Western media coverage of the Japanese music scene in 2010 seems to be following a very recession-friendly pattern – stick to what people know. So that means something like “Boris, Boredoms plus associated acts, maybe check in on Shugo and Afriampo if we have space.” Can’t really blame them – there is so much music to get to from the western hemisphere taking time to hunt down great Japanese groups obviously wouldn’t end up priority number one. So, when a new-ish act grabs the attention of the ever-fickle blog world, it deserves some dap. Two such outfits have made a splash in 2010 – first it was chillwavers (sorta) Hotel Mexico, now it’s indie-poppers Ice Cream Shout.
A whole slew of blogs…culminating in blog-depot Altered Zones getting in on the action…have written something up on the quartet’s latest single “Tattooed Tears.” Deservedly so…it’s a breezy blast of a song, one of the dreamiest indie-pop numbers of 2010 from any question. Chilly synths brush over a stroll-worthy melody as the lead singer swoons, sounding both content and longing. Most blog write-ups pin “Tattooed Tears” as an 80s throwback which is true…I see ya, Smiths-jacking “Heaven knows I’m miserable now” opening line…but seeming way more shaped by the sunny retro-pop streaming out of Sweden on a daily basis. I could throw out countless names…The Radio Department, The Honeydrips, even flex my Swede-pop muscle with Boat Club…but it’s less being influenced by any of those groups and more subscribing to a similar blueprint when it comes to crafting these sorts of sun-dazed pop songs (not to mention the potential for subversion…the ghostly vocal samples around the corners and the song’s video follow in the great tradition of Swedish indie-pop bands making these songs way more political or just plain mysterious than they initially appear). However you want to approach the track, though, it’s hard to deny it.
Ice Cream Shout aren’t crashing the scene – they have an entire other album, released in 2009, out there. It’s called Cups and you can listen to a few tracks here. My Old Kentucky Blog has a nice write-up about that album, and I’d advise you to read that so I don’t have to waste words saying stuff a handful of other bloggers have already said. Two points though – first, what does “J-pop-by-numbers” even mean? I always assumed J-pop meant “pop music from Japan” and the only time it referred to a real style was when someone was making fun of Japanese music. I mean…Perfume, SMAP, The Bawdies, Funky Monkey Babys and Beat Crusaders are all J-pop but they sound nothing alike. It’s lazy writing. Secondly, “Disko Kitten” rocks, J-pop or not.
Again, check out Ice Cream Shout here.