Lyn Jensen's Blog: Manga, Music, and Politics

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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Japanese Rock: One OK Rock 35XXXV (Warner Bros. 2015)

One OK Rock recently became the first Japanese rock group to be signed and distributed by an American record company.  Warner Bros. has now released the quartet's American CD debut 35XXXV which may be purchased at retail or downloaded on iTunes. Featured tracks include "Cry Out," "Last Dance," and the single "Mighty Long Fall."

Songs on 35XXXV are in English, so there's no language barrier. Some offerings, such as the opening "3XXXV5," show a metal edge but overall the tone is quirky, particularly the techno-pop elements of "Paper Planes (and Hand Grenades)." Overall this album fits comfortably beside what's dominating American airplay and charts today.

Like abstract painters experimenting with color, One OK Rock shakes and stirs their musical influences into fresh sounds on 35XXXV. According to Wikipedia, One OK Rock's primary influence is Good Charlotte, but they also show traces of about a dozen other American rock artists including Linkin Park, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins, Sleeping With Sirens, and Blink-182.

See for the English and Japanese versions of the band's official Web site. Here you'll find links to download their hit Japanese recordings, a band history, videos, and upcoming concert dates. There's an American date, March 19, 2016, at the Self Help Fest in San Bernardino, California.

One OK Rock represents the latest in a wave of Japanese rock (a. k. a. J-rock) that's becoming more and more common on the twenty-first-century American cultural scene.  Popular Japanese rockers including L'Arc en Ciel, Vamps, Versailles, Apple Strung, Kalafina, Mono, Yoshiki and his X Japan, and Sunset Drive have been recently getting American press and launching American tours, overcoming cultural barriers that may have previously blocked commercial success.  Indeed we could be seeing the first ripples of what may eventually turn into a "Japanese Invasion" comparable to music's British invasions of the sixties and eighties.