At an excursion to Tower Records I noticed a small display to the right of the J-LOUD(consists of punk/rock CD's) section that had some attractive cover art:
It was a compilation CD and on this rare occasion I had no idea who any of the bands were. This can be a good and bad thing: usually if a band I know is on there I can guess what the genre of the compilation would be. For this one I was completely in the dark. What ended up sealing the deal for me was the "Rock" price of a mere 690yen(which comes out to about $7...even singles in Japan usually run an upwards of $10! also, 6=roku and 9=ku so 69 can read as ro+ku...ROCK!). Of course, I ended up adding it to my purchases.
Through some research, I eventually found out that this was a compilation for Senkou Riot 2008, a music competition held by Sony Music and Tokyo FM's "School of Lock!"(which hosts radio shows for major artists like Yui and Bump of Chicken) geared towards younger musicians. The oldest participating musicians are about 19 years old and the youngest bands, including winners Galileo Galilei, are just about 15! The bands go through a selection process where they send in a demo tape, then go to the studio to record, and then play live. The selected bands showcase their talent at the competitions live showcase, done at a music-festival type venue.
The judges gave Hokkaido's Galileo Galilei the Gran Prix prize and Osaka's Brian the Sun for first runner up. There were also two judge choice awards from the panel of special band judges(Jinn, Base Ball Bear, monobright, and Flow) who gave the nod to ジュブナイルボート(Juvenile Boat) and the cute all-girl group ねごと(Negoto).
The 閃光ライオット2008 compilation I purchased at Tower Records was a 16-song CD featuring one studio track from each artist in the event. What still baffles me is how these musicians, at this young age are able to write songs of this quality; it sounds about on par with some of the popular artists in Japanese rock today. One fan who attended the event labeled Negoto "The next Chatmonchy", Galileo Galilei "The next Bump of Chicken", The Musique "The next Quruli", and The Nampa Boys "The next Onsoku Line".
Besides the winners, I had a few personal favorites among the roster of bands. Okinawa's twelve nine had a slightly rough, unpolished vocal style that clicked with me and the chorus in their song "feeling" is always stuck with me. My favorite song in the compilation is Piggy Hedghehog's 今日の出来事(Kyou no Dekigoto). It's really simple, pop rock but out of all the band's their songwriting seems the most mature. They also have something that I really like, and that's making music that doesn't fall into something completely sad or happy, but borders on the two.
Unfortunately I thought the two hip-hop tracks on the CD were cheesy, annoying, and unlistenable: N.O.B.U.!!!'s "Everybody" and Domino's "ABC". Sadly, both have record deals while my favorites, Piggy Hedgehog, only have a Demo CD.
If the event in general or any particular artist has piqued any interest, butashabu9696 on Youtube has uploaded multiple videos from the event from nearly every artist that contributed. There is also a photogallery available on the Senkou Riot official site with a lot of pictures from the event(it's also where the picture of Piggy Hedgehog, above, is sourced from).
This year the same event is being held with guest artists flumpool, Beat Crusaders, Base Ball Bear and returning Gran Prix winners Galileo Galilei(who have since released a mini-album!). Senkou Riot 2009 hits Tokyo Bigsite on August 8th, less than a week from this posting! Here's hoping for another good turn out of talented young artists :)