Anyone casually observing my bookshelves will notice the prevalence of novels by Japanese author, Haruki Murakami. I love the dream-like, otherworldliness of his writing. In his beautifully haunting, romantic novel, Norwegian Wood, Murakami puts himself into the shoes of a lovestruck, reminiscent narrator, Toru Watanabe.
If you are casually observing my bookshelves, would you mind leaving my house please? It’s a little bit weird having you here when we’ve not been introduced.
Apparently, Watanabe is a common surname in the orange laden prefecture of Ehime in Japan. if you were to call your band The Watanabes, it would be like living in England and calling your band The Smiths.
Like Murakami in Norwegian Wood, the Watanabes create a nostalgic, yearning art that tends to centre on dream-like, lovestruck romance. These are tunes that reminisce about times when the grass was greener and the pine cones hadn’t fallen. Some might call this whimsical whilst some might call this twee. Others could call it music with issues of self esteem. For all of these reasons, I’m glad I’ve found the Watanabes.
Duncan and Selwyn Walsh are brothers from Norfolk. It’s not entirely clear how they’ve ended up in Tokyo fronting an indie pop band but I find myself wondering whether there’s much of an ex pat scene amidst TEFL teachers, gap year students and business leaders. With an impressive back catalogue of releases, Duncan and Selwyn are working hard to make The Watanabes work. Their nostalgic laments deserve to be heard.
A new EP, ‘Draw What You Like’, has been released this year. It’s typical of previous releases and perhaps a good place to start before exploring more of what the Watanabes offer. I’m attaching the lead track from that EP for your listening delight as well as an earlier video for a tune, ‘Yuriko Yuriko’.
Norwegian Tree. Japanese Twee.
We were so excited to find out that someone has been listening to us back home in the UK! Really enjoyed this article and hearing what your first impressions of our music were. You’re right about the expat, or as we call it, “gaijin scene” here in Tokyo. If you like our stuff, I heartily recommend KATE SIKORA and JIMMY BINKS AND THE SHAKEHORNS! Cheers Sean, and thanks again. Keep up the great work supporting indie music!
Hi Duncan. Thanks for the other recommendations of the ‘gaijin scene’. I’ll definitely be checking them out. I’ve just posted on your FB wall about a message I received today from a Spanish teacher in a school in Peterborough who has been showing Yuriko Yuriko to her form… That makes me happy
.. Chat soon… Sean
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Just found the FB message Sean! Really, that is FABULOUS!!! I really can’t tell you how happy that makes us to think that people have been watching it! Also, I thought you’d like to know that your article was just shared by Ric O’Barry on FB, who starred in academy award winning movie The Cove!! He has some very famous friends and helped us play a set with Matt Sorum of Guns N Roses! Thanks again for the brilliant blog and for exposing us to a new audience. Best wishes from Tokyo!
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