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Unless you’re a keen fan of anime or Japanese music, you probably won’t have heard of this group. Oreskaband are an all female, six member ska band from Sakai in Japan that started out when they were in middle school. The band name, Oreskaband literally translates to ‘we’re a ska band’ and plays on some gender formalities in Japanese culture (ore is a very masculine way to say ‘I’). This is personified by the male, punky school uniforms that they wear on stage and in their videos.

Ikasu, Tae, Leader, Saki, Moriko and Tomi make up Oreskaband

Ikasu, Tae, Leader, Saki, Moriko and Tomi make up Oreskaband

They began in 2003, meeting after school and playing at every local club they could find. They self-produced their first album, Penpal in 2005 before signing onto Sony Music in 2006 while they were still in high school. Ska isn’t really a growing genre at the moment, so to have such a youthful, modern take on it is really unique. The lyrics are catchy and their big smiles on stage make them instantly likable.

A large array of instruments and harmonies mean that each song is recognizable, but completely different from the rest of their material. After doing an advert for the popular Japanese sweet ‘Pocky’, their popularity skyrocketed a few years ago and they were asked to do some much larger venues in Japan. Their songs have even featured in the credits of the highly popular shows Bleach and Naruto.

With a few smaller albums under their belts, they compiled their best tracks into a self titled album for America. Supporting the Vans Warped Tour for the past two years, it looks like Oreskaband are just starting to build a reputation on Western shores. Having left education early, they take their music seriously now and are well underway with writing for their new album. A teaser trailer showed them starring in an upcoming movie, so the six teenagers from Sakai are definitely driving forward. From the album released in America, I recommend checking out the tracks Pinnocchio and Chuck.

Official Website
Official Myspace
English translated blog

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The Dykeenies

As I walked into the Cellars Bar in Portsmouth, I have to say I wasn’t expecting much. The venue looked barely bigger than my lounge, and nobody milling about looked like the type to go to gigs. So why were they here to check out a band NME Magazine have said could be bigger than The Killers? Scottish band The Dykeenies were set to play tonight, in a bar that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Only Fools and Horses. NME have said The Dykeenies are “Scotland’s biggest and best new band… a weird and utterly brilliant hybrid of The Killers and Panic! At The Disco. Only they’ll probably end up bigger than both.”  I was here to find out how true that was.

This wasn’t helped by the fact that the first support act were all wearing matching suits with added neckties. I didn’t catch their name, and to be frank I’m glad I didn’t. They were just like every other indie band breaking onto the scene.

The second support act were a lot better. Telegraphs are from Brighton, and they burst on to the stage with an energy and excitement that’s rare to see at gigs this small. A girl and guy singer combination worked really well, with great harmonies and swirling guitars. Vocalists Hattie Williams and Darcy Harrison were particularly impressive, and they got the crowd going with handclaps and head nods all around the venue. New single I Don’t Navigate By You is out now and was the highlight of the set, along with The Rules Of Modern Policing and Your First Love Is Dead. Telegraphs are definitely a band to check out and are sure to go far in the local gigging scene.

And then the moment everyone had been waiting for. The Dykeenies came out to possibly the best song ever – I Am The One and Only by Chesney Hawkes. By now the gig had got horrendously hot, with people stripping off left right and centre. The band emerged with cheeky grins and wine, and from then on it was sure to be a great gig. They opened with new free download singleAre You With Me Now?, which was quite a risky move. Surprisingly many people already knew the words; these were hardcore fans. The band had such a great energy about them, with frontman Brian Fire cracking jokes and bassist Andrew Henderson also on great form.

This is a band that could’ve gone either way live – with their synthesizers and ambitious vocals, they would either be one of the best or one of the worst. And thankfully, they were the former. Fire was better live than on their album Nothing Means Everything, from which they played singles Stitches, Clean Up Your Eyes and New Ideas, along with album tracks Things You Cannot See, Pick You Up, Feels Like Sleep and Waiting For Go. New songs were also well received, with Traps gaining the best reception after singles Are You With Me Now? and Sounds Of The City. Fire showed off his lyrics with clever lines such as ‘If you help me through this I’ll hurt you I promise’ – you can see where the Panic At The Disco comparison comes from. Guitarist Steven Ramsay was also impressive, with drummer John Kerr getting the most flack for getting the rhythm wrong on song Feels Like Sleep. The fans didn’t seem to mind – the mood was jovial by this point, and more than a fair few of the audience had had quite a few shandies by then…

Without meaning to take anything away from the band, I didn’t expect a lot from this gig. I didn’t think there would be many fans, and I was scared that they wouldn’t live up to the quality of their album. Thankfully I was blown away, and I would recommend going to see this band to anyone. Their new album is set to be a scorcher.

Full setlist:

  1. Are You With Me Now?
  2. Things You Cannot See
  3. Pick You Up
  4. Square Balloons
  5. Stitches
  6. Traps
  7. New Ideas
  8. Fade Out In The Sun
  9. Feels Like Sleep
  10. Sounds Of The City
  11. Clean Up Your Eyes
  12. Awake
  13. Waiting For Go

More info can be found about the band here

The Telegraphs can be checked out here

To check out who’s playing at Cellars Bar, click here

Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon’s downloadable media player Spotify seems to be the next big online bandwagon. With just over 250,000 UK users, this social media phenomenon still has a way to go to reach the cult status enjoyed recently by the social network Twitter but with news coverage appearing across the globe Spotify is well on its way.

The concept behind the media player is instant access to millions of songs, streaming live from the internet to your PC without having to download them. The best part is, it’s free! Well, to a certain extent. On the Spotify homepage you can select the free version, which means you have to listen to an advert every few songs, a day pass which allows you ad-free content for 24 hours for £0.99 and the premium service which allows the user to stream music, with no ads, straight to their PC for £9.99 a month.

The site also provides the ability to create and share playlists with friends and family online. This is being described as one of the service’s greatest functions, bringing together users through the medium of music. Users like Sur Duke create playlists and post them on the internet to share with everyone. The creator Daniel Ek has said, “We are huge music fans ourselves,”.

“We set up Spotify to cater for that demand, but, at the same time, create a functioning revenue stream for artists and labels.”

The site is being praised as a revolution in digital music listening and some of the big names in the industry are hoping it will bring an end to illegal file sharing. Others, though, are worried about the effect it will have on ownership. Even with the millions of songs already online, Spotify have still only got access to around 5% of the music industries content. The application has sparked a lot of controversy on recent weeks at a time when music copyright hasn’t really been out of the news.

Spotify functions beautifully, is incredibly user friendly and it looks good too. There is still a long way to go to get more users and more content and there will more than likely be a few more disputes over copyright ownership and infringement between the Spotify owners and the music industry.

March 2009
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