New Japanese Vibes (139) – Half Time Old アウトフォーカス ‘Out Focus’

With the freak snow trapping much of the sounds of my surroundings, I was craving an up-tempo tune to break through the bed of white snow and quiet air. Upcoming rock trio Half Time Old woke me up with their pulsating new number アウトフォーカス ‘Out Focus’, which features on their latest album 発見と疑問 Hakken to Gimon. Thunder-bolting guitar riffs, ground-pounding drums and 鬼頭大晴 Kitou Masaharu’s razor-sharp vocals inject the fuel to the track’s sonic engine, which drives through with great conviction and dynamism.

Other Info

  • Half Time Old’s new album Hakken to Gimon was released on December 6th.

© Isaku Takahashi

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New Japanese Vibes (138) – 634noHz 知らない ‘Shiranai’

Struggling to dig out a new song to write about, Kichijoji-based indie trio 634noHz (pronounced Musashino Hertz) popped up in my video recommendations at the most opportune time with their new track 知らない ‘Shiranai’ (‘Don’t know’). A melancholic rock number infused with a soft shoegaze scent, the trio both cocoons and energises the listener’s ears with a sumptuous mix of tender vocals reminiscent of singer-songwriter Miwa, clamorous drums, cradle-rocking guitar riffs and a heart-beating pulse.

Other Info

  • 634noHz’s new EP Amplifier will be released on December 17th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (132) – CAUCUS ‘What Have You Done’

Listening to ‘What Have You Done’ by CAUCUS is like having one’s senses submerged in an ocean of entrancing shoegaze spells and razor-sharp indie-rock colours. The track plunges straight into the deep end with roaring guitar and drums, but is beautifully offset with K’s hazy and hypnotic vocals. Their new album Sound of the Air will be released next month – for those who enjoy indulging in a wall of heavy drums, jangling guitars and ethereal voices, their record should be one to include in your Christmas list.

Other Info

  • CAUCUS’s new album Sound of the Air will be released on November 15th.

© 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 #24

Distance was my first encounter with J-pop legend宇多田ヒカル Utada Hikaru. 15 years later from the rhythmic and synth-driven vibes of the album, the singer-songwriter returned to the spotlight, plunging into musical and emotional depths like never before in her slow-burning ballad 真夏の通り雨 ‘Manatsu no Tooriame’ (‘Summer Shower’). The sweeping strings, poignant piano and angelic vocals weigh down a reflective and crestfallen air, marking a new leaf in Utada’s musical palette.

  • LAMP IN TERREN – 地球儀 ‘Chikyuugi’

Riding between the sonic waves of 米津玄師 Yonezu Kenshi and BUMP OF CHICKEN, 地球儀 ‘Chikyuugi’ (‘Globe’) by LAMP IN TERREN ignites a display of anthemic rock fireworks fit for the concluding number of any summer festival. Simple yet refreshing, the quartet shines a sparkling mix of voltage-charged guitars, pulsating and clamorous drums, and 松本大 Matsumoto Dai’s herculean vocals that is sure to resonate with the young generation’s listening senses.

  • MONDO GROSSO – ラビリンス ‘Labyrinth’

大沢伸一 Osawa Shinichi, better known as MONDO GROSSO is a name that speaks volume in Japanese electronic music. With the help of 満島ひかり Mitsushima Hikari, the DJ/producer from Tokyo concocts an infectious and dreamy electro house number ラビリンス ‘Labyrinth’. Pounding beats keeps the track on the rhythmic locomotive without any room for musical diversions, while airy piano tones fall like raindrops creating ripples on the sonic lake and Mitsushima’s angelic vocals float above the stereo field with delicate lyricism.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (113) – The Wisely Brothers ‘Thursday’

After the first few minutes of listening to ‘Thursday’ by three-piece band The Wisely Brothers, you’d probably be forgiven to be swaying along to a gentle wave of indie rock tranquillity and dreamy vocals. However, the all-female trio unleash a sonic riot filled with clamorous drums, voltage-boosted guitars and anthemic vocals over an adrenaline-rushed pulse. Sumptuous yet sometimes manic, this is one song that you cannot let your ears drift away from.

Other Info

  • Listen to more of The Wisely Brothers in my blog post here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (110) – club’89 ‘Folky House E.P.’

Indie-pop quintet club’89 give a snippet of their charming pop personality with a trailer of their new EP Folky House. The EP opens with vibrant number ‘Folky House’, a song fit for driving on the motorway with its jangling and round-the-clock guitars. From the shimmering nostalgia of ‘Mirage’ to the feel-good brass and bubbly rhythms and harmonies of ‘Coral’,Squall’ and ‘Okey-Dokey’, the EP makes the perfect soundtrack to liven up the spring season.

Other Info

  • Club’89’s new EP Folky House will be released on March 29th.

© Isaku Takahashi