New Japanese Vibes (159) – ぼんち Bonchi 6月 ‘Rokugatsu’

My ceaseless workload these past few days has led to an inexcusable absence from this blog. However, sometimes one has to literally sweep the paperwork off the table and wind down in the lounge with a genial, summery pop-rock tune, this time by young Tokyo-based trio ぼんち Bonchi. It is clear that the band pour their heart and soul in their songs as they go by the concept of conveying “A view we saw one day” in their music. Slightly reminiscent of the feel-good ambience of Special Favourite Music (though different musical styles), 6月 ‘Rokugatsu’ (‘June’) wakes the body’s summer cells up with their infectious rhythms and vocal melodies, but also oozes a mellow vibe fit for playing while one indulges in the sunset.

Other Info

  • Bonchi’s new single ‘Rokugatsu’ will be released on June 23rd, with a launch event at Shibuya 7th Floor. More info available here.
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New Japanese Vibes (158) – Ghost like girlfriend ‘sands’

Music is often a good antidote for me, especially during the past few weeks where I’ve been re-assessing my career and personal life. Letting my senses get soaked in four minutes of rhythm, harmony and melody both relaxes and invigorates my mind, something that Ghost like girlfriend does well with their new song ‘sands’. A sultry mix of razor-sharp and neon-coloured guitars, groovy bass lines and drum beats, and flowing, soulful vocals, the track does justice to their unique identity, reviving the haydays of ‘city-pop’ while in the fore exuding a musically current and fresh vibe.

Other Info

  • Ghost like girlfriend’s new EP Witness will be released on July 25th. More info is available on their website.

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

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.