Cosa Nostra

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Cosa Nostra is one of Japan's '70s retro bands with a modern taste for samples and loops, while keeping their sound as organic as possible. With ties to United Future Organization, Pizzicato Five, and…
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Cosa Nostra is one of Japan's '70s retro bands with a modern taste for samples and loops, while keeping their sound as organic as possible. With ties to United Future Organization, Pizzicato Five, and Spank Happy, the band, led by Momoko Suzuki and Reiko Oda, follow in the good-vibes feel of early Sly and the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder, and various Philly soul acts, while borrowing from modern house music, trip-hop, and turntablism. Their earlier work was mostly in English, which left them with few fans initially, some seeing the band as trying to pander to the West (more likely they were trying to be as authentic as possible in their experiment). Their main founder, Tetsutaro Sakurai, came from the Tokyo music scene, first coming to fame with the Girl! Girl! Girl! radio show on FM Yokohama, where he shared songwriting duties with Pizzicato Five's Yasuharu Konishi and guitarist Haruo Kubota. Like Konishi, he brought an encyclopedic knowledge of Western pop to his group, and throughout the '90s produced many other acts. They debuted in 1991 with Cosa Nostra. Though self-titled, it was actually a shared album with United Future Organization and various groups, the former of which went on to considerable success. The remaining groups, if one examines the credits, contain the members of Cosa Nostra in various guises. A follow-up album, Cosa Nostra II, continued the theme. The band was finding their footing, trying out various genres and styles. With Medicated Soul, their first album in 1993, Cosa Nostra first introduced Momoko Suzuki and Reiko Oda as their main vocalists, but the true coalescence of the group came with a label switch the next year from Sony to Bellissima!/Toy's Factory records, and their second album, 1994's Mind Songs. Cosa Nostra's sound reached an apex in 1995, with World Peace, featuring: funk, soul, hip-hop, a mix of vintage instruments, and new sounds. By 1997's Trip Magic, the group was moving toward a hard rock sound, as well as singing in Japanese. 1998's Our Thing turned out to be a turning point for the group. After its release, founding member Jun Sasaki left the band, and Cosa Nostra left Bellissima! Records. The obligatory compilation album was released soon after. Fears that Cosa Nostra were finished as well were unfounded -- the group resurfaced on 1999's Yippee! on Sony once again, with a companion remix album surfacing a year later.