Listening to Japanese Music: Monthly Recommendation Round-Up (February 2018)

I’m doing a thing! ๐Ÿ˜€

I figured I’d start doing these from now on. A round-up post of sorts wherein I feature some (if not all) songs that I listened to and liked over the past month.

I’ve been toying with the idea for a while (ever since I started doing Japanese music related posts) and in hindsight I’m a bit disappointed at myself for not setting this up last month at the soonest, as I could’ve made awards (“Best Song”, “Best PV”, etc.) and stuff for a year-end thing — but that’s neither here nor there yet so if so when something like that comes to fruition down the road I suppose I’ll just have to figure it out then.

Half of the tweets I make and almost all of my activity on Reddit is basically me plugging whatever random song I’ve been listening to currently, so why not make a series out of it, right? xD Keep in mind though, these aren’t just strictly songs released in a particular month (although a majority of them could be that), but it could also be stuff that I’ve only now discovered, songs that I’ve just gone back to (which happens to me a lot), or just something I that I want to give special attention to.

What would remain a constant for these though is that they’re all songs that I’d more or less recommend that you at least give a listen to ๐Ÿ˜€

โ€“ โ€“

Platform Syndrome/ใƒ—ใƒฉใƒƒใƒˆใƒ›ใƒผใƒ ใ‚ทใƒณใƒ‰ใƒญใƒผใƒ , by SCANDAL
This is a good song.

Which.. seems like a weird thing to say considering SCANDAL is currently one of the biggest names when it comes to Japanese Girls’ Rock, but in my own personal opinion, their recent offerings have left much to be desired. At the very least it’s apparent that their style has leaned towards a more “pop” sound these past couple of years (of which, I’m not particularly a fan of). That being said, Platform Syndrome is almost a callback to their earlier style I feel like. Very reminiscent of Awanai Tsumori no Genki de ne. I hesitate to call this a return to form just yet, but nevertheless, fun track to get us started here.

Kowashite/ใ“ใ‚ใ—ใฆ, by Drop’s
I must’ve listened to this for close to a hundred times by the time this post comes out.

Drop’s was, at one point in time, a band that (in my opinion at least) was trying a bit too hard to match a certain image. They were trying to give off a “rocker chick” kind of vibe but because they all looked and sounded young it was always a weird dissonance hearing their songs and watching their PVs. Drop’s isn’t a new band by any means (they started activities in ’09.. when they were 16!) — but it really does sound like they’ve now finally come into their own. With Kowashite at least, I’m definitely feeling that “rocker chick” aura now (that rasp is just too goooooood!)

Juuroku-Sai/ๅๅ…ญๆญณ, by Maison book girl
…I’m a sucker for weird time signatues (>_<)

If you can resolve yourself to give just one idol song a shot for this month’s lineup of songs I respectfully implore that you do so for this here track. Maison book girl’s musical direction, as far as instrumentation in relation to idol music in general, is… absurd (xD) At the very least it’s an unusual take, as you won’t really here time signatures like this used often in idol songs (as far as I’m aware) and for some reason or another it just works. I especially like that this track is so drum heavy but still manages to sound light and airy.

Kimi ni Ai/ใ‚ญใƒŸใซๆ‹, by Lucie,Too
I have a soft spot for three-piece bands.

After my sweeping declaration up-top towards pop-sounding bands, the truth is, it’s not like I completely hate the genre (I mean, I listen to idol songs fairly regular, so you know) but really I just have a set preference. Now, for me at least, if a band is gonna go the pop/rock route then they need only hit two buttons for me to like their songs — (1) keep the voices low (self-explanatory), and (2) keep the sound “in the garage” (meaning, just sound natural/no synth). Check and double check with Kimi ni Ai. They even get bonus points for this really cute PV!

World End Siren/ใƒฏใƒผใƒซใƒ‰ใ‚จใƒณใƒ‰ใ‚ตใ‚คใƒฌใƒณ, by lical
I love hearing synth claps used in songs.

I don’t know why, and I don’t even know if that’s what that sound is called, but I just dig it. Of course, that’s not the only reason (xD) why I like this song. I’m a fan of “shaky” prog-rock guitar stylings and math-y drums, which World End Siren has in troves — and the vocals aren’t half bad either, though this might not be the best song to highlight that as it does comes across as a bit whiny the first time you hear it, so.. an acquired taste maybe? It grows on you though, I can tell you that much. …And yeah, to acknowledge the elephant in the room, she’s barefoot in all of their PVs xD

Nee/ใญใ‡, by . . . . . . . . .
No, I didn’t forget to put a name here — that’s actually what they’re called!

It doesn’t help that even they themselves haven’t put out an official pronunciation, and for discussion’s sake fans have decided to call them “DotsTokyo” for the time being (because they’re based in Tokyo, and lol dots). Now, this is another idol group so I understand if you want to skip over this after having listened to Maison book girl earlier, but if I’ve earned your musical trust over the past couple of songs then you’d know I wouldn’t be putting this song here just because it’s from an idol group. This is dream pop/shoegaze at its finest — with an idol twist. The age of aesthetic aidoru is here ladies and gentlemen.

Siren/ใ‚ตใ‚คใƒฌใƒณ, by Split end
Something about Nanami’s (Vo.) voice just draws you in.

But don’t let that high pitch of hers fool you, Siren is probably the darkest song in this entire lineup, no joke. The opening lines are literally “The headlights are swaying. The headlights are swaying. I killed you. In my head I killed you.” …Yeah (xD). Split end bill themselves as an emo band, which is interesting because it doesn’t sound like it right? When you think of “emo” usually it’s either somber tones or screaming infidelities, but Split end make do with their emotionally charged lyrics veiled underneath catchy vocals and aggressive guitar licks.

Tagai no Uchuu/ไบ’ใ„ใฎๅฎ‡ๅฎ™, by JYOCHO
We started with a bit of a fast song, so I’ll send you off with something chill.

Tell you the truth I had a different song for this closer spot but had I known JYOCHO was actually singing the ED for a show this Winter season (Junji Ito Collection) a spot would’ve been saved for it regardless. JYOCHO is the solo project of music virtuoso Nakagawa Daijiro coming off of the supernova that was UchuConbini back in 2014. He has since lent his trademark finger-style and peerless math sense to this new venture, and Tagai no Uchuu marks their official breakthrough into a more mainstream market by way of anison — and I for one welcome this wholeheartedly.

โ€“ โ€“

Must Listen: Kowashite by Drop’s, Tagai no Uchuu by JYOCHO
More bands should just do studio versions of their PVs. I think seeing Drop’s just jamming out without all the fanfare that they’re so accustomed to made me like Kowashite more than I would’ve if they went about it like they usually did. JYOCHO on the other hand, is just JYOCHO — always gonna be a fan of whatever they put out. I actually feel a bit salty that it took me until a good half of the Winter season to find out that they were doing an ED for a show (xD) but eyy, stuff like that happens sometimes.

Saying that I had a different song in reserve for that last track means I actually did have a couple more songs that I could’ve showcased here but I’m still trying to gauge how many would be a comfortable number of video links for a single post. I figured 10 would be too much and 5 would be too little, so I’ll probably be ballpark-ing these round-ups at around 7-8 songs. I’ll also be putting my “Must Listen” to tracks towards the end (as you’d see above) for those ofย  you who’re hoping to just catch a tune or two and not really a whole playlist.

And that about wraps us up here! Lemme know what you guys think — both about the songs and about this about-to-be monthly series. I’ve actually thought about doing themed months too so if you have any suggestions regarding that then please drop ’em in the comments section down below.

Lastly, if you yourself caught some Japanese music (or any music really, doesn’t have to be Japanese) this past month, feel free to share them here as well!

Happy listening~

 

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21 thoughts on “Listening to Japanese Music: Monthly Recommendation Round-Up (February 2018)

  1. Haven’t been keeping up with much Jpop/rock as of late. Well, actually in a couple of years. Mostly, my phone is full of podcasts for my commute to work and the occasional video game track or instrumental stuff from Comiket I found on the net. Might give a few of these a try…especially Scandal since I did like their music at one point.

  2. Dots?
    That’s got to be hard to talk about.

    “Hey I’m a fan of …….!”
    “….?”
    “…….!!”
    “???”
    “. . . . . . !!!”
    “?”
    “I give up”

    I loved Platform Syndrome by the way Leap-san!

  3. nice list, and im completely on the same page as you, three piece bands are the beeeeeeeeest. also i never knew that there were so many of them in the japanese musical scene

    also i must be stuck in one place when it comes to idol music cause I was fairly surprised that the songs from Maison book girl and DotsTokyo can be considered idol music. I think I’ve listened to so much cutesy and poppy songs like Love Live’s or any seiyuu idol like Sphere’s that i’ve generalized idol music as that and only that lol. However, it’s nice to see there are much unique kinds of idol music out there

    oh and suggestions, I recently discovered Aimyon, a j-pop singer, she is niiiiiiiiice. “Ai wo Tsutaetaidatoka” has been a song I’ve been playing on repeat for the past couple days, mainly because of the really nice mixture of her vocals, the kind of funky tone to it and also some electronic elements as well (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qRCARM_LfE).

    Hoshino Gen is also someone I really enjoy, his songs just make you feel good and his voice is golden. Apparently his song “Koi” was one of the most popular/most played songs last year in Japan and i think for a good reason (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhOVibLEDhA). “SUN” is also nice and filled with sunshine and fun, also my favorite song from his, even Goose house covered it and did an amazing job (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6xMKvMyngs).

    But yeah, thanks for the list! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Yep. The thing really is that while there are a lot of ’em, not a whole lot manage to “make it” — like say, SHISHAMO or chatmonchy.

      It’s true that “idol” is pretty much its own genre at this point, so for the most part I’d classify these as “alternative idol” if I were to mark a distinction. It’s a nice look though right? A lot of the times idols in general catch flack for their uniform pop, so groups like MBG and Dots showing people what’s up just warms the heart xD

      Oooh, I feel like this has popped up in my “Recommended Videos” tab over at my YT dash once or twice. That’s some nice funk alright. Plus points for the middling high-low vocals.

      Ohh, I know *of* Hoshino Gen (owing to how popular he is both inside and outside of Japan) but I haven’t listened to his songs all that much. Now’s a fine a start as any I suppose ๐Ÿ˜€ *Fun fact about (well, more like “involving”) Hoshino Gen that I think you might like — King is a hige Hoshino Gen fan; even attended one of his concerts back in 2016 I think.

      Likewise, thanks for dropping by, and thanks for these suggestions!

  4. monthly post meanslaging kang active. ibig sabhin balik k n tlga sa full time blogging? hahaha
    yoiu’re welcome. ๐Ÿ˜€ kau ni Kai hinila ko pero mukhang ayaw n tlga ni Kai. Ok lng, atleast active k n ulet. sunod nyan eh ung interviews n pinag usapan ntn about certain “idols”, noh? hahaha jk.

    Di b 2 singer ng Scandal? di ako sure, pero same p b singer nila? i like this one too, it’s not as over sung as their usually songs.
    opening riff p lng nung sa Drops gus2 k n agad. haha pero mas trip ko ung “rocher chick” nilang kanta xDmabagal msyado to, at ninenerbyos ako pag tinataasan n nya ung boses nya xD
    and kulit nung masion. they sound different pero, uu, idol p din ung atleast composition nung kanta nila. ok un, kasi may emphasis sa music nila.
    low voice? lol. but yeah, i prefer no synth on my music too. kahit anung type, in general, kasi na aasar ako pag hindi kaya gawin live ung kanta. sayang bayad ko sa concert. lam m un?

    and you listen to a lot!!!! di ko n kaya.
    i like this monthly post, so sana consistent. wag k n aalis. haha

    • I mean, I count my level of activity “now” as full-time anyways — but yeah, I can’t trust myself to do a weekly thing, so monthly it is xD
      Kai is Kai, he’ll be around. Well, “active”. Don’t jinx it “p

      Haruna is the main vocals, but the bassist Tomomi jumps in every now and again, (baka siya naaalala mo), but yeah, it’s always been Haruna up front.
      True. Drop’s was already good back then (16 y/o ganun na yung boses!), just underappreciated because at the time they’d be going against Scandal xD
      I don’t know any of the members of Maison — which I’d like to believe is proof that I appreciate them more as musicians and singers than as idols
      Not a fan of high-pitched voiced in pop/rock. Sounds too happy. Yeah, or yung kapag ibang-iba yung tunog nila pag live kasi sobrang produced nung recorded songs nila

      I don’t talk about it a lot, but one of my favorite things to do is just look for new stuff to listen to. It’s become like a hobby for me now, lol
      Glad you liked it, and eyy, fingers-crossed no? ๐Ÿ˜€

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