ういずあす – the trio formerly known as ‘wiz-us’

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Waiting for me in my inbox this morning was an email from Mark about a group from Okinawa named ういずあす. At first I didn’t recognize the group but upon further research (ah, googling how I love thee) I found that the trio formerly went by the name “wiz-us” (which is how the current name is pronounced in English—yeah, go figure). Anyhoo, that name was quite familiar to me because I purchased their debut single, “Toori Ame,” a couple of years ago. At the time, they were marketed as a J-pop group with an Okinawan-twist (not unlike what’s being seen in the popularity of artists from Amami-Oshima like Chitose Hajime and Kousuke Atari) by, I presume, their record label at the time SME Records. So, yeah, I was totally thrown off by the change from “wiz-us” to the Japanese “ういずあす” and how they’re now adorned in Ryukyuan costume. Checking out their profile, the change from J-pop to wherever they plan to go (O-pop? Minyou?) from here is not all fluff as all three are accomplished artists of Ryukyuan music and dance:

  • Rina Kinjo (22, Nago City): Uta-Sanshin (Saikoushou) for 13 years.
  • Reika Higa (23, Nanjou City): Uta-Sanshin (Saikoushou) for 14 years.
  • Ayano Oyakawa (23, Urasoe City): Ryukyu Buyou (Saikoushou) for 15 years.

Their discography (from their SME catalog) so far consists of their debut single “Toori Ame” released in March 2007 and a cover album, “Nakayukui,” released in December 2007. Looking at the discography you’ll notice the void between January 2008 to present so I’m assuming they’re going indie.

Links to find out more about ういずあす (I’ve left out the ones that link to wiz-us):
Official Website
Official Blog

Video: おきなわBBtv: They introduce themselves with their new name and also mention an upcoming single that they’re working on.

(Nifee deebitan to Mark for the tip!)

Chiaki (Syakari) posts pics of her sanshin

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Chiaki, singer of the pop group Syakari, recently posted a couple pics of her sanshin on their official blog: しゃかりデジカメ日記. Originally from the band Diamantes, Chatan-born Chiaki started Syakari along with guitarist Masaru Kadekaru and former Rinken Band drummer Kazunari Uechi in 1998.


Syakari’s “Kodou (コドウ)” from the 2005 album of the same title.


Syakari’s “Taiyou no Hito (太陽のひと)” from the 2007 album “Utayabira.”

Official website
Official blog

Ayano Uema’s official website is up!

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She announced it today on her blog and here it is: uemaayano.com! Filled with a lot of Ayano pics (some of them quite huge but it’s not like we’re complaining), her official website contains information on her schedule, profile, and links to her blog and original goods too. Once again, we see a reference to “Majun Record” and lo and behold, in Ayano’s profile page in plain Japanese is the sentence: second album planned for a 2008 release! Yay! We’ll be following her blog, this new website and our favorite Okinawan music blog in anticipation of finding out more about Ayano’s upcoming second album.

Syakari celebrates 10th anniversary with a best of album

Pop group Syakari will be marking their 10th anniversary with their very first best of album titled “10th anniversary BEST~Boku to Iu Na no Chizu~.” The 15-track album will be released on 10/22/08 and retail for ¥2,800.

Included is their single (above YouTube clip) “Taiyou no Hito” and the best of album spans their album releases from 1999’s “Kotoba no Kawari ni” to 2007’s “Uta Yabira”—they’ve released six albums to date.

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Trivia: Syakari’s lead vocalist, Chiaki (from Chatan), got her start singing chorus for DIAMANTES, drummer/guitarist/sanshin/percussionist Kannari (Kazunari Uechi) started out with Rinken Band, and guitarist Masaru is often featured on albums from other artists. The name Syakari is a rearranged version of the area of Chatan that Chiaki is from, Jagaru, known for their eisaa.

(Via Campus Record Staff Blog.)

Rinken Teruya’s solo album, “Pause,” available on iTunes

We all know him as the leader of perhaps the greatest recorded O-pop group in history, Rinken Band, and Rinken Teruya is finally recording a solo album. Pre-released in a digital format exclusively at the iTunes Store in August 4th of this year (yeah, I missed it), “Pause” (link opens iTunes Store) is an instrumental, or BGM (as in background music) album. The 11-track solo album will have a CD version available—for those of you who must own the actual shiny disc with liner notes—on October 5, 2008.

I’ve always admired Rinken as he has the one of the best online presences of all the Okinawa-based artists I’ve come across and he’s been doing it for years.

Be sure to also check out other albums of the Rinken family of artists on iTunes (links will open iTunes Store) like Tomoko Uehara, Rinken Band and Mihanagumi. There’s actually a lot more available at the Japan iTunes Store so let’s hope the folks at Apple work in making them available at the US store too.

(Via Okinawan Music Net.)

A trio of upcoming singles to look out for

HIGH and MIGHTY COLOR’sRemember,” marked for a 10/15/08 release, will be the band’s last single featuring their lead singer Maakii—who, after announcing her marriage to DREAMS COME TRUE’s bassist Masato Nakamura this past June, will retire from the band.

O-pop duo Yanawarabaa will be releasing their 9th single, “Present,” on 11/5/08. “Present” follows the single “Sakura” which was released in February of this year and their upcoming cover album—which looks fantastic, by the way—”Nagiuta” set for a 9/17/08 release.

This brings us to the last of the trio of singles to look out for, ORANGE RANGE’sOshare Bancho feat. Soy Sauce.” Believe it or not (well, it is fact), “Oshare Bancho feat. Soy Sauce” will be the band’s 20th single since making their major label debut with 2003’s “Kirikirimai.”

(Via CDJapan’s email newsletter.)

New BEGIN single, “Ichariba Ohana,” gets a release date!

The J-blues trio known as BEGIN have been pretty busy this year with TV appearances (even making an appearance on the popular music show HEY!³ last month), their nationwide “BEGIN no Ichigo Ichie Concert 2008” tour, and they already have a new single set to be released on 10/22/08. The single, called “Ichariba Ohana,” will have a tie-in with the Disney Channel’s new anime “Stitch!” (from the Disney movie “Lilo & Stitch“) with the setting in Okinawa instead of Hawaii.

Of course, it’s awesome that this’ll be a new single from BEGIN but I’ll add an exciting bit of information: utasaa Kanako Hatoma is a featured artist on the second track, “Izayoiyoi.” They’ve even done one of those BEGIN featuring Hatoma Kanako thing which is all the rage in Japan now. The five track single is priced at ¥1,000 and can be pre-ordered at CDJapan.

(Via CDJapan newsletter.)

New album from Parsha cluB on 10/3/08!!!

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OK, I’m sounding like a broken record here what with all of the great releases coming out at the second half of 2008 but Parsha cluB is one of our favorite O-pop acts and god we’ve been waiting for this one. “PapiRu” will be Parsha cluB’s first album in six years following the release of their best-of double album “Batanchi” in 2002 and also marks their 15th anniversary. The album will have a total of 15 tracks running 72 minutes! Papiru is the Yaeyama word for butterfly but yeah, they could’ve named it anything and we’d be sure to buy it.

Also worth mentioning is a special project from Parsha cluB’s lead man Yukito Ara who released a single with Miyako Island musician Shimoji Isamu called “SAKISHIMA meeting.” The single is currently only available for sale in Okinawa. (Via 沖縄三線日和.) They have a t-shirt on sale at T-Shirt-Ya.com that looks freakin’ awesome.

Mamoru Miyagi’s latest album “Shimakaze” released on 8/20/08


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Originally uploaded by tiarehi

Gosh, he was just here and he sounded great, didn’t he? Well, fans of his probably already know that he released a new album on 8/20/08 titled “Shimakaze.” The 12-track album features the single “Yunion (Union) desu kara!” (Image is from photog tiarehi on Flickr from this year’s Okinawan Festival in Hawaii.)

(Via Campus Record Staff blog.)

New album from Nenes: “Sai”

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Well, we may not know the names of the current lineup of Sadao China’s Nenes (shame on us!) but hey, they’ve gone and released a new album called “Sai” — their first in four years! “Sai” is on Sadao’s own record label, DIG Records, and features a total of 13 tracks including the hit song “Kogane no Hana.” Nenes can be seen live at their stomping ground: Live House Simauta right on Kokusai Street. The album is currently on sale so go buy it!

(Via Campus Record Staff blog.)