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

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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

New Japanese Vibes (15) – Special Favorite Music ‘Dribble’

Songs that burst “a flurry of warmth in the cold, bitter winter” seems to be a recurring theme in some of my recent posts. The same applies to the 9-piece ensemble Special Favorite Music’s new groovy number ‘Dribble’.

Building slight tension with EQ sweeps filtering the main groove, the song gently launches into a chilled and friendly soul/disco vibe with charming harmonies from the electric piano, bright guitar hooks, solid bass and drum foundations and the occasional elegant violin licks and funky piston actions from the trumpet and saxophone that exude a Curtis Mayfield-like quality. The colourful backdrop works well with the honey-toned vocals of Kume Yusuke and Lovin’ You, resembling the sweet vocal qualities of British duo Oh Wonder. The celestial synth in the latter half infuses a smooth atmospheric impression, preparing the listener for the final euphoric chorus that submerges the audible space in seductive disco sensations and soul/jazz sonorities.

Other Info/Context

  • Dribble’ will be released on December 16th.

© Isaku Takahashi