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Paperkraft And Stones Taro Release “Rally Hard” EP

Voices come to the forefront on this split EP between NC4K mainstays Paperkraft and Stones Taro. Samples of singing and of humans just generally generating noise have popped up in their releases, but the Rally Hard EP pushes them to the front in a way that none of the other releases from the label has done, at least off the top of my head. Stones Taro’s “Breed The Horns” finds familiar acid stabs joining with a barrage of syllables — “yo!” “uh!” — to create a simple but catchy track. Better is Paperkraft’s “Final Dance,” which takes speedy sentences and, eventually, joyful bursts of singing, to create a thumping number that uses voices as a main melody. Get it here, or listen below.

New (Kinda) Smany: “2113”

Smany’s latest album To Lie Latent isn’t quite a new release. Rather, it features a lot of glances back at the wispy electronic singer/songwriter’s history. Some songs are simply brought back, while others — such as “2113,” originally released in 2014 via Bunkai-Kei Records — get updated and played around with. It’s a personal favorite pursuit from musicians, when they revisit older works and tinker around, trying to find new perspectives on the songs. In 2019, Smany adds strings and a little more urgency to the pitter-patter synths and her own sing-speak. It’s familiar, but with an added oomph reflecting her last few years. Listen above.

New Puni Puni Denki: “Kimi Wa Queen”

“Kimi Wa Queen” finds somewhat of a middle ground between the bossa-nova-inflected Wonder Underground and the dance-floor-eyeing Mirai Addiction. The general pace is still pretty relaxed, but Puni Puni Denki lets a nice bounce sneak in that gives this one a little more of a strut. That’s partially thanks to assists from production team Mikeneko Homeless and Shin Sakiura, artists who have made a career tightroping between jazzy territory and more upbeat electronic grounds. With Puni Puni Denki, they hit on just the right mix, and an apt backdrop to remind of her singing abilities, here taking on a smokier late-night-lounge quality that matches up with melancholy lyrics. Listen above.

New Uami: “Yoshinayo”

Uami is one of those artists who releases songs at a rapid clip, making weekly visits to their SoundCloud a good exercise to get into. Some numbers stand out among the rest, though, and “Yoshinayo” stands as a recent highlight. What starts as some easy-breezy keyboard notes soon gives way to a busier main melody, one that both has a bit of a hop and conceals some iciness. Uami’s multi-tracked vocals come in and add some tension as they grow in energy, going from a plain-spoken delivery to a yelp. Listen above.

Fidget State: Pinballbally’s “Waves”

Tokyo duo Pinballbally’s debut album Hi-Fi Vitamins is a streaming gem for those who like their electro-pop on the jittery side. “Waves” serves as a good gateway in — well, it is the opening number so I’m not offering you anything clever there — as it features lightly-filtered vocals hopping over a fizzy melody. The way it pops and ratchets about is what makes it special, as it feels less like the work of a few instruments and more like a bunch of sounds being triggered on some sort of scatter plot. It’s catchy and the main song isn’t all that daring, but the way it rattles about makes it sounds new. Listen above.