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

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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

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

J-Christmas Vibes [4] – Num Contena ‘Flight to Winter’

Sometimes, we all need to wind down and just put one’s mind at ease with musical goodness. ‘Flight to Winter’ by Fukuoka-based indie-pop band Num Contena Its jangling guitars loosely reminisce jingling bells, and the rich blend of spontaneous vocals, gently rocking drums and floating harmonies shimmer with sentimentality, making this tune the ideal number to listen to beside the cosy fireplace. ‘Flight to Winter’ features in their first full album Smile When You’re Dead. Hear more of Num Contena in my blog post here, and find out more about Dead Funny Records here.

© Isaku Takahashi

 

New Japanese Vibes (92) – シャムキャッツ Siamese Cats – すてねこ ‘Suteneko’

Behind the feline façade of シャムキャッツ Siamese Cats’ lies a burst of indie rock goodness with their new track すてねこ ‘Suteneko’ (‘Stray Cat’). Much to my own surprise, the quartet has been entertaining Japanese audiences for ten years. However, after immersing myself in the song’s infectious melodies, razor-coloured guitars, pumping rhythms and energetic vs melancholic journey, their slightly bubblegum-pop albeit freewheeling rock vibe has certainly got me digging into their back catalogue.

Other Info/Context

  • Siamese Cats’ new EP Kimi no Machi ni mo Ame wa Furu no kai? was released on November 16th.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #16

  • TAMTAM – コーヒーピープル ‘Coffee People’

Rooted in dub, jazz and RnB traditions yet ethereal and unorthodox in equal measure, コーヒーピープル ‘Coffee People’ by Tokyo-based alt-pop band TAMTAM puts the listener’s senses in a state of sonic and emotional flux. The track amuses itself in a repetitive yet infectious musical flow with teetering guitar chords and looping vocal melodies, which slowly wades towards a feedback-induced climax that would hypnotise the listener with a spiralling wall of sound.

  • サニーデイサービス Sunny Day Service – ‘I’m a Boy’

Indie-pop trio サニーデイサービス Sunny Day Service plays the melancholy card from the musical deck in their track ‘I’m a Boy’ from their latest album DANCE TO YOU. Strolling through gorgeous guitar vibes that reminds one of the early 70s folk-rock sounds of Happy End, the band rides further away from their bygone punk days and indulges in a rich sound world filled with evocative vocals, jangling guitars and a poignant undercurrent.

  • Healthy Dynamite Club – ブギーナイツ ‘Boogie Nights’

Something to liven up one’s tired eyes and ears after a stressful day of work – ブギーナイツ ‘Boogie Nights’ by disco-pop newcomers Healthy Dynamite Club. The track is as catchy and irresistible as Daft Punk injected with an extra dose of glitter – with glitz-laden guitars, a groovy rhythmic pulse and a euphoric chorus to put the cherry on top, hire the nu-disco septet any day to spice up any time of the day.

© Isaku Takahashi