Can I just say, what an incredible month for Japanese music this was?
Not only did we have a plethora of awesome new releases this August, but this month also played host to an absolutely stacked YouTube Music Weekend that any fan of Japanese music is sure to enjoy (if you missed it, don’t worry, you can still check out all this past weekend’s performers here!). And of course to top it all off, you have the Monthly Recommendation Roundup to close it out 😉
If this is your first time here and you don’t have any clue what that is though 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.
Had a bit of a hard time picking out＊just＊ten tracks to feature, but I think I narrowed it down to a fairly good selection if I do say so myself 😛
by Chilli Beans.
These girls know how to deliver a chorus
I was talking to Al from Omunibasu.Blog recently about how Chilli Beans. singing a theme for one of the biggest anime titles in One Piece might be the very thing that sends their popularity through the roof and… with what is now 3.2 million views in just a little over three weeks (making it their third most viewed PV to date), I’d say it’s right on track. What I love most about Raise is that fittingly enough considering the anime it’s for, the song really does kinda give you this voyage-y sort of feel, especially around the chorus where you kinda have this modern ‘sea shanty’ kind of beat with vocalist Moto singing her heart out like she’s in open waters. If I’m being honest I kinda had my doubts with Chilli Beans. venturing into anison and whether or not it would be a good fit for them and their sound. Looks like I was getting worried for nothing.
by Furui Riho
If anything else, she always looks like she’s having fun
I do think Furui Riho might be a little underappreciated for her work, if not just merely under-heard going by the view counts, which in turn almost seems inversely proportional to the production quality and the overall polish of what she’s been putting out. Granted, the PVs themselves, if you watch them back-to-back do kinda get same-y after a certain point and it’s just her dancing and a bunch of spinning camera angles (lol) but mixing and the audio engineering is for sure clean as you’ll hear here in PSYCHO. Furui Riho is a perfect example too of someone who has already discovered who she is an artist earlier than most (perhaps owing to the hours she put in doing small shows) and thus benefits from the added comfort of being able to lean on the things she does best, like her ability to seamlessly transition to more melodic singing.
baby blue eyes
by Conton Candy
Simple is best
There’s a reason why the phrase ‘keep it simple, stupid’, despite how crass it sounds, finds application in almost everything we do. At the very least, I would like to think that it can apply to Japanese music as well, where I feel like bands (specifically Girls Rock bands) can get lost sometimes trying to play the ‘image’ game in an attempt to break out away from convention. Conton Candy in that regard seems as though they instead would much rather continue doing their thing while humbly racking up a following. In so doing they have inadvertently filled a the peggies-sized hole with tracks like baby blue eyes (which is a song that I found to be very reminiscent of the aforementioned and now recently-defunct trio) as one of today’s most promising prospective Girls Rock bands alongside with the likes of Kaneyorimasaru and Akanesas.
by NOMELON NOLEMON
What an insane schedule these two have
NOMELON NOLEMON dropped their second full-length studio album this month, Rule, which comes in just over a year and a half after their debut album POP. Granted, the former boasts four more tracks the latter, but it’s still a relatively fast turn around in terms of releases. Of course, when you have the kind of seemingly boundless energy that Tsumiki and Miki Maria have, that might stand to reason. For what it’s worth, Rule is a fun album… for however long your energy can last (lol), and SAYONARA MAYBE is definitely one of its standout tracks. I’m not sure if it’s the old school synth or something else but the sound does give off a Taisho Roman/Haikara-esque vibe to it accentuated by the two wearing clothing from that period which I thought was really neat. Of course, always gonna be a fan of Miki Maria’s dynamic singing range.
空っぽなら、踊ろうぜ/karappo nara, odorouze
by Guiano x 理芽 (rim)
It’s a good year to be a Guiano fan
“I wanna go hit up a club” is a phrase you won’t hear a lot out of me if at all, but Guiano is sure as hell making me think it. Of course, that also speaks to how much I’ve been listening to his work this past year after stumbling across his Kachoufuugetsu album which came in late April (absolute banger of an album btw). Just the other month too we featured his collaborative work with Myuk, which I thought was already going to be the capstone of 2023 for this up-and-coming producer. Lo and behold however, he has one more hitter in store for us in the form of a full-length collab album alongside fellow KAMITSUBAKI STUDIO stablemate RIM that’s set to release mid-September. If Karapponara, odorouze here is anything to go by, it’s looking to be an insane release, no doubt about it. I honestly can’t wait to hear what they cook up.
by 果歩 (caho)
Setting a neat precedent for the Roundup
Although this would be Caho’s first time here on the Roundup, this isn’t actually her first time here on the blog as, if you’ve been keeping up with the Spotify J-Music Playlist Draft, you’d know her as one of my Draft picks for Week 12. She’s now officially a Roundup artist with the release of her latest single pool here, making her the first artist to ‘graduate’ from the Draft onto the Roundup. This was one of the things I had envisioned for the Draft when I started conceptualizing it (that is, it being a ‘feeder program’ of sorts for the Roundup) and I’m glad to see it in motion here. I became keen on following her work as I’d mentioned in the Draft week that I featured her in, and for the most part it looks like I was right to do so. I wish she leaned more into her spoken word and the acoustic guitar like in Rakuen but I really like how this song builds
by 紫 今 (mulasaki ima)
Those minimalist album arts will get ya
I was scrolling through my Spotify album recommendations one day, as you do, and I saw a quaint little EP that had just a purple square with a white border as its album cover art and thought ‘well that’s cool’ and gave it a spin. I ended up putting it on loop for the rest of that night (lol). It’s just that easy y’know? Sometimes all it takes is a mildly thought-provoking cover art and you’re good to go (XD). I’m kidding of course (at the very least maybe half-jokin-), as I’m well aware that a lot of that has to do with the fact that Mulasaki Ima also just happens to be an incredibly easy listen, owing to her deeper vocals and smooth deliveries as you’ll hear in Muyuubyou here. Gallery as a whole is also just a fun and unassuming little gem of a release that’s well worth your time, especially when you’re just looking to wind down and chill for the day.
by 水槽 (suisoh)
Speaking of a gem of a release
Suisoh also ended up dropping what’s now their third album in Yozora kaigou. What’s interesting about this release is that the album actually sees Suisioh lean a bit more heavily in their singing, whereas in their previous two albums the songs were a lot more Hip-Hop/Rap-oriented. This is just speculation on my part, but I do wonder whether or not the time Suisoh spent working with the production for 15 Voices alongside other singers made them a bit more comfortable exploring that side of their musicality. At the very least, the timing of it all would seem to fit. Whatever the case may be, hearing their singing this month was quite the treat to the ears. One of my favorites happens to be this one part in Taion here at around the 1:23 mark which just absolute sends me every time I hear it, especially with how the guitars roll in right after.
by CLAN QUEEN
Is the incorporation of Hip-Hop/Rap the next new thing in Japanese music?
This is something that I had a sneaking suspicion about when bands like Raisan and Kroi started rising in popularity, which then subsequently got reinforced further upon the release of what’s looking to be the consensus Japanese song of the year in YOASOBI’s Idol, but yeah no, it seems as though there’s this paradigm shift that occurred in the overall Japanese music landscape where all of a sudden there’s like this need by artists and composers to thrown in either a couple of bars or a Hip-Hop-y verse for a breakdown section in the song. Like, it even felt like Moto was gonna drop a line in Raise at one point too. At any rate, that’s mainly why I think bands like CLAN QUEEN are now starting to pop up too. I’m not mad at it though, since I do actually like this arrangement. Extra points to Odorakuen for being a nice Jazz-y track on top of all that.
Technically not the first time we’ve seen them
The last time we saw them on the Roundup was, funnily enough, this time last year, back in the August 2022 Roundup. That being said, they do make it to the new entrants half of the Roundup features for this month because of the band completely rebranding themselves (from “fleufleu” to now “Faulieu.” … XD) so we follow suit. The band does keep the same members from last time though, and judging from their release of Merry-go-round here, it’s fair to say they still carry with them the same things I lauded them for the last time. One of the things that stood out to me was their musical acumen, and how above average I felt it was relative to what you would expect from a Girls Rock band (again, sounds way worse than I intend for it to sound). Everything just feels so neat and polished, and not at all sounding like a band that just started out.
Raise by Chilli Beans. and Taion by Suisoh
We haven’t been seeing them a whole lot here on the Roundup this year, at the very least as much as they have been in 2022, but don’t get it twisted, Chilli Beans. are still as good (if not even better) since we last saw them. Raise is a phenomenal track that again showcases the band’s penchant for explosive choruses with their patented gang vocals, which is an element of their musicality that I’m very much glad they continue to lean into. Suisoh’s Taion gets the nod here for being a showcase of their singing prowess which, if you haven’t been following their involvement with 15 Voices, doesn’t really come up much in their own work barring this new album of theirs specifically. While I might like Suisoh’s speedy rapping just a touch more, it was neat little surprise finding out they’re just as capable singing something more melodically.
What are your thoughts on this month’s Roundup? Let me know down in the comments which ones were your favorites! Likewise, if you have your own songs to recommend, drop us a link down there too and I’ll be sure to check it out 😀
The Spotify J-Music Playlist Draft is still in full swing, as we just got done with Week 16 and Week 17 this month. We already saw an artist move up to the Roundups after being featured in the Drafts which I thought was pretty neat. Stay tuned and see which band or artist will follow suit 😛
A new pair of J-Music Exchange/Rate album reviews dropped this month as well, with the theme bands/artists we wish we would’ve listened to sooner. If you haven’t yet, you can catch my review of Japanese Rap duo chelmico’s album POWER over here, and Al’s review of Vai! Ya! Vai! by JUNNA over at Omunibasu.Blog.
That’s gonna do it for me. Thank you guys so for dropping by whenever you do. Hope I was able to follow through with what has been just a stellar month of Japanese music as I said, and as always ー