Sunday, December 13th, 2015

Charisma.com – Otsubone Rock

And we close Reader’s Week with the return of some bossy ladies, as suggested by Cassy.


[Video][Website]
[7.27]

Crystal Leww: “Otubone Rock” sounds like a variety of influences from Sleigh Bells to early 00s techno to 90s grunge, but only if all of those things were forced into a blender with a shot of adrenaline, attitude, and the distilled energy of the best dance floors that I’ve ever been on. Gonchi’s work moves through time and across timezones to make something frantic yet appealing. Itsuka is disinterested in being boxed into a vocal style, singing and rapping in all sorts of tones. One moment she sounds like she’s robotically reciting something from memory and the next she’s wooing, then singing sweetly. And yet, comparisons to other larger than life rappers seem inappropriate. Charisma.com sound like the future instead.
[9]

Tristan Bella: MC Itsuka and DJ Gonchi assume the role of “Otsubone” by hiring the riff from “Song 2” straight out of rehab for a cubicle position, but it’s a hectic work environment. DJ Gonchi is sawing through desks with a “Satisfaction”-level baseline while Itsuka’s vigorous rhymes delve into the life of the office’s Queen Bee. She’s committed, fierce, and successful. She’s disliked, mocked, and lonely. She works just as hard as the King Bee, but in a country with the second highest wage-gap in the OECD, she gets paid a quarter less. “Otsubone Rock” will not change her situation, but it might put a little more stomp in her step.
[8]

Austin Brown: One of the most underrated (and underexplored) songwriting topics is workplace rock, something I didn’t realize until hearing this song. With a spy-movie riff that just never lets up and a rapid fire flow that feels appropriately suave, there’s also still a tiny bit of dorky clarity to the inflection in the verses that lets you, the audience, in on the fun — you’re just looking to get mad at your boss here, not start the revolution.
[6]

Iain Mew: I’m a bit disappointed that this doesn’t go in anything like as hard as “Iinazuke Blue,” but the bits that DJ Gonchi makes sound like “Hello” stuck on a loop-the-loop go some way to making up for it.
[6]

Scott Mildenhall: To brainstorm, this sounds like Martin Solveig meets Grand Theft Audio meets Benny Benassi meets a thousand other cursory referents, and while the eclecticism is appealing, the abrupt cuts from one train of sound to another are sometimes stifling. Itsuka ploughs through irrespective of what’s going around her, sounding and reading very impressive, but she’s still slightly stymied by the lack of focus that something like this doesn’t have.
[7]

Maxwell Cavaseno: I can never commit my heart to Charisma.com, partly because of DJ Gonchi’s production; every solid on the verses just tends to veer a bit too close to Hadouken! territory when the big chorus comes. Otherwise, Itsuka’s mic skills are considerable in the age when peppy and rapid get confused for gifted despite never actually being on the beat. And she maintains it while sounding so typically disaffected.
[6]

Kenny Komala: I am feeling a poppy Deerhoof vibe. I like that it gets to the point without letting up until the final note. No syllables are wasted. It accentuates words and builds in all the right places. If Otsubone is a new sub-genre of rock, I’m on board.
[8]

Anthony Easton: This is just a good time had by all, the guitar speed matched by some solid electro production, and a hip hop sweet spot. Extra point for the speed. 
[8]

Alfred Soto: Office ladies by day, noise-pop purveyors by design and by night, Charisma.com take the dumbest of hooks — a repeated ooh-ooh here, a lurch into a quiet interlude there — and piledrive them into my brain. This is why we need secretary pool unions.
[8]

Thomas Inskeep: I want Charisma.com to cross over to non-Japanese-speaking countries so that the world can learn what a great rapper Itsuka is; she’s so verbally nimble. DJ Gonchi provides a tasty electro-rap backdrop, full of farty noises like a 2000s Peaches track (or something equally electroclash). 
[6]

Edward Okulicz: I’ve got no idea if “Otsubone Rock” and its mix of thrashy guitars, whooshes, dumb beats and playful, commanding rap from Itsuka has as much inherent appeal to the kids of Japan as it must to hipsters and festivalgoers. But right now I’m imagining how much my parents would have hated me blasting this at stun volume and exploding with happiness.
[9]

Patrick St. Michel: Charisma.com’s energy has always been miles ahead of their actual sound, which is fine because the pair hold nothing back on the bulk of their songs. “Otsubone Rock” is just the latest example of it, a sonically dense song that rightfully puts all the energy on the duo themselves, seeing as they could read an issue of Hot Pepper and turn it into a roundhouse kick. It’s a winning strategy — that it works wonders at festivals, the primary way anyone in Japan sees live music anymore, is even better for them — but I also think, like, it’s all starting to blur together a bit, especially perched over my laptop. As long as they go in like this, they’ll always be getting buzz, but I also feel like I’ve heard this song from them before.
[6]

Brad Shoup: It would’ve been hard to maintain the energy of the intro, which chops a math-rock breakdown into a ludicrous number of portions. Gonchi settles into electro-tinged big beat: the whiny synth and ascending tone never get more insistent than the rhythm. Itsuka is chill throughout; the FBI/CIA references — her most compelling bit — foreshadow the spy-caper bridge. It’s not as much as I was expecting, but it’s plenty.
[7]

Will Adams: Strange turn of events for the verse to be the more compelling section of the song, but bending basslines usually fare better than trebly guitar stabs with me, so there you go.
[6]

Jessica Doyle: I’m at that infatuation stage where I could go on and on about Itsuka’s wardrobe alone (two ties! comfortable pants!). The garage-rock touches are a new addition and a nice expansion from the likes of “Hate” and “Now,” not that I haven’t spent a fair bit of time dancing around to “Hate” and”Now” in the past week. And Itsuka is a whirl of ruffles and force onstage. I reserve the right to rethink things if they turn out to be talking down to, as opposed to on behalf of, the otsubone; as Patrick has pointed out, in the past they’ve gone for relatively easy targets. But in the absence of a lyric translation I’d be dishonest in giving anything lower than:
[9]

Reader average: [8.5] (2 votes)

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4 Responses to “Charisma.com – Otsubone Rock”

  1. thank you, Editor Alfred, for getting in the links I missed

    thank you, Scott, I was so frustrated at being unable to find a translation

    AND THANK YOU, CASSY

  2. you’re welcome and hooray on the scores!

  3. Great job, everyone. Best Readers’ Week by a mile.

  4. oh my god i love charisma.com i had no idea they had a new single out