New Japanese Vibes (119) – Sunny Day Service 青い戦車 ‘Aoi Sensha’

Enter the hypnotic and infectious sound world of 青い戦車 ‘Aoi Sensha’ (‘Blue Tank’) by Sunny Day Service. Featuring in their new album Popcorn Ballads, the alt-rock trio celebrate 25 years in the Japanese indie family in chic style -topped with a dreamy and nostalgic 90s coat, winding synths swim gauzily in the chorus, funk-infused guitars coaxes the listener’s senses to bop in the beat, and 曽我部恵一 Sokabe Keiichi’s languid yet alluring vocals struts a dapper look on the musical catwalk before the track comes crashing down at the very end with total sonic chaos.

Other Info

  • Sunny Day Service’s new album Popcorn Ballads was released on June 2nd.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (117) – carpool 予感 ‘Yokan’

予感 ‘Yokan’ (“Premonition’) by indie rock band carpool is the ideal number to wake me up on the weekend with their radiant yet romantic mix of jangling guitars and male-female octave unison melodic charm. Featuring in their upcoming new album Come & Go, the quartet is the go-to act if you want you speakers and headphone to radiate sensations of summer above a wave of warmth and delicacy.

Other Info

  • Carpool’s new album Come & Go will be released on June 28th.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #23

After a week of non-stop sightseeing and tireless walking around the traditional streets and hustle and bustle of Japan, I was craving a day to just chill. While the hotel bed provides the cloud to let my body wind down, Special Favorite Music soothes my ears with their gorgeous mix of indie, soul and funk colours in ‘Ceremony’. From tropical flute riffs to silky violin phrases and flowery vocals, this delightful septet is one to add to your playlist for any time of year. Listen to more Special Favorite Music in my blog post here.

  • The quiet room – ‘Fressy’

High in youthful rock energy, ‘Fressy’ by the quiet room is a welcome tune that calls the summer sunshine to rise. The band’s infectious juvenile personality is set to max from the turbo-charged introduction right through to the euphoric party coda, and their all-round positive pop-rock outlook certainly makes them a popular act in today’s young audience. ‘Fressy’ is the opening track of their new mini album Little City Films.

  • Never young beach – 明るい未来 ‘Akarui Mirai’

From one summery tune to another, 明るい未来 ‘Akarui Mirai’ (‘Bright Future’) by Never young beach oozes with rich retro vibes. Featuring in their second album fam fam, the song opens with a groovy guitar riff and shimmering chords before 安部勇磨 Abe Yuma croons on the microphone with his smoky vocals above rock/pop rhythms and harmonies that may well ride along the motorway by the beach.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (113) – The Wisely Brothers ‘Thursday’

After the first few minutes of listening to ‘Thursday’ by three-piece band The Wisely Brothers, you’d probably be forgiven to be swaying along to a gentle wave of indie rock tranquillity and dreamy vocals. However, the all-female trio unleash a sonic riot filled with clamorous drums, voltage-boosted guitars and anthemic vocals over an adrenaline-rushed pulse. Sumptuous yet sometimes manic, this is one song that you cannot let your ears drift away from.

Other Info

  • Listen to more of The Wisely Brothers in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #21

  • DATS – ‘Mobile’

Laden with vintage 90s colours, electro-pop and euro dance beats, ‘Mobile’ by DATS is a refreshing track that can rejuvenate any drained senses in my body. The song surfs the same sonic wavelengths of recent British bands like The 1975 and Disclosure with the quartet’s youthful vocals and the radiant spectrum of synths and beats that penetrate the listener’s eardrums.

  • AAA – ‘Jewel’

While finding hidden gems in the Japanese music scene is important to me, I also enjoy the odd sugar-coated J-pop number, including ‘Jewel’ by the female duo 宇野美彩子 Uno Misako and 伊藤千晃 Ito Chiaki from AAA. This infectious electro-pop tune filled with chic synth colours, seductive vocoder-shaded vocals and bouncing beats features in their latest album WAY OF GLORY, and marks the final chapter of Ito’s journey with AAA as she leaves at the end of March after announcing her pregnancy. Listen to more AAA in my blog posts here.

New York City’ by Tempalay is an absorbing and hypnotic number that may well put listeners in a blissful trance. From the opening perpetual chords to the spellbinding sonic colours that meander throughout the stereo field in serpentine fashion, the band’s signature psychedelic-rock personality comes to full bloom in this beguiling track. ‘New York City’ features in their latest EP 5曲 Gokyoku (‘Five Tracks’). Listen and find out more about Tempalay in my blog posts here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (108) – THURSDAY’S YOUTH さよなら ‘Sayonara’

Previously named Suck a Stew Dry, the now indie rock quartet returned from their break and renamed themselves THURSDAY’S YOUTH after a song from their back catalogue. To mark a new page in their musical life, they literally wave goodbye to the past with their starry, evocative rock number さよなら ‘Sayonara’ (‘Goodbye’). This song provides a delicate balm for any indie rock fan with its guitar riffs jangling in the sonic horizon, honey-toned vocals and the moonlit, melodious chorus that is both euphoric and restful in equal measure.

Other Info

  • THURSDAY’S YOUTH’s first live tour I can’t be your rock star starts in June.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #20

  • The Wisely Brothers – 鉄道 ‘Tetsudou’

One has to admire bands that can turn ideas that are seemingly repetitive into a song that is tranquil and sumptuous, like 鉄道 ‘Tetsudou’ (‘Railway’) by indie-rock trio The Wisely Brothers. A sedate electric guitar ambles along a single note before Madachi Haruko dips into the mix with her honey-toned vocals. The band gradually spurs the song to a euphoric peak, only to dwindle down to a cosy ‘weekend coffee’ vibe.

  • カノエラナ Kano Erana – トーキョー ‘Tokyo’

Bubbly and vibrant – two of many adjectives that encapsulate カノエラナ Kano Erana’s lively number トーキョー ‘Tokyo’. The Saga-born singer sparks a dazzling fiesta of J-pop/rock fireworks, full of bouncing rhythms, gleeful vocals and a jamboree of brass. While much of the song gallops through a carnival pop atmosphere, Kano takes a brief and quirky detour with some unapologetic rapping before driving back on the country rock highway.

  • YOUR ROMANCE – ‘RUN’

In collaboration with indie-rock band PAELLAS, RUN’ is one of three tracks YOUR ROMANCE contributed to their split EP lute. The synth pop/rock quartet rides a surfboard of voltage-driven guitars and propelling drums, while they also indulge in a seabed of radiant synths and electric organ-like harmonies. The band’s sultry vocals add another zany dimension to the track, making this a worthy addition to my never-ending playlist of indie gems.

  • Sasakure. UK – ネジ巻き師と太虚鳥 feat. Lasah ‘Nejimakishi to Taikyotori’

The sonic universe and hypnotic sensations one hears and feels from Sasakure.UK’s track ネジ巻き師と太虚鳥 feat. Lasah ‘Nejimakishi to Taikyotori feat. Lasah’ is like no other artist or song in Japanese electronic music. Skittering drum patterns drive the rhythmic, drum ‘n’ bass-like propulsion of the track, and a galaxy of textures, colours and instruments orbit around the listener’s senses like oblique, celestial beings.

© Isaku Takahashi