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Part Timing: Pearl Center’s “Near Dawn” EP

I’m kind of not sure why most of these songs couldn’t have functioned as songs for Paellas, but I assume new quartet Pearl Center gives Matton (vocalist of the aforementioned Paellas) some freedom to do things a group now signed with Universal Music Japan might not be able to. The Near Dawn EP introduces the project with four songs of hushed, R&B-tinged music that isn’t too far from other late-night downer sounds, though less guitars factor into this one and…it can actually get pretty happy. Rather, songs such as “Yellow Rose” places Matton’s higher delivery over wispy synthesizer melodies that build towards something resembling a stride delivered in confidence. Other songs aren’t quite as upbeat, with R&B elements being pitched towards something more heavy hearted and sparse dance-pop numbers leaving plenty of space for Matton to show off his vocal acting. Whatever name they come out under, Matton and his cohorts show they still can pull listeners in with vibes that don’t always seek out a happy ending. Listen above or on your preferred streaming service.

Charging Station: Boy Objects’ “Boy Objects”

The jump from indie-pop to synth-soaked work isn’t that far, and Japan boasts a surplus of acts either exploring anorak-wrapped rock or nostalgia-evoking dance-pop. So why not dabble in both? Boy Objects finds Yuta Ozaki of Youthmemory teaming up with Masayuki Karaki to create cinema-sized synth-pop swelling with teenage emotion. Boy Objects the EP isn’t going to change your mind on this stuff — you listen to M83 once, you get what this is about — but the pair do a solid job landing the feels central to this sound. The synth notes take center stage, and on a song like opener “Love With A Desire” they constantly move up to big, wordless peaks. Get it here, or listen below.

New Snail’s House: “Love Magic”

Trying to keep tabs on the Snail’s House universe can be a slightly complicated matter, as the artist behind the project also releases music under other aliases, and even that project features specific series dwelling on certain styles and moods (Alien Pop, Ordinary Songs). Love Magic works almost like a sampler of Snail’s House’s many moods. “Petrichor” and “Cinnamon” follow the same high-energy formula found on the Alien Pop releases, complete with sliced-up vocals cascading over the electro beats. It’s in this uptempo mode that Snail’s House delivers “Pinky Promise,” one of their finest yet and evidence that Snail’s House has gone from an artist on the border of lo-fi hip-hop beats to maybe being, like, Yasutaka Nakata-level good at the speedy stuff. The back end of Love Magic goes in a sparser direction, with skippier fare like “Mint” leading into one of the most atmospheric tracks Snail’s House has ever conjured up with “Natsu Matusri.” This is Snail’s House at their most well-rounded, all of their approaches on full display and approaching their best. Get it here, or listen below.

Right Prescription: Amino_CH’s “Pi11” And “Mr.Blue”

Amino_CH’s “Pi11” popped up on YouTube a little over a week ago, and has been bouncing around in my head ever since it first appeared in the ol’ feed. The style this Tokyo artist embraces is becoming quite normal, at least among more online-centric musical communities. She raps, but also plucks elements from indie-pop, dance-pop and more to create something that is trying to be its own take on hip-hop. “Pi11” plays out over a beat with sleep still in its eyes, accented by bell chimes and guitar notes. Amino_CH sing-raps about the ups and downs of daily life in 2019 — you better believe Twitter finds a way in there — through a layer of electronic manipulation, the whole number sounding like an effort to escape from it all. Listen above.

She’s also capable of something swifter. “Mr.Blue” hits a sweet spot between the 2010’s city pop revival and hip-hop, featuring a skippy rhythm ideal for Amino_CH’s hop-scotching flow. This one especially comes recommended for anyone who already misses the summer-ready pop escapism of of Shiggy Jr., but could use more hi-hat breakdowns. Listen below.

Light Touch: Omoya’s “Dakede”

The latest from Local Visions is another example where overthinking it would be a disservice to the album in question, even if it can be so fun. Omoya’s Dakede offers up six funk-leaning songs that just offer good vibes and a splash of nostalgia. The title track struts along until it reaches the hook, where a chorus of Omoya’s come in to harmonize over one another to create a sunny stretch begging to soundtrack your next afternoon stroll. The rest of Dakede is really various mutations on this, going from the springier bounce of “Icon” to the talk-box-featuring slow jam “SO.” It’s a pleasant set of songs, with Omoya reminding how sometimes simpler aims can really connect. Get it here, or listen below.