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Category Archives: Music

A Little Jazz: Matsuki Bitei’s “Shukan”

It can feel really nice to have one’s mental narratives knocked off balance every once in a while. The latest release from Local Visions offers no chances to talk about nostalgia as interpreted through social media, or to ponder on how the past can be molded into something more than simple “I remember that” thrills. Even the album art pivots away from Tumblr-ready illustrations to some pencil-and-paper sketching. Matsuki Bitei’s Shukan is just three songs of delightful jazz-inspired pop songs, veering from the skippy pace of the opener to the more reigned-in (yet boasting layers just underneath, check out the drums) tempo of “Jitsui No Koushin.” The lyrics can be a bit more introspective and add further depth here, but the actual music isn’t playing around with weight ideas, just delivering a good time. If other Local Visions get my brain pumping about theories related to city pop, this one reminds that, right, the sounds that inspired that can just be fun. Get it here, or listen below.

New Boys Age: “Phantasm Gem”

Call this one an uncomfortable chill. It has been a while since we’ve heard from Boys Age, but “Phantasm Gem” reminds that the project is still delivering one of the more off-kilter takes on chilled-out indie-realm sounds going. Their latest sashays along on a guitar melody close to the music you’d hear on Spongebob Squarepants, but delivered in a staggered way that gives them a sense of lurking dread. This has always been Boys Age’s best ability, and when the singing stumbles in this numbers get even more unnerving despite having a relatively laid-back atmosphere. Listen above.

New ONJUICY: “Kono Mama 2 Jin / Relax & Chill”

Here’s how you make the most of everyone’s skill and create some balanced songs. ONJUICY’s latest release for Trekkie Trax finds him getting some assists from producers and one guest vocalist, all of whom help bring out the best in his songs while highlighting his strong points. The opening number bounces ahead courtesy of a beat created by K Bow, who takes it down a gear from his usual Jersey Club works in favor of something where the springiness is more like a trampoline than a bed, and features a late song appearance from Yungyu, whose higher pitch has a tendency to give songs a more dramatic lift (see: his recent solo number). Both also highlight ONJUICY’s more playful delivery, and helps turn his limber vocals into the spine of this number. “Relax & Chill” features an icier piece of music courtesy of Carpainter, which helps to bring out a more rough side of ONJUICY (the title doesn’t really reflect the delivery here!). Get it here, or listen below.

New The Oto Factory: “R _ U _ S _ H _ H _ O _ U _ R _”

This is like ASMR for me. The Oto Factory just coat their music in vocoder, turning funk and dance-pop songs into vibrating jams with a little bit of tension that a lot of similar “city pop” revival stuff avoids in favor of chill vibes. “R _ U _ S _ H _ H _ O _ U _ R _” really sees how much they can squeeze from the voice modulating technology, delivering electronic-charged verses over a strutting backdrop with a slight tropical breeze passing through it. Listen above.

New Chelmico: “Balloon”

Chelmico’s switch to a major label has, so far at least, found the pair focusing more on more outright up-tempo material. “Balloon” offers a breather, finding the duo reeling back the energy for at least one number in favor of laid-back rapping (and a little singing) over a sparse jazz-inspired beat moved forward by keyboard and a beat happy to let them do their thing while it shuffles forward. It’s a good change of pace, and hints at next month’s Fishing offering some welcome variety to the mix. Listen above.