New Japanese Vibes (145) – tofubeats ふめつのこころ ‘Fumetsu no Kokoro’

A week off in Rotterdam gave me the space to recharge my batteries, and also be inspired by the cool, modern vibes of the Dutch city. Now back in my hunt for new tunes to come out of Japan, tofubeats returned to my gaze with his new track ふめつのこころ ‘Fumetsu no Kokoro’ (‘Immortal Heart’). The great appeal about Kawai Yusuke’s music and this track is the way it achieves harmony with such a spectrum of musical ideas – its radio-friendly melodies inflected with oriental colours, woozy synths and vocals, its genre-bending style and blissful dance vibe makes this song universally loved by Japanese listeners.

Other Info

  • Fumetsu no Kokoro’ was digitally released on February 16th, and is available to download here.
  • Find out more about tofubeats in my blog post here.

Picks of the Week #26


The no-nonsense funk-rock vibes of ‘Fools’ by Osaka-based four-piece DENIMS has the sonic power to radiate a bit of sunshine in the foreboding chills of autumn. Its crisp comping, rainbow-coloured chords, twanging guitar riffs, groovy bass line and tipsy vocal melodies gather to both punctuate the stereo field and resonate with the listener’s desire to bop along with the beat.

  • FIVE NEW OLD – ‘By Your Side’

Neighbours to Osaka, pop-rock trio FIVE NEW OLD formed in the Kobe region of Hyogo prefecture. Despite having played around in the music scene for only seven years, their song ‘By Your Side’ is an emblem of their unique pop-rock personality they’ve firmly established as their own. The band channel their love for the Western band sound, and gospel-like backing vocals and retro synths wind the clock back to the 80s/90s while further enriching the feel-good air of the song.

  • 向井太一 Mukai Taichi – ‘Can’t Wait Anymore’

A sumptuous hybrid of electronica, dance and ambient music revolve around the stereo in向井太一 Mukai Taichi’s new song ‘Can’t Wait Anymore’. The track has the infectious quality and sonic sharpness to amplify Tokyo’s neon-light jungle, but also has the intimacy to appreciate through your own headphones. ‘Can’t Wait Anymore’ features in his new album BLUE, due to be released in November.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (128) – slomos ‘dissolva’

Riding the same sonic waves as the likes of Bonobo, Tycho and Cinematic Orchestra, 高山純 Takayama Jun (a.k.a. slomos) lays hold of one’s senses and immerses them in his new spellbinding track ‘dissolva’. This track stirs both the listener’s emotion and entices the body to move with the flow – its swirling sonic colours, perpetual harmonic cycle and rich dose of dream-like nostalgia orbits one another to coax an airy yet intense cinematic soundscape. Soak up slomos’s immersive sound world and prepare your senses to be washed away.

Other Info

  • Slomos’s new album Slomos will be released on September 6th.

© Isaku Takahashi

New Japanese Vibes (124) – Poor Vacation ‘F/E/E/L/S’ [EP]

While perfecting a particular track gig after gig and day in and day out may be satisfying for some, Poor Vacation has their own way of living life in the music scene. The six-piece band’s new EP F/E/E/L/S is an incarnation of their efforts to refashion their headline track ロンググッドバイ ‘Long Goodbye’. The latest version rides the waves of 80s city pop, yet still retains the tropical summer vibrancy of their previous takes and resonates the contemporary band sound of today. While we can indulge in ‘Long Goodbye’ as a weekend soundtrack, one must also not forget about the title track ‘Feels’, an infectious retro, synth-pop number that dances on the chequered disco floor and above the glistening mirror ball.

Other Info

  • Poor Vacation’s new EP F/E/E/L/S was released on July 20th.

© 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

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 #21

  • DATS – ‘Mobile’

Laden with vintage 90s colours, electro-pop and euro dance beats, ‘Mobile’ by DATS is a refreshing track that can rejuvenate any drained senses in my body. The song surfs the same sonic wavelengths of recent British bands like The 1975 and Disclosure with the quartet’s youthful vocals and the radiant spectrum of synths and beats that penetrate the listener’s eardrums.

  • AAA – ‘Jewel’

While finding hidden gems in the Japanese music scene is important to me, I also enjoy the odd sugar-coated J-pop number, including ‘Jewel’ by the female duo 宇野美彩子 Uno Misako and 伊藤千晃 Ito Chiaki from AAA. This infectious electro-pop tune filled with chic synth colours, seductive vocoder-shaded vocals and bouncing beats features in their latest album WAY OF GLORY, and marks the final chapter of Ito’s journey with AAA as she leaves at the end of March after announcing her pregnancy. Listen to more AAA in my blog posts here.

New York City’ by Tempalay is an absorbing and hypnotic number that may well put listeners in a blissful trance. From the opening perpetual chords to the spellbinding sonic colours that meander throughout the stereo field in serpentine fashion, the band’s signature psychedelic-rock personality comes to full bloom in this beguiling track. ‘New York City’ features in their latest EP 5曲 Gokyoku (‘Five Tracks’). Listen and find out more about Tempalay in my blog posts here.

© Isaku Takahashi