Last time Yokohama’s premier juke creator Paisley Parks came around, he had teamed up with one of America’s finest in the genre, Traxman, for the Far East EP. Then…nothing much. Well, looks like Paisley Parks kept plenty busy in the last six months, because he just uploaded 17 new tracks to his SoundCloud page. That’s a bit to go through, and even a cursory skip around them reveals…well, no narrative beyond “he’s back.” The new tracks range from sorta silly (turned soulful) exercises in how much Paisley Parks can get out of the word “dribble,” to a remix of The Phantom Of The Opera theme, to limb looseners like the manic “Don’t Go,” featuring one of the wildest second halves to a track he’s put down (listen to that one above). Oh, and he also gets a lot of mileage from the first two seconds of an old Clipse song (below!). We’ve highlighted a few of our initial favorites below, but yeah just go here and start listening.
As of late, I’ve felt an intense nostalgia for Osaka. Blame this incredible Soleil Soleil track, or maybe the still persistent cold of Tokyo, or maybe the crowded morning train…but I’ve been longing for the middle of Japan lately, a place I lived for nearly three years. Most of all, I’ve missed the music scene there — and here is where I pause and acknowledge it has changed, everything changes — because of how close knit it all seemed, how every fun new idea was met with curiosity from people you wouldn’t expect to be hanging out in that sonic nook but here they were because, well, I don’t know. But I loved it.
Also, because Kansai in general produces a lot of tip-top music. Pictured Resort are a relatively new band, one who have shared a total of two songs online, both of which popped up on SoundCloud three months ago. They seem to be scoring gigs, though (that’s how I spotted them), and those two songs hint at a lot of potential. The outfit’s best is “Head West,” a woozy number loaded with the sort of laid-back guitar you’d expect from an indie-pop band, but made feverish thanks to the keyboard, which acts as the sun-splattered filter here, making all of it seem even more melancholy, longing for something else (the hint here being something about the west coast). Listen to that one above.
As the new week prepares to start up, here are two releases from a pair of Japan’s best netlabels going at the moment. Fukuoka’s Yesterday Once More initially grabbed attention for more body-thumping releases, but have been getting a bit more laid back with their latest releases. Producer Daiki Hayakawa’s Daydream Nation is a heady two-song set that, at its most discombobulating, features a phone ringing over an otherwise easygoing beat. “Nylon” tumbles forward, but is structured in a way to be reflective and natural, a little bit like Osaka’s Magical Mistakes. Get it here, or listen below.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the fence completely…Trekkie Trax keep the energy pounding, with Mavis Bacon’s #Overbaked EP. As the hashtag hints at, this four-song album is all about youthful energy, from the haunted-house-music-gone-club of “Sliph Scope” to the rapid-fire neon synth of the title track. This can sometimes get a bit too stuffed for its own good — “Dream Memory” over does the Wave Racer thing by sampling every Yoshi sound effect in the Mario catalog — but is more often than not good high-energy material. Listen below.
There are very few J-pop albums that wouldn’t benefit from being sliced in half. The industry-standard dictating that every new release needs to be packed to the CD’s breaking point results in a finished product that’s bloated, and usually impossible to sit through without an itchy “skip” finger. This is, however, the model, and J-pop (heck, drop the “J”) has mostly treated the album as just another product rather than some sort of statement (and, hey, that might honestly be fine…Tiny Mix Tapes’ decision to focus on their favorite 50 releases of the year, rather than albums, sounds more appealing each day). Still, even if we reduce the CD as just another consumable good…lopping off twenty minutes most J-pop collections would result in a much more enjoyable product.
So it isn’t surprising that frantic idol unit Dempagumi.inc’s newest album WWDD suffers because of an hour-plus run time featuring a drag of a back half. Still, few albums practically beg to be trimmed down like this one* — lurking within here is a great eight-song set, capped off by one of their finest singles ever. But again, it sort of comes back to even having the expectation that a Dempagumi.inc album should be great in the first place, when they’ve mostly stood out as a killer singles band thus far. But WWDD feels like a missed opportunity of sorts, especially given that this is the album they released at the absolute peak of their mainstream popularity.
In a fitting Dempagumi-esque move (joke, in a fitting Japanese pop industry move), they are already zooming off into a new single that’s tied up with a pachinko machine, but let’s not dwell on that. There are two songs for this, one which sounds like someone trying to imitate a Dempagumi.inc song…and “Gidagida Da Zubuzubu Da,” a solid horn-guided skipper of a song. For large chunks of this, the group get as laid back as they can without stumbling into boring ballad territory…and even fit a rap in there. It sounds fun. And then the pace picks up, but never breaking a sweat, developing into a skittery rush but never overdoing it. It’s nice! Watch the video above.
*All of these complaints could also be aimed at Dempagumi.inc’s World Wide Dempa album from the end of 2013…again, a few of those songs need to go…but that one works way better overall and the highs are fucking atmosphere pushing.
Cuushe kept busy over the last year and change, appearing on other people’s songs and penning magazine columns (and keeping up with her Neon Cloud side project). But now she’s preparing her latest solo effort, this April’s Night Lines EP via her main label Flau and Cascine, which she just signed to and is a neat development. “Tie” is the first peak into her latest, and like her best songs, it is one that gets better the more time you sink into it. Cuushe’s vocals are covered with a thin layer of electronics, creating a dream-like atmosphere where her singing works best. And it has enough of a thump to keep your attention from drifting off. Listen above.