On Friday night, my friend Andy invited me to see Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3. Even though I've never listened to The Soft Boys or his solo work, I still enjoyed the show, particularly his very British stage banter between songs ("the colour would be...invisible").
Whilst waiting for his set to begin, I was introduced to all manner of Japanese pop groups via videos on a mobile phone. Watching the Japanese equivalent of Kylie Minogue, Shiina Ringo, dressed in a nurse uniform, singing through a loudspeaker, amongst other videos, certainly made for a novel experience. It then made me think about other Japanese bands I like. It shamed me that I came up with a list of less than five Japanese bands I've really listened to, when there must be a huge number out there waiting for me to discover.
On my quest to hear more, I came across 4 Bonjour's Parties, a Tokyo collective who recently visited these shores supporting Her Space Holiday. It's a shame I didn't get to see them (they didn't make it to Brisbane, grrrr), because their sweeping melodies and shy vocals, with brass rising in the background, would have won me in an instant. I'm particularly sold on the song 'Satellite', which reminds me of the opening track to The Bank Holidays' album As A Film from last year, except with cute boy Japanese vocals instead of cute West Australian girl vocals. As the song soars along, it moves into a territory that fellow West Australian group Institut Polaire have now mastered so well. Perhaps 4 Bonjour's Parties have some special kinship with Western Australia? Hmmm.
It's no wonder, too, that 4 Bonjour's Parties are friends with The Motifs and have a release through the same record label, Lost In Found - both have a wonderful winsome charm that calls you back for more and more. In fact, in listening to some of the songs by the band Lost In Found itself on their myspace page, I think I may have found another band to fall for. With $650 return flights to Japan on offer at the moment, perhaps this is a portent for a new love affair with Japan.