Listening to Japanese Music: Monthly Recommendation Round-Up (November 2018)

/spoiler This is my favorite line up of artists thus far

I mean, I can always make it like that by straight-up handpicking songs from bands that I like and currently have in heavy rotation, but what happened here was just too much of a happy coincidence (for me at least) with regard to who we actually have on here.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Welcome once again to the Monthly Recommendation Round-Up for this the month of November 2018 (!!!). We’ve come a long way with this series and, for those who’ve been following since early on, thank you so much for sticking around for what would be 10 months of recommendations now (maaaan time flies).

However, if this is your first time coming across a post like this from me, fret not; you don’t have to backread from the very start (but, I mean, you’re free to do so too, ehe~). All’s you need to know is that at the end of every month I share a couple of Japanese songs that I think are good (new ones, songs that I only happened to see, or older tracks that I just feel like sharing), with the hope that you might think so too 🙂

Alright, some of you already know by now I’m sure, but all the same; grab your favorite pair of earphones, set your audio levels to a comfortable volume setting, and press those links!

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君のせい/kimi no sei
by the peggies
UWU :3

You guys might know this little number as the Opening Theme to Fall 2018’s Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (seishun but yarou wa bunny girl senpai no yume wo minai, SeiButa), and if you do, the you know that this song is hella catchy (xD). This was actually one of the few times where I recognized the band/artist singing before actually learning who it was from the opening credits (Yuuho’s vocals are very distinct in that regard). I’ve been wanting to feature the peggies on here for a while now but ever since they landed that Boruto ED gig their newer videos have mostly been region-locked. Which is actually good in a way, because it means they’re starting to make headway into the mainstream, and if “Kimi no Sei” is any indication — they’re making it whilst keeping true to their sound. As a fan, I can’t ask for anything else but their continued success (though a US tour around here would be nice too… jk)

相棒/aibou
by NakamuraEmi
Girl’s got sooouuuul

The last time I featured NakamuraEri in the Monthly Recommendation Round-Up it was to showcase her sick bars as an AcoGui rapper (check this one out if you haven’t yet /you won’t be disappointed), but “aibou” is a bit different in that we get to see and hear a bit more of a mellower side to her. NakamuraEri flexes her vocal prowess for this song and, not gonna lie, she surprised me with the weight and power behind some of her runs here — two things that I at least would say are easily overlooked when the singer in question is known more so for her speedy delivery of lines. She does slip back into her R&B persona in some parts, not that that’s a bad thing (if anything that’s just her charm at this point), and really you can’t help but respect what NakamuraEri is doing. I mean, who else is doing completely non-synth rap tracks at this point in time? Oh yeah, forgot to mention; this song was made in collaboration with Volkswagen in case any of y’all were wondering about the cars in the PV (lol).

Eternal (Limited Loverz Remix)
by CRUNCH
aka How to sing a song in two lines

The caption does say this is a “short” version though so, you know (xD). But yeah, as arguably the least popular band that’s gonna be part of this month’s lineup (spoiler, I guess, for what’s to come), I’m taking any opportunity I can to push for CRUNCH. I’ve been a believer ever since I found out that they’ve mostly made a home for themselves over at BandCamp (support these guys!), and really, how can you not. CRUNCH’s Dream-Pop/Vaporwave is otherworldly (in the best way possible) and almost not of this time. Their sound feels to me like a technological echo hearkening to an older age; a retrofication of modernity, so to speak, to evoke both a sense of nostalgia and “new wave” — of indie and mainstream pop. This is best expressed in an interview for their debut mini-album which launched back in 2014 (it’s all in English), wherein the band identifies somewhere in between the two sounds rather than one or the other. Four years removed from this article and the “sense of minority” is still strong for these women.

消えない/kienai
by 赤い公園 (akai kouen)
Back with an absolute vengeance

In the wake of Sato Chiaki’s departure from Akai Kouen as the band’s vocalist, citing a sense of disconnect with the group whenever she performed, there were a lot of speculation as to where Akai Kouen were going to be headed moving forward. Having been together for 8 years, it would not have been out of the question for the band to call it quits right then and there, or at the very least drop the name in honor of their once shared dream of making it as a Girls Rock band together. However, as with Sato’s own wishes for the band to carry on without her, the “new” Akai Kouen wasted no time dusting themselves off and even nearly re-inventing themselves with the addition of their newly appointed vocalist, one Ishino Riko, former idol singer for IdolRenaissance (yes, you read that right). While I see this as a testament to how a lot of idols can in fact sing, I’m actually a bit excited now for Akai Kouen, more than I’ve ever had in recent years. As is the name of the song at least, it appears this band won’t be disappearing just yet.

つづくいのち/tsudzuku inochi
by JYOCHO
Flood of music in 3… 2…

Yes, a flood of music would be the best way to describe JYOCHO’s sound, but I guess if you’ve been following the Round-Up long enough you’d know that by now, given how often I feature these guys (xD). It’s no secret that I have a soft spot, if not a complete weakness, for Math Rock and just off-time signatures in general but JYOCHO will always hold a special place in my heart for being what is essentially the continuation to Nakagawa Daijiro’s dream for UchuuConbini — having a place where he can show his music to the world. Suffice it to say, other than a convenience store in space, the guy has found himself a right home in JYOCHO with the band now gearing to release their first full album in a little less than a week from now. “Tsudzuku no Inochi” to me is an indicator of how confident the group is now in themselves, and as I’ve probably said some time ago, JYOCHO just makes good music.

盲目の世界から脱出せよ/mumouki no sekai kara dasshutsu seyo
by vivid undress
Speaking of bands I’ve been wanting to feature

As someone who considers himself a long time fan of vivid undress, I’ve been remiss to actually personify that in recommending them to you guys by having them be part of the Round-Up (or at the very least be featured in some way). A large part of that is the band’s “absence” for the past year or so. Of course, bands taking breaks or going off on tour is just business as usual (either of which could’ve been the case here), but if any band needed to settle down a bit I’d say it’s them. I mean that, not in the sense that they’ve been terribly active prior, but in that vivid undress always seemed to be in a constant search for their sound (why I always call their style as Experimental Rock). I’d even go so far as to say that vivid undress would benefit greatly if they stuck a little bit more to the fundamentals, which is actually what we have in “Mumouki no Sekai kara Dasshutsu seyo”. A solid, textbook J-Rock showing for “ViviUn”, who are now a little bit more mature when they first started — and it’s a darn good showing.

悲しみのそばに/kanashimi no soba ni
by Hump Back
On the subject of settling down

Back in June I criticized Hump Back’s more recent releases for being very “shout-y”, which resulted in me kinda losing faith in the band after a drastic shuffling of members. I’m relieved, in a way, that “Kanashimi no Soba ni” sounds more now like how the band used to sound with its old members. Momoko also let off a bit of power in her vocals a bit and while in hindsight I do feel bad for calling her out on that last time, I’d be lying if said I didn’t want this Momoko instead — the contrast to which I’d say as being expressive but not loud. You’re almost always gonna hear me pray for the success of any Girls Rock band every time I feature one (either as part of the Round-Up or somewhere else entirely), but Hump Back has and will still continue to be the band that I’m placing the most hope for among their contemporaries. If anything, this is totally a step in the right direction (in my opinion) and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I expect a great many things to come from them moving forward.

Must Listen : “Kienai” by Akai Kouen
Whether or not Sato Chiaki’s exit from Akai Kouen was an amicable one is beyond me, but I would like to believe that it was, given her vision for the band carrying on “as punk as ever” even without her (and I do sincerely wish for her to continue creating music if that is still what she wants to do). This new Akai Kouen is interesting though to say the least. For some time Akai Kouen became a very “image-centric” band and with this sudden turn of events the remaining members kinda had to put that aside and rediscover instead how they’re gonna sound from here on out. The inclusion of a former idol singer is unprecedented (though not entirely unheard of) but given the visual nature of Akai Kouen as a band, in hindsight it does make sense. Again, VERY excited.

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And there you have it! The YouTube playlist is updated so if you just skimmed through this post without really listening to the songs in full, they’ll be there. So if you haven’t yet, bookmark the link, or better yet append it to your YT dashboard. Just make sure to come back over here once you do listen to everything. I’d love to hear your thoughts 😀

NOW, since it’s going to be December next month, in lieu of a regular Round-Up at the end of the month we’ll be having instead what I’ll be calling the Year-Ender Round-Up Awards! *name subject to change* “Best PV”, “Best Lyrics”, “Best Round-Up Artist of 2018”, and all that sort of stuff, so stay tuned (xD). As always, be on the lookout too for Feature Lists, and feel free to check out previous months of Round-Up in the Japanese Music page.

I did say at the start that this was my favorite lineup of artists for a Round-Up (mostly because I have vivid undress and the peggies on here, lol) but how was it really? Find anything you like? Lemme know in the comments section down below!

Lastly, if you have any recommendations of your own, by all means share them too!

Happy Listening, and I’ll see you in the next one~!!

6 thoughts on “Listening to Japanese Music: Monthly Recommendation Round-Up (November 2018)

  1. Wicked round-up indeed. I enjoyed “Kimi no Sei”, but feel bad for that ice cream. 😶
    “Eternal” and the vivid undress song have beautiful MVs – this existential feel? And you’re right, “Kienai” is an amazing song!
    Thanks for the great round-up just when I was thinking about how I haven’t seen you around in a while!

    • Thanks Moya!
      and yeah, that ice cream deserved better 🙁
      That’s a good way of putting it. CRUNCH is very atmospheric and almost ethereal in a way with how they sound. vivid undress on the other hand is as emotional(?) as they come too with how they portray themselves. “Kienai” is sooo fun!
      Aww, likewise, thanks as always for dropping by when you do! My activity did take a hit (no real reason, just life xD) but at the very least you’re sure to see me here at the end of every month 😀

  2. I’ve always been a sucker for J-rock songs that have really nice guitar riffs, and the ones in “Kienai” are definitely superb to listen to. Also it seems like the idol they hired is a natural at singing in a band like Akai Kouen. After taking a peek at IdolRenaissance, I would’ve never guessed she was in an idol group haha

    I don’t think I really listen to rock songs that are pretty crazy, “aggressive” (if that’s even the correct term lol) and fast like the vivid undress song you featured, but that one was an enjoyable one for sure. Other than noticing the vocalist kinda looks like Uesaka Sumire, I love her voice. I would imagine hearing this song as an opening for some anime!

    I also noticed NakamuraEmi sounds pretty similar to Kamishiraishi Mone and her vocal/music styles, plus I don’t usually hear mellow acoustic J-songs like that one so appreciate you showing this choice 😛 But yeah, all the other songs on this list were great!!

    I don’t wanna get too in-depth with these recs since I am way overdue another weekly song post but I got a few I’ve been listening recently. I started getting more into Official HIGE DANdism, mostly cause Kinchan (of Aqours lol) mentioned the band on one of her Instagram stories. Their recent EP is fantastic (“Stand by You” and “Bad for Me” are damn nice) but I just discovered one of their older songs “SWEET TWEET” that is just TOO good (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrtKLNTB71c). Also I found this band a bit more interesting since the vocalist sings with a lisp… you don’t hear that too often lol

    Lastly I recently started playing the Persona 5 RPG video game, and other than it being a pretty fun game to play, the music is incredible. Favorite song probably has to be the battle theme “Last Surprise” that kinda surprised me (no pun intended lol) since the song was actually sung in all English lyrics by a Japanese person, and not an American like I thought. But yeah, it’s a smoooooth song and the bassline is god-like (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFVj0Z6ahcI)

    Well I didn’t intend for this comment to be as long as this but thanks for the roundup once again lol. Can’t wait to see the end of the year award post 😀

    • It’s almost unfair that “Kienai” had to start off with such good riffs really (xD) but same; I too tend to gravitate towards them. I think it’s fair to say that Ishino here is an exception in that regard. Like, she’s actually a highly-adept singer who just happened to take the idol route of performance art (whereas idol singers *generally* aren’t always “naturals”). Can’t wait to hear more from them.

      I’d say “agressive” is pretty accurate (and a term that I would use myself to describe them, Haha!). I agree that kiila (Vo.&Gu.) has that anison quality to her voice and I definitely see them doing that in the near future. And yes, she does look like Sumippe :3

      lol I was actually surprised to learn that “aibou” was as mellow as it was given NakamuraEri’s track record, but yeah no, she really did channel some Kamishiraishi Mone-like bossa nova in there both with her vocal and guitar stylings.

      Thanks! And I notice your recs here are also part of your round up, so I’ll save my thoughts on these for when I check out the full feature, BUT I will say that Official HIGE DANdism (this name though xD) reminds me a fair bit of Awesome City Club. On the subject of lisps; fairly uncommon yet a reminder too that Aqours’ Arisha also sings with a prominent lisp :p

      Oooh! I’ve yet to get on some nextgen JRPG hype, but I did play P3 and P4 back in the day and from that I can say that Persona as a franchise low-key had really good music even then — some more English-y than others, but not as clean as the one’s from P5 /here’s a personal favorite (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iy47Q–EbU). What I love about it is “Last Surprise” an enemy encounter song which makes it so much more hype than it should be (xD).

      Oh not at all, and thanks as always for dropping by Al!
      Yeap, I have most of the awards already lined up (some probably more predicatble than others) but yes, do look forwards to it 😀

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