Trip-O-Meter: 2 (plus a ghost point for surf guitar) out of 5
As you may or may not know, I'm based in Japan and as such many sounds of the island pass by my ear. Unfortunately, J-pop is pretty rotters, although there is definitely some awesome music lurking in the underground. I do did the older sounds of Japanese pop and old school enka (enka is the traditional form of Japanese popular music), and Akiko Nakamura's album has a bit of both running through her musical DNA along with a candy-coated obsession with the contemporary sounds coming from the West. I hope you dig the groovy, if a bit square, sounds on this LP. Japan didn't really have any of the 'peace, love, and LSD' revolutions we had in the West, and it shows.
Nakamura goes for a few Western cover tunes, but that's not really the place to start. The arrangements are pretty schmaltzy, and I've got to admit that I hate Peter, Paul, and Mary's "I Dig Rock n' Roll Music" with a passion - regardless of who's playing it. No, you're here for the day-glo, go-go dancing pop tune, and you'll get that in spades. "Niijiro no Mizumi (Rainbow Lake)" gets us started with an almost funky drumbeat almost drowning in an amusingly enka-like string arrangement and punctuated with a surf guitar lead (the Japanese LOOOOVED the Ventures in the 60's). "La, La, La" throws us another great surf guitar bone, and would've felt right at home in the Bond flick "You Only Live Twice." "Betsuri (Wakare) (Separation)" goes full-enka, which basically mean a depressing melody with even more depressing lyrics played melodramatically. Of course you haven't really heard enka until you've heard a drunken, middle-aged, crying salaryman belting it out at karaoke, but this will do for now. "Tokyo Flower" will pick you up again anyway with a jaunty horn arrangement. But y'know, by this part of the album they've completely stopped trying to be groovy for the kids anyway. They try to trick you by sticking the Peter, Paul, and Mary cover at the end, but that's kind of like trying to make up to your girlfriend by pooping on her doorstep.
So, this isn't really psychedelic, but it may be mind expanding, especially if you haven't spent time in Japan. Anyway, it goes well with senbei (Japanese rice crackers) and Asahi beer. Does anyone know a good blog for 60's and 70's Japanese pop? All I can find at the record store is damn AKB48.