Listening to Japanese Music: Monthly Recommendation Roundup (June 2022)

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I think this is the most I’ve looped multiple albums compared to any other month.

That is to say, expect some album recommendations to come along with this month’s selection of songs (XD). Before that though, let me first welcome you guys back once again to the Monthly Recommendation Roundup for June 2022!

If this is your first time here on the blog and/or your first time seeing this series 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 feel like this is also a good time to remind everyone of the sort of format we have going on for the featured songs of the month. I’ve started doing this in the latter half of last year, and has persisted since then, but if you’d notice I actually do a 5-5 split between songs by bands/artists who I’ve already featured in the past *and* songs by bands/artists that I’ve only just found out about recently or got around to talking about. I started doing this after I realized that at a certain point I started talking about the same handful of artists every month, and that to me defeats the purpose of the Roundup, which is of course all about discovering new music to enjoy together 🙂

As we are hopefully to do so right now 😀

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Pancake
by Myuk
I should do another “Underheard Bands/Artists” feature

Because I do honestly believe Myuk (Kumagawa Miyu, for you Roundup OGs) is easily one of the most underrated singer-songwriters out there right now. Granted, she’s still pulling in numbers viewcount-wise for sure, but it’s roughly around the same amount that she had some three-four years ago. It’s reasonable to believe it’s still the same audience checking out her stuff in that regard, and while her brief stint in anison thus far has since seen some success, it seems the momentum from it has petered out (though perhaps this is more so due to the popularity of the shows that she did themes for themselves). I do hope that that’s not entirely the case though, as I do think Myuk’s singing is too good to not have its time in the sun. Pancake is a fun little track that sees Myuk go back to her AcoGui roots, and that’s always gonna be a treat from her especially.

返信不要/henshin fuyou
by 帰りの会 (kaeri no kai)
Speaking of underrated

To be fair I didn’t think I’d end up liking Henshin Fuyou as much as I do now so it did take a couple more listens for the song to get its hooks in me, but once it did, man do they stay in there. Granted, I’m more than likely always gonna be high on anything Kaeri no Kai puts out as I do think they have the potential. It might not be the direction that I had initially got hyped over but if I had to name one thing that keeps bringing me back to this band, it has to be Sunohara Some’s singing. Not in the technical sense, but there’s just something about the nasality in her voice and the subtle lisp that she has just adds this layer of natural-ness and real-ness to their songs whenever she sings them… if that makes any sense at all (LOL). Whatever the case may be, Kaeri no Kai remains to be a band to be on the look out for on my book with this one.

abyss
by arne
I feel like I’m responsible for at least a hundred of those views, JK

I did listen to abyss A LOT this month though so the number might actually be close. I mean, what can I say right? arne is on my shortlist of bands/artists that are pretty much an auto-include on the Monthly Recommendation Roundup whenever they release something new. A large part of that, and like other bands on said list (like say BungeiTengoku or Kaeri no Kai who we just featured above) is that they just put out stuff relatively infrequently, so I alwayd feel the need to celebrate the times that they do just that. Not to say that a song like abyss *wouldn’t* have made it on here otherwise, as on top of everything else the song also slaps. If you’ve been following the Roundup for some time, you might have noticed that Math Rock is a staple genre around here. Pair that up with vocalist Hirame’s airy ethereal singing and you’ve got quite the musical experience.

脆く幼い/moroku osanai feat.千鎖 (chisa)
by 古川本舗 (fullkawa honpo)
Mad respect for the guy really

Something that I’ll always give Fullkawa Honpo credit for is that he was doing the whole Vocaloid-producer-meets-vocalist thing before it was cool basically. The man was ahead of his time, and after a lengthy near-decade long hiatus, he’s back and for what it’s worth, it’s the perfect time to be in the mix now that the likes of Yorushika and YOASOBI have put this particular setup on the map. That being said, Moroku Osanai is a bit different from what you would expect from the aforementioned Youth Pop acts, as it lends itself as sort of being a more mature offering in comparison with Fullkawa’s calmer Electro-laden tempo. Interesting to note about this song is that vocalist Chisa actually did a cover of one of Fullkawa’s songs a couple of years back, and I presume that’s the reason why she eventually found herself singing one of his songs now.

もうひとくち/mou hitokuchi
楠木ともり (kusunoki tomori)
So I’ll try *not* to be terribly biased for the next minute or so…

Kusunoki Tomori dropped her fourth EP Yarazu no Ame towards the tail end of last month, the Blu-Ray edition of which I copped for myself so I can watch her birthday live concert that wasn’t available for streaming anywhere else (doing a horrible job at being unbiased alread-). Suffice it to say I have been enjoying the release ever since I got my hands on it and is still currently a CD that I have on heavy rotation. As with all of her releases thus far, all her songs get an MV treatment, so of course the title track Yarazu no Ame is no exception. You would think that *should* be the track I’m featuring being the title track as I mentioned but, I do think (and I said as much before too for a similar song of hers), Tomoriru really does her best work in my honest opinion with this Chill Pop tracks, as they really bring out the sultriness in her voice.

パンデモニウム/pandemonium
by mzsrz
On the subject of heavy rotation

One of the newer methods I’ve adapted in so far as finding new bands/artists to listen to is to just blindly try out albums recommended to me by Spotify. This is something that only really started being an option for me recently now that my tastes have more or less been fully factored into Spotify’s sorting algorithm after using the service for a fair amount of time, where I’m mostly getting stuff that I actually would like. mzsrz’s album Genzaichi mimei found itself listed in my album recommendations this month and yeah, no, this vocal unit is right up my alley. Pandemonium is just one of many tracks off of the aforementioned album which are all just rife with Pop/Rock goodness. Something to note with regard to that is that the group is produced by famed Vocaloid producer DECO*27, who also composes and writes the lyrics for mzsrz’s songs.

青信号/aoshingo
by Furui Riho
Her voice just carries so well

Another album that fell on my lap so to speak this month is Furui Riho’s Green Light which I must’ve looped half a dozen times after I first listened to it. Aoshingo (which more or less translates to ‘green (signal) light’) is the title track for the album and right away it does a great job of introducing to you what Furui Riho’s sound is all about, which is a sound that’s predominantly Groove-inspired with a lot of Soul, R&B and Rap influences that, coupled with her clear and powerful vocals just make for some absolute bops. Furui Riho, in my mind right now, is who you’d get if you combined eill‘s energy and presence, Takeuchi Anna‘s lyricism, and NakamuraEmi‘s soul. Some of you might recognize that these three artists are regular Roundup staples, and if these comparisons are any indication, you’ll be seeing more of her around here for sure.

ONE DAY
by Bray me
I mean, if you ever needed a ‘pick me up’, this is it

The last of my album findings this month comes by way of Bray me’s HELL-BENT EP, which is also a release that I ended up running to the ground the same day I came across it. I think more than anything, my immediate takeaway when I frst heard ONE DAY (being the lead-off track for the EP) was that vocalist Kotani’s voice reminded me a whole lot of Drop’s Nakano Miho. Now, sure, hearing someone have a similar singing voice to someone else that you know isn’t that uncommon. But what you also have to understand is that Nakano Miko, at one point in time, had one of the most unique and easily distinguishable voices for Girls Rock specifically. Granted, what Bray me is doing is more Punk/Rock than full on Girls Rock, but it’s still quite a voice to have for the genre. …Maybe this year’s Favorite Discovery isn’t gonna be as easy as I thought.

蜃気楼/shinkiiro
水咲加奈 (mizusaki kana)
I absolutely love how this strong is structured

Odd time signatures is the best way to get on my good side (lol), and Mizusaki Kana’s use of it for Shinkiiro here is all sorts of fun. Perhaps coming from a Classical/Jazz Piano background at such a young age (her bio says she started formal music training when she was 9) means this much in the way of technical composition is literally child’s work for her but regardless the way the song escalates into a crescendo while constantly shifting rhythms all throughtout is a treat for the ears (at least for me). In a lot of ways Mizusaki Kana reminds me of Higuchi Ai whom we featured a while back and who also came from a VERY similar upbringing which I thought was pretty neat. And much like Higuchi Ai, I see a lot of the same promise in Mizusaki Kana, but I gues time will tell if that really is the case as this… is only her first song (on her channel at least).

27
by Un feminine
A three-piece jamming it out in the basement, gotta love that

I like to have a bit of fun for the final featured song of every Roundup, something I’ve once described as the Japanese indie band portion (lol) because almost every song I reserve this spot for *is* by a Japanese indie band on the come up. So, here we are, with me letting you guys know of yet another Japanese indie band (XD). This time around it’s the Osaka-based Un feminine, with their song 27. Bit of a short and sweet kind of track that I find to be largely reminiscent of early Hump Back (curiously enough, *also* another band from Osaka), and early Hump Back is still to this day one of if not the most hopeful and anticipatort I’ve been for a band because of this kind of sound. Just pure, raw, rough-around-the-edges Alternative Rock with an overwhelming vocal presence. Hard not to like, and I’m curious to see where they’re headed with this.

MUST LISTEN:
“Aoshingo” by Furui Riho
Had a bit of a hard time choosing a singular track to give special mention to, and while there’s really no stopping me from picking out two songs for the heck of it (nor is there any reason why I can’t just go and gush about Tomoriru mor-), I have to give it Furui Riho this month *with* the added caveat that I also recommend to you guys the entire Green Light album. I mentioned earlier at the start of this Roundup that I looped a bunch of albums this month, and Green Light might actually be my most played out of all of them. Her flow really sucks you in once it gets going, and on the whole the album has a nice mix of highs and los to make for a chill night of listening to Japanese music. By itself, Aoshingo is a bop of a song that (to me at least) got better the more I listened to it; largely thanks to Furui Riho’s very fun-sounding vocalizations.

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The YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music playlists have all been updated with this month’s featured tracks 🙂

Did you find anything that you liked? Let me know down in the comments section below if you did! Likewise, if you have anything you would like to recommend to *me*, by all means drop me a link and I’ll check it out! There was a marked emphasis on albums this month so if, like me, you also spent the past couple of weeks listening to a particular album, feel free to share that with us too 😀

Speaking of albums, don’t forget to check out this month’s J-Music Exchange/Rate if you guys haven’t yet. This month’s theme was albums we have in our backlogs, which are albums in our respective libraries that we haven’t gotten the chance to properly finish or even start. Al picked out Aida Rikako’s Curtain raise for me to review, whereas I went ahead and had Al check out the peggies’ The GARDEN (which you can read about over at Omunibasu.Blog)

Happy Listening!

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