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About Kazuyoshi Saito

With his roots firmly in folk, Japanese rocker Kazuyoshi Saito first made his mark in 1993, with the highly introspective album Aoi Sora No Shita. Critics hailed Saito's authenticity, which would help him to stand out in the haze of manufactured pop that hangs heavy over Tokyo's music scene. With newfound acclaim, Saito began exploring additional influences and adding elements of pop and jazz to his mix. Releasing four albums in three years, success came quickly; his albums hit high marks on the Oricon charts regularly. After a short break, Saito again returned to the scene in 1999, with a more pop-heavy sound and an infusion of English lyrics. However, the signature elements of Saito's sound remained intact — unmanipulated and scratchy vocals, and a strong rhythm in the guitar. By 2001, however, with the albums Rocket and 35 Stones, Saito had retreated to his original loves: rock and folk. Live appearances often involved a session in full folk-mode, with acoustic guitar and a harmonica (often on a neck-brace harmonica holder à la Dylan, no less). With a new following (and the return of some early fans who had lost interest during his pop phase), Saito continued recording and touring, exploring blues and blues-inflected rock along the way. 2008 saw the release of both a new album (I Love Me) and a compilation (15th Anniversary Box), both of which peaked in the Top Ten of the Oricon charts.

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