New Japanese Vibes (156) – Lamp ‘1998’

With the initial idea of creating a “small series of ballads”, LAMP’s new album 彼女の時計 Kanojo no Tokei is a breath of fresh nostalgia. At the heart of the trio’s sound lies a sweet and sumptuous blend of 80s brazilian colours and retro city-pop vibes that wind the clock back a further few decades, musical elements that are vividly evoked in the wistful melodies, synth colours and harmonic progressions of ‘1998′, one of eight tracks in their new album. The song is in no way an inferior pastiche of the past, but injects a new and cool lease of life that makes this sound current.

Other Info

  • LAMP’s new album Kanojo no Tokei will be released on May 15th, and is available to buy through their website.

© Isaku Takahashi

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New Japanese Vibes (153) – Kensei Ogata ‘Someone Will Love You’

A short spell of summer has arrived in London, so it makes sense to blast a voltage-induced sunny rock number while soaking in the sunshine. Much to one’s delight, a new tune by Kensei Ogata cropped up out of the blue. ‘Someone Will Love You’ marks a coming of age in two ways – it’s the first song Ogata released as a band line-up, and musically diverts into new stylistic territory. In contrast to much of the spellbinding synth-led songs in his album Her Paperback (released in 2012 under Dead Funny Records), Ogata unleashes powerful rays of post-rock energy with an infectious rhythmic and harmonic motor that throws back the days to the teenage rock generation.

Other Info

  • Find out more about Kensei Ogata on his website.

New Japanese Vibes (147) – さとうもか Sato Moka ‘Lukewarm’

Hailed as one to look out for from the next generation of artists, さとうもか Sato Moka enchants listeners with an endearing number ‘Lukewarm’, which is the lead track of her upcoming album of the same title, produced by fellow P-VINE artist 入江陽 Irie YouWhile a simple and charming ambience pervades through Sato’s honey-toned vocals and gently bopping beats, its sensitive facade belies the interesting sounds and colours that swirl throughout the track, particularly the kaleidoscopic synths that embellish the harmonies and love story narrative that is delicately spun by Sato.

Other Info

  • Sato Moka’s new album Lukewarm will be released on March 14th.

New Japanese Vibes (146) – D.A.N. ‘Chance’

In a sonic universe where the hypnotic minimal pop of The XX, ambient music and psychedelic grooves orbit around each other, D.A.N. continue to transfix listeners with their mesmerising musical palette and their new single ‘Chance’. The alt-pop trio concocts a perpetual spell of post-minimal richness, but continually expands the kaleidoscope of sounds from the spectral vocals of 桜木大悟 Sakuragi Daigo to the perennial guitar riffs and synth colours that waver with subtle unpredictability. My personal highlight has to be the blissful ending, enriched by the voltage-boosted guitar solo and clamorous drums in the back.

Other Info

  • D.A.N.’s new single ‘Chance’ is available to download on their website here.
  • Listen to more music by D.A.N. here.

New Japanese Vibes (145) – tofubeats ふめつのこころ ‘Fumetsu no Kokoro’

A week off in Rotterdam gave me the space to recharge my batteries, and also be inspired by the cool, modern vibes of the Dutch city. Now back in my hunt for new tunes to come out of Japan, tofubeats returned to my gaze with his new track ふめつのこころ ‘Fumetsu no Kokoro’ (‘Immortal Heart’). The great appeal about Kawai Yusuke’s music and this track is the way it achieves harmony with such a spectrum of musical ideas – its radio-friendly melodies inflected with oriental colours, woozy synths and vocals, its genre-bending style and blissful dance vibe makes this song universally loved by Japanese listeners.

Other Info

  • Fumetsu no Kokoro’ was digitally released on February 16th, and is available to download here.
  • Find out more about tofubeats in my blog post here.

New Japanese Vibes (144) – SEKAI NO OWARI サザンカ ‘Sazanka’

In Japanese floriography (more commonly known as 花言葉 Hanakotoba), the 山茶花 Sazanka means ‘overcoming hardship’. This is the inspiration behind SEKAI NO OWARI’s new song ‘Sazanka’.

Written especially as the NHK broadcast theme song for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, the song speaks a simple yet powerful message for people chasing their own dreams and ambitions and resonates it with an anthemic ballad that gradually grows from a sparkling and serene opening with the electric piano to a grand and glorifying orchestral peak filled with glittering harp glissandos and belting trumpet riffs. I find a measure of a great song is how far the message touches people’s emotions – whether an athlete is chasing for an Olympic gold medal, or a student is studying hard towards their university entrance exam, ‘Sazanka’ is a song that relates to anyone around the world.

Other Info

  • SEKAI NO OWARI’s new single ‘Sazanka’ is available to download on their website.
  • Find out more about SEKAI NO OWARI on my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (142) – POLTA 土星少年 ‘Dosei Shounen’

2018 is a milestone year for youthful rock duo Polta, as it marks 10 years since they first formed and pleased audiences with their down-to-earth pop-rock sound. After listening to glimpses of their previous EP HELLO AGAIN, their latest energetic tune 土星少年 ‘Dosei Shounen’ (‘Saturn Boy’) provides the fuel for a new angle to their musical palette. This tune mixes much of the ingredients for an attention-grabbing song – a cool guitar riff in the introduction to invite me into their sound world, 尾苗愛 Onae Ai’s vocals that both radiates energy and soothes the ear drum, and a voltage-piercing guitar solo that looks to blast the speakers.

Other Info

  • POLTA’s new album LOVE TO DIE will be released on January 17th, and will be available to buy on their website.

© Isaku Takahashi