Dolled Up: O2i3’s “Dollfie Dream”

I wasn’t aware what a Dollfie Dream was before trying to figure out what the title of this song courtesy of Setagaya-based producer 02i3 was about. Turns out it is a doll, and lots of people love unboxing them on YouTube. How they relate to this hyper-bright synth workout, I’m not sure, so let’s just focus on the music. This sound — big, bright, cute, peppered with all the samples you expect to hear in a SoundCloud waveform (“hey!,” water droplet, etc) — can be tricky to do in a way that feels novel, but O2i3 brings the energy, while also slowing things down in the middle for a quick piano interlude that really drives in the sweetness. Listen above.

New Soleil Soleil: “Emotion”

New Soleil Soleil: “Emotion”

Osaka’s Soleil Soleil has always been about creating dance music drenched in feelings, but he’s a bit more direct with new song “Emotion.” Like the cuts off of this year’s still-strong If I Could EP, he creates a bouncy beat centered around vocals sampled from Mariah Carey’s “Emotions,” zeroing in on the “you got me feeling emotions” line and playing it up for all the bliss he can. Listen above.

New Dubb Parade: “Urge”

The ever shape-shifting Dubb Parade has returned with a new song called “Urge.” It isn’t the producers first foray into juke music, but it is definitely his most clanging to date, as manipulated voices crash against both headphone channels, and in general the beat clangs more than previous efforts. It slightly disorienting, but focused enough to not be pure mindfuck. Listen above.

Come Down: Easel Easel’s “Sunny Day Nervous”

Busy week? Busy week! But also sorta a slow week, as not much new music really stood out. This Friday night is in need of some pep, and thankfully Tokyo’s Easel Easel deliver with new song “Sunny Day Nervous.” This one is straightforward indie-pop, a driving number with a sunny (hey, it’s in the title) hook and pretty basic production. But hey, that’s the charm of this sort of music. Listen above.

Basement Scenes: Hakuchi’s “Mansion”

There’s a massive gap between mainstream J-Pop and Japan’s indie (here veering closer to “independent”) communities, but a similar space exists between various music scenes across the country. For me, that’s most felt between artists who put sort of a priority on sharing sounds online, and those who instead embrace live venues as their sharing platform. Call And Response Records (operated by Ian Martin, a contributor to The Japan Times and operator of the blog Clear And Refreshing) does a great job of spotlighting outfits that excel in live spaces — like, cramped digs in neighborhoods like Koenji — and drawing out that energy into a recording. That would be a tough enough job in sprawling Tokyo, but Call And Response’s heavyhitters tend to come from the other side of the country. One of the latest is Hakuchi out of Saga Prefecture, a trio’s whose new album Chindon Ding Dong! packs a lot of off-beat energy into 25 minutes. “Mansion” offers a good intro to what the offer up — a driving guitar-guided number punctuated by some hollering and moments where it seems like the song could break into pure chaos before pulling it just together. The only outlier here is this is their longest song on the album at just over two-minutes-and-thirty seconds. Don’t expect it all to be so leisurely, but definitely brace for the energy. Listen above, or learn more about them here.