Homecomings new album comes out next week, and it’s a good collection of melancholy indie-pop done very well. “Don’t Worry Boys” is one of the more upbeat songs from Sale Of Broken Dreams, and now has its own music video, which you can watch above. For all the swagger the Kyoto quartet bring to the song, they still work in the vocal harmonizing that makes all of their music — regardless of the mood — so sticky. Listen above.
The three songs on Tokyo producer HVNS just-released Chrome EP are night numbers, but they aren’t just simple songs for driving around empty streets or letting loose after midnight. A tension runs through the spine of these steely numbers, the warped vocal samples drifting through obscured ever so slightly, coming off like just out of reach sound. Not to say they aren’t fun and energetic — these have a limb-moving power to them, especially the house rumbler “Demi” — but energetic moments such as the title track still contain plenty of unease and some moments of outright crushing sound. Listen above.
(Note: I also had a wisdom tooth pulled today, maybe that is affecting my thinking here)
The duo of PinkyLab and Jam Boy came together to form the project PeachJam last year, releasing one fantastic song in November called “Suisai Boy,” a electro-pop bouncer anchored by digi-smudged vocals. From one song — well, plus a short intro — now comes a slightly juicier release featuring six original songs, which hop around styles a bit more. This set opens up with metal chugging, but soon pivots over to mid-tempo electro-pop featuring those familiar electro-soaked vocals. It’s terrain the pair do well in, but the most intriguing part of this collection is when they introduce other elements into their sound. “Secret Mind” offers up touches of funk, while “Yoru No Asobi Kata” offers one of the more aggressive electronic songs they’ve put together, a shifty number minus with no singing that zips and zooms all over the place. They even dip their toes into something resembling Shibuya-kei at one point, though the addition of squeaks might be a little too much. Still, the project’s decision to see what they do well is a welcome development, and this set has enough solid moments that make the future even more intriguing. Get it here, or listen below.
Let’s just lay this one out in text first — combining Avex artists FAKY, Yup’in and FEMM into one special unit should result in something totally average given the pedigree of the individual acts involved. FAKY and Yup’in have had their moments, but overall neither artist is the sort you get worked up about in any capacity. FEMM…well, FEMM are a bit more divisive, as plenty of people love the mannequin-themed duo’s jarring electro-pop. I’m not one of them though, and feel like most of their approach works better as cynical .GIF files than music. So put the three together and…I don’t know, a try-hard number about being young and having a good time and bleating EDM synths?
So what the fuck is this??? The group going by FAMM’IN shared their song “Circle” yesterday, and it is a nearly seven-minute-long meditation full of Auto-tune gurgles and traditional Japanese instrumentation. It has something resembling a drop, if a drop was imagined after hours of misogi. The lyrics zoom away from usual topics in favor of koan-like pondering about the circular nature of life. This from a group featuring a duo who once compared themselves to Shane Victorino.
Part of me feels drawn in by the simple existence of this — the sprawling nature of a mega-label like Avex allows for all sorts of acts who disrupt the notion that J-pop is a sterile, unchanging thing (see you Oomori Seiko, what’s up BiS). But this…look, using words like “weird” in relation to J-pop always smells suspicious, but a label taking three acts who primarily exist to make high-energy pop and letting them create a slow-motion cut slamming trap up against gagaku samples is…unexpected. The press release calls this “Japanese trap,” and that is underselling it fiercely.
I initially was worried this seems so cool because of how unexpected it is — do I like this because of the music, or because Avex found the least expected way to utilize these three? Well, this has been on loop all morning, and I’m just floored by everything going on here — how this manages to link traditional sounds with modern styles without sounding like a total cheese pit, and how it does that while still sound like mist in the air. This is as great a shock as you can ask for. Listen above.
Tokyo five-piece Kikagaku Moyo has been kicking about for about three years around the capital, playing the sort of guitar-centric psych rock that thrills rock fans who see Japan as “Boredomes and some other nutty stuff.” But despite this potential pitfall — a lot of these avant-garde bands aren’t actually doing anything interesting! — Kikagaku Moyo (mostly) avoid meandering guitar passages in favor of something more comforting, which the band themselves describe as “feeling good music.” “Green Sugar,” off of their upcoming album House In The Tall Grass, is an especially absorbing number, an early wave of distortion giving way to a shuffling guitar number full of whispered vocals and bell accents, which makes the closing guitar solo all the more dramatic. Listen above.