Concert Pick: Japanese Breakfast @ 9:30 Club (5/30/18)

Japanese Breakfast (Photo by Joyce Jude, from FB @japanesebreakfast)

Japanese Breakfast returns to DC on the strength of a second album that alters and elevates the experimental dream pop sound of their first album.

Japanese Breakfast (Michelle Zauner) is coming to the 9:30 Club on May 30th, supporting her second album, Soft Sounds from Another Planet.

Psychopomp, the debut album, had the feeling of an amazing discovery 30+ years in the making. A snapshot of underground, experimental indie music that sounds as if it should be heard on cassette – complete with occasional effects that replicate an analogue sound. Dreaminess pervades that album, through the up-tempo “Everybody Wants to Love You” to the tortured “Triple 7” and back through the instrumental + voicemail recording of the title track.

That album is only 25 minutes long, but it punches above its weight in swinging for the emotions. I hesitate to mention the source material for the emotion of this album: it offers insight, but the material doesn’t require it and if you don’t know ahead of time, it makes for a more organic, more meandering experience.

Soft Sounds from Another Planet offers a more expansive and cleaner sound than Psychopomp. That’s not to say it’s a simpler album or an easier listen – though it doesn’t carry the same weight of grief – but more that it’s the step we would like to see bands take on sophomore records. There are relationships and loss, but it’s all couched in something cosmically larger, a direct line from the ‘Another Planet’ of the album title. Psychopomp had the grief that turned the attention inward. This album doesn’t shy away from looking in, but it better acknowledges and grapples with a wider context.

Having recently seen Alvvays at the 9:30 Club, this seems a fine month to indulge in bands that take a beautiful slice of inspiration from 80s sounds and then morph them, twist them, meld them with other influences, and then turn them into singular musical moments. Japanese Breakfast and the stage of 9:30 are made for each other. I expect this show to be a special experience.

Tickets are $18. You can get them here.

Doors open at 7:00pm. LVL UP, Radiator Hospital are the opening acts.

Author: Mathew Harkins

A writer and editor in Washington, DC.

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