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

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New Japanese Vibes (11) – Nissy ‘Playing With Fire’

As a fan of Japanese pop group AAA, it was only natural that I would join the bandwagon of 西島隆弘 Nishijima Takahiro (‘Nissy’ as his solo artist name) enthusiasts. Bringing back glimpses of previous hits like どうしようか? ‘Doushiyouka’ (‘What should I do?’) and ‘DANCE DANCE DANCE’, the high spirited 1/7th of the avex-born group takes it up a notch with his new single ‘Playing With Fire’.

The track and music video exists within a similar sphere as Justin Timberlake, Ne-Yo or Austin Mahone. Crossing over between R&B flavours, electro-pop and dance beats, it has all the fundamental qualities to pierce every fan’s heart and lure them into sonic ecstasy: bright brass bullets, sumptuous backing vocals, foot-tapping beats and the seductive vocals of Nishijima that extends towards his falsetto range.

Other Info/Context

  • Playing With Fire’ will be released on Dec 24th.
  • Nishijima’s entertainment career spans many areas from music, TV dramas, movies and model work.

© Isaku Takahashi