Back in highschool, I wanted to create a little rock band with my two best friends. One was supposed to be lyricist + vocals and play the bass, the other was supposed to be on guitar (we even went and bought her an acoustic for her birthday!!) and I was supposed to compose and play the drums (I currently play guitar by the way hah). The thing only managed to stay at a couple of “songs” (they were more like rough poetry works really) getting written and me trying to learn to play the drums while using tissue boxes for practice… Before each of us went our seperate ways after graduation.
Yeah, how many kids have you heard saying stuff along those lines? But the important question is… What does that have anything to do with Stereopony?
Well, let’s put it like this. If that project were to have bore fruit, I think I’d have liked it to be something like what Stereopony is at the moment, sound-wise at least. I guess my view of the band is one of longing and perhaps admiration?
Of course there are a lot of girl rock bands out there (Scandal unfortunately pops to mind first thing from the J-music industry), so why Stereopony?
I’ll be blunt here, I think AIMI is a genius. You know, the kind that goes unnoticed by most people for the simple fact that her works aren’t over-the-top. I’ve been a Stereopony fan for almost two years now (ever since they released their “Namida no Mukou” single, which served as the second opening theme for Gundam 00 Second Season. Just so you get an idea of how much I loved that song: I’m currently trying to decide on my no.1 song of 2010, but I can’t seem to pick one in particular. Rewind one whole year and I’d have told you that my no.1 song of 2009 was, Namida no Mukou, indisputabely) but I only noticed this particular thing about the music that AIMI writes just recently with their “Chiisana Mahou” song.
When I first heard it in Tegami Bachi Reverse, I didn’t think much of it and was generally disappointed, possibly because it was a bit too… “fluffy” for a Stereopony song, but fluffy does not mean bad! Fast forward a few weeks, with the release of the single, I can now easily say that the song is a brilliant work of art. From the subtly rhyming lyrics (something a lot of J-Pop songs seem to lack and which I find infinitely frustrating mind you), to the rhythmic flow throughout, to the serious yet cheerful feel of the song as a whole. It’s exactly those little details what I’m referring to when I say “genius”. I’ve always believed that there were two types of geniuses: those who make something brilliant out of the ordinary and those who make something brilliantly extraordinary. I don’t want to delve any deeper into this topic because it’s obviously more of a personal opinion thing that I probably can’t back up too well with my extremely lacking music knowledge, so let’s just say that, in my books, AIMI fits the former type of genius.
Back to the song though, Chiisana Mahou is far from perfect, yet it has all the right variables set correctly in the equation. But are you one of those who think music is science? Or do you believe that music is purely someone’s feeling expressed artfully? What happens when someone fulfills both criteria?
Back when I wanted to create that band thing with my friends, I used to think that only rock was the right kind of music, because it was the only kind of music that held any real feelings to go with real music (because all that electro crap wasn’t music), because the only feelings that were honest were negative ones of anger, bla bla (yes I was yet another emo teenager, so sue me). Cue Mizuki Nana coming into my life and changing my whole prespective on music (almost on life too actually heh). I’m not going to go into detail about how that happened, because my point here is, with bands like Stereopony, you actually have cheerful rock! How nice is that? For the most part, I still prefer my acoustic music over anything electronic and I can’t get over my preference for the rougher stuff, but I now believe feelings can be of all kinds without one type being more “real” than another, and so this is where Stereopony brings the heart (in this case, the mix between cheerful and serious) and the mind (the whole “fluent music” thing) together for me. Of course this is just further proof that it’s more a matter of taste/preference than anything else really though.
I think I’ve gotten really sidetracked around here… Let’s see, back on the topic of the band members. It’s not like AIMI is everything of course. Stereopony is: AIMI, NOHANA, SHIHO. It all started when two Okinawa kids, Aimi and Shiho, ask their senior, experienced bassist Nohana, to join them in forming an indies band. I guess this is where Sony’s keen eye comes in. They hardly lasted as an indies band before being thrown into the big world of discographies, contracts and tight schedules!
I know that SHIHO has also contributed to some of their songs more than by just banging the drums, but I’m actually not too fond of those songs in particular so I’ll just skip that topic…
It’s been ups and downs for the band since they made their debut in 2008 with their “Hitohira no Hanabira” single (featured as an ending theme to the anime Bleach) and they’ve tried different stuff like collaborating with fellow Sony artist YUI (although I personally think that turned out epicly bad. “I do it” is probably one of my least favorite Stereopony songs to date and I have no problem in putting the blame on YUI, because I’ve never been too fond of her works to begin with). However, if there’s one thing that’s been constant it is the improvement in their overall sound. I still believe Namida no Mukou to be their best song to date, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t improved or anything. AIMI’s vocals have been getting more consistent lately and while she still has a lot more to work on, especially live, it’s probably only a matter of time and practice. Their arrangements have been getting somewhat more varied lately too (first thing that comes to mind here is probably “Tomodachi no Koibito”) and the instruments playing seem to be more in harmony with each other now.
Another pleasant little surprise on the Chiisana Mahou single which adds to Stereopony’s “evolution” is the 3rd track, “It’s a wild world”. To be honest, the purely English lyrics put me off at first, before I realised that, hey, I could actually tell most of what AIMI was saying! Not to mention that the lyrics make sense and literature-wise it’s mostly correct (some grammar mistakes here and there but oh well, I’ve heard much worse from artists who actually sing more often in English).
Stereopony has performed in the U.S. a couple of times already, and from the videos I’ve seen, they seem to have enjoyed their time there. The people attending their live there also seemed to have had a nice time, so I guess this is Stereopony’s way of sending a little message to them? At least, that’s what the intro “Hey boys and girls, check this out~” tells me. Also, the fact that their second album was titled “OVER THE BORDER” might give you another hint at their attempts to appeal to overseas fans and that.
Anyway, I get the feeling I’m starting to sound like a broken record here so I’ll try to finish this off quickly now. Basically, if you like your everyday acoustic instrumentals, if you like your mix of cheerful/positive/serious lyrics, if you like your music to flow nicely without hitting any random crazy notes, I think you could give this brilliant little band (yes I’m poking fun at Aimi’s height here :p) a listen if you haven’t yet ^^
Stereopony might not be the most original of bands, but when it comes to nice melodies and fluent sounds, they’re my number one~
Note: I know Stereopony isn’t considered an anison act, so it’s probably weird for me to have mentioned them here (especially to such extent) but a lot of their singles have been featured as anime themes, even if most were mainstream/shounen anime, so it’s okay, right?
P.S. AIMI IS SEW DAMN CUTE >/////<