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New Super VHS: “Conservative”

Maybe the golden days of Tokyo’s indie-rock scene aren’t quite over yet after all. Super VHS — who made a lot of solid songs and one masterclass in fuzzy longing — are finally rolling out their first full-length album, Classics, which is out on December 2. And they return after (what at least felt like) a long hiatus with the sweet, tropical-tinged “Conservative.” They’ve moved a bit away from the lo-fi vibe, though this still boasts a feeling of being held together by tape (mainly that drum machine). This sort of sun-glzed sound used to be pretty common in indie circles around here — possibly because of the lingering influence of chillwave — and it is nice to hear it popping back up, especially when the artists involve make such solid songs out of it. Listen above.

Elen Never Sleeps And Super VHS Release Split EP, Featuring Taquwami Remixes

Elen Never SleepsとSuper VHSがスプリットEPを発表しました。White Surrender/Stuck On Youに収録された曲は、どちらも彼らの今までのスタイルとは異なった方向性となり、新しい可能性を追求した良作と言えるでしょう。Elen Never Sleepsによる”White Surrender”は、今までのドリーミーなサウンドより、少しくっきりとした曲です。きちんと輪郭のあるボーカルに時折囁くようなコーラスが混ざり、ギターとミニマルなビートの上に重ねられています。ボーカルはハイトーンではやや不安定なものの、ミニマルな曲に上手くマッチしています。Super VHSの”Stuck On You”は、彼の楽曲の中でもダントツにガレージ・ロック寄りと言えるでしょう。短いものの、バックグラウンドに面白いノイズが使われていて興味深いです。

EPには東京のトラックメーカー、Taquwamiによるリミックスも含まれています。不思議なことにWhite Surrenderのリミックスは、すごくドリーミーに作られているため、本人達の物より、過去のElen Never Sleepsスタイルに近く感じられます。遅くされたボーカルを除けばElenのオリジナルのようになるでしょう。Taquwamiのサイドプロジェクト、Occult YouとしてリミックスされたStuck On Youは、ガレージからガラリと変わり、Toro-Y-Moiのようなダンスチューンになっています。視聴、ダウンロード(無料)は以下より。

Elen Never Sleeps And Super VHS Release Split EP, Featuring Taquwami Remixes

Here’s a nice late-summer surprise – Elen Never Sleeps and Super VHS have teamed up to release a new split EP, each artist contributing one new track. Neither of the songs on the White Surrender/Stuck On You release mark big stylistic changes for either act, but both find the pair of Tokyo artists taking baby steps in new directions. Elen Never Sleeps steps out from the dreamy haze he’s inhabited over the majority of his artistic career, letting his voice drift into the open over a minimalist beat, some guitar and the occasional whispy background voice. It’s a daring move that mostly pays off – although some of the higher notes can sound awkward, the majority of the song is sung in a straightforward way that sounds intimate against the bare-bones backdrop. Super VHS, meanwhile, sound more like a garage-rock band than they ever have before on “Stuck On You.” It’s short but does come complete with some whimsical noises in the back, though.

The EP also includes remixes of both songs courtesy of Taquwami, which makes this an even better summer surprise. His remix of “White Surrender” actually sounds more like one expects an Elen Never Sleeps’ song to sound – he muffled the vocals a bit more, and everything comes off as a little hazier. Take out the slowed-down voices scattered about the track and this could have been an Elen original. His reworking of “Stuck On You,” done under the electro-dance moniker Occult You, is more radical – the fuzz gets scrubbed off in favor of Toro-Y-Moi-flavored synth blasts, the entire track transformed from fast rocker to fidgety dance number. Download the EP for free here, or listen below.

Moscow Club Present Japanese Indie-Pop Compilation, Featuring Occult You, Super VHS And OMEGABOY

International Tapes debuted this over the weekend, but in case you missed it here is a reminder: Moscow Club helped to organize the Ç86 compilation, a collection of indie-pop-leaning artists (I mean, check the name of the comp again) that the group put together in time for the Spring. It’s a pretty great introduction to the country’s contemporary indie-pop scene. The compilation features pretty faithful recreation of 80’s indie-pop courtesy of The Moments, It Happens and Lilacs. The tape also gives some room to the producer-fantasies of Occult You and OMEGABOY, as while as a back half bordering on ambient. It’s not perfect – some of the sparse electronic songs drag, while Slow-Marico’s dentist drill of a song makes a pretty good case against noise – but when stuff like Super VHS’ bouncy “Not Too Late” plays this tape seems vital, a great digital object highlighting some exciting artists.

The best songs, though, come courtesy of Moscow Club themselves. Last year, they jumped between straight-ahead indie-pop goodness (“Daisy Miller,” “Bikinikill”) and electro-tinged compositions (“Pacific 724,” “Echo Beach”). Here, they make a truce between the two, decking their twee songs out in Christmas lights and letting them twinkle away. They lack the emotional ooooomph of a “Daisy Miller,” but still sound like a step forward for Moscow Club sonically.

Get it here.

Make Believe Mix For February 2012 Featuring Occult You, Seiho And Super VHS

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This month, the Make Believe Mix shuts the curtains and stays under the covers as we feature mostly bedroom artists from all over Japan…and beyond. The ability to make, record and distribute music by yourself has been great for artists who would otherwise never get exposure, and this scene has taken off in Japan in recent years. This month’s mix opens with Occult You (who you might also know as Taquwami) and their lovely “Cassette Girl (Minami),” before heading out west to Kansai to check in on Day Tripper Records mastermind Seiho and his mind-scrambling new song “Evening.” We stay in the region to meet up with Cat Statues, a project made by Benjamin Landau as a means to document his time in Osaka, and listen to the song “Trappers/Palace.” Then we jet to England, because Kero Kero Bonito live there. “But wait, they aren’t Japanese!” Astute, but their track “Ms. World” features Mayu Tanaka on vocals. Rounding things out, producer OMEGABOY and lo-fi pop architects Super VHS.

Below is a list of artists and songs appearing in this month’s mix, in chronological order. Click the links to read more about them and find out how to buy/get their music. All artists featured gave me permission to include their music in this mix.

Occult You “Cassette Girl (Minami)” – From the Psychic Feelings EP. Free download here.

Seiho “Evening” – New online track. Visit Day Tripper Records here.

Cat Statues “Trappers/Palace” – Online track. Visit his blog here.

Kero Kero Bonito “Ms. World” – Online track. Get here.

OMEGABOY “Rustyslide” – Online track. Get here.

Super VHS “Remember The Night” – Online track. Get here.