New Japanese Vibes (156) – Lamp ‘1998’

With the initial idea of creating a “small series of ballads”, LAMP’s new album 彼女の時計 Kanojo no Tokei is a breath of fresh nostalgia. At the heart of the trio’s sound lies a sweet and sumptuous blend of 80s brazilian colours and retro city-pop vibes that wind the clock back a further few decades, musical elements that are vividly evoked in the wistful melodies, synth colours and harmonic progressions of ‘1998′, one of eight tracks in their new album. The song is in no way an inferior pastiche of the past, but injects a new and cool lease of life that makes this sound current.

Other Info

  • LAMP’s new album Kanojo no Tokei will be released on May 15th, and is available to buy through their website.

© Isaku Takahashi

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New Japanese Vibes (155) – The trees ひらり ‘Hirari’ + 春のとなり ‘Haru no Tonari’

There’s nothing better than indulging in some luxurious and radiant shoegaze vibes by Tokyo-based quartet The trees while basking in the warm sun. The two tracks they released earlier this week run on the same musical highway, but at the same time showcase their different personalities. ひらり ‘Hirari’ is a pulsating rhythmic drive down the Route 66 with a steadfast beat adorned with jangling guitars, while 春のとなり ‘Haru no Tonari’ takes the listener through a more tranquil journey withアリマ タカマサ Arima Takamasa’s purifying vocals and shimmering guitars promising three minutes of sonic bliss.

New Japanese Vibes (154) – Homecomings ‘Songbirds’

Reflective and modestly pulsing in equal measure, ‘Songbirds’ by Homecomings is a breath of fresh air fit for the relaxed spring period. The theme song for the film リズと青い鳥 Liz and the Bluebird, the Kyoto-based four-piece shimmers a delicate and radiant mid-tempo vibe with comforting harmonies, cradle-rocking beats and pulse, floating guitars full of lustre and 畳野彩加 Tatamino Ayaka’s purifying vocals. So simple yet so perfect.

Other Info

  • Homecomings’ new single ‘Songbirds’ was released on April 25th. More info is on their website.
  • Listen to more music by Homecomings on my blog post here.

New Japanese Vibes (153) – Kensei Ogata ‘Someone Will Love You’

A short spell of summer has arrived in London, so it makes sense to blast a voltage-induced sunny rock number while soaking in the sunshine. Much to one’s delight, a new tune by Kensei Ogata cropped up out of the blue. ‘Someone Will Love You’ marks a coming of age in two ways – it’s the first song Ogata released as a band line-up, and musically diverts into new stylistic territory. In contrast to much of the spellbinding synth-led songs in his album Her Paperback (released in 2012 under Dead Funny Records), Ogata unleashes powerful rays of post-rock energy with an infectious rhythmic and harmonic motor that throws back the days to the teenage rock generation.

Other Info

  • Find out more about Kensei Ogata on his website.

New Japanese Vibes (152) – 小袋成彬 Obukuro Nariaki ‘Selfish’

小袋成彬 Obukuro Nariaki’s debut as a solo artist is a long time coming. While his extensive career as a supporting musician includes backing vocals in 宇多田ヒカル Utada Hikaru’s latest album Fantome, he breaks the shell and will launch his first solo album 分離派の夏 Bunriha no Natsu this month, which includes the song ‘Selfish’. The song immediately gives us a vivid glimpse of his individual artistry – musically, it is elusive in its narrative but has a unique charm to it. The opening beats deceives us into thinking Obukuro will escort listeners along a rhythmic soul/R’n’B road, but it serenades listeners in a pure and sensitive folk ambience for much of the track while peaking and ebbing in texture and expression. Obukuro also mesmerises us with his rich and fresh voice that reaches towards his sparkling falsetto range.

Other Info

  • Obukuro Nariaki’s new album Bunriha no Natsu will be released on April 25th. Find out more about him on his website.

New Japanese Vibes (151) – Madoka Ogitani – 波と風とカモメ ‘Nami to Kaze to Kamome’

It’s the Easter holidays in many parts of the world, which means it’s a time to not only relax (with a basket of chocolate beside you) but also reflect. What better way to let your mind and senses wind down in reflection than with Madoka Ogitani’s purifying music in the air. 波と風とカモメ ‘Nami to Kaze to Kamome’ (‘Waves, Wind and Seagull’) dreams up a musical galaxy that sees elements of ambient, post-minimalism, post-classical and the sounds of nature gather like particles, ebbing and flowing in texture and atmosphere.

Other Info

  • Madoka Ogitani’s new album Itsumo Dokokani is out now. Find out more about Madoka Ogitani on her website.

New Japanese Vibes (150) – 古川麦 Furukawa Baku – ‘Halo’

Intimate yet rhythmically pulsing, ‘Halo’ by California-born singer-songwriter 古川麦 Furukawa Baku transports the listener’s senses to a blissful musical oasis. The song shines an imposing quality that is unparalleled by others – its sensitive arrangement of various styles from folk to contemporary jazz, and soulful ambience kindled by each instrumental voice (particularly from the silken soprano sax solos). A good measure of a song’s universal appeal is how far the actual music (regardless of any language or cultural barriers) resonates with the listener’s emotions – ‘Halo’ is a must listen for both the Japanese audience and those beyond the ocean.

Other Info

  • Furukara Baku’s new album Seascape was released on March 21st. More info is available on his website.