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Yoshida Brothers Vital Stats
Ryoichiro
Birthplace: Noboribetsu, Hokkaido Japan
Birthday: July 26, 1977
Height: 172cm
Blood type: A

Kenichi
Birthplace: Noboribetsu, Hokkaido Japan
Birthday: Dec 16, 1979
Height: 172cm
Blood type: A


Best of Yoshida Brothers
Released June 3rd, 2008
1 Storm
2 Kodo (Hishou Version)
3 Overland Blues
4 A Hill With No Name
5 Modern (Hishou Version)
6 Saiun
7 Passion
8 My Heart Holds
9 Blooming
10 Cherry Blossoms in Winter
11 Kodo (Inside The Sun Remix)
12 Rising
13 Morricone

See their Official site and MySpace page for more music info.

Best of Yoshida Brothers

Best of Yoshida Brothers - click for full size Hailing from the northern most island of Japan, the Yoshida Brothers burst onto the world stage in 1999 with something highly unique: a modern take on the traditional three-stringed instrument called the Shamisen. After four releases to North American the time was finally right for a greatest hits album. Best of Yoshida Brothers was released on June 3rd, 2008.

Best of Yoshida Brothers begins with a solitary female voice slowing calling out in concert with the unmistakable sound of the Shamisen. This eerie beginning of "Storm" quickly transforms into a powerful melody dominated by the Shamisen and backed heavily by drums and electric bass. The effect produced is at once memorable and well representative of the modern synthesis that brothers Ryoichiro and Kenichi Yoshida have brought to their modern incarnation of traditional Japanese music.

The second track, "Kodo," is perhaps best known to most people as the more classical version of the theme song used in the recent commercials for the Nintendo Wii. It displays the more modest sound of the Shamisen unaccompanied by anything else other than the Yoshida brothers' occasional vocal highlights.

"Overland Blues" is perhaps the most unique song on the album. As the title implies this is a bluesy track through and through. A simple, catchy Shamisen intro is suddenly joined by the distinct twangs of a blues guitar. The crisp mixing of Shamisen and guitar produced a swaying rhythm that almost demands the listener's body to move in time with it. A lofty chorus of strings near the end transforms this track into a truly unique mixing of East and West.

"A Hill With No Name" shows the depths of melancholy sadness that the Yoshida Brothers are able to bring forth with their classical instrument. Ryoichiro, the older of the two, once said "the Shamisen is a part of my body." Perhaps it's that level of bonding with their music that lets the listener so easily feel the deep emotions in the simple but beautiful melody of this song.

Track eight, "My Heart Holds," takes the album into a more nostalgic mood. Here their Shamisen playing is more subtle, more reaching into the heart for the emotions of quiet and perhaps bittersweet reflections.

Track nine, "Blooming," transforms us back into their fast paced classic sound. Here we again have only their Shamisens strumming out the song.

Track ten, "Cherry Blossoms in Winter," begins with the classic sounds of Japanese drums. The Shamisen powered Japanese melody is superb and at once memorable. The modern musical accompaniment is subtle, giving form to the song while still allowing the Shamisens to carry forward with their intimate, precious melody like the falling blossoms of the title.

Track 11 presents the "Inside of Sun Remix of Kodo," from the Nintendo Wii commercial. This version features an all out rock and roll accompaniment. The contrast between the two versions is interesting, giving the listener the chance to hear the same song with both classical and fully modern backings.

If a rock group were looking for one song to cover then track 12, "Rising," would be the one. It's the most heavily accompanied song on the album and one that would easily lend itself to a vocal version. Here their Shamisens sound more like rocking guitars, producing a powerful song with just enough of their traditional sound to be identifiable as the Yoshida Brothers -- or perhaps one should say the Yoshida Brother at play.

Best of the Yoshida Brothers closes with "Morricone," a song pairing their Shamisens with an electric guitar. The song features several distinct changes of mood and mixing of instruments as if the whole album were being retold. After several long seconds of near silence the song finishes with a curious merging of different sounds, reminiscent of some of the works of Jimmy Hendrix. It's a fitting way to end this amazing combination of both East and West and traditional and modern music.


Review by Andrew of J-Pop World, June 5th, 2008. For more info checkout the Yoshida Brothers' official site and MySpace page as well as our own Yoshida Brothers Interview.