Picks of the Week #21

  • DATS – ‘Mobile’

Laden with vintage 90s colours, electro-pop and euro dance beats, ‘Mobile’ by DATS is a refreshing track that can rejuvenate any drained senses in my body. The song surfs the same sonic wavelengths of recent British bands like The 1975 and Disclosure with the quartet’s youthful vocals and the radiant spectrum of synths and beats that penetrate the listener’s eardrums.

  • AAA – ‘Jewel’

While finding hidden gems in the Japanese music scene is important to me, I also enjoy the odd sugar-coated J-pop number, including ‘Jewel’ by the female duo 宇野美彩子 Uno Misako and 伊藤千晃 Ito Chiaki from AAA. This infectious electro-pop tune filled with chic synth colours, seductive vocoder-shaded vocals and bouncing beats features in their latest album WAY OF GLORY, and marks the final chapter of Ito’s journey with AAA as she leaves at the end of March after announcing her pregnancy. Listen to more AAA in my blog posts here.

New York City’ by Tempalay is an absorbing and hypnotic number that may well put listeners in a blissful trance. From the opening perpetual chords to the spellbinding sonic colours that meander throughout the stereo field in serpentine fashion, the band’s signature psychedelic-rock personality comes to full bloom in this beguiling track. ‘New York City’ features in their latest EP 5曲 Gokyoku (‘Five Tracks’). Listen and find out more about Tempalay in my blog posts here.

© 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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v44iuuZgaII

Other Info/Context

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

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (88) – Num Contena ‘Smile When You’re Dead’

Reminiscent of 90s American alt-rock and indie-folk, Fukuoka-based indie rock quartet Num Contena uncover their new track ‘Smile When You’re Dead’ from their upcoming first full album Smile When You’re Dead. Flowing vocals, gleaming guitar riffs and a cradle-rocking beat is layered with tranquil psychedelic musical waves to spellbind listeners in a charming and wistful rock vibe. Not only does this track excite me for the Num Contena to come in the future, it also endorses Dead Funny Recordsname as a source of Japan’s great indie artists.

Other Info/Context

  • Num Contena’s first album Smile When You’re Dead will be released on December 14th.
  • Find out more about Dead Funny Records and their artists here.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #11

  • South Penguin – ‘Alaska’

A new comet has arrived in the Japanese indie galaxy. Four-piece band South Penguin made their debut this July with their EP Alaska. Their title track ‘Alaska’ coaxes a hazy psychedelic/new wave sound world filled with winding guitar colours, pulsing drums and mellow vocals. A fleeting clamorous spell interferes the indulgent flow of the track, but all in an attempt to enrich the nostalgic vibes of South Penguin’s music.

  • ふくろうず Fukurouzu – うららのLa ‘Urara no La’

Laden with melancholy and floating sensations, うららのLa ‘Urara no La’ is a gorgeous number by J-pop trio ふくろうず Fukurouzu to fit into your summer soundtrack. Featuring in their latest album だって、あたしたちエバーグリーン Datte, Atashitachi Evergreen (‘Because, We Are Evergreen’), this track cocoons the listener’s senses in a beautiful mélange of heartwarming vocals and tranquil guitar harmonies while driving through the motorway with pulsating drums and fiery guitar solos.

  • Sugar’s Campaign – ホリデイ ‘Holiday’

Prepare to be let loose in a classic yet refreshing 80s/90s disco synth-pop universe with ホリデイ ‘Holiday’, a groovy number by Sugar’s Campaign from their debut album FRIENDS. Born from the vibrant souls of Avec Avec and Seiho, the duo coaxes a tingling dance sensation with luminescent synths, soulful vocals and a rhythmically infectious current, and is sure to bring their listeners with them to their discotheque.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (75) – Tempalay ‘Festival’

Back in March this year, psychedelic pop-rock band Tempalay flew across the Atlantic and toured around America for eight shows including at the annual SXSW Festival in Texas. Their new music video for ‘Festival’ recaps their experiences across the pond. Married with a rich sonic cacophony of wistful vocals, laser-coloured synths, clamorous drums and raspy yet jingling guitars, one can indulge in an enchanting musical and visual experience.

Other Info/Context

  • Tempalay’s analogue LP version of their debut album from JAPAN will be released on August 31st.
  • Listen to more Tempalay in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #10

  • 幾何学模様 Kikagaku Moyo – ‘Silver Owl’

It’s been a year since I started this blog, and since then it has become a platform for you and myself to discover new and unusual bands like幾何学模様 Kikagaku Moyo. As you close your eyes and widen your audible senses for their dream-inspired track ‘Silver Owl’, you will float gently through a cloud of psychedelic folk filled with pensive vocals, delicate guitars and dreamy harmonies. Their considerable reputation today makes me wonder why I didn’t discover them much earlier on in my life.

Sumptuous and stirring, ‘Signal’ by TK (Toru Kitajima) from prog-rock band凛として時雨 Ling Tosite Sigure is a compelling rock number enriched with orchestral power. Away from the punishing rock anthems of his band, ‘Signal’ is a resplendent number that could well crown TK as the prince of prog-rock in Japan today – full of opulent strings, colouristic textures, dynamic guitars and drums, and rich vocals that reach heavenly yet anthemic heights in the chorus. Find out more about Ling Tosite Sigure in my blog post here.

Featuring in their EP 霊感 Reikan, りんごの質感 ‘Ringo no Sitsukan’ is one of the handful of tracks that kick-started the acsent of Taiko Super Kicks. The psychedelic-indie quartet takes the listener through a nostalgic musical fantasy with yearning vocal melodies, dreamy guitar riffs and gently pulsing drums. A guitar solo rockets through the sonic ceiling, ceaseless in energy and fiery emotion before cascading down back to wistful vibes. Listen to another one of their songs in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #6

  • Awesome City Club – ‘Don’t Think, Feel’

Illuminated by the colourful cosmopolitan life of Japan, Awesome City Club released their new track ‘Don’t Think, Feel’ in collaboration with global chain GAP. The song tugs the listener’s senses to dance along to the refreshing disco vibes, filled with dazzling strings, an array of jangling guitars, foot-tapping bass and drum lines, and led by atagi’s seductive vocals.

  • Taiko Super Kicks – 釘が抜けたなら ‘Kugi ga Nuketa nara’

Taiko Super Kicks are equally captivating live as they are on record. 釘が抜けたなら ‘Kugi ga Nuketa nara’ (‘If the nail has fallen out’) is one of many tracks featured in their latest album Many Shapes released last December. Also featuring extra vocals and guitar from singer-songwriter may.e, the Tokyo-based four-piece beautifully strolls through the song’s wistful melodies, evocative guitar riffs and vivid psychedelic rock ambience.

  • Super Ganbari Goal Keepers – プログレッシブな愛 ‘Progressive Love’

Super Ganbari Goal Keepers takes listeners back a few decades with their nostalgic track プログレッシブな愛 ‘Progressive na Ai’ (‘Progressive Love’). Based in Tokyo, the four-piece rock band recalls the vivid sounds of 60s surf rock with twangy guitars, up-tempo rhythms and tuneful riffs and vocal melodies driving through the musical motorway.

© Isaku Takahashi