Thursday, November 26, 2015

Puffypipoyama Single Review

Received Puffypipoyama in the mail a couple days ago from cdjapan, so after a few listenings (along with the other stuff I bought) I am ready to review Puffy's latest single coming on the heels of their 20th anniversary.  The question I had when getting into the entirety of the single cd was: is this a run up to the big year for Puffy or a let down?




Looking at the packaging as my impression is art from 8-bit retro pachinko machine clip art slapped on top of a fun but re-purposed picture of Ami and Yumi.  The disc itself is dual color print on the top which is somewhere between uninspiring to awful.    The obiwan is nice with an abstraction of the over all art and a cute 8-bit version of Puffy.  The liner notes are basic song lyrics, nothing special but helpful.  The art choices there are a bit odd, the underlying graphics and text over them are not a great marriage.

So slot this single somewhere in the Nice Buddy range of single presentations, but as the old cliche goes: don't judge a book by its cover.

The disc contains six tracks, three songs plus the instrumental versions of them.  Of the three principle tracks only the title track Puffypipoyama is a new song.  Colorful Wave Surfers was a previous digital release and COCO Hawaii was a song for the show In Love With Hawaii.



Puffypipoyama is the lead off track and I re-approached it with an open mind.  It sounds like a more synth heavy Datsu Dystopia but as if it was intended for a Dance Dance Revolution game.  I really do not mean that in a flattering manner.  Like some of the more recent Puffy releases there are elements of Puffy's stylings but it is a frenetic mess that never comes together.  As a reader pointed out it feels like them cashing in on the weird Japan meme.  I will give some good marks to the traditional Japanese synthesizer elements, I did like that.

     Puffypipoyama Grade: C-

Colorful Wave Surfers is the second track and we drift back into more familiar Puffy territory.  I reviewed this previously so I will not dwell on the track beyond where my opinions are after some time and distance.  To me it is a song that sort of looses my interest as it goes along, but it is still a good track.  I think one of Puffy's strengths has been marrying multiple styles in one song and Colorful Wave Surfers is kind of one note but a well executed one.

     Colorful Wave Surfers Grade: B

COCO Hawaii is the final track and Puffy nails it.  The start is kind of slow and I did not know what to think but then pretty much every element of a great Puffy song is there.  Ami and Yumi both deliver good vocals and the COCO Hawaii picks up a lot of good energy as they progress through it.

     COCO Hawaii Grade: B+

The instrumental tracks are basically filler.  Though I would say COCO Hawaii is the one that suffers without Ami and Yumi's vocals but it is neat to hear how the song shifts tempo instrumentally.

After multiple listenings of the Puffypipoyama single I come away with some mixed feelings.  Puffypipoyama is not a good song and represents the unevenness of Puffy's singles since their last full album Thank You.  Colorful Wave Surfers is a decent song and if that is the direction Puffy is going then that is probably going to be an album that is good but not 20 year anniversary good.  COCO Hawaii was a good one off but I am not sure I would want an entire album like that either.

Where are the winds are blowing for Puffy's 20th year?  I do not know and the frustration and dejection you are reading comes as much from that which is a product of uneven material for the better part of five years. Regardless of the unevenness of this new Puffy single they are still active and that makes me happy.


Overall Score

Vocals: B
Instruments: A-
Production: B-

P.S.  I ordered a few other discs from cdjapan, which I wound up being very happy with.  Seagull Screaming Kiss Her Kiss Her's new album (after only a 15 year gap...) Eternal Adolescence is really good.  Also ordered Minmin's Air Girl and her old band Chocolate Chip Cookies' Your World.  Both solid albums as well. CONTINUED >>


Friday, October 23, 2015

Puffypipoyama Live TV Performance and PV


Here is a live version of Puffy's new song Puffypipoyama.



Using japanwebproxy.com you can view the PV here.

Not a great live performance, but given the nature of Puffypipoyama itself that does not really bother me.  Some songs, even great ones, do not translate well live.  The band being there to faux play along is even more rediculous than normal "live" Japanese TV show performances.

After watching the PV itself, it is fairly entertaining on a visual level.  Puffypipoyama is not good, at best it is derivative of Datsu Dystopia.  If an album of songs like either are on the docket for Puffy's next release it really makes me question the direction Puffy is taking.

Is Puffy trying to win new fans by changing their sound?

Is Puffy following a trend in the Japanese music scene?

The just following orders from the distributor?

Valid questions... but of course there are probably no good answers.

That said, Puffypipoyama is better than Wake Up, Make Up, which I realize is a low bar. CONTINUED >>


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Enter Warner Music Japan Track List & More Info For Puffypipoyama

More info for Puffypipoyama, which is being released by Warner Music Japan.  

OK I have done some digging thanks to the folks on Puffy's FB page.  Puffy is still part of SMA, but for reasons I am trying to understand the publisher/distributer (i assumed should be Sony) can be different. 

For example Rolly is party of SMA but his release this year was on King Records.  So maybe artist representation is different than distributor.  If so, then it is simply two business owned by Sony but not necessarily married...

I have not had any luck other than validating Puffy now has a page on WMJ's site and Sony Music Artists tgat are uodated but not Sony Music Japan.  So go figure... When I figure out how this works I'll share that info.



So if this means Puffy has parted ways with Sony after 19 years as a distributor, that seems sad.

Here is the track list for Puffypipoyama;


     1.Puffypipoyama     2.COLORFUL WAVE SURFERS      3.COCO Hawaii      4.Puffypipoyama -instrumental-     5.COLORFUL WAVE SURFERS -instrumental-     6.COCO Hawaii -instrumental-


The single will have a regular version (1204 yen) and deluxe version (4167 yen).  Same tracks, the difference will be the deluxe comes with a Madonna original t-shirt.*  

The Song COCO Hawaii, I thought was new, but it was the theme for the TV show In Love with Hawaii back in June.  Which I totally missed...

* I'll probably go with the regular, as basing past experience with clothes from Japan I'll look like the Staypuft Marshmallow Man CONTINUED >>


Monday, October 5, 2015

New Single "Puffy-pipo Mountain"

New Single "Puffy-pipo Mountain" is due out November 18, 2015.



Skimming the Puffy Facebook group, it looks like they shot the PV on 10/5, not sure how many days but seems like the less involved videos only take a day or two.




What does this mean?  The most important thing is that there is new material out there and it comes right on the back of Colorful Wave Surfers which seems very aggressive.  Why so close together?  My best guess is that maybe this is a ramping up for a new Puffy album at some point in support of their 20th anniversary.  Counting "Pafipio Mountain" there are seven singles to build an album off of.  Assuming all the singles since those for Thank You were released make the cut (which I doubt, but a b-side and tribute could be added in...), new material would be sparse.  That is not uncommon with many Japanese bands front loading with singles for an album (Judy And Mary's Warp being a great example).


I will be curious as to what sound the single has, I would be comfortable if it is something like Colorful Wave Surfers which was recognizably Puffy.  


Anyways, great news and hopefully the trend line for good singles continues.


H/T to my friend Emi-chan for a quick translation and confirming it is a made up word.
P.S.  My journey with other Japanese bands is to a point now where I may spin off another blog or expand this one... but if you are looking for something different MinMin and her former band Chocolate Chip Cookies are really good. 


CONTINUED >>


Friday, September 18, 2015

Puffy at RockCorps


 Couple weeks back on September 5th, Puffy performed at the RockCorps event which was for support of victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake.  The set list is not elaborated, but as multiple artists performed so I would hazard it was a short set.



via barks.jp

In weeks prior (via rockcorps.yahoo.jp) Ami and Yumi also went to volunteer groups and helped out, in this article's case for photo restoration.

Here are some pics (via barks.jp) of the concert event for RockCorps:

via barks.jp

via barks.jp

via barks.jp

via barks.jp

via barks.jp

via barks.jp
Good to see Ami and Yumi keeping their hand in the game.  From other news it looks like they are currently in the studio and hopefully that points to a new album for their 20th anniversary.

CONTINUED >>


Friday, August 21, 2015

Colorful Wave Surfers Review

After a hectic few weeks, I finally got a chance to listen to Puffy's new (digital only) single Colorful Wave Surfers.  Pitching in this time is the Okamotos and what we get is a solid but not spectacular single that has the trace elements of a Puffy song and something new.

What makes this a Puffy song that I would expect?  There is a nice layered quality to the instruments and for the most party they are balanced and intertwined.  The piano might be a big heavy handed, but that sort of lends itself to the 70's sound the single is summoning, which again is a well that Puffy successfully goes to. This time focusing on a piano is new and I appreciate that nuanced experiment.

A sticking point for Colorful Wave Surfers lies in that Ami and Yumi's vocals feel a bit overwhelmed by the instruments.  While their vocals are delivered skillfully they lack a bit of range and punch.  Again, not a huge concern just something I noted.

The guitar work is nice though maybe a touch restrained.  That has been a common issue for me with Puffy's singles as of late, but they are there and there is a brief solo. Bass and drums are solid and present a safety net in the song that I find comforting as Puffy has traditionally had great backing in that department.

Engineering wise Colorful Wave Surfers is good and speaks to the fact this is a more serious effort and not a gap filler like some previous singles. The sound is crisp and sounds nice.

The truth is Colorful Wave Surfers is a good single and for fans something that was needed.  After the debacle that was Himitsuno Gimmy Cat Ufufu Hontouyo, my scoring for this single might be skewed, yet my faith has been restored that the odds of Puffy releasing a good album by their 20th anniversary are also better.


Scoring
-------------------------
Vocals: B
Instruments: B+
Production: B+


CONTINUED >>


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ami & Yumi Throw Out The Ceremonial Pitch For The Fukuoka Hawks

Wish this were of Ami and Yumi throwing out the ceremonial pitch, but here is a quick interview segment.  From looking at other Hawks opening pitches, they appear to have a bit of a production behind it.



Here are some pics via one of the Japan media outlets.



As we close in on year 20, hopefully we will see more events from Puffy!

CONTINUED >>


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

New Commercial, Old Song, New Song & Lazona Kawasaki Plaza

Puffy will be featured in the "Lazona Bargain!" campaign Lazona Kawasaki Plaza with a new song "Colorful Wave Surfers" starting 6/22/15.


"Colorful Wave Surfers" was composed by Okamoto Koki of The Okakmotos.  Not that I have a ton of exposure to The Okamotos (something I will correct), but they seem more rock than Rolly.  So that is good news.  Some chatter about more collaborations but nothing solid and hopefully not Rolly.

It is a little disappointing that Puffy seems to be kind of relegated.  Their opening for a Dutch Pop-Jazz singer Caro Emerald is something I'll chock up to a warm up for their own tour... but I cannot recall the last time Puffy was an opening act.  Now Puffy is shilling for a mall, albeit a fairly big mall but according to Trip Advisor not especially noteworthy.  Puffy keeps their hand in the game and it gives me something to write about.

Additionally this fall Puffy will appear in the film "Uchimura Summers THE MOVIE Angel" and contribute the song "Kore ga Watashi no Ikiru Michi" as the theme song.  Cool stuff, maybe I should have led with that.


CONTINUED >>


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Happy 19th Birthday to Puffy

A very happy 19th birthday to Puffy.  Who knows what the future holds, but lets hope for something awesome for the 20th!

Picture via @puffy

CONTINUED >>


Monday, April 20, 2015

New Toyota Commercial Featuring Puffy

Along with a number of other artists on toyotown.jp, Puffy is now featured in a new ad for Toyota's Corolla Fielder Hybrid in Japan.  Check out the website version here.

Here is the TV spot:



Pretty much Puffy when singing is the dominant artist, which is cool.  Also they seem to be having fun with it, which is also nice to see.


CONTINUED >>


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Puffy's 2015 Tokyo Billboard Show

Puffy played on Thursday April 9th at the 2015 Billboard show in Tokyo (h/t natalie,mu).  It appears Ami and Yumi were more relaxed in this show than the prior year.   It is hard to tell if there is something going on with their dynamic or perhaps fallout from Yumi's second marriage ending at that time put a strain on things.  In either case it is nice to see (according to Google translate) that they seem looser and in a better place.

Picture via Natalie.mu
Several take away items from the article I pulled most of this information from.  Drums (Koichi Kawanshi) and bass (Kinoshita Hiroharu) are back in order.  A keyboardist is also present (Mikio Ito).  My best guess is the guitar player is new (Yusuka Fujita) and the only one.  The last is an interesting choice, as Puffy in in the past year went two guitars and no keyboardist.  From what I heard from the live performances that have been streamed, this is probably a better choice as keyboards are integral to Puffy's musical style.  How important we may debate, but they are.

Picture via Natalie.mu
The set list was a mix of what we would expect, no surprises:

     1. K2G
     2. Kore ga Watashi no Ikirumichi
     3. Daisuki (Cover)
     4. Boogie Woogie #5
     5. boom boom beat
     6. Puffy de Rumba
     7. Mother
     8. Jet Keisatsu
     9. Nagisa Ni Matsuwaru Etc
     10. Radio Tokyo
     11. Asia no Junshin (encore)

Not sure if this tells us anything about the next year, but Ami made mention last year about some things coming to the fore in the spring so what those are is as much a mystery to you as it is to me.  In either case Puffy continues to keep their hand in the game and that is good.



CONTINUED >>


Thursday, April 9, 2015

PUFFY NO NAZO NI KANTO KINKEN TOUR

Puffy announced today that they are doing a new mini-tour around the Kanto region.  The Kanto region is around Tokyo and this is a four date tour so it is pretty modest so far as tours go.


The shows start at 17:30, no information if there is an opening act.


  • 7/11 (Sat) Chiba and Kashiwa PALOOZA 
  • 7/12 (Sun) Gunma Takasaki club FLEE 
  • 7/18 (Sat) Saitama · HEAVEN'S ROCK Saitama New Urban Center
  • 7/19 (Sun) Ibaraki Mito LIGHT HOUSE


Great to see Puffy keeping their hand in the game. I am more curious to see if this is a precursor to something more ambitious.  The set list might give us some clues but I doubt we'll see that until near the time of the concerts.


CONTINUED >>


Friday, March 20, 2015

When Puffy Turns 20: Thoughts, Hopes & Fears

Puffy’s twentieth anniversary is coming up next year, which for American bands would be a noteable achievement.  For a Japanese act?  Outstanding, especially since bands in Japan quit at the drop of a hat, cynically repeat quitting  or never gain traction and dissolve.   Examples of this are Judy & Mary, Murasaki and PuppyPet respectively.

Chatter on Ami’s feed has briefly mentioned her and Yumi’s twentieth anniversary as a duo, which got me to thinking:

What do I want from Puffy for their twentieth anniversary?

A live album from the tour.  This would be on the scale of Judy And Mary’s Warp Tour Final, but tack on another ten songs to seal its awesomeness.  So think a double cd, if not a triple.

A bluray or DVD of the tour’s final concert.  Lots of extras with making of, behind the scenes, alternate camera angles, commentary.  Ideally this would be a bonus or mega set with the CD version of the concert.


US Tour dates.  Honestly I think this is incredibly unlikely unless they partner up with Comicon or another act that they can partner with (Shonen Knife would be a fine example).

A new album.  This want fills me with trepidation.  Are we going to get something really good like Sweet Drops or something awful like Himitsuno Gimmy Cat Ufufu Hontouyo?  Much as I think Rolly is talented (his cover of Talalan is really great for example) and creative, what he passes off as music sometimes is not good.   The only thing that gives me hope is Thank You took a while to release and it was quite good, so hopefully Ami and Yumi are striving for perfection and that is why we have seen nothing for the better part of four years.

An ambitious tour.  I am not talking about number of dates alone, I am talking venues.  A few scenarios here for the final tour concert.  Some are probable, good and limited.  The others increasingly unlikely, bad and awesome.  The first scenario is they play Hibiya Yagai Daiongakudo and interest in their concerts is about the same.  The second scenario is Nippon Budokan which could come about if there is good press and interest in Puffy’s Anniversary.  The last scenario is Tokyo Dome, which would probably require Puffy coming back to form and there being tremendous interest in this final tour stop.

The first scenario is premised by previous final tour stops and Hibiya Yagai Daiongakudo (capacity 3100) seems like a venue that they can fill and it’s a good one for filming.  The underlying premise is if it is really business as usual for Puffy, they will continue on as a duo.

The second scenario, Nippon Budokan (capacity 14000) is prefaced by the fact that I think there has to be a lot more interest in Puffy than we see now.  I think sentimentality and celebrating a long and successful career might be enough to push a twentieth anniversary up to this venue.  Having been there, it really is a neat place and Puffy has also played at Nippon Budokan.


My visit to Nippon Budokan 2013. It is a cool venue.
The last scenario is Tokyo Dome.  Ami and Yumi via an interview have stated they’d rather watch a concert there than play one as it is too big.  But I am thinking big here, so bear with me.  The ground swell for a 20th anniversary concert would have to come about from interest in the band coming to or exceeding Puffy-mania levels last seen in their first three albums.  Sadly the only way I can see a concert at Tokyo Dome happening is if Puffy announces their end at the twenty year mark.  I could also see Nippon Budokan playing out in a similar scenario.

Anyways, these final concerts playing out would be three potential wants based on what Puffy wants to do after twenty years.    If Puffy must go, they should do it in style, do it huge and leave a mark.

Ultimately what I want is for Ami and Yumi to be happy, productive and together because they are something special and singualrly or more accurately dually...unique. CONTINUED >>


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Puffy In Studio?

A very interesting picture cam across Ami's Instagram account yesterday.  To sum up, it looks like she is in studio and holding a microphone.  I tried not getting too excited, but the potential of Ami and Yumi doing album work would be welcome news.


From the rough translation though... it is more likely this is a rehearsal for the Billboard Live show.

Sorry for the tease, but team Puffy is not giving me a ton to work with.

CONTINUED >>


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Puffy To Play Tropical Lover's Beach Festa

Puffy continues to keep their hand in the game and last week they announced a concert at the Tropical Lovers Beach Festa on June 14th of this year.  The festival is on the island of Ishigaki which is at the tail end of Japan and closer to Taiwan than the main islands.  It looks like a really nice place to visit, but it is way off the beaten path too (which also has a certain charm).  The venue looks to be Ishigaki Fusaki Village which looks like a very pleasant resort.




The festival line up is: Puffy, Special Others Acoustic, Humbert Humbert and Tremolo.

My exposure to the other acts is exactly zero, so I am going to throw out there that Puffy is the headliner.  Assuming I am right, it is nice to see Puffy get a top bill, but by the same token it is at a very small festival on the edge of Japan.  Yet, as one of the readers on the blog has said previously, they are keeping their hand in the game so I'll take it. CONTINUED >>


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Puffy To Play 2015 Billboard Show

This is not exactly new news, but Puffy will be playing the 2015 Billboard show in Tokyo on April 9th.  My hope is Ami and Yumi are prepping for a new album, which is only based on their oblique statements last year while talking about a photo shoot they wrapped up.

Much as I am glad they are keeping their hand in the game, it is also frustrating that they are not playing much of a game.  We shall see, hopefully 2015 will be a good year.



P.S.  The only good thing about Puffy not being musically productive is I have been listening to lots of other interesting things.  Right now Judy & Mary are on heavy rotation.


CONTINUED >>



 
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