New Japanese Vibes (116) – Dony Joint ‘One & Only Thing’

I confess that rap music has never been of great appeal for my musical palette (maybe with the exception of SKY-HI at his most verbal and lyrically confrontational). Having said that, there’s a brooding yet soulful spirit that one feels in ‘One & Only Thing’ by Dony Joint, which makes it such an intriguing and soothing listen. The rapping has a slick quality that glides with ease, and the neo-soul colours from the guitars, electric piano and backing vocals coaxes a feel-good atmosphere. A brief reprimand by Gottz (fellow rapper singing ‘Savoy’) changes the sonic gears before winding back into the nostalgic vibes.

Other Info

  • Dony Joint’s new album A 03 Tale, ¥ella will be released on 24th

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #22

  • Iri – ‘Watashi’

It’s been three years since my last trip to Japan, and after the excitement of roaming around the night streets of Shinjuku and Shibuya yesterday, it got me inspired to pick three tunes that glow some great musical vibes along with the neon lights. ‘Watashi’ by Kanagawa-based singer Iri radiates rich electro-pop vibes with its shimmering synth chords and drives through with house and disco energy in the track’s bopping beats and hand claps, making it perfect to amplify the glitter ball atmosphere of the city.

  • ラブリーサマーちゃん Lovely Summer-chan – ‘202 feat. 泉まくら Izumi Makura’

To take things down a notch is ‘202 feat. 泉まくら Izumi Makura’ by ラブリーサマーちゃん Lovely Summer-chan. From her innocent vocals to the rhythm section’s lush harmonies, smooth bass line and groovy guitar riffs, the song oozes soulful warmth that can shine a more reflective neo-soul light in the night stars above the Tokyo skyline.

  • Yahyel – ‘Once’

For an immersive sonic experience, Yahyel is the one to direct your ears towards with tracks like ‘Once’. Meandering through dubstep, synth and dream pop realms, the five-piece band exudes an elusive and serpentine character that sucks the listener’s eardrums into a world of extra-terrestrial gravity with its whirling synth harmonies, heart-pounding drumbeats, seductive vocal colours and effects.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (112) – DADARAY 美しい仕打ち ‘Utsukushii Shiuchi’

Halcyon pop and funk vibes radiate throughout DADARAY’s track美しい仕打ち ‘Utsukushii Shiuchi’ (‘Beautiful Treatment’). Featuring bassist 休日課長 Kyujitsu Kachou (from ゲスの極み乙女 Gesu no Kiwami Otome), the trio strut their musical magic on the catwalk with swanky and soulful licks on the electric piano, groovy bass lines and rhythms, rich vocal textures and sumptuous harmonies. With a trip to Japan coming up in a few days time, I hope to add this to my growing playlist of musical goodness.

Other Info

  • DADARAY’s first mini album DADAISM will be released on April 5th.

New Japanese Vibes (98) – DJ OKAWARI ‘Midnight Train feat. Emi Meyer’

With a music video set in a train and what resembles a quiet night in Tokyo, I figured I’d write about DJ OKAWARI’s new song ‘Midnight Train feat. Emi Meyer’ during my commute home under the stars. The Shizuoka-based beat maker provides the perfect beats and melodies for any evening – ambient piano  octaves shine an evocative wintry feel that gently fleets away in the listener’s ears, the drums carry the cool hip-hop motor through the track, and Emi Meyer’s vocals are both rich and mellow in perfect balance.

Other Info

  • DJ OKAWARI’s new album Compass was released on January 11th.
  • Find out more about DJ OKAWARI in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (95) – STUTS 夜を使はたして feat. PUNPEE ‘Yoru Wo Tsukaihatashite’

The realms of jazz, soul and hip-hop have faced a revival in the past few years, including in the Japanese music scene. While my appetite for soulful neo-soul and chilled jazz/hip-hop mixes was rejuvenated by the likes of Hiatus Kaiyote and SoundCloud sensation Tom Misch, Japanese beatmakers like STUTS have captured my listening ears with tracks like夜を使はたして ‘Yoru Wo Tsukaihatashite’ (‘Use up the night’). With the help of fellow hip-hop artist PUNPEE, the song struts through the music video’s city nightlife with neon synth colours, seductive beats and harmonies and polished rapping.

Other Info

  • STUTS’ first album Pushin’ (new 2LP version) will be released on February 2nd 2017.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (94) – D.A.N. ‘SSWB’

D.A.N. has only been active for just over two years, but has garnered great interest both in Japan and abroad. Their spellbinding blend of minimal and mellow pop smoulders a sound world that lures listeners into a world beyond one’s headphones. ‘SSWB’, their latest release, dabbles in a sultry sonic backdrop intertwined with ripples of neo-soul richness, an introspective club dance ambience and a perpetuating ethereal steel drum riff in the air. Coupled with a nocturnal video brewing smokes of suspicion and seductiveness from start to end, the trio has certainly absorbed my senses in an inescapable, infectious musical cage.

Other Info

  • A.N.’s new digital single SSWB was released on December 23rd.
  • Listen to ‘Native Dancer’ by D.A.N. in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (72) – 宇宙ネコ子 Uchuu Nekoko ‘Summer Sunny Blue’ (with 入江陽 Irie You)

Featuring the seductive vocals of入江陽 Irie You, 宇宙ネコ子 Uchuu Nekoko are the latest alternative duo to ripple a wave of dazzling summer vibes to today’s listeners with their new track ‘Summer Sunny Blue’ from their debut album 日々のあわ Hibi no Awa. Glittering electric piano harmonies, warm brass and sunny guitar riffs radiate a feel-good atmosphere, while the smooth vocal melodies of Irie shimmer a feeling of nostalgia and a vivid landscape of the sun setting over the relaxing beach.

Other Info/Context

  • Uchuu Nekoko’s debut album Hibi no Awa will be released on August 17th.
  • Listen and find out more about Irie You in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi