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

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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

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