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New Teams: Yonkey Links Up With AAAMYYY For “Downer Love”

Some pairings just end up working so well that dwelling too much on the how of it all seems a little pointless. Yonkey is an electronic producer signed to Asobisystem (seems fast!), while AAAMYYY is a member of the band Tempalay (responsible for one of the better albums of 2019) and also a solo artist (responsible for a pretty solid full-length earlier this year, albeit one that kind of keeps getting lost in the shuffle for me). “Downer Love” finds them working well with their best elements — Yonkey lays down a Russian nesting doll of a beat, one going from slow-motion synth sections to glistening playroom pop passages that introduce a nice spring into the song’s step. AAAMYYY contributes the vocal, and matches up with whatever atmosphere Yonkey works up. All together, it’s pretty easygoing and makes for a nice early-summer tune. Listen above.

New Gokou Kuyt: “Amethyst Drive”

Sort of double dipping with this one, but I think it’s worth it. Every week, streaming services put a spotlight on new Japanese rappers trying to take advantage of the always-coming-never-really-arriving moment where Japanese rap finally blows up. Some are good, most of them…are not. You usually have to go a layer beyond the “Apple Music presents” types to find something interesting, and that’s where Gokou Kuyt has resided making melancholy numbers inspired by “SoundCloud rap” and Korean numbers. While the inspirations have always been clear, Kuyt is one of those Japanese hip-hop artists more interested in finding their own angle on the familiar rather than simply trying as hard as they can to replicate things done better elsewhere. “Amethyst Drive” again has a pretty clear precedent, but Kuyt puts his own spin on it by focusing on the faded memories of the ’80s-inspired beat (check the tape whirring off at the start) and zooming in on the fragile feelings that could only come from someone who works with a label called Teen Dream Forever. It also reveals an ear for catchiness that other numbers hinted at but didn’t totally dig into, with the longing here balanced out by one of the best choruses he’s penned yet. Listen above.

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.