I fucking love Lamp

You might think that the profanity in the above post title is completely unnecessary. If you do, you’re clearly not yet aware of how fucking much I actually love Lamp.

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You know how every once in a while you find a band that just immediately grabs you by the balls? (If you’re a girl or a castrato singer, consider that a figure of speech.) Someone recommends you a song on YouTube and you go “huh, well that actually sounds really damn good.” You download the album with the track on it and you find that the rest of the songs on it sound just as good. Then you proceed to listen to their entire discography and pretty soon you’ve discovered that every single thing they’ve put out is pure perfection. You know that feeling?

You invite a friend over to your place and you tell them that there’s this band that you’re hooked on lately. You throw all of their songs in your music player and — brimming with confidence — you tell your friend to click on any damned song off the playlist and you guarantee it’ll be awesome. They click on something, you recognize which song it is from the first couple of seconds and you go “YESSS!!! I FUCKING LOVE THIS SONG!” You suddenly want to shower your friend in alcohol just because of their random song choice. You know what I’m talking about?

That’s what’s currently happening with me and Lamp.


Just like my imaginary drunken friend, I could’ve picked any song to introduce them to you with, but here’s one of the few with a music video to go along with it.

So what are Lamp all about?

Well, as you can probably gather from the above video, they’re a three-piece Japanese band that’s music-wise firmly stuck in the 70’s. Their members are Nagai Yuusuke (vocals, bass, guitar, keyboards), Someya Taiyou (guitar) and Sakakibara Kaori (vocals, flute, accordion). If it weren’t for the modern-sounding production (not in a bad way), the non-existent vinyl crackle and the occasional music video that’s actually available in 720p, you could perhaps fool someone into thinking they really were just another 70’s band. And if the members of Lamp heard me saying this, I think they’d take it as nothing but a compliment.

But the thing is… their songs just sound so ridiculously good to my ears.

Obviously, there’s plenty of nods to The Beatles, old progressive rock, and various other music from the 60’s and 70’s. The band has their own blog in which they occasionally post stuff from 60’s/70’s non-Japanese artists that they may or may not be influenced by. I can honestly claim to knowing only a mere handful of the bands that they link to. Still, whatever their influences might be, their melodies are just impeccable. It’s almost absurd.

They’re quite varied as far as instrumentation goes. Lots of male/female vocal interplay, perhaps more acoustic than electric guitar, lots of analog synths, flute… a lot of the time it’s definitely on the mellow side of things, but that’s not to say they don’t have their higher tempo songs as well, and every once in a while they’ll whip out an electric guitar riff that just makes you think “…where the hell did that come from?!” Many of their songs not only feature mellotron, but are almost drenched in it (flute as well as strings sounds). The above song is a great example — I think there was like one riff on there without any mellotron on it.

I was reading their blog and, when commenting on the above song from their latest album Yume, Nagai said that he had doubts about whether he would ever be able to write a song better than this. I’m not making this up. Though it originally took some listens before it clicked with me (like all the best music usually does), I can now hear why he might’ve thought so — quite frankly I find it not only fucking incredible but also beautiful, and when the song finally makes its way around into the chorus for the last time, it feels so god damn satisfying.

Still, strangely I feel quite confident that Nagai will prove himself wrong over time.

Sort of like the late Beatles, Lamp, too, are mostly a studio band. They only rarely play live because, according to them, they suck at playing their instruments (which obviously doesn’t come across in their recorded material). And that’s fine, because it could well be that music of this kind is best enjoyed in solitude with only a good pair of headphones and perhaps a drink of your choice to keep you company. Certainly that’s what Lamp themselves recommend.

What’s great about Lamp is how shameless they are about their fondness for nostalgia and if there’s one word that I think would best describe them, it’s “dreamy.” Most obviously there’s the fact that everything about their wonderful, nostalgia-tinged music is filtered through an appreciation for the times of past, all the way down to their song and album titles: 回想 (“Reminisce”), ため息の行方 (“The Sigh’s Whereabouts”), 残像のスケッチ (“Afterimage Sketch”), 二人のいた風景 (“The Scenery We Shared”), 夢をみたくて (“Wanting to Dream”), ゆめうつつ (“Half Asleep and Half Awake”), 二十歳の恋 (“The Love of a Twenty-Year-Old”), 残光 (“Afterglow”)… I could go on.

But it’s not just the titles themselves. Listening to Lamp’s music, it so often does a perfect job of evoking that feeling youthful nostalgia you start experiencing as an adult. It’s the weirdest thing though. I’m a bearded, baldheaded, angry looking Finnish guy; it shouldn’t make me feel this way. If anything, I should be finding it thoroughly offensive to my manliness.

And yet…

I’m not sure if nostalgia is even the right word for the feeling I’m trying to describe. It’s the kind of longing for something that never even happened. Or maybe not even so much a longing per se… more like a melancholy wistfulness for an imagined memory. If that makes any sense. I mean hell, I’m only in my twenties now; I still remember my youth (some would say I’m still in the midst of it) — it wasn’t all that rich in life-altering memories that I’ll be looking back to in my fifties, thinking that that was the highlight of my entire life. Well, I would at least certainly hope not.

But my inconsequential feelings of sentimentality aside; perhaps Lamp evoking these feelings in me speaks much less about me than it does about Lamp knowing exactly what they’re doing.

Lamp has released a total of eight albums (a couple of them mini-albums). If you like the songs I’ve linked here, you would probably be doing yourself a favor by checking them out. I don’t think any of their releases are likely to disappoint you, but perhaps a good starting place would be one of the latest three: Yume (2014), Tokyo Utopia Tsuushin (2011) or Hachigatsu no Shijou (2010).

I think that describes my love of Lamp in a nutshell. I will publish this post now, but I already know that by this time next week I’ll be kicking myself in the head for forgetting to mention something absolutely crucial about them that would’ve gotten hundreds more to check them out.

Oh well. I’m sure the music will speak for itself.

34 comments

  1. Thanks for the write-up! I’ve been a Lamp lover for a few years now and it was awesome to read another person’s (obviously a huge fan!) opinion on them. I agree with you about the “longing” quality of their music. One of the things that makes them so captivating to me is the fact that it’s hard to pin down their music into easy genre classifications. For instance, their last.fm biography refers to them as a jazz/indie pop/alternative group… That misses the mark completely.

    I was surprised to see that they don’t like doing lives! I just saw this video last week and I think they sound beautiful! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bF1quEgtmZ8
    In fact, I was surprised just how well that song translated to live performance!

    1. Yeah, they really avoid playing live unfortunately, even though for example the video you linked is just amazing. I was contemplating on whether or not to go to that very show for the longest time, but in the end I didn’t. After I saw what the setlist for that show was like, I’m hitting myself in the face for it.

      In any case, my Lamp addiction still continues. It was only yesterday that I last spent a couple of hours of listening to them. Can’t get enough…

      Thanks a lot for the comment!

  2. OMG really, finally someone has talk about Lamp band… Ive been in love with lamp’s music over a year. Their songs are just marvelous! Actually i love their song only because the melody of their songs are very very nice to hear. I wonder it would be nice if i know and understand the lyrics too. I hope someone could post another about lyrics and the translation of Lamp’s songs.

    1. Hey intan! Good to see another Lamp fan. I translated their song “Symphony” into English a couple of months back here. I hope to translate other songs by them on that site, too, and I’ve been working to translate a long interview by them as well. No ETA on either of those things though.

      1. Whoa, thats great! Thank you for the translation. Btw can i ask you a favor to translate another their song lyrics? Like “mood romantica” or “木洩陽の季節” (sorry i just copy-paste it hehe). These songs are my most favorite. I got curious about the meaning of the songs. I’ll thank a lot on you if you do.

    2. Hi, I am Andes from Jakarta.

      Well, actually I found LAMP after I saw the comment from someone talk about them in Mondo Gascaro channel.

      I open their video in Youtube, and you know what, for me, the good music is the music which can keep people to listen it until finish. But the magic music, is the music which give people having ear-gasm from the first 5 second until the end.
      And LAMP is the one of band who brings magic music.

      I am just fallin love with them from first 5 second. Its unbelievable, since I can not find magical music like this again in Japan except Tatsuro Yamashita, Toshiki Kadomatsu and Ryuichi Sakamoto, which you know, I just can talk about their music with old folks. haha.

      But LAMP, is magical.

      Thank you for writing this article. And now I wonder how to get their lyric. Especially for this song.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z68vCaHtJEw

      cheers!!

  3. Great writing, and i definitely can relate to those feelings of yours. i’ve been listening to Lamp for years and, a bit bragging i guest, got Lamp as my top 5 on last.fm (okay ignore this one). But seriously, thanks. For the translation of the interview (and that one from 2011 when they released Tokyo Utopia Tsuushin). Now, after ages of not-knowing and half-translated texts, i can finally understand their interviews! haha!

    Last June i went to Japan, among other things, to find their albums and buy it (since it’s not available here in Indonesia). But didn’t find it. The ones i found were for rent. dang!

    Keep up the good work, knowing that you have one more follower 🙂

    1. Hey Aji-san! Thanks for the comment.

      That’s a shame you couldn’t find their albums here. It appears several of them are currently out-of-print, too, which probably makes it doubly hard to find them. In any case, I’m glad you liked the translations. There will be more to come… 🙂

  4. Hi there! Thanks for sharing ur love for lamp with us. I enjoyed the post and I’m happy to find a place to share my thoughts about this band! I discovered them recently. I’m a musician and a current 日本語 student so I fell in love with their unique musical language. You see, I felt as if Lamp was speaking to me through music and as if I’ve known them for years. I think they are fantastic. I agree 100% on “how” to listen to them, you know, with a drink and some high-quality earphones, alone in ur living room or other nice spots.

    It’s like a personal friend, music u cannot buy, music that even if you buy or not, you have to be lucky to be able to feel it. I was so lucky to randomly stumble upon them. Lamp is now part of my personal music space. I enjoy them as I enjoy a good expensive pizza on a dinner with myself and just me. But remember, “happiness only real when shared”. That’s why I felt so satisfied of finding this awesome post and being able to share my opinion with all u guys! Hope u enjoy them as much as I do even if we’re all from different parts of the world. I salute you!

  5. Soooo glad to find some people that love Lamp as much (hell, probably more) than I do. I’ve also yet to find a song by them that i dislike. Everything they create is….well its like you said, it’s simply hard to explain. Absolutely beautiful music. They quickly became one of my all-time favorite bands. Even if they “suck” at playing their instruments, i hope i can see them live one day!

    1. Trying to find a Lamp song to dislike… Yeah, you’d have your work cut out for you. 😉 Having had the privilege of finally seeing Lamp live a couple of months ago, it was very much worth going — twice. While it may be that they are indeed more of an “album band,” it was still amazing seeing them in a live setting as well. Definitely worth catching them live, if you ever get the chance to.

  6. i stumbled upon your blog post while searching for more information about lamp (just recently found out about them while randomly clicking on youtube lol) and I AGREE ON EVERYTHING YOU SAID ABOUT THEM IN YOUR POST!!! especially how it evokes that kind of weird nostalgia – how you’re actually reminiscing about an ‘imaginary memory’, haha.

    i’m just very happy to come across this blog post and to see how their music has gained so much love from so many people! 🙂

  7. Lamp is pretty goddamn cool, but you should hear their ‘older brother’ band called “Fluorescent Lightbulb”.

    1. Hello! Just wanted to ask if anyone knows other japanese bands with the sane quality and gender inclination as Lamp. I’m going to Japan on August and want to be able to watch some GOOD BANDS (not j-pop and that #%#) live. Any kind of jazzy pop or folky japanese new artists. Thanks everybody! Greetings from Costa Rica :3

  8. Hello Henkka, I’m glad that someone also like Lamp. Do you, in case have the lyrics of songs from Tokyou utopia Jyuushin? I’ve been searching this whole time but I can’t find the lyrics for “きみとぼくとのさよならに” and “恋人と雨雲”. I will be very grateful if you have it and don’t mind share it with me. I don’t need it to be translated, I’m still studying but I can read japanese. So maybe I can help the translations process too. Thank you!

    1. No, sorry. I don’t have any of their lyrics in any (digital) form unfortunately, nor do I know of a site that does.

  9. Hello guys! Lamp fan over here. Do any of you fans know where I can find future concerts? I’m traveling to Japan in August and I would love to watch them live. Thanks!

    1. Hey Danny. Lamp usually only play only a handful of shows a year (if that), and they haven’t announced any upcoming ones as I’m writing this.

  10. Hi, I’m glad to meet another fellow LAMP fans.

    Do you know where to buy their albums? *Be it the digital or physical one

    Greetings from Germany

  11. please listen to “SORE”. A band from jakarta. they’re good as well. Same feeling when i found LAMP.

  12. listen to lamp is like im listen to sigur ros i dont understand the lyrics but i can enjoy and feel the atmosphere anyway and it’s like magic dude this guys are fuckin awesome so glad to found this blog thanks for share i agreed with all you said about this band but i still search for a translate lyric that i still can’t found 🙁
    Greetings from indonesia

  13. I love them too. My new favourite band of all time! Thanks for the blog and the links to buy the albums.

  14. i’m from Indonesia and i love lamp too. i want to buy their album but very hard to find i here. I want to download their album but can’t find their album genso and new album in 2017. Help me pls.

    1. Hey hendriawan. Lamp Gensou and Ame ni Hana are available for purchase on CD at Lamp’s Bandcamp page:
      https://botanicalhouse.bandcamp.com/album/lamp-phantasma-cd-vinyl-2008
      https://botanicalhouse.bandcamp.com/album/cd-lamp-early-home-demo-tracks-2000-2002-rain-and-flowers

      Ame ni Hana is unfortunately not available digitally, but Lamp Gensou is available on iTunes, at least: https://itunes.apple.com/jp/album/%E3%83%A9%E3%83%B3%E3%83%97%E5%B9%BB%E6%83%B3/id297101313

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