Make Believe Melodies Logo

New Waater: “Ocean”

Can’t tell if this is self-referential or what, but hey…Waater with a song called “Ocean!” Getting over the cuteness of the name, this splash of their next EP offers one of the most immediately pleasing indie-pop cuts they’ve put together yet. The fuzzy edges remain, but now that noise doesn’t get in the way of the hooky melody and background harmonizing. This is straightforward, displaying a little bit of edge (guitar solo!) but knowing that sometimes you just have to deliver something that will get stuck in one’s head. Listen above.

New Amps: “Tomboy” EP

Consider this the opposite of the last post featured on the blog…that number went super short, while the songs on producer Amps’ new EP keep twisting and turning like one of those rides with sharp turns and cardboard cutouts that move out of the way. Tomboy’s title track sums it up — it’s a rollicking dance number sometimes careening into garage sound. Would be a nice pump-you-up jam at two minutes. It goes almost seven, featuring several false finishes and a lot of subtle changes in what’s happening. And it works, even if it comes close at times to exhausting ideas. The other songs here don’t go quite as long, but aren’t far off. An exercise in making length work for you. Get it here, or listen below.

New Magical Ponika: “Nemuru”

A minute and 30 seconds might not seem like a lot of time to leave an impression, but Magical Ponika makes that run count on “Nemuru.” It falls somewhere between her more joyful cuts and something like “We Are Anyway Die.” It uses a bell-centric beat to create something apt for the nursery, but with a beat and (especially) a vocal performance from Ponika meant to shake anyone out of their snooze. It’s just a snapshot, but a good reminder of her skills. Listen above.

Scrambled Ecstasy: samuragosha’s “fake documentary / Wi​-​Fi”

The best song on tofubeat’s Fantasy Club is “This City,” a number that frequently feels close to collapsing in on itself but focuses together to create a stretch of ecstatic release. Producer samuragosha conjures up the same type of vibe on this two track release from tofubeats’ Hihatt imprint. Opener “fake documentary” mostly putters forward while digital noises sounding closer to an on-the-fritz fax machine sputter off. Yet beneath the scrambled sounds pleasant melodies peak out, and at times the song switches up entirely to a rising piano melody that hints at pure release. But it almost always vanishes just as quickly, until a little later in the song when one stretch of joy really shines through, all that tension making it hit just right. “Wi-Fi” is far more straightforward, offering up a great house number with a somewhat similar jitter to it but ready right out the box. Get it here, or listen below.

New Tohji: “On My Own Way”

I went to the fifth installment of the Tokio Shaman party today at Shibuya’s WWW, and it re-energized me a bit when it comes to following music existing just outside of the mainstream. Ostensibly, this event highlights Japan’s nascent “SoundCloud rap” community, featuring performers such as Sleet Mage, Gokou Kuyt and Tohji. Part of the thrill was seeing a tight-knit set of people coming together and soaring up together — maybe a semi-strange comparison, but this had the same energy as like Maltine Records’ events from the start of the decade — while also getting the vague sense that this could transform into something bigger. A few of the artists have the look that some clever major label should pounce on — my personal pick would be Sleet Mage, who had the crowd at peak hype with this one featuring Sid The Lynch — but if anyone is going to leap up it’s probably going to be Tohji, who has that stage presence and all-out energy that really wins folks over. And maybe this was home field advantage, but they were gobbling up his set. “On My Own Way” popped up early Sunday night, with an opening melody that made me think Vanessa Carlton. It’s a good display of his sonic variety — dude does a turn-up well, but here’s the kind of introspective number showing a way for Japanese rappers to actually stand out from the American acts they draw moves from. It’s even better with headphones really, full of nice vocal mist lurking in the back and the strings at the chorus sound extra lush here. It comes down to how Tohji navigates this softer side, still sounding every bit as charming and making it land in any mode. Listen above.