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Author Archives: Patrick St. Michel

New Paellas: “Orange”

It isn’t a total move into the sunlight, but “Orange” finds Paellas moving the curtains back a little bit. It is there first “digital single,” so I suppose they wanted to avoid the backstreet glow of breakout “Shooting Star” this time around. A synth-melody pops along for most of the song, while the drum beat and bass playing lean closer to upbeat than the shadowy funk of previous releases. Hoshino Gen they ain’t when it comes for the happy stuff, but this is certainly perking up for them. Well, almost all of them — the key remains vocalist Matton singing in a way that always sounds just slightly melancholy, even if the sounds around him are a bit more smiley. You can change the background, but you can’t shake the lingering ennui. Listen above.

New Homecomings: “Blue Hour”

Kyoto’s Homecomings have always sung in English prior to this year’s Whale Living, out next week. On that one, they switch it up to their native Japanese. Yet “Blue Hour” reminds that despite the linguistic change, the quartet remains capable of nailing the melancholy of everyday life. “Blue Hour” unfolds at a familiar Charlie-Brown-type shuffle, a pace allowing every word to hang out as long as needed to really get its feeling across. This has always been Homecomings skill — they make music that captures the feeling of taking a walk and just thinking stuff over, letting small details crash into the bigger nagging concerns. The language is different, but the impact is the same. Listen above.

New Frasco Featuring ASOBOiSM: “Era”

It felt for a split-second there that Frasco were taking a breather after a year where they’ve put out an impressive amount of synth-centered funk-pop. But they just needed some time to get a friend. “Era” finds the pair leaning in on their electronic side, crafting a fizzy backdrop loaded up with samples that reflect the lyrics. The bulk of those little sonic springs come during ASOBOiSM’s verse, which finds her rapping about smartphones, decades gone by and making dad jokes. It’s playful — something a lot of Japanese rap in 2018 ignores in favor of wanting to sound like Migos (while forgetting that, you know, they are fun) — bit that works wonders in Frasco’s world. Listen above.

Yuigot Teams Up With Seana To Become Applekid, Shares Plena

Netlabel artists moving a little bit away from the wild Web-oriented styles of the late 2000s and embracing more familiar formats — often with vocalist alongside them — isn’t a 2018 development, but it feels more prevalent this year. Yuigot is the latest to give this team-up a try, working with singer Seana under the name Applekid (they even made their own concept character!). Plena finds the music smoothed out every so slightly, leaving enough room for Seana to deliver her vocals with plenty of aplomb. “Cityscape” fizzes, burbles and at one point makes a major tempo change, but it also never feels too overwhelming, everything kept in just enough check to construct a pop song. “Echo” plays it even straighter, though for anyone craving something a bit more 2009, “Marble” comes through with a follow-the-bouncing-bal speed and a rush of syllables sprayed out over it. Get it here.

New Le Makeup: Matra EP

Matra works as the bridge between Le Makeup’s two musical sides. The Osaka artist’s voice bounces off of the beats here, approaching a rap while adding an emotional urgency to every song here that really resonates when they let the edges of the songs fray a bit. “Fade” is right, Le Makeup guiding the song forward with a guitar melody slightly obscured, their voice hovering somewhere in the back. That’s the one inclusion here that feels like it could easily slide into last year’s Hyper Earthy, but plenty of details sprinkled throughout this EP remind of Le Makeup’s focus on the everyday, from guitar lines to obscured singing.

Yet Matra moves too, revisiting the dancehall and Bala Club inspired tracks appearing on something like Esthe. “Lush” pointed the way, and Le Makeup only goes further across this EP. The title track incorporates clanging percussion, but the effect isn’t intimidating but rather something that fits in nicely with the stream-of-thought vocals they bring to the song. That tension carries over to “Wilted” and “White Curtain,” both with plenty of energy surging through them. It’s two parts of Le Makeup coming together to form a distinct voice. Get it here, or listen below.