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 (153) – Kensei Ogata ‘Someone Will Love You’

A short spell of summer has arrived in London, so it makes sense to blast a voltage-induced sunny rock number while soaking in the sunshine. Much to one’s delight, a new tune by Kensei Ogata cropped up out of the blue. ‘Someone Will Love You’ marks a coming of age in two ways – it’s the first song Ogata released as a band line-up, and musically diverts into new stylistic territory. In contrast to much of the spellbinding synth-led songs in his album Her Paperback (released in 2012 under Dead Funny Records), Ogata unleashes powerful rays of post-rock energy with an infectious rhythmic and harmonic motor that throws back the days to the teenage rock generation.

Other Info

  • Find out more about Kensei Ogata on his website.

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.

New Japanese Vibes (148) – aaps ‘Tower’

Formed by three female musicians, ayaka, assan and panda, Okayama-based trio aaps slows down the body clock with their idle and nostalgic number ‘Tower’. The gentle drum beats, buzzing bass line, shimmering guitar chords and cool-calm vocals oar through the song unperturbed (with the odd psychedelic u-turn in the harmonies), taking the listener with them in the blissful indie rock air and stroking the relaxed senses from every corner.

Other Info

  • aaps’ new album Chilly Morning was released on March 7th. More info is on their website.

New Japanese Vibes (142) – POLTA 土星少年 ‘Dosei Shounen’

2018 is a milestone year for youthful rock duo Polta, as it marks 10 years since they first formed and pleased audiences with their down-to-earth pop-rock sound. After listening to glimpses of their previous EP HELLO AGAIN, their latest energetic tune 土星少年 ‘Dosei Shounen’ (‘Saturn Boy’) provides the fuel for a new angle to their musical palette. This tune mixes much of the ingredients for an attention-grabbing song – a cool guitar riff in the introduction to invite me into their sound world, 尾苗愛 Onae Ai’s vocals that both radiates energy and soothes the ear drum, and a voltage-piercing guitar solo that looks to blast the speakers.

Other Info

  • POLTA’s new album LOVE TO DIE will be released on January 17th, and will be available to buy on their website.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #27

  • RAMMELLS – ‘CHERRY’

Despite having only spent just over two years as a band, RAMMELLS have already garnered a reputation for their amiable soul, funk and indie rock vibes. Their debut album Authentic showcases their beautifully nostalgic yet refreshing musical personality, including the track ‘Cherry‘. The song, led by 黒田秋子 Kuroda Akiko’s charming vocals, blends a soulful cosmos of polished harmonies, river-like melodies and gentle heart-beating rhythms that is perfect to swirl around the living room stereo with a cup of coffee in one’s hands.

RAMMELLS’s debut album Authentic was released in December 2017. Find out more about RAMMELLS on their website.

  • PAELLAS – ‘Shooting Star’

The intoxicating and nocturnal sound world of ‘Shooting Star’ by four-piece PAELLAS typify why growing audiences are so excited by this Tokyo-based band. Reminiscent of the vibes of Daft Punk, the sweet scent of MATTON’s delicate and transient vocals twines around the song like vines on a brick wall, an array of synths swirl throughout to evoke the melancholic and hypnotic, and infectious riffs and chords on the guitar and electric piano kicks in an irresistible pulse that can’t help the listener groove along with the beat.

PAELLAS’s EP D.R.E.A.M was released in September 2017, and is available on their website. Find out more about PAELLAS on my blog post here.

  • Polaris – ‘SEASON’

Rhythmically snappy and melodically sentimental, ‘SEASON’ by rock duo POLARIS brings the best of both polarities in the musical spectrum. On one hand, the track drives through with dynamism in the drums and grooving bass line. On the other, serpentine vocals and coiling guitars concoct an air of melancholy and meditation. Personally, the song serves as the perfect antidote for my senses, dispelling all the city-life noise from my ear drums and cocooning them with dreamy indie rock.

Polaris’s album Hashiru was released in November 2017, and is available on their website.

© Isaku Takahashi