japanese chai

i love music and i’ve always got one ear open for new (to me) music – most of the time, i use npr to find out about new bands and albums and songs because they have outstanding music programming (especiallly all songs considered) and do a great job of finding stuff that isn’t in the mainstream – they’re like the adult version of college radio, playing the raddest songs they can find and deep cuts from more well-known bands or albums

the end of the year/beginning of a new year is a little different because everyone starts making “best of” lists and i like to check them all out to see which albums are making a lot of the lists and which ones sound good to me – pitchfork is one that i usually like to look at because although they’ve had a reputation in the past for focusing on a specific genre (mostly white rock or “alternative” bands) they seem to have matured beyond that and their year-end lists are great – you can see pitchfork’s top 50 albums of 2019 here

i’m still not all the way through the list but i absolutely have to talk about #46 – the album punk by CHAI – a japanese female rock band. i love love love japanese female rock (not sure that’s the right term, but it doesn’t feel right to say “girl band” especially for CHAI, who take on “conformist pressures of contemporary Asian femininity”)

so, when i read a description and it sounds good to me, i open up my spotify and find the band and listen to a few seconds of the top songs on that artist’s page. it only took about 10 seconds for me to know i wanted to hear more of CHAI so i made a playlist of their entire discography. then i hit shuffle and this is the first song i heard in full from them (incidentally, not from punk):

oh. my. fucking. god. i was walking to the subway and this was popping in my ears and i had a big smile on my face – like shonen knife and cibo matto (two of the other japanese lady bands that i love) they fucking ROCK but what sets them apart for me is all the harmonizing, and the very chipmunk-y sound to the vocals – truthfully, they rock harder and are more energetic than either shonen knife or cibo matto

anyway, the point of this is to tell you to check them out – you can find them on spotify (i’m sure you can find them other places, too, but i use spotify)

for fun, here’s the video for “choose go” which is off punk

and at the beginning of this post, i mentioned npr as a music source – also i wanted to mention their tiny desk concerts, where a band comes in and plays for the npr staff in the office of the music director or editor or whatever the title is – there have been a lot of great artists on there, often doing different and/or stripped down arrangements of some of their songs – here is the full tiny desk concert that CHAI did

and, because i heard about CHAI from pitchfork, here’s a set they did for pitchfork and then i promise i’ll stop posting videos on here and let you discover more if you want (and i hope you want!)

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