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Author Archives: Patrick St. Michel

New Cuushe: “Spread”

It’s only a snippet of a new song, but any new Cuushe is something to celebrate. In conjunction with the NHK program Techne and director Yoko Kuno (who has worked with Cuushe before), “Spread” soundtracks a brief clip of rotoscoped babies, albeit ones transforming into various things (we approve!). The song itself is a twinkling little number, one that blurs around the edges and features Cuushe’s enchanting vocals. Watch above.

Kirara Records Share Constract 6F Compilation, Featuring Maidable, Go-Kun, Soleily And More

Japanese imprint Kirara Records shared a new compilation album earlier this week, titled Constract 6F and featuring some great dance tunes courtesy of some rising producers. The name that caught our attention was Maidable, whose comp-closing “To You” is the mellowest moment here, accented by horn snippets and breezy synth lines. But the songs preceding it are every bit as strong, highlighted by the blurry-eyed climb of Soleily’s “Morning Glory” and the tipsy house of Go-Kun’s “Empty Audio. Above is just a sampling, get the whole album for free here.

New Especia: Mirage

The internet, as I’m sure you don’t need me telling you, warps our worldview pretty fiercely. If you follow a bunch of people on a social media site who share a common interest, it probably looks like any news about said interest is a big deal that practically stops time. In reality, most people are more interested in talking about Poland beating the Swiss in soccer. That’s probably how Especia fit into my online life…it was announced late last week the group, which went on a break following this year’s Carta and saw a significant line-up change in that period too, and my feed went bonkers over the next two days, capped off with the release of a new four-song album called Mirage. Maybe this isn’t a big all-together-now moment, but it certainly warrants at least bullet points to some corners of the J-pop-leaning universe:

– Especia are now a trio, with returning members Haruka Tominaga and Erika Mori joined by new member Mia Nascimento (Especia Va Bien with the full breakdown). A lot of the charming aesthetic points return, as do some of the ones that make you tug your collar a bit (see new press photo in that preceding link). Probably unnecessary, considering the artwork for Mirage, entered around some Tatooine-ish world and, like, speeder bikes, captures the same vibe without any of the potential pitfalls.

– Speaking of Mirage…it’s pretty solid! Especia opt for the more mid-temp material they’ve dabbled in, and which appeared across Carta, and even though nothing on Mirage nails the big, attention-grabbing pop that tends to manifest itself on the group’s releases in at least some form, this short set feels more like a reaffirming “we are back!” than anything else. One full of great moments, from the breezy flute on opener “Savior” to, well, most of highlight “Helix,” which features an intriguing garbled bridge. As a return to the spotlight, it is a solid play to the fanbase, save for the unexpected switch up to English.

– So if the music isn’t any major departure for the group…thank goodness…how about the group’s image? Ultimately, the live video of their return performance says more about that than anything else…gone are the throwback jerseys, and instead they sport black dresses while performing in front of Hi-Fi City (who, we can assume, probably worked on Mirage). Some have speculated they are moving away from idol music with this return, which…well, let’s see what happens next (it’s tempting to see them playing in front of a live band like that and think maybe they want in on the whole “city pop revival” narrative…except they’ve already done just that, so….), and the English on the release is an interesting twist, albeit one that’s hard to peg.

– But overall, glad to see them back, and still mostly doing what Especia did best. Listen above.

New Sayoko Daisy: “Silent Revenge”

Electronic producer Sayoko Daisy gives funk a spin on the rubber “Silent Revenge,” a simple but very fun number coming out of Mie Prefecture. She takes her time letting the elastic synth grooves take their time, only interjecting her voice after making sure the proper atmosphere has been conjured up. And even then, she’s simply adding a little extra energy to an already movin’ number. Listen above.

West Side Warmth: Onsen Compilation 2

Every region surely has something interesting going on…but man, I honestly think Kansai always has the highest volume of intriguing music going on (whereas Tokyo just has a lot). Onsen Records is based out of Osaka, and leans towards the beat music side of things…apt for the region…and the tracks on Onsen Compilation 2 exemplifying that style are solid, highlighted by Kid Yumi’s skippy, jazzy contribution and the slightly more avant “Lamento No Morro” from m1k2sh2. Yet what separates the set is the stuff that tries something different — The Neon City pops up here, with a muted bit of guitar pop called “The Life That Walks,” featuring her voice sounding like it is coming from a closest the next room over. U-Z’s “Slow Down” is close to a conventional beat, but moves at half speed and feels zonked out of its mind, a state all its own, while Mouse’s “Not So Easy” actually features some rap, which is a nice touch. Listen above.