March 28, 2004

My Way My Love

On a brisk fall afternoon in 2002, I was making the rounds of listening stations during a brief visit to Shinjuku. Conceptually, I'm smitten with the "Avant Pop" station at Shinjuku Tower Records, but I only occasionally find what I expect there. It should be music that takes a style normally beyond the average listener's comfort level, then blends in enough pop forms to make it comfortable again. Simply, it should be on the fore-front of what's acceptable as pop, not beyond.

I should have found My Way My Love on that Avant Pop station, but instead I found them five minutes away in the basement J-Rock listening station at Disk Union. Boot Bum 0.9 was exactly what I had been looking for at Tower, though. Dirty guitars dropping into feedback. Frolicking samples. A mix of insistent and charming vocals. A couple of the songs were a bit more than most people I know could handle, while one or two were completely plausible for play on a college radio station. Just the right balance.

Idle searchers will discover it difficult to obtain My Way My Love albums or see them live. Their first album, Dedicated to An Angel on Your Shoulder, was put out by Delicious records, and is still available at most stores in Japan, though notably not online because it is out of print. Apparently mwml felt they could do things better themselves because their last three releases, the Boot Bum trilogy, were all self-funded and self-distributed. They were sold at indie-supporting stores like Disk Union mostly in the Tokyo area, but they, too are sold out. mwml did appear on a Delicious compilation that is still available, and a March 2004 Victor compilation, London Punk, features them doing a cover of Wire.

mwml sticks around the Kichijouji and Shimokitazawa area of Tokyo. The events that they organize have established them a dedicated group of fans, and deep connections among their peers.

Yukio Murata, who does guitars and vocals, is the driving force behind mwml. In addition to doing samples and coordinating recording and production, he manages their website and does design work for it, for CD covers, and for their goods. Yukimaru (as he's referred to affectionately) hung out in the US for a year after graduating from high school, first in LA then Chicago and New York working as a sushi chef and playing music in his spare time. Back in Japan, he formed a pop band The Juice with friends, first releasing a mini album on Miracle Records, then a pair of successful albums and six singles with major label Pony Canyon. After The Juice, Murata stayed active in music. He hosted a famous radio show in Tokyo, and finally started another band in 1997 called Cimons. Cimons are one of the few bands to play the Fuji Rock Festival without a major label contract. They performed in 1997 on the strength of one indie record, and with the knowledge that they were about to put out a major debut. Things just didn't quite work out for the band after that, though, and they went their separate ways much to the disappointment of convinced fans before releasing their second album.

Dai Hiroe, bassist, also has played in other Shimokitawa-based bands.

Takeshi Owaki, drums, appeared on Guitar Vader album From Dusk.

mwml is currently (Winter 2004) finishing up another self-funded record, but is hopeful that they can shop it around in the US and find a distributor. They also plan to tour the US in the fall.

Posted at March 28, 2004 11:46 AM