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Category Archives: Music

New For Tracy Hyde: “Sakura No Sono”

Not much time has passed since For Tracy Hyde put out he(a)rt when you think about it, but two years feels like a whole other lifetime ago. It’s maybe a touch too precious to act like a ton has changed over about 24 months, but it does feel like the same qualities that made their last full-length one of our favorite of 2017 seem far more off-trend than before (or…gasp…maybe this is aging). The same teenage earnestness and big-eyed indie-pop sounds a little tougher to take seriously today, at least in theory. Ahead of new album New Young City, For Tracy Hyde have shared “Sakura No Sono,” a slow-burning number built around a mid-tempo chug building up towards an eventual catharsis wrapped in feedback. A lot of the elements here would fit right in to the band’s last album — sweet melodies slightly submerged under guitar, a sense of longing clawing away throughout — which makes sense, seeing as this corner of rock music in Japan clings to old ideas more strongly than most. Yet For Tracy Hyde still just do it all so well, wrenching all they can out of those verses (credit finding the right balance between noise and catchiness) and making the eventual pay off worth it. The new album comes out Sept. 4, so listeners won’t know if they can recreate the same teenage wonder again, but this offers a promising start. Listen above.

Puni Puni Denki Teams Up With Mikeneko Homeless For “Neon Ocean”

The versatility Puni Puni Denki brings to songs continues to surprise, and her latest number reveals her at her most tender yet. Here she teams up with the duo Mikeneko Homeless once again, as they also were involved in this year’s “Kimi Wa Queen,” but whereas as that number paired springy music with more melancholy singing, “Neon Ocean” opts for a sparser backdrop. They use piano melodies and a few other twinkling features to create something with plenty of space, which allows Puni Puni Denki the chance to deliver a more understated vocal performance, culminating in a particularly airy chorus. Listen above (or via your preferred streaming platform).

New Boogie Idol: “Shitashimiyasusa”

Wherein Boogie Idol covers the theme song to Supermarket Sweep, and does more to play around with the ideas often attributed to vaporwave better than any modern form of that niche genre going. This moment, closing out the producer’s latest release Shitashimiyasusa, offers a good summation of what makes the album and Boogie Idol in general such a charmer. It isn’t played for laughs, and it doesn’t go overboard with the nostalgia (though the echoed voices add a nice touch). Rather, it reminds that catchy and affecting music can be found in the most unlikely places, whether in the supermarket or from a game show or from a supermarket game show.

Boogie Idol constructs the rest of Shitashimiyasusa from these pieces of forgotten musical culture, offering up shimmering dance numbers and swooping numbers built for late night galavants. The title song uses bossa nova as a base, weaving in assorted twinkles and vocal samples (plus some lovely wet pops) to add that Boogie Idol charm to another style. Few artists this decade have built more of a consistent catalog out of Japan than Boogie Idol, and done so while reminding that the nation’s past doesn’t need to be just remembered for the super serious stuff. Get it here, or listen below.

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.