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Often likened to a Japanese Alanis Morissette or Fiona Apple, Cocco (real name Tomoko Makishi) mixes her inward, confessional lyrics with hard rock arrangements. With her earthy voice, she is far from the usual, high-pitched Japanese pop starlets usually heard by the West — though she has her soft, beautiful tones as well. Born in Okinawa, the birthplace of many a Japanese pop and rock star, Cocco got her start with a self-titled EP in 1996. Her career took off when Tower Records Japan chose her song — "Sing a Song: No Music No Life," a "Give Peace a Chance"-like stomping singalong — as their theme music for a series of commercials. That and a successful 1997 appearance in America at Austin's South by Southwest music fest turned her into an indie success. Her first album, Bouganvillia, was a hit, and her second single sold in the hundreds of thousands. Staying on Speedstar Records, a division of Victor Records, Cocco began the usual schedule of annual releases with a few choice concerts around Japan. By the time of the release of her second album, Kumuita, she hinted at retiring, but continued working, releasing Rapunzel in 2000, which shot up the Japanese charts to number one. After the release of her fourth album, Sangrose, Cocco called it quits in 2001, saying she wanted to go on indefinite hiatus and return to her hometown.