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    • Near Tokyo
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      • video

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        Shikoku’s many mountains, valleys and proximity to the ocean has made it a hidden gem for rafting, kayaking and canyoning enthusiasts willing to take a step or two further from the Golden Route of Kyoto and Osaka.
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The Kooks

The Kooks say: ‘HEAD NORTH, YOUNG MAN!’

This month we feature newcomers to the music scene, The Kooks, and we get their take on traveling in the U.K.

The Kooks are a four-person team featuring Paul (vocals), Hugh (lead guitar), another Paul (drums) and Max (bass guitar), and most of them are still in their teens. Despite their youth, they signed a contract with a major label only three months after putting the band together, and the release of their debut album in Japan this year marks them as a force with which to be reckoned.

Their sound is both simple and melodious, and it seems to exist outside the ebb-and-flow of what’s “in.” Whether listened to 10 years ago or 10 years from now, their style would be just as well received, making them a bright spot on today’s new music scene.
Regarding travel tips. “We’re based in Brighton, so without question that’s one of our recommendations,” states Hugh. “Actually, it’s the coolest city in the Kingdom. Plenty of music from all genres, and no shortage of places to visit.”   
The band was formed in Brighton which also was the stage for “Quadrophenia” (1979 Franc Roddam film), and the holy land for those into The Who or mod style.

“Next would be Liverpool with its musical history,” chimes in Paul.

Hugh replies with, “That place is definitely cool. Plenty of good vibes. Maybe because it’s in the North, but Liverpool people are different from others. Like, if you’re standing in line at the bus stop, the guy next to you will eventually say, ‘It’s freezing cold out here!’ and you might reply with, ‘You’re damn right!’”
“My hometown, Leeds, is the same way—friendly and open. People just chat with anyone,” comments Peter.

Hugh adds, “There’s a lot of sincere folk in Leeds.”

“That’s why it was so rough when I first moved to London,” Peter confesses. “Even though I’m being open and friendly, talking to folks I don’t know, people are looking at me like, ‘What are you, begging for money?’ Londoners are a lot more closed.”

Hugh says, “Londoners are way too skeptical.”

“Northerners have such a better feel about them,” chips in Peter.

Our conversation moves further and further from the original intent of finding out what places they recommend, but apparently it is best to get out of London and head north.

“Maybe we should recommend Swansea, as well?” Hugh suggests, and everyone laughs uproariously.

Even more laughter as Paul comments, “If you’re into being naughty, I’d head there.”

With Peter confessing, “For stress relief, there’s nothing like Swansea,” the laughter reaches its apex. Perhaps it’s youthful exuberance, but one minute they’re speaking of friendly villages, and the next thing you know it’s getting quite volatile.

Unfortunately I was never able to discover the mystery behind the Southern Wales city of Swansea.


The Kooks debut album and recent releases from other English newcomers.

The Kooks
Inside In/Inside Out
(Toshiba EMI)
Sweet and painful English royal rock. Limited in sounds, but expansive in scale. With this high quality of production on their freshman effort, it’s scary to think what their next album will be like.

Arctic Monkeys
Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m not
The hot wax on the street. Layered and up-tempo, the impatient rhythm makes for a great beat on all the songs. The unique vocals are a big draw.

Turn Against This Land
Rough tastes and youthful punk are mixed with improved arrangements to give life to this album. A great variety of songs keeps this album fresh for a long time.

My Latest Novel
(V2 Records)
Melancholy strings mixed with folk-inspired vocals to bring about a somewhat psychedelic feel to an inexplicable world of beautiful sounds. Can’t miss for those searching out contentment.

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