New Japanese Vibes (127) – AKLO×JAY’ED ‘Different Man’

AKLO and JAY’ED wind the clock back in a vivid homage to the 80s/90s chilled out hip-hop and R&B sound world in ‘Different Man’. Featuring in their first EP as a collaborative act, the track pounds the listener’s eardrums in a seductive sonic ambience with swirling synths orbiting around the stereo field, JAY’ED’s sultry vocals reminiscent of the likes of Chris Brown, AKLO’s bold rapping that offsets the smooth vibes perfectly.

Other Info

  • AKLO×JAY’ED’s new EP Sorry…come back later will be released on September 6th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (126) – DAOKO x 米津玄師 Yonezu Kenshi 打上花火 ‘Uchiage Hanabi’

It’s not often that simply seeing the names of two artists sat by each other instantly grabs my attention. The chemistry between DAOKOand米津玄師Yonezu Kenshi vividly resonates in their blissful new track打上花火 ‘Uchiage Hanabi’ (‘Rocket Firework’), and provides the perfect musical showstopper for the upcoming anime film 打ち上げ花火、下から見るか?横から見るか?Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara miruka? Yoko kara miruka?. After a poignant piano riff introduces the song, a galaxy of anthemic richness shines especially in the chorus, where symphonic strings and pounding drums echo towards the horizon, coupled with DAOKO’s honey-toned melodies and Yonezu’s vocal power.

Other Info

  • Uchiage Hanabi’ will be released on August 16th.
  • The film Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara miruka? Yoko kara miruka? will be released in Japanese cinemas on August 18th.
  • Find out more about DAOKO. 
  • Find out more about Yonezu Kenshi.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (124) – Poor Vacation ‘F/E/E/L/S’ [EP]

While perfecting a particular track gig after gig and day in and day out may be satisfying for some, Poor Vacation has their own way of living life in the music scene. The six-piece band’s new EP F/E/E/L/S is an incarnation of their efforts to refashion their headline track ロンググッドバイ ‘Long Goodbye’. The latest version rides the waves of 80s city pop, yet still retains the tropical summer vibrancy of their previous takes and resonates the contemporary band sound of today. While we can indulge in ‘Long Goodbye’ as a weekend soundtrack, one must also not forget about the title track ‘Feels’, an infectious retro, synth-pop number that dances on the chequered disco floor and above the glistening mirror ball.

Other Info

  • Poor Vacation’s new EP F/E/E/L/S was released on July 20th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (121) – indigo la End プレイバック ‘Playback’

A smoky yet vibrant musical universe oozes out when indigo la End bursts through the speakers. Their latest track プレイバック ‘Playback’ is not exception – led by 川谷絵音 Kawatani Enon’s sweet and mellow vocals, the track shines an opulent mix of precision-engineered drums, heavenly backing vocals and sparkling harmonies and catchy licks in the guitar. The band turns up the sonic euphoria in the final chorus before the final guitar chords glisten away into the horizon.

Other Info

  • Indigo la End’s new album Crying End Roll will be released on July 12th.
  • Find out more about Indigo la End in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (112) – DADARAY 美しい仕打ち ‘Utsukushii Shiuchi’

Halcyon pop and funk vibes radiate throughout DADARAY’s track美しい仕打ち ‘Utsukushii Shiuchi’ (‘Beautiful Treatment’). Featuring bassist 休日課長 Kyujitsu Kachou (from ゲスの極み乙女 Gesu no Kiwami Otome), the trio strut their musical magic on the catwalk with swanky and soulful licks on the electric piano, groovy bass lines and rhythms, rich vocal textures and sumptuous harmonies. With a trip to Japan coming up in a few days time, I hope to add this to my growing playlist of musical goodness.

Other Info

  • DADARAY’s first mini album DADAISM will be released on April 5th.

New Japanese Vibes (103) – 米津玄師 Yonezu Kenshi ‘orion’

米津玄師 Yonezu Kenshi is one that keeps growing from strength to strength. The Tokushima-born singer-songwriter’s new track ‘orion’ glorifies in a charming and anthemic pop ambience that is richly unique and fit for the mainstream in equal measure. His radiant vocals resonate a youthful energy that soars above the song’s stratosphere, while luminous synth strings, sonorous harmonies, rapturous handclaps and pounding drums summon a life-affirming spirit and sense of inspiration that spills into my soul.

Other Info

  • Yonezu Kenshi’s new single orion will be released on February 15th.
  • ‘orion’ is the ending theme song for the anime 3月のライオン Sangatsu no Lion.
  • Find out more about Yonezu Kenshi in my blog post here.

© 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