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 😛
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.
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.
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”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 😀