New Japanese Vibes (93) – Cuicks ‘blink,blink,blink,blink’

The past is a playing ground for the future – perhaps this is an inescapable idea that has lingered throughout the diverse pop world. ‘blink,blink,blink,blink’ by ambient-pop duo Cuicks is a potent reflection of this concept. Laden with hazy shoegaze colours, seductive electro-pop beats and ambient mystery, this track injects the listener’s eardrums with a sonic tranquiliser and entrances the mind in a woozy yet blissful cosmos.

Other Info/Context

  • Cuicks’ new album warp will be released on December 14th.

New Japanese Vibes (92) – シャムキャッツ Siamese Cats – すてねこ ‘Suteneko’

Behind the feline façade of シャムキャッツ Siamese Cats’ lies a burst of indie rock goodness with their new track すてねこ ‘Suteneko’ (‘Stray Cat’). Much to my own surprise, the quartet has been entertaining Japanese audiences for ten years. However, after immersing myself in the song’s infectious melodies, razor-coloured guitars, pumping rhythms and energetic vs melancholic journey, their slightly bubblegum-pop albeit freewheeling rock vibe has certainly got me digging into their back catalogue.

Other Info/Context

  • Siamese Cats’ new EP Kimi no Machi ni mo Ame wa Furu no kai? was released on November 16th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (91) – Balloon at dawn ‘Our Blue’

A vivid and sumptuous dream-pop/synth-pop rainbow gleams in my senses as I let my ears indulge in Osaka-based trio Balloon at dawn’s new track ‘Our Blue’. Often dream-pop and chillwave tunes have the tendency to wallow listeners in a sedative sonic experience – ‘Our Blue’ on the hand surfs the vibrant waves of synth-pop with an array of celestial synth colours while revelling in clamorous drums, shimmering guitars and 井口聖也 Iguchi Seiya’s blissful vocals.

Other Info/Context

  • Balloon at dawn’s new EP Our finder will be released on December 21st.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #16

  • TAMTAM – コーヒーピープル ‘Coffee People’

Rooted in dub, jazz and RnB traditions yet ethereal and unorthodox in equal measure, コーヒーピープル ‘Coffee People’ by Tokyo-based alt-pop band TAMTAM puts the listener’s senses in a state of sonic and emotional flux. The track amuses itself in a repetitive yet infectious musical flow with teetering guitar chords and looping vocal melodies, which slowly wades towards a feedback-induced climax that would hypnotise the listener with a spiralling wall of sound.

  • サニーデイサービス Sunny Day Service – ‘I’m a Boy’

Indie-pop trio サニーデイサービス Sunny Day Service plays the melancholy card from the musical deck in their track ‘I’m a Boy’ from their latest album DANCE TO YOU. Strolling through gorgeous guitar vibes that reminds one of the early 70s folk-rock sounds of Happy End, the band rides further away from their bygone punk days and indulges in a rich sound world filled with evocative vocals, jangling guitars and a poignant undercurrent.

  • Healthy Dynamite Club – ブギーナイツ ‘Boogie Nights’

Something to liven up one’s tired eyes and ears after a stressful day of work – ブギーナイツ ‘Boogie Nights’ by disco-pop newcomers Healthy Dynamite Club. The track is as catchy and irresistible as Daft Punk injected with an extra dose of glitter – with glitz-laden guitars, a groovy rhythmic pulse and a euphoric chorus to put the cherry on top, hire the nu-disco septet any day to spice up any time of the day.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (90) – OGRE YOU ASSHOLE – なくした ‘Nakushita’

Take your mind off the seismic shock that trembled from America to the whole planet with OGRE YOU ASSHOLE’s new track なくした ‘Nakushita’ (‘Lost’). Swaggering beats and guitars ooze with soulful confidence, while 出戸学 Deto Manabu’s languid yet warm vocals shimmer a hypnotic vibe that seeps through the listener’s reality. The Nagano-bred quartet has been dabbling in the psychedelic rock and post-punk world for 15 years – their name amplified by their close associations with Western bands like Modest Mouse and Yume Bitsu. For someone like me who is always keen on broadening my eyes and ears for new music, I’m intrigued to rummage around their back catalogue.

Other Info/Context

  • OGRE YOU ASSHOLE’s new album Handoru wo Hanasu Mae ni was released on November 9th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (89) – For Tracy Hyde ‘Favourite Blue’

My recent trip to Paris was a tale of new and nostalgic experiences – from watching tennis at Bercy to roaming around the streets of Paris, walking across the River Seine and embracing the wonderful Parisian cultural life. Perhaps this juxtaposition of ‘new’ and ‘nostalgic’ carries through in ‘Favourite Blue’, a new track by Tokyo-based indie-pop quintet For Tracy Hyde from their new album Film Bleu. Laden with shimmering guitars and airy synths, the song evokes a hazy yet turbo-charged dream pop/shoegaze vibe that is both evocative and fresh in equal measure.

Other Info/Context

  • For Tracy Hyde’s first album Film Bleu will be released on December 2nd.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #15

  • Nulbarich – ‘NEW ERA’

Jazz, soul, funk etc. have somewhat been a minority on my blog compared to other genres. That’s until I discovered five-piece band Nulbarich and their track ‘NEW ERA’, from their first album Guess Who? Right from first listen, the quintet cocoons the listener’s senses in a sumptuous, feel-good atmosphere with groovy riffs, rich harmonies, rocking beats and lead singer JQ’s charming vocals.

  • The fin. – ‘Night Time’

I first discovered Kobe-based band The fin. courtesy of an article by Aoki Ryotaro on The Japan Times. Since then, their ethereal mix of dreamy retro pop/rock and electronic colours in tracks like ‘Night Time’ has tingled my sensations for Japanese indie rock. A palpable British rock sound permeates their music, with hazy colours, dreamy harmonies and riffs, and enchanting melodies bringing back traces of 80s/90s bands like Cocteau Twins.

  • Gotch – ‘The Sun Is Not Down’

Gotch (後藤正文 Gotou Masafumi) , lead vocalist in J-rock band Asian Kung-Fu Generation showcases his talent away from the voltage-driven stage of his band in his mellow number ‘The Sun Is Not Down’. Laden with shimmering guitar colours and floating harmonies, the Shizuoka-born vocalist and guitarist carries the listener gently through a wistful indie rock ambience.

  • サカナクション Sakanaction – 多分、風 ‘Tabun, Kaze’

It was immeasurably exciting to hear the sparkling new-wave sounds of サカナクション Sakanaction back on the new music motorway, and they certainly don’t wane in creative energy as my senses dance away in their new track多分、 風 ‘Tabun, Kaze’ (‘Maybe, Wind’). An adrenaline rush of pulsating beats, radiant synths and sparkling melodies fan the flames of a burst of musical euphoria. Find out more about Sakanaction here, and listen to more of their tracks here.

© Isaku Takahashi