[Profile] A+ Lips is a brainchild of a Tokyo-born New Yorker-rocker Motoko Kawasaki, graciously infused with the organic guitars by Eric Barlow. Making the album 'Euphorian Lips' is all about experimentation and risk-taking, primarily recorded by Motoko (vocals, guitars) and Eric Barlow (guitars), joined by the guest musicians including Todd Rowen (drums), Damon Smith (bass). And one of the unexpected key elements is the heavily edited, recycled drum beats originally played by Dan Crow on the tunes for Cahies, Motoko's Boston-based band of the late 90's. Motoko's wide-ranging musical experience including her childhood classical piano lessons, high school girl rock band, Japanese pop song writing in youth, and the band in her Boston era contributes A+ Lips' multifaceted set of songs. * * * 'The beauty of A+ Lips is the way Motoko blends a wide range of styles. Here are a few bands/people that come to mind for me: Damien Rice, Interpol, Cat Power, Keren Ann, PJ Harvey, Mazzy Starr, Patti Smith, The Pretenders, Stereolab to name just a few.' - Jeremy Medoff, Filmmaker * * * [Review] The confidence of A+ Lips will steal up on you and tap you on the shoulder. Vocalist and songwriter Motoko Kawasaki will tease at your attention with innocent titles such as 'Your Moon Song,' or 'Optimistic Fool.' And the band's website song menu reads like a mood watch decoder with each song ranked by a refreshing mood guide value. But dive into this package and you are met with what can be described as arena rock turned atmospheric. My own listening to the Doves has of course tilted my ears this way when it comes to A+ Lips, but you might agree. If you listen at either low or high volumes, it's equally satisfying. Motoko, in her early self-described girl-rock-band days in Tokyo, speaks of the influence of Pat Benatar. Fair enough, but years later, Motoko's voice is closer to the sound of Chryssie Hynde -- only slightly trimmed at the edges. Interestingly, Motoko's perfect pop intonation is a performance-tuned style that blends a wanderlustful lifetime in cities such as Tokyo, Paris, Boston and New York. 'Stolen Kisses' is like a glass of wine, has roasted essences of Hole and a kick Galaxy 500 song of old, to these ears, partly because the chord progression is so wonderfully dissonant and seemingly loud, like an arena band could be. 'Filled' also feel this way. Listen to the last track - 'Paris Cyber' - as it becomes a three-part sound of guitar, syncopated pop percussion, and a haunting voice of a woman remembering an affair that began with the intensity of leaving pots to boil on the stove while in the other room.. In her other life, Motoko is a Reiki Master. Reiki is a whole-body, relaxation treatment that isn't a massage but about energy flow from, say, practitioner to person or person to atmosphere. And this energy flow attracts Motoko and surfaces in the titles of her songs. This might make for a lot of cute liner copy about vibrations and the like, but the tension between healing and rocking out in private recording spaces and small venues is intoxicating to her. Sometimes this duality is in sync; others, not. And that's okay, if not sought out. As she remarks, 'I'm completely honest to myself and it just feels good when a new element flows.. I feel like I have no fear.' Witness the transition of A+ Lips as it evolves. © 2005 Peter Meitzler.
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