New Japanese Vibes (114) – MINAKEKKE ‘Grateful Dead’

Enter the pulsing yet hypnotic sound world of ‘Grateful Dead’ by female singer-songwriter MINAKEKKE. Dabbling in new wave, shoegaze and punk to name just a few styles, the perpetual drumbeats offset the swirling synths and haunting vocal tones to concoct an utterly spellbinding yet rhythmically infectious vibe under a nocturnal sonic gaze. If you’re seeking an artist that roams about in a dark, mysterious musical fantasy, then MINAKEKKE is one to capture.

Other Info

  • MINAKEKKE’s debut album TINGLES was released on April 26th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (90) – OGRE YOU ASSHOLE – なくした ‘Nakushita’

Take your mind off the seismic shock that trembled from America to the whole planet with OGRE YOU ASSHOLE’s new track なくした ‘Nakushita’ (‘Lost’). Swaggering beats and guitars ooze with soulful confidence, while 出戸学 Deto Manabu’s languid yet warm vocals shimmer a hypnotic vibe that seeps through the listener’s reality. The Nagano-bred quartet has been dabbling in the psychedelic rock and post-punk world for 15 years – their name amplified by their close associations with Western bands like Modest Mouse and Yume Bitsu. For someone like me who is always keen on broadening my eyes and ears for new music, I’m intrigued to rummage around their back catalogue.

Other Info/Context

  • OGRE YOU ASSHOLE’s new album Handoru wo Hanasu Mae ni was released on November 9th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (85) – Kidori Kidori アウトサイダー ‘Outsider’

A vibrant, pulsating and unswerving energy sets off sparks in Kidori Kidori’s latest track アウトサイダー ‘Outsider’. Made up of 川本直樹 Kawamoto Naoki and マッシュ Mashu (or Matthew), the duo’s latest release from the record label Hip Land Music comes just four months after their previous EP フィールソーグッド Feel So Good. The track drives through an infectious post-punk motorway, while it also resembles the rich shoegaze soundscape of My Bloody Valentine, though much more mellow and melodious.

Other Info/Context

  • Kidori Kidori’s new EP OUTSIDE was released on October 5th.
  • Find out more about Kidori Kidori in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (49) – CTLYA ‘WINTERREISE’

The new tunes from independent record label Dead Funny Records just keep on coming. This time it is the turn of Kyoto-based post-punk quintet CTLYA (pronounced ‘Catoleya’) to grab the attention of indie enthusiasts with their new tracks ‘WINTERREISE’ and ‘PERSONAL LIFE’ from their new record PERSONAL LIFE. The band draw strong influences from Joy Division, coaxing a post-punk, new wave sound world with an array of mellow and gritty guitar effects, synths that sound as though they came from high above the stratosphere, driving drum propulsions and android-filtered vocals in ‘WINTERREISE’, and sporadic vocal samples coloured with various effects in ‘PERSONAL LIFE’.

Other Info/Context

  • PERSONAL LIFE was released on March 16th.

© Isaku Takahashi

Ykiki Beat

Japanese rock bands have always seemed to aspire towards a musical personality akin to British rock traditions. Some have accomplished such an aim, none perhaps more so than Tokyo band Ykiki Beat.

Ykiki Beat (pronounced with the letter ‘y’ and ‘kiki beat’) share influences (e.g. Joy Division, The Strokes) and band members with their sibling group DYGL, hence the similarity in musical vision. ‘Forever’ is a totally unique track in the Japanese rock scene, inclining towards an intensely British flavour. Kindling a post-punk spirit amplified with a U2­-esque anthemic quality, the song’s addictive fuel consists of stirring guitars, foot-tapping rhythmic momentum, beaming synth riffs and the stunning vocals of Akiyama Nobuki that is so impressively “British” sounding.

Conjuring up a balance between the serene and sprightly, ‘The Running’ has a tranquil 80s dream-pop ambience running through the jangling indie rock pulse. With coolheaded vocals that show glimpses of The Killers, the song penetrates the listener’s ears with a wash of sounds that vary from radiant synth-pop and new wave to bold punk rock and tinges of surf colours.

Garden’ is a much more sprightly and summery affair. Resembling the youthful energy of bands like The Wombats, the track glorifies in clean and jangling guitar riffs, spurring drum and bass lines, and the seductive vocals of Akiyama extending towards both the brooding lower range and the hazy falsetto field. This particular track features in the compilation album Bonjour Colette, a collaboration between Bonjour Records and the French shop Colette (located near the Louvre) to find the latest musical talent to come out of both France and Japan.

Ykiki Beat’s goal to be successful globally will surely make great progress with tracks that don’t shy away from their influences, and a musical character that would strongly resonate with British listeners and Japanese enthusiasts who are looking for something distinctive.

Other Listening:

  • Younger Life
  • Modern Lies
  • Dances

© Isaku Takahashi