New Japanese Vibes (102) – The Rouges 海辺にて ‘Umibe Nite’

Perhaps the bleak February weather is not the perfect setting to indulge in some laid-back lo-fi and surf rock vibes, but I couldn’t help but rouse my curiosity for The Rouges and their new tune海辺にて ‘Umibe Nite’ (‘At the Seaside’). From the outset, clanking drums and jangling guitars drenched in reverb ooze premonitions of the glaring beach, and the trio’s juvenile personality comes to full bloom in their wonderfully frivolous vocals, and enriches the vintage backdrop.

Other Info

  • The Rouges’ new SWIM LOVE EP will be released on February 25th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (48) – PAELLAS ‘Pears’

PAELLAS’ indie rock outfit has been added with an accessory that is something a little bit different. Their new track ‘Pears’ brews a dark atmosphere that blends R&B, hip-hop and beach pop shades alongside their rock personality. While the foursome bob away with a groovy beat and funky guitar riffs, they equally indulge in an introspective mood coaxed by warm synths, electric piano harmonies and tender vocals flowing in liquid motion.

Other Info/Context

  • Check out my post on PAELLAS here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (44) – Boys Age ‘Round and Round’ / ‘Rule of Rose’

A month since discovering Saitama duo Boys Age, their new tracks ‘Round and Round’ and ‘Rule of Rose’ has caught my eyes and ears, and grabbed the attention of underground indie enthusiasts.

Both tracks shroud clouds of mystery in the listener’s audible senses, brewed slowly by a mellow and tranquil blend of jangling guitar chords, sporadic chromatic colours and the crooning and growling vocal utterances of Kaz. Along with a shadowy and abstract black-and-white visual narrative, Boys Age manage to create music that is disturbingly seductive.

Other Info/Context

  • Boys Age’s new album TOWA will be released later in April.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (35) – Cairo ‘Same As Before’ (Album)

The Japanese indie-rock community welcomed the launch of rock quartet Cairo (formerly under the name SANM) with their debut album Same As Before.

Cairo’s album is a masterful line of work that wades through psychedelic, lo-fi and dream pop sensations. As one closes their eyes during title track ‘Same As Before’, classic woozy guitar riffs, starry-eyed effects, hazy vocals submerge the listener’s senses in sonic bliss. ‘Retrospective’ raises the gear up a notch but still indulges in a world of reverb-drenched guitars and drums, while ‘Night Vision’ radiates nostalgic synth colours that also speak for their modern creative visions.

Other Info/Context

  • Same As Before was released on January 31st.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (33) – Boys Age ‘Neverchanging, Neverending (永遠)’

Saitama-formed duo Boys Age describe their style as “uncommon pop”, and regardless of any pretentious undertone people may discern from such a label, they certainly differentiate themselves from the pack with their new track ‘Neverchanging, Neverending (永遠)’.

Kaz and Takamasa, (the creative brains behind the track) meanders through a lethargic yet oddly seductive ambience, entwining tinges of indie, psychedelic, dream pop and lo-fi aesthetics. ‘Neverchanging, Neverending (永遠)’ speaks for the underground voices of Jandek or R. Stevie Moore, with liquid guitar chords and riffs, smouldering electric piano overtones and shadowy vocal tones drifting away at an eternal pace and brewing a rich and mellow sonic undercurrent and eccentricity.

Other Info/Context

  • Boys Age have released numerous records in the US, and are widely regarded there as the ‘Japanese DIY Master’.

© Isaku Takahashi

DEAD FUNNY RECORDS (Part 4) – THE PAELLAS

My final installment of this DEAD FUNNY RECORDS series features THE PAELLAS, a 4-piece from Osaka whose alluring musical sketches seek to revive a scent of ‘dream-pop’ in the Japanese music scene.

The sounds they produce fall neatly between the propulsive nature of rock and indie music and the atmospheric textures of ambient dream pop. ‘Long Night Comes’ and its twangy guitar lines, intimate drum line, cloudy lo-fi vocal atmosphere and embracement of ‘wall of sound’ qualities allies a bright surf pop sensibility and the intricate textural scoring that lean towards shoegaze, ambient and psychedelic styles.

The most impressive thing about the quartet is their capacity to create music that evolves through a myriad of atmospheres and styles within the time constraints of conventional popular music tunes. ‘Sugar’ is a vivid sonic sketch that mingles in a cosmopolitan musical habitat: The sparse introduction from a ‘water drop-like’ soundscape, mellow guitar phrases and friendly dance beat is washed into a twilight world, dictated by the whispering, lugubrious vocals and blurry synth layers.

Occasionally THE PAELLAS unleash a surprising splash of sonic colour on their musical postcard. ‘Cat Out’ and ‘Hold on Tight’ navigate the listener to the dancefloor with its infectious foot-tapping drumbeat and radiant synth pads. While the vocals in ‘Cat Out’ have made a transition from its lo-fi character, they sustain that somewhat erotic, introverted nature of the vocal timbre, infusing a mysterious, illusionary sensation into the nucleus of this upbeat dance vibe. Similarly, ‘Hold on Tight’ and its squelchy bass line, luminous synth pads and sedative voice line conveys a similar impression that draws resemblances to the electronic world of the Pet Shop Boys.

Wandering through the musical archipelago of THE PAELLAS, and the roster of talent from DEAD FUNNY RECORDS has been useful in looking at new interpretations of alternative rock music from outside of its roots, and an electrifying experience in discovering the newest, most imaginative and distinctive bands and artists, as they are just setting the tone for their future endeavours.

Other Listening:

  • Following (EP)
  • Long Night is Gone (Album)

© Isaku Takahashi