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

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New Japanese Vibes (129) – LUCKY TAPES ‘Gravity’

Featuring in their new EP Virtual Gravity, indie pop band LUCKY TAPES return with a charming new number ‘Gravity’. The mellow brass chorus, genteel band sound, feathery melodies, honey-toned vocals and sweet riff that curtains every chorus orbit around the stereo field in a nostalgic musical galaxy. The song also provides the perfect city pop vibe as I write this post on the final night in New York, and reflect on what has been such an incredible trip going to Flushing Meadows (for some tennis) and roaming around the city that never sleeps.

Other Info

  • LUCKY TAPES’s new EP Virtual Gravity will be released on September 6th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (122) – Shunské G & The Peas ‘Groove Me’

Throwback tunes never fail to resonate with my ears, perhaps none more so than ‘Groove Me’ by Shunské G & The Peas. The band winds back the decades, not least in their name (the band is named after the track ‘Pass the Peas’ by James Brown’s band The J.B.’s) but also the song’s retro soul and groove vibes. With its colourful harmonies, bopping rhythms, blissful solos and groovy guitars, ‘Groove Me’ revives the disco ball in my living room.

Other Info

  • Shunské G & The Peas’ new album PEAS OF MIND will be released on July 5th.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #23

After a week of non-stop sightseeing and tireless walking around the traditional streets and hustle and bustle of Japan, I was craving a day to just chill. While the hotel bed provides the cloud to let my body wind down, Special Favorite Music soothes my ears with their gorgeous mix of indie, soul and funk colours in ‘Ceremony’. From tropical flute riffs to silky violin phrases and flowery vocals, this delightful septet is one to add to your playlist for any time of year. Listen to more Special Favorite Music in my blog post here.

  • The quiet room – ‘Fressy’

High in youthful rock energy, ‘Fressy’ by the quiet room is a welcome tune that calls the summer sunshine to rise. The band’s infectious juvenile personality is set to max from the turbo-charged introduction right through to the euphoric party coda, and their all-round positive pop-rock outlook certainly makes them a popular act in today’s young audience. ‘Fressy’ is the opening track of their new mini album Little City Films.

  • Never young beach – 明るい未来 ‘Akarui Mirai’

From one summery tune to another, 明るい未来 ‘Akarui Mirai’ (‘Bright Future’) by Never young beach oozes with rich retro vibes. Featuring in their second album fam fam, the song opens with a groovy guitar riff and shimmering chords before 安部勇磨 Abe Yuma croons on the microphone with his smoky vocals above rock/pop rhythms and harmonies that may well ride along the motorway by the beach.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (112) – DADARAY 美しい仕打ち ‘Utsukushii Shiuchi’

Halcyon pop and funk vibes radiate throughout DADARAY’s track美しい仕打ち ‘Utsukushii Shiuchi’ (‘Beautiful Treatment’). Featuring bassist 休日課長 Kyujitsu Kachou (from ゲスの極み乙女 Gesu no Kiwami Otome), the trio strut their musical magic on the catwalk with swanky and soulful licks on the electric piano, groovy bass lines and rhythms, rich vocal textures and sumptuous harmonies. With a trip to Japan coming up in a few days time, I hope to add this to my growing playlist of musical goodness.

Other Info

  • DADARAY’s first mini album DADAISM will be released on April 5th.

New Japanese Vibes (106) – feather shuttles forever ‘feather shuttles forever’ [Album]

There’s nothing better than listening to tropical pop and soul vibes in the morning of a day off work. Feather shuttles forever (made up of the duo Hikaru Yamada and マリ Mari (Mukuchi)) released their first album of the same title on bandcamp, and is a winsome combination of ten bright and nostalgic tunes. From the soothing calypso and shuffling beats of 海辺の電車 ‘Umibe no Densha’ (‘The Beach Train’) to the contrasting radiant ambience of ジュース ‘Juice’ and jazzy riffs that colour 小さな飛行機 ‘Chiisana Hikouki’) (‘The Small Aeroplane’), feather shuttles forever delve in a gorgeous array of styles to make the perfect soundtrack that will lift any dull morning.

Other Info

  • Feather shuttles forever was released on February 25th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (100) – 阿佐ヶ谷ロマンティックス Asagaya Romantics 所縁 ‘Shoen’

Oozing with soulful and romantic vibes, five-piece band 阿佐ヶ谷ロマンティックス Asagaya Romantics glows a musical sunset picture in their new track所縁 ‘Shoen’ (‘Connection’) from their new album 街の色 Machi No Iro (‘The Colour of the Street). The song taps into the retro sound world of ‘city-pop’ with a rich array of silky harmonies, breezy electric piano colours, an unwinding sax solo and 有坂朋恵 Arisaka Tomoe’s charming and lovable vocals slightly reminiscent of AIKO. If you ever feel the need to wind down in your living room one evening, then decorate the space with some smooth jazz and laid-back pop.

Other Info

  • Asagaya Romantics’ new album Machi No Iro will be released on January 25th.

© Isaku Takahashi