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How to Live With a Phantom

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Shintaro Sakamoto was a leading force in Japan’s Yura Yura Teikoku, a band that delighted in exploring the wandering, loose styles of vintage American rock. From psych-pop to stoner rock, YYT clearly studied the sounds of the ‘60s and, more so, the ‘70s. On this solo outing by Sakamoto, the guitarist/vocalist/composer jumps wholly (and without irony) into ‘70s AM radio, with songs recalling artists like War, Todd Rundgren, and Bread. “In a Phantom Mood” is breezy and catchy (it’s saying something that even with Japanese lyrics, many of these songs stay with non-Japanese speakers), and the flighty guitars and sunny female backup vocals carry a Tropicalia flavor. The easy, flowing funk on songs like “You Just Decided” and “Mask on Mask” features congas and guitar effects not heard since 1974, while “A Stick and Stones” slows down the show to a minimal, sensuous beat woven with not much more than a spare bass line, a cymbal, and restrained keyboard tones, yet it feels quite substantial. If these soulful, laidback grooves had been made by a Brooklyn band, they’d be on the year-end favorites lists of bloggers everywhere. Go ahead, be brave.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

The former leader of Japanese psych rockers Yura Yura Teikoku, Shintaro Sakamoto struck out on his own in 2010 almost immediately after the group disbanded. Inspired by breezy '70s pop from around the world, ranging from bossa nova to folk-rock to sounds popular in his homeland, Sakamoto began recording a set of songs almost completely by himself -- except for female backing vocals, percussion, and woodwinds. The results, How to Live with a Phantom, were released in 2012. Early in 2014, Sakamoto...
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How to Live With a Phantom, Shintaro Sakamoto
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