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

Advertisements

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 (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 (107) – 白線生活 Hakusen Seikatsu 漂流生活 ‘Hyouryu Seikatsu’

漂流生活 ‘Hyouryu Seikatsu’ (‘Drift Life’) by Kyoto-based shoegazers 白線生活 Hakusen Seikatsu shimmers a sound world oozing with nostalgia. The river of tranquil guitar riffs, beautifully twanging tones and the band’s hazy glossolalia-like vocals is strongly reminiscent of the evocative minimalist-rock of Sigur Ros and dream-pop icons Cocteau Twins. Yet there’s something more as well – for me, the track seems to conjure a sonic universe that vividly pictures a blissful aurora-like landscape, bringing nature and music in harmony with each other.

J-Christmas Vibes [3] – edy two arc ‘hide intention’

Thanks to a recommendation from a user on a Facebook group dedicated to supporting awesome shoegaze tunes form Japan, ‘hide intention’ by Sapporo-based duo edy two arc captures the next spot in my final few days of blogging in 2016. A math-rock-esque piano riff cues the shimmering guitars and melancholic vocals to coax a sound world that is both content and eager to unleash more sonic energy. If the adventure is somewhat subdued, then wait until before the conclusion as the duo from the north of Japan let loose a roar of shoegaze bliss before cascading down to a wistful ending. Their new EP hide intention will be released on Christmas day.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (93) – Cuicks ‘blink,blink,blink,blink’

The past is a playing ground for the future – perhaps this is an inescapable idea that has lingered throughout the diverse pop world. ‘blink,blink,blink,blink’ by ambient-pop duo Cuicks is a potent reflection of this concept. Laden with hazy shoegaze colours, seductive electro-pop beats and ambient mystery, this track injects the listener’s eardrums with a sonic tranquiliser and entrances the mind in a woozy yet blissful cosmos.

Other Info/Context

  • Cuicks’ new album warp will be released on December 14th.

New Japanese Vibes (89) – For Tracy Hyde ‘Favourite Blue’

My recent trip to Paris was a tale of new and nostalgic experiences – from watching tennis at Bercy to roaming around the streets of Paris, walking across the River Seine and embracing the wonderful Parisian cultural life. Perhaps this juxtaposition of ‘new’ and ‘nostalgic’ carries through in ‘Favourite Blue’, a new track by Tokyo-based indie-pop quintet For Tracy Hyde from their new album Film Bleu. Laden with shimmering guitars and airy synths, the song evokes a hazy yet turbo-charged dream pop/shoegaze vibe that is both evocative and fresh in equal measure.

Other Info/Context

  • For Tracy Hyde’s first album Film Bleu will be released on December 2nd.

© Isaku Takahashi