ART-SCHOOL/killing Boy

木下理樹Kinoshita Riki started musical life in alt-rock group ART-SCHOOL and in 2010, killing Boy was formed, made up of musicians from different rock bands (in similar fashion to 川谷絵音 Kawatani Enon and Indigo la End/Gesu No Kiwami Otome, a decade earlier). These alt-rock groups are just some of many bands that unsettle the generic Japanese rock formula by submerging listeners with their distinctive rock character that is equally attractive to their contemporaries.

Speaking for the post-grunge legacy, あと10秒で ‘Ato 10 Byou De’ (’10 seconds until’) by ART-SCHOOL tinkles between the heavy distortion of Foo Fighters and the mainstream rock/power pop appeal of Nickelback or U2 with an economical yet effective arrangement of jangling guitars tinged with nostalgia, powerful vocal melodies a motoring bass guitar and drum pulse. By contrast, ‘Illmatic Love’ flirts with a distinctive new rave sensation, filled with neon synth colours, dingy bass sonorities and an anthemic chorus melody that would electrify the nightclub.

The foot-tapping groove of ‘Frozen Music’ (from killing Boy’s debut self-titled album in 2011) belies the sphinx-like quality that permeates the track. Exuding a particularly similar vibe to Brian Eno and David Byrne’s Help Me Somebody’, the track opens with a brooding bass line whose introspective mood swims through the journey with the silky and celestial synth pad, the world-beat influenced instrumental section and the fatigued tone of Kinoshita’s vocals.

The nostalgic sounds of the electric guitar in ‘1989’ acts for the track’s strong 80s façade. Bringing to mind bands like Au Revoir Simone, 1989’ sits comfortably between the infectiously rhythmic indie rock (from the chiming guitar riff, the tireless drumbeat and bass line, and the eccentric vocal tone of Kinoshita) and the ethereal textures of dream pop (marked by the perpetual and streamlined synth blanket).

Both ART-SCHOOL and killing Boy have cleverly marketed themselves as indie rock bands that express their own identity and capture the eyes of wider audiences in equal measure.

Other Listening:

  • you and me, pills
  • その指で Sono Yubi De (‘With that finger’)
  • 14souls

© Isaku Takahashi