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Sound Opinions World Tour in Japan & Jessie Ware Review

Sound Opinions is "Big in Japan." Jim and Greg get an education in J-pop and the Japanese underground in the latest installment of our Sound Opinions World Tour.

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George Jones was one of the greatest voices in 20th century music. Period. So even non-country fans will miss Texas singer, who died recently at age 81.“No Show Jones”had a long, very public battle with alcoholism. And he was no stranger to divorce. But when he sang about these issues, it was never corn pone clich'es. As Greg explains, George was nothing if not authentic. And that's what made his relationship to fans so strong. To say goodbye to George Jones, Jim and Greg play what many believe is the best country song ever written: "He Stopped Loving Her Today."

world tour


Two months ago, Jim and Greg kicked off the Sound Opinions World Tour with a musical survey of pop powerhouse Sweden. This week, our series on global rock and pop continues with a stop in Japan. Jim and Greg recruit Tokyo-based music journalist and podcaster Daniel Robson to be their guide through the contemporary Japanese music scene. As Daniel explains, it's a scene that's at once similar and very different from that of the Americans and Europeans. Consider this: the Japanese music industry is still profitable, and physical sales still outpace digital. That's in large part to the stranglehold J-pop production companies have on the domestic market. But for every saccharine commercial confection like AKB48, Daniel says there's an underground group sure to thrill indie ears. Mamadrive and Shinsei Kamattechan are just two bands poised for Western success in the tradition of Japanese experimenters like Boris, Melt Banana, Acid Mothers Temple, and The Boredoms. Another point of difference with the West? Japanese musicians are roughly 50% women. Today singers like Shiina Ringo and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu carry on the tradition of eclectic rock and J-pop pioneered by all-women groups from Shonen Knife to Puffy AmiYumi.

Japanese artists featured in this episode:

  • Puffy AmiYumi
  • Shonen Knife
  • Happy End
  • Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
  • Boris
  • MoMoiro Clover Z
  • Melt Banana
  • Shinsei Kamattechan
  • Shiina Ringo
  • The GazettE
  • Judy and Mary
  • Mamadrive
  • Perfume
  • Number Girl
reviewDevotionDevotion available on iTunes

Jessie Ware Devotion

UK singer Jessie Ware has slowly been making her way stateside, first with buzz from tracks like "Wildest Moments" and then with a U.S. tour. Now her album Devotion is getting a proper American release with bonus tracks. Greg loves the shadow play of her vocals and chiming keyboards and hears a little reggae in the mix. But for him the key is restraint, with Jessie demonstrating that it's a choice, not a limitation. She can belt it when needed, but overall it's a beautiful, subtle record. Jim loves the new R&B palette and is excited by this trend that also includes The Weeknd and Rhye. Devotion gets a double Buy It.



“Right Off”Miles Davis,Miles Davis

Greg has traveled by“bathysphere”to the desert island to pop a quarter in the jukebox. And right now he's in a Miles Davis kinda mood. Specifically, Greg has been going back to Davis' jazz-fusion period and his 1971 release A Tribute to Jack Johnson. He had perfected his studio language with Teo Macero, and you can hear that in just a snippet of the almost half hour track "Right Off."

Featured Songs

  1. George Jones, White Lightning, White Lightning and Other Favorites, Mercury, 1959
  2. George Jones, He Stopped Loving Her Today, I Am What I Am, Epic, 1980
  3. Puffy AmiYumi, Planet Tokyo, Nice., Epic, 2003
  4. The Tigers, Smile for Me, Smile for Me (Single), Polydor, 1969
  5. Happy End, Kaze Wo Atsumete, Kazemachi Roman, URC, 1971
  6. Shonen Knife, Riding on a Rocket, Let's Knife, Virgin, 1993
  7. Puffy AmiYumi, Thank You, Nice., Epic, 2003
  8. AKB48, Manatsu no Sounds Good!,, Manatsu no Sounds Good! (Single), You, Be Cool!, 2012
  9. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, PonPonPon, Moshi-Moshi Harajuku, Warner Music Japan, 2011
  10. Boris, Statement, Smile, Diwphalanx, 2008
  11. Momoiro Clover Z, Fierce Space Symphony. 7th Movement (Infinite Love), 5th Dimension, Starchild, 2013
  12. The Boredoms, *, Vision Creation Newsun, Birdman, 1999
  13. Acid Mothers Temple, La Le Lo, Mantra of Love, Alien8, 2004
  14. Melt Banana, Spider Snipe, Bambi's Dilemma, A-Zap, 2007
  15. Shinsei Kamattechan, Otoko Ha Roman Daze! Takeda Kun, Minna Shine, Perfect Music, 2010
  16. Shiina Ringo, Marunouchi Sadistic, Muzai Moratorium, Toshiba EMI, 1999
  17. The GazettE, Filth in the Beauty, Stacked Rubbish, PS Company, 2007
  18. Misora Hibari, Sad Whistling, Sad Whistling (Single), Columbia Japan, 1949
  19. Judy and Mary, Brand New Wave Upper Ground, Great Escape, Sony, 2001
  20. Mamadrive, Hebi No Onna, Mousou Tengoku, Third Stone From the Sun, 2012
  21. Perfume, Dream Fighter, Triangle, Tokuma Japan, 2009
  22. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Fashion Monster, Fashion Monster (Single), Unborde, 2012
  23. Number Girl, Urban Guitar Sayonara, Sappukei, EMI, 2000
  24. Jessie Ware, Wildest Moments, Devotion, Interscope, 2013
  25. Jessie Ware, Still Love Me, Devotion, Interscope, 2013
  26. Jessie Ware, Something Inside, Devotion, Interscope, 2013
  27. Miles Davis, Right Off, Tribute to Jack Johnson, Columbia, 1971
  28. Nick Drake, Pink Moon, Pink Moon, Island, 1972
  29. Nick Drake, Place to Be, Pink Moon, Island, 1972

Footnotes George Jones George Jones and divorce Greg's George Jones obituary Daniel Robson Japanese music industry AKB48 Mamadrive Shinsei Kamattechan Boris Melt Banana Acid Mothers Temple The Boredoms Shiina Ringo Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Shonen Knife Puffy AmiYumi It Came From Japan Puffy AmiYumi Shonen Knife Happy End Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Boris MoMoiro Clover Z Melt Banana Shinsei Kamattechan Shiina Ringo The Gazette Judy and Mary Mamadrive Perfume Number Girl Jessie Ware Bathysphere Tribute to Jack Johnson