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

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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

New Japanese Vibes (135) – YeYe うんざりですよ ‘Unzari Desuyo’

Japanese singer-songwriter Yeye dabbles in a feathery soundscape of emotional sincerity in her new track うんざりですよ ‘Unzari Desuyo’ (‘Bored’). The track swims alongside both the spiritual folk of Sufjan Stevens and the genteel vibes of tropical pop and folk. From the quietly sparkling trail of 7th chords in the acoustic guitar to the elephantine trombone solo towards the end of the song, the song paints a vanilla-coloured sand bed and tranquil beach water for the listener to imagine.

Other Info

  • YeYe’s new album MOTTAINE will be released on November 8th.

© Isaku Takahashi

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

New Japanese Vibes (133) – エンヤサン Enyasang 大メインクライマックス ‘Dai Main Climax’ feat. ACO

The perpetual and hypnotic flow of大メインクライマックス ‘Dai Main Climax’ by brothers duo エンヤサン Enyasang . Also featuring singer ACO, the track ripples in genteel fashion with synth chords and riffs that echo towards heavenly heights while being rhythmically paddled by the low-key drums. The vocals of Y クルーズ Y-Cruise, エンヤ Enya and ACO carry on the hazy ambience of the song before the electric guitar galvanises the voltage of the sonic field, only to be washed away by the cosmic synths that brought the song to life in the first place.

Other Info

  • Enyasang’s new album Dai Main Climax will be released on October 25th.

© Isaku Takahashi

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