There have been plenty of media about musical acts over the years, but every once in a while the bands or artists portrayed are so good or charismatic that you wish they were real. Here are three such acts.
Kessoku Band-Bocchi the Rock!
The most recent entry on this list, Kessoku Band rules the (tiny) stages of Shimo-Kitazawa with their soul-shredding riffs, shining harmonies, and powerful vocals. With the terminally awkward Gotoh “Bocchi” Hitori on first guitar, super extrovert Kita Ikuyo on vocals and second guitar, and self-aggrandizing weirdo Yamada Ryou on bass, all rounded out by band leader and designated cat wrangler Ijichi Nijika on drums, Kessoku Band has a wide variety of temperaments coming together under its banner.
The stars of the 2022 anime Bocchi the Rock! (adapted from a manga of the same name), Kessoku Band could be considered a more grounded take on K-on!. Instead of a school club, for instance, the band is a project they pursue outside of school and the girls all have side-gigs in order to pay for their instruments and club fees. Plus, while the show fits squarely into the “cute girls doing cute things” slice-of-life subgenre, it isn’t anywhere near as twee as some entries.
In keeping with the show’s genre, the band generally functions as a tight unit, with the members rarely ever clashing with each other seriously. That does not mean they exist in blissful harmony, however. Ryou’s spaciness and egotistical nature frequently tests Nijika’s patience, and that’s when Ryou isn’t scamming Bocchi into picking up her lunch tab. Kita flaked out on the band when she first joined, and her extroversion exhausts Bocchi. And speaking of Bocchi, though she’s reasonably functional when keeping to her routine, her social awkwardness frequently requires all three of the other members to chaperone her any time she leaves her comfort zone.
But it generally doesn’t matter because, their melodic hard rock-cum-cuddlecore sound enraptures audiences in Tokyo’s live house scene and they have serious on-stage chemistry. Bocchi in particular stands out with her near virtuoso skill level, which puts her, and by extension Kessoku Band, ahead of most acts despite being a high school freshman. Of course, the other members are no slouches either. Despite her ego, Ryou is legitimately skilled with her bass and can always throw down a solid line for everyone. Kita’s powerful alto and dexterous melodic-sense allow her to make herself heard even as her bandmates drown the room in sick riffs. Finally, besides being the Dave Grohl to everyone else’s Foo Fighters, Nijika works hard to be the best drummer she can.
In all, in spite of their eccentricities, they are a solid act that any club would be lucky to feature.
Ellen Ames-Streets of Fire
in another place, in another time, Ellen Ames and the Attackers rule the charts. Stright from the rough-and-tumble Richmond neighborhood of a certain city, Ellen Ames’s soaring voice and eye for talent allowed her, with the help of manager Billy Fish, to create a formidable brand with a distinctive mix of 50s rock and energetic pop-opera.
It’s certainly no bed of roses though. Ellen’s success has made her a target, especially for a madman named Raven and his vicious motorcycle gang, who kidnap her and ransom her to her manager. All is not lost though, because her ex-boyfriend has just rolled back into town, ready to throw down. But then, that’s just another Saturday night in this city.
While functioning as more of a plot device than a character in her own right, Ellen Ames is essential in bringing Walter Hill’s unique retro universe to life. Like her music, the setting of the film Streets of Fire seems to take place in a world that mixes elements of both the 1950s and the 1980s, yet truly belongs to neither decade. Instead, it exists as a Platonic ideal of a gritty city where everyone’s a character and anything can, and will, happen.
The hardly robs Ames of her musical potency, however. Though only a few of her own songs feature, they are all gutsy, electrifying crowd pleasers. Their music begins and ends with Ellen’s powerful voice, which on its own can draw any audience into her performances.
Considering that she comes from a world of music, that she stands out at all is a mark of quality indeed. The film’s final scene, which is her giving a concert to celebrate not being dead, ends the film on the right note. It is also probably some of the best concert footage ever shot, outdoing many actual concert films.
Jeriko One-Strange Days
In a cyberpunk 1999 that never happened, rapper Jeriko One is a man with the ear of the people.
In this world, devices called SQUIDs allow for the direct recording of memories. Of course, a booming underground business exists where people record everything from sexual encounters to robberies, and even death itself. And sometimes these devices end up in places and record things that those in authority really wish they hadn’t.
Like the murder of Jeriko One.
Mirroring the Rodney King riots, racial divisions in this alternate late 1990s have left Los Angeles a virtual warzone. Street crime is rampant, and police corruption eats away at the societal fabric of the city. Jeriko One has emerged as a voice for the black community as well as for greater societal change. While much closer to rap than hip-hop, the themes of his work fit comfortably within consciousness hip-hop. Especially his highlighting of racial and economic issues, with a particular emphasis on holding those in power accountable for those issues. His music is likewise hard-hitting and direct.
Unfortunately, rogue LAPD cops just can’t take criticism and confront Jeriko as he and his entourage are out for a drive. At first, it just looks like they want to harass Jeriko One by bringing him in on a spurious traffic charge, but then a particularly nasty and unstable cop shoots Jeriko dead.
However, one of the party girls was wearing a SQUID rig in order to record her time with Jeriko One under the orders of the head of his record label. Which he had done in order to monitor Jeriko out of sheer paranoia. And it’s her and Jeriko One’s murders that kick off the film.
While the material that Jeriko One is briefly shown performing in the film is notably lackluster, he really shines on the soundtrack. Which is unfortunately rather hard to come by. However, what truly makes him a great fictional artist is his relevance both inside and outside the world of Strange Days.
Leave a Reply