Happy End

Kazemachi Roman

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Looked at one way, Kazemachi Roman by Happy End is a radical LP, a concept project named best Japanese rock album of all time by Rolling Stone Japan, and heartily forward-thinking in its native country for its creators' insistence of all-Japanese lyrics after a decade of the Group Sounds scene making English the status quo in Japanese pop. Looked at another way, Happy End and their New Rock ilk were lite poppers getting in the way of truly progressive guitar jammers like the newly formed Flower Travelin' Band. With four decades of hindsight, Kazemachi Roman is a decent pop album, no matter where it was recorded. The concept, as it were, investigates Tokyo in the years surrounding the 1964 World's Fair. Tunes like "Sorairo no Crayon" ("Sly Blue Crayon") and "Kaze wo Atsumete" ("Gather the Wind") are decent country rockers that, if not for the Japanese vocals, could stand ably on any contemporary west coast psych-twang LP. (The latter was featured on the best-selling soundtrack to Sofia Coppola's 2002 film, Lost in Translation.) Others are slick and sleek organ-driven pop tunes, like lead single "Hanaichimone" (named for a Japanese children's game). There's a tepid hint of Japanese guitar jamming that was then taking over the underground, such as the six-minute "Taifuu" ("Typhoon"), one of the three tracks with credits to "Bannai Tarao," a fictional chameleon-like Japanese detective.

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