New Japanese Vibes (82) – フレデリック Frederic リリリピート ‘Rererepeat’

If the previous hits of J-rock band フレデリック Frederic are anything to go by, then one simply wakes up with excitement when finding their new video for their song リリリピート ‘Rererepeat’. The track oozes with youthful energy and their trademark repetitive infectiousness takes center stage, driven by voltage-laden guitars, pulsating drum rhythms and the band’s buoyant vocals. If this song gets you in the mood, then free your musical senses with another one of their songs here.

Other Info/Context

  • Frederic’s new album Frederhythm will be released on October 19th.
  • Find out more about Frederic in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

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Picks of the Week #4

Space imagery and cosmic sound worlds meet classic bossa nova in London-based Japanese/German singer-songwriter ケンコバヤシ Ken Kobayashi’s new track ‘Like The Stars’. Kobayashi continues to kindle Japan’s obsession for ‘city pop’ and ‘Shibuya-kei’, terms used to revive feelings of nostalgia and illustrate Japan’s fascination for Western musical styles. Its lush harmonies and syncopated rhythms stir up a quintessential bossa nova vibe, while a sparkling array of synth colours resonate an otherworldly experience.

  • とけた電球 Toketa Denkyu – いらない ‘Iranai

J-rock can be dynamic and voltage-driven, but it can also be melodious and even romantic. Four-piece band とけた電球 Toketa Denkyu (‘Melted Light Bulb’) tugs at the listener’s heartstrings with their track いらない ‘Iranai’ (‘I Don’t Want It’). Swaying in its mid-tempo beat, the quartet belts out a passionate rock ambience driven by harmonies banged out by the bright piano and guitar, clamorous drums, an electrifying solo before the final chorus and Iwase’s vivid and full-bodied vocals and poignant melodies.

  • DATS – ‘Some boy’

Representing Tokyo’s youth culture is four-piece indie-rock band DATS. Since their debut in 2013, the foursome has made waves in the Japanese music scene with tracks like ‘Some boy’. Perhaps reminiscent of The 1975, the track resonates with the British band’s alt-rock vibe with its haunting synths, jangling guitar colours, pulsating drum rhythms and anthemic vocals enriched in octaves.

Catchy J-pop doesn’t get better than Frederic, who unveiled their latest single ‘ONLY WONDER’. Infused with pentatonic flavours in the melodies, the current three-piece band from Kobe prefecture dances away on the musical motorway with infectious guitars, snappy melodies, and Mihara Kenji’s breezy vocals.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (7) – フレデリック Frederic トウメイニンゲン ‘Tomei Ningen’

Frederic are back with their unashamedly catchy, humour-tinged rock with ‘Tomei Ningen’ (meaning ‘invisible person’). As well as drawing similarities with British indie bands such as Vampire Weekend or The Kooks, the song brings back clear memories of their previous singles, like ‘Owarase Night’ and ‘Oddloop’ meeting one way. The verse melody bears a striking resemblance to the tune in ‘Owarase Night’, while the rhythmic propulsion parallels the motor of ‘Oddloop’. While a sense of familiarity pours out of the song’s broader energy, the woozy timbre of the synth in the verse and a middle-8 section straddle towards a more psychedelic quality, which distinguishes ‘Tomei Ningen’ to their other works.

While it is arguably not as catchy as their other songs, it has the fundamental qualities to be a real crowd-pleaser.

Other Info/Context

  • Frederic will release a mini album on 25th November, in which this song features.
  • Check out my post on Frederic here.

© Isaku Takahashi

フレデリック – Frederic

The context in which I discovered this band is similar to the way I first heard Sakanaction: a holiday to Japan; hours spent roaming around Tower Records in Shibuya; new musical discovery.

Frederic are a 4-piece band, including a pair of twins, Koji and Kenji Mihara. Their music combines catchy, unapologetic pop/indie rock gestures with eccentric, but equally addictive vocals, traditional rock band set-up weaved with subtle electronic layers, and perhaps most striking, music videos centered around two woodenly expressionless women.

‘オドループ’ (‘ODDLOOP’) is one of their more up-tempo, rhythmically pulsating tracks (compared to their earlier songs). The title merges ‘odoru’ (to dance) and loop, but it could also simply be ‘odd’ and ‘loop’, perhaps reflective of their unusual approach to their videos. The music video stays faithful to the context of the song: repetitive samples of clips in a loop or reversed, rhythmically sync to the beat and the persistent appearance of the poker-faced women.

From a more political angle, the occasional listener interprets this song as a subtle remark on the issue concerning late-night restrictions on dance clubs in Japan:

Chorus

‘踊ってない夜を知らない、踊ってない夜が気に入らない’

odottenai yoru wo shiranai, odottenai yoru ga kini iranai’

‘don’t know a night without dancing, don’t like a night without dancing’

Regardless of such a connotation, ‘ODDLOOP’ can easily raise the voltage level in any audience at a live show.

Their most recent hit ‘オワラセナイト’ (‘OWARASE NIGHT’) sustains the emphasis on danceable beats. The title means ‘to finish what you are doing’. Up until the point they released ‘ODDLOOP’ and ‘OWARASE NIGHT, I had the impression that Kenji Mihara had a slightly slack, laid-back approach to his vocal timbre and expression. However, this hit transcends the early judgements I had about his manner, as he seems to be more ardent and passionate. After all, it is a songs that promotes strong will and determination, reflected in their message:

“In order to see the morning, you have to finish what you are doing right now. Otherwise you cannot move forward. When you want to start something you have to OWARASE NIGHT!”

And it’s fair to say, it did the trick. It was a good motivation song for me in the sense that I had a dissertation to ‘OWARASE NIGHT’.

Other Listening:

  • SPAM生活 (‘SPAM Seikatsu’)
  • 人魚のはなし (‘Ningyo no Hanashi’)

© Isaku Takahashi