New Japanese Vibes (101) – ぼくのりりっくのぼうよみ Boku no Lyric no Bouyomi ‘Be Noble’

A dramatic contrast to the mellow and soulful vibes of past songs ‘sub/objective’ and ‘newspeak’, ぼくのりりっくのぼうよみ Boku no Lyric no Bouyomi unleashes a fiery drum ‘n’ bass energy in their adrenaline-rushed number ‘Be Noble’. Now a mature university student, one listens to this track and feels as though it’s a coming of age in the singer’s musical visions. ‘Be Noble’ drives a locomotive momentum on the sonic railway with an infectious mix of dazzling synths and guitars, relentless drum rhythms and illuminating vocals.

Other Info

  • Boku no Lyric no Bouyomi’s new album Noah’s Ark was released on January 25th.
  • Hear more tracks by Boku no Lyric no Bouyomi in my blog posts here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (100) – 阿佐ヶ谷ロマンティックス Asagaya Romantics 所縁 ‘Shoen’

Oozing with soulful and romantic vibes, five-piece band 阿佐ヶ谷ロマンティックス Asagaya Romantics glows a musical sunset picture in their new track所縁 ‘Shoen’ (‘Connection’) from their new album 街の色 Machi No Iro (‘The Colour of the Street). The song taps into the retro sound world of ‘city-pop’ with a rich array of silky harmonies, breezy electric piano colours, an unwinding sax solo and 有坂朋恵 Arisaka Tomoe’s charming and lovable vocals slightly reminiscent of AIKO. If you ever feel the need to wind down in your living room one evening, then decorate the space with some smooth jazz and laid-back pop.

Other Info

  • Asagaya Romantics’ new album Machi No Iro will be released on January 25th.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #18

  • 山崎まさよし Yamazaki Masayoshi – ‘One More Time, One More Chance’

All of my picks this week are songs especially written for films directed by 新海誠 Shinkai Makoto, hailed as ‘the next Miyazaki Hayao’. After witnessing the latest creation by the established yet fresh director to touch audiences around the world last year, I decided to look back further into his works and the memorable music that came along the journey.

One More Time, One More Chance’ by singer-songwriter 山崎まさよし Yamazaki Masayoshi provided the closing theme for Makoto’s 2007 film 秒速5センチメートル Byousoku 5 Centimetres (‘5 centimetres per second’). The song glimmers a sentimental folk ambience with Yamazaki’s yearning vocals and a gentle cradle-rocking beat, and perfectly conveys the scenic and pensive final scene where Tono and Akari cross paths one more time under the falling cherry blossoms.

Rain’ was originally a song by singer-songwriter 大江千里 Oe Senri. However, it was秦基博 Hata Motohiro’s wistful rendition of the 80s song that fit Makoto’s musical visions for his 2013 drama film 言の葉の庭 Koto No Ha No Niwa (‘The Garden of Words’). A twinkling piano riff glimmers like the raindrops that ripple delicate waves in the pond, before Hata’s husky vocals and the rest of the gentle rock-ballad backdrop grows to full bloom.

Find out more about Hata Motohiro in my blog post here.

From the ending theme to the image song, 言の葉 ‘Koto No aha’ by Hata Motohiro dips into a humble rock-pop vibe akin to ‘Rain’, but also radiates an anthemic richness that likens the song to a number by the likes of The Script. Gently pulsing chords on the piano draw the harmonic bridge under Hata’s mellow voice, honey-toned guitars and riffs glisten with nostalgia and the drums stride with anthemic pride to drive the track (and film) towards an emotional conclusion.

  • RADWIMPS – なんでもないや ‘Nandemonaiya’

While 前前前世 ‘Zen Zen Zen Se’ may be the RADWINPS tune that people recognise as the stand out track of Makoto’s 2016 big-hit movie 君の名は Kimi No Na Wa, (‘Your Name’), my personal favourite from the film has to be the tranquil mellow-rock number なんでもないや ‘Nandemonaiya’ (‘It’s Nothing’). 野田洋次郎 Noda Youjirou’s vocals breathe a delicate yet soul-stirring air that resonates with the listener’s emotions, and the guitars glow an idyllic harmonic river that cocoons the ears

Listening back to this song brings back to my mind the fantasy, drama and emotions that immersed my senses like no other film did. I feel extremely privileged to have witnessed such a remarkable visual work.

Find out more about RADWIMPS in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (99) – SKY-HI アドベンチャー ‘Adventure’ 

SKY-HI cranks up the ‘cool’ カッコイイ ‘kakkoi’ meter up with his new tune アドベンチャー ‘Adventure’. From the opening punchy slap bass, Hidaka Mitsuhiro (real name of SKY-HI) and his musical entourage radiates a rainbow of vibrant brass colours and bubbly vocals. But it’s more than just a rich mix of nimble-footed rapping and funk vibes – SKY-HI also conveys a life-affirming message: “don’t turn your eyes away from negativity – take it, embrace it and move forward”. The sincerity that dances along with the track’s lively beat and melodies makes SKY-HI more than just a hip-hop/rap artist who simply aims for the top of the charts. He speaks closely to his fans and listeners with meaningful words and resonates a buzz that transcends a global audience.

Other Info

  • SKY-HI’s new album OLIVE will be released on January 18th.
  • Find out more about SKY-HI in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (98) – DJ OKAWARI ‘Midnight Train feat. Emi Meyer’

With a music video set in a train and what resembles a quiet night in Tokyo, I figured I’d write about DJ OKAWARI’s new song ‘Midnight Train feat. Emi Meyer’ during my commute home under the stars. The Shizuoka-based beat maker provides the perfect beats and melodies for any evening – ambient piano  octaves shine an evocative wintry feel that gently fleets away in the listener’s ears, the drums carry the cool hip-hop motor through the track, and Emi Meyer’s vocals are both rich and mellow in perfect balance.

Other Info

  • DJ OKAWARI’s new album Compass was released on January 11th.
  • Find out more about DJ OKAWARI in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (97) – PLAGUES ‘Fool on the freeway’

90s Japanese indie rock icon PLAGUES has had somewhat of a rocky ride to mainstream success. After a long hiatus stretching eight years from 2002, the current trio woke up from their dormant period and renewed their driving seat in the rock bandwagon. Heavily inspired by the ‘everyday’ sound world of UK 90s indie rock, ‘Fool on the freeway’ marks the release of their new album Free will. The song’s engine oozes with verve and nostalgia in equal measure, driven by a rich mix of voltage-laden guitar solos, pumping drums and candid vocals singing “fool on the freeway” in cool, unperturbed fashion.

Other Info

  • PLAGUES’ new album Free will will be be released on January 25th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (96) – evening cinema 原色の街 ‘Genshoku no Machi’

Tokyo-based quartet evening cinema infuse new life to the J-pop soundscape and retro ‘city-pop’ trend with their new track原色の街 ‘Genshoku no Machi’ (‘Street of Colour’). Reminiscent of idol-pop emblem SMAP during their youth, 原田夏樹 Harada Natsuki expresses his love for the recently disbanded Johnny and Associates stars with his breezy and boyish vocals. Likewise, the band scatters a mellow yet funky feel-good vibe with a pleasant harmonic ambience and easy-going rhythmic energy that resonates with young listeners.

Other Info

  • Genshoku no Machi’ is out now on free download.

© Isaku Takahashi