New Japanese Vibes (95) – STUTS 夜を使はたして feat. PUNPEE ‘Yoru Wo Tsukaihatashite’

The realms of jazz, soul and hip-hop have faced a revival in the past few years, including in the Japanese music scene. While my appetite for soulful neo-soul and chilled jazz/hip-hop mixes was rejuvenated by the likes of Hiatus Kaiyote and SoundCloud sensation Tom Misch, Japanese beatmakers like STUTS have captured my listening ears with tracks like夜を使はたして ‘Yoru Wo Tsukaihatashite’ (‘Use up the night’). With the help of fellow hip-hop artist PUNPEE, the song struts through the music video’s city nightlife with neon synth colours, seductive beats and harmonies and polished rapping.

Other Info

  • STUTS’ first album Pushin’ (new 2LP version) will be released on February 2nd 2017.

© Isaku Takahashi

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New Japanese Vibes (94) – D.A.N. ‘SSWB’

D.A.N. has only been active for just over two years, but has garnered great interest both in Japan and abroad. Their spellbinding blend of minimal and mellow pop smoulders a sound world that lures listeners into a world beyond one’s headphones. ‘SSWB’, their latest release, dabbles in a sultry sonic backdrop intertwined with ripples of neo-soul richness, an introspective club dance ambience and a perpetuating ethereal steel drum riff in the air. Coupled with a nocturnal video brewing smokes of suspicion and seductiveness from start to end, the trio has certainly absorbed my senses in an inescapable, infectious musical cage.

Other Info

  • A.N.’s new digital single SSWB was released on December 23rd.
  • Listen to ‘Native Dancer’ by D.A.N. in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

J-Christmas Vibes (5) – Lullatone ‘how to tie a scarf’

‘Pajama-pop’ duo Lullatone makes some of the most innocent and genteel music with the most simple of musical ideas. ‘how to tie a scarf’ illuminates a wistful sonic air using a single music box-like celeste playing lyrical arpeggios that evoke dainty snowflakes falling with grace, while subtle crackling in the distant stereo field capture a sense of timelessness and fine inflections in pitch glimmer a dreamy atmosphere. Find out more about Lullatone in my blog post here, and listen to more of their songs here.

© Isaku Takahashi

J-Christmas Vibes [4] – Num Contena ‘Flight to Winter’

Sometimes, we all need to wind down and just put one’s mind at ease with musical goodness. ‘Flight to Winter’ by Fukuoka-based indie-pop band Num Contena Its jangling guitars loosely reminisce jingling bells, and the rich blend of spontaneous vocals, gently rocking drums and floating harmonies shimmer with sentimentality, making this tune the ideal number to listen to beside the cosy fireplace. ‘Flight to Winter’ features in their first full album Smile When You’re Dead. Hear more of Num Contena in my blog post here, and find out more about Dead Funny Records here.

© Isaku Takahashi

 

J-Christmas Vibes [3] – edy two arc ‘hide intention’

Thanks to a recommendation from a user on a Facebook group dedicated to supporting awesome shoegaze tunes form Japan, ‘hide intention’ by Sapporo-based duo edy two arc captures the next spot in my final few days of blogging in 2016. A math-rock-esque piano riff cues the shimmering guitars and melancholic vocals to coax a sound world that is both content and eager to unleash more sonic energy. If the adventure is somewhat subdued, then wait until before the conclusion as the duo from the north of Japan let loose a roar of shoegaze bliss before cascading down to a wistful ending. Their new EP hide intention will be released on Christmas day.

© Isaku Takahashi

J-Christmas Vibes [2] – Qaijff ‘snow traveler’

Dynamic yet jewel-like in equal measure, ‘snow traveler’ by piano-pop trio Qaijff is a fitting soundtrack for the snow and Christmas lights of an evocative winter. Led by classically-trained pianist 森彩乃 Mori Ayano, the song is filled with rainbow-coloured melodies and rhythms that one would expect from a youthful J-pop band, and decorated with a chorus of rich bells in keeping with the festive vibes. Their 1st EP snow traveler is out now.

© Isaku Takahashi

J-Christmas Vibes [1] – 赤色のグリッター Akairo no Glitter 神様の涙 ‘Kamisama no Namida’

Another year is gradually reaching the end – after what has been a “slightly” bonkers 2016, it’s time to wind down from the chaos with some musical winter crackers from Japan. This month, I dedicate this blog to songs that are winter/Christmas-related, or just simply released during the final month of a year.

Regarded as a “new force in the J-rock scene”, 赤色のグリッター Akairo no Glitter released their first album 存在証明 Sonzai Shoumei last year on December 2nd (which happens to be my birthday… just saying…), which includes the track神様の涙 ‘Kamisama no Namida’ (‘God’s Tears’). Their anthemic rock arsenal is at full charge in this song as 佐藤リョウスケ Satou Ryousuke’s vocals somersault in energy level, voltage-laden guitars electrify the stereo field and the clamorous drums drive the rhythmic locomotive at full speed.

© Isaku Takahashi