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

Y’all know the drill.

If not, don’t worry, I’ll make sure to get you acquainted 😉 Before anything else though, welcome to the Monthly Recommendation Roundup! Hope everyone had a swell July, and if by chance you didn’t, hopefully this month’s selection of songs provide you with the pick-me-up you needed to close out the month with 🙂

As I said, if you are not yet familiar with what this is exactly 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.

Something that I’ve also started doing towards the latter half of last year (and has persisted throughout this year’s monthly Roundups thus far) is featuring five bands and artists that haven’t yet appeared in previous months, to ensure that there’s always something “new” to be seen and heard here (both for you, as well as for me as well), and not just the same rotation of names each time out. Discovery is of course always at the heart of this project, and for me personally the Roundup allows me to continue to venture out and try different music, which has in turn resulted in me finding (and subsequently following) some of my favorites now. Ideally, I can circumvent that whole process for you, and that you find some new favorites of your own here 🙂

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ブレーメン/bremen
by ヨルシカ (yorushika)
Leading off with a heavy hitter!

Yorushika have had a bit of a quiet year for us fans outside of Japan, with n-buna and suis being on tour for the majority of this past half of 2022, but here they are now back with a brand new single Bremen, named after the city of Bremen, Germany and much in line with n-buna’s fascination with European countries. That said, the visuals in the PV aren’t in fact from the aforementioned city, but rather they’re from the various landscapes that are depicted in Yorushika’s prior songs (for instance, there’s the streets in Tada Kimi ni Hare @ 00:41, the dock @ 03:52 from Nautilus). A bit of an easy-going track this time around, something that I would like to point out for this song specifically is in how much more forward n-buna’s vocals are compared to any other song of theirs. Kinda makes you feel like the man’s in a nice place right now, which is nice.

スイミー/swimmy
by yutori
They haven’t missed yet

Those of you who’ve been keeping up with the Roundups this past year would know that I’ve been keeping a relatively close eye on yutori, being the band that won my award for Band/Artist To Look Out For In 2022 back in the 2021 Roundup Awards. The Tokyo-based four-piece seem to be taking their time hitting the road mainly off the back of just five singles (which as an indie band no less is insane in of itself). The band keeps the same energy they’ve had thus far with the release of Swimmy here, which comes with Satou’s now-patented powerful vocal stylings. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised (rather, I’m calling it now, you heard it hear first) to see them get signed under the same record label as fellow Roundup favorite Atarayo given how both bands give off this ‘ode to adolescence’ sort of vibe to their songs.

L.I.B
by Chilli Beans.
Remember when I said Favorite Discovery this year was gonna be close?

Yeah… no, not anymore. Not by a country mile. Not after Chilli Beans. knocked it out of the park (at least it did for me) with their self-titled debut album Chilli Beans (highly recommend you guys check this one out). I mean, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise given how much I liked their EPs prior, but the band does continue impress with tracks like L.I.B here which just has this relatively simple yet immensely catchy hook that gets better the more you listen to it. I said before that I feel like the band has that “it” factor and that they have the makings of being a mainstream hit, and I continue to stand by that. Something to note is that like the aforementioned Atarayo, Chilli Beans. are also signed under the same record label ‘A.S.A.B.‘ (stands for “As Sound As BLUE, a subsidiary of Avex) which is looking to be the home of youth-targeted Japanese music.

百花繚乱/hyakkaryouran
by 春猿火 (harusaruhi)
Their music is such a guilty pleasure

I’d be hard-pressed to find any other artist out right now that marries both singing and rap to hard-hitting modern Japanese Rock instrumentation like in Hyakkaryouran here the way Harusaruhi does. What’s funny too is that if by any chance you said Takayan, you would be only half right as you might be pleased to find out (like I had been) that Takayan acts as the main producer and composer *for* Harusaruhi. I still think that virtual singers will make their presence known in the Japanese mainstream with live events catering to these kinds of artists specifically now starting to become a thing. KAMITSUBAKI STUDIO has remained the stable for virtual singers like Harusaruhi with its growing roster of talent (which includes among them another Roundup favorite in RIM), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see other labels pick up on this budding trend.

Adolescence
by 逢田梨香子 (aida rikako)
Her singing is really coming around in my opinion

I think my having reviewed Aida Rikako’s Curtain raise (check it out if you haven’t yet) couldn’t have happened at a better time, as I have a much more recent frame of reference to go by when it comes to Rikyako’s songs, and after hearing Adolescence here, I can definitely say her singing has definitely rounded itself out in between then and now. She still hits that reliable upward slide that she does, but she’s also doing things that she didn’t use to do as much before (the extension in 01:04~05, the nice little note she hits at around 01:11). As I mentioned in my review of her debut album too, it does feel that her voice is suited to these kinds of softer and lighter arrangements like the one here, and so far that remains to be true in my opinion. It’s great seeing how far she’s some along, and if anything else, she looks absolutely gorgeous here too.

逆光/gyakko
by Ado
It’s pretty wild to think that I haven’t featured Ado in the Roundup before

Like, if you think about how Yorushika and ZUTOMAYO are staples of the monthly Roundup, and similar breakout artists like E ve and YOASOBI have also made their way on here, it would’ve been within reason to assume that I would’ve talked about Ado once in the past four or so years. Alas, I haven’t yet, at least until now, though I do believe now is also as good a time as any to get them on here considering how they’re absolutely crushing it right now with this collaboration with One Piece tthat they have going on right now. Gyakko is one of the four songs that Ado has made as part of this movie tie-up and man does she go haaaaard here. I mean, Ado always shreds with her vocal work, but she definitely kicked it up a notch in this song. Ado’s godly rasp aside (lol), the sheer vocal gymnastics put on display in this track is unbelievable.

天灯/tenhi
by sajou no hana
Long overdue on my part I feel

sajou no hana has been a name that’s slowly but surely starting to make themselves known in the world of Anison, having already provided themes for popular franchises such as Mob Psycho and Danmachi, and appearing in seasonal anime shows at least once every year since their start in 2018. If you’ve been a fan of the Roundup for some time you would know that I love catching bands and artists on the rise, and if Tenhi wasn’t already an indication, the group is VERY promising with their approach to Japanese Pop/Rock, which combines elements of Youth Pop and Anison to create a striking sort of sound that just lingers with how memorable their songs end up becoming. The trio are a unique gathering of individuals, which include vocalist Sana, producer Tatsuya Kitani (an up-and-coming talent himself), and reknowned composer Watanabe Sho.

A Bird in A Cage
by Charlotte is Mine
I didn’t know how much I needed this in my life until now

What I knew I needed for the longest time however, was more of these kinds of uplifing AcoGui-centric songs that were used in the critically acclaimed Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho. These insert songs were performed by saya, AKA 38番/sanjuuhachiban who, despite my best efforts at trying to find more of her work, appears to have since been radio silent since the show ended (perhaps a mystery worth exploring on my own time). Suffice it to say, it left a bit of a void inside me that other bands and artists seemingly can’t fill. That is until I stumbled across Charlotte is Mine. I fell in love with their music almost instantly after I picked up their album on a whim. More than that, they’re quite easily the band that I listened to the most this past month. A Bird in A Cage would be one of my favorite of theirs, of note being the beautifully written English lyrics.

スコール/squall
by 門脇更紗 (kadowaki sarasa)
Powering her way into the Roundup

Full transparency, Kadowaki Sarasa actually bumped someone else off of this month’s Roundup in the last minute. I mean, with a performance like Squall here, how cane she not right? She’s actually been on my radar for quite some time now after having come across her first album, and with now the release of her second album this month, along with the marked improvements it brings from the previous album, now’s the perfect time for me to be featuring her and introduce her to you guys if you happen to not be aware of her and her music already. Kadowaki has both a powerful voice with a naturally low vocal register and a controlled approach to singing, which is a combination that’s always going to be nice to hear regardless of the genre. Pop/Rock is certainly not a bad one though. Definitely go check her out, you won’t be disappointed.

裏返し/uragaeshi
by Ilie
You gotta admit, it’s pretty fun

If anything else, Uragaeshi is largely reminiscent of Maison book girl which, some of you who have caught some of the earlier Roundups would know, was one of my early favorites the more I started to delve into Alt Idol. Digging a little bit further, I discovered that the composer for Mbg., Sakurai Kenta, is also the one who composed this song (XD). On the subject of idols, Ilie (AKA Kaneko Rie) also finds herself having a bit of a shared past on that side of Japanese music, being a former member of the now-defunct but once famous trio LADYBABY. You could say this background of hers explains the sort of performer confidence she seems to inherently possess just watching her work a mic in this PV. What I loved from Mbg. more than anything was the instrumentation of their soings, and I’m glad to have that back again through Ilie.

MUST LISTEN:
“A Bird In A Cage” by Charlotte is Mine
I might’ve downplayed just how much I ended up listening to this band this month. I was playing their albums everywhere and anytime I could have music playing in the background; like, I’d be listening to them while I was working in the office, while I was at the gym, even while writing parts of this month’s Roundup. Something about their sound just clicks for me. Very underappreciated band at present in my opinion, as I do think they occupy a very scarce and uninhabited music space that I’m sure a lot of people (such as myself as I mentioned) have been looking for. A Bird In A Cage would be one of my favorites in terms of arrangement, the lyricism, as well as how the song sort of plays with slow and fast tempos, but on the whole Charlotte is Mine just has this vibe to their sound that so hard to not like in my opinion. Can’t recommend them enough.

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All our playlists; namely our YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music playlsts; have all been updated with this month’s featured tracks 😀

What did you guys think of this month’s Roundup? Lemme know down in the comments!

If you guys didn’t happen to catch it, I wrote a little thing about the Leap250’s Blog’s 10-year anniversary which doubles as a sort of status update for the site as well so do go on ahead and check that out if you’re curious about the current developments surrounding this here space and what you can and might expect from it in the future 😉

Also, we did also have another round of J-Music Exchange/Rate album reviews this month courtesy of myself and Al from Omunibasu.Blog so if you missed those links to them wil be here and here. The theme for this month were follow up albums that we believed were better than the albums that came before them, and for that we reviewed SIRUP’s SIRUP EP2 and YOASOBI’s THE BOOK 2 respectively.

Thanks for dropping by as always, and I’ll see you guys in the next one.

Happy Listening!

2 thoughts on “Listening to Japanese Music: Monthly Recommendation Roundup (July 2022)

  1. That Yorushika song was definitely a surprise when I first read the lyrics to it. It’s cool to hear a more upbeat track from those two, and I think similar to what I thought about YOASOBI and THE BOOK 2, Yorushika’s most certainly capable of making songs that are on the more positive side (but I do get that their melancholic side is their ‘niche’ so I’m fine with either style lol).

    I’ve seen you mention Chilli Beans a lot but this is pretty much my first time listening to their songs, and I really liked this one! It’s simple, like you said, but it’s still a pretty nice and chill track. And I noticed, compared to other all-female bands I’ve heard in the past, I think it’s cool to see that all three of them provide vocals throughout the entire song rather than the usual procedure of only one person doing them. That said, I haven’t listened to a whole ton of all-female bands so I might be wrong, but from my perspective, it’s an interesting change of scenery.

    That Charlotte is Mine song was really nice. For me, it kinda reminded me a lot of the acoustic pop music you’d hear in the 2000s (the one that immediately came to mind was John Mayer, whom I listened to a bunch last year lol), but I totally get the connection with saya and those Yorimoi songs. Definitely one of my favorite styles of music, to be honest, and now I’m interested in checking out Charlotte of Mine’s other works 😀

    Nice roundup this month! As for suggestions, I got a couple. I dunno if you’re familiar with the D4DJ franchise but I’ve definitely gotten into that lately, and the music in it is actually really nice. One of the groups, Photon Maiden, released a new single recently and while it’s pretty different from their usual style, it’s still a serious banger (https://youtu.be/OpwuSvGgwJo). And I’m sure you’ll recognize a few, if not, all of the voices, like Tsumugi Risa of RAS and SatouHina (hell, Raychell voices the group’s producer :P).

    And to go back to the acoustic stuff, I thought you’d enjoy this song from Takeuchi Yume (https://youtu.be/12Z5IbM4HNw). It’s a pleasant song, and apparently she’s a part of the Revue Starlight series but I found out about her before knowing that so… regardless, I really like her voice lol

    • Yeah, it’s definitely been interesting seeing this sort of paradigm shift in both the thematic as well as the auditory narratives in songs by groups like Yorushika and YOASOBI (we saw the same thing happen with Takayan too). I’d be curious to know if there any sort of strategy to it too, in garnering attention first amongs the youth with “edgier” sounding songs before then blowing up in the mainstream, or if it’s all entirely reflective of where the artists’ at, like, emotionally and mentally.

      You’re definitely on to something by saying that it’s rare for a Girls Rock band to have gang vocals, if at least to my knowledge as well, and that’s definitely one of the things that I really like about Chilli Beans too. It gives their songs a certain kind of energy where the tracks feel… wider, and grander, so to speak. If you liked what you heard in L.I.B here, I can guarantee you’ll love the album then 😉

      Ayy, glad Charlotte is Mine is a hit for you then 😀 Hah, funnily enough I was giving John Mayer’s Battle Studies album a couple of spins last year too, and damn, you’re spot on with that comparison. I can’t unhear it now (XD). But yes, do check out their albums if you haven’t yet. They’re probably my most played albums of the year now, LOL

      Thanks 😛 I’m familiar with them, but only on the surface level in terms of which seiyuus I know who are also involved in this (I tried watching the anime, but the 3D animation was really turning me away, lol). This track is a bop though. Kinda reminds me of, like, a battle theme for Persona 5 or some other JRPG. Didn’t know Raychell also produces songs too, that’s pretty neat actually.

      I’ve been on a bit of an acoustic kick lately, so this song by Takeuchi Yume was pretty nice. I know the character she voiced back when I was still playing the Revue Starlight mobage but not much else after that myself. Regarding her voice, there’s something about her voice (her intonations in particular) are really sticking to me yeah. Very nice.

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