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Side Piece: Body Curves Knife In The Desert

Side projects usually give someone the chance to try out sounds they can’t get away with in their main vehicle, and the results are often hit or miss. Body Curves, the solo creation of Shion Hosobe of the band Waater, deals in songs really similar to what comes out from the group…and finds a lot more interesting angles on it too. Maybe that’s because Hosobe gets to (presumably) work entirely on his own here, allowing more room to stretch out and try things that aren’t possible in a band that favors familiar indie-pop tropes. The similar mid-tempo, slightly submerged vibe comes through across Knife In The Desert, highlighted by Waater-worthy cuts such as “Already Said” and “Something Gold.” But even those ones get jacked up via drum machine beats and vocals that are even deeper in the mix, giving them more of a dreamy feel. And Hosobe really pushes this as far as he can, creating some Jesus-and-Mary-Chain-esque stomp and fuzz on “Wash Down,” or the more washed-out whirl of “Romancer,” with vocals smudging together. Get it here, or listen below.

New Zombie-Chang: “Saredo-Shiawase”

A lot has changed for Zombie-Chang over the last few years, but at the same time her approach to new-wave-brushed pop remains pretty true to what she’s been doing since Zombie-Change. “Saredo-Shiawase” is a new single that finds her embracing synthesizer whirs to create a buzzing number nodding to early ’80s artists who made wonky pop out of similar elements. This has always been her path, but the overall sound quality has improved from bedroom fuzz to something polished. But even then, the energy remains, here underlined by a particularly sticky chorus and those energetic “hey hey hey heys” punching up in the background. Watch above.

I’d also recommend going on to your preferred streaming service and listening to the digital single, which comes with a b-side called “New Zombie-Change 2019,” a left-field bit of sample-mania matching up soothing Australian (?) voices with a gentle bounce and Zombie-Chang imploring you to “check, check, check it out.”

Pure Comfort: Kung-Fu Girl’s “Anorak”

You call a song “Anorak,” you better deliver those twee vibes. And Kung-Fu Girl does just that by giving in to all the hallmarks of the style. The band has been around for a few years now and up until now have always felt like they’ve tried a little too hard to stick out from the crowded indie-pop field. But here they just embrace all the trademarks of the style, and thank goodness for that! Fast pace guided by guitars, easy-breezy vocals, a twinge of melancholy? You better believe it! No points for originality, but this is pure comfort executed well. Listen above.

New Woopheadclrms: Asaga Fu An Fumoragu Aria

We accumulate so much junk. The internet just overflows with forgotten content, gigabytes of “Damn, Daniel” memes and thinkpieces about Iggy Azalea. It’s funny, but also depressing. But from that social-media-age churn comes stuff like Asaga Fu An Fumoragu Aria, the latest from Nagoya’s Woopheadclrms. It’s an album somewhere between ridiculous and gorgeous, the electronic artist using a sample-heavy collage style similar to compatriots like DJWWWW and Mayor Kenji that often involves all kinds of online deitrius becoming the backbone of these songs. See what sound like beauty tutorials, ugly acoustic guitar strumming while someone asks “that’s going on YouTube, right?” and at its most surreal, a voice repeating “Guts, by Chuck Palahniuk.” Coupled with the often jarring array of beats and synths crashing against those, it’s another entry in the canon of “great albums where songs reveal themselves from seeming trash.” But then you get the moments of serenity, like the end of “W.a.l.l” with its cascading synth bursts or the downright angelic final segment of “I will not do I will not do I do it.” Even under layers of waste, something gorgeous can be found. Get it here, or listen below.

The Right Wave: nate And KUVIZM’s “Round Trip”

Somehow, the realm of “SoundCloud Rap” has turned out to be fertile ground for young Japanese artists in 2019. Some of the year’s most interesting music out of the country comes from creators taking cues from American acts like Lil Peep, but whereas other corners of hip-hop simply see imitation (or, worse, “experimental” rap that sounds like Scha Dara Parr left out in the sun) this new wave of kids use it as a template to find their own voices, whether that’s more reflective or downright giddy. nate and KUVIZM’s “Round Trip” offers another brief but memorable entry into this movement. The song finds a balance between more melodic singing and rap — all the while seeing nate’s voice coated in some electronic touches, numerous nate’s whirling around one another creating an effect that reminds me of Vocaloid more than anything else. KUVIZM’s beat, meanwhile, adds a slightly dreamy touch but leaves space for nate to their thing. Listen above.