I take comfort in the fact that I'm still discovering stimulating records from as far back as twenty to thirty years ago, made by unknown quantities that fall into my lap every so often. Yuji Oniki's Shonen Blue is a grade-A example. Having received high praise from the likes of the late Alex Chilton, and the more recently departed Scott Miller of Game Theory, this seemingly reclusive Japanese/American singer-songwriter was responsible for a handful of albums, including this stunning debut. Shonen exudes a pastoral folk rock lilt, but it's latch-hooked to the slyly surreal nuances of "new south" indie pop, not far removed from say, Game Theory or the Reivers, but in a demonstrably more pensive and forlorn context. Yuji's thing is ballads, and the brunt of them wouldn't sound at all out of place on an REM album - more Out of Time than Reckoning but occasionally the opposite. While still grounded, "Ave 'C'," "Ghosts," and "Fairport" are simultaneously transporting. Haunting. Pristine. Evocative. It's all here. For me, Shonen Blue's standout piece is the commencing "Cover," flavored with a chiming, crystalline post-punk guitar lead that smacks of one of Yuji's choicest contemporaries, For Against. A thoroughly solid record. My copy suffers from it's fair share of vinyl noise, some of which I was successful at smoothing over, but a cleaner copy is in order. I found an alternate, blemish free rip of "Cover" from a miscellaneous source that I'm also including in the folder. BTW, the album jacket is actually white. I took it upon myself to alter it with a bluer tint in Photoshop.
Two subsequent Yuji Oniki albums exist, neither of which I've encountered thus far. Mystical Beast blog did a nice write-up of Shonen Blue, thought it looks like the d/l links are dead.
02. The Gift
05. Ave 'C'
06. Dropping Hands
07. Underwater (...just like you)
08. Speak Low
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