Picks of the Week #22

  • Iri – ‘Watashi’

It’s been three years since my last trip to Japan, and after the excitement of roaming around the night streets of Shinjuku and Shibuya yesterday, it got me inspired to pick three tunes that glow some great musical vibes along with the neon lights. ‘Watashi’ by Kanagawa-based singer Iri radiates rich electro-pop vibes with its shimmering synth chords and drives through with house and disco energy in the track’s bopping beats and hand claps, making it perfect to amplify the glitter ball atmosphere of the city.

  • ラブリーサマーちゃん Lovely Summer-chan – ‘202 feat. 泉まくら Izumi Makura’

To take things down a notch is ‘202 feat. 泉まくら Izumi Makura’ by ラブリーサマーちゃん Lovely Summer-chan. From her innocent vocals to the rhythm section’s lush harmonies, smooth bass line and groovy guitar riffs, the song oozes soulful warmth that can shine a more reflective neo-soul light in the night stars above the Tokyo skyline.

  • Yahyel – ‘Once’

For an immersive sonic experience, Yahyel is the one to direct your ears towards with tracks like ‘Once’. Meandering through dubstep, synth and dream pop realms, the five-piece band exudes an elusive and serpentine character that sucks the listener’s eardrums into a world of extra-terrestrial gravity with its whirling synth harmonies, heart-pounding drumbeats, seductive vocal colours and effects.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #20

  • The Wisely Brothers – 鉄道 ‘Tetsudou’

One has to admire bands that can turn ideas that are seemingly repetitive into a song that is tranquil and sumptuous, like 鉄道 ‘Tetsudou’ (‘Railway’) by indie-rock trio The Wisely Brothers. A sedate electric guitar ambles along a single note before Madachi Haruko dips into the mix with her honey-toned vocals. The band gradually spurs the song to a euphoric peak, only to dwindle down to a cosy ‘weekend coffee’ vibe.

  • カノエラナ Kano Erana – トーキョー ‘Tokyo’

Bubbly and vibrant – two of many adjectives that encapsulate カノエラナ Kano Erana’s lively number トーキョー ‘Tokyo’. The Saga-born singer sparks a dazzling fiesta of J-pop/rock fireworks, full of bouncing rhythms, gleeful vocals and a jamboree of brass. While much of the song gallops through a carnival pop atmosphere, Kano takes a brief and quirky detour with some unapologetic rapping before driving back on the country rock highway.

  • YOUR ROMANCE – ‘RUN’

In collaboration with indie-rock band PAELLAS, RUN’ is one of three tracks YOUR ROMANCE contributed to their split EP lute. The synth pop/rock quartet rides a surfboard of voltage-driven guitars and propelling drums, while they also indulge in a seabed of radiant synths and electric organ-like harmonies. The band’s sultry vocals add another zany dimension to the track, making this a worthy addition to my never-ending playlist of indie gems.

  • Sasakure. UK – ネジ巻き師と太虚鳥 feat. Lasah ‘Nejimakishi to Taikyotori’

The sonic universe and hypnotic sensations one hears and feels from Sasakure.UK’s track ネジ巻き師と太虚鳥 feat. Lasah ‘Nejimakishi to Taikyotori feat. Lasah’ is like no other artist or song in Japanese electronic music. Skittering drum patterns drive the rhythmic, drum ‘n’ bass-like propulsion of the track, and a galaxy of textures, colours and instruments orbit around the listener’s senses like oblique, celestial beings.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (105) – the perfect me ‘Have been waiting for a long time’

The Perfect Me, the latest arrivals on the Dead Funny Records bandwagon tangle a homely indie rock vibe with mellow dance grooves and radiant synth-pop colours in their new track ‘Have been waiting for a long time’. The Fukuoka-based duo of Takumi Nishikawa and Takuhiro Yoshikawa kickstarted their presence in the indie music scene through supporting American indie/experimental rock band Deerhoof (the duo named themselves from one of Deerhoof’s tracks). With their debut album INTO THE HOUSE coming later this month, the perfect me pave the way for the future of Japanese indie music.

Other Info

  • The perfect me’s debut album INTO THE HOUSE will be released on February 22nd.
  • Find out more about Dead Funny Records in my blog posts here.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (91) – Balloon at dawn ‘Our Blue’

A vivid and sumptuous dream-pop/synth-pop rainbow gleams in my senses as I let my ears indulge in Osaka-based trio Balloon at dawn’s new track ‘Our Blue’. Often dream-pop and chillwave tunes have the tendency to wallow listeners in a sedative sonic experience – ‘Our Blue’ on the hand surfs the vibrant waves of synth-pop with an array of celestial synth colours while revelling in clamorous drums, shimmering guitars and 井口聖也 Iguchi Seiya’s blissful vocals.

Other Info/Context

  • Balloon at dawn’s new EP Our finder will be released on December 21st.

© Isaku Takahashi

Picks of the Week #11

  • South Penguin – ‘Alaska’

A new comet has arrived in the Japanese indie galaxy. Four-piece band South Penguin made their debut this July with their EP Alaska. Their title track ‘Alaska’ coaxes a hazy psychedelic/new wave sound world filled with winding guitar colours, pulsing drums and mellow vocals. A fleeting clamorous spell interferes the indulgent flow of the track, but all in an attempt to enrich the nostalgic vibes of South Penguin’s music.

  • ふくろうず Fukurouzu – うららのLa ‘Urara no La’

Laden with melancholy and floating sensations, うららのLa ‘Urara no La’ is a gorgeous number by J-pop trio ふくろうず Fukurouzu to fit into your summer soundtrack. Featuring in their latest album だって、あたしたちエバーグリーン Datte, Atashitachi Evergreen (‘Because, We Are Evergreen’), this track cocoons the listener’s senses in a beautiful mélange of heartwarming vocals and tranquil guitar harmonies while driving through the motorway with pulsating drums and fiery guitar solos.

  • Sugar’s Campaign – ホリデイ ‘Holiday’

Prepare to be let loose in a classic yet refreshing 80s/90s disco synth-pop universe with ホリデイ ‘Holiday’, a groovy number by Sugar’s Campaign from their debut album FRIENDS. Born from the vibrant souls of Avec Avec and Seiho, the duo coaxes a tingling dance sensation with luminescent synths, soulful vocals and a rhythmically infectious current, and is sure to bring their listeners with them to their discotheque.

© Isaku Takahashi