New Japanese Vibes (123) – Homecomings ‘PLAY YARD SYMPHONY’

The Japanese music scene is abundant in nostalgic indie rock nowadays, and ‘PLAY YARD SYMPHONY’ by Kyoto four-piece Homecomings is the latest tune to serenade my weekday evening. Four years since first catching the attention of Second Royal Records, the indie quartet exude a youthful bounciness in their zippy guitars, feathery vocals, twinkling xylophone-like synths and up-tempo rhythms.

Other Info

  • Homecomings’ new album SYMPHONY was released on July 5th.

© Isaku Takahashi

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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

New Japanese Vibes (113) – The Wisely Brothers ‘Thursday’

After the first few minutes of listening to ‘Thursday’ by three-piece band The Wisely Brothers, you’d probably be forgiven to be swaying along to a gentle wave of indie rock tranquillity and dreamy vocals. However, the all-female trio unleash a sonic riot filled with clamorous drums, voltage-boosted guitars and anthemic vocals over an adrenaline-rushed pulse. Sumptuous yet sometimes manic, this is one song that you cannot let your ears drift away from.

Other Info

  • Listen to more of The Wisely Brothers in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (108) – THURSDAY’S YOUTH さよなら ‘Sayonara’

Previously named Suck a Stew Dry, the now indie rock quartet returned from their break and renamed themselves THURSDAY’S YOUTH after a song from their back catalogue. To mark a new page in their musical life, they literally wave goodbye to the past with their starry, evocative rock number さよなら ‘Sayonara’ (‘Goodbye’). This song provides a delicate balm for any indie rock fan with its guitar riffs jangling in the sonic horizon, honey-toned vocals and the moonlit, melodious chorus that is both euphoric and restful in equal measure.

Other Info

  • THURSDAY’S YOUTH’s first live tour I can’t be your rock star starts in June.

© Isaku Takahashi

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

Picks of the Week #17

Kicking off 2017 with an anthemic number by J-rock group BUMP OF CHICKEN. GO’ from their 8th album Butterflies glides through the musical stratosphere with sparkling energy and purity in equal measure. The sumptuous mix of euphoric vocal melodies, jangling guitar riffs, radiant EDM synths and resonant stadium-rock vibe awakens a Coldplay-like character and shines their distinct alt-rock personality to full bloom, just as the Japanese audience like it. Find out more about BUMP OF CHICKEN in my blog post here.

  • 星野源 Hoshino Gen – 恋 ‘Koi’

Arguably one of the biggest hits by singer-songwriter星野源 Hoshino Gen, 恋 ‘Koi’ (‘Love’) excited the nation last year with its buoyant, retro-coloured J-pop vibes and infectious choreography. The song’s foot-tapping beats, sumptuous strings, caffeine-infused guitar riffs and Hoshino’s joyful vocals provided the perfect companion for the TV adaptation of the romance shojo manga series 逃げるは恥だが役に立つ Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu.

The rhythmic propulsion of rock and minimalism collides with the melodic intricacy of jazz in Fox Capture Plan’s new track ‘Acceleration’. Relentless drum and bass lines and perpetual piano riffs drive through the musical motorway at unstoppable pace, but the trio also experiments with hypnotic sample and timbral effects to immerse the listener in both familiar and different sonic realms. This track features in their latest mini album color and monochrome 2, in collaboration with fellow jazz group bohemianvoodoo. Find out more about Fox Capture Plan in my blog post here. 

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (90) – OGRE YOU ASSHOLE – なくした ‘Nakushita’

Take your mind off the seismic shock that trembled from America to the whole planet with OGRE YOU ASSHOLE’s new track なくした ‘Nakushita’ (‘Lost’). Swaggering beats and guitars ooze with soulful confidence, while 出戸学 Deto Manabu’s languid yet warm vocals shimmer a hypnotic vibe that seeps through the listener’s reality. The Nagano-bred quartet has been dabbling in the psychedelic rock and post-punk world for 15 years – their name amplified by their close associations with Western bands like Modest Mouse and Yume Bitsu. For someone like me who is always keen on broadening my eyes and ears for new music, I’m intrigued to rummage around their back catalogue.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v44iuuZgaII

Other Info/Context

  • OGRE YOU ASSHOLE’s new album Handoru wo Hanasu Mae ni was released on November 9th.

© Isaku Takahashi