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

Remembering not *just* the 21st night of September

But also this *last* night of September 2022, as we are back here once again for the one and only (…okay, maybe not “the” only) Monthly Recommendation Roundup!

What’s here, exactly, you might ask?

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 do find that in the years that I’ve been doing the Roundup (closing in on five now which is insane) the hits really start picking up around this time with releases from some of my favorite bands and artists all seemingly dropping towards the end of the year. In that respect this fourth quarter of 2022 has been looking to be my favorite one thus far as it has almost always tended to be, which should be made even more apparent by this month’s featured tracks 🙂 I think too that it’s about as good of a time as any to remind you guys or let you know if you didn’t yet that we do do a Roundup Awards to close out the year. I have a feeling this month is going to be a relevant month for that too so take that as you will 😛

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HAPPY END
by Chilli Beans.
Quite easily the best song off of their first album

At the very least, it’s my personal favorite off of the band’s self-titled album Chilli Beans. which came out back in July, so suffice for it to say I was immensely happy to see HAPPY END get the PV treatment out of all the other tracks on the aforementioned album. The main thing that I really like about this song is how disjointed the verses are compared to the chorus wherein you kinda get this jovial singsongy tune that then rises into this massive crescendo which gives you this feeling of, like, you’re taking off into the sky (like the lyrics). The gang vocals play a huge part in it too of course, but I feel like this song too is where you can start to appreciate the unique quality of vocalist Moto’s voice and how much more enthralling it is compared to the otherwise more technically sound singing of bassist Maika or the cuter-sounding vocals of drummer Lily.

また夏を追う/mata natsu wo ou
by あたらよ (atarayo)
Atarayo continuing to do their thing

Which, is of course, tearing all of our hearts into shreds with their emotion-driven songs that cut deep and hit you right where it hurts. Like, I’m almost positive that you don’t even have to understand the words being sung in Mata Natsu wo Ou for it to make you feel a certain kind of sad (lol jk). It really is fascinating though just how much Atarayo is able to tap into these sort of melancholic and “Emo”-y themes without coming across as being too cheesy for lack of a better term compared to something more balladic in nature. One idea why their songs are able to resonate so well for me and a lot of others like me is exactly that; their use of Alternative Rock to convey their message as opposed to a Pop Ballad, with the former being much more something that I’d readily consume. The band has certainly found a nice little niche for themselves here.

Sailing day
by chilldspot
Loving this band the more I listen to them

I mentioned in last month’s Roundup that chilldpost was a constant presence in my YouTube and Spotify recommendations, and for the latter specifically, the band’s album ingredients regularly showed up for me when I would look for something to listen to. I would put it on the background every now and again on a whim, but it wasn’t until recently that the band’s sound really started to click for me, and ever since then I’ve been an absolute fan. Now, initially, I thought what was ultimately going to sell me on chilldspot was Hiyune’s singing but surprisingly enough I found myself much more invested in the band’s guitar work. The rhythm guitar in particular I noticed is very much involved and more forward than it normally would be in any other band setting in most if not all of their arrangements as you’ll hear here in Sailing day which I thought was neat.

フィナーレ。/finale.
by eill
No one else has as interesting of a trajectory on the Roundup as eill

When eill was first featured here on the Roundup back in 2019, she was someone who I would describe as somewhat of a party girl in terms of the music she was making primarily as well as the image she had made for herself. Over the years though we have since both facets to her artistry overgo a bit of a maturation. While her inner “gyaru” (which I would presume is something she identifies as given that she wrote an entire song about it) is still very much intact, eill has mostly fashioned herself to a more refined aesthetic. Her music in turn, which started out as being more R&B focused with a lot of K-Pop influences, is now geared towards a more modern take on a Pop Ballad like finale. here. While I can say that this kind of sound is a better fit, I wouldn’t mind it if she went back to her old stuff too (songs like UJi are still suuuch a vibe after all).

青ノ栞歌/aonoshiori uta
by FantasticYouth x ウォルピスカーター (wolpis carter)
I had this song on repeat for like a whole day at one point

FantasticYouth has always been a guilty pleasure of mine ever since I first came across them. Their music hits a fairly unique middle ground between Youth Pop and Japanese Rap of all things; two genres that you’ve seen me take a liking to in the years I’ve been doing the Rounup). Admittedly though what drew me in to their work initially was Onyu’s powerful vocals, which just so happen to be on full display here in Aonoshiori Uta alongside one Wolpis Carter whom I know next to nothing about apart from that she too can sing her butt off. I actually really like the interplay between their singing wherein Wolpis Carter’s rougher more raw and unabashed singing style combined with Onyu’s more refined and clearer vocal work make for a nice little back-and-forth between the two. I could honestly listen to them go at it all day (I mean, I kinda already di-)

TIME
by 幸祜 (koko)
I feel as if it’s only a matter of time (heh) before I feature the rest of V.W.P.

V.W.P. or “Virtual Witch Phenomenon“, is the name given to the group of virtual singers under the care of KAMITSUBAKI STUDIO, among which include some familiar names to the Roundup in RIM and Harusaruhi. KOKO here would thus be the third ‘member’ (of the five total) that I will be having on here. One of the things that I appreciate from what I consider to be a revolutionary project in terms of the way we see artists in this kind of virtual space is that there’s noticeable pains taken to ensure that they are seen as individuals rather than just different tunings of the same sound source (think from, like, a Vocaloid perspective as a point of comparison). TIME here for instance shows what sets her apart from the rest with her penchant for more Pop-sounding tracks as opposed to RIM who leans toward Alt. Rock, and Harusaruhi who does more Rap.

ほろよい/horoyoi
by さんひ (“sunhe”)
Ngl, the song’s making me want a can of Horoyoi now too

I don’t even think this is an ad for Suntory nor is Sanhi sponsored by them in any sort of way for the making of Horoyoi here, unfortunately, but I digress (XD) We were talking about RIM just a minute ago and, fans of her vocal stylings in particular will be finding themselves at home here. The track itself is also largely reminiscent of one of 2021’s viral hits in Wanuka’s Yoriyoi, sharing between them similar themes of being in a drunken but otherwise cheery stupor, which I’m sure resonates really well with the younger crowd. As proof of that, the song seems to be trending really well on Japanese TikTok which, as we’ve talked about in the past already too, has been an effective vehicle for artists to be able to get themselves and their music out there. Always happy to see AcoGui stylists like Sanhi get the shine they deserve, and I wish her the best.

さしすせさ/sashisusesa
by 2& (double and)
Well that’s a name that takes me back

I believe I can say, with full confidence, that Double And (stylized as “2&”) is not only one of the first idol acts that I encountered dating back to when I first got into this hobby, they’re also one of the first Japanese artists that I’ve listened to, period. In addition to that, when I first found out about 2&, they weren’t really that new (having already begun activities as far back as 2013). Suffice for it to say, and what I mainly wanted to convey to you guys, they’ve been in this game for a whiiiile now. Formerly a duo (as you might have expected from their name), 2& is now comprised of just Chitose Saki and her audience, making up the “2” in “2&”. Watching her here in Sashisusessa, and hearing her still doing the darn thing really after all these years really does warm my heart, with what is without a doubt a passion project of hers closing in on a decade now.

moonwalk
by Conton Candy
I’m curious how many new bands I’ll end up following by the end of this year

Of course, this is just a direct consequence of this format that I’ve since adopted for this season of the Roundup where I’ve been making it a point to feature five “new” bands and artists on here each month but by that same token it has really just made it that hard to be on top of everyone’s releases. While Spotify’s “Release Radar” has been a fantastic way for me to be able to keep on track, I do have bands/artists that I end up putting on a priority over others. Will Conton Candy be one of those bands for me? Too early to say, if I’m being honest, though I do like how they sound, with moonwalk in particular here being a nice showing of what the relatively young three-piece have to offer. I personally was fond of the drum work by drummer Sayaka here (who I noticed kinda resembles one Touyama Nao which is something I can’t unsee now, lol)

さよなら春/sayonara haru
by つきみ (tsukimi)
If you thought three-piece setups were endearing

The only other two-person band setups that I remember ever having listened to would be the short-lived Microcosm (whose members Ohta Mio and Ikoka Hona have since gone on to realize success in fully-fledged bands ayutthaya and Gesu no Kiwami Otomi, respectively). Granted, Tsukimi here is not really a two-piece in the truest sense (if you listen closely you can hear a bass guitar that’s present althroughout) but regardless, there’s still something that’s so raw and organic about the way Sayonara Haru sounds. If I had to describe it, it’s as if they really are performing as just the two of them (they don’t currently list a bassist in their bio too), with Gt./Vo. Nini-chan’s guitar work and her attention-grabbing singing in particular being so forward in the arrangement making you feel as though there’s nothing else you should pay attention to.

MUST LISTEN:
“HAPPY END” by Chilli Beans. and “Sailing day” by chilldspot
I think it’s pretty fair to say that the first three bands that I featured this month are my most favorite bands at present. At the very least they’re certainly my most listened to this year, with Chilli Beans. and chilldspot being some recent-ish inclusions to my music library. HAPPY END again is, in my opinion the best song off of Chilli Beans.’s self-titled album so I can’t not recommend that you guys go and listen to that over everything else IF you were so inclined to not check everyhing out anyway (lol). That being said, chilldspot’s Sailing days is a song that I just fall in love with harder and harder the more I listen to it, and the band in turn has slowly but surely made me a fan of theirs. It took me a second, but Hiyune’s singing really gets its hooks in you, and her rhythm guitar work in tandem with lead guitarist Ryouzan is just magic.

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The YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music Roundup playlists have all now been updated. As always do go ahead and give these a like on whichever platform you listen to music on for quick access to not only this month’s featured tracks, but in the case of both the Spotify and Apple Music playlist specifically, EVERY song that’s been part of the Monthly Recommendation Roundup (…that’s a lie since I’ve yet to add the 2018 Roundup tracks on there, but I’ll get to that eventuall-)

Btw, of note, speaking of the Spotify playlist, we just passed 24 hours worth of songs!

Lemme know your guys’ thoughts on this month’s Roundup down in the comments section along with any of your own recommendations that you wanted to share 😀

I mentioned in last month’s Roundup that I made an Instagram account to house my Song Translations so if you haven’t yet do give that a follow! The most recent one I made is, coincidentally, chilldspot’s Kiss me before I rise.

No J-Music Exchange/Rate this month, but if you’re still hankering for more Japanese music, by all means feel free to browse through our current spread of album reviews and check out some that you might have missed 😉

With that, I’ll see you guys in the next one. Thanks for tuning in as always.

Happy Listening!

3 thoughts on “Listening to Japanese Music: Monthly Recommendation Roundup (September 2022)

  1. I see what you meant with the contrast between the verses and the chorus of HAPPY END, gives it a nice melody (I kind of thought it was almost like a musical of some sorts haha)
    Also Koko (🤩 I actually only started following her in the last couple of days after hearing her Yobanashi Deceive cover, but yea! If you are planning to showcase the remaining members, I’m looking forward to those too!)

    Thanks for the round-up recommendation of the month! (I forgot to comment in the prev. one)
    Almost 5 years and going strong!

    • Oooh, I like that comparison to musicals too! Yeah, I can kinda hear it now, lol

      I got into V.W.P. through RIM primarily (her song cover choices are amazing) and Harusaruhi I listened to independently after hearing her do a rap cover of Inochi ni kirawarete iru, Haha! (it’s a banger though). I might as well right? (XD)

      Thanks! Likewise, thanks for tuning in! (and yeah, by all means feel free to check out previous entries :P)

      Just keeping on keeping on 🙂

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