New Japanese Vibes (88) – Num Contena ‘Smile When You’re Dead’

Reminiscent of 90s American alt-rock and indie-folk, Fukuoka-based indie rock quartet Num Contena uncover their new track ‘Smile When You’re Dead’ from their upcoming first full album Smile When You’re Dead. Flowing vocals, gleaming guitar riffs and a cradle-rocking beat is layered with tranquil psychedelic musical waves to spellbind listeners in a charming and wistful rock vibe. Not only does this track excite me for the Num Contena to come in the future, it also endorses Dead Funny Recordsname as a source of Japan’s great indie artists.

Other Info/Context

  • Num Contena’s first album Smile When You’re Dead will be released on December 14th.
  • Find out more about Dead Funny Records and their artists here.

© Isaku Takahashi

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New Japanese Vibes (87) – 青葉市子 Aoba Ichiko ゆさぎ – マホロボシヤ ‘Yusagi – Mahoroboshiya’

ゆさぎ – マホロボシヤ ‘Yusagi – Mahoroboshiya’ by Kyoto-born singer-songwriter 青葉市子 Aoba Ichiko is the perfect balm for my listening senses after another full week of work. The track’s simple façade of Aoba’s whispering vocals and cradle-rocking guitar chords delicately cocoons one’s ears with a crystalline folk beauty. Together with a music video featuring evocative clips filmed in Kyoto and Berlin, Aoba entrances her listeners with a wonderfully nostalgic musical and visual experience.

Other Info/Context

  • Aoba Ichiko’s new album Mahoroboshiya was released on October 19th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (86) – Caro kissa メリーゴーラウンド ‘Merry-Go-Round’

A nostalgic and gentle 80s vibe shimmers in Caro kissa’s new track メリーゴーラウンド ‘Merry-Go-Round’. Evoking the breezy sound world of ‘city-pop’ (a term or ‘mood’ genre used to describe the growing trend and popularity of Western popular music in Japan in the 80s), the Osaka-based duo’s craving for musical indulgence is conveyed to great effect in the track’s beautiful mélange of smooth jazz, soul, fusion and funk colours.

Other Info/Context

  • Caro kissa’s new mini album LaLa Luna Park will be released on October 30th.
  • Listen to another track by Caro kissa here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (85) – Kidori Kidori アウトサイダー ‘Outsider’

A vibrant, pulsating and unswerving energy sets off sparks in Kidori Kidori’s latest track アウトサイダー ‘Outsider’. Made up of 川本直樹 Kawamoto Naoki and マッシュ Mashu (or Matthew), the duo’s latest release from the record label Hip Land Music comes just four months after their previous EP フィールソーグッド Feel So Good. The track drives through an infectious post-punk motorway, while it also resembles the rich shoegaze soundscape of My Bloody Valentine, though much more mellow and melodious.

Other Info/Context

  • Kidori Kidori’s new EP OUTSIDE was released on October 5th.
  • Find out more about Kidori Kidori in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #14

Radio-friendly yet experimental in equal measure, ゲスの極み乙女 Gesu no Kiwami Otome just keep delivering an impressive array of tunes that everlastingly grab hold of their listener’s minds. Led by 川谷絵音 Kawatani Enon, 勝手な青春劇 ‘Katte na Seishungeki’ (vaguely translates as ‘A youth drama of its own way’) is a lush potpourri of colourful piano and guitar runs, adrenaline-rushed rhythms, a fleeting meter change, and rich harmonies enriching Kawatani’s spontaneous vocals. Find out more about Gesu no Kiwami Otome here, and listen to more of their music here.

  • Predawn – ‘Universal Mind’

My personal soundtrack for the autumnal season now welcomes Niigata-born singer-songwriter Predawn (清水美和子 Shimizu Miwako) and her ethereal folk-rock track ‘Universal Mind’. Her floating vocals, acoustic guitar harmonies that picture a vivid campfire scene, poignant narrative and nostalgic electric guitar solos shimmer an ambience that would be perfect in a chapel’s surroundings. If she were to come to perform at the Union Chapel in North London, show me the ticket queue.

  • フレンズ Friends ‘DIVER’

Featuring in their mini album ショー・チューン Show Tune, DIVER’ by フレンズ Friends quite simply dives into a harlequin musical fiesta. Consisting of five ‘friends’, this track sounds like the perfect number to light up Tokyo’s night time vibes. With funk-pop colours, laser-beam synths, luminous vocals and foot-tapping beats radiated from every surface of the stereo field, there is simply no choice but to let your senses get in sync with the band’s energy.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (84) – My Hair Is Bad 恋人ができたんだ ‘Koibito ga Dekitanda’

Another working week comes to an end, but only this time I come to the realisation that I’ve abandoned this blog for nearly a week. Luckily, Niigata-based indie rock band My Hair Is Bad pops up in front of my MacBook screen and delights my musical senses with their candid rock number 恋人ができたんだ ‘Koibito ga Dekitanda’ (‘I made a lover’). Paired with a music video flicking through nostalgic photos of what may be the two ‘lovers’ in question, the trio express their emotions and passion through a sumptuous musical world filled with grand strings, inspiring guitar riffs and down-to-earth vocals.

Other Info/Context

  • My Hair Is Bad’s new album woman’s will be released on October 19th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (83) – TK from 凛として時雨 Ling Tosite Sigure ‘Wonder Palette’

TK from 凛として時雨 Ling Tosite Sigure is peerless when it comes to musical identity and innovation. ‘Wonder Palette’ is the latest track to emphasise his eminence as an emblem of Japanese prog-rock. A radiant undercurrent shimmers with bristling energy from the outset, while rhythmic piano riffs, voltage-laden guitars, clamorous drums and TK’s somersaulting vocals in the chorus urge the track to soar above the sonic stratosphere. If you allow me to express my thoughts on this track in the most superficial way, it simply takes the listener to another musical galaxy.

Other Info/Context

  • White noise was released on September 28th.
  • TK from Ling Tosite Sigure will begin his “Signal to Noise’ Tour on November 3rd.

© Isaku Takahashi