the peggies (free download)
A slightly embarrassing fact about me is that I used to be a huge fan of the band Chatmonchy. Although I shouldn't be too embarrassed because I strongly believe they are one of the finest female bands in the history of rock and roll (and I don't mean just in Japan). They're mostly known for their radio friendly bubblegum pop but they originally made music that was much more honest, powerful and heartfelt.
Chatmonchy's music has been a profound inspiration to countless Japanese female rock bands (赤い公園, ねごと, tricot etc) and will continue to be for generations to come. While many bands like Scandal and Stereopony have emulated the bubblegum arena rock aspect of Chatmonchy's music to great success, very few bands have dug deeper and focussed on recreating the soulfulness and timelessly beautiful melodies that made Chatmonchy's earlier music so emotionally powerful and grand.
It seems like most female bands today put more emphasis on acting cute or rocking out on stage than actually taking the time to write music that is truly memorable and substantial.
The peggies are a very young band who are clearly influenced by Chatmonchy and thankfully they manage to grasp the true essence of what made Chatmonchy's music so good, not just on a superficial level. The band consists of three female members all born in 1995, so I believe they just graduated from high school this year. Unlike Akai Koen who have prodigal music talent, skill wise the peggies' musicianship is still at a rudimentary level but has improved drastically in just one year. The strength of the peggies' music lies in leader/guitarist/vocalist Yuho Kitazawa's knack for songwriting and innate talent in cooking up fresh sounding melodies.
At this stage Yuho's songwriting is still far from the level of Chatmonchy's Eriko Hashimoto but she shows remarkable potential and just watching the band play once you can tell they have a rare charm and composure that leads you to believe they are destined for greatness.
When I was searching for potential bands for NMFT4, my good friend Yasuhiro Kubota (ex-manager of Akai Koen and Mass of the Fermenting Dregs) mentioned that a lot of A&R's at EMI were excited about a group of 16 year old girls in a band called ライスボール (Riceball) who were competing in a battle of the bands to perform as the opening act at EMI Rocks 2012. He had never seen Riceball himself but he suggested I check them out just in case they were the 2nd coming of Akai Koen. So I went to the finals of the battle of the bands showing up just in time... to miss Riceball's set as they were the first of four finalist bands to perform. I did watch the other three bands however, and they were all quite talented, nothing suitable for NMFT but the bands were impressively tight and skilled. In the end the panel of judges unanimously chose Riceball as the winner. Elaborating on the verdict each judge criticized Riceball for their lack of skill but all of them clearly saw something uniquely special about the band and wanted to award Riceball with the opportunity to jumpstart their career performing in front of tens of thousands at Super Saitama Arena during EMI Rocks. (Pretty gutsy move if you ask me since I'd be more weary of the girls catching stage fright in such a situation).
On the day of EMI Rocks, Riceball who were a four-pc at the time with a member on keyboards, decided to change their name to: the peggies. The hilarious part was that they never told anyone at EMI about this so it was a huge shock to both EMI and the entire audience when 'Riceball' introduced themselves by saying "Hello everyone, we're... the peggies!!"
I asked Kubota how the peggies were at EMI Rocks and in his opinion they were nothing special, just your average female rock band. He did say however that the peggies got a much better response from the audience than the opening act of the previous year: 股下89.
Based on my friend Kubota's opinion who more or less understands my musical tastes, I figured the peggies/Riceball would be a dead end. However in Dec 2012 I had a chance to see the peggies perform at Shibuya LUSH and thought to myself "WTF Hiro?!!" (Hiro = Kubota) They're not that bad! This band actually has a LOT of potential and they're about the closest thing I've ever seen to a band successfully channeling the musical essence of Chatmonchy. They didn't copy the band or rip off any melodies/chord progressions but they conveyed the same degree of emotion, charm and honesty. My only complaint was that the peggies' music was lacking in edge, raw intensity compared to some of Chatmonchy's more 'aggressive' songs. (Okay, none of Chatmonchy's songs are all that aggressive but some are really powerful eg "Renai Spirits' "Hitori Dake" "Donaru Denwa Doshaburi") I'm hoping that Yuho Kitazawa goes through a few really bad relationships and develops a bit of angst that will toughen the peggies' sound a little. lol.
The peggies' music undeniably has some cuteness/fluffiness to it and they're still developing their chops. They may never write songs as great as Chatmonchy's classics but so far they're headed in the right trajectory. And if they ever develop a bit of 股下89's no non-sense attitude that would be even sweeter.
The peggies have been offering their new mini-album for free download. Act super fast because they're only making the download free until Oct 31 (and remember Japan is in a time-zone that's hours ahead of N America).
If you feel like a wuss for actually liking the album then listen to some BORIS or Black Flag to regain some of your 'manhood.' lol. OR... take the stance that a real man listens to whatever the f*ck he wants and doesn't care if Geoff Spence gives him a ton of flack for the next decade.