[Music Review] Indie Band DYGL/ Don’t Know Where It Is

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DYGL’s first official EP “Don’t Know Where It Is” came out fresh on May 4th. With the new release they will hit the pacific coast highway to play a few gigs around. The band have made a triumphant return to the States in early spring and did several shows in New York City.

The modern Japanese music scene has long been seen as rather rudimentary while ballad-dominated tunes and duplicate uniform girls occupying radio stations and TV screens of Japanese households. Correspondingly, indie musicians try hard to survive in a tight corner despite their huge potentials- not that they don’t get any exposure to the audience-In fact, from the sunny shores of Okinawa to the freezing cold Hokkaido, there are plenty of indie and alternative gigs played to decent followings. The major issue here is their relatively self-isolated gesture and refusal of connecting themselves to the world outside. Nevertheless, a few pioneers did find their ways of thriving.

Stereotyping from a foreigner’s eyes, the underground music scene in Japan, especially in Tokyo, could be classified into two categories: hardcore-masculine-“oowa” type of toughies and newwave-whitewashed-bit-of-sissy shoegazers. DYGL, a four-piece Tokyo band that started from 2013 sharing members with Ykiki Beat, falls to the latter without a doubt. Both bands are centered by their frontman Nobuki Akiyama. Compared with refreshing and transparent-sounding Ykiki, DYGL features a more fierce garage style. Deeply influenced by post-00 bands such as the Strokes and the Libertines as well as modern indie musicians from Brooklyn and Silverlake, their music is a hybrid of hazy lo-fi tunes but with a surf-pop vibe. Their frequent visits to the western countries and the surprising Scottish accent of Akiyama, both revealed their ambition towards the overseas.

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This spring they came back with their EP “Don’t Know Where It Is” and made their first significant appearance at the lower east side indie music venue Cake Shop NYC with an impressive encore strongly demanded by the audience. Later they managed to open for the Districts at the 4th anniversary party of Out of Town Films, an independent short filmmaking studio in Philadelphia where a live show documentary was shot for the band.

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As a compilation of the favorites from DYGL’s music portfolio over the past couple of years, the EP “Don’t Know Where It Is” covers tracks from the classic “Let’s Get Into Your Car” to new cardiac “Slizzard”. For the most part the band seem to drive their way towards a merrily light-hearted noise pop with retro throbs. “Let It Sway” introduces the EP with casual and jolly drumbeats as in almost every DYGL song. Bubbly danceable rhythm takes it higher to an elevated tension until the guitar tapers off. “Don’t Know Where It Is” presents a foot-tapping interlude. There’s one minor drawback here however, is the loss of control in bridge. The lyrics on the other hand, features the viewpoint of a bystander with bit of nihilism that creates a contrast with mirthful melody. “I’m Waiting For You” and “Let’s Get Into Your Car” are actually two old tracks from their earlier releases years ago and still sound dope. “Slizzard” is rather short but hits you so strong. The guitar intro resembles the song “socket” from Slaves, as Akiyama himself never hides his admiration for this British band from Kent. You can also feel a hint of early Razorlight but this song delivers far more than a casual knock-together. As the name suggests, the song creates vivid mental pictures of a tipsy youthful life. After 15 minutes of glee and fuzz, the band choose a soothing ballad “Thousand Miles” to put an end to this EP. It may also imply the steadfast motto of the band, “Život je jinde”. Life is elsewhere.

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It’s also worth mentioning that last summer DYGL’s fellow band Ykiki Beat released their debut album “When the World is Wide” while several songs from the album have been used in commercials and TV dramas. They toured nationwide plus a brief appearance at an open-air lakeside festival SWEET LOVE SHOWER and received undeniable critical acclaim. However this commercial success may have caused some serious self-reflection of the band. Seems they just became another band that refuse to play their hits. Akiyama himself doesn’t feel comfortable with the idea of playing with mainstream J-Pop bands. He subsequently changed the band’s name to “bliss” for now and made different music for the band. We are not sure how that could impact the future path of DYGL, but there’s one thing that we are sure. Receiving more exposure would definitely bring favor to DYGL because this band are so damn great.

Don’t Know Where It Is 
Tracklist 
1. Let It Sway
2. Don’t Know Where It Is
3. I’m Waiting For You
4. Let’s Get Into Your Car
5. Slizzard
6. Thousand Miles

(Special Thanks to & Written by Claire Zhang)

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