New Japanese Vibes (104) – Ivy to Fraudulent Game ‘Dear Fate’

Featuring in their upcoming mini album 継ぐ Tsugu, Ivy to Fraudulent Game’s new track ‘Dear Fate’ sees the rhythmic aggression of hard rock, the intricacy of math rock and the soulful and introspective ambience of gothic rock and shoegaze collide and burst in sumptuous fashion. Once you hook onto the song’s bullet train, there’s no chance for a pit stop – voltage-charged guitars, soul-searching vocals and relentless drum rhythms strike a lightning of potent sonic power.

Other Info

  • Ivy to Fraudulent Game’s new mini album Tsugu will be released on March 7th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (97) – PLAGUES ‘Fool on the freeway’

90s Japanese indie rock icon PLAGUES has had somewhat of a rocky ride to mainstream success. After a long hiatus stretching eight years from 2002, the current trio woke up from their dormant period and renewed their driving seat in the rock bandwagon. Heavily inspired by the ‘everyday’ sound world of UK 90s indie rock, ‘Fool on the freeway’ marks the release of their new album Free will. The song’s engine oozes with verve and nostalgia in equal measure, driven by a rich mix of voltage-laden guitar solos, pumping drums and candid vocals singing “fool on the freeway” in cool, unperturbed fashion.

Other Info

  • PLAGUES’ new album Free will will be be released on January 25th.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #17

Kicking off 2017 with an anthemic number by J-rock group BUMP OF CHICKEN. GO’ from their 8th album Butterflies glides through the musical stratosphere with sparkling energy and purity in equal measure. The sumptuous mix of euphoric vocal melodies, jangling guitar riffs, radiant EDM synths and resonant stadium-rock vibe awakens a Coldplay-like character and shines their distinct alt-rock personality to full bloom, just as the Japanese audience like it. Find out more about BUMP OF CHICKEN in my blog post here.

  • 星野源 Hoshino Gen – 恋 ‘Koi’

Arguably one of the biggest hits by singer-songwriter星野源 Hoshino Gen, 恋 ‘Koi’ (‘Love’) excited the nation last year with its buoyant, retro-coloured J-pop vibes and infectious choreography. The song’s foot-tapping beats, sumptuous strings, caffeine-infused guitar riffs and Hoshino’s joyful vocals provided the perfect companion for the TV adaptation of the romance shojo manga series 逃げるは恥だが役に立つ Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu.

The rhythmic propulsion of rock and minimalism collides with the melodic intricacy of jazz in Fox Capture Plan’s new track ‘Acceleration’. Relentless drum and bass lines and perpetual piano riffs drive through the musical motorway at unstoppable pace, but the trio also experiments with hypnotic sample and timbral effects to immerse the listener in both familiar and different sonic realms. This track features in their latest mini album color and monochrome 2, in collaboration with fellow jazz group bohemianvoodoo. Find out more about Fox Capture Plan in my blog post here. 

© Isaku Takahashi

J-Christmas Vibes [1] – 赤色のグリッター Akairo no Glitter 神様の涙 ‘Kamisama no Namida’

Another year is gradually reaching the end – after what has been a “slightly” bonkers 2016, it’s time to wind down from the chaos with some musical winter crackers from Japan. This month, I dedicate this blog to songs that are winter/Christmas-related, or just simply released during the final month of a year.

Regarded as a “new force in the J-rock scene”, 赤色のグリッター Akairo no Glitter released their first album 存在証明 Sonzai Shoumei last year on December 2nd (which happens to be my birthday… just saying…), which includes the track神様の涙 ‘Kamisama no Namida’ (‘God’s Tears’). Their anthemic rock arsenal is at full charge in this song as 佐藤リョウスケ Satou Ryousuke’s vocals somersault in energy level, voltage-laden guitars electrify the stereo field and the clamorous drums drive the rhythmic locomotive at full speed.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (84) – My Hair Is Bad 恋人ができたんだ ‘Koibito ga Dekitanda’

Another working week comes to an end, but only this time I come to the realisation that I’ve abandoned this blog for nearly a week. Luckily, Niigata-based indie rock band My Hair Is Bad pops up in front of my MacBook screen and delights my musical senses with their candid rock number 恋人ができたんだ ‘Koibito ga Dekitanda’ (‘I made a lover’). Paired with a music video flicking through nostalgic photos of what may be the two ‘lovers’ in question, the trio express their emotions and passion through a sumptuous musical world filled with grand strings, inspiring guitar riffs and down-to-earth vocals.

Other Info/Context

  • My Hair Is Bad’s new album woman’s will be released on October 19th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (82) – フレデリック Frederic リリリピート ‘Rererepeat’

If the previous hits of J-rock band フレデリック Frederic are anything to go by, then one simply wakes up with excitement when finding their new video for their song リリリピート ‘Rererepeat’. The track oozes with youthful energy and their trademark repetitive infectiousness takes center stage, driven by voltage-laden guitars, pulsating drum rhythms and the band’s buoyant vocals. If this song gets you in the mood, then free your musical senses with another one of their songs here.

Other Info/Context

  • Frederic’s new album Frederhythm will be released on October 19th.
  • Find out more about Frederic in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #12

  • 片想い Kata Omoi – パーティーに殺される! ‘Party Kills Me’

Where gentle blues, jazz and folk vibes meet a NHK educational program-inspired video, パーティーに殺される! ‘Party Kills Me’ by片想い Kata Omoi is a strangely fascinating experience. Taken from their latest album QUIERO V.I.P, the eight-piece band showcases their mellow yet rich ensemble sound – from yearning brass harmonies to a fleeting rap interlude and melancholic vocals sung by a humorous entourage of puppets.

  • EVISBEATS と PUNCH & MIGHTY – 夜風に吹かれて ‘Yokaze ni Fukarete’

A gentle hip-hop breeze flows in 夜風に吹かれて ‘Yokaze ni Fukarete’ (‘Blown by the night breeze’) by EVISBEATS (a.k.a. AMIDA as an MC), featuring fellow hip-hop duo PUNCH & MIGHTY (Michel Punch & Mighty Mars). The Wakayama-based track maker has built a reputation as an emblem of today’s Japanese hip-hop spirit, and this track lives up to his name as he entices a cool, nostalgic ambience with chilled vocoder-filtered melodies, feathery harmonies and a mild rhythmic groove.

Watching the Tokyo 2020 presentation (which incidentally椎名林檎 Shiina Ringo helped produce) at the Rio Olympics Closing Ceremony brought back memories of the Japanese singer-songwriter’s eclectic solo catalogue. ‘NIPPON’ was actually the theme song for the 2014 World Cup, but the track’s anthemic rock vibes driven by voltage-laden guitars and Shiina’s razor-cut vocals rumble an energy that may well hopefully reflect the atmosphere of the Olympic Games in Tokyo four years time. Find out more about Shiina Ringo in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi