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Brain Drain: Koji Seto’s “Since Wave”

In general, YouTubers venturing into music has been a disaster. Nothing worse than an influencer treating art as another way to build their brand, but here we are in 2019! But that doesn’t mean a YouTuber can’t hit when they do release a song. Koji Seto mostly makes videos like this, or this, or uhhhhhh this. But he’s also dabbled in a lot of music creation on the channel, and in a recent upload Seto goes in to how he made his own synthwave song. And “Since Wave” actually holds up as a snackable bit of synth-pop. Simple for sure, but the gentle bounce and synth melody would fit in nicely among the dreamy reflections of Local Visions or the more playful Juscotech defined by artists like Boogie Idol. And it’s far better than a lot of the Liam-Wong-core retro stuff coming from people who watched Blade Runner once and fired up Garageband. This has bounce. Listen above.

New (Kinda) Blackbass With Ryuei Kotoge: “Unfair”

The surest way to give your project a musical boost is get a great under-the-radar producer helping out with the music. Blackbass call on Kansai producer and INNIT-adjacent creator Ryuei Kotoge to help construct the sparse “Unfair.” This one came out on an EP released earlier this year, but now gets a video, and it is worth digging in a bit deeper. Like that FNCY song from yesterday, the chilly music helps to have the actual vocals of Blackbass — digitally manipulated as they are — to come through a bit more clearly. But this one also offers more tension, the stiffer beat colliding with the ice-like keyboard notes just right to create something with a very lonely vibe. Listen above.


FNCY makes nostalgia seem so natural. The trio of Zen-La-Rock, G-Rina and Chinza Dopeness has largely turned throwback hip-pop ideas into tag-team successes, as recently as this past January. Latest single “DRVN'” still nods to the past, but strips the sound back in favor of a cool West Coast breezer of a beat (produced by G. Rina) allowing space for all three to show off their rapping and singing. The other boost FNCY allows them is how each can dip in and out of different deliveries, something their solo output hasn’t always reflected. But here they get to shine as individuals while playing off of one another just right. Works at any time. Listen above.

New Lucky Kilimanjaro: “Kaze Ni Naru”

The thing about being upbeat is that you really need to commit to not come off as phony. Lucky Kilimanjaro occupy just the right corner here, creating bouncy dance-pop topped off by shout-along hooks that never get too twee and mutate into an I’m From Barcelona group hug. “Kaze Ni Naru” offers up joy in a way that never feels cloistering, always keeping some space even as the band fills the song up with synthesized string notes and side twinkles that offer a little wide-eyed wonder to this. It never goes too far, but it never holds back on offering up a little brightness in a dance-pop shell. Listen above.

New HoneyComeBear: “Calling”

HoneyComeBear’s calling card has been the ability to take familiar EDM stompings and find a way to turn them into something closer to a J-pop ballad without sacrificing the banger qualities. “Calling” offers the latest example of the duo’s balancing act, featuring skittering drum beats and bright keyboard melodies wrapped around tender verses just really leaning in on the emotion. But thankfully, instead of a swell of strings come the hook, HoneyComeBear let a sharp metallic swarm of synths buzz off as the center. Always here for tension between the sweet and the stinging. Listen above.