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


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

New Japanese Vibes (139) – Half Time Old アウトフォーカス ‘Out Focus’

With the freak snow trapping much of the sounds of my surroundings, I was craving an up-tempo tune to break through the bed of white snow and quiet air. Upcoming rock trio Half Time Old woke me up with their pulsating new number アウトフォーカス ‘Out Focus’, which features on their latest album 発見と疑問 Hakken to Gimon. Thunder-bolting guitar riffs, ground-pounding drums and 鬼頭大晴 Kitou Masaharu’s razor-sharp vocals inject the fuel to the track’s sonic engine, which drives through with great conviction and dynamism.

Other Info

  • Half Time Old’s new album Hakken to Gimon was released on December 6th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (138) – 634noHz 知らない ‘Shiranai’

Struggling to dig out a new song to write about, Kichijoji-based indie trio 634noHz (pronounced Musashino Hertz) popped up in my video recommendations at the most opportune time with their new track 知らない ‘Shiranai’ (‘Don’t know’). A melancholic rock number infused with a soft shoegaze scent, the trio both cocoons and energises the listener’s ears with a sumptuous mix of tender vocals reminiscent of singer-songwriter Miwa, clamorous drums, cradle-rocking guitar riffs and a heart-beating pulse.

Other Info

  • 634noHz’s new EP Amplifier will be released on December 17th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (136) – バレーボウイズ Volley Boys ビーチバレイ ‘Beach Volley’

The lagoon-like tranquility and shimmering harmonies of ビーチバレイ ‘Beach Volley’ by nostalgic indie band バレーボウイズ Volley Boys cocoons one’s ears in the frosty bite of late autumn/early winter. Traces of kayokyoku in the vocal melodies winds back the decades and blow a refreshing breath of air in today’s indie scene. Coupled with glinting guitars and drumbeats like a gentle heart beat, the track invites listeners to let their senses drop onto a comfortable bed and let the harmonies and melodies soothe the mind.

Other Info

  • Volley Boys’ new album Volley Boys was released on November 8th.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #26


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