Picks of the Week #29

  • VIDEOTAPEMUSIC – ‘Fiction Romance’

The avid traveller I am, I always picture geographic landscapes when listening to music that is naturally evocative of a distant city or terrain. VIDEOTAPEMUSIC transports one’s senses to an environment surrounded by palm trees, sand and beach with their song ‘Fiction Romance’, a throwback Jamaican-inspired tune served sunny-side up that both juggles the body in rhythmic sync and lays down a towel on the sand for the listener to indulge in its colourful melange of saxes, trumpets and tuned percussion.

Fiction Romance’ features in their album ON THE AIR. Find out more about VIDEOTAPEMUSIC on their website.

  • Alfred Beach Sandal + STUTS – ‘Horizon’

In a collaboration between solo act Alfread Beach Sandal (北里彰久 Kitasato Akihisa) and producer STUTS, ‘Horizon’ is a sensual collage of rock, latin and R&B vibes that is mellow and urban-cool in equal measure. Throughout the track, one can open their ears to a sumptuous sound world that is harmonically and sonically amicable yet at times elusive, but at the same time, one cannot help but bop along to the punctuating beats and grooving bass.

Horizon’ features in their album ABS+STUTS. Find out more about Alfread Beach Sandal here and STUTS here.

  • Ghost like girlfriend – ‘fallin’

For something a bit more urbanesque, ‘fallin’ by Ghost like girlfriend is the perfect track to play through your earphones while soaking in the cosmopolitan sights and neon lights of Tokyo. The song shines in its opulent electronic production, centred around a pulsating and soulful pop vibe, while spinning around a colourful mix of synths, melodic melancholy and refined, intimate vocals in orbit.

‘fallin’ features in their mini album WEAKNESS. Find out more about Ghost like girlfriend on their website.

© Isaku Takahashi


Picks of the Week #28

  • POP ART TOWN – ノンフィクション ‘Non-Fiction’

For a tune that oozes energy and positive vibes, ノンフィクション ‘Non-Fiction’ by Osaka-based quartet POP ART TOWN is one to add on your playlist. The band say that this song is “the perfect spell for when your heart and body feel separated and you want to take a breather”, but one also thinks the track tugs at the listener’s celebratory senses and rhythmic muscles with its heart-pounding beats, なるおさやか Naruo Sayaka’s vocal purity and an unapologetically ‘pop’ spark.

Non-Fiction’ features in their latest mini album Variety. Find out more about POP ART TOWN on their website.

  • Yellow Studs – ブーツ ‘Boots’

For a refreshing throwback to the golden ages of rock, jazz (perhaps even cabaret), tune your ears to ブーツ ‘Boots‘ by rock five-piece Yello Studs. Led by 野村太一 Nomura Taichi’s seductively hoarse vocals, the track will take you on a trip to the urban underground and entertain you with a sultry mix of voltage-laden riffs and solos, pulsating rhythms, infectious melodies and a frisky party atmosphere.

‘201’ features in their EP GRAB. Find out more about the twenties on their website.

  • the twenties – ‘201’

The cool rock energy of ‘201′ by the twenties resonates both an innovative and familiar sound world, where psychedelic colours meet the millennium-launching rock sound. Formed in the Kyushu region of Japan, the quartet bring the max out of their vocal and instrumental range in this track with its stratospheric vocals and guitars, booming bass line and clamorous drums that all shake the sonic tectonic plates. A particular hats off to ウルマヒロユキ Uruma Hiroyuki for enticing riffs and colours that pierce the sonic spectrum.

201′ features in their latest album GLIMMER. Find out more about the twenties on their website.


© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #27


Despite having only spent just over two years as a band, RAMMELLS have already garnered a reputation for their amiable soul, funk and indie rock vibes. Their debut album Authentic showcases their beautifully nostalgic yet refreshing musical personality, including the track ‘Cherry‘. The song, led by 黒田秋子 Kuroda Akiko’s charming vocals, blends a soulful cosmos of polished harmonies, river-like melodies and gentle heart-beating rhythms that is perfect to swirl around the living room stereo with a cup of coffee in one’s hands.

RAMMELLS’s debut album Authentic was released in December 2017. Find out more about RAMMELLS on their website.

  • PAELLAS – ‘Shooting Star’

The intoxicating and nocturnal sound world of ‘Shooting Star’ by four-piece PAELLAS typify why growing audiences are so excited by this Tokyo-based band. Reminiscent of the vibes of Daft Punk, the sweet scent of MATTON’s delicate and transient vocals twines around the song like vines on a brick wall, an array of synths swirl throughout to evoke the melancholic and hypnotic, and infectious riffs and chords on the guitar and electric piano kicks in an irresistible pulse that can’t help the listener groove along with the beat.

PAELLAS’s EP D.R.E.A.M was released in September 2017, and is available on their website. Find out more about PAELLAS on my blog post here.

  • Polaris – ‘SEASON’

Rhythmically snappy and melodically sentimental, ‘SEASON’ by rock duo POLARIS brings the best of both polarities in the musical spectrum. On one hand, the track drives through with dynamism in the drums and grooving bass line. On the other, serpentine vocals and coiling guitars concoct an air of melancholy and meditation. Personally, the song serves as the perfect antidote for my senses, dispelling all the city-life noise from my ear drums and cocooning them with dreamy indie rock.

Polaris’s album Hashiru was released in November 2017, and is available on their website.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #26


The no-nonsense funk-rock vibes of ‘Fools’ by Osaka-based four-piece DENIMS has the sonic power to radiate a bit of sunshine in the foreboding chills of autumn. Its crisp comping, rainbow-coloured chords, twanging guitar riffs, groovy bass line and tipsy vocal melodies gather to both punctuate the stereo field and resonate with the listener’s desire to bop along with the beat.

  • FIVE NEW OLD – ‘By Your Side’

Neighbours to Osaka, pop-rock trio FIVE NEW OLD formed in the Kobe region of Hyogo prefecture. Despite having played around in the music scene for only seven years, their song ‘By Your Side’ is an emblem of their unique pop-rock personality they’ve firmly established as their own. The band channel their love for the Western band sound, and gospel-like backing vocals and retro synths wind the clock back to the 80s/90s while further enriching the feel-good air of the song.

  • 向井太一 Mukai Taichi – ‘Can’t Wait Anymore’

A sumptuous hybrid of electronica, dance and ambient music revolve around the stereo in向井太一 Mukai Taichi’s new song ‘Can’t Wait Anymore’. The track has the infectious quality and sonic sharpness to amplify Tokyo’s neon-light jungle, but also has the intimacy to appreciate through your own headphones. ‘Can’t Wait Anymore’ features in his new album BLUE, due to be released in November.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #25

  • WONK – ‘Midnight Cruise’

A comment by another user on YouTube pointed out that random clicks can lead to great discoveries. The moment I clicked and heard ‘Midnight Cruise’ by experimental jazz quartet WONK could not be a more opportune time to agree with the above statement. The track oozes a seductive warmth with its gorgeous fusion of modern hip-hop and soul vibes, sparkling jazz piano colours and rich, immersive harmonies, while picturing a deserted beach with the sun setting in the horizon.

  • Czecho no Republic – ‘MUSIC’

Surfing the indie-pop waves under a dazzling shoegaze sunshine, ‘MUSIC’ by pop-rock quintet Czecho no Republic is a youthful indie number that perfect to blast out on the radio for a bubbly start to a weekend. Personally, this particular track reminds me of Mark Ronson’s brief spell as The Business Intl with its perpetual guitar riffs, turbo-driven harmonies and drums that drive through the never-ending motorway.

My ears do like to be in tune with the odd unapologetic pop number. This time, it is the dynamic energy and sensual personality of Nissy (from pop group AAA) and his song ‘SUGAR’ that reignited my inner party soul. The track has all the ingredients to pierce the hearts of his adoring female fans – it’s punctuating bass line, orchestral hits and jazzy ensemble sounds coax a sultry, burlesque-like vibe that adds the extra dose of allure to Nissy’s seductive and tad flirtatious vocals.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (120) – ハンバートハンバート Humbert Humbert がんばれ兄ちゃん ‘Ganbare Niichan’

Fresh from my recent travels to Prague (and the lack of decent wifi…), I stumbled across a charming number by ハンバートハンバート Humbert Humbert before boarding my flight back. がんばれ兄ちゃん ‘Ganbare Niichan’ (‘Come on Brother’) serenades the ears with its vivid folk and country colours, namely the twanging riffs, gently pulsating rhythms, and the duo’s caramel vocals and honey-toned harmonies.

Other Info

  • Humbert Humbert’s new album Kazoku Koushinkyoku will be released on July 5th.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #24

Distance was my first encounter with J-pop legend宇多田ヒカル Utada Hikaru. 15 years later from the rhythmic and synth-driven vibes of the album, the singer-songwriter returned to the spotlight, plunging into musical and emotional depths like never before in her slow-burning ballad 真夏の通り雨 ‘Manatsu no Tooriame’ (‘Summer Shower’). The sweeping strings, poignant piano and angelic vocals weigh down a reflective and crestfallen air, marking a new leaf in Utada’s musical palette.

  • LAMP IN TERREN – 地球儀 ‘Chikyuugi’

Riding between the sonic waves of 米津玄師 Yonezu Kenshi and BUMP OF CHICKEN, 地球儀 ‘Chikyuugi’ (‘Globe’) by LAMP IN TERREN ignites a display of anthemic rock fireworks fit for the concluding number of any summer festival. Simple yet refreshing, the quartet shines a sparkling mix of voltage-charged guitars, pulsating and clamorous drums, and 松本大 Matsumoto Dai’s herculean vocals that is sure to resonate with the young generation’s listening senses.

  • MONDO GROSSO – ラビリンス ‘Labyrinth’

大沢伸一 Osawa Shinichi, better known as MONDO GROSSO is a name that speaks volume in Japanese electronic music. With the help of 満島ひかり Mitsushima Hikari, the DJ/producer from Tokyo concocts an infectious and dreamy electro house number ラビリンス ‘Labyrinth’. Pounding beats keeps the track on the rhythmic locomotive without any room for musical diversions, while airy piano tones fall like raindrops creating ripples on the sonic lake and Mitsushima’s angelic vocals float above the stereo field with delicate lyricism.

© Isaku Takahashi