Truth in advertising

Here’s something disturbing: half of the tracks featured on Sony Music’s Japan for Sale, Vol. Two come from artists reviewed on

You think maybe this site had an indirect hand in determining the album’s track listing? Hmmm …

Like before, Japan for Sale, Vol. 2 slants heavily toward electronica artists — namely, Ken Ishii, DJ Krush, Yoshinori Sunahara, and Takkyu Ishino.

Sony is clearly attempting to position itself on the cutting edge of the foreign music market by stacking the track list in such a manner. There is a bit of misdirection going on, however.

Kitaki Mayu starts the album off sounding a lot like Nomiya Maki of Pizzicato Five on “Nakanaide”. Kitaki’s sweet voice fronts a sea of twittering blips and four-on-the-floor beats. Don’t think for a minute this one track exemplifies Kitaki’s muse — she’s really an idol singer.

Dt., represented by “Yume no Naka e -Malted Milk Mix-“, actually sounds harder than this particular track lets on. The original mix of the song is propelled by a lot of buzzing guitars.

In recent years, Supercar has transformed into an electronica outfit, but the band’s early work is definitely rock. The Pet Shop Boy-ish “Yumegiwa Last Boy” shows the band has come a long way.

Conversely, Boom Boom Satellites has done a lot to bridge jazz and electronica, but the track featured here, “Soliloquy”, is the hardest rocking track from the band’s album Umbra.

Does any of this detract from the disc itself? Not in the least. In fact, Japan for Sale, Vol. Two is a lot tighter than its predecessor. Some of the songs chosen for the disc are true gems.

James Iha’s sunny songwriting on “Skirt” fits Chara’s raspy, bittersweet voice nicely. “Spirit Dreams Inside” shows L’Arc~en~Ciel finally mastering a tough rock sound, and “Candle Chant” by DJ Krush is one of the best tracks off of Zen.

Of course, Puffy AmiYumi show up once again to appeal to the American otaku who prefer their J-pop with a little less substance. Why Polysics’ second-rate imitation of DEVO warrants further inclusion on this disc is still puzzling. Spoozys does it far better.

Despite Sony’s “selective criteria”, Japan for Sale, Vol. Two demonstrates the diversity and breadth of Japan’s music scene. In fact, the full work of the bands featured on the disc shows these 13 songs only scratch the proverbial surface.