**if you’re reading on the WP reader, this post a lot looks better if you’re on my actual site, just sayin’
Hi there, it’s been a bit since I wrote a J-music album review, but in the meantime while I’m still working on my second installment of the “J-Music Exchange/Rate” segment Leap250 and I started a couple of months ago (which actually means I haven’t listened to the album he gave me because other music has taken over my playlist lol I apologize), here’s a little album review!
If you didn’t know or if you would like me to say it for the millionth time, the Japanese alternative rock band SHISHAMO is probably my favorite J-musical group ever… so far, at least. Ever since I discovered them last year thanks to Spotify (before Good Creators Records removed all their music from most streaming services… sigh), I’ve listened to all, or most, of their music over and over and over again. I even bought their two latest albums!
But before they released popular and amazing tracks like “Boku ni Kanojo ga Dekitanda”, “Kimi to Natsu Fes”, “Nettaiya”, “Ashitamo”, and their latest hit, “Nee,”, SHISHAMO released their first ever album in 2013, which was a compilation album called Sotsugyouseikakui (Translated in English, Graduation Project).
And when I say “compilation album”, essentially it means that it’s a collection of songs that SHISHAMO created while they were still high school students (in the light music club, as a matter of fact!), and also when former bassist Matsumoto Aya was still a part of the group before she left in 2014.
From left to right: Yoshikawa Misaki, Miyazaki Asako, Matsumoto Aya
That being said, I’d love to talk about this album and show you some of the songs on it, since most likely you won’t find these tracks free to listen to on the internet… and hopefully I won’t get in trouble lol
I think most of the songs in this album feel similar, mostly because of both the “trademark” way Asako sings and the overall instrumental style of these songs remaining the same throughout the album. There can be an occasional, small guitar solo or a slight change in pace here and there but in my opinion, SHISHAMO maintains a pretty limited style with Sotsugyoseisaku.
“Yumenohanashi/夢のはなし” (transl. “Story of a Dream”)
“Netsusamasheet/熱冷まシート” (transl. “Antifebrile Sheet”)
But despite this album having a similar vibe throughout, it’s still a really nice one to listen to since it represents light rock in a superb way. Plus, you have to give SHISHAMO a huge break, they were only 19 years old, still very very young, when they wrote and performed these kinds of songs.
SHISHAMO’s main charm is that they represent the youth, even up to now with their latest release of SHISHAMO 5. While they have definitely matured since 2013, this is the main reason why so many young people in Japan absolutely love this band; their music and image just bursts “youthfulness”.
And I think a big part of their success in appealing to the younger folk is the main vocalist, Miyazaki Asako. Because she has the voice of a young lady that sings about common topics among teenagers and young adults such as love, dreams, or just normal things school students deal with, it’s no question why that particular demographic adore musical artists/bands like SHISHAMO. It’s sort of like that saying, “made by kids, for kids”… is this an appropriate time to bring that phrase up lol
“Okashizukuri/お菓子作り” (transl. “Pastry Making”)
As for the instrument side of things, it’s your standard trio-style band with someone on guitar, someone on bass, and someone on drums. I guess you can say that this album is the first glimpse of the style of music SHISHAMO has, since their sound hasn’t really changed much ever since (other than branching out to using other instruments like the trumpet or a piano in later albums). It’s honestly pretty impressive to see a young teenage band like them, coming up with compositions like what we see in this album. A good example of the use of instruments is in the song “Fuyunouta/冬の唄”.
“Fuyunouta/冬の唄” (transl. “Song of Winter”)
It has been stated that Sotsugyoseisaku is essentially “a summary of their [SHISHAMO’s] high school life”. As I said in the last section, this album deals with a lot of topics that can be present in a teenager’s life or the setting of high school, such as love or heartbreak or just mundane stuff. There are songs like “Netsusamasheet” (transl. “Antifebrile Sheet”) that is about someone worrying about not going on a school field trip with the person they like because they’ve fallen with a bad cold.
Surely you’re packing around this time
I want to see your excited face
I have to heal this cold quickly
Because all my plans will go to waste
My eyes are spinning round and round
Where did I leave that thermometer
I feel like a dreamed of you
Or even a song literally about someone who didn’t do their homework, having to stay up all night to finish it:
Ah I’m sleepy, I’m sleepy, my eyelids are closed
Hey, ah, I have to finish before the sky gets bright
But before I start I have to find things, where did I put the writing paper again?
No, no, I can’t find that either, where was the English printout again?
Ah, I can’t even start, what should I do?
Hey, ah, I can’t rely on my friends at this hour
I’m awake because it won’t end
It came back around to my idiotic self and now
I want to go to sleep but unless I finish it
I can’t crawl into my futon
“Shukudai ga Owaranai/宿題が終わらない” (transl. The Homework Doesn’t End)
Sotsugyouseikaku/卒業制作, aka Graduation Project in English, is probably one of my favorite SHISHAMO albums out of the bunch, alongside SHISHAMO 3 and SHISHAMO 2. It showcased the beginnings of the band, as well as set a foundation of what they would become throughout their current five year stint. And even though I have stated in the past that the SHISHAMO 3 album was the one that expressed their youthful charm in an excellent way… I now feel like this debut album tops that since, well, these songs were written when the members of SHISHAMO were actual teenagers in high school.
And on the topic of that, you have to really applaud what these three ladies created at such a young age. SHISHAMO definitely separates themselves from a lot of other youth-based artists, as they can make enjoyable music and write lyrics that feel more real than cheesy, in my opinion.
“Daisanbotan/第3ボタン” (transl. Third Button)
And just to top it off, I’ll give you the last two songs I didn’t include before:
“Kimini Kokuhaku Riyu/君に告白した理由” (transl. “The Reason I Confessed to You”)
“Bansoukou/絆創膏” (transl. “Band-Aid”)
Alright don’t snitch me out now for giving you the whole album pls, thank you
Hope you enjoyed this little review of this album, and I hope you enjoyed these selection of songs! If you’re interested in more SHISHAMO, definitely check out the review my dude Leap250 wrote, talking about their third major album, SHISHAMO 3, by clicking here!
Thanks for reading!! 😀