New Japanese Vibes (148) – aaps ‘Tower’

Formed by three female musicians, ayaka, assan and panda, Okayama-based trio aaps slows down the body clock with their idle and nostalgic number ‘Tower’. The gentle drum beats, buzzing bass line, shimmering guitar chords and cool-calm vocals oar through the song unperturbed (with the odd psychedelic u-turn in the harmonies), taking the listener with them in the blissful indie rock air and stroking the relaxed senses from every corner.

Other Info

  • aaps’ new album Chilly Morning was released on March 7th. More info is on their website.
Advertisements

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.

Picks of the Week #28

  • POP ART TOWN – ノンフィクション ‘Non-Fiction’

For a tune that oozes energy and positive vibes, ノンフィクション ‘Non-Fiction’ by Osaka-based quartet POP ART TOWN is one to add on your playlist. The band say that this song is “the perfect spell for when your heart and body feel separated and you want to take a breather”, but one also thinks the track tugs at the listener’s celebratory senses and rhythmic muscles with its heart-pounding beats, なるおさやか Naruo Sayaka’s vocal purity and an unapologetically ‘pop’ spark.

Non-Fiction’ features in their latest mini album Variety. Find out more about POP ART TOWN on their website.

  • Yellow Studs – ブーツ ‘Boots’

For a refreshing throwback to the golden ages of rock, jazz (perhaps even cabaret), tune your ears to ブーツ ‘Boots‘ by rock five-piece Yello Studs. Led by 野村太一 Nomura Taichi’s seductively hoarse vocals, the track will take you on a trip to the urban underground and entertain you with a sultry mix of voltage-laden riffs and solos, pulsating rhythms, infectious melodies and a frisky party atmosphere.

‘201’ features in their EP GRAB. Find out more about the twenties on their website.

  • the twenties – ‘201’

The cool rock energy of ‘201′ by the twenties resonates both an innovative and familiar sound world, where psychedelic colours meet the millennium-launching rock sound. Formed in the Kyushu region of Japan, the quartet bring the max out of their vocal and instrumental range in this track with its stratospheric vocals and guitars, booming bass line and clamorous drums that all shake the sonic tectonic plates. A particular hats off to ウルマヒロユキ Uruma Hiroyuki for enticing riffs and colours that pierce the sonic spectrum.

201′ features in their latest album GLIMMER. Find out more about the twenties on their website.

 

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (119) – Sunny Day Service 青い戦車 ‘Aoi Sensha’

Enter the hypnotic and infectious sound world of 青い戦車 ‘Aoi Sensha’ (‘Blue Tank’) by Sunny Day Service. Featuring in their new album Popcorn Ballads, the alt-rock trio celebrate 25 years in the Japanese indie family in chic style -topped with a dreamy and nostalgic 90s coat, winding synths swim gauzily in the chorus, funk-infused guitars coaxes the listener’s senses to bop in the beat, and 曽我部恵一 Sokabe Keiichi’s languid yet alluring vocals struts a dapper look on the musical catwalk before the track comes crashing down at the very end with total sonic chaos.

Other Info

  • Sunny Day Service’s new album Popcorn Ballads was released on June 2nd.

© Isaku Takahashi

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

Picks of the Week #2

The groovy and soulful ensemble Special Favorite Music prepared for the release of their new album World’s Magic with another preview of one of their tracks, ‘Magic Hour’. A few months ago, this band first came to my attention with their song ‘Dribble’, a gentle yet up-tempo disco/jazz jam. ‘Magic Hour’ meanwhile, is a much more indulgent, tranquil affair with lush soul sonorities, jazzy melodic riffs, vintage electric piano and sax colours against a contemporary drum beat and a silky texture of feathery vocals. The album is out now from P-Vine Records.

  • Suchmos – ‘STAY TUNE’

Suchmos offer their slightly unusual take on hip-hop and acid jazz with ‘STAY TUNE’. Taking their name from ‘Satchmo’, the nickname of jazz legend Louis Armstrong, the six-piece band from Kanagawa prefecture coax a seductive sound world livened up by jangling guitar chords, iridescent electric piano riffs and harmonies, groovy propulsion, and alluring vocals that stretch from full-bodied to falsetto tones. If your Friday night is looking dull, then this may be the one to jam along to.

  • phonon – ゼロと白 ‘Zero to Shiro’

The Japanese rock scene is in good hands with youthful bands like phonon, who churn out appealing yet unique tunes like ゼロと白 ‘Zero to Shiro’ (‘Zero and White’). This track is exuberant rock at its finest, led by the husky yet strong vocals of イマイズミヒカル Imaizumi Hikaru. Then all of a sudden, the band plunges into filled out with celestial synths, glistening guitars and reverb-laden vocals before gradually climbing back to their trademark high-energy rock.

Beautifully lugubrious is how one may describe Taiko Super Kicks’ style of psychedelic rock. 低い午後 ‘Hikui Gogo’ (‘Flat Afternoon’) embodies their musical personality, plodding through a laidback beat, shimmering nostalgic guitar colours and melodies, and murmuring wistful vocals to immerse listeners in six minutes of sonic bliss.

© Isaku Takahashi