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Bands We Like: Japanese Songwriter Miwa Gemini’s Eerie Americana MTV Iggy Blog MTV Iggy – Global Pop Culture, Latest Trends and New Music.

Singer-songwriter Miwa Gemini grew up in Japan studying the piano and listening to The Carpenters. She started writing songs on the guitar as a teenager, but didn’t seriously pursue her strange, dark country-folk leanings until she moved to New York to study photography.

Her approach to Americana is fairly traditional but that doesn’t mean it’s predictable or staid. She’s an artist, like My Brightest Diamond, who, having received formal musical training, starts out with all the tools of the trade arrayed in front of her. Considering that, it’s remarkable that she would gravitate toward the often gloomy sounds of old-time US music, taking up the banjo and mandolin, in addition to the guitar.

The multi-instrumentalist approaches those sounds with a haunting theatricality and indie rock sincerity that makes Mirah her closest musical cousin. But there is so much breadth to her music that it’s hard to link her to any one influence. She has written fuzzed-out blues stompers where she channels Holly Golightly and wistful ballads that touch on Cat Power’s musical universe. And even on, say, a simple song about a picnic, an edge of Nick Cave-style danger seems to lurk around every corner.

Her forthcoming third LP The Fantastic Lies of Grizzly Rose promises to be a fanciful and musically intricate vision that centers on the mysterious and larger-than-life heroine of the album’s title.

If the song “Goodnight Trail” off the album is at all representative, Miwa Gemini’s lyrical world is growing more surreal, while her relationship with her country and folk source materials is growing more profound and intimate. There’s something magic about the moaning accordion and her sighing delivery in the song that evokes cool night winds and old legends no one remembers. But we’ll have to wait until Grizzly Rose comes out May 31 to get the whole story.


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