JPOP, JPOP, and JPOP: The Discussion Thread

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Wemibelle

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#251  Edited By Wemibelle

Got a lot going on right now, so I figured I’d do a quicker post this week that focuses on new releases from artists I’ve already covered in detail. These are all releases from the last month or so, and each of them is excellent in their own way. I hope you enjoy them!

Umarvelous - Monkey Majik (2018)

This is a marvelous disco-inspired track from Monkey Majik as a collaboration with Japanese comedy duo Sandwich Man. It’s a supremely catchy song with entirely stupid lyrics that I recommend looking up. The video also GOES FOR IT in every way possible, nailing the retro look and costuming perfectly.

Harbor - Koutei Camera Girl Drei (2018)

Another fantastic recent release from Koutei Camera Girl Drei, maybe even better than the last one. The beat is so...damn...good, coming pretty close to the greatness that was Swallow Maze Paraguay. Paired with the hypnotic flow and nicely repeating vocals, this is a song you do not want to miss out on.

Dual Harmonics - toe (2018)

I believe Toe to be one of the greatest modern math rock groups and this track (off their newest EP) certainly supports that belief. It’s a gorgeously intricate song that just gets better and better as it builds, before gently fading into silence as the song ends. If you haven’t checked this group out, now is the time to do so.

Future Pop - Perfume (2018)

Another Perfume release for 2018. While I found the main rhythm of their previous release to be more creative, I think that this is a much tighter song overall, with stronger vocals and some great energy. I certainly would call this a “safer” song, falling back on the same tricks that Perfume has used countless times, but I can’t say that this isn’t a fun, catchy release.

Ironman of Rap - Rhymeberry (2018)

Rhymeberry is back as a trio, with new(ish) member Yuika, and and they have a new track. This is a great rap song with killer flow delivered at blinding speed from all three of the girls. The verses are always fantastic, but the chorus sadly falls a bit short for me due to a lack of catchiness and a weirdly intense instrument sound mix. Still, the verses alone make this worth a listen.

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For this week, I just decided to go with three songs from 2018 that I’m really enjoying. Hope you enjoy them too!

Hitchcock - Yorushika (2018)

Yorushika has two “main” members, n-buna (guitar + composition) and suis (vocals), but they also utilize some support musicians to add extra instrumentation--Mitsuru Shimotsuru on guitar, KITANITATSUYA on bass, and Masack on drums. n-buna started out composing vocaloid tracks as VocaloP, earning a fair amount of renown on sites like Nico Nico Douga. There’s not much out there about suis or even how the two decided to form Yorushika together, sadly. They’ve only been around since 2017, but they’ve already gotten a lot of attention because of their diverse songs and striking music videos.

Hitchcock is a track off the Yorushika’s latest album and is probably my favorite. suis’ airy style of singing here is beautiful, and her vocals flow smoothly from verse to verse, giving them an especially catchy rhythm. The lyrics themselves are also quite powerful, seemingly about overcoming depression and how to live one’s life with such a condition. I enjoy the instrumentation too, particularly how it goes from simplicity during the vocal sections to flashier riffs and drum fills during the instrumental sections.

2045 - Man With A Mission (2018)

Man With A Mission is a rock band that formed in 2010 with five members: Tokyo Tanaka (vocals), Spear Rib (drums), Jean-Ken Johnny (guitar + vocals), Kamikaze Boy (bass), and DJ Santa Monica (DJ). This lineup is still current and hasn’t changed at all in the last eight years. A noteworthy gimmick of the group is how they always wear wolf head masks while performing. The reason for this is tied to an elaborate and COMPLETELY CRAZY backstory for the group, which you can read on their website. It somehow involves Jimi Hendrix and has to be read to be believed. MWAM has found a lot of success in Japan with their unique and intense mix of rap, rock, and pop sounds that sometimes resembles Western nu-metal.

2045 is one of the group’s newest releases, with a music video from July. It follows the same basic format as their other songs--intense rock instrumentation interspersed with bits of electronic synth and and a mix of forceful vocals and slick raps, all in English--but it’s a format I still find myself enjoying nonetheless. This is actually one of my favorite songs of theirs now, with fantastic guitar and bass riffs and an intensely catchy chorus that I can’t help but sing along with every time I hear it.

Zurui Hito - Tetora (2018)

Tetora is a three-person band with members Hayune Ueno (vocals/guitar), Inori (bass/chorus), and Miyuki (drums/chorus). They started out of Osaka in 2017 with a different lineup, but some members left and the current lineup manifested just this summer. This new lineup also came with a name change from Tetra to Tetora. There really isn’t a lot else to say about this group, unfortunately. They haven’t done much yet, only releasing 3 singles thus far (and 2 of those in the few months since forming as Tetora). Each of them has a Twitter account and two have Instagram accounts, but as someone who still can’t fluently read Japanese, this was about all I could learn of the group.

Zurui Hito is a song from Tetora’s newest release and is the only video so far of them as this new lineup. Almost immediately, you can tell that the vocals are the highlight. The singer has a deep, throaty voice unlike most voices found in Japanese songs, especially from female vocalists. She packs so much emotion and power into her singing that her voice actually seems to break during certain lines. It’s the most stunning vocal performance I’ve heard all year, and this song immediately sent me looking for more songs from this artist. While I can’t say enough good things about the vocals, the instrumentation is surprisingly solid too. It starts out mellow and jumps up in intensity when the singer does. There’s not much to it, but it perfectly backs the vocals without getting in the way.

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#253  Edited By BrunoTheThird

Old-ass song, I know, but I've been re-listening to Utada Hikaru's discography and stumbled on a track called Kremlin Dusk (2005) that really stuck out to me. It has baroque and symphonic elements, with her voice even acting as a simple counterpoint to the staccato acoustic guitar at points. Really interesting arrangement and structure: verses going into little vocal lifts/transitions, into pre-choruses that change things up quick and often, all leading to a huge, soaring chorus three minutes in, driven by what sounds like a rock or hammond organ (I know right?). To top it off, she uses references to Edgar Allan Poe and his work as metaphors for loss and longing, which is pretty heady for pop. That is way my cup of tea, so this immediately made the playlist.

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Wemibelle

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#254  Edited By Wemibelle

I’m back!

It’s been a busy month and I’ve not had much time or energy to put together a post in the last four weeks. I’m also working hard on compiling songs for my Top 10s of 2018, so that eats into my time too. As such, I'm probably not going to post much in the next month as I get the bigger lists done. I might poke in here and there with some cool songs, though.

Anyway, I’m doing a quick post this week that focuses on some recent Japanese punk songs that I’ve enjoyed. Hope you enjoy them too!

Walking - Longman (2018)

Longman is a three-piece punk band that’s steadily released new music since their debut in 2013. Walking is their newest video off their newest album of the same name. This song has a ton of energy, especially during its choruses. The verses are a bit more measured but still feature some intense instrumentation. This is a song that feels very Japanese punk to me, in particular..

Dear Mr. VAP - Maximum the Hormone (2018)

Maximum the Hormone is predominantly known as a metal band nowadays, but they do have some songs in a more punk-ish style, such as this track titled Dear Mr. VAP. This song’s title refers to their old label, VAP, and their departure to a new label. I almost get a weird ska + punk vibe from this song, despite no telltale aspects of ska (such as horns). The choruses change style slightly but have a super catchy female vocalist that really makes this song stick in my head.

I Fell For You, Fuck You - Ken Yokoyama (2018)

Ken Yokoyama has been putting out music for years, both on his own and with a variety of groups. I Fell For You, Fuck You is a perfect example of his recent work and one of the most mid-90s punk songs I’ve ever heard, despite coming out this year. It’s an incredibly fast-paced song with fantastically catchy vocals, particularly in the choruses. I also really enjoy the video with its strangely erotic scenes that don’t fit the tone of the song whatsoever. You can’t beat the name too; it’s so perfect!

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Wemibelle

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Just giving a heads-up in this thread that my Top 10 Japanese songs of 2018 list is up on Giant Bomb now--check it out here if you're interested!

As for this thread, I should be back with new music at some point in January, after a small break. Happy holidays to everyone!

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Wemibelle

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For my first few posts of the year, I will likely still be sharing music from 2018, as it (usually) takes a good month or two to gather enough memorable stuff to keep a steady flow going. Don't worry, though, as there were tons of great songs from 2018 I never got around to covering as well as a handful of things that came out near the end of the year--such as these!

Doctor - Chanmina (2018)

Chanmina is a very interesting, newish artist I've been meaning to talk about. Part Korean and part Japanese, her style and aesthetic straddle the line between her two nationalities depending on the song. Doctor features a more Korean rap sound (or Western, in some ways) and a bright, unsettling Japanese-styled video. It's a really weird song and video, and although this is a type of song I don't usually enjoy, I find it oddly compelling and catchy.

No Scrubs - Anna Takeuchi (2018)

Here's another strange one: a minimalist acoustic/drum cover of a TLC song. Anna Takeuchi is a pretty small indie artist with a focus on acoustic guitar and pretty vocals who's put out a couple EPs. She's covered a few songs on these too, such as No Scrubs (and Sweet Child of Mine apparently, which I can't find but NEED TO HEAR). It's really strange hearing this song come out of this petite, adorable Japanese girl, but it's actually a solid cover.

Oto no Kuni - Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (2018)

Kyary snuck in one last release for 2018, on the 31st of December! There's not much I really need to say about I, I feel. It's a solid track with nice energy and some solid production. After Kimino Mikata earlier in 2018, a more striking song with a FANTASTIC video, this feels a bit plain, but I still enjoy it all the same.

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Some more stuff from 2018 this week. There's been a couple interesting tracks released this month, but I'm still waiting for a good amount to transition into 2019 tracks. Hope you enjoy!

Flamingo - Kenshi Yonezu (2018)

Kenshi Yonezu is an artist I've been meaning to get around to covering but just never managed to do so, even though he keeps releasing great songs, such as last year's Flamingo. His smooth, sultry voice flows perfectly amongst the funky bass and sharp beats here, while retaining that distinctive twang that only his voice seems to have. Hopefully, I can do a more in-depth post on him in the near future, as he's fantastic and worth exploring.

Kon'ya konomama - Aimyon (2018)

I've spent plenty of time here talking up Aimyon so I don't feel the need to go into too much detail on Kon'ya konomama. This is yet another example of her stellar voice that I just cannot get enough of--it's truly one of the most pleasant voices in Japanese music for me. This song didn't quite hit me as hard as some of her past tracks, which is why it didn't make it on my Top 10 list for last year, but it keeps growing on me more and more every time I hear it.

Genji monogatari - Heianshiki Bu Teikintai (2018)

The violin has always been one of my favorite instruments to listen to with its gorgeously rich sound. I just never got enough of it. However, when Lindsey Stirling first started to mix its sound with pop/electronic beats in 2012, I instantly wanted to hear it in more music. I'm surprised it took this long, but I'm happy to see a new-ish Japanese group, Heianshiki Bu Teikintai or just H.B.T., take a crack at it. This song definitely takes on a more traditional Japanese style but still mixes in some slick beats and synth.

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Wemibelle

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It’s been a bit longer than I like, but I’m finally back with a new post. This week, I actually have three songs from 2019 to share, each of which is fantastic in an entirely different way than the others. Check ‘em out and let me know what you think!

Ogre - Black Boboi (2019)

Black Boboi is another one of those groups that doesn’t have a lot of information about itself out there. All I could really learn was the group is made up of three young women and was founded in 2018. This song, Ogre, is a track off their first album Agate and is also their first music video. It utilizes a very minimalistic style, especially in its production—there’s really just enough of a beat to make it a song, with some light rising and falling depending on the section. The vocals are the main focus, haunting and evocative and entirely in English. On the whole, Ogre is a song that is not very complicated. Despite that fact, I found it to be remarkably singular and hard to forget once I first heard it.

Free! Free! Free! - Anna Takeuchi (2019)

I posted an Anna Takeuchi song just last month, a cover of TLC’s No Scrubs that I found entirely delightful. Now, I have an original song of hers to talk about. First, a little info on the artist herself. She’s a young college student who writes and performs songs, typically on acoustic guitar, on the side as she takes classes. Free! Free! Free! is her own creation and features on the same album as that fabled Sweet Child of Mine cover I mentioned last month (which has its own video now too and is very interesting and worth checking out!). It’s a really catchy track despite its relative simplicity, mostly due to a great beat and rhythm. Takeuchi’s soft yet fun vocals switch effortlessly between Japanese and English and really sell the song’s poppy energy. I particularly like the great breakdown section, both vocally and instrumentally, near the end of the song.

I’m A Pop - Chanmina (2019)

Chanmina is another artist I’ve brought up before, but she absolutely deserves coverage with a bit more detail. Half-Korean and half-Japanese, she is highly talented musically and fluent in Korean, Japanese, and English. In her music, she seems to meld elements of her dual heritage together with a helping of Western-style hiphop to create a very unique aesthetic and sound, especially for the Japanese market. Her presence while performing is also incredible, drawing me in with her vibrant expressions and hypnotic voice. Her latest release, I’m A Pop, is easily her most striking release yet. It demonstrates Chanmina’s killer flow as she skillfully utilizes not only Japanese and English but even Korean too. These vocals are deftly supported by a simple production that neatly boosts the performance without getting in the way. Finally, the swagger-filled video is filled with amazing visuals, such as gun-toting ninjas that shoot automatic rifles in time with the beat during the chorus. If you haven’t seen or heard Chanmina yet, THIS is the time.

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i think kpop has nice music rymth, i mean i like the hustle and the energy of it, but i dont paticularly listen to it since i dont understand korean. so genaraly, i dont listen to all of that. rarely some of the songs that become a hit would trigger my interest. i play LOL, and they introduced the song KDA, it's fantastic and i love it. it gets like about 200 million views, people have made an app in apknite about it. it went viral. spent sometime to dig and find songs recently and found some really good one. but one thing that i personally dont understand is that why they have so much fan like that. some hardcore fan even cry and praise them like a god, especially the male bands. is not it because they are good-looking?

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breadwiner

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there is a scandal of a member of bigbang and it's huge. he might get sentenced years for it. dang

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Wemibelle

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#261  Edited By Wemibelle

Another long span between posts--sorry! With both a vacation and sudden illness getting in the way, I’ve been putting off another post. This week, to make up for things, I’ve gathered four incredible songs that I can’t wait to share with everyone. Please make sure to let me know what you think!

Glossy - The Josephs (2018)

The Josephs is a 4-piece band based in Osaka that is pretty unknown even in Japan. Its members are Julia Fujimal (vocals), Naoaki Tsuda (guitar), Kazunari Yoshida (guitar), Tomofumi Nozaki (bass), and a relatively new drummer whose name I cannot find anywhere. Their music has a very indie rock sound along with a bit of folk inspiration due to the vocalist’s time growing up in the United States, which is also why all their songs have English vocals. Glossy is my (current) favorite song of theirs off their first full album, Dusty Dreams. It kicks off with a smooth bass line and beat that makes me want to tap or nod along every single time I hear it. On the whole, the song has a laid-back, yet memorable, production. The singer’s voice is my favorite part, mostly because it’s husky in a way few Japanese artists manage to nail. She likes to linger on syllables for maximum impact and emotion, and it creates a uniquely beautiful sound. These vocals and the production make for a remarkably effective pairing that is so decidedly unlike anything else out there right now, which is why I love it so much.

Choose Go! - Chai (2019)

Chai has become one of my favorite groups to follow since I discovered them in 2017. They are a 4-member group featuring twin sisters Mana (main vocals + keyboard) and Kana (guitar) in addition to Yuna (drummer) and Yuki (bass). Their music is a peculiar mix of electronic, pop, punk, and rock elements (depending on the song) that lends them a sound unlike any other, often matched with a striking visual style in their videos. Choose Go! is their newest song/video and is a hell of a lot of fun. The production is simple but delightfully bassy and has a catchy beat that keeps me coming back. The vocalist’s stuffy/nasally voice may not be for everyone, but I’ve always adored it. She also has particularly good rhythm and flow here with the beat. The whole song gets chaotically over the top by the end, building to an almost overwhelming intensity that I find thrilling.

Denkousekka - Polkadot Stingray (2019)

Polkadot Stingray is another four-member band, this time out of Fukuoka. Composed of Shizuku (guitar + vocals), Harushi Ejima (guitar), Yuki Uemura (bass), and Kazuma Mitsuyasu (drums), they have had above-average popularity both in Japan and here since they debuted on a major label in 2017. I would characterize them by their high-energy songs and visually creative music videos. One of their newest releases, Denkousekka, is a perfect example of their intense style and aesthetic. The song kicks off with one of the best main riffs I’ve heard in a song in a long time: it has tons of energy, lots of punchy twangs, and is ridiculously catchy. It works even better when the bass and drums kick in after the intro, providing an excellent drive for the entire song. The vocals are solid as well, darting playfully around the instrumentation during the verses (with my favorite being the slower verse about ⅔ through the song) before building to a triumphant yell during the choruses. It’s also a joyful video, with tons of costume changes and silly effects along with some funny performances.

Ryuugakusei - Monkey Majik x Okazaki Taiiku (2019)

I’ve already posted about Monkey Majik before so I won’t go into detail about them. Their guest this time, Okazaki Taiiku, is a solo artist most well-known in Japan for his 2016 parodizing song/video “Music Video” which smartly lampooned many of the common cliches in Japanese music videos of the time--it’s definitely worth a watch with English subtitles, especially if you’ve seen even a few Japanese music videos. This collaboration, Ryuugakusei, is a hilariously creative release that melds the strengths of both artists. The sound of the song overall is pretty typical for a Monkey Majik release, just as catchy and funky as their other releases. The real highlight here, however, is the vocals. The song switches between Japanese and English at times, with each being focused on a different subject: in English, it just seems like a typical love song, while in Japanese, it’s about a foreign exchange student. The truly clever part is that the English lyrics at times sound like Japanese words, such as the line “It’s better never talkin’ ‘cause it’s no good” sounding like beddo ni neru toki kutsu nugu meaning “(I) take off my shoes when (I) go to bed.” It works slightly better in English but sounds definitely close enough to the Japanese lyrics too. This song obviously requires some knowledge of both Japanese and English to truly appreciate, but I still think anyone can recognize the skill and remarkable cleverness nonetheless.

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Okay, now I’m back on a regular bimonthly schedule, bringing (at least) three songs I enjoy every other week. Let’s get to it!

Saredo-Shiawase - Zombie-Chang (2019)

I’ve already covered Zombie-Chang extensively in a previous post--she’s a strikingly confident Japanese indie artist whose style and genre I can’t really compare to anything else. Her newest video, Saredo-Shiawase, is here and it’s just as bizarrely fantastic as her past releases. The song’s peculiar production is comprised of a droning synth line, a sample that almost resembles a siren, and a catchy beat. It pairs with the vocals of Zombie-Chang in her typical style, deep and rhythmic yet playful and creative. As with many of her songs, the two work oddly well together, combining to make something that really has to been heard to understand. It’s also a song that’s been stuck in my head for days despite not being styled like a traditional earworm.

Gomen ne - Emily Kanou (2019)

Proclaiming herself as a “self-produced idol,” Emily Kanou appears to be a Japanese indie artist who tries do all her music work herself, from making videos to selling and shipping goods from her own online store. I say appear to be because there’s not a lot out there about her, at least not in an easily digestible format. The most I could find was a handful of past releases in the last couple years and a very active Twitter account. Gomen ne is noteworthy because it’s Kanou’s first music video, as well as my first exposure to her. It’s also a remarkable homage to 80s Japanese pop in every way imaginable. The production is authentically true to the era, with tons of poppy synth and overly electronic-sounding drums. Kanou’s vocal styling feels like it fell right out of the 80s, and the production adds the perfect amount of echo too. Finally, the video checks all the boxes for a video of the era: decently low image quality, dated outfits and choreography, and painfully obvious green screen effects. If you’ve never seen an old Japanese pop video before, watching this is almost as good.

Soshite, Mata - Billie Idle (2019)

Billie Idle is a self-described “not idol” five-member pop group headed by two former members of Japanese pop group BiS and produced by Nigo, a member of Teriyaki Boyz, a rap/hip-hop group best known in the West for their eponymous track on Tokyo Drift (LINK). They are comprised of members First Summer Uika, Hirano Nozomi, Momose Momo, Akira, and newest addition Pour Lui, who was the former leader of BiS. I’ve been following this group since their first video released in 2015, immediately drawn in by their bizarre style. I’ve always found their songs intriguing and unique but none of them ever quite hit me hard enough to make it onto one of my Top 10 lists. Their latest release, however, might just change that. Soshite, Mata ditches a lot of the panache and quirkiness typically found from the group and instead attempts a standard, yet remarkably effective, pop ballad. It gives the vocalists a chance to actually show off their gorgeous voices and talented ranges, including some very nice high notes. There’s also some solid use of counterpoint in the chorus with each member layering onto the other. This track likely isn’t that impressive or memorable to anyone else but me, but I was blown away by my feelings for it, simply expecting another quirky upbeat release. Instead, I think this is one of my favorite songs of the year so far.

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Ryuugakusei - Monkey Majik x Okazaki Taiiku (2019)

I’ve already posted about Monkey Majik before so I won’t go into detail about them. Their guest this time, Okazaki Taiiku, is a solo artist most well-known in Japan for his 2016 parodizing song/video “Music Video” which smartly lampooned many of the common cliches in Japanese music videos of the time--it’s definitely worth a watch with English subtitles, especially if you’ve seen even a few Japanese music videos. This collaboration, Ryuugakusei, is a hilariously creative release that melds the strengths of both artists. The sound of the song overall is pretty typical for a Monkey Majik release, just as catchy and funky as their other releases. The real highlight here, however, is the vocals. The song switches between Japanese and English at times, with each being focused on a different subject: in English, it just seems like a typical love song, while in Japanese, it’s about a foreign exchange student. The truly clever part is that the English lyrics at times sound like Japanese words, such as the line “It’s better never talkin’ ‘cause it’s no good” sounding like beddo ni neru toki kutsu nugu meaning “(I) take off my shoes when (I) go to bed.” It works slightly better in English but sounds definitely close enough to the Japanese lyrics too. This song obviously requires some knowledge of both Japanese and English to truly appreciate, but I still think anyone can recognize the skill and remarkable cleverness nonetheless.

This song is flipping incredible, I've never seen anything like this before. Thank you!

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Wemibelle

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Two weeks already and time for another post! This week, I've got three 2019 releases from artists I've already covered before, songs that continue to demonstrate why I like them so much.

Harunohi - AImyon (2019)

Aimyon continues to be one of my favorite current Japanese artists because of her mechanically straightforward yet pleasant compositions and her striking, deep vocal style. Harunohi is another great demonstration of her voice, which I love more and more with each new song of hers. I won't deny that this song sticks to her typical style and does little to stand out from past releases. It's definitely not my favorite song of hers either, but I still get a great deal of joy from it nonetheless.

Pretty Old Man - No Buses (2019)

No Buses continues to surprise me with their skill at creating tight, catchy indie rock tracks such as this one, Pretty Old Man. The instrumentation is again quite simple, but the main guitar riff is remarkably fun and provides the perfect rhythm for the song. Despite their droning, mumbly sound, the vocals fit this instrumentation impeccably. This is another deceptively catchy song from a group far too few people know about, and I hope they finally get noticed for releasing songs like this.

That's Why I Gave Up On Music - Yorushika (2019)

Despite the name of this song, it's not actually about Yorushika quitting music. That's Why I Gave Up On Music is just a storytelling song that talks about a relationship gone wrong and its effects on the creativity of a musician. Even without knowing the meaning of the lyrics, however, the song is just as powerful as Yorushika's past releases. The vocals are strong and driving, pairing nicely with the energetic mix of piano and synth and backed by a solid beat. It's a gorgeous song in every way and a perfect introduction to the duo's musical style.

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Wemibelle

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I’m back with another three songs. Check ‘em out!

I Feel Tired Everyday - Seiho (2019)

Seiho (Hayakawa) is an eccentric artist out of Osaka who experiments with a variety of styles, genres, and instruments all under the general umbrella of dance/electronic music. He’s been putting out stuff consistently since 2012, building slowly in fame. His talents have let him perform all over Japan and even in America and Europe on occasion. I Feel Tired Everyday is his newest release and my first exposure to him. I was immediately taken in by the main beat and driving synth, a remarkably catchy production that I adore. Seiho builds nicely on this over the course of the song, adding and subtracting elements while retaining that superb core. The vocals are minimal but effective when present. Overall, this song has a very late-night-in-the-city feel, matching the video’s shot of a girl riding a train while the city lights pass by in the background.

Warriors - Melraw (2018)

Melraw, real name Kohei Ando, is a remarkably versatile solo artist. He utilizes saxophone, flute, trumpet, guitar, and synthesizers, all played by himself, to create his music. However, for this video of Warriors, he brought in some guest musicians to record a live session. Melraw plays the sax and sings alongside Keisuke Furuki on bass, Genki Hashimoto on drums, and Jun Miyakawa on keyboard. Their talent, plus the stellar acoustics of the live session, make this video a fantastic version of the song to experience first. Warriors is a very jazzy song, often feeling very freeform in how it comes together. The instrumentation is all solid, from the rapid drum beat to the sultry saxophone. Ando’s dreamy vocals, passed through a talkbox, perfectly suit the playful yet mellow production. All in all, a solid performance of a great song.

Do Ya? - I Don’t Like Mondays (2019)

I Don’t Like Mondays is a Tokyo-based band made up of Yu (vocals), Choji (guitar), Kenji (bass), and Shuki (drums). The group formed in 2012 but didn’t release their first album until 2014. In 2018, they transferred to their current label, Rhythm Zone. They are a very active band that directs many of their own live shows and videos. Interestingly, they also dabble in the fashion industry, even releasing their own brand of clothing. However, we’re here to talk about their newest release, Do Ya?. It’s a delightfully funky throwback track, a different style than their past songs. The instrumentation is fun as hell, smooth and easy to nod along to. The vocals are solid too, nailing that high-pitched style typical of the genre. If you were looking for Bruno Mars filtered through Japan, this is the song for you.

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Going to be a bit brief this week, as I’ve been pretty busy/tired. Three songs though!

Stay Together - Baby Kiy (2019)

Baby Kiy is a 26-year-old female artist who often performs with an acoustic guitar. Stay Together is a pretty typical example of her style: straightforward yet catchy instrumentation mixed with her soft vocals. I wouldn’t say there’s anything in particular that makes this song stand out to me--I just think it sounds pretty.

Elevator Girl - Babymetal (2019)

At this point, you almost definitely know what Babymetal is. This is a decent new track from the group, their first (?) since Yuimetal left. The typical heavy metal instrumentation and silly, spirited JPOP vocals are present, along with an interesting almost-jazzy bit of production during the verses that reminds me a bit of a Persona 5 track. It’s not my favorite Babymetal song, but it’s still fun to listen to.

Voice - Taeyeon (2019)

I’ve covered Korean artist Taeyeon here before, as she’s been putting out a lot of Japanese releases in the past year. Voice is her newest song. It’s another solid showcasing of her talented vocals, which are easily the highlight. The rest of the song is maybe a bit too plain for my tastes, paling in comparison to some of her past releases like Stay, which felt a bit more focused. Nonetheless, a memorable new track from one of the queens of KPOP.

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Bollard

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#267  Edited By Bollard

@wemibelle said:

Flamingo - Kenshi Yonezu (2018)

Kenshi Yonezu is an artist I've been meaning to get around to covering but just never managed to do so, even though he keeps releasing great songs, such as last year's Flamingo. His smooth, sultry voice flows perfectly amongst the funky bass and sharp beats here, while retaining that distinctive twang that only his voice seems to have. Hopefully, I can do a more in-depth post on him in the near future, as he's fantastic and worth exploring.

Hah! I just got round to checking out Kenshi Yonezu more and right now I'm addicted to Paper Flower. It's the kind of song that not only gets stuck in your head but it really feels familiar even after only listening to it once. Flamingo has an incredibly intriguing music video, I think it's a song that will grow on me too. On top of that a new song just aired today with a very pretty MV, although the vocal effects didn't do it for me.

Elevator Girl - Babymetal (2019)

At this point, you almost definitely know what Babymetal is. This is a decent new track from the group, their first (?) since Yuimetal left. The typical heavy metal instrumentation and silly, spirited JPOP vocals are present, along with an interesting almost-jazzy bit of production during the verses that reminds me a bit of a Persona 5 track. It’s not my favorite Babymetal song, but it’s still fun to listen to.

I really can't wait for their new album. Plus, I'm gunna be seeing them again in London soon - I was so glad their next gig hadn't sold out as I missed the announcement of the tour dates somehow!

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#268  Edited By Wemibelle

Mixing things up a bit this week with a weird group of songs--a cover of an 80s song, a new Minna no Kodomo Chan track, and a Japanese version of one of my favorite Korean songs of 2016. Let’s get to it!

Never Gonna Give You Up - Satellite Young (2019)

If you’ve been active online for any length of time, you probably know what a Rickroll is. Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up took on a new life after its ascension to meme status, and despite my annoyance with link traps during peak Rickroll popularity, I actually grew to like this song quite a bit. Among a current trend of covers of 80s songs, both in Japan and the West, Japanese group Satellite Young took a shot at covering this now infamous track (after just covering A-ha’s Take On Me last year). It’s a pretty fun cover, one that leans heavily into the retro synth sound to the extent of sounding a bit too “effect-y” to match the era’s more simplistic style. As a result, it sounds a bit different from the original, especially with female Japanese vocals, but it still comes together quite well.

The Walls - Minna no Kodomo Chan (2019)

I’ve talked about Minna no Kodomo Chan before, a relatively new duo with an almost-cheerfully macabre sound. Their newest track, The Walls, is more of the same, a song that pairs the soft vocals of Honoka and Cinnamon with discordant, ominous production and an uncomfortable visual aesthetic. This song is inherently less interesting simply because the production is a bit more straightforward, but because of this, it’s also much more approachable. Unlike Nakunaru Watashi, it almost sounds like a “regular” JPOP song at points, albeit with a darker video and tone. If you haven’t checked out this group yet, this might be the song to start with.

Galaxy - Bolbbalgan4 (2019)

Bolbbalgan4, often shortened to just Bol4, is one of my favorite Korean groups of the last five years. They are a duo made up of vocalist Ahn Ji-young and musician Woo Ji-Yoon, and their style mixes a lot of soft guitar and beautiful vocals. I’ve loved them ever since they first debuted in 2016, with their songs making it onto two of my Top 10 lists (2016 and 2018). Galaxy is their first Japanese release, a version of one of their earliest Korean hits, and it’s just as wonderful in Japanese as it was in Korean. Ji-young’s vocals are my favorite aspect of the duo, as she has an absolutely gorgeous voice that always makes me smile. Ji-Yoon’s simple instrumentation is fantastic as well, clearly establishing a notable presence but never being too overpowering. She even does her own verse in this track, a rarity in the group’s music. For anyone who enjoys this track, I highly recommend checking out their Korean releases as well.

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Since my list of songs is currently an absolute mess, I’m going to do something a bit easier this week and go with three recent songs from artists I’ve already covered before. Hope you enjoy them!

Honest - Tetora (2019)

Here’s another release from Tetora, a group that blew me away the first time I heard them. Honest is a bit more upbeat when compared to their previous song, but it still features the intensely powerful voice from the main vocalist, often straining and even breaking in a deliberate way that I think sounds amazing. I really like the instrumentation too, despite its relative simplicity. I’m excited to keep following this group and see what they might do next.

Lost Paradise - Reol (2019)

Lost Paradise is noteworthy because it’s the first collaboration between longtime partners Reol, Giga, and Okiku since the dissolution of their “group” back in 2017. As a result, this song sounds less like Reol’s more recent releases and a lot more like her old catalog, which couldn’t make me happier. This is a solid track all-around: Reol’s vocals are punchy and filled with attitude, Giga’s production is smooth and fun, and Okiku’s video is bizarrely stylish. Here’s hoping for more collaborations in the future!

Stay With You - The Winking Owl (2019)

The Winking Owl hasn’t reappeared in this thread since I first discovered them in 2016, but I haven’t stopped keeping up with their new songs. Their latest release is Stay With You, a mellower track that better showcases the vocalist’s voice. When I last talked about this group, I mentioned the singer’s immature voice and how she needed to grow into it a bit more, despite the fact that I really like how it sounded tonally. I think this song shows she’s come a long way, showing some nice range while still retaining her unique sound.

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For this week, I have a trio of bands with wildly distinctive approaches to making music. Each is fantastic in their own way but also couldn’t be more different from one another. Check them all out and see which one you like best!

Bad Reputation - Nerd Magnet (2019)

Nerd Magnet is an Osaka-based pop-punk band that dabbles in different styles in the genre; however, every one of their songs is full of energy. The band is comprised of Ryota Suda (Vo/Gu), Ryosuke Fujii (Gu), Tomoko Maekawa (Ba), and Shigerumura Takuya (Dr). Their first single was released in 2016, but they have Youtube videos from all the way back in 2012. Bad Reputation is their newest release and is the most late 90s/early 00s sounding pop-punk song I’ve heard in years, sounding like it would fit in perfectly with bands like Sum 41 and blink-182. It has an incredibly catchy main riff and vocals, not to mention a solid guitar solo. It’s not a complicated or unique song by any means, but it is a fun damn song that never gets old.

Ruby Ground - Noodles (2019)

Noodles is an alternative rock band formed in 1991 by four girls in the Yokohama area: Yoko (Vo/Gu), Ikuno (Ba), Ayumi (Dr), and Junko (Gu). They gained fame over the years by creating the main song for the film Love My Life, opening for bands like The Breeders, and touring all over Japan and even in the US multiple times. Junko left the group in 2004, but they never faltered, releasing a steady stream of music for over 25 years in an impressive legacy. Ruby Ground is their latest release and was my introduction to the group. It is a very mellow and deliberately paced song with a neat sound, particularly the distorted tone of the guitar and vocals that really stood out to me. There’s also a nice rhythm to those vocals, flowing smoothly with the instrumentation, and I enjoy the sound of her voice quite a bit.

James? - ichikoro (2019)

Ichikoro is an instrumental band fronted by ichika, a guitarist who gained a wide following via short performance videos on Instagram (which are incredible and fascinating and you should check them out). He formed this group in 2018 by using his newfound fame to unite a group of skilled musicians into something exciting and new. Each member of the band is referenced only by a one-word name and also has an associated animated character design to go with it. They are referred to as Think (Gu), Holy (Ba), M (Key), Vista (Gu), and Sugar (Dr), while ichika goes by One. Many of them are also musicians from other popular groups like Indigo la End and Dadaray. James? is not the group’s first release, but it is their first video. I have a hard time describing what it sounds like, as the guitarists pull tones and chords from their instruments that I’ve not heard before. ichika’s performance in particular brings to mind the phrase “making his guitar talk.” It’s wild to hear in action and is clearly the focal point of the entire song. The other instruments are no slouch, however, each adding to the overall soundscape without getting in the way of ichika’s stylish playing. It’s a remarkably unique song that really needs to be heard to understand why it’s so special.

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Nicholas_Attano

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Idk why but I find Jpop more tolerable than Kpop even though I dislike both. Because of anime maybe? xD

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There's not much jumping out at me this week, so instead I'm gonna share a few newer songs from artists I've covered before.

Twenty - Anna Takeuchi (2019)

I just keep coming back to Anna Takeuchi. She's been releasing a lot of videos this year, both covers and original tracks, and I really enjoy her upbeat, acoustic-pop sound. My favorite part of her music is her striking voice, something this track, Twenty, highlights particularly well. It's got a bit of funky groove to it, and I love how it sounds.

Pa Pa Ya!! - Babymetal (2019)

Yep, another Babymetal song. They're back with a replacement for Yuimetal (unnamed as of now, though?) and guest Thai rapper F.Hero for Pa Pa Ya!!. This song has a TON of energy and adds in some light "screamo-type" vocals from F.Hero in addition his own rapping verse. It's not my favorite Babymetal song, I'll admit, but it's pretty catchy and fun nonetheless.

Happy Happy - Twice & Breakthrough - Twice (2019)

A pair of new Japanese releases from Korean group Twice, whose popularity in Japan keeps growing. Each of these songs has a distinctly Korean feel to them in their sound and style, yet work well in the Japanese language. Happy Happy, as you might expect, is a pretty typical upbeat, saccharine pop song with cute visuals and catchy vocals. Breakthrough, the more popular of the two songs, goes for a more hip-hop style with a tighter beat and deeper sound paired with "sexier" visuals. Breakthrough is definitely my preferred choice of the two, but both songs are a blast in their own way.

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For this week, I decided to step outside the typical style of songs I post and try a few with a slightly different sound. Hopefully, everyone enjoys them!

Shy demo ii yo - Aisha (2018)

I put up a lot of rock and pop songs here, but I don’t often recommend songs with a more R&B sound, like this one from Aisha. Aisha is only half-Japanese, with one American parent, and it clearly had an influence on both her voice and her style. She goes for a smoother, sultrier sound that feels a bit more reminiscent of Western music. This song, Shy demo ii yo, sounds like it fell out of the early 2000s in particular, an era when both Western and Japanese music often melded R&B with pop. It’s a fantastic example of Aisha’s style and is just one of those warm, pleasant songs that’s so easy to lose yourself in.

Last Dance - Lyrical School (2019)

While I was looking through my music to find stuff for this week, I was shocked to notice I’ve somehow never posted a Lyrical School song, despite listening to their releases for years. For those who don’t know of them, Lyrical School is a hip-hop/pop group that’s been around for nearly a decade, swapping in members over the years. Last Dance is their latest song. It’s a delightfully playful track with tightly rhythmic verses and bubbly, synthy “chorus.” The best part, however, is the video, which is filled with low-rent recreations of scenes from various famous movies using lots of cardboard, miniature props, and mannequins. I think it’s incredibly charming and even remarkably faithful at times despite its simplicity.

Wonderland - iri (2019)

I hadn’t heard of iri before Wonderland, despite her being around for a few years now. She’s actually quite popular in Japan, hitting the top of the iTunes hip-hop charts with multiple releases and reaching millions of views on her music videos on Youtube. What immediately struck me about this song, and just iri in general, was the sound of her voice--deeper and smoother than many Japanese female artists. As such, it works perfectly for a song like this one, grooving easily along with the mellow beat and providing a comfortable sound that lulls you into a peaceful state.

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redwing42

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That Lyrical School video is definitely fun.

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#275  Edited By Bollard

@wemibelle said:

Pa Pa Ya!! - Babymetal (2019)

Yep, another Babymetal song. They're back with a replacement for Yuimetal (unnamed as of now, though?) and guest Thai rapper F.Hero for Pa Pa Ya!!. This song has a TON of energy and adds in some light "screamo-type" vocals from F.Hero in addition his own rapping verse. It's not my favorite Babymetal song, I'll admit, but it's pretty catchy and fun nonetheless.

So I saw Babymetal live again in London, just after their debut at Glasto. They performed Pa Pa Ya which, by the way, is an absolute banger live. That song grew on me really quickly.

They also did the second ever performance of a new song tentatively called Shanti. That link is the Glasto performance and I rather liked it. Has an Indian vibe. I didn't watch their full Glastonbury set but at Brixton in London they performed what I am 99% sure was another new song. Wasn't as catchy as Shanti but it was good too - sadly I haven't found it uploaded anywhere yet.

EDIT: Oh, I forgot to say the new member seems to be only there to fill in the third slot for the dance routines. She isn't mic'd up and they didn't introduce her at all.

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iri kept popping up for me for a while but I could never fully get into her earlier stuff. With the release of Shade though, that's when it finally all clicked for me and Wonderland was definitely the track that fully pulled me in.

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#Love feat. Ann, gaku - supercell (2019)

I don't contribute to this thread much but here's a track I stumbled onto today. I've been a fan of supercell since I first heard My Dearest in Guilty Crown. This new song is quite different and has a very well choreographed music video, I think it's the kind of thing that after a few more listens I could be very into though.

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AlKusanagi

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Regarding the BABYMETAL 3rd member, it's a 3 person rotation, one of which is a former Sakura Gakuin member, and the other is former Morning Musume ace, Riho Sayashi (she's the one most of the news is about) who also was in the same talent school with Su-Metal in Hiroshima when they were kids. I haven't heard anything about the 3rd member.

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#279  Edited By Bollard

Metanoia - Nana Mizuki (2019)

Very different from her usual fare, but Nana slays it again. Also a really exciting music video visually, lot of striking imagery. Of course this is also the OP to the most recent series of Symphogear.

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SarcasticMudcrab

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I don't like jpop particularly but holy fuck are Band Maid good. Their early stuff at least.

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I was about to start writing this week's post and realized that I completely forgot to post the last set of songs I wrote a few weeks ago. My brain must have been too occupied to remember to actually put up the post, and I just now noticed. Sorry! Here it is now, thankfully a bit longer than a regular post. I should get back to a regular schedule soon.

Things have been a bit busy lately and I simply didn’t have the time to write up a new post. I’m still getting stuff together this week too, but I have enough time to throw together a quick writeup. However, I am posting six songs instead of my regular three to make up for it. Hope you enjoy them!

Keijijougaku-teki, mahou - Denpagumi.inc (2019)

I love Denpagumi’s typical style and aesthetic--intense, over-the-top nonsense that almost makes me feel physically worn out by the end of one of their songs. However, one of their songs from this year, Keijijougaku-teki, mahou, is actually quite different in style from anything else they’ve done...and I kinda love it too. There’s still a ton of energy, but it’s MUCH more subdued from their typical releases, almost to a “normal” level. It’s also got a great main riff that I find myself humming quite often.

Gekirin - D_Drive (2019)

D_Drive is a long-running band out of Japan that focuses on instrumental songs instead of the typical vocal-laden tracks found from rock bands like theirs. Each of the members is incredibly skilled at what they do, something that this track, Gekirin, shows off thoroughly. Every part of the track is fantastic: the double-kick bass hits from the drummer, the slick bass lines, and alternating guitar riffs. It’s a great introduction track for the group.

Who Am I - Chameleon Lime Whoopie Pie (2019)

The weirdest artist name I’ve heard in quite some time, Chameleon Lime Whoopie Pie is a fairly new hip-hop artist I stumbled across. Who Am I is probably her catchiest song, and the first I’d recommend listening to. Her flow is solid during the verses, and the chorus is one of those that instantly stuck in my head after I first heard it. There’s also some...aesthetic going on in the video, which I dig.

Knight Rider - USAO (2019)

If you like hardcore electronic music, USAO is one of the best, and most prolific, Japanese artists on the scene right now. This track in particular, Knight Rider, could probably best be defined as happy hardcore, featuring super energetic vocals and a crazy fast beat that only fades long enough to build to the next explosive section of the song. It’s pretty short, at just over 2 minutes, but it’s an intense ride.

Reboot - Miwa (2019)

Miwa is a hugely famous artist out of Japan, mostly known for her anime themes such as her most famous, Change. She’s also known as an artist with one of the quickest and harshest labels for pulling her music off Youtube. She FINALLY has her own channel though, with Reboot being the first release for it. It doesn’t quite hit the same levels of intensity and catchiness as her past releases (at least for me), but it’s still a solid demonstration of her style.

Lost ft. Clean Bandit - Sekai no Owari (2019)

Another hugely famous Japanese band, Sekai no Owari, is gearing up for an international push with a new English-language album this year. Lost is one of those tracks, featuring British electronic artist Clean Bandit, a group I’ve enjoyed since their excellent track Rather Be from a few years ago. Lost is a great collaboration song between the two artists, with great verses from each and a solid production backing it up.

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GenericBrotagonist

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I was lucky enough to see Babymetal in Boston last night and it was so much fun! The energy of the girls and the crowd was electrifying. I'd love to see them again and I hope more J-Pop groups have successful international pushes so I can go to more and more shows like that.

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Another week where I’m a bit short on time, so I’ve chosen three songs from familiar artists to make things a bit easier on me. Enjoy!

Everyday - Perfume (2018)

Everyday was a collaboration song Perfume did with Panasonic last year, which meant the video was only a small snippet of the full song, as used for the ad. Now, they’ve finally released the full video on their official channel. It’s a solid addition to the group’s vast catalog--bubbly and catchy, if a little overly repetitive.

Girls Gotta Live - FAKY (2019)

The newest release from FAKY, Girls Gotta Live is a song that clearly pays homage to late-90s/early-2000s hip-hop/pop, most notably in the powerful chorus. I wouldn’t call this one of my favorite songs from the group, but I really dig the aesthetic of the video and some of the slower vocal sections between the choruses.

The Stronger, The Further You’ll Be - Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (2019)

The Stronger, The Further You’ll Be is just what you’d expect from a new Fear and Loathing track. Rocking guitar and drum instrumentation. Vocals that alternate between intense autotune and nigh-screamo yells. Crazy amounts of neon and flashing lights in the video. Another fun track from a remarkably consistent group.

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Gonna do a quick focus on some songs that sound a bit different than the stuff I usually post. Hope you like them!

Chiisana Koe - Humbert Humbert (2019)

Humbert Humbert is a long-running (about 20 years) folk-pop duo whose name appears to be based off the “protagonist” of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. Definitely not your normal Japanese group! This year’s Chiisana Koe, or “small voice” in English, is perfectly indicative of their style: mellow string instrumentation, rhythmic vocals with an almost nursery rhyme intonation, and gorgeous harmonization.

Ouroboros - Looprider (2019)

I actually stumbled into this band via a Reddit post and was instantly hooked While some of Looprider’s songs do have vocals, Ouroboros is purely instrumental and entirely awesome. It’s a playful yet rocking track that wouldn’t feel out of place as the backing music for an intense movie or video game scene. I also want to note it’s just the title track off their most recent 10-track album, the rest of which is equally great and worth checking out on their Bandcamp.

Rising - Yoshida Brothers (2016)

The Yoshida Brothers are a pair of brothers (duh) that meld traditional Japanese instrumentation with more modern rock and electronic elements. Nearly every one of their songs feature them playing shamisen, those long thin guitar-esque instruments you may have seen before. Rising neatly demonstrates how well this pairing works and just how unique a sound it creates. The core shamisen playing is incredibly impressive, especially when watching their fingers fly across the strings, and it fits surprisingly well with the other instrumentation.

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Almost November already! I’m hard at work narrowing down my song choices for Top 10s--a bit early, but I like to give myself plenty of time, as formulating and ranking is often the hardest part. For this week, I’ve opted to ignore some of the more rock/instrumental stuff, as I often rely on that a bit too heavily I feel. Instead, I chose more pop-ish songs to highlight.

Good Girl - Tielle (2019)

Slower songs rarely appeal to me, as I just tend to prefer happier songs with a good beat. It usually takes something special to stand out enough to me for it to be worth listening to again and again. Tielle’s voice in Good Girl is one such instance of this. This is a beautiful song from beginning to end, but it’s really the vocal performance that sells it for me. I particularly love the English chorus, which packs more of a punch since I understand the words.

Famous - Taemin (2019)

Here’s yet another instance of a KPOP artist releasing a song in Japanese. Taemin is a member of the huge Korean pop group Shinee, a group currently on hiatus as the remaining members all serve their mandatory military service. Famous, similar to most Japanese tracks from big Korean artists, sounds a lot more like a KPOP song than a JPOP song. It has a darker, synthy sound, tightly catchy vocals, and a well-filmed and choreographed video. The chorus in particular has been stuck in my head for months.

Naked Lunch - Macaroom (2018)

I’m a bit surprised that I haven’t posted a Macaroom song before, as I’ve dug them for quite some time. Naked Lunch is the perfect example of why they are worth checking out. The playful yet evocative production with some light Nier: Automata vibes (particularly at the beginning) is paired with sharp, punchy, and sometimes haunting vocals. This is one of those groups truly doing their own thing, making music that doesn’t really sound like anything else out there--which is exactly why you give them a listen!

BONUS: Le Gong - Maika Loubte (2017)

Throwing in an extra song here, as it’s a bit of a weird one. I fell in love with Maika Loubté ever since I first heard this song, but I’ve always felt a bit hesitant posting her music here as very little of it is actually in Japanese. She’s actually Japanese-French and performs most of her music in either French or English. As such, I was never sure if I should post her stuff here. However, as an extra song for the week, I don’t see the harm!

As I said earlier, this is the first song I heard from Maika Loubté, and it is still my favorite. It features fantastic production, with a delightfully bassy synth line and catchy beat throughout, and sharply-delivered, attitude-dripping vocals in smooth-as-fuck French. As one of the few songs I had ever heard in French (when I first heard it), it just blew my mind with its alien sound and tight production and I still listen to it regularly. If you dig this song, check out some of her more recent releases, such as Mountaintop and Prismé.

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Back again with another three songs. Getting back into some more rock-esque stuff, since it’s been awhile since I’ve posted any. Hope everyone enjoys!

But I’m Still Alive - I Love Me (2019)

I Love Me is a relatively new group with a small following, composed of guitarist/vocalist Miho Satou, guitarist Daiji Nonaka, and bassist Motomitsu Ijima (hopefully I have those right). For But I’m Still Alive, however, some of them appear to be playing different instruments, as there are drums and synth instrumentation as well. I love the production on this track: the tight beat throughout, the deep bassline, and especially the playful synth during the “chorus” of the song. The vocals are also great in an almost hypnotic way, hitting on the beat in a way that draws me into the song further. If you like this song, check out Gear of Society (rough translation), which is a much more electronic song from the group that I alsoreally dig.

Monster on the Stage - Creepy Nuts (2019)

Creepy Nuts is a hip-hop duo comprised of R-Shitei, the MC, and Matsunaga, the DJ. They’ve been active since 2013, with a seemingly moderate amount of success and fame. Monster on the Stage is the fourth track off their latest album. It’s an impressive display of the creative production from DJ Matsunaga and the smooth, tight rapping flow from R-Shitei. The verses in particular are spitfire, punching nicely alongside the horn-filled production, and build into the fun crescendo of the chorus.

The Side Effects - Coldrain (2019)

Coldrain is an alternative-rock band fronted by Masato, a half-Japanese and half-American man. Despite his almost entirely un-Asian appearance, and the fact that all this band’s songs are in English, this is actually a fully Japanese band. The Side Effects is one of the group’s newest videos and my first exposure to them. Their sound is somewhere between Western alt-rock and nu-metal, bridging the gap between bands like Third Eye Blind and Linkin Park. This likely means that you already know if you’ll enjoy this song or not, as it fits in very closely to those types of bands in style and cadence.