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tokyo pinsalocks

Tokyo, Tōkyō, Japan | INDIE

Tokyo, Tōkyō, Japan | INDIE
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"Travelling Spoon (CD Review)"

Tokyo Pinsalocks
Travelling Spoon

Described by Devo cofounder Jerry Casale as “the daughters I never had”, Tokyo Pinsalocks combine mangled vocal effects and tripped-out microKorg lines with dirty basslines and laid-back beats to create a grittier, more real alternative to Perfume, or a less pretentious Cibo Matto. Travelling Spoon, inspired by the band’s numerous tours in the US and UK, nicely dovetails the grooveriding rhythms of their recent EP and minialbum with the pop melodies of their earlier releases, resulting in a fun, rounded record. “Balloon Hunt” is a wash of warm synths and gentle harmonies, driven by Hisayo’s fuzzy basslines into a chilled dancefloor filler, while the clipped kick drum and drunken synthlines on “Mannequin” sit woozily under Naoko’s deliciously natural vocals. Tokyo Pinsalocks prove that a little playful experimentation can produce pop music with both brains and soul – no wonder Devo are filing for adoption. See listings for details of their Spoon Market event on September 18. Daniel Robson
- Metropolis (Free Magazine)

"Turning Japanese: Backstage at Rock Chick"

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Turning Japanese: Backstage at Rock Chick

Away from mainstream pop, Japan's best rock'n'roll bands have always been female. And most of them make western music's masculine posturing look positively puny

Japanese society might like to dogmatically adhere to gender roles, but for decades women have subverted social codes by forming brilliant bands that put their male counterparts to shame. Today, this is represented by Japan's roster of hard-rocking riot grrls. From Yoko Ono to today's new breed, Nippon's femme fatales succeed in making western rock's masculine posturing look positively puny.

In celebration of these all-girl bands, Tokyo club night Saiko hosted last week a special Rock Chick event, showcasing the latest female-fronted acts the city has to offer. Event organiser Dan Grunebaum thinks it was an idea that "couldn't be more obvious," but nobody had previously attempted, which is strange considering the great bands to choose from.

Historically, bands like Shonen Knife (who toured with Nirvana and counted Kurt Cobain among their most vocal fans) and Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her (who released a record in the UK after Courtney Love bigged them up in NME), suport the idea of women reigning supreme in the upper echelons of J-rock's hierarchy. Then there are noiseniks Melt Banana and a host of others, including Akiko Wada, Ex-Girl and Buffalo Daughter to name a few.

At Rock Chick, new acts Natccu (who is touring the UK in May with electro-femmes Tokyo Pinsalocks) and Bo-Peep play love-laden indie and lairy punk respectively. Every moment of it is thrilling.

"Japan has a culture of karaoke," says Natccu, "so vocal melodies are really important to us. There are a lot of famous female singers in Japan and have been for a long time, since showa pop and the enka singer Hibari Misora. Female singers are perceived as being better than men because their voices are more melodic."

Meanwhile Reiko, drummer in the awesome Tokyo Pinsalocks, cites that city's liberal attitude towards gender as giving rise to the riot grrl renaissance. "In Tokyo, women are free to do what they want. We know lots of other female artists (not only musicians, but DJs and photographers) and we all express our own opinions on art. I know it's different for office ladies and, generally speaking, gender relations are far behind European standards, but for us personally there's nothing holding us back."

Though the alternative scene may be free from stereotypes, Japan's music mainstream has female pop idols like Ayumi Hamasaki and Morning Musume (an ever rotating lineup of twee-pop touting teens) to maintain the gender-imbalanced status quo, where a girl's world is limited to shoes, shopping and Twittering over tabloid scandal. It's no surprise that this section of the entertainment industry is overseen by powerful men.

"Japanese women rockers represent an alternative to patriarchy by operating outside of the male-dominated entertainment industry," says Grunebaum. "Many Japanese women rockers say and do what they want because they have no interest in joining the mainstream, and commercially have nothing to lose."

However, perhaps feminist forcefulness is what mainstream Japanese pop needs. Strong female acts like Shiina Ringo and Yuki have enjoyed huge commercial success and represent a more substantial appreciation of womanhood by Japan's pop-loving masses. What's clear is that, with female-fronted bands continuing to reign supreme, Japan's gender roles are slowly changing.
- Alex Hoban ( 5 May 2009

"Sugary Tokyo girl band groove to an acid and edgy beat"

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Sugary sweet in matching babydoll dresses and hair pompons, Japanese girl band Tokyo Pinsalocks look like your typical pop princesses, until their psychedelic electro groove kicks in over a killer bass line.

The trio's Bjork-meets-Kraftwerk feel has won them a large underground following at home as well as international renown, with the band just back from a tour of Britain and the United States to promote their fourth album.

"The reaction in the U.K. was great," drummer Reiko told Reuters. "We played in Barnsley and old men were coming in to watch us with their dogs," she said of the northern English town.

"They were coming in from the bar next door. They probably liked the retro feel to our music. They said they had never even seen Japanese people before in that part of Barnsley."

Comparisons to Japanese pop, or "J-Pop", sirens Perfume, another three-piece girlband, are not particularly welcome and Tokyo Pinsalocks, who all go by only one name, do not appear in any great hurry to become mega-stars.

"We're not mainstream yet but we don't want to jump on the J-Pop bandwagon," said bassist Hisayo, who formed the band with vocalist Naoko at university.

"I suppose we're associated with the J-Pop boom and Perfume because it's that era and we're also a three-piece band but I am not really sure what J-Pop is to be honest."

Being unconventional in the Japanese music industry is tantamount to commercial suicide but the band refuse to sell out.

"People don't respect music in Japan as an art," said Hisayo. "It's a business. You have to sell records so they're all packaged in a similar way.

"It lacks power and there's still a lot underground. J-Pop may be popular in Asia because it's still new for them. But you have to wonder if it will be around in 10 years."

Naoko blames Japan's karaoke craze.

"I reckon karaoke has got a lot to answer for," said the band's vocalist, who also plays keyboards. "Everyone wants to sing the same songs. We make music to satisfy ourselves.

"Our songs are sort of day-dreamy -- a bit like diary entries. We think our music is art. Our song 'Antenna' is about picking up airwaves and being alive to ideas."

Tokyo Pinsalocks formed eight years ago as a four-piece and quickly picked up a cult following in Japan on the back off their colourful live shows.

Appearances at Japanese festivals, including Hokkaido's famous "Rising Sun" festival, followed before the band ditched their guitarist in favour of a more electro-based sound.

"In America, the moment we came on the crowds were like 'Wow!' I think three Japanese girls all in matching dresses sort of knocked them out a bit," said Naoko.

"When we played 'Plutonium' in Boston, there were 1,000 people jumping up and down. It was amazing. Music culture is different over there. It's more accessible than in Japan."

Girl power "Pinsalocks"-style is not so much alive and kicking as stretched out on a chaise longue reading Voltaire, if new release "Planet Rita" is anything to go by.

"The theme of the album is us just hiding out in our own world experimenting and having fun -- just us," said Reiko.

"If you've been influenced by foreign things, when you make music you're going to create your own art form. We're not trying to be a part of J-Pop. It's just pop."

She added: "It's crossing borders which is beautiful. although old guys secretly taking photos of us at gigs in America was kind of gross." - RUTERS UK (May 14, 2008 By Alastair Himmer)

"Spoon Market all about the gals"

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Girls, girls, girls! No, it's not a hostess bar or a burlesque show, but Spoon Market is all about the ladies. A live-music event that also offers a market, art gallery, dance performances and sweets, Spoon Market is a day of feminine bohemia that was first staged as an all-nighter in September 2007. Returning as an all-day event Sept. 21 at Unit in Tokyo's trendy Daikanyama district, and with an eclectic lineup of female pop acts, it's not to be missed.

Organizers Tokyo Pinsalocks play tripped-out psychedelic pop with bass-heavy rhythms, and their guests are no less thrilling. Pop-hop international sensations HalCali combine laid-back rapping skills with a sensibility that has won them fans in the United States and Europe. Teenage duo 80_Pan play brilliantly gaudy idol pop that mixes up metal riffs, hard electronica and '60s stylings that have seen them paired with such unlikely collaborators as Glasgow's Shitdisco and Jon Falcone of The Pipettes. Guitar-pop girls Nirgilis, avant-garde rockers Stoned Green Apples and the cringingly named Flip Flap round out the live bill.

Kae Ishimoto will showcase her unique style of contemporary dance, a blend of jazz-dance with Indian and butoh influences.

In terms of art, expect to see portrait photography, felt figures and metallurgy by young Japanese artists. Among those behind the decks are Nozico of the DJ troupe JVCFORCE, who tends toward '60s and '70s kitsch, and Motocompo mainman Dr. Usui, the only fella on the bill, whose electro obsession will doubtless get the floor moving.

Don't forget your pocketbook — stalls will be selling accessories, handmade T-shirts and Japanese sweets. And don't worry, lads, you're allowed entry, too.

Spoon Market is on Sept. 21 at Unit in Daikanyama, Tokyo (3:30 p.m.; ¥3,000 in advance, ¥3,500 at the door, plus drink charge; [03] 3413-9331). For the full lineup, visit

Trippy trio: Psychedelic pop group Tokyo Pinsalocks are the girl power behind Spoon Market, a live-music event celebrating feminine bohemia. - The Japan Times (Sept 12, 2008)

"Set the controls to quirk factor 10"

After listening to Tokyo Pinsalocks' brilliant new minialbum "Planet Rita," it's frightening to think that the trio — bassist Hisayo, singer Naoko and drummer Reiko — almost sold their soul to the devil, and not the rock 'n' roll one at that, which would be cool. No, in a bid to get famous they almost sold themselves to the far darker evil of mainstream J-pop. And they're honest to admit loitering at that dangerous crossroads . . . and tough enough to say they don't regret it either.

"We used to play very heavy music like (1990s Tokyo rockers) Super Junky Monkey, and by the time we released our minialbum "Bubble Girl," we were quite famous on the indie scene and we felt we wanted to become even more successful," Hisayo tells me, between sipping her beer at a small Shibuya cafe.

"So we started working with a management company, and in about half a year we recorded a few songs in a J-pop style to try to get into the charts, but then we had second thoughts and decided not to release them because it's not what we wanted to do. Now we manage ourselves."

Then, in 2004, Tokyo Pinsalocks, who all met as members of Rikkyo University's music society seven years ago, had their defining "eureka!" moment.

"The four of us (guitarist Tomocchi has since left the band) went to a recording studio in the hills of Yamanakako (in Yamanashi Prefecture) and made the kind of songs we wanted to make, and those sessions ended up becoming our 2005 'Rhythm Channel' album," says Hisayo.

"Rhythm Channel" was a fine record, but with 2007's "Plutonium EP," and now "Planet Rita," Tokyo Pinsalocks have confirmed their existence in a brave new world of cosmo-pop in which, ladies and gentlemen, they are floating in space — and want you to join them. They do overdo the spacey thing a little — there's the album's title, tracks named "Cosmic Groove" and "Ideal Cosmos" and, on the jacket, Reiko clones orbit a globe. But don't get the wrong idea: This is not a disc of electronic doodlings from cyberhippies that only sounds good after midnight when you've toked on something the size of a baseball bat. This is one of those rare records that sound great no matter what time of day or what mood you're in.

"Planet Rita" kicks off with the insanely catchy "Antenna," in which bleepings from, um, Outer Space give way to what sounds like a choir of 6-year-old child robots chanting hypnotically in the background. Then, after about 20 seconds, it all kicks off as Naoko's smooth chanteuse-style vocal enters the fray along with groove-tastic bass and drums — and if this doesn't fill dancefloors in every disco from Mercury to Pluto, then nothing will. But there are darker, more atmospheric tracks, too, like "Ideal Cosmos," which is a J-pop song struggling to wake up from a Portishead nightmare.

The usual suspects such as YMO and Buffalo Daughter might spring to mind when listening to Pinsalocks, but Naoko ensures they retain a pop heart by whipping out the kind of vocal melodies that will have Martians crawling out from under red rocks to punch the night skies.

"The best thing is when people come up to me and say they get a feeling they've never experienced before when they listen to our songs," says Naoko. "A dreamy, spacey feeling. Like a trip."

But though this space-disco trip relies on the rhythm section to get the groove going, while Naoko taps out simple hooks on her Korg synth, the Pinsalocks sound is earthed by Reiko's ultrasteady live drumming (her hero is Zep's late John Bonham) and Hisayo's unique buzzing bass.

"I wanted to create something similar to a bass synthesizer, and I use a digital amp to get that effect," says Hisayo. "I don't think people at the live shows would get so much into the groove if I was just standing behind a keyboard. With the bass I can stand nearer the crowd at the front of the stage, pull some poses, and slide my hands down the strings to get sounds you can't replicate on a keyboard."

Pinsalocks toured Britain twice last year and have just returned from a series of dates in the United States, where they'll be returning for another tour in October.

"A lot of Japanese music magazines have said we stand more chance of being liked in the West than in Japan," says Hisayo.

Doesn't it upset them that they seem to be on the verge of cracking the West before making it big at home?

"Not really," says Naoko. "It's difficult for Japanese bands to break abroad, so for magazines to say that about us in Japan is a definite compliment."

For more details, check, Tokyo Pinsalocks play Sangenjaya Heaven's Door on April 26. Tickets are ¥2,500. For gig info check
- The Japan Times (April 25, 2008 By SIMON BARTZ)

"All About Techno Pop (Interview / Japanese)"

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"Travelling Spoon" (Album 2009 / KIMONO)
1. Capsule (Web Streaming)
2. Bathroom (Web Streaming)
3. Balloon Hunt
4. REM-Suimin (Myspace)
5. My Hotcake-ish Wish
6. Mannequin (Web Streaming / Myspace)
7. Travelling Spoon
8. Travelling Spoon (Remixed by Hajime Fukuma)

"Planet "Rita" (Album 2008 / KIMONO)
1. Antenna (Web Streaming / Myspace)
2. Circle (Web Streaming / Myspace)
3. Cosmic Groove
4. Ajito "Rita"
5. Wolf and Sheep
6. Ideal Cosmos

"Plutonium EP" (EP 2007 / HIPSHAKE records)
1. Plutonium 07 (Web Streaming / Myspace)
2. Quiet
3. so far, so fine
4. nioi-mania
5. SAUCE OF LUNCH (Web Streaming / Myspace)

"rthythm channel" (Album 2005 / Digilla / Rocket Girls / HIPSHAKE records )

1ch. rhythm (Web Streaming / Myspace)
2ch. Sweet Room
3ch. How many personalities??
4ch. Plutonium
5ch. Repeat
7ch. Clover
8ch. that day?
9ch. Heaven's Chocolate (Web Streaming / Myspace)
10ch. A Tower on the clouds
11ch. WEEK
12ch. Dream Catcher
13ch. Gosadou

"Bouble Girl" (Album 2004 / HIPSHAKE records)
1. Intro -welcome to the bouble!-
2. Brainwasher
3. Who am I?
4. Bouble Girl
5. Important Things
6. Haru, Hareta Hi
7. today & tomorrow

"STAY HERE" (Album 2003 / HIPSHAKE records)
3. Tsuki No Negai
4. Jibun Houki
5. Hana
6. Shoujou Yuugi

"Pedicure" (EP 2001/ HIPSHAKE records)
1. Pedicure
2. Hey! To-chan
3. Theme of Tokyo Pinsalocks



With one eye on the past and the other firmly on the future, all-girl groove-pop trio tokyo pinsalocks are one of Japan’s most exciting bands. With a tight sound comprising colourful synth, distorted bass, creative drums and dreamlike vocals, their music is fresh, eclectic and danceable, with an artistic sensibility that garners them as much respect from the worlds of fashion and art as within music.

Since their 2000 inception in Tokyo, tokyo pinsalocks have released six albums and mini-albums, creating stripped-back, psyched-out pop that does grand justice to the band’s heroes Kraftwerk, Bjork and Super Junky Monkey, and won them fans including the members of Devo.

The trio’s August 2009 release, ‘Travelling SpoonE was produced by Shunichi Miura (Uchoten/Kera And The Synthesizers) and takes new-wave rock to wild new limits, as trippy microKorg melodies and distorted basslines combine with fresh beats to create something both deliciously poppy and hard as nails.

In February 2007 they got airborne, exploding onto stages around the US and UK. So far their overseas shows have included New York’s Knitting Factory, the 1,000-capacity Anime Boston expo, UK festivals The Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City, and many others.

In Japan, they run their own series of live events, Spoon Market, which bring together the cream of female Japanese artists; live guests have included HalCali, Nirgilis and Motocompo, alongside rising visual artists and fashion designers. Other domestic shows have featured Sapporo’s revered Rising Sun Rock Festival, and the band’s October-November 2009 Japan tour will take in the entire span of the country, culminating in a one-band show at Tokyo’s renowned Club QUE.

"Tokyo Pinsalocks are the Daughters I Never Had" - Jerry Casale (DEVO)

"Tokyo Pinsalocks prove that a little playful experimentation can produce pop music with both brains and soul" - Metropolis

"Amazing Japanese electropop act" - Peter Robinson, Pop Justice

"tokyo pinsalocks sound, if we're making crass comparisons, a bit like The Knife if they were from the Japanese capital and learning to fly space rockets" -

"A first-class package of groove-led pop magic with mashed-up vocals, warm rhythm instruments and electronic leanings" - David Harrison, Music Towers

"This band is exciting proof of the Japanese rock’n’roll invasion of America to come" - Devo cohort Robert Miltenberg

"tokyo pinsalocks offer tripped-out psychedelic pop that recalls Jane’s Addiction and Lush in equal parts" - Disorder Magazine

" "rhythm channel" reminds me of the freshness, inventive fun and energy of The Sugarcubes (with Bjork)’s classic CD "Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week!" " - Albert Fox, film/TV/videogame/commercial composer

"Keyboard-led pop sensation tokyo pinsalocks play danceable, rhythmic pop with nary a guitar nor agenda in sight" - Neo magazine

"Sugar sweet, simple and occasionally Bjork-esque lyrics accompany a grimy but tightly skilled rhythm section that blasts from the PA with the fervor of a super-hero video game" - eGigs