Listening to Japanese Music: Monthly Recommendation Roundup (November 2021)


And just like that, we’re moving on the finale!

Welcome back to Monthly Recommendation Roundup! Some of you savvy Roundup vets out there might already know that this here November Roundup is going to be the *last* Roundup for 2021, as we’re gonna have the Roundup Awards coming in the next month to close out the year, but more on that later 😉

If, however, this is actually your first time here on the blog/Roundup ー

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 Roundup that I’ll update and share at the end of each post.

I’ll take a bit more about how this year’s Roundup Awards are gonna go at the end as we’re gonna be implementing some changes to how it’s gonna go down, specifically with regard to what awards we’ll be giving out so stay tuned for that.

Speaking of implemented changes though, I went ahead and did that thing that I was talking about doing in last month’s Roundup where I’ll only be featuring five songs by bands/artists that I’ve already talked about in previous Roundups, and the other five will be songs by bands/artists that will be making their first appearances on here. I didn’t have as rough of a time with this new format as I thought I would, but maybe I just got lucky this time around, and succeeding months won’t be as kind. Either way, lemme know what you guys think about it down in the comments 😀


スプートニク/sputnik (2021)
by the peggies
This song will always have a special place in my heart

I know I’ve said that about a good number of songs I’ve already featured here on the Roundup, but all the same, the peggies’ Sputnik will be very near and dear to me. The original version of the song (the lyrics of which I made a translation of when it first came out), is one that I will always point to as being what since made me a fan of the band in the years following its release, and now hearing this new rendition just gives me this strange feeling of catharsis.. A lot of it has to do with how you’d actually be able to pick up how much the peggies have grown and improved if you listen to it side-by-side with the original; in particular, the maturation of vocalist’s Yuuho’s voice, which is now noticeably richer and fuller than it was before. I’m immensely happy for the band’s current success, and I continue to wish them well in their future endeavors.

みんなおなじ/minna onaji
On the subject of newfound success

There is a very good chance that JYOCHO could now be staring down their biggest break as a band following the release of their anime tie-in single Minna Onaji, used as the ending theme for Fall 2021’s “Shin no Nakama Janai to Yuusha no Party wo Oidasareta no de, Henkyou de Slow Life Suru Koto ni Shimashita”, which has been a show that so far has garnered positive reception. As was discussed in a previous Roundup regarding the impact that anison might have for a band’s/artist’s popularity, sometimes all it takes is one show to grab the attention of fans the world over (the peggies featured above being a good recent example). Whether or not JYOCHO will now start enjoying the same level of notoriety remains to be seen, more so since there are other factors in play, but I have a really good feeling about this one myself so we’ll see.

by 楠木ともり (kusunoki tomori)
I can loop this song all day

Something you’d be quick to note regarding the burgeoning young talent that is Kusunoki Tomori of Love Live! fame is in how her releases as an artist so far seem to generally favor softer tones, almost a stark contrast to the anison that she’s otherwise better known for. Despite that, listening to her songs thus far, you start to get a feel that her voice is very much rounded at the edges so to speak. While she can most certainly cut through the air with more powerful and sharper vocals when needed, I think it’s pretty safe to say that shows a preference towards having a more subdued sound. Which is why I found it very interesting that she decided to dabble with an Electronic Downtempo track for the first time here in Yorimichi, as I personally believe that the genre suits her voice immensely well and adds a new wrinle to her artistry.

by ゲシュタルト乙女 (gestalt otome)
Love everything about this

The atmospheric sound, the incidentally unsettling visuals, the overall beautiful yet otherwise somber presentation; Gestalt Otome’s artistic vision put on display for Kuuki is equal parts calm and unnerving, and I’m all for it. I made it a point to mention it in the few times I was able to feature this band as part of the Roundup, but Gestalt Otome really is (in my own personal opinion), very underappreciated in what they’re able to do. Longtime readers of the blog would know by now that I take every opportunity I can get to talk about Japanese Shoegaze, and while culenasm have slowly but surely taken up the banner for the genre in recent years (at the very least in so far as the Roundup is concerned), the Taiwan-native duo of Kaiaki and Mikan continue to make a good account for themselves here with their more “Emo” take on Shoegaze. 

by Lucie,Too
I’m sooooo excited for that new album

It’s a real shame that Lucie,Too hasn’t been as active as their close parallel in Hitsujibungaku, seeing as the band is only now just about to drop their first full album with the band closing in on four years since their debut, but here we are now presumably just weeks or maybe even days away their biggest release yet, and I can’t be happier. I suppose having since lost their long-standing bassist in Sekizawa Kanako could have very well played a hand in the rate of the band’s progression, but if Fool is anything to go by, Lucie,Too nary lost a step since we last heard them. Rather, as the Roundup’s Most Improved Band even back in 2019, the band evidently has continued to grow and even more since… Lucie,Too’s penchant for shorter tracks notwithstanding (XD). Definitely something to look out for in the coming months.

夜をこえて/yoru wo koete
by poor man’s rose
Our roster just keeps growing!

You know as well as I do that the Roundup loves to play host for up-and-coming talent, and while this year alone has ensured no shortage of that, thanks to this format we’ve adapted of featuring new names on here each time out we get to add a couple more before we close off the year. Starting off with poor man’s rose here which, right off the bat, already sound VERY promising. Yoru wo Koete is reminscent of the sort of Emo/Alt Rock that Roundup favorites Regal Lily and Split end have to offer, so fans of the two bands are sure to take a liking to this quaint little duo from Fukuoka. Of note, is the absolutely crisp drum work put on display here by Aoi and, in conjunction with vocalist Manami’s airy singing style, ends up being just a nice additional layer to their sound. The band is fairly young in their activities, and I highly recommend keeping an eye out for ’em.

レンガの月/renga no tsuki
by キミカ (chimica)
I must’ve played this song a dozen times after first listening to it

Mostly because I felt like I was being reminded of a different song, wherein I spent probably a good thirty minutes to an hour digging through the recesses of my mind trying to find what it was exactly I was being reminded of. All the same, it too some time for me to finally arrive at the answer as I realized I was actually thinking about cinema staff’s Kimi ni Naritai, specifically the soul-crushing intro that both tracks share, but I digress. Chimica has this nice sort of Math-y Alternative Rock to them for Renga no Tsuki that (for me at least) is hard not to fall in love with upon first listen. The instrumentation in particular is on point, with special mention going towards some very nice bass and drum work. Fans of the aforementioned cinema staff, as well something along the lines of tricot might find Chimica’s prospects to be something to look forward to.

by Cakes n’ Ale
Gotta love a band with character

And with a name like that to boot (XD). In all seriousness though, Cakes n’ Ale is looking to be all sorts of hype just from the get go here with y/i, and for all the right reasons. A lot of it comes from the strong vocal presence of band’s frontwoman Mako, whose singing just commandeers attention. Interesting to note is that on her profile she lists Western bands such as Paramore, FlyLeaf, Eyes Set To Kill, and Evanesence as her favorites; all bands that themselves feature a prominent frontwoman, with whom we can surmise she takes great inspiration from. On the whole, Cakes n’ Ale’s sound appear to have been influenced a lot by Western Rock and Punk Rock, which really shows in the phrasing and song structure for this track here. The band seems to already have a good grasp of their identity and I’m curious what they’ll make of it moving forward.

by 鶴 (tsuru)
This was a rather obscure find

But a definite find nonetheless. From what I was able to gather, Tsuru is the former vocalist of what we can presume to be the now-defunct Nagagutsu wo Haita Neko, who has since decided to embark on a solo venture under the project name “Tsuru-ject”. In line with this, she has been enlisting the help of different composers across all of her single releases thus far. Kinmokusei sees the young hopeful in a collaborative effort with ScenarioArt’s Hayashi Kousuke, with whom we can attribute the Funky Light Rock present in the song. The track by itself is no doubt a little rough around the edges based on how it was recorded and mixed, but I honestly do feel there’s something to be heard here and, perhaps given enough time she might be able to get back to where she left off with her band. She can most certainly sing though, so no worries on that front.

僕だけを/boku dake wo
by 麗奈 (reina)
Such a healing song

This last arist I have left to feature for this month’s Roundup comes as the “Grand Pr1x”  winner of THE FIRST TAKE STAGE; a nation-wide audition program held by none other than the well-known THE FIRST TAKE, where arists from all over Japan vye for the opportunity to have their single produced and subsequently released by the TFT team. Now, I have no proof of me actually having said this so you’re gonna have to take my word for it (LOL) but Reina was my pick to win the whole thing. The “unplugged” format of THE FIRST TAKE is perfect for AcoGui stylists such as herself, and once I saw they let her perform with her guitar I knew is was a wrap. Boku Dake wo is her original song that she had the TFT produce for her, and they definitely do it justice here. Here’s hoping Reina makes the most of this opportuniy and rides this momentum.

y/i by Cakes n’ Ale and Yorimichi by Kusunoki Tomori
Kusunoki Tomori’s Yorimichi is an absolute earworm that once you start listening you’ll find yourself hardpressed to stop. While I wouldn’t go so far as to wish for her to *only* do Electronic Downtempo, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy hearing her sing to this kind of track. The song just adds another layer to the young talent’s already multi-faceted artistry, and the rising star just shines all the more because of it. Cakes n’ Ale just has so much character in the way they present themselves that I feel as though it’s only a matter of time before they really start garnering some legit attention. While not necesarily having the same sound, the band reminds me a bit about how Polkadot Stingray was while they were on the come up, in terms of how well-defined their band’s image was when they first started. Keep tabs on ’em.


The YouTube and Spotify Roundup playlists have been updated with this month’s featured tracks for all your listening needs 🙂

Had a bit of fun with this new Roundup format of specifically choosing to highlight new bands/artists (at the very least ones new *to* the Roundup) as much as I do so for some of our Roundup staple talents. I feel like I subsconciously try to do so each time anyways, but purposefully doing so does incentivise me to venture out and listen to bands/artists that are both new and/or unfamiliar to me. Not to say that that’s not already it’s own fun for me personally to begin with 😛  

On the subject of new formats though, as I mentioned earlier, we *will* be introducing some changes to this year’s Roundup Awards. As some of you may know from the previous awards posts, we subdivide the awards into two categories; namely “Song Awards” and “Artist Awards”. This year however, we’ll also be adding in a NEW set of awards to be given out under the category of… “Album Awards” !!!

The blog has seen a lot of music album activity in the past year, thanks in large part to the J-Music Exchange/Rate tandem album review series between myself and Al over at Omunibasu.Blog, so I figured it’s about time I showed albums some appreciation too.

Lastly, and speaking of the Exchange/Rate, don’t forget to catch this month’s album reviews if you haven’t yet. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Al and I went and reviewed some of our favorite “Best Of” albums. You can check out my review of SHISHAMO’s SHISHAMO BEST here. Likewise, you can go head out to Omunibasu.Blog and read Al’s review of one of my personal favorite albums of all time in SCANDAL’s ENCORE SHOW.

And with that we have another season of Roundups in the books! Thank you for tuning in this year whenever you do, and I’ll see y’all in the Roundup Awards.

5 thoughts on “Listening to Japanese Music: Monthly Recommendation Roundup (November 2021)

  1. thanks for the post. Maybe November didn’t really hit me as solidly as the previous few. JYOCHI was the class act, but you’d expect that. I liked Gestalt Otome; and Kusunoki Otome’s track was cool and catchy. Otherwise …. Poor Man’s Rose definitely has promise, with that long, sinuous vocal line (not as sold on the drums: busy-busy not saying much, I felt). Looking forward to the Roundup Awards. Recommendation Overdose is a basic tool for staying sane through the short dark days.

    • That’s fair, yeah. Could just be the effect of the year winding down too. Gestalt Otome is definitely a band that I’ll try to push for whenever I can, so I’m glad they got the nod here. Same with Kusunoki Tomori.

      Happy to hear it Jim, hope to hear your thoughts on the year-ender Roundup Awards as well!

  2. Pingback: Listening to Japanese Music — 2021 Recommendation Roundup Awards | Leap250's Blog

  3. Pingback: Listening to Japanese Music: Monthly Recommendation Roundup (May 2022) | Leap250's Blog

  4. Pingback: Listening to Japanese Music: Monthly Recommendation Roundup (May 2022) | Leap250's Blog

Leave a Reply