The guiding principal behind Make Believe Melodies, ever since I founded it all the way back in 2009, was to focus exclusively on music from Japan. Truth is, though, I have certainly broken that guiding principal every once in awhile – I’ve written about Japanese artists who currently reside in other countries, and have even typed up posts about American artists who just sound a lot like Japanese pop acts (remember Fizzy Dino Pop?). I’ve been good about not doing that recently…but today I break the rule slightly by featuring the new album from American artist Meishi Smile. There are connections to make – this release comes courtesy of Tokyo netlabel Maltine Records, and Smile’s himself runs an imprint called Zoom Lens which features Japanese acts (and MBMelodies-loved) mus.hiba and i-fls. Still…this is a Los Angeles-based dude’s music, which isn’t our normal focus.
But screw it, because mYSTERIOUS sUMMER vACATION not only takes tons of cues from J-Pop (Meishi Smile loves the stuff) but also features some fantastic tunes. It’s an uptempo collection, nearly every track hear featuring samples taken from (presumably) Japanese music and set against rollicking beats. Opener “Hougako No Yakusoku (☼ SUMMER BREEZE RMX. ☼)” sets the pace with a follow-the-bouncing-ball beat paired up with synths ripped right out of Club Med promo video. Even better is following number “L/M/B/W/Y (FUCK REAL LIFE ANIME IS REAL LIFE™ RMX.),” which drives forward ecstatically, highlighted by the waves of sampled Japanese singing. From there, vACATION darts towards slightly more relaxed sounds (the just-check-the-title “zZz (LULLABYE RMX.)”) to the dreamier (the next two songs, one of which is a “DREAM POP RMX”). This album…along with most everything else Meishi Smile and those on Zoom Lens has released…shows what can happen when one draws inspiration from Japanese music creatively. Get it here.