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 (129) – LUCKY TAPES ‘Gravity’

Featuring in their new EP Virtual Gravity, indie pop band LUCKY TAPES return with a charming new number ‘Gravity’. The mellow brass chorus, genteel band sound, feathery melodies, honey-toned vocals and sweet riff that curtains every chorus orbit around the stereo field in a nostalgic musical galaxy. The song also provides the perfect city pop vibe as I write this post on the final night in New York, and reflect on what has been such an incredible trip going to Flushing Meadows (for some tennis) and roaming around the city that never sleeps.

Other Info

  • LUCKY TAPES’s new EP Virtual Gravity will be released on September 6th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (127) – AKLO×JAY’ED ‘Different Man’

AKLO and JAY’ED wind the clock back in a vivid homage to the 80s/90s chilled out hip-hop and R&B sound world in ‘Different Man’. Featuring in their first EP as a collaborative act, the track pounds the listener’s eardrums in a seductive sonic ambience with swirling synths orbiting around the stereo field, JAY’ED’s sultry vocals reminiscent of the likes of Chris Brown, AKLO’s bold rapping that offsets the smooth vibes perfectly.

Other Info

  • AKLO×JAY’ED’s new EP Sorry…come back later will be released on September 6th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (126) – DAOKO x 米津玄師 Yonezu Kenshi 打上花火 ‘Uchiage Hanabi’

It’s not often that simply seeing the names of two artists sat by each other instantly grabs my attention. The chemistry between DAOKOand米津玄師Yonezu Kenshi vividly resonates in their blissful new track打上花火 ‘Uchiage Hanabi’ (‘Rocket Firework’), and provides the perfect musical showstopper for the upcoming anime film 打ち上げ花火、下から見るか?横から見るか?Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara miruka? Yoko kara miruka?. After a poignant piano riff introduces the song, a galaxy of anthemic richness shines especially in the chorus, where symphonic strings and pounding drums echo towards the horizon, coupled with DAOKO’s honey-toned melodies and Yonezu’s vocal power.

Other Info

  • Uchiage Hanabi’ will be released on August 16th.
  • The film Uchiage Hanabi, Shita kara miruka? Yoko kara miruka? will be released in Japanese cinemas on August 18th.
  • Find out more about DAOKO. 
  • Find out more about Yonezu Kenshi.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (124) – Poor Vacation ‘F/E/E/L/S’ [EP]

While perfecting a particular track gig after gig and day in and day out may be satisfying for some, Poor Vacation has their own way of living life in the music scene. The six-piece band’s new EP F/E/E/L/S is an incarnation of their efforts to refashion their headline track ロンググッドバイ ‘Long Goodbye’. The latest version rides the waves of 80s city pop, yet still retains the tropical summer vibrancy of their previous takes and resonates the contemporary band sound of today. While we can indulge in ‘Long Goodbye’ as a weekend soundtrack, one must also not forget about the title track ‘Feels’, an infectious retro, synth-pop number that dances on the chequered disco floor and above the glistening mirror ball.

Other Info

  • Poor Vacation’s new EP F/E/E/L/S was released on July 20th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (121) – indigo la End プレイバック ‘Playback’

A smoky yet vibrant musical universe oozes out when indigo la End bursts through the speakers. Their latest track プレイバック ‘Playback’ is not exception – led by 川谷絵音 Kawatani Enon’s sweet and mellow vocals, the track shines an opulent mix of precision-engineered drums, heavenly backing vocals and sparkling harmonies and catchy licks in the guitar. The band turns up the sonic euphoria in the final chorus before the final guitar chords glisten away into the horizon.

Other Info

  • Indigo la End’s new album Crying End Roll will be released on July 12th.
  • Find out more about Indigo la End in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #23

After a week of non-stop sightseeing and tireless walking around the traditional streets and hustle and bustle of Japan, I was craving a day to just chill. While the hotel bed provides the cloud to let my body wind down, Special Favorite Music soothes my ears with their gorgeous mix of indie, soul and funk colours in ‘Ceremony’. From tropical flute riffs to silky violin phrases and flowery vocals, this delightful septet is one to add to your playlist for any time of year. Listen to more Special Favorite Music in my blog post here.

  • The quiet room – ‘Fressy’

High in youthful rock energy, ‘Fressy’ by the quiet room is a welcome tune that calls the summer sunshine to rise. The band’s infectious juvenile personality is set to max from the turbo-charged introduction right through to the euphoric party coda, and their all-round positive pop-rock outlook certainly makes them a popular act in today’s young audience. ‘Fressy’ is the opening track of their new mini album Little City Films.

  • Never young beach – 明るい未来 ‘Akarui Mirai’

From one summery tune to another, 明るい未来 ‘Akarui Mirai’ (‘Bright Future’) by Never young beach oozes with rich retro vibes. Featuring in their second album fam fam, the song opens with a groovy guitar riff and shimmering chords before 安部勇磨 Abe Yuma croons on the microphone with his smoky vocals above rock/pop rhythms and harmonies that may well ride along the motorway by the beach.

© Isaku Takahashi