Music to accompany you on this dark and scary night.
Happy Halloween! And welcome back to the Monthly Recommendation Roundup! In keeping with the Halloween spirit I got a lot of sweet musical treats for you guys to chew on and (hopefully) enjoy so get your bags ready (XD)
Before anything else though, if this is your first time here on the blog 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.
We’re closing in on another year of the Monthly Roundup, which means we’re also drawing that much closer to the Roundup Awards. The same awards from last year will be up for grabs (check out the 2021 Roundup Awards if you need a refresher) and I’ve started narrowing down potential awardees so if you wanted to put your two cents in feel free to do so down in the comments! That being said, and before you do, see first if this month’s featured tracks don’t change your mind 🙂
by あたらよ (atarayo)
Just when I thought I was starting to move on, they win me over again
In what I had thought to be the end of my complete and utter infatuation with Atarayo’s music, especially with the inclusion of bands like Chilli Beans. and chilldspot in my life this past year, the band rekindles my love for them once again with Akanechiru here. A bit of a worry I had with Atarayo that came up as of late is the fact that their long time drummer had since left the band earlier this year, and I was curious as to how much that would affect their sound if at all moving forward. It’s unclear to me if they contracted a guest drummer for this song, but almost immediately I can recognize more dynamism in the drum work compared to before which I thought was quite nice. In line with that, one of the reasons why I believe this song just clicked with me so much too is that it reminded me so much of an old favorite of mine in chouchou merged syrups.’s strobila.
by 黒子首 (hockrockb)
They can only go higher from here
Hockrockb continue on their well-deserved upswing of popularity as was mentioned in a previous Roundup, stemming from their anison debut with Oboetate here, and now freshly coming off the heels of their debut album under a major record label just this month with PENCIL ROCKET which includes the aforementioned track (check it out when you can, it’s reeeaaally good). One of the main things that I’m glad is finally getting a proper spotlight is vocalist Hori Ageha’s singing as I do think it’s one of the more undersold aspects of the band’s overall sound. I’ve once described Hori having a very captivating singing style, and I attribute a lot of that to her delivery, and how she’s able to gently pick you up and bring you back down with the nice falsetto glides that she does. Very excited for Hockrockb’s future, and as always I wish them all the best.
フェイクファーワルツ/fake fur waltz
It’s a genuine waltz!
It continues to amaze me just how intertwined Myuk (formerly known as Kumagawa Miyu) and Takeuchi Anna (coming up right after) has become if only for the Roundup as historically the two seem to come out with with new releases at around the same time, while also having had similar roots with both of them primarily being acoustic guitar stylists/singer-songwriters. Perhaps even more interesting though, and as you’ll hear here in Fake Fur Waltz, is the evolution of Myuk’s sound from her original style where her more recent offerings has really seen the young and still very much promising talent embrace Synth and its many applications. I do find that it fits her and he rlight and airy singing style fairly well. That being said, I also appreciate the subtle guitar work present in the song, showing us that she hasn’t strayed that much from her roots.
made my day feat. Takuya Kuroda / Marcus D
by 竹内アンナ (takeuchi anna)
On the subject of evolving and changing styles
In some ways a bit of a contrast to how Myuk and the people behind her have chosen to approach her music career as of late, Takeuchi Anna and her team can be seen as having stepped away from what truly got her to the dance so to speak. At the very least, I would argue that a lot of Takeuchi Anna’s popularity early on (especially for fans outside of Japan such as myself) was built around her being this brash and spunky guitarist with a unique penchant for rap and R&B. The latter in particular can more or less be considered her trademark for a time, but at some point we started seeing her interests veer more towards Soul, R&B, and Jazz/Pop. For what its worth though, while the rapping and swagger that came along with it was definitely fun to see, as evidenced by made my day here this more chill and laid back style might be her true calling.
ウソモホント/uso mo honto
by Furui Riho
Now… speaking of swagger
I talked about it in the Roundup that I first featured her in, but Furui Riho does bring with her performance a lot of similar looks to Takeuchi Anna whom we just listened to, most notably the playful lyricism that’s present in both their song-writing. That playfulness of course extends to their singing and as you’ll quickly find out in Uso mo Honto, Furui Riho is just all sorts of fun. I talked about Takeuchi Anna being brash and spunky, but if I had to differentiate Furui Riho’s energy, I would describe it as being a lot more charismatic by comparison. Something about her style just gets you going and feeling like you wanna dance on your couch like she does (lol). If I had to say, I’d wager it has to do with the uplifting nature of her vocals more than anything else, which just has this rich and vibrant quality to it that’s hard not to like.
A star in the making
We’ll get back to bands in just a little bit, but I did want to talk real quick about ao a little bit and how I think she’s right on the cusp of popping off and becoming a massive star. Like, if she lands a TV drama tie-up within the next year or so I can totally see her making waves. One of the reasons why, if not the main reason I believe that to be the case is because, and as you’ll notice right away while you listen to Yosomi here is that ao both sounds like and sings in a lot of the same manners as milet who herself is now one of the bigger stars in Japanese Pop today. While that feat alone should already be something to take note of given how unique milet’s singing is to begin with, perhaps the most impressive thing to takeaway here too is that ao is just sixteen years old (!). Definitely a prospect to look out for as she continues to grow into her voice.
Is Girls Rock making a come back??
I find it interesting that this is the second instance this year now in the Roundup where a Girls Rock band is formed while its members are in university (whereas the norm for bands generally would be to start fresh out of high school and not even go to university). The first time it was Yayuyo earlier this year and for this month we have Gambit, comprised of some seemingly already well-established individuals hailing from the prestigious Aoyama University, which is the very campus you see in Musubore here. I say well-established as it does appear as though these girls already have things lined up for them whether it’s a career in photography or a modelling career. Curious to see whether Gambit is just a fun thing a group of friends decided to do, as they do make a greact account of themselves here as a bonafide Girls Rock band.
by 水中スピカ (suichu spica)
Time to bust out those calculators
Get it? ‘Cause it’s Mat- …Don’t mind me, I’m just happy that the Twitter algorithm found a way to introduce me to Suichu Spica by situating them in my feed one fateful day this month. If you’ve been following the Roundup for some time, or at least enough to know my proclivities towards Japanese music, you’d know that I’m a huge fan of Math Rock so there was no way they wouldn’t make it on here. Now, it might just be me but I don’t think there’s a whole lot of the calm, sway-y Midwest Emo type riffs in Japanese Math Rock, at least not since Uchuconbini (as even Roundup staples like JYOCHO and arne sort of lose out on the sway by having naturally faster tempo’d compositions) so hearing something slower paced like Reverb here is actually quite refreshing for the genre with regard to Japanese music specifically, if at least for me personally.
by the blue hour
Pulling no punches right out of the gate
It’s hard to skip past songs by Alt Rock bands like the blue hour’s Rainmaker here a lot of the times because they just go ahead and drop the chorus on you within the first couple of seconds and you’re just stuck listening until the end because you already feel invested in the song (lol). In all seriousness though, the blue hour is pretty solid here. I’m especially fond of the tight drum work and the throwback grainy echoic reverb in the lead guitar reminiscent of Alt Rock offerings from earlier this decade. Vo./Gt. Pari’s singing is also something to note here too as having that deep vocal register which is always nice to hear in a band setting. the blue hour seem to view themselves as being more of an art initiative first and foremost (similar to BungeiTengoku) collaborating with different artists, so I’m curious to see how they approach their music from here.
by アカネサス (akanesasu)
Give ’em a year or two and they’ll be raking in the views
At the very least that’s what my gut is telling me about Akanesas. Admittedly this assessment is solely off the back of vocalist Ai’s singing. It’s one thing to have those sought after deep vocals, but couple that with the power she sings like the way she does in 0927 and we might just have something special here. The band reminds me quite a bit of yonige in that regard so fans of Arisa’s vocal work might find a home here. Going off of that, Ai fancies herself as quite the huge fan of Fujiwara Satoshi of HigeDan fame as she speaks of having a dream of one day performing alongside the aforementioned vocalist. It’d be pretty neat if said dream ends up coming to fruition, but I do also know that Fujiwara does some composition work as well, and I don’t think him composing a song for Akanesas is beyond the realm of possibility.
“Oboetate” by Hockrockb and “Reverb” by Suichi Spica
If Atarayo pulled backed on the distortion just a bit towards the end of Akanechiru I’d have an easier time recommending it for you guys, but as it stands, the song might actually be hit or miss if only for that part of the song specfically. So, the honor ends up going to Hockrockb’s Oboetate this time around. Again, I highly recommned that you guys check out PENCIL ROCKET if you can as if you liked Oboetate I can guarantee you’ll like a lot of the songs from the album even more. Also gotta show some love for Suichu Spica here as I always want Math Rock bands to fluorish, so definitely give a listen to Reverb. The band is set to drop their second album at the end of the year so now’s probably a good time to start following their work. Suichi Spica is on the less intimidating side of the genre too in terms of their sound I feel which is also a plus.
The YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music Roundup playlists are all updated with this month’s featured tracks
What are your thoughts on this month’s Roundup? Did you find a song that you liked? Lemme know down in the comments! Likewise, if there was a song that you wanted to recommend to me or to anyone viewing the Roundup, please feel free to share and drop a link to it as well. I listen to all of your guys’ recommendations whenever I get them, and it’s honestly one of my favorite ways of finding out about bands/artists that I haven’t heard from before 🙂
As I mentioned up top, if you believe there is a deserving recipient for this year’s Roundup Awards do go ahead and tell us why. I’d love to hear your guys’ opinions on who stood out in the Monthy Roundups over this past year 😀
Lastly, we did end up having two installments of the J-Music Exchange/Rate this month, which makes up four (!!!) album reviews in total between myself and Al from Omunibasu.Blog. If you didn’t get the chance to check those out as of yet, I talk about tonari no Hanako’s Kittara, Sora and Rirunede’s Rirune!Rirune!Rirune! here in my blog whereas Al went and did a review of TAMTAM’s NEWPOESY and sora tob sakana’s deep blue.
I’m not gonna keep you guys any longer. Thank you so much for tuning in, and I’ll see you guys in the next one.
Just a random thought but after listening to that hockrockb song, I feel like they’d do a nice job providing a song for, like, some TV romance/drama lol. For some reason that’s the vibe I got from that track, and given how talented/up-and-coming those three are, I’m sure the opportunity for them to have their music be featured in a popular Japanese TV show will come.
I honestly haven’t listened to Takeuchi Anna in a long while so it was cool hearing what she’s up to nowadays. Like you alluded to, her fun acoustic guitar filled stuff has and will always be great, but I do like this new direction she’s going towards. Her voice fits the more chill, LUCKY TAPES-esque style in this song!
Funny enough, I got hooked on this one Furui Riho song (“I’m free”) and even though you did recommend a song of hers from June, I completely forgot that you’ve featured her in the past… it’s weird how I end up later discovering artists/bands that I’ve seen you talk about before 😛 But anyway, I haven’t listened to the entire Green Light album but that’s a pretty drastic change of pace compared to what I’ve heard from her lol. But it is, for sure, a fun sounding song.
But yeah, great roundup as always!
As for suggestions, these two tracks have been on my recent heavy rotation and thought you’d enjoy them: JONAGOLD’s “Route 7” (https://youtu.be/K60MJGce7lg) is a really pleasant yet melancholic song and I love the vocalist’s voice, it’s hella smooth.
Another interesting find I got from Spotify is “axis” by B.O.L.T. (https://youtu.be/pep9kM3DrGM). Now I don’t know if this got recommended to me because of the more rock band-oriented composition it has (similar to what I listened to over the past month with sora tob sakana) or the fact that they’re another Stardust Promotion idol group but… fun song either way haha
I can definitely see hockrockb getting to that level yeah. I was actually surprised their anison debut ended up being something as balladic as Oboetate but in a way I’m also glad because it really showcased how the band can also come out with something more “radio-friendly” so to speak (they already surpassed their previous highest viewcount too just three weeks after the PV came out which is nice)
I do feel like Anna’s “TICKETS” album flew under everybody’s radar when it came out but it’s actually a really well-structured and thought-out release in my opinion. Would definitely recommend it. The occassional rapping-over-acoustic-guitar-riffs is always gonna be welcome, but as you said too, her singing and the little adlibs that she does just fit so well with something slower like this.
Oh nice! lol glad to know my barometer for what’s hype or not isn’t terrible off the mark then, Haha! That or the overlap between our libraries just gets wider and wider because of the Exchange/Rate (XD) But yeah no Furui Riho’s “Green Light” goes inexplicably hard ngl. The title track Aoshingo (https://youtu.be/aGPatykQUE0) and Sins (https://youtu.be/gRW-Dvo9M2E) I’d say are closer to what we’re hearing from her in Uso mo Honto here but I agree that this track goes even harder. She’s definitely one of my favorite artist discoveries this year.
Likewise, thanks as always for dropping a line whenever you do 😛
Oooh, tbh I’ve actually had JONAGOLD on the docket for like three-ish months now ever since her song HAZIMA-RHYTHM (https://youtu.be/K60MJGce7lg) came out and I’ve been struggling to find a spot for her in the Roundups (this month it was between her and ao, lol). Deeper, darker vocals always gets a nod, and I do have a soft spot for former idols venturing out and having solo artist careers so I’m looking forward to hear more from her (and yeah, Route 7 is a vibe for sure)
Could be both really, as I do know Spotify does a decent job grouping more idol-sounding idol songs together as well as more unconventional ones, like this more band-oriented style (at the very least, I sometimes get a Daily Mix that’s all Alt Idol so XD). Really liking B.O.L.T.’s sound here though, but as I alluded to in the past with sora tob sakana and Yanakoto Sotto Mute I do get biased towards idol groups that, if I didn’t see them perform or how they looked like, I would’ve thought they were a band, LOL, thanks for the rec! 😀
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