Far and away the most successful act to emerge from the chiptune movement, Anamanaguchi have scored video games, performed on national late-night television, and charted in the Billboard 200. Combining the setup of a traditional four-piece rock band with the digitized sounds of a hacked 1985 Nintendo game system, the group make energetic, neon-splashed electro-punk equally influenced by Weezer and the Beach Boys as well as J-pop and old-skool NES games. Formed in 2004, the band became famous for its unorthodox music-making methods, based on writing melodies on the Nerdtracker II program, layering conventional instruments over the top, and feeding them through an NES while performing live. Initially releasing their music through netlabel 8bitpeoples as well as their own website, the band received significant mainstream exposure when they composed the music for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game in 2010. The group continued to perform elaborate concerts and release ambitious studio albums Endless Fantasy (2013) and [USA] (2019), in addition to further video game work. The group consists of Peter Berkman, bassist James DeVito, guitarist Ary Warnaar, and drummer Luke Silas. After extensively touring in the U.S. and U.K. and the release of their debut album, Dawn Metropolis, free through their website in 2009, they got their big break a year later when they were approached by Ubisoft to record the soundtrack for their video game adaptation of the Michael Cera movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. The album debuted at number three on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, while their music has also been used in the Wii title Bit.Trip Runner and multi-console versions of Rock Band. Before the recording of their next album, the group launched a Kickstarter campaign that ended up raising five times what they asked for, allowing the band to launch an extensive tour with a custom-built stage and light show. Endless Fantasy was released in spring of 2013 on their own dream.hax label, and it topped the Heatseekers chart. The band performed the album's title track on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The next year, they released "Pop It," a J-pop-inspired single featuring vocals by a female singer known as Meesh. The catchy track was featured in commercials for Target's fall style collection. In early 2016, while preparing their next album, Anamanaguchi surprised fans by releasing a video game called Capsule Silence XXIV, including 30 new pieces of music from the band. It was followed later that year by the single "Miku," which featured an appearance by Japanese virtual pop star Hatsune Miku. After headlining two virtual music festivals conducted entirely in Minecraft, Anamanaguchi released their long-promised third studio album, [USA], in 2019, this time through Polyvinyl Records.
© Jon O'Brien /TiVo
© Jon O'Brien /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 14, 2013 | Polyvinyl Records
After doing the soundtrack for the 2010 Scott Pilgrim video game, New York 8-bit geniuses Anamanaguchi dove headfirst into the recording of their second album. Three years (and many ideas, plans, and diversions) later, the 22-song Endless Fantasy finally saw the light of day in early 2013 on their own dream.hax label. All the time and effort put into recording the music paid off in the end, and the album is something of an 8-bit masterpiece. The band uses hacked Nintendo systems, Game Boys, and live instruments to make (mostly) instrumental music that is blindingly bright and insanely fun. They liken their music to teenaged nights listening to Weezer and playing video games, and they aren't far off. It also sounds a lot like what one would imagine for an Andrew W.K. video game soundtrack, full of energy and possessing an almost heavy metal power when the massed cartridges and guitars form into a tightly wound, ultra-powerful ball of sound. The songs are almost all as catchy as lice in a preschool, with the game consoles playing super hooky melodies and the instruments crashing along behind. Apart from a couple quiet transitional pieces of near-classical calm, there's not a single moment that isn't joyous fun as the band pushes down on the happiness throttle and never lets up -- sometimes sounding like the house band at the giddiest emo-pop (minus the emo) party ever, other times like they were doing the theme music for a super nerdy podcast (which isn't far off since they do that for The Nerdist). The occasional vocal interludes (three in all) show that they aren't a one-dimensional trick band; "Japan Air" bounces frantically like Puffy AmiYumi at +8, "Prom Night" sounds almost like it could be a club hit as the beat pounds along and Bianca Raquel's pleading vocals come across like a cartoon Katy Perry. As impressive as their hacking skills may be, the group's true strength is that if you stripped away the bits and chips, the songs underneath are strong enough to stand on their own. The beauty is that you don't have to strip away anything, because everything happens on Endless Fantasy all the time! It's a one-stop shop for all the goofy sounds, frenetic energy, and fast-paced fun one music fan can handle. Anamanaguchi may not have invented chiptune or 8-bit music, but they've pretty much perfected it. © Tim Sendra /TiVo