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 #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

New Japanese Vibes (88) – Num Contena ‘Smile When You’re Dead’

Reminiscent of 90s American alt-rock and indie-folk, Fukuoka-based indie rock quartet Num Contena uncover their new track ‘Smile When You’re Dead’ from their upcoming first full album Smile When You’re Dead. Flowing vocals, gleaming guitar riffs and a cradle-rocking beat is layered with tranquil psychedelic musical waves to spellbind listeners in a charming and wistful rock vibe. Not only does this track excite me for the Num Contena to come in the future, it also endorses Dead Funny Recordsname as a source of Japan’s great indie artists.

Other Info/Context

  • Num Contena’s first album Smile When You’re Dead will be released on December 14th.
  • Find out more about Dead Funny Records and their artists here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (87) – 青葉市子 Aoba Ichiko ゆさぎ – マホロボシヤ ‘Yusagi – Mahoroboshiya’

ゆさぎ – マホロボシヤ ‘Yusagi – Mahoroboshiya’ by Kyoto-born singer-songwriter 青葉市子 Aoba Ichiko is the perfect balm for my listening senses after another full week of work. The track’s simple façade of Aoba’s whispering vocals and cradle-rocking guitar chords delicately cocoons one’s ears with a crystalline folk beauty. Together with a music video featuring evocative clips filmed in Kyoto and Berlin, Aoba entrances her listeners with a wonderfully nostalgic musical and visual experience.

Other Info/Context

  • Aoba Ichiko’s new album Mahoroboshiya was released on October 19th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (80) – bonobos ‘Cruisin’ Cruisin’’

A rainbow of colourful musical vibes glimmers in ‘Cruisin’ Cruisin’’, the latest track by five-piece band bonobos from their upcoming album 2323Ku (23 ward, referring to the 23 districts of Tokyo). Although they are regarded as a Japanese dub band, the kaleidoscope of musical colour that dances throughout this track belies their simple band setup. From soul to electronica, samba, folk and many more, bonobos takes strands from a rich array of styles to sew a musical story that is simply gorgeous.

Other Info/Context

  • Bonobos’ new album 23Ku will be released on September 21st.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (61) – Ivory Past ‘Searching For Your Love’

The evocative sound world of country folk persuades listeners to groove along in Ivory Past’s new track ‘Searching For Your Love’. Born from a solo project by Oka Hitoshi (a member of Japanese indie-pop band sloppy joe), the track gallops away with vintage-laden guitars, twanging riffs and hotfooting drums while Oka’s yearning vocals resonate an expressive tone and enriches the nostalgic American country vibe.

Other Info/Context

  • Searching For Your Love’ was released on cassette tape limited edition on May 21st.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (36) – The Skateboard Kids ‘Bonfire’

Nagoya-based indie rock four-piece The Skateboard Kids unveil ‘Bonfire’, a perfect track to sing along to near a campfire, or indulge at home in its atmospheric dreamy folk backdrop.

The track opens with a mahogany guitar chugging away a nostalgic troubadour ambience. A slow-brewing propulsion gradually feeds its way and expands the blissful wall of sound, yet still silken in texture and harmony. Jangling guitar arpeggios shimmer away in a free and hypnotic spirit, and alongside the daydreaming vocals of Hioki Hayato coax a whiff of Sigur Ros-like meditative sensation in the process.

Other Info/Context

  • Bonfire’ will be released on March 1st, on cassette tape.

© Isaku Takahashi