Picks of the Week #11

  • South Penguin – ‘Alaska’

A new comet has arrived in the Japanese indie galaxy. Four-piece band South Penguin made their debut this July with their EP Alaska. Their title track ‘Alaska’ coaxes a hazy psychedelic/new wave sound world filled with winding guitar colours, pulsing drums and mellow vocals. A fleeting clamorous spell interferes the indulgent flow of the track, but all in an attempt to enrich the nostalgic vibes of South Penguin’s music.

  • ふくろうず Fukurouzu – うららのLa ‘Urara no La’

Laden with melancholy and floating sensations, うららのLa ‘Urara no La’ is a gorgeous number by J-pop trio ふくろうず Fukurouzu to fit into your summer soundtrack. Featuring in their latest album だって、あたしたちエバーグリーン Datte, Atashitachi Evergreen (‘Because, We Are Evergreen’), this track cocoons the listener’s senses in a beautiful mélange of heartwarming vocals and tranquil guitar harmonies while driving through the motorway with pulsating drums and fiery guitar solos.

  • Sugar’s Campaign – ホリデイ ‘Holiday’

Prepare to be let loose in a classic yet refreshing 80s/90s disco synth-pop universe with ホリデイ ‘Holiday’, a groovy number by Sugar’s Campaign from their debut album FRIENDS. Born from the vibrant souls of Avec Avec and Seiho, the duo coaxes a tingling dance sensation with luminescent synths, soulful vocals and a rhythmically infectious current, and is sure to bring their listeners with them to their discotheque.

© Isaku Takahashi

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New Japanese Vibes (77) – やなせなな Yanase Nana タロー ‘Taro’

やなせなな Yanase Nana’s new track タロー ‘Taro’ is a luxurious wade into a charming classic soft-rock ballad vibe. Since her debut 12 years ago, the Nara-born singer-songwriter has captured the hearts of many generations. Her enchanting vocals glitters like candlelight within the tender sound world enriched with jazzy piano licks, shimmering Hammond organ harmonies and a rocking drum beat and bass line. This song features in her latest album 夜が明けるよ Yo ga Akeru yo (‘The Morning Will Come’).

Other Info/Context

  • Yanase Nana’s new album Yoru ga Akeru yo was released on August 24th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (76) – Ryota Mikami ‘Wedding’ Album

Ryota Mikami, co-founder of independent record label Vegetable Record opens up a hypnotic musical world in his latest album Wedding. Taking samples that range from Mozart to Bon Iver and the Bill Evans Trio, each track sees nostalgia meet the future, and invites the listener’s senses to dip into a universe of heavenly vocals, pounding beats, glistening harp harmonies, sumptuous synths and otherworldly sonic effects. Each track is unified in thematic ideas, but at the same time carry their own enticing narratives and personalities.

Other Info/Context

  • Wedding was released on August 15th.
  • Vegetable Record’s other co-founder is Shotaro Hayashi.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (75) – Tempalay ‘Festival’

Back in March this year, psychedelic pop-rock band Tempalay flew across the Atlantic and toured around America for eight shows including at the annual SXSW Festival in Texas. Their new music video for ‘Festival’ recaps their experiences across the pond. Married with a rich sonic cacophony of wistful vocals, laser-coloured synths, clamorous drums and raspy yet jingling guitars, one can indulge in an enchanting musical and visual experience.

Other Info/Context

  • Tempalay’s analogue LP version of their debut album from JAPAN will be released on August 31st.
  • Listen to more Tempalay in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (74) – Ancient Youth Club ‘Stay’

Hokkaido-based indie-pop band Ancient Youth Club treads their first step on the Japanese musical mainstream with new track ‘Stay’ from their debut EP For, Emma. Inspired by the western indie rock/pop scenes, the tune skips along a gentle mix of jangling guitars tinged with hazy colours, Ohno’s velvety vocals, and a sustained nostalgic undercurrent matched by a music video immersed in the vivid night lights of Tokyo.

Other Info/Context

  • Ancient Youth Club’s debut EP For, Emma was released on August 3rd.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #10

  • 幾何学模様 Kikagaku Moyo – ‘Silver Owl’

It’s been a year since I started this blog, and since then it has become a platform for you and myself to discover new and unusual bands like幾何学模様 Kikagaku Moyo. As you close your eyes and widen your audible senses for their dream-inspired track ‘Silver Owl’, you will float gently through a cloud of psychedelic folk filled with pensive vocals, delicate guitars and dreamy harmonies. Their considerable reputation today makes me wonder why I didn’t discover them much earlier on in my life.

Sumptuous and stirring, ‘Signal’ by TK (Toru Kitajima) from prog-rock band凛として時雨 Ling Tosite Sigure is a compelling rock number enriched with orchestral power. Away from the punishing rock anthems of his band, ‘Signal’ is a resplendent number that could well crown TK as the prince of prog-rock in Japan today – full of opulent strings, colouristic textures, dynamic guitars and drums, and rich vocals that reach heavenly yet anthemic heights in the chorus. Find out more about Ling Tosite Sigure in my blog post here.

Featuring in their EP 霊感 Reikan, りんごの質感 ‘Ringo no Sitsukan’ is one of the handful of tracks that kick-started the acsent of Taiko Super Kicks. The psychedelic-indie quartet takes the listener through a nostalgic musical fantasy with yearning vocal melodies, dreamy guitar riffs and gently pulsing drums. A guitar solo rockets through the sonic ceiling, ceaseless in energy and fiery emotion before cascading down back to wistful vibes. Listen to another one of their songs in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (73) – Frasco ‘Saturday’

It’s a regular Saturday weekend, and I stumble on a new track that has the perfect vibes (and title) to liven up the day. ‘Saturday’ by ‘meta-pop’ project Frasco (タカノシンヤ Takano Shinya and 峰らる Mine Raru) coaxes an infectious ambience with its vibrant mix of groovy guitars, head-bopping rhythms, tropical synth colours and Mine’s feathery and charming vocals.

Other Info/Context

  • The guitar is played by けにち Kenichi and the track mixed by suppa micro pamchopp.
  • Listen to another song by Frasco in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi