launches new design

September marks’s approximate birthday, and that means a redesign. Aside from the new look — which looks a lot like a UPS truck, now that I think about it — I made a number of changes to the content pages.

The biggest change is the artist directory. When I subsumed the old J~E site back into two years ago, I left the directory content as is. Back then, I was still positioning this site as a resource on Japanese bands, and I wanted to emphasize that content.

With this redesign, I’ve expanded the directory to include all artists who have been covered on the site in the past. Most of the directory entries are little more than glorified archive links, but directory entries with more substantive content — profiles, discography, links — have been flagged as Featured Artists.

Now that Movable Type has been powering the site for more than a year, I’ve decided to start leveraging some of its capabilities. I’ve divided the news and reviews sections into individual categories.

I’m making it something of a pre-New Year’s Resolution to write more about classical music, a genre I’ve neglected since graduating from college. I’m also making room for older albums — discs in my collection that deserve some added attention, or catalog items entirely new to me.

A few months back, I started a personal weblog which featured a number of links to music-related news items. I created a channel to cross-post — and perhaps re-tool — some of that content here. To distinguish it from the translated news items posted here regularly, old news items are now filed under the category “News in Translation”.

The site has never had a really good way to communicate down-time, bug discoveries or other announcements, so a Site Admin channel has also been created to keep users informed of anything related to the site’s operation itself.

Here are some other changes which should be more transparent to users:

  • The database now supports classical music information. The standard “artist/title” fields aren’t sufficient to credit classical performers, so content pages in the artist directory and in the review section reflect these additions.
  • The front page of the Amazon shop now features the latest albums reviewed. I got sick of seeing the same six albums on that page for the last six months.
  • Redesigned index pages follow a more blog-like format.
  • A new release page has been added to list upcoming albums entered in the database.

Why some of these changes?

Four years ago, I started this webzine, thinking it would be something of a personal site making redundant coverage of stuff that’s already reasonably well-known. It was — still is, actually — a vanity site in the worst possible sense, a spot where I could talk about music that mattered to me.

Then in 2000, I discovered Japanese bands performing rock music as good — and sometimes better — than the stuff being produced in the US market. Considering the challenge English-speakers face in finding information about Japanese bands, I focused my attention to making this site a bridge.

To reach that point, I created a work schedule that insured regular content updates. Don’t know if you noticed, but new reviews are run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s reached the point where I’m writing an average of 9 reviews a month.

It’s worn me down.

Now that the site has reached a point where its archives are indeed quite deep, I want to bring it back to something a bit more broad-minded than advocating Japanese rock. I may even be open to allowing voices other than mine on the site.

At the same time, I want to ditch that work schedule I established years ago. It’s resulted in some filler content, and when I go back to read it, I wonder, “Why did I write that in the first place?”

I’m hoping these changes, while embracing the true breadth of the site, will actually allow me to work a bit more smartly and maybe more personally.

Japanese content will still be a major component to, and I hope to maintain the level of quality to which readers are accustomed.

But I felt I needed to decide what this site was going to be — an exclusive English-language source for Japanese music, or a place for music critique of a more personal nature.

I’m going with the latter route to see how well that goes. Thank you for reading this far.