Fresh Blood: 雨のパレード (ame no parade)
Ame no Parade (tl: Parade of Rain) is a 4pc band that formed in 2012. They are originally from Kagoshima near the southernmost tip of Japan where the music scene is not exactly bustling. In 2013 they relocated to Tokyo, played as many shows as they could and quickly developed a strong fan base through powerful live performances and word of mouth. In fact they've already signed to influential indie record label Zankyo Records and will release their 2nd mini album through Zankyo on Oct 8, 2014.
Zankyo Records describes Ame no Parade (I'll abbreviate to AnP) as a post-rock band that emphasizes creativity. However, AnP themselves give a more interesting self-description as 'a cynical pop band with music and lyrics that are a bit twisted.'
どこかひねくれた歌詞と音楽性のcynical pops band
AnP aren't satisfied with just the musical aspect instead they endeavor to appeal to all five senses by incorporating artwork, fashion design and other modalities. (I vote for food! lol) In fact, Ame no Parade have a team of creative staff which includes a painter (Haruna Tono), fashion designer (Ryohei Uehara) and jewellery artist (Aya Hashimoto). These members help design posters/T-shirts/CDs, clothing for the band members and small items of jewellery for merchandise, respectively. With these connections to the art world AnP often perform at unusual events such as fashion shows and at art galleries.
The show I was looking forward to most on my last trip was an event all the way in Fukuoka (my parents' hometown) on August 5, 2014. There were seven bands in total!!! (and you guys think my concerts are long!!) Opening act Stephen Smith followed by 森山タカヒロBAND、addworks, and the four main bands I wanted to see: セプテンバーミー, Atlantis Airport, Ame no Parade and the curators of the show Lili Limit.
The band I had highest expectations for was Atlantis Airport, but the band that ended up impressing me most that night was Ame no Parade. My friend Ayaka who I went to the concert with also agreed that Ame no Parade stole the show.
The event was sold out and Ame no Parade was band number three to play out of the seven that night. I have to be honest that Ame no Parade didn't get too great of a crowd response but their music was the most original, soulful and powerful. Ryosuke plays great, intricate bass lines with absolute ease; Kosuke alternates between creating ethereal guitar soundscapes and flat-out shredding; Kohei is undeniably a great singer and sings with unwavering emotion and swagger; and you guys probably think this is too typical of me but I fell madly in love with Mineho's jazzy and fierce drumming.
Leading up to the show I had watched all of AnP's videos on Youtube and felt Mineho had decent skills but was more or less the token female band member. She was solid but mostly just a pretty face:
In hindsight the drumming in the video above is actually pretty good but in just one year's time since the above footage was taken Mineho has gone beast-mode into one of the most confident, creative and powerful female drummers I've ever seen. In Kagoshima she honed her technique playing in jazz ensembles but now that she's in a rock band Mineho is learning to play with authority. In no time Mineho will likely join Maki (susquatch), hiroe (low-pass) and Sayaka (nisennenmondai) as one of the dopest female drummers around. On top of that she has supermodel good looks. Life's unfair.
Ame no Parade released a 5 song mini-album last year entitled [Petrichor]
At the concert, Ame no Parade kicked Atlantis Airport's ass in terms of stage presence and overall performance but as far as recorded music goes, Atlantis Airport's "A  Passport" is far superior to [Petrichor]. "A [ ] Passport" has a rich, full sound with incredible songwriting. All four songs are fantastic with a blissful, timeless quality. "Petrichor" is a solid release. It's very soulful and experimental and the songs flow together nicely. And while each song has it's moments none of them grab you by the proverbial 'balls' and hurl you across the room in a state of awe. Part of the problem is that the CD sounds completely anemic compared to how they sound live. Also song #4 has the exact same vocal melody as song #3. It's like a slowed down version of the song before it. And the very first song is a spoken word track. The last song has pianica in it and I'm sort of sick of pianica. So even though it's a 5-song mini album it feels like they're shortchanging you with a 2.5 song ep. Anyhow, Kohei (vocals) told me to wait for the next release to come out because it'll be a better representation of their current strength as a band.
1. 10-9 2. ペトリコール 3. 揺らぎ巡る君の中のそれ 4. suppression 5. ○ 6. その夜の謳歌 7. カタルシス 8. sense
As mentioned, the 2nd mini-album [sense] will be released on Zankyo Records on Oct 8, 2014. I'm definitely looking forward to this release and towards watching Ame no Parade play live again because they are the best new band I've discovered on my last few trips to Japan and definitely a top candidate for NMFT7.
________________________________________________________________________ おまけ trivia:
Up until 2012 in their hometown of Kagoshima: Kohei, Mineho and Kōsuke were in a 5 pc folk/pop/jazz band called Georgia of Rain.
After graduating university and wanting to move to an area with more opportunity, Georgia of Rain broke up. Kohei, Mineho and Kōsuke picked up bassist Ryosuke from the nearby city of Oita and the four relocated to Tokyo to 'rock out' and become Parade of Rain (雨のパレー; Ame no Parade).