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Author Archives: Patrick St. Michel

New Cicada: “Yureru Yubisaki”

Remember the city pop revival? That buzzed about thing from the first half of the year? Perhaps the latter half of 2016’s sudden shift to ’90s reflection jarred you out of those smooth sounds, but regardless of how many weeks Fantome sits on top of the Oricon Charts (a lot!), the bands from that boom period are still going. Cicada long skirted the line between city pop devotees and something more outright contemporary — teaming up with, like, Parkgolf will do that — and now they have a major-label debut on the way. “Yureru Yubisaki” highlights both sides of Cicada, with its slow-moving tempo bringing to mind bayside-worthy shufflers of yesteryear, but featuring splashes of electronic hums and something approaching rap. Similar to a Parkgolf or Seiho, elements of jazz and funk are being reshaped to something a bit different, albeit on the opposite end of the speedometer. Listen above.

Metoronori, Ryuho Kotoge, Hinako Takada And More Contribute To Collective Noun’s Flower


Collective Noun’s new compilation Flower highlights a set of artists making music from the corners. The songs featured here are rarely showy, opting instead for sparseness and a sense of unease, conveyed through warped electronic sounds and samples. It leads off with one of the finest doing this parallel-world pop, Metoronori, who provides a woozy number that hops along on fuzzy notes and her whispered singing. Abelest gets more outright unnerving with a song that turns Dragonball samples into something menacing…and which features mumbled raps. Hinako Takada warps R&B into a hazy lullaby on “Soothe,” while Ryuho Kotoge constructs a steely, threatening beat on “Coldpinkcity.” For fans of more minimal sounds cast in shadows, definitely worth a listen. Get it here, or listen below.

Head Spins: Yuichi Nagao Featuring Shinobu (Her Ghost Friend): “Ending Story”

1. In a moment of pure honest — I kind of hate streaming services. Well, at least as someone maintaining a blog (ha!) in 2016 (ha ha!), as lots of great albums appear on, like, Apple Music, but I feel like I can’t really write about them here, since they seem so inaccessible to most people. As a fan, they have their perks. Like, I can listen to Her Ghost Friend’s latest album, released back in the summer, and marvel at how it is one of the year’s sweetest J-pop collections. But I forget to write that somewhere so…if you have the chance, go hunt down Kimi No Iru Sekai Ga Suki Dayo.

2. Shinobu, of Her Ghost Friend, guests on this bouncy bit of dream-hop courtesy of producer Yuichi Nagao (last seen here…during the last World Cup). “Ending Story” is a bit more lush than your usual Her Ghost Friend cut, but her lullaby-ready singing works just as fine in this context, and even sounds good when Nagao alters her singing ever so slightly. Which matches the surreal vibe of the song just right. Listen above.

3. Nagao’s recently released RĂªverie zoomed right by our radar, but looks like something right up our alley. Besides Shinobu, it features appearances from the lead singer of Kindan No Tasuketsu (listen to that one below) and Smany, among others. Definitely a late autumn highlight worth seeking out.

New Tofubeats: “Shopping Mall”

Between major label releases, tofubeats tends to explore sounds that might not be the sort of thing to make it on his major-label albums. In the year since Positive, he’s been getting deeper into house — with a pretty fantastic house set at this year’s Maltine event at WWW X — while “Shopping Mall” gives him a chance to flex his rap skills. Similar to his “It G Ma” inspired “Drum Machine” that appeared before Positive really got going, “Shopping Mall” is a blurred-around-the-edges number that finds tofubeats himself front and center, his voice run through digital manipulation while he raps in a more direct style. It’s only a demo, but very intriguing. Listen above.

Double Cute: Tomggg And Night Tempo Team Up For “Suki? Suki!”

Korean producer Night Tempo has been a frequent to visitor in 2016, playing shows across the country over the past 12 months where he can showcase his take on future funk, one leaning on the funky sounds of ’80s Japan (which he’s happy to shout out). Now, he’s teamed up with Japan’s own Tomggg for a song called “Suki? Suki!,” one that finds a happy balance between the prior’s speedy dance reworks and the latter’s bell-heavy cuddle sound. “Suki? Suki!” enters territory that we wish more future funk makers would wade in to, which is to take their sample-centric music and add more original elements on top. Night Tempo flips a great ’80s sample, but what makes this work is how (presumably) Tomggg’s playroom touches add a new dimension to the music, and take it to a dreamy place. This isn’t simply refashioning the past, but building on top of it and finding a new angle on it. Listen above.