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

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We’re already gonna be in the -ber months wha-

What’s up you fine folks? (XD) Welcome back, once again to the one and only Monthly Recommendation Roundup!

In case you didn’t already know 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.

Time has just been zooming by, but we can’t let August end just yet without first talking about some of these awesome tracks that came out this month. I ended up having to cull my list a bit to keep it to ten tracks (which is a shame as I would’ve loved to talk about some of those songs) but we got there one way or another. I think the end result is pretty solid, but as always, you be the judge 😛 

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かくれん坊/kakurenbou
by 黒子首 (hockrockb)
Soooo happy for these guys

After a bit of a rough two or so years for Hockrockb (much like most other Japanese artists during the height of the pandemic) which at its peak saw to the cancellation of a good number of live appearances for the band after vocalist Hori Ageha got unfortunately infected with COVID19, it would seem that the trio have finally reached the upswing of their music careers. Not only has the band been signed under a major record label (with the well-known Toys Factory no less), Hockrockb are now set to make their anison debut, which should hopefully get even more fans behind ’em. As someone who was lucky enough to take note of them early on, I couldn’t help but feel as though the band had been constantly trying to recreate the magic that they brought with their debut track Champon, and I do think they managed to do it with Kakurenbou here.

夜半の月/yohan no tsuki
by Split end
This band will always be a biased priority for me

By that I mean, I am more than willing to eschew featuring other bands and artists in favor of Split end each and every time they come out with something new. I’ll do it for a good handful of bands and artists too (as some of you might already know), and a lot of that is simply because I selfishly want them to fluorish by getting more people to listen to them however much I can through this blog. Granted, Yohan no Tsuki isn’t necessarily a *new* song, being a track off of Split end’s moratorium EP from last year (go check it out if you haven’t yet!) but the PV here is most definitely new, and really I’m just glad their music is still getting pushed like this by their label. Yohan no Tsuki has a lot of the things that make listening to Split end such an emotive experience, primarily vocalist Nanami’s singing, which builds up quite nicely over the course of this song.

ぐーぐーぐー/guuguuguu
by Dannie May
I really do wish I could feature these guys more often

Speaking of bands and artist that get special privileges here on the Roundup (lol), Dannie May are another bunch whose music I wouldn’t think twice about shining a spotlight on whenever they come out with something, but the three-man vocal unit’s activity has really just been sporadic (for lack of a better term) over the years, subsequently leaving their discography with much to be desired in terms of its actual depth. *Hopefully* Dannie May remedies this sooner rather than later with a full album release, but for now though we are graced with GuuGuuGuu, and for a band that has consistently put out banger after banger, this one is no exception. I mentioned it before last time around too, but the three-man chorus that they have going on, coupled with this funky and lively approach to J-Pop really just makes for an oddly fun listen.

orchard
by arne
And I guess on the subject of bands whose album I’m desperately waiting for

‘Cause I would buy that shxt in a heartbeat, mark my words. As was the case when I last featured arne not too long ago, it’s not hyperbole on my part to say that I do end up listening to their new songs more than a decent handful of times whenever they drop. There’s just something about their approach to Alternative Rock that hits the right notes for me. Personally I think a lot of it is in how much the band incorporates a bit of Math Rock in their songs with the occasional odd time signature. Something to note regarding that which I noticed they’ve started doing in their recent releases is that there’s a significant amount of emphasis now being put on Hirame’s phrasing and syllabication whenever she sings as you’ll hear in orchard here (specifically when she comes in on the chorus), adding an additional layer to the musicality.

リセット症候群/reset shoukougun “avoidant personality disorder”
by BURNABLE/UNBURNABLE
This feature comes with a story after we go through all the songs

Which means Reset Shoukougun by default is going to be my “Must Listen” track for this month’s Roundup. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the format of the Roundup, I typically provide some additional commentary towards the very end for songs that I believe should be checked out the most out of the ones that I featured for reasons I then proceed to outline. Rarely do I precede it like this if at all, but at the same time it’s a pretty neat personal anecdote of mine as it pertains to this hobby of sorts so do stick around for that. I did, however, at least want to save some amount of writing space here so I can talk about BURNABLE/UNBURNABLE’s Dark Pop here, which in my opinion is only now starting to fully take shape. The heavy bass and re:caco’s naturally deep vocal register in particular make this song have a nice grit to it.

BYE BYE
by chilldspot
Genuinely surprised I haven’t talked about these guys before

At some point, chilldspot became somewhat of a constant presence in both my YouTube and Spotify recommended videos and songs respectively (the algorithm for which have since begun to curate only if not mostly Japanese songs for me) just that I’ve never gotten around to getting one of their songs on here. Regardless, here they are now with their latest single (at the time of writing) BYE BYE. Right away the main thing that stands out is Hiyune’s singing style which comes across as very learned and well-practiced in the way she hits her notes, but still also sounding natural owing to her deeper vocal register. I also want to give a shout out to the bass line here by bassist Kozaki which I thought really helped make the song have a bit more groove to it with how present and forward it was in the arrangement. One to look out for.

ロンリネスボーイ/loneliness boy
by Chimothy→
Never stylize your band name with special characters

‘Cause that just makes you harder to search for (XD) At the very least that would be the knowledge that I would impart as far as deciding on the name for a band is concerned, along with other offenses like choosing a commonplace English phrase, but I digress. Based on my record of Liked YouTube videos (lol) it looks like I had already considered featuring them on the Roundup once before when the band made their debut. Of course, it’s interesting hearing how much a band has improved across a stretch of time (the instrumentation in particular is much crisper now compared to before), but what I found even more fascinating here is what remained, and that was Matsuo Akari’s vocals. I suppose to contrast with chilldspot’s Hiyune, Matsuo has this clear and resounding timbre to her singing as you’ll hear in Loneliness Boy here.

/koe
by fleufleu
I think it’s fair to say that Girls Rock has improved over the years

And, I mean that in the most respectful way I can, but I also don’t think I can phrase it any other way. Of course, I’m not saying that Girls Rock was ever “bad” on a technical level, just that when you thought of “Girls Rock” as a genre a decade ago, it was more about the image and the sentiment behind the songs being sung rather than the sound which for a time all followed a bit of a mold. It wasn’t until bands like SHISHAMO and SCANDAL began to prove that there’s room for technical instrumentation in Girls Rock, and I think the confidence that these pioneers of the genre generated for a lot of these up-and-coming bands and artists is the reason why we now get to see bands like fleufleu shred like no one else’s business. Koe in particular has some pretty gnarly guitar licks and slick bass work by Gt. Kaho and Ba. Ayano respectively.

アオに浮かぶ/ao ni ukabu
by フィルフリーク (phillfreak)
I never thought about how rare twin vocal setups actually are

I find it funny that when I first started doing the Monthly Roundups I even said that I wasn’t much of a fan of twin/multiple vocal setups. I’ve not only since warmed up to them, but some of my favorite bands today feature more than one vocalist, or at the very least are accompanied chorally. Which is why I’ve learned to celebrate bands like phillfreak here whenever they end up on my feed after now realizing how few and far between male-female vocal pairings actually are. I love the way Hirose Touki and Yuuko’s voice play off one another in Ao ni Ukabu here, with the former having a much more raw feel to his voice and the latter having a sort of symphonic, artificial-sounding quality (reminiscent of Vocaloid in some parts almost). I also realy just like the acoustic guitars with the keyboard here, which is a combination I’ll never get tired of.

ロジックガター/logic gutter
by Yukka
Got me with that rasp again

I’ve been calling the last song on the Roundup as the Japanese indie band portion of the Roundup… but, well, seeing as how this latter half of features have mostly been for indie bands anyway (lol), I figured I’d send you guys off with a solo artist as a palate cleanser in singer-songwriter Yukka here. There’s something about seeing and hearing an artist having fun doing what they do that makes the listening experience just as if not more enjoyable I feel, and as such the energy here in Logic Gutter ends up being very infectious. Like, I catch myself smiling seeing how much she’s smiling in this PV (XD). But yeah no my favorite thing about this song is how hard she actually goes in on those little growls that she does in the chorus. I’m always gonna be a sucker for those admittedly, especially when I don’t expect them initially like how it was here.

MUST LISTEN:
Reset Shoukougun by BURNABLE/UNBURNABLE
Alright, story time: I follow BURNABLE/UNBURNABLE on Twitter, and on the first week of August they put out a tweet that said that people who bought tickets for their concert but wasn’t able to attend can send them an e-mail saying so and they will be provided with the full audio recording. I saw said tweet, and I (very shamelessly) sent them an e-mail saying I was a fan from overseas who was very interested in acquiring the recording despite not having bought a ticket.

I mostly did so to humor myself not really expecting them to agree, but they got back to me within the day and after a bit of back and forth regarding how I could go about paying them, and sure enough they sent me not only the full audio recording of the concert but photos from it as well. That was really cool for them to do that, and they’ll forever have a fan in me because of it. Check them out and show them love.

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

How’d you guys feel about this month’s Roundup? It ended up being fairly band heavy this time around, but what did you guys think? Lemme know down in the comments section! Likewise, if you have recommendations of your own, by all means feel free to drop me a link! I’ll be sure to check them out 🙂

Some of you guys might’ve seen it on my sidebar already, but I’m pleased to announce that this month I launched Leap250.Blog’s Instagram (or, well, *my* Instagram, lol) which is where I’ll be hosting my Song Translations from now on!

The main reason why I kinda stopped doing them wasn’t so much because of a lack of interest but it was more so because formatting them in a post the way I used just took so much time (LOL). I never lost interest in doing them though, and after getting back into learning the language a bit more again this month, I had the idea of doing these on IG so I wouldn’t have to worry as much about the format. I’m @leap_250 for those of you on IG, where I’m hoping to at least do some quick TLs on a regular basis, and you can request translations from me over there too! 😛

Lastly, and in case you missed it, we had another round of J-Music Exchange/Rate posts this month! The Exchange/Rate, of course, is the monthly tandem album review series between myself and Al from Omunibasu.Blog, and this month reviewed albums by bands/artists that you’d love to hear live/attend one of their concerts in person. I went over HigeDAN’s Love to Peace wa Kimi no Naka, whereas Al talked about a personal favorite of mine in JYOCHO’s Utsukushii Shuumatsu Cycle.

As always, thanks for tuning in, and I’ll see you guys in the next one 😀

Happy Listening~!

6 thoughts on “Listening to Japanese Music: Monthly Recommendation Roundup (August 2022)

  1. Interesting, thanks – and I agree with your choice of “Must Listen,” excellent tune.
    One thing occurred to me as I listened my way through the list. What the hell is going on with the huge increase in distortion on Japanese pop/rock recordings lately? It’s drowning out the notes.

    Even arne – I mean, “distortion” isn’t the first word that leaps to mind after reading the name “arne.” Sure, they always used some on the second guitar, but basically their sound was quite clean most of the way through a song. On this, even the lead guitar is buzzing like a barbershop (classy video, though).

    Split end and fleufleu have always used distortion but again mostly in the rhythm parts, and for specific peaks of the lead parts, now it’s everywhere. And in the rhythm guitars, it has largely drowned out the individual notes that could be heard inside the distorted chords, now it’s only the Wall of Buzz – chords are just about identifiable, but not what they’re made of.

    This is also obvious in the work of a lot of hardrock outfits (BAND-MAID, Gacharic Spin, etc.) – their tone is different from what it was 2 or 3 years ago, a sonic monolith rather than a mosaic of notes (some distorted, some not, but Notes). I partly blame it on the fetishization of the Pedal Board … if you got 18 pedals stapled onto a sheet of plywood, ya gonna use ’em. And also the way that a certain producer’s “signature sound” takes over and walks like a Kaiju. [The way that Rick Rubin’s gravestone drum production was unquestioned until it finally killed the Dixie Chicks.]

    As for BURNABLE/UNBURNABLE …. well, there’s not much guitar to distort, so they distorted the frickin’ percussion (esp. the “snare” and “high hat”), which is in effect the lead instrument on this track. And the voice, but only as an effect near the end.

    Hey, I could be wrong, maybe there’s a flapping rip in my eardrums… but I don’t think so. I prefer the jangle to the roar, I guess. We shall see what the future brings ……

    • Likewise, thanks for dropping by whenever you do Jim! Glad to have been able to bring BURNABLE/UNBURNABLE to your attention then. I sincerely hope they manage to get some stable footing after this most recent single of theirs. Based on what I was able to hear in the audio recording of their concert, it didn’t sound like there were a lot of people in attendance which does kinda make me worried for them (granted, Japanese fans aren’t generally known for being the loudest in a concert setting barring idol performances)

      You might be on to something though with regard to the mixing of these tracks. In my opinion I think a lot of that has to be with the fact that a lot of these bands that I end up featuring here aren’t signed under a major record label, and thus might not have the luxury of having the level of mastering and mixing on the production side as a band that *is* signed.

      Of course, you do bring up a good point too in that even more prominent bands out today like BAND-MAID also go for distortion, but I do think they’ve been making it work for them and their sound (starting from WORLD DOMINATION which I do believe is the album that set the tone for them and really put them on the map outside of being just “the maid cafe band”)

  2. That Hockrockb song is actually hella nice. I’ve been meaning to listen to more of their stuff after seeing you talk about them a couple times, but I’ve done a terrible job of doing so. However I think listening to ‘Kakurenbou’ certainly peaked my interest again, so I’ll actually try to check ’em out this time (lol). I do find it interesting that this particular song sounds a little more upbeat compared to ‘Champon’, which I find to be a cool change of pace. Same with the other tracks from the EP that ‘Kakurenbou’ is featured in; hearing the steel drums and overall marine themes in ‘Flying Fish Diary’ (or whatever the first song is called in Japanese) was pretty amusing.

    ‘Orchard’ is cool as well. The extended instrumentals between choruses/verses were nice to listen to, and like you said, they just do alt/math rock pretty well. I also liked the male/female vocal combo that, at least, I haven’t seen all too often. Plus… the guy’s voice kinda reminded me of Takahashi Kai haha

    And I would agree; that BURNABLE/UNBURNABLE song is a must listen to. Not only cause of your story (lol) but it’s a pretty unique sounding song with all the distortion and such, and the way it builds up to the chorus was suuuuper smooth. And you know… with how difficult it can be for outsiders to obtain Japanese-related stuff like music or goods, I’d say taking any possible chance of doing so is valid. Plus, that was really kind/cool of them to do that 😀

    Nice roundup this month! As for suggestions, there was this intriguing duo that debuted a couple weeks ago called ‘Arika’ (https://youtu.be/d9N9kpaWGBg). The only reason why I found out about them was that it actually includes a voice actress (Natsuyoshi Yuuko), who teamed up with a composer/guitarist (Yamato). I dunno if you’re familiar with Yuuko at all; she voiced one of the main characters in Assault Lily and Rio in Shine Post, if you’ve seen any of those two. But other than their debut song being pretty good, I just found it really interesting to see a seiyuu be involved in a unit similar to the YOASOBIs and the Yorushikas (in regards to the overall formation and music genre). Unless I’m missing somebody who’s done something similar, it is nice to see a seiyuu go on this specific (and a bit trendy) path when pursuing their own musical careers.

    Oh yeah, also it’s cool to see you on Instagram! It’s been a while since I’ve seen your song translations, so it’ll be nice to check those out. Gave you a follow, and if you’re willing to see a bunch of Love Live and general seiyuu photos/content, you can follow me back 😛 (mine’s @shukadaily). I am pretty active/excessive on there compared to how I am on Twitter, so just a warning lol

    • Never too late to start listening to ’em! But yeah, while I appreciate the grittier atmosphere in ‘Champon’, I also understand the need to veer into something more Pop-oriented. We actually get some instances of this “new” sound of theirs in ther debut album so it’s safe to say this might be the direction that Hockrockb will be taking moving forward. That said I do love how Ageha’s acoustic guitar remains the center piece of their music though. Definitely my favorite thing about them. Ah, if you like that track you might also like their song ‘magnet gum’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Du2ZlP6dw60). Kinda has a similar vibe.

      I can totally hear that, Haha! I honestly wasn’t sold on their twin vocal setup at first, but it has since grown on me yeah. Kinda like Nakagawa Daijiro’s singing in JYOCHO, lol

      BURNABLE/UNBURNABLE have some pretty neat ideas with their take on “Dark Pop”, and I don’t *think* I’ve heard of any other Japanese band/artist dabble into something like this, so in that sense it is definitely a unique sound as you said. Though perhaps it’s something that the Japanese aren’t ready for yet as, one of the things that I noticed while listening to their concert audio was that it didn’t actually sound as if there was a lot of people in attendance. Granted, Japanese fans aren’t known for being the loudest in a concert setting with the exception of idol performances specifically but yeah… I do wish them the best though, and as I mentioned, I’ll forever be their fan for what they did for me. Dunno if I’ll ever be able to pull that one off with another band/artist in the future XD

      Thanks 😛 Oooooh, this sounds really nice! I haven’t done good on my word about watching Shine Post so I’m not all too familiar with her, but I do like her singing here. Plus, ‘Gyokou’ just sounds like a song that I’d be playing normally myself which definitely helps, lol. There’s like one ofs that I can think off of the top of my head (like Naobou doing a song with DECO*27) but for the most part I don’t *think* I know of another seiyuu x Vocaloid producer combo. I can totally see someone like Aimin or Tomoriru (or even Shizaki Kanon) doing something like this though.

      Ayee, thanks for the follow, appreciate it! I’ve been seeing the posts, and while I did know about your IG, I never knew about the following that you had on there until recently. It’s pretty amazing, LOL. I’ll try building it up mine’s best as I can with song translations (while also figuring out how IG work-) though I really just like being able to do TLs again.

      • Oh damn, I really like “Magnet Gum” as well, thanks for the suggestion! Probably gonna go add Kokkaque to my library now 😛

        Never really thought about it in that way but that is true; it does sound like something JP isn’t all too familiar with and may not be appealing at first. I may be wrong but I feel like rap/hip-hop wasn’t that prevalent in the Japanese music scene until recently, so hopefully BURNABLE/UNBURNABLE and their specific genre can take off as well.

        I believe Arika will release an EP or something along the lines of that in the future, so it’ll be cool to see what else those two have in store for us. And I know you haven’t watched Shine Post yet but her character did get a solo song in the anime, which definitely made me love her voice/singing (https://youtu.be/N3Lp8yYewWU) so it is kinda interesting to compare the two. And yep… I’d love to see those three collab with a prominent music producer, especially Shizaki Kanon whom I’m surprised she hasn’t made her solo debut yet (hopefully soon tho).

        …funny thing is that I originally started that Instagram in 2017, solely for the blog, but as I got more into LL and seiyuu, it quickly became a seiyuu fan account 😅 honestly never expected to get that much of a following but I do make original content here and there as well, so it’s not entirely just reposts haha. But yeah, if you need some help with anything IG-related, just let me know 👍

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