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Jukin’: Teddman’s The Only Dance EP

The news hook — the way this release would be timely, beyond it coming out just last week — for the new EP from BootyTune and Battle Train Tokyo artist Teddman would be an appearance from DJ PayPal, who just put out a (very good!) new album that has gotten some good attention. Yet that undersells how good The Only Dance is on its own, as it is a strong collection of juke music jumping from retro samples to Gucci Mane. It’s at times icy (“Slow It Down”) and unsettling (finale “The Only Dance,” featuring a spoken-word sample which is quite a doozy!), but above all else energetic. Get it here, or listen below.

New The Neon City: “Chinatown” And “Summer Memories”

Osaka’s The Neon City explores blurriness from two different angles on her newest pair of songs. “Chinatown” (above) revels in wooziness, voices layered over one another a la A Sunny Day In Glasgow, with the end result sounding like a drunken skip down the street, every good thing spinning around together. It is far different from “Summer Memories” (below), which uses a similar (albeit less manic) approach to blurry electronic sounds to create a sweetly nostalgic song, one where the good memories are still fresh but already fading away.

New Loopcoda: “Aoiru Endless”

Vocaloid is, in itself, a deeply interesting instrument. Problem is, few producers have approached the singing-synthesizer program as that, something to be played around with and bent around. Rather, they see it as an honest-to-goodness singer. Blame Crypton for creating Hatsune Miku maybe, but a lot of Vocaloid music just sounds like typical rock or pop (except with a digital vapor trail). That’s why when something interesting emerges from the Piapro jungles — maybe the fever-dream vibe of “Slow Snow,” the unsettling pace of “Strobe Last” or even the uncanny valley between digi diva and human singer on “B Who I Want 2 B” — it feels so great. Vocaloid shouldn’t be reduced to a stand in because you couldn’t find someone to sing over your guitar tracks, it’s way to interesting and weird a technology to be wasted on that.

Producer Loopcoda has started standing out in recent months, thanks in some part to how Vocaloid gets employed. Thing is, it isn’t in any particularly daring way — on new song “Aoiru Endless,” the familiar voice of Miku ripples, but that’s not really new (or even restricted to computerized artists). Rather, her digi-sing pinballs around an equally jittery electro-pop number, one that eventually gets all sunny but for most of its run is a hectic weather pattern (that piano line!). And even if the singing is relatively unscathed — though leaving it heavily muffled can sometimes be enough — it matches the zig-zagging format wonderfully, no part settling but rather working well to achieve what it wants to be. “Aoiru Endless” comes from the very solid Bye Bye Orizumu EP, which you can buy here. Though you can hear another, far chipper cut from that EP below.

New Easel Easel: “Lose Melberg”

It’s a rainy holiday Monday, and despite a mountain of work that needs to be done, I just want to be lazy. A situation like that calls for skippy indie-pop, and Tokyo project Easel Easel’s latest song “Lose Melberg” does the job well. It falls in that twee-leaning sea of music that works best when you want something breezy (but also sorta sad, like you realize you are just putting off important things) playing as you sprawl out on the couch. It’s weird to be like “this is good because it doesn’t demand your attention,” but sometimes that’s what you need on a drizzly weekday. Listen above.

Yesterday Once More Teams Up Cosmopolyphonic: Savory

Always good to see exciting collectives from different parts of the country team up to put out new music. Fukuoka’s Yesterday Once More keeps their strong 2015 going by joining up with Tokyo’s Cosmopolyphonic — no strangers to working with on the rise scenes, as they also were one of the first to hook up with Osaka’s INNIT – for a collection called Savory. It features the major players from both imprints doing their thing, ranging from jittery juke to spaced-out beats to dustier sample-based creations. Dive in here, or listen below.