moo and Scum Boys both bring a track to this comp, but I couldn’t tell you much about them. Listen to a preview of each song on this release above.

Live Review: The Brixton Academy, Canopies And Drapes, The Telephones, Orland And Hotel Mexico At Shibuya Womb January 28 2012

Booze has always been prevalent when I’ve seen The Brixton Academy live, the band popping open bottles of Champagne to share with the crowd or downing shots post-set. Yet their January 28 show at Shibuya’s Womb – which, for the uninformed, is the place those deaf kids make out in the film Babel – was soaked in more alcohol than usual. Seeing every member of the group pop open a bottle of bubbly, corks comically smacking into Womb’s extravagant disco ball, or the band’s guitarist drunkenly spank away at his bongos seemed appropriate given that this was the final stop on their Bright As Diamonds tour, one last gig in front of a hometown crowd.

Yet this sea of liquor flowed because this turned out to be the final Brixton Academy show featuring the band’s current incarnation – the group announced midway through that this show would be there last, to a girl-heavy wave of shock. Although a three-person version of the group will play a show in March, post that the members will remain in music, but in what form they don’t know. With this news, though, a typically drunk Saturday show turned into one last hurrah for one of the best live groups in Japan today.

This impromptu finale boasted a pretty great undercard, too. Kyoto chillwavers Hotel Mexico opened everything up with a whirling set that came with an appropriate light show. Live…and blessed by Womb’s tip-top sound system…the group sounds bigger live, a song like “Dear Les Friends” even stronger than in recorded form. Nagoya’s Orland followed, a mess of 80’s synths tripping over one another to create deliberately nostalgic dance music (the fact half of the original Tron played out behind them drove the point home – we are Orland, and we love the 80s). The group is fine, but sharing a bill with similar-sounding Brixton Academy exposes their biggest weakness – whereas Brixton place earnest words over their New Wave hodgepodge and come off as almost embarrassingly sincere, Orland just sound like the music you sometimes hear in a Tim And Eric sketch.

The Telephones, out of place on this bill both in terms of sound and popularity, gesticulated all over the stage next, an endless barrage of aggressive rock guitar, shouting and posing. The group is undeniably energetic, as evidenced by the sort of crowd I would have loved to be in the middle of when I was 19. Yet, as a cynical 20-something, I heard a group with buckets of energy and like three song blueprints done over and over again. Canopies And Drapes came next, joined by several members of The Brixton Academy. When I saw her in Nagoya in November, her set surprised me because she (and Brixton) were able to turn three-fourths of her dreamy music into something funky. That Nagoya show was great – her set at Womb, not quite as memorable. Opening with her two weakest live numbers (the shoegazey “Stars In Bloom” and “Live In The Snow Globe,” the one instance where injecting funk into a song detracts from it, as “Snow Globe” is a lyrical wonder), things got better with the jaunty “Perfect Step,” and she has a great set closer with “Sleeping Under The Bed” which, moment of honesty, I have yet to get sick of.

Yet this Saturday night belonged to The Brixton Academy. At this point, I’ve seen them three times in the past three months, and their show barely changes each time – they open with the bongo-assisted “Neons Bright” from last year’s Bright As Diamonds before diving into the best cuts from that LP and their debut Vivid, with the long-burning “Nightclub” popping up near the end of the set. Yet despite knowing what to expect, Brixton Academy’s skill and energy turns what should have been choreography by now into a still-captivating show. “In My Arms” remains delirious, ”Youth” still demands fists pumped into the sky and “So Shy” remains a slice of triumphant sadness.

This wasn’t just another (great) Brixton Academy show, though, but a surprise finale. Once the sounds of shock faded, the remaining songs seemed more urgent, imbued with something special that words can’t really capture (uhhhh you had to be there?). They dusted off older songs I hadn’t heard at the previous two shows – they broke out songs I’ve never heard period – and gave the crowd what they wanted. Corks flew, an encore happened and then they left the stage for the last time.

So what’s The Brixton Academy’s legacy? Two albums ranging from “pretty good” to “great,” an EP and some singles, not to mention an incredible live show. Vivid, their debut, stands with any 80s-aping album of the last half of the decade, while we named “So Shy” the best song of 2010 and stick by it fully. They did pretty decently for a band their size in Japan, but The Brixton Academy always struck me as a group that could have gotten a lot of looks from the West too, given the 80’s sound and earnestness. Yet they never really did, unfortunately, but leave behind a great collection of music and, for me personally, great memories of wildin’ out at a tiny Nagoya club. They deserved those drink for sure Saturday night.

Hey, someone uploaded a video of the band playing “So Shy” at this even!