Cutting it close towards the end of September 2019 but here we are, back again for another Monthly Recommendation Round-Up of Japanese Music!
If this is your first time coming across this series —
Basically I put together a post featuring Japanese music that I’ve listened to and subsequently recommend to you guys at the end of every month. Keep in mind that these songs don’t all have to have been released within that timeframe, as they might also be just songs that I only just discovered myself, or songs that I just want to feature and recommend on a whim (xD)
The songs that I’ll end up featuring will all come from YouTube links of their respective PVs so there is a fair bit of restriction on what I’ll be able to put on here, but I find that keeping it all to one platform ensures the most universality (with remedies easily available in the case of region restrictions). This also allows me to put together a playlist for every song that gets put on the Round-Up that I’ll update and share at the end of each post.
This was a good, solid month of Japanese Music in my opinion. I think it’s even fair to say that artists (at least the cool ones, loljk) really start picking up with their new releases towards the Fall season so now’s the perfect time to stay tuned, either in the coming months with me, or in the other places you frequent for your music needs. That said, let’s get right to it!
If you haven’t already done so by now — grab your favorite pair of earphones (unless you wanna use your speakers; which is perfectly fine with me), set your volume to a comfortable level, and play these songs!
by ピコン (picon)
The man’s still got it!
Some of you guys might remember Picon from some of the 2018 Round-Ups that showcased his downbeat Vocaloid Jazz/R&B/Hip-Hop compositions featuring Hatsune Miku vocals (if not, check those out, like, right now!), and if it wasn’t yet apparent in those tracks, it’s actually Picon himself doing the male backing vocals. Here in “Tatara” we get to hear a bit more of his laid-back (ayy) singing chops as he takes goes in and sings the song himself for this one. Granted, he has since released a version of this song with Hatsune Miku not too long ago, but I might actually prefer this ‘stripped down’ version without her. If anything, it’s a good showing for Picon to come across as a more well-rounded artist who can in fact sing (lol). While part of me does want him to do more of his own stuff, at the same time I really don’t want him to stop doing Vocaloid R&B, so here’s to Picon just releasing two separate versions each time, jk (xD)
by みゆな (miyuna)
Oddly nostalgic, but catchy nonetheless
I tweeted out the above phrase when I first came across this song, and it wasn’t until only recently that I figured out finally what was so nostalgic about “GuruGuru”. It made me think of Daoko’s “Suisei” from a couple of years back, as both songs do kinda share the same instrumentation and flow in some parts. It was hard not to take notice of Miyuna this past month, owing to her absolutely ridiculous (lol) release schedule of six songs in the span of four weeks (the PVs for which you can check out in her official YouTube channel). Of course, I don’t expect her to be as prolific moving forward, but hey, she managed to get my attention (and I’m sure a lot of others’ as well) with that amount of activity. Not to say that she went for quantity over quality here as this, and all the other songs she dropped this month are all really really good (special mention goes to the song “Kan Beer” which was my first pick to put on here).
I am saved :3
Kinoko Teikoku’s disbandment, as you may or may not know (depending on whether or not you read my tribute piece on it), really did a number on me. The knowledge that they won’t be making any more music left a bit of a hole in my heart; one that I thought I’d just have to live with, that is until adieu here came along and filled it all up again. It was almost uncanny, when I first heard “Tsuyogari” how much this band seemed to be carrying along Kinoko Teikoku’s post Neko to Allergy Folk’y Pop/Rock style, but it did all start to make sense when I found out that one of vocalist Kamishiraishi Moka’s favorite bands is in fact Kinoko Teikoku (!!!). How amazing is that? To top it all off, if that name didn’t ring a bell (which I’m sure it did), she’s actually Kamishiraishi Mone‘s kid sister! Suffice it to say I am VERY hopeful for adieu, especially with the parallels I’m now starting to draw between them and Kinoko Teikoku, and I can’t wait to hear more from them.
二時間だけのバカンス/nijikan dake no bakansu
by 宇多田ヒカル (utada hikaru) featuring 椎名林檎 (sheena ringo)
I still can’t believe this collaboration ever happened
These are two of some of the biggest names in J-Pop (on an international level even) for their time in Utada Hikaru and Sheena Ringo, and to this day I’m stil floored by the fact that they rose to prominence in the same era. Both artists, while seemingly cut from the same cloth, reside in opposite ends of the spectrum as best demonstrated here in “Nijikan Dake no Bankansu” where you hear the smooth and velvety vocalizations of a songstress in Utada Hikaru contrasted with the rasp and tenacity of a true frontwoman in Sheena Ringo. The instrumentation used for this song is nothing short of breathtaking, with each second giving you a sense of dread almost as each musical instrument is introduced one by one, which in turn seemingly goes with the theme of the PV of two people counting down the moments to an impending doom as they reminisce about the times they’ve spent together. Of course, they’re probably lovers in this scenario. I mean, right? (xD)
by 黒木渚 (kuroki nagisa)
Our queen is back (!!!)
It’s been a good two years since we last heard something new from Kuroki Nagisa and, to be honest, in the days that lead up to this otherwise surprising new PV release of “Utsukushii Horobikata” (and subsequent new album announcement) I’d actually been steeling my heart knowing that the next update we get out of her would be one about hiatus or even full-on retirement. Thankfully, it seems she’s here to stick around a bit longer and, not for nothing, she still sounds great. I’m obviously very biased as Kuroki Nagisa is still one of my all time favorite solo artists (lol) but it’s pertinent to note here too that she went and got former members of some very notable bands in both NUMBER GIRL and toe to be her guitarist and drummer (respectively) for this song, and it really does show in the intrumentation (especially the Math-y drumwork). I’d be curious to see if they contribute to this new album coming up, which I’m for sure picking up.
by なきごと (nakigoto)
Like a cross between SoutaiseiRiron and Suneohair
Or really if SoutaiseiRiron was just a normal Light Rock band (xD), you’d probably get something like the Tokyo-based duo Nakigoto. I throw the Suneohair comparison out there because both bands give off that old school air-y guitar sound if only for “Metropolitan” here, which is Mizukami Emiri (Vo./Gt.) and Okada Ami’s (Gt./Cho.) debut track. Whether or not this is a good representation of their sound is as of yet beyond me though as they are fairly new, but as you can probably tell for yourself from this song, they’re more than promising enough. While the two do bill themseves as being only a two-member band, they do appear to have a dedicated supporting band to handle the instruments they don’t cover (as opposed to just having guest performers, which would be the case for most bands that have this kind of setup). Curious to see how this all holds up for them, but not entirely unheard of as HarukoToMiyuki would be quick to tell you, so we’ll see,
by Split end
Give these guys some views c’mon!
Split end deserves to be loved (:(), or at the very least appreciated for doing what they do time and time again, which is put out some of the most heartful Japanese Rock that you’ll ever get to hear. Like, seriously, you can almost hear vocalist Nanami’s heart on her sleeves as she goes on her vocal runs. Though admittedly I thought we weren’t gonna hear those this time around in “deep love” as it does start off uncharacteristically atmospheric for a Split end song. There’s also the inclusion of some male backing vocals courtesy of ココロオークション (Kokoro Auction) vocalist Awako Mayuki in the first half which made it all the more different from the band’s usual offerings. The second half of the song however is classic Split end, complete with the band’s near-trademark emotional explosion. Split end is set to release their third mini album in a couple of days with “deep love” as the title track (check out the trailer here).
All The Dots
by Friday Night Plans
Oof. Heavy stuff.
A lot of you guys might remember the mysterious Friday Night Plans from her cover of the notorious Takeuchi Mariya song “Plastic Love” from last year. Now, I don’t know if this was just YouTube region-restrictions at play or not, or if her main mode of distribution is leaning more towards dedicated music streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music, but it’s been a long while since I last heard anything from her. At any rate, this was actually the first time I got to hear one of her own songs and honestly I’m floored. FNP has some soul for sure (the note she hits at around 01:37 absolutely destroys me). She didn’t really strike me as this sort of aesthetic artist at first, but now with this whole PV on Thai street children being chased out of their hideouts by the cops, I’m curious now as to what FNP is all about. Another interesting takeaway from here is that you’ll notice that “All The Dots” is sung in full English (which she sounds really good at!).
“Tsuyogari” by adieu.
Guys… I think I’m in love… (xD) In all seriousness though, I really am excited to hear more from adieu. The uncanny similarities to Kinoko Teikoku notwithstanding (from the way the two bands sound to both Sato Chiaki and Kamishiraishi Moka’s origins as TV artists turned frontwomen), the band sound very promising already, and I do want to give genuine credit to them too (as opposed to always comparing them to Kinoko, lol) so do give them a listen as I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
The Round-Up YouTube playlist is updated with all the tracks featured this month so feel free to use for your backtracking should you not be able to listen to all the songs here at this time.
The first of the “-ber” months for the year is over (crazy how fast time seems to be going) and amazingly enough (lol) I was able to scrounge up an actual blog post in the form of multiple award nominations from some of my good blogging friends, and if you’re at all curious about that feel free to head on over there and give it a read (xD). Of course, if you’re hankering for more Japanese music related posts, there’s also my Feature Lists under the Japanese Music tab (the latest of which is still stickied on my home page) so do give that a read if you haven’t yet.
Also, for some ani-blogging related news, Auri from ToritsukaManga invited me to participate in The AniManga Festival (specifics over here) and I do allude to do this in my last post but I’m actually writing something up that just so happens to coincide with one of the events (I won’t tell you which one :p), so expect an actual anime related post from me (I know, how rare, jk) in the coming weeks.
For now though, how’d you guys like this month’s Round-Up? Heard anything you liked? Lemme know down in the comments section! Likewise, if you’ve heard something good this month, feel free to share those too. I’d apprreciate it greatly 🙂
Till next post!