By Paris365 on February 26, 2013

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TECI, Imperial Records

Shishido Kavka is a model, actress, drummer and singer. That's right -- she plays her own drums. I think that's the first time I've come across an instance where a J-pop or J-rock singer plays his or her own drums. So, props to her for that. And I'm pleased to say that she's equally skillful behind the microphone and the drum kit.

"Music" opens with roughly ten seconds of loud, clattering drums before Shishido first sings the word "music" and the guitars and bass enter the picture. What follows proves to be an energetic J-rock/punk song that's as gritty as it is melodic. Stylistically, her passionate vocals are as turbo-charged as Yo Shibusawa and as mighty as Kominami Yasuha and I would say that her songwriting is in the same vein as those artists as well, though perhaps a bit more melodious. As for her drumming skills, she can easily pound the skins as ferociously as any metal drummer. And you might think a drummer would want the drums to be louder than the bass and guitars in the mix but she doesn't make that mistake. The raw guitars are just as compelling as the drums and the bass isn't any less dominating. In fact, the bass sounds especially wonderful here with a buzzing riff that lingers in your head long after you're done listening.

The first B-side, "Recovery," adds vibrant horns to the mix, resulting in a song that's as colorful as it is stimulating. The funny thing is that this song is considerably heavier than "Music," to the point that I'd have to call it metal, or at the very least aggressive punk, so it's surprising to hear horns in it, but they're there and they sound wonderful, helping to make the song the contagious gem that it is. Just goes to show you that Shishido isn't interested in conforming to the rules of any particular genre when it comes to her songwriting.

B-side two is "無敵のロックスター," which Google translates as "Invincible Rock Star." I wouldn't be surprised if she was calling herself invincible, as she is quite the unstoppable force, but I suspect she's talking about a rock star she idolizes or worked with (or both) because she delivers a few lines in English, among them "don't let me down." She sings the first verse here simply accompanied by her boisterous drumming and a clapper, but when the other instruments kick in once it hits the chorus it really gives the song a lively jolt, so I think she wrote it that way for the sake of the song, not for an excuse to show off her drumming.

The single concludes with a demo version of "Music," which basically proves to be a charming acoustic version of the song, as Shishido simply sings it accompanied by a light beat and acoustic guitar. It's surprising to hear the song stripped down like this because one would have guessed that she would have started writing the music with the loud drum beat in mind but all that's here is very mild if not gentle percussion. She also sings this version quite differently, her voice much more relaxed and prettier than it is in the finished version of the song where it sounds more robust and edgy. While I loved the highly-potent vibe of the first three tracks, I'd love to hear more of this softer side of her in the future as well. -Michael McCarthy

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