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.

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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 (149) – フレンズ Friends ベッドサイドミュージック ‘Bedside Music’

ベッドサイドミュージック ‘Bedside Music’ has a special place in the heart of the band フレンズ Friends. This gentle rock tune kickstarted their life as a quintet, and they now relish the experience of driving the roads of Japan and showcasing their charming and eloquent music and personality.

Musically, the song rides the same waves as the 80s city-pop trend that flowed through the veins of the Japanese music scene then, with its light and mellow adult-rock vibes, cute and sophisticated vocal melodies, and luxurious instrumental colours with a touch of soul glittering throughout. Whether you’re walking down the street with your earphones, or literally lying on your bed or sofa, Friends are one from today’s generation of artists to hear out for.

Other Info

  • Friends’ new EP Bedside Music will be released on March 21st, and is available to buy and stream here.

Picks of the Week #26

  • DENIMS – ‘FOOLS’

The no-nonsense funk-rock vibes of ‘Fools’ by Osaka-based four-piece DENIMS has the sonic power to radiate a bit of sunshine in the foreboding chills of autumn. Its crisp comping, rainbow-coloured chords, twanging guitar riffs, groovy bass line and tipsy vocal melodies gather to both punctuate the stereo field and resonate with the listener’s desire to bop along with the beat.

  • FIVE NEW OLD – ‘By Your Side’

Neighbours to Osaka, pop-rock trio FIVE NEW OLD formed in the Kobe region of Hyogo prefecture. Despite having played around in the music scene for only seven years, their song ‘By Your Side’ is an emblem of their unique pop-rock personality they’ve firmly established as their own. The band channel their love for the Western band sound, and gospel-like backing vocals and retro synths wind the clock back to the 80s/90s while further enriching the feel-good air of the song.

  • 向井太一 Mukai Taichi – ‘Can’t Wait Anymore’

A sumptuous hybrid of electronica, dance and ambient music revolve around the stereo in向井太一 Mukai Taichi’s new song ‘Can’t Wait Anymore’. The track has the infectious quality and sonic sharpness to amplify Tokyo’s neon-light jungle, but also has the intimacy to appreciate through your own headphones. ‘Can’t Wait Anymore’ features in his new album BLUE, due to be released in November.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #25

  • WONK – ‘Midnight Cruise’

A comment by another user on YouTube pointed out that random clicks can lead to great discoveries. The moment I clicked and heard ‘Midnight Cruise’ by experimental jazz quartet WONK could not be a more opportune time to agree with the above statement. The track oozes a seductive warmth with its gorgeous fusion of modern hip-hop and soul vibes, sparkling jazz piano colours and rich, immersive harmonies, while picturing a deserted beach with the sun setting in the horizon.

  • Czecho no Republic – ‘MUSIC’

Surfing the indie-pop waves under a dazzling shoegaze sunshine, ‘MUSIC’ by pop-rock quintet Czecho no Republic is a youthful indie number that perfect to blast out on the radio for a bubbly start to a weekend. Personally, this particular track reminds me of Mark Ronson’s brief spell as The Business Intl with its perpetual guitar riffs, turbo-driven harmonies and drums that drive through the never-ending motorway.

My ears do like to be in tune with the odd unapologetic pop number. This time, it is the dynamic energy and sensual personality of Nissy (from pop group AAA) and his song ‘SUGAR’ that reignited my inner party soul. The track has all the ingredients to pierce the hearts of his adoring female fans – it’s punctuating bass line, orchestral hits and jazzy ensemble sounds coax a sultry, burlesque-like vibe that adds the extra dose of allure to Nissy’s seductive and tad flirtatious vocals.

© 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 (129) – LUCKY TAPES ‘Gravity’

Featuring in their new EP Virtual Gravity, indie pop band LUCKY TAPES return with a charming new number ‘Gravity’. The mellow brass chorus, genteel band sound, feathery melodies, honey-toned vocals and sweet riff that curtains every chorus orbit around the stereo field in a nostalgic musical galaxy. The song also provides the perfect city pop vibe as I write this post on the final night in New York, and reflect on what has been such an incredible trip going to Flushing Meadows (for some tennis) and roaming around the city that never sleeps.

Other Info

  • LUCKY TAPES’s new EP Virtual Gravity will be released on September 6th.

© Isaku Takahashi