Out of All These ONE Must Shock Us!

Back before Zero was a creep

It looks like the second round of summer releases have been announced. Have I ever mentioned before how stressful I find it that Jrockers all release their stuff on exactly the same day? There are like two dates in a given month when they’re allowed to release material. For June you can expect to go bankrupt on the 2nd and 23rd, so get ready, guys.

D’espairsRay // “Dead or Alive Complete Covers Album” // July, ’10 (Album)

For the first time ever, a Jrock band will feature nothing but covers of the one band probably everyone is perfectly happy going the rest of their life without ever hearing!
Just kidding. It’s true, I’m being uncharacteristically vindictive (I’m not usually vindictive, right?). I mean seriously. The actual news is that they will, in fact, be releasing a brand new album right in time for adding songs to the set-list for their world tour, which will kick off in the US sometime in August. But, y’know, please don’t let us know what the dates are UNTIL THE DAY OF.

Out of all this second round, I think this is the most exciting news. Although all we know at this point is that it will be released sometime in late July.  Love is Dead itched the darker aspects of my dementia, but I thought b-side Medicine (I haven’t figured out how to make backwards N’s yet) was a really cool song. It was congruous with the single, but also got heavy and angry to counter the dancey thing that preceded it.

Exist Trace // “Knife” // 6.2.10

I always look forward to these bad-ass babes. I’m sure they aren’t going to release a techno song.

Inaba Koshi // “Okay” // 6.23.10 (2 types)

A barely-optimistic title, but surely a single that won’t disappoint from B’z frontman Inaba Koshi.

Nightmare (ナイトメア)// “a:fantasia” // 6.23.10 (2 types)

What the hell was with them releasing an entire album with ONLY ONE SONG ON IT. That’s what they invented the “repeat” button for, hello Nightmare?

Ayabie // “Irodori – Tour Final Live @ ZEPP Tokyo” [title subject to change] // 7.14.10 (Live DVD)

To be honest, I haven’t really followed these guys since I got irrevocably bored with their Rikkaboshi +A album.

Rin //”As if Forever Exists” // 6.2.10 (3 types)

Kisaki’s new band.

Phantasmagoria // “Diamond Dust in Truth” (live DVD) // 6.23.10

Kisaki’s old band.

**Pick ’em up here**

For anyone who forgot:

Sadie just released some new stuff yesterday (4/28); a Singles Collection, and a maxi-single (which hopefully isn’t included on the singles collection…) called DRESS. The PV is pretty cool, and the song is awesome.
If you haven’t heard it yet, check it out:

D’espairsRay album release source: CDJapan

Video: shuujiHysteria

Inaba or Matsumoto? Take Your Pick

Following their highly elitist arena tour (I believe that’s redundant, however, seeing as these guys will never again perform in livehouses…) that wrapped up at the end of March, the B’z duo will part ways for the summer to pursue separate projects.

Starting off in early June, guitar monster Tak Matsumoto, who is well-known for his collaborations with western musicians, will kick of a nationwide tour in Japan alongside renowned American jazz guitarist Larry Carlton. They will play around 14 dates together in cities Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, Nagoya, and Fukuoka. Tickets are JPY 10,500.

Not long after Matsumoto wraps up the encores in in Tokyo on July 3rd, vocalist monster Inaba Koshi will be preparing for a 20-date nationwide solo tour titled Koshi Inaba LIVE TOUR 2010 ~en II~. Inaba has released several works under his solo project, all of which are strong pop-rock releases that will take the house down this summer, no doubt. Inaba will be on the road through October. Tickets start at JPY7,500 and go up to 10,500.

I’m pumped to see these guys going so strong the past couple of years. They had some terrific releases in ’09, including the mind-blowing Ichibu to Zenbu/ DIVE double A-side, and a full-length album, MAGIC. And not only are they keeping the quality releases coming, they’re balancing studio work and live delivery with mastery. The only downside to all of this touring is that it makes prospects grim for any new singles this summer…Although, I guess you never know, do you? J-bands have interesting abilities to defy the passage of time and release things that shouldn’t have been chronologically possible.

…By the way, if you haven’t stopped by recently, check out their homepage. It’s been updated with new pictures, etc. The guys are still some of the classiest, coolest rockers out there, for sure.

Image credit: jayz24

Video credit: tintintin9314

Ain’t No Magic– B’z Madness Is All Real

Although they claim, via the title, that their 2010 tour, LIVE-GYM 2010 “Ain’t No Magic” is, well, not magic, B’z fans know better.

Since the beginning of January, B’z, the iconic classic rock duo that has been enchanting fans for the past 25 years, has been touring select Japanese cities for their 2010 tour LIVE-GYM 2010 “Ain’t No Magic“. They got started with 7 dates in January, and will carry on for another 12 dates through February and March.

2/12 Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome

2/13 Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome

2/17 Nagoya Dome

2/19 Nagoya Dome

2/20 Nagoya Dome

2/24 Kyo-Cera Dome, Osaka

2/26 Kyo-Cera Dome, Osaka

2/27 Kyo-Cera Dome, Osaka

3/3 Tokyo Dome

3/4 Tokyo Dome

3/6 Tokyo Dome

3/7 Tokyo Dome

Tickets Charge (Tax included): “SS” Seating 1,2000円, “S” Seating 9,000円, “A” Seating 8,000円, “B” Seating 7,000円, “C” Seating 5,500円

Open and Start times, Tickets

Whether you’re attending or not, check out the super “kawaii” theme song they composed for the tour. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a tour getting its own theme song, but hey, that’s the least it deserves!

B’z ひとりじゃないから -Theme Of LIVE-GYM-


Official Website

Simply… B’z

B’z was born in the height of the Japanese rock boom, in the early eighties. Although B’z followed on the heels of big-wig (literally) bands such as Buck-Tick (1984-present), and X-Japan (1982-1997), these bands were veering off into the creation and development of the scene we know of as Visual Kei. B’z was founded by guitarist Matsumoto Tak and vocalist Inaba Koshi in an effort to create something different from what was filling the music scene. Where many bands were using heavy electronica in their music and big band status, Matsumoto and Inaba felt that there were two things that comprised the soul of rock music, and these could not be replaced or imitated: Guitar and the human voice.

Kudos to them. Matsumoto, already an established soloist, began doing tryouts for vocalists shortly after the release of what would be his last solo album (at the time), Thousand Wave. Enter Inaba Koshi, then an aspiring amateur taking voice lessons and preparing to become a math teacher. Although I can’t vouch for the truth of this information, apparently Inaba silenced his dream of teaching when he discovered he would have had to cut his hair.
Inaba tried out, and the two immediately bonded and agreed to start a duo, which became B’z. Kind of a funny beginning for the top selling, most renowned, internationally famous band in Japan ever.

Matsumoto and Inaba in the early days...sensei's in rock

Where Visual Kei was digging its roots deep in the music scene, it seems only a few musicians were exploring pop and classic rock (think Yutaka Ozaki of great national fame)– at least only a few were doing it with any lasting style (Japan was about as cool as anywhere else in the 80s, perhaps even slightly more awkward because of its intense cultural transitions that had taken place, so it’s pretty amazing that we’re still listening to their 80s, 90s and Today so to speak). B’z came in, with Matsumoto’s monstrous guitars and Inaba’s high, strong vocals and powerful wails, and paved the way for Japanese classic rock and pop as we know it.

On September 21st, 1988, B’z debuted with the album B’z and the single Dakara Sono Te o Hanashite.
They debuted in a time where most Japanese bands believed it was necessary to perform live immediately after releasing an album. However, B’z had figured out their game plan, and did not perform immediately after the release of B’z. Instead they waited it out, making more music, refining their style and quality, and creating enough material that they could perform, and perform well, for at least 90 minutes.
This campaign resulted in another full-length album: OFF THE LOCK, released May 21st, 1989. After the release of LOCK, they decided to tour. Thus began LIVE-GYM, kicking off in Nagoya, infecting Osaka,and looping back up to Tokyo to completely overwhelm Eastern Japan with the need to listen to B’z.You have to remember that, at this time, awkward shoulder-pads were popular.

I could go on for page after page listing their chronology, year to year, month to month. But I won’t. Now that you have an idea of how they came to be, let’s address who they are and where they stand in the music scene.

At the beginning, B’z was very contemporary in sound, relative to their musical peers such as T-Bolan. However, they quickly started to discover their own influences and inspiration, and their music took form in a way that hasn’t been seen much elsewhere in Jrock. B’z is a classic western-style rock band. Tak Matsumoto has refined the long-haired, leather-jacketed, Levi-jeans of the a-typical American rocker to that point that even the western rockers look less “rock-star” than Matsumoto.

And it doesn’t stop at face-value. B’z definitely pulls their musical influence from Western rock. All the great bands from way back when, the ones that were melodic and beautiful, while paving the way for American rock (which no longer holds any claim to these adjectives). Perhaps part of their appeal to the Japanese is their Japanese-ness paired with their Western influences. Often when I have my playlist on shuffle and a B’z song comes on, I sit for the first 30 seconds trying to figure out which Western (albeit cool) music somehow infiltrated my impressive defenses, and then Inaba starts singing, and all order returns to the world.

B'z--off the 2007 album, ACTION

B'z-- ACTION album cover '07

Their music is a huge slew of whatever they so happen to want to play, mostly sticking to rock and pop, without ever leaning over to the heavy side too much. Their music is usually upbeat and fun, with some upbeat danceable stuff (Bad Communication getting a good poke here), a little orchestral-rock (Love Phantom), and with their ’07 release Action, some fantastic straight-up rock.
I have to say, considering what they’ve done for the Japanese rock scene and Japanese music fame in general, it really gives me a bad itch whenever someone presenting Jrock doesn’t even give them mention.

Despite having such an intensely strong run as B’z, both the honorable gentlemen have made time for solo endeavors. Matsumoto has worked with a wide range of different artists from around the world, both on their projects and his own. Meanwhile, Inaba embarked on his own solo work, utilizing skills not only in singing and composition, but also in a variety of instruments including guitar. As a solo artist, Inaba released 3 singles, 3 albums, and collaborated with several western artists on their projects. Matsumoto has released 11 albums and 4 singles under his name.

To throw a bit of trivia at you: Steve Vai personally invited B’z to put their hand-prints in Hollywood’s RockWall–the first artists from Asia to do so. Their discography includes 41 consecutive #1 singles, 23 #1 albums, and they have sold more than 77 million records in Japan ALONE!

The gents are as classy as ever in '09

The guys are still going as strong as ever. In 2009 they released two singles (Ichibu to Zenbu/DIVE, and My Loney Town), and the full-length album MAGIC. In early ’10 they hit up Japan with an impressive arena tour around major cities. And in Summer ’10 they will split up briefly to work on solo projects, Inaba with a solo tour and Matsumoto to tour Japan with American jazz guitarist Larry Carlton, they will release an album in June 2010, entitled Take Your Pick.

Official Website (English, Japanese)

House of Strings Official Website [Matsumoto’s solo project] (Japanese)

A Merry Christmas Someday

…Seeing as yet another Happy Holiday has come and is now closing, it will have to wait for someday. To be honest, I really cannot believe that Christmas is already hitting its evening peak (then again, if you spent the day drinking a variety of delectable and pungent alcoholic beverages, paired with assorted delicacies from multiple nations, after first waking up at 6AM to begin Scotch-assisted celebrations, it’s probably less-the-peak and more a rapid crash and burn into post-holiday hell). I don’t know about the rest of you, but I partied pretty hard these past few days, and after several months of very intensive and strenuous work, I’m definitely looking forward to some R&R time!

Unfortunately, due to aforementioned strenuous labor and inexhaustible celebrating, I haven’t been spending as much quality time on Secret Garden as I would like. It comes with the territory, I suppose! I had hoped to have a few more posts on here by now, but at least they made the short list! .

Since we’re all Visualists here, I was just wondering– is there anything you lot, as Jrockers and core elite Visualists, do to add a bit of VK to your seasonal exploits? Remember– there’s always New Year’s, and next year’s; so it’s always interesting to hear how the Jrockers keep on shredding even in the snowy days.

Personally, I keep a special seasonal playlist on hand: D‘s Snow White, GACKT’s 12gatsu no Love Song and Story, andB’z‘s SNOW and Itsuka no Merry Christmas, among others. I resonate perfectly with that style of composition this time of year, and it’s also a great escape from traditional seasonal music. :) Aside from that, I think my Visualist nature will probably be able to unfurl its wings a bit better over New Year’s– more flexibility and freedom from traditions.

If you have anything to share– tips, tricks, and traditions– I’d be psyched to hear them here, so leave us a comment and we’ll start some elitist traditions of our own. On that note, I’ll cease my ramblings and the use of ‘holiday’ and ‘seasonal’ every other word, and leave you with some posts to wrap up our Christmas Caroling– Jrocker style.

The lights of December

Are slowly lit

And everyone comes to love

This frenetically dancing town

I know I already used this brilliant opening verse (the translated first lines of the masterpiece) as the catch-phrase of a recent post, but they’re so incredibly spot-on right now that it can’t be a sin to use them again and again. After all, you couldn’t possibly disagree with the tender, faintly heart-breaking lyrics (even translated) of Japan’s start-all-end-all “Juunigatsu” (December) masterpiece: B’z’s いつかのメリークリスマス[Itsuka no Merry Christmas] (A Merry Christmas Someday). Pretty much the Silent Night of Japan’s caroling-repertoire, the bittersweet ballad encapsulates the Japaneesy Christmas feeling we’ve been yakking on about lately.  But enough talk: this one is pretty much self-explanatory, so I’ll let you get back to the lyrics, and have a listen for yourself. The Japanese romanized lyrics are included at the bottom, because if you aren’t countering every assault of Good King Wenceslas with a round of Itsuka no Merry Christmas, you have the bah-humbug of Jrock! Listen and weep– Merry Christmas, and keep reading Secret Garden~

The lights of December
Are slowly lit
And everyone comes to love
This frenetically dancing town

I rushed to the shops right before they closed
And bought the chair you wanted
Alone on the train, holding my package
I was happy

I felt like we could
Hold hands forever
Everything was sparkling
As we chased our dreams without a care

We smile at each other
As we think of how the day will come
When we’ll share all of both our happiness and our sadness
A merry Christmas one faded day

I sang as I followed the tracks to your house, hurrying a little
When you opened the door
You were busy making dinner

When I proudly showed you your present
You were happy from the bottom of your heart
At the sight of your face
I came right out and held you again

I felt like we could
Hold hands forever
Everything was sparkling
As we chased our dreams without a care

For the first time
I was afraid of losing you
A merry Christmas one day
When I realised what it was like to love somebody

Watching the light of the candles that lit up the room
I said we’d never be apart
And then suddenly
I cried, without even knowing why

I felt like we could
Hold hands forever
Everything was sparkling
As we chased our dreams without a care

For the first time
I was afraid of losing you
A merry Christmas one day
When I realised what it was like to love somebody

As I stand still someone hurries past me
Carrying their luggage with a happy face


Yukkuri to juunigatsu no akari ga
Awatadashiku odoru machi wo
Daremo ga suki ni naru

Boku wa hashiri heiten magiwa
Kimi no hoshigatta isu wo katta
Nimotsu kakae densha no naka
Hitori de shiawase datta

Itsu mademo te wo tsunaide
Irareru you na ki ga shite ita
Nanimo ka mo ga kirameite
Gamushara ni yume wo oikaketa

Yorokobi mo kanashimi mo zenbu
Wakachiau hi ga kuru koto
Omotte hohoemiatte iru
Iroaseta itsuka no merii kurisumasu

Utainagara senrobiroi wo ie e to sukoshi isoida
Doa wo aketa kimi wa isogashiku
Yuushoku wo tsukutte ita

Hokorashige ni purezento miseru to
Kimi wa kokoro kara yorokonde
Sono kao wo mita boku mo mata
Sunao ni kimi wo dakishimeta

Itsumademo te wo tsunaide
Irareru you na ki ga shite ita
Nanimo ka mo ga kirameite
Gamushara ni yume wo oikaketa

Kimi ga inaku naru koto wo
Hajimete kowai to omotta
Hito wo ai suru to iu koto ni
Ki ga tsuita itsuka no merii kurisumasu

Heya wo someru rousoku no akari wo minagara
Hanareru koto wa nai to
Itta ato de kyuu ni boku wa
Naze da ka wakarazu naita

Itsumademo te wo tsunaide
Irareru you na ki ga shite ita
Nanimo ka mo ga kirameite
Gamushara ni yume wo oikaketa

Kimi ga inaku naru koto wo
Hajimete kowai to omotta
Hito wo ai suru to iu koto ni
Ki ga tsuita itsuka no merii kurisumasu

Tachidomatteru boku no soba wo dareka ga ashibaya ni
Toorisugiru nimotsu wo kakae shiawasesou na kao de

The song has also been covered by rocker king GACKT, who remarked that the first time he heard Itsuka no Merry Christmas, he was brought to tears. He performs it as a duet with Hamasaki Ayumi, and another time around with Namie Amuro.

Get your workout on with B’z’s LIVE GYM

[Due to the excess of spam pingbacks from Motherly Pride.com, this post’s name has been revised. If you want to buy mothering care products, please go to http://www.motherlypride.com. If you found Secret Garden through Motherly Pride, I apologize for not being a distributor of organic washcloths and bath-salts.]

If you weren’t already totally pumped out of this world over the new album in line for B’z this November, then I highly recommend any videos from their 2008 LIVE GYM Pleasure GLORY DAYS tour DVD to get you rocking down to your socks. The lives are absolutely phenomenal, and the energy of Inaba Koshi and Tak Matsumoto was awesome. Check out the long-shots out over the crowd– many thousands of people attended the live, despite the pouring rain.

The DVD was released February 25 2009. It is currently available at a 5% off price (doesn’t sound like much, but it saves you JPY300). So now’s your chance to check it out! (All DVDs region 2 encoded [Japan, Europe, Middle East, So.Africa], no subtitles). It’s an absolute must-have– and currently my greatest source of shame rests in the lack of it in my collection. Unfortunately, I’m not Region 2 authorized. YET.
B'z Live-Gym Pleasure 2008 -Glory Days- / B'z

Also, if you’re experiencing any autumn blues as the cold and rainy days kick in, LIVE GYM presents us with just the right tonic. Listen and let your soul be solved~

Listen to B’z for a spell

I don’t know about any of you– but it’s been made very clear to me by now that I have a fairy-godmother. What she does, see, is she makes it so that all of the greatest bands alive keep making incredible music, on and on and on…Where she goes wrong, if I understand this correctly, is she never actually delivers the goods unto me, as it were.

No problem. Follow the “Gacktpause” page link, and click on the big golden button that says Give a Gift. And just follow the prompts…
Magic / B'z

Yes. It’s true. Cinderella, get ready to have a ball, because on November 18th, 2009, rock duo wizards B’z will release an all-new full-length album. The album, titled appropriately MAGIC, follows up the releases of singles DIVE/イチブトゼンブ and My Lonely Town— and anyone who missed those will be in for a treat with the release of MAGIC. Featuring 10 yet-unheard new tracks, the album will also host their hit newest singles, Dive, Ichibu to Zenbu, and My Lonely Town.

A limited edition with a DVD is available for JPY3600 (USD$40.04), regular edition CD only available for JPY 2800 (USD$ 31.15). Pre-order now before you turn into a pumpkin.