By:  Sion Smith


This morning, iTunes served me up a copy of Japan’s 1977 Adolescent Sex album. As much as I love ‘disposable’ music, sometimes the need to sink your teeth into something deeper calls hard. There’s not been a band out of the UK with this much depth since… well, since Japan really. Both this and their follow up, Obscure Alternatives are what I would call “proper albums”. (For our American cousins, I believe the title of Adolescent Sex was changed to the simpler “Japan” for its release over there – probably something to do with record label worrying about the infamous irony gene being screwed up in your biological code).


If you’re not familiar with Japan – or at least their early work – here’s a fine link to that great TV station on the cloud, showing them at their finest:


Do we really not have the attention span for this kind of band anymore? I know the answer already and it’s a crying shame not only because we’re being deprived of great albums, but long-term, it’s impacted on songwriting and musicianship more than we could ever know. Long-term isn’t a phrase normally associated with music – or me for that matter – and it’s only now that I’ve tipped over that magical age of 40 that I even give a damn. I just want some great band to come and knock me over.


This was all prompted by a completely chance sequence of events. Yesterday, I walked in on the middle of an interview with Charlotte Church where she was talking about taking control of her career by not having a record label any more. Whatever your opinion of her, she certainly knows how to manage herself. For her new album, she’s stuck a finger up at the world, written an album’s worth of songs, recorded them exactly how she wanted and run like hell with it.


I think for something special to happen much groundwork will need to be done. Not on the internet, but totally offline – and yes, I am totally changing my mind from my previous stance. It will take forever sure, but if you’re going to make a buzz about yourself, get offline. Don’t release anything. Hit the road. Let people bootleg you, but the only way to avoid everybody else who is doing the same thing is to go offline and work at it old school. No myspace, no facebook. ask men Not even a website.


Once upon a time, it was essential that you have a website – this probably goes for any artistic endeavour that you’re trying to make work. I’m kinda thinking to myself that now everybody and their dog has a website, it’s not so special anymore.


If I heard a buzz about a band that I couldn’t get to online, I would make damn sure I got off my ass to check them out live time and again – and if that band sounded like Japan, all the better. Food for thought huh?


Now that would be phenomenally special.


Sion Smith is a pop culture writer and author of speculative fiction. You can keep up with his almost daily meanderings at