Here at Jet Set Radio, long time readers have been assaulted with one question, asked relentlessly, long after a version of the same point has been made over and over again: what is Japanese music? I still think it’s an interesting question, and a few months ago I’d have used Little Dragon to get you all thinking about what it means to have a half-Japanese singer who performs in English fronting a Swedish band and whether you could tie a nationality or ethnicity to that sort of thing (i.e. is it Swedish music? Japanese music? ) Alas, I’m getting older, and less fiery about such things. So rather than ask obtuse questions about the nature of music regionalism in a world where even language barriers mean less and less, I’d rather focus on artists with some form of Japanese background (ethnically or linguistically) and look at how they fit into the larger context of J-music.
WHEW. So, who is Little Dragon anyway?
They’re a band fronted by Yukimi Nagano, a Swedish-Japanese woman whose sound is informed by American folk and R&B. They have released two albums to date – Little Dragon and Machine Dreams – along with hella singles and features on other Swedish lounge-type projects. Also the last Gorillaz album (!!). They recently stopped by internet-famous PS 22 to perform the first track of their self-titled debut, which is a great introduction to the band:
Pitchfork.tv has EXCLUSIVE (read: non embeddable in WordPress) videos of the band performing two songs: “Blinking Pigs” from Machine Dreams, and a HOT NEW TRACK entitled “Summertearz”. Regarding new stuff, their third album is called Ritual Union, it is due out 6/22 and there are many ways to taste it; the first single is called “Nightlight” and you can listen to it here:
And on March 21st, they performed the title track of the new album on Jimmy Fallon, which was the best part of the characteristically awkward and uncomfortable show: