I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

For Tracy Hyde -- Sakura no Sono(櫻の園)


The genre "shoegaze" is defined as, and I'm directly quoting Wikipedia here, " a subgenre of indie and alternative rock that emerged in the United Kingdom in the late 1980s. It is characterized by its ethereal mixture of obscured vocals, guitar distortion and effects, feedback, and overwhelming volume. The term shoegaze was coined by the British music press to describe the stage presence of a wave of neo-psychedelic groups who stood still during live performances in a detached, introspective, non-confrontational state with their heads down."

When I first encountered the term "shoegaze", I indeed pictured the image described in that last sentence above: that of casually-dressed 90s singers who couldn't seem to hold their heads up high while mumbling their lyrics into the mike. But that term in Wikipedia was also given the synonym of "dream pop". Now, that is a term that I know and appreciate since I first heard Ramjet Pulley's soothing "Overjoyed" so many years ago. 

And that's the term that has been used to describe the band For Tracy Hyde's "Sakura no Sono" (Cherry Blossom Garden), and its source album, its third, "New Young City" which was released in September 2019. I not only enjoy the music video featuring the band in some sylvan paradise with plenty of the titular blossoms, but the music and arrangement provided by songwriter Azusa Suga(管梓)are simultaneously ethereal and grounded with the sound of those clanging instruments clinging to my mind like the good type of cobwebs. Of course, for something that is shoegaze/dream pop, the floating vocal delivery by eureka is essential.

I particularly specified "New Young City" as an album that goes into the dream pop since according to one English-language interview on "From The Intercom", For Tracy Hyde has delved into different genres. Its inaugural release, "Film Bleu" (December 2016) was more into the Shibuya-kei (although after listening to a couple of tracks there, I'm not sure of that description now) whereas "he(r)art" (November 2017) chases general J-Pop. On its J-Wiki article, some more genres have been pelted at the band: indies, neo-acoustic, and Chillwave.

Suga is known as Natsubot(夏bot)within For Tracy Hyde where he is a guitarist and a vocalist alongside eureka, and he started the entire thing in 2012 as a solo project but eventually, it grew to become a 5-piece band including singer-songwriter Aika Imaizumi(今泉愛夏), aka Lovely Summer-chan(ラブリーサマーちゃん), during which three self-produced works were released in 2014.  However, Imaizumi left For Tracy Hyde in 2015 after which eureka came on board. The other members in the current lineup are guitarist U-1, bassist Mav and drummer Soukou(草稿).

A new fourth album is due to come out this month on the 17th titled "Ethernity". I will have to see what "Ethernity" shows, and for that matter, I'm especially interested to check out "Film Bleu".

Being someone who has a passing interest in names and their origins, I was rather intrigued by that band name, For Tracy Hyde. Unfortunately, J-Wiki didn't bother to reveal anything on that front, so with a little digging, I did find a 2014 Japanese-language interview at "Belong Media" which had Natsubot explain where they got the idea to name themselves For Tracy Hyde. 

The first thing that he stated was that the name For Tracy Hyde did not come from a female child actor/model named Tracy Hyde who had been in a 1971 British film "Melody". Actually, he hadn't even known about the film. Instead, his inspiration came from a song by a Los Angeles power pop band Wondermints with the title "Tracy Hide" (above at 7:15) after which he decided to give the name a bit of a British tweak by replacing the "i" in the family name with a "y". Come to think of it, "Tracy Hide" is pretty dream pop a Carpenters-esque way. The song belongs to the band's self-titled 1995 debut album.


  1. Yeah, that sounds rather shoegazing-ish. I used to read NME and Melody Maker in the 1990s, and cut my teeth on Stone Roses and their like, so I'm pretty familiar with the genre. Clear melodic guitars (epitomised by John Squire), understated rhythm (so no skins wrecking), mumbling vocals (epitomised by Ian Brown). Oh, and baggy casual clothing. Vocal melody is important, but vocal ability is optional. The stars of the show are the guitar, bass and drums.

    I Wanna Be Adored (Stone Roses)

    She Bangs the Drums (Stone Roses)

    The Only One I Know (Charlatans)

    And stylistically less typical of shoegazing, but damn good music by the kings of shoegazing.

    Made of Stone (Stone Roses)

    This is the One (Stone Roses)

    1. Hi, Jim. I have heard about Stone Roses but never investigated much further than that. Just listened to "She Bangs The Drums"...yes it's quite different from what I assumed about shoegazer. It's a lot more active than I assumed and the bass riff reminds me a bit of "Peter Gunn".

  2. The mumbling and casual baggy style is probably what's best remembered about shoegazing, but the best stuff was always dance-oriented, unlike grunge which was becoming popular in the US around the same time. They come from the same Manchester dance scene that New Order pioneered. Shoegazing was the musical style, "Madchester" the specific Manchester scene.

    Stone Roses in their full glory at the Manchester Hacienda. Yeah, Ian Brown is painful to listen to live.

    She Bangs the Drums, Stone Roses, Hacienda 1989

    1. When I came back from Japan the first time, I remember grunge having taken hold of pop music and it just seemed to cast a huge shadow of some of the other genres for a while. As for shoegaze, it was that image of mumbling and casual bagginess that stopped me from listening to any of its music which was too bad since recent videos have illustrated that it wasn't always that way.

  3. The shoegazing scene segued into what is known as Britpop: a catch all encompassing primarily British primarily guitar bands. Most of them imagined themselves as a reliving of the 60s, but the best of them tried to emulate the spirit of the later Beatles, exploring musical influences other than standard guitar pop. Blur was one of the biggest names from the Britpop era, but relevantly to this post, they started off as shoegazing knock offs.

    The first song is from their shoegazing era, which they later disowned. The second song is from their Britpop era, exploring the 60s chanson scene. The MV is a pastiche of Last Year at Marienbad (1961). The third track is another version of the second song, but half the track is in French, and Francoise Hardy is co-vocalist. It was this track that led me to explore Hardy, Piaf, Brel, etc.

    There's No Other Way (Blur)

    To the End (Blur)

    La Comedie (Blur, featuring Francoise Hardy)

    1. Thanks very much, Jim, for the recommendations. I've heard about Blur all these years but never listened to them. It was quite fascinating listening to the first two songs. It seems like the band was willing to do what I've always admired in certain musicians: to try different styles. I'm sorry that the band has decided to disown their shoegazing days. I never quite imagined that a Britpop group would try something like "To the End". I also listened to "Boys and Girls" which seems to be their love letter to 80s New Wave.

      During my time in Japan, when I went to karaoke with students and fellow teachers, Oasis was one group that had some representation among us, notably "Wonderwall". Of course, at the time, grunge was a genre that some of the gang enjoyed, too, through Nirvana.

    2. Ah, correction...I should have said "Girls and Boys".:)

  4. Girls and Boys and To the End were singles from the same album, believe it or not. But while we're on the subject of Britpop, I'd like to point out my favourite song from that era.

    The Wild Ones (Suede)


Feel free to provide any comments (pro or con). Just be civil about it.