Art-School may lack the cinematic gloss required to penetrate the top layers of the Oricon charts, but their U2-based sound -- combining the rawness of alt-rock with an almost impeccable sense of melody and texture -- has resulted in some of the best music the Japanese rock scene has to offer in the 2000s. The band was started in 2000 by vocalist Riki Kinoshita after his two-year stab at a solo career, which produced the mini-album Teenage Last (1999), recorded with the help of support musicians Sakurai Yuichi (drums) and Hidekazu Hinata (bass), who became Art-School members along with guitarist Oyama Jun. Art-School's first release was the Sonic Dead Kids EP (2000) on the indie label 123 Records, followed by the mini-album Mean Streets and then a split tape with fellow Japanese alt-rockers Straightener (2002), a record that achieved huge underground success.
That and the band's appearance at the Fuji Rock Festival caught the attention of Toshiba EMI, who signed Art-School and released their debut LP, Requiem for Innocence, in 2002. A nationwide tour followed, but it placed too big a strain on the band, and in 2003 half the original lineup -- bassist Hinata and guitarist Oyama -- left Art-School, Oyama because he was exhausted and Hinata to play with Straightener and Zazen Boys. They were, however, quickly replaced by Todaka Masafumi on guitar and Takeshi Uno on bass, and the band managed to close the hectic year of 2003 with a new album, Love/Hate. The following year saw the release of a live record, Boys Don't Cry, complete with a DVD, and in 2005 Art-School recorded another studio album, Paradise Lost, which turned out to be their last for Toshiba EMI, as in 2006 the band switched to Pony Canyon/Rocker Room, recording Missing in 2006 and Flora in 2007 on that label. ~ Alexey Eremenko