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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012


The Pillows "Trial"

Special to The Japan Times

Formed in Hokkaido in the late 1980s, The Pillows have toured throughout Japan and have made several treks across the United States. Having their music used in the popular anime series "FLCL" helped the trio build a sizable cult following overseas. And along with playing American clubs and festivals including South by Southwest, they have also made live appearances at U.S. anime conventions. Celebrating their 23rd year together as a band, "Trial" is The Pillows' 18th full-length.

News photo

Powerful drumming from Shinichiro Sato ushers in opener "Revival." A catchy guitar-driven number, the song brings to mind the work of British alt-rockers Placebo. Frontman Sawao Yamanaka ups the energy level in the back end of the track by hitting a few high notes and showing that even at 43 years of age (he's the youngest member of the act) his voice remains strong. The poppy "Rescue" follows and would not have sounded out of place on mid-'90s commercial radio stations that specialized in alternative music. Yoko from all-gal Tokyo rock group Noodles sings backup on the track, her soft melodies meshing well with Yamanaka's nasally delivery.

One of the disc's most fun offerings, "Flashback Story" sees The Pillows trying their hand at '50s rockabilly. Yamanaka's lo-fi-recorded crooning on the track makes for a more authentic listening experience. Sticking with the golden oldies formula, closing cut "Ready Steady Go!" begins as a bluesy '60s rock number before turning into an anthemic punk song that will no doubt have fans old and new gleefully bopping around during upcoming live gigs.

The Pillows' "Trial Tour" starts at Light House in Mito on March 30 ([029] 224-7622) and ends at Zepp Tokyo on June 16 ([03] 3599-0710). Tickets are ¥4,200 in advance and all shows start at 7 p.m. For more information and other show dates, visit www.pillows.jp.

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