Tag Archives: Japanese Breakfast

Recapping Hopscotch17 Day Three

Today was the third day of the Hopscotch Music Festival, where I’ve been all weekend. You can read my coverage of Thursday’s fun here, and my coverage of my insanely busy Friday here.

On Saturday, I decided to give myself a bit of a break. I woke up, did my writing, and went back to sleep for a bit. I didn’t have anything that I was desperate to see at the day parties, so I thought I would get over there at a casual pace. I slept more than I thought I would, and as morning turned into afternoon, I started to think that I might skip the day parties altogether. I slept some more. Then I remembered that I didn’t even need to head over there for the City Plaza show or the Red Hat show. Instead of going down there just so I could wander around drinking, I relaxed in the hotel and watched the US Open Women’s final. I’m really happy that Sloane Stephens won. After that, I watched a little bit of college football before finally heading downtown fully rested and recharged.

Blois Hopscotch17

The first set I went to was Raleigh band Blois, who were kicking off the night over at Kings. I didn’t know anything about them. Just that they’re a dream pop band. There’s a little bit of electronics: some noise modulators and some other synth-like noise. I really liked them. I was reminded a little of Memoryhouse. At least the first Memoryhouse record.

Sound of Ceres

After their set, I walked over to Fletcher for Sound of Ceres. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I was really pleasantly surprised. As I’ve said, I didn’t really do the amount of homework that I normally do, so I was kind of blind going in. I only knew that the Brooklyn by way of Fort Collins, Colorado band was electro/psych/experimental dream pop. On quick listen, Karen Hover’s voice reminds me a lot of the late Trish Keenan out of Broadcast. And the band’s music kind of reminds me of them, too. I didn’t know that this band features former members of The Apples in Stereo. I also didn’t know that their forthcoming album was produced by Alex Somers in his Reykjavik studio. That guy has produced some really great records by Sigur Rós, Julianna Barwick, and Briana Marela, just to name a few.
The Sound of Ceres set was something I’ve never seen before. They have a mesh screen set up on the stage, on which they project a three-dimensional laser display. Hover interacted with the display all night, and it was really cool. In the picture above, you can see the lasers dancing, and you can just see the silhouette of Karen Hover. I made a video, and maybe later I’ll upload it. I had no expectations at all about that band, and I really loved their thing. Their new album The Twin is coming out on October 6.


Next up was Beverly, over at Deep South. Over the years, I’ve only been to a few sets at Deep South, but they’ve all been memorable, including last year’s amazing set by Diet Cig. On records, they’re just a duo, but when they play live, there are five of them. At least there were last night. They were exactly what I was expecting. Energetic and fun. And they sounded great.

Cherry Glazerr

Next, I walked over to The Pour House for Cherry Glazerr. I didn’t know much about the Los Angeles band, but they were a bit heavier than I was expecting. It’s a band that I might have gotten really into if they had existed 20 years ago. I think the frontwoman of the band wasn’t even alive 20 years ago. There’s a lot of howling and heavy guitar punctuated with soft, melodic moments. For the first time all weekend, I needed my VIP wristband to get in. There were other advantages to the wristband, but that was the full house venue that I encountered. I only stayed for a few songs, and the line to get in was pretty long when I left.

I left one totally packed house for another totally packed house. I really needed to see Japanese Breakfast, though. I went to see them open for Mitski last June in Durham, but I didn’t really pay attention to the show. They were scheduled to play last year’s Hopscotch, but they didn’t make it. To be honest, I haven’t spent very much time with the new record, but I loved the 2016 debut record, and I was really excited about this set. When I arrived at the door for Neptune’s, there was one huge line for King’s and one for Neptune’s. I got a bit worried, but once again, my VIP wristband got me in ahead of the rest of the general admission folks. Neptune’s is one of the venues where you can’t see a thing if it’s crowded. The ceilings are fairly low, and they can’t raise the stage, so visibility is bad. A contributing factor is that Michelle Zauner is tiny. Even though I was only about five deep from the stage, I could barely see. I couldn’t get a decent picture. It didn’t matter, though. It was an amazing set. For the second night in a row, I ended my night at Neptune’s, seeing a band for whom I had very high expectations. For the second night in a row, I was very happy. They were on point, they were excited to be part of the festival, and they had the crowd jumping. During their last song, Zauner did a little bit of crowd surfing. I can never get enough of that kind of thing.

So far, this has been a great festival, and there are still a lot of highlights coming today. There are still a bunch of bands playing at Red Hat today, including my two most anticipated shows of the festival: “Mary Timony plays Helium” and Angel Olsen. I was a huge Helium fan, but I never saw them live. I never saw Mary Timony play solo, but I did see her with Wild Flag. She’ll be playing at 4:15.
I’ve only seen Angel Olsen one time, and it was absolutely breathtaking. Here’s the video I made last time:

I’m obviously looking forward to seeing her again tonight at 8.

June 27, 2016 — “I Think You’re Alright” by Jay Som

Jay Som (Melina Duterte)

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “I Think You’re Alright” by Jay Som (2016, from the “I Think You’re Alright” 7″ single b/w “Rush”).

Jay Som is the stage moniker of San Francisco indie rocker Melina Duterte. She’s been making records as Jay Som since 2012 while simultaneously playing in a band called Summer Peaks. She’s released a few records along the way, but from what I’ve read, the single that just came out last week is her first “official” release.

I don’t really know anything about Duterte, and I had never heard of Jay Som until last night. I went to Durham to see Mitski and Japanese Breakfast, and I knew that there was an opening act called Jay Som, but I didn’t do any homework at all. Although Jay Som features a full band on the records, and although they usually tour as a band, It was just Duterte flying solo last night. The version of tonight’s song that I heard last night was quite different. It was grittier and more intimate, and I loved it. It was the highlight of her short set. When I heard the 7″ version, I wasn’t even sure if it was the same song. This is that song:

“I Think You’re Alright” by Jay Som

There’s something that I love about how this one starts cleaner and brighter than the live version, but builds to a much bigger and much darker climax than the live version. Last night, between the Jay Som set and Japanese Breakfast, I overheard a guy talking about how Jay Som reminded him of Azure Ray, and I can totally get that. What’s weird is that Duterte doesn’t sound much like either Maria Taylor or Orenda Fink, but she sounds very much like when Taylor and Fink harmonize. And that vocal harmony is why we love Azure Ray.

Most of what I’ve heard, and most of this song is indeed reminiscent of Azure Ray, but at 2:41, it gets all fuzzy and loud and heavy on the distortion pedals. There’s a whole lot going on there, and that was impossible to replicate on stage last night with one woman playing one guitar and using an uncomplicated pedal board. I liked the live version a lot, and I love the 7″ version for different reasons.

I’ve read that this is a song about giving your all to someone. I’ve read that it’s about being really deep in a one-sided relationship. And that it’s about sort of being okay with that, or at least giving in to that. Sure there are lines like “I’ll be your broken old TV… Your puppy when nobody’s home”, but the one that makes it a little weird is “I’ll be your cigarette ashtray”. Those three things are quite different. The broken old TV is that thing you don’t care about, but can’t bring yourself to throw away. The puppy when nobody’s home does bad things, and you get mad at it, but you love it anyway. The cigarette ashtray? That thing that you don’t care about at all. Use it, dirty it up, treat it like it’s a garbage can. And the protagonist here is willing to be that.

No matter what, it’s a great song, and it was a treat to see it performed in a much different style. The Mitski/Japanese Breakfast/Jay Som tour is in Atlanta tomorrow, then Birmingham Alabama, then through the Southwest and up the US west coast, Denver, and all through the Great Lakes. You should see this show if it comes through your town.

You can buy a digital download of “I Think You’re Alright”/”Rush” via Bandcamp here, and you can buy it in physical format on baby blue vinyl via Fat Possum Records here.

May 9, 2016 — “Everybody Wants to Love You” by Japanese Breakfast

Michelle Zauner (Japanese Breakfast)

Obviously, everyone’s listening to the new Radiohead record, but if you only listen to one song tonight, make it “Everybody Wants to Love You” by Japanese Breakfast (2016, from the album Psychopomp.

Japanese Breakfast is a Philadelphia-based indie pop project of Michelle Zauner out of the indie punk band Little Big League. In 2013, she set out to do something different from the guitar-oriented stuff that she was doing, and she released a tape called “June”, which featured 30 songs: one song written and recorded every day of the month. The goal with Japanese Breakfast was to showcase her vocals and to play around with pop melodies. Even if they were dark. The project started off as a solo project, and in June 2014, she released a seven-song EP called “Where is My Great Big Feeling”. That was followed one month later by an eight-song EP called “American Sound”. These were met with warm reviews, and there was much anticipation about an album. Japanese Breakfast is now a full band, and the debut album Psychopomp, which came out via Yellow K Records on April 1 of this year.

I got something in the mailbag several weeks ago, and I received a preview copy of the album. I’ve been enjoying it very much, but I’ve been busy with life and haven’t had time to write very much. Still, though, I had this very high on my list of things to write about.

Today, the Hopscotch Music Festival announced the lineup for this autumn’s seventh annual festival. I’ve been to at least part of the festival every year except the second, and this will be my fifth consecutive year going to the whole festival. It’s the only festival I go to, and it’s the only “vacation” that I take every year. When the lineup was released this morning, I was really excited about some of the “larger print” bands like Beach House and Sylvan Esso, and I was even more excited about some of the “small print” bands like Diet Cig. Julien Baker, and of course Japanese Breakfast. There are many others that I’m already excited about and many more that I’ll become excited about as I do my research, but this one made me really happy.

There’s a little bit of a twee/c-86 feel to this song, and in that respect I’m reminded of the c-86 revival that keeps trying to gain some momentum. But underneath that twee/c-86 vibe, there’s also a bit of saucy times. Take the song’s first verse:

Can I get your number?
Can I get you into bed?
When we wake up in the morning
Will you give me lots of head

Today’s song is all of two minutes and thirteen seconds, but it’s full of jangle-y goodness, a little bit of darkness, and just a ton of fun. And the aforementioned naughty sexy time. It’s a warm spring day with nothing to do but drive around with the windows down and music blaring. This is that song that’s blaring:
“Everybody Wants to Love You” by Japanese Breakfast

The rest of the album has some different sounds, moods, and textures. This is far and away my favorite song on the album, but the whole album is very good.

Apparently, Zauner wrote this song six years when she and a friend were in a band called Birthday Girls. The rest of the songs are written exclusively by her.

You can buy the album via Bandcamp here. Get it on “clear aqua” vinyl, black vinyl, cassette, or digital download.

We don’t know the Hopscotch schedule yet, and we won’t know that until about two or three weeks before the festival. But we do know that Japanese Breakfast will be there. And that makes us happy. They had a pre-sale for 3-day wristbands, and tickets go back on sale later this week.

Stay tuned over the next four months as I’ll have a lot of focus on the bands who will be playing this year’s festival.

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