Not everyone loves the morning time when they have to get up early and crawl their tightly wound selves from out of their dream, but others savor the ritual. Opening the blinds, listening to the sounds of the boiling water pour over coffee grounds, and pressing play on your favorite album; those are some of the moments morning people live for. This morning I did each of those things as I got up: gathered the light from sunrise, brewed my latte, cooked some turkey bacon and voila, my breakfast was served. This morning’s breakfast wasn’t an ordinary one however, it was Japanese.
Japanese Breakfast is the musical child of Michelle Zauner. She released her first solo album two years ago after performing in bands like Little Big League and Post Post. Her “desire to make urgent, sonically upbeat music” was executed rather “dark and heavy-handed” in her debut studio album Psychopomp in 2016, but it worked. Being from Eugene Oregon, Michelle has that indie pop blood running through every song. When Zauner moved back home to the Pacific Northwest to be with her mother while she battled cancer, she started to delve into the feelings that envelop Psychopomp. Her mother’s eventual passing is deeply reflected in the album. Death and sex are two of the most prominent themes captured in her by melancholy and unusual ways. Zauner’s raspy, raw voice shines light on the lyrics, in one song “Jane Cum” she wrote profoundly, “Soulless animal keep feeding on my meat/All my tiny bones between your teeth.” She’s a poet and a damn good musician so the following year she did what anyone should do with those two talents and she made another album.
Soft Sounds From Afar is said by Zauner to have started as “a science fiction musical”. It didn’t turn out to be exactly what the concept had planned, but nonetheless, it references other realms and consists of many spacey, instrumental interludes. Soft Sounds From Afar feels like an ode to the unfamiliar. The song “Machinist” is poppy, catchy, and very futuristic in sound and aesthetic. “Road Head” differs almost completely, but Zauner’s distinctive voice carries the consistency. This is a surfer’s song, interlayered with trippy melodies and noodling guitars.
Japanese Breakfast is indie to the end; It is poppy, rocky, and all things in between. Everyone could find at least one song they like. At the young age of two, Japanese Breakfast has surpassed many confines: the project has performed on NPR‘s Tiny Desk series, done a national tour, and Pitchfork says that Zauner “has mastered the craft of veiling melancholy in full, celebratory shimmer and [has used] themes like outer space and artificial intelligence to dive deeper into the human psyche,” first in Psychopomp and then in Soft Sounds From Afar. So next time you’re having breakfast, make it Japanese. Better yet, have some Japanese Breakfast for dinner by coming out to see Michelle Zauner live at The Taft Theatre on June 15th. Breakfast for dinner, why don’t ya?
When: June 15th, at 8:00 PM
Where: Taft Theatre
How Much: $12