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Adachi Fireworks Festival - July 2014

six months

Six months transpired swiftly. Rainy season came and went; summer’s humidity spared none. Fall is here. I am cold and I am happy.

It’s difficult to perceive of personal change on some sort of measurable scale. I’m not so deluded as to believe that I can wade through bias and selfish impulses in order to arrive at an objective conclusion. Yet I feel change. In its most palpable form, it is taking me somewhere new. I don’t know where I was before, and I don’t know where I’m heading, but I feel movement. One week into my stay in Tokyo, I wrote, “A quick note to my future self, whoever you are: Please look back on your life and time in Japan as transformative and essential to your current existence.” Halfway through my contract, I simultaneously feel accomplished yet incomplete, proud yet terrified, anxious yet excited. I’m happy— genuinely— and I want so much more. 

I’m grateful for the opportunity everyday to revel in my insignificance. The world is large. Humanity is vast. There’s so much left to experience. I continue to amble on in pursuit of my own contentment.

Heaven, the staggeringly gorgeous new album from The Bilinda Butchers, soundtracked the better part of my summer. Check it out here via Orchid Tapes.

Summertime, summermusic.

It’s July now, and Tokyo is simmering under an exceedingly sticky sun. (Seriously, though, this humidity!) Here to help ease the fever the world over is “High School Love,” a brand new cut from Tokyo’s own Teen Runnings. And good god, is this thing a cool breeze— or, rather, an industrial sized air conditioner situated directly in front of your body and fixed on a comfortable setting, intermittently dispersing gusts of life itself, as it were, in the face of unbelievable heat.

"High School Love" bounces effervescently in, under, around, and over those familiarly fuzzy guitars, punchy drum fills, squirmy bass lines, and impossible-not-to-sing-along-to vocal melodies. It invites repeat listens, so long as those listens are spread out over a montage of you and your best and most beautiful friends reveling in youth and carefree euphoria. It’s released in advance of Teen Runnings' forthcoming full-length Now, due out July 23rd via the inimitable Sauna Cool, and follows on the heels of "Don’t Care About Me," another unfairly infectious slice of summery guitar pop, as well as a split 7” with Chicago-based The Lemons with features “I Wonder What Your Mom’s Thinking.” Both of those tracks will also appear on Now, which is shaping up to be an absolute gem.

Teen Runnings: Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr
Sauna Cool: Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

An icy hailstorm of swirling synthesizers backed by a heartbeat rhythm reverberating in zero-gravity, punctuated by ambient washes blurred by neon. A new White Flashes song is always an Event, and “Relief” is no different. There’s no mistaking this for the work of any other artist, which is meant as the highest compliment for the hard-working Des Moines songwriter/producer/artist extraordinaire. Over the last few years, White Flashes has cultivated such a unique, focused sound, and “Relief” finds him reveling in that comfort while simultaneously flirting with previously untrodden territory. The vocals are much more front-and-center this time around— confident and emotive— and the song shines for it.

Free download —> White Flashes <— daolnwod eerF

one moment

Standing on the 53rd floor in a room painted white overlooking a city too beautiful, too perfect for my eyes. The sun tucks away and lights flicker on, resulting in an early-hour luminescence so soft and so warm like a pastel lampshade in the corner of a floral print room. (You can just make out the Rainbow Bridge between the window panes— it’s white tonight.) Me, a stony figure transfixed by my current physical and mental and emotional states, unable to move. I unfocus my eyes and stare at my reflection in the glass. Silvery balloons float effortlessly, aimlessly, perfectly behind me— I’m bathing in the light that beams from them like stars. Someone more attuned to life than I: please use this as a metaphor for opportunity and excitement and fear and dependency and independence and life and happiness and death and loneliness, about how they’re all probably the same anyway. I feel helpless most of the time. I can’t hide here.

I’ve been here for over a month now. I continue to be amazed everyday by something new— life is pulsating at an alarming rate, and I’m unable to comprehend every detail. But that percentage of joyous life that I am able to partake in rejuvenates me in new ways. I find myself falling in love with this city and culture deeper and more richly each day.

(Photos #1-4: Hanami in Ueno park. The cherry blossoms were overwhelmingly beautiful, and the Japanese approach to appreciating their beauty is equally inspiring.

Photo #5: Delectable crêpe / tasty café lunch in Harajuku [which, incidentally, is quickly becoming my favorite area in Tokyo, I think].

Photos #6-7: Roppongi Hills / ‘Andy Warhol: 15 Minutes Eternal’ exhibit at the Mori Art Museum. The 53rd floor of this gorgeous building is an art museum, and I visited their massive Warhol exhibition last weekend. The exhibit showcased more than 700 Warhol pieces (paintings, prints, films, drawings, memorabilia, etc.) and included a precise replica of a portion of his Factory. I especially enjoyed seeing the ‘Electric Chair’ series, as well as the display featuring the Velvet Underground.

Photo #8: Lights on the street in Shinjuku.)