Category Archives: Music

New Sakanaction: “Sayonara Wa Emotion”

A little bit back, Sakanaction released the video for “Hasu No Hana,” a slow-burning number that made the most of repetition. Now comes the other side of their most recent single and…it is pretty different! “Sayonara Wa Emotion” skitters from the start, both via the beat and the drippy-droppy synths that pass over it. All of “Sayonara” shifts more than “Hasu No Hana,” changing tempo frequently and adding in more background details. Together, it makes for an overall solid release.

But “Sayonara Wa Emotion’s” biggest strengths also happen to be Sakanaction’s strengths. Like a lot of their finest songs, “Sayonara” is an emotionally charged cut delivered on a stadium-sized level…Sakanaction are a band capable of headlining any Japanese music festival today, so all of the melancholy wrapped up here is packaged in a way built for biggie-sized crowds (even the title is pretty obvious about its intention…you don’t even really need to know Japanese at all to figure out what’s going on there). Yet the opening verse here is detailing a late-night trip to a convenience store to buy canned coffee…before turning into an inner-thrashing about growing cold emotionally. And, like many of Sakanaction’s other highlights, it builds to a big climax, the sort of thing they have gotten incredibly good at. Listen above.

New Ferri: “Butterfly Illumination”

Here’s a change of pace from the louder stuff that has been popping up on this blog over the past week…I last wrote about Ferri a few years back, but lost track of her since. She just released a new album, titled Infinity (errrr, the infinity symbol, that is), and it is a solid listen – she mainly works in a drifty, ambient-pop-ish style where her voice multiplies and everything just sort of floats on by, but she balances those vaporous moments out with more hard hitting tracks. “Butterfly Illumination” – above – touches on both sides. It opens as a soft piano-guided number, with Ferri’s voice trickling in at times, the whole thing very plaintive. Then the beat kicks in, and her voice starts off and this become a much more shifty number.

New Miii: An Invisible Storyteller EP

Tokyo producer Miii has been a busy bee this month. Besides prepping a new EP with his project The Wedding Mistakes, he’s been releasing a few songs here and there. And now…a new EP, called An Invisible Storyteller. SoundCloud tags aren’t a full-proof tool to figuring out the mindset of an artist…but the only one here is “sentimental” and, weirdly enough, this does sorta sound like what I imagine a guy who could easily zoom play at an EDM festival sounds like when reflecting on the past. It’s still noisy and at times chaotic…and “Chimerical Sands” is Miii at his most tiger-eyed, ready to rip shit apart, while “Peacock’s Dance” isn’t far removed…but also features a lot minor-key touches amongst the wub. There’s a lot of piano…and not like house piano, the sort of piano you learn in elementary school…all over the place, such as on the Jersey-Club-leaning opener “Sweet Love,” which is full of gunshot sounds and bed springs but also some melancholy sounding voices and synths running through this thing…it’s scatterbrained, but never really blasting off into pure joy. “An Invisible Storyteller” features hard-hitting bass, but also a lot of reflective vocal samples, while the most emotional cut comes at the very end with “From Bedroom Town,” another piano-accented song that features a heck of a build and pay off. Listen above.

New Boys Age: The Odyssey

The artists who benefit the most from best-of compilations tend to be on extreme ends of the output spectrum. Those who create very little over a career benefit from said collections because they act as one-stop listens basically serving as a whole archive. And then there are the prolific acts, such as Boys Age…this pair have released a bunch of EPs and albums across various labels from all over the world…and that’s not counting the loose songs uploaded online AND tracks popping up on various label compilations. Keeping up with these guys could be a challenge…but the just-released The Odyssey serves not just as a great intro to the duo, but also their all-around strongest release yet, highlighting all of their off-beat strengths in one long player.

Boys Age are a rock duo capable of sloggy psychedelica, sweet indie-pop and straight ahead rockers…they are inspired by a mix of classic rock, ’90s college favorites (Yo La Tengo coming up a lot) and a handful of stranger types. Their lead vocalist often sounds like he’s gargling water mid-song, but it makes their songs all the more charming. And The Odyssey gathers the pair’s best forms in one digestible place.

It ranges from their most off-beat pop songs – the unbalanced-but-playful “God Will Test You Through The PC Screen” – to their most C86-worthy cut to date, “I Wish For God’s Sake” (that chorus!). The Odyssey leans towards the quieter material in their catalog – the almost-whispered “The Jealous Of The Devil” and the drifting “Hail Me” being fine highlights of this – which doesn’t quite capture the absolute best manifestation of the duo, which is their live show – in person, their music is loud (like, really loud) and hypnotic. This collection, mainly, highlights their songwriting knack with only a few moments of release (mainly in the back end). However, as an entry point into their sprawling discography, it’s tops, and as a top-to-bottom listen, it’s one of the strongest Japanese indie-rock collections of the year. Get it here, or listen below.

New Astraltable: “Gigantic Lie”

Geez, hope Astraltable is doing OK. It has been awhile since the Kobe producer has shared any new music, and his return is called “Gigantic Lie,” and it is tagged “heartbreak.” Yikes. “Gigantic Lie” takes the jittery, sliced-up-vocals approach favored by indie-level (and up) producers across Japan and aims for melancholy over madness. Astraltable doesn’t pack every second of the song tight, instead allowing plenty of space. That enables the echoey vocal samples to really sell their pain. Listen above.