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.
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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.

New Japanese Vibes (135) – YeYe うんざりですよ ‘Unzari Desuyo’

Japanese singer-songwriter Yeye dabbles in a feathery soundscape of emotional sincerity in her new track うんざりですよ ‘Unzari Desuyo’ (‘Bored’). The track swims alongside both the spiritual folk of Sufjan Stevens and the genteel vibes of tropical pop and folk. From the quietly sparkling trail of 7th chords in the acoustic guitar to the elephantine trombone solo towards the end of the song, the song paints a vanilla-coloured sand bed and tranquil beach water for the listener to imagine.

Other Info

  • YeYe’s new album MOTTAINE will be released on November 8th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (131) – CRUNCH ‘Blue’

Swimming in a new wave and indie-pop ocean coloured with folk-like melancholia, CRUNCH embraces a solitary musical ambience in their new song ‘Blue’. Taken from their upcoming new album 天気雨 Tenkiame, the all-female trio from Nagoya drenches the stereo field in jewel-like guitars, distant glockenspiel tones falling like rain drops and timeless melodies and vocals led by 堀田 倫代 Hotta Noriyo.

Other Info

  • CRUNCH’s new album Tenkiame will be released on November 22nd.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (130) – 平賀さち枝 Hiraga Sachie 10月のひと ‘Jūgatsu no Hito’

Featuring in her new album まっしろな気持ちで会いに行くだけ Masshiro na kimochi de aini ikudake, 10月のひと ‘Jūgatsu no Hito’ (‘October Person’) by平賀さち枝 Hiraga Sachie is the latest indie folk goodness to serenade my short break away from the office desk. Slightly reminiscent of the hazy folk and pop vibes of SOAK (Bridie Monds-Watson), the young singer-songwriter from Iwate prefecture swims in a reverie with her cute, honey-toned vocals that wades through a field of dreamy mellotron harmonies, cradle-rocking guitars and gently pulsing drums.

Other Info

  • Hiraga Sachie’s new album Masshiro na kimochi de aini ikudake will be released on September 20th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (125) – 富澤タク Tomizawa Taku 今夜抄 ‘Konyashou’

Judging from the opening strums on the guitar, one would expect their ears to luxuriate in a serene folk vibe. However, 富澤タク Tomizawa Taku is not the usual guitar-led singer-songwriter – his mix of nostalgic acoustic guitar folk colours and digital-filtered vocals in his new track 今夜抄 ‘Konyashou’ is sonically unusual to say the least, but does shimmer traces of Bon Iver and his characterful vocal effects. Blended with faint sounds of the beach near the end, this is a song I’m glad to have discovered and worth a listen.

Other Info

  • Tomizawa Taku’s new song ‘Konyashou’ was released on July 19th.

© 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