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New Paperkraft: Feel EP

Remember a few years back, when sampling Aaliyah’s vocals was in style? It could result in some pretty cliche stuff, but it had its moments for sure (though…the bad stuff…yikes). Producer Paperkraft rolls the dice on the approach on the opening track to his new Feel EP, and comes out looking alright…he samples “Rock The Boat,” taking part of the hook and centering it around a shifty house beat, one that takes the “feel like I’m on dope” line to a sorta literal place. It’s the hazy highlight from this two song set, with “Bounce Back N Forth” offering a solid comedown, but definitely being deserving of that second slot. Listen below, or get it here.

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New I-fls: “Solstice”

Ahhhh, summer is officially here, which means its time to set new hopes and dreams for the warmer months and hope for the best. Bedroom producer I-fls emerges with a song to mark the moment called “Solstice,” and it is a shifty and dreamy number containing a lot of optimism for the season. That’s long been a trademark of I-fls music — when it isn’t painfully nostalgic, it embraces flights of fancy, enveloping the listener. This is a nice way to kick off summer. Listen above.

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New Suiyoubi No Campanella: “Tsuchinoko”

This week, Suiyoubi No Campanella’s major label debut comes out via Warner Japan, and…even though I was definitely later to this artist than many others (thanks Tumblr!)…this situation is something fans of many artists before and many in the future will deal with. The weird excitement of seeing just how an artist you’ve backed for a while does on a perceived larger level, and the nagging worry that they are going to fuck it all up. On a level-headed read of the situation, I don’t think the jump to Warner is going to suddenly cause a sudden shift in style aimed at pleasing the masses — you don’t recruit Matthewdavid and Brandt Brauer Frick if you want to be the next Nishino Kana. And a song like “Tsuchinoko,” which just got a video today ahead of the trio’s new album, isn’t any sort of radical departure — it is the sort of future-garage-pop that they’ve embraced on “Medusa” and “Napoleon.”

Yet that is where a more deserving concern, at least to me, emerges: will a major label limit just what Suiyoubi No Campanella could do? “Tsuchinoko” is a solid song in the sense that it is very much a Suiyoubi No Campanella song — it has the same sound complete with house piano lines, it has a mix of sing-speak and rap about places in Tokyo, and sticky production tricks. It is as close to a “Suiyoubi No Campanella” song as Suiyoubi No Campanella can get, and while there’s nothing wrong with that for the most part (still solid, still hits a lot of the same buttons), that creeping worry of them losing their surprise element appears. Because even when they made pretty obvious stabs at something mainstream, they caught you off guard in the details (and, like, watching them live…Komuai scaling up various structures seems like an apt metaphor for their sound). This is a bit more straightforward, and while I don’t mind it, I see where worries could bubble up.

Of course, the actual test comes in two days when the album comes out, so maybe this is all needless. Listen above.

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Small Travels: High To Low’s “Hong Kong 17:00”

One of the more interesting developments in Japanese rock music over the last three or four years is the outfit Soutaiseiriron becoming a major point of inspiration for bands both big and small. High To Low are one of the better outfits this year to have clearly studied the group’s speak-sing and approach to guitar playing, and they pull it off well on “Hong Kong 17:00,” a shifty number that really hits its stride come the chorus, when the lead vocals soar up. Next step is poking around this sound for something that is all their own, but this is a solid first step, and better than a lot of imitators out there. Listen above.

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Drive On In: Luby Sparks “Pop. 1979”

Why not start the new week…the last full one of June, yikes!…with some driving indie-pop? Miles Apart Records has a knack for locating really talented groups creating fuzzy numbers featuring lots of distortion but sweetly sung hooks. Tokyo’s Luby Sparks are the latest to debut via the label, with the driving “Pop. 1979,” which features male and female voices hopping along in unison before hitting the sweet spot, that lovely chorus, so sunny you might miss that this whole song is a kiss-off rather than an embrace. This one isn’t about catching you off guard, but about capturing the DIY-spirit of this sort of sounds…and, well, deliver a real ear worm. Listen above.

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