Concert Review: Japanese Breakfast with Yo La Tengo

Artists: Japanese Breakfast with Yo La Tengo
Venue: Roadrunner Boston
Date: September 29, 2022

Susan and I attended our first concert since before the COVID pandemic, and it’s seems to be taking almost as long for me to write about it.  The headliner was Japanese Breakfast, the Philadelphia-based band lead by Michelle Zauner.  Opening was the veteran New Jersey indie rock band Yo La Tengo, who I’ve seen in concert three times before.  It may seem strange that a long-time act like Yo La Tengo would be the openers for a newer band like Japanese Breakfast, but it was clear that there’s a mutual admiration among the two bands and that they enjoyed sharing the ticket.

This was also our first visit to Roadrunner, a venue that opened earlier this year.  As a long time Boston resident, it felt kind of surreal that Roadrunner was among several shiny new buildings in an entire new neighborhood that was plopped on to Guest Street in Brighton while I wasn’t looking.  The venue has a large standing-room area on the floor in front of the stage with a standing-room mezzanine on three sides.  Simple and elegant.

Yo La Tengo played a nine song set, including two of my all-time favorite songs “Let’s Save Tony Orlando’s House” and “Black Flowers.”  They also played “Autumn Sweater” which may be their most famous song.  The multi-talented trio of Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan, and James McNew took turns on lead vocals and a variety of different instruments. They create a really big sound for just three people.  I got the sense that Kaplan would’ve enjoyed spending the night alone in a room with his guitar just as much as he would performing in front of hundreds of people.  Michelle Zauner and guest guitarist Kevin Micka joined the band for the final number “I Heard You Looking,” an extended instrumental jam.  I really admired the professionalism of the artists on stage when they went they suddenly all snapped from improvisation back into the tune.

Japanese Breakfast took the stage next, playing a set primarily made up of songs from the band’s most recent release Jubilee. They opened with “Paprika” during which Zauner struck a gong several times, the lights surrounding gone lit up exciting the audience each time. I should note here that the light design for the whole show was excellent. Susan, being on the short side, couldn’t see the gong and thought Zauner was holding a large bone.

The band followed with “Be Sweet,” my favorite song of Jubilee, so my desires were sated early. Zauner has a lot of charisma and energy so even though I’m only familiar with the most recent album, I thoroughly enjoyed their performance of songs from earlier albums as well as a couple of covers.  The band’s guitarist was also excellent, and he had several great solos, however I have not been able to locate his name.

The concert ended with Ira Kaplan returning to the stage to join Japanese Breakfast on an encore of “Diving Woman,” the opening track from the 2017 album Soft Sounds From Another Planet.  It featured another breakdown of improvisational noise from all the artists performing.  It was a great show and a good night out for all.

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2021 Year in Review: Favorite Albums

I’ve reviewed 23 albums on this blog in 2021, and probably listened to just as many that I didn’t feel compelled to write about. From this list I’ve selected six of my favorite albums that I recommend you give a listen.

Check out my lists of favorite albums from 2014201620172018, 2019, and 2020 as well.

Afrique Victime by Mdou Moctar

The Beginning, the Medium, the End and the Infinite by IKOQWE

Jubilee by Japanese Breakfast

Menneskekollektivet by Lost Girls

Really From by Really From

They’re Calling Me Home by Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi

2021 Year in Review: Favorite Songs

Below are 15 of my favorite songs from 2021. Also check out my more expansive playlist of 60 great songs from the past year on Tidal and Spotify!




Frances Forever – “space girl”

Anna B Savage – “Baby Grand”


Danz CM – “Something More”

Dominique Fils-Aimé – “While We Wait”

Robin Foster · Ed Dowie – “Dear Florence”

Emily Scott Robinson – “Let ’em Burn”

Freedom Fry – “Le Point Zéro”

Japanese Breakfast – “Be Sweet”

Olivia Rodrigo – “good 4 u”

Orla Gartland – You’re Not Special, Babe

Ric Wilson – “Fight Like Ida B & Marsha P”

Snail Mail – “Valentine”

Tamar Aphek – “CROSSBOW”

Valerie June – Call Me A Fool [feat. Carla Thomas]

Favorite Songs by Year, 1973-2020

1973 1974 1975 1976
1977 1978 1979 1980
1981 1982 1983 1984
1985 1986 1987 1988
1989 1990 1991 1992
1993 1994 1995 1996
1997 1998 1999 2000
2001 2002 2003 2004
2005 2006 2007 2008
2009 2010 2011 2012
2013 2014 2015 2016
2017 2018 2019 2020


Album Review: Jubilee by Japanese Breakfast

Album: Jubilee
Artist: Japanese Breakfast
Release Date: June 4, 2021
Label: Dead Oceans
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Paprika”
  • “Be Sweet”
  • “Savage Good Boy”


Japanese Breakfast is an indie pop project lead by Michelle Zauner.  The album is full of joyful pop sounds that hit right just now.  I like the sonically dense musical arrangements and the interplay between lead and backup up vocals.  The songs are also hooky as heck!

Rating: ****

Monthly Mixtape – April 2021

La Femme :: “Le Sang De Mon Prochain”

Rachel Lime :: “Voyager 3”

Charm of Finches :: “Treading Water”

Bathtub Cig :: “Quarantine Dream”

Japanese Breakfast :: “Be Sweet”

Gilligan Moss ::  “GM from GM:)”

Brijean :: “Feelings”

Previous Mixtapes: