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

Alright, you know the drill~!!

If not, y’know, that’s cool (xD) lemme fill you in — this is (as the post title would have you) a round-up of Japanese music that I personally would recommend for the month of June. These may be songs that’ve just come out, songs that I only got to listen to but aren’t necessarily new, OR songs that I just want to feature for the heck of it; making for (ideally) a nice little playlist for you guys to end the month with.

SO, as always; grab your favorite pair of earphones (or headphones, whatever you’re most comfortable with), if you don’t mind blasting some music in your room with speakers then even better; and just scroll down and play ’em songs!!

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Rhythmy/リスミー, by POLKADOT STINGRAY
A pleasant reminder that PDSR is weird (in the best way possible)

*Note: “Rhythmy” (derived from Rilmazofone) is a type of prescription drub classified as a hypnotic developed in Japan to treat insomnia. Hence the PV (…maybe).

Rhythmy is my favorite track off of POLKADOT STINGRAY’s latest EP “ICHIDAIJI”, so I was honestly immensely glad that it got the PV treatment over the others (where the trend prior was that they always went with the more up-tempo songs instead). I’ve mentioned it a lot on the past in multiple settings but I do like my J-Rock on the slower side of things generally with not a whole lot of vocal exertion so suffice it to say so check and double-check here. This song is actually very reminiscent of フレミング (Fleming) from PDSR’s full-length album 前肢前納 (Zenshi Zennou) so if you liked that kind of sound from ’em then you’ll enjoy this too. NOW, on the subject of this weird a** PV… well, funny enough I’ve constructed this narrative in my head that this is a spiritual successor to Lyu:Lyu’s Messiah (xD). Speaking of successors though, it looks like there’s gonna be continuation of sorts here (both with “story” of the PV and to go with the band’s switch in attire towards the end of the video). My money’s on a Pandora Box PV.

New Stranger, by sora tob sakana
For a second there you’d think they weren’t an idol group at all.

sora tob sakana (from how I see it at least) appear to have settled on and accepted the fact that they won’t gain much ground anymore when it comes to increasing the quality of their vocals, and they have instead chosen to actively rely on gimmick-y tricks like the ones you’ll hear in 01:05 and 03:10 — and I welcome this wholeheartedly. sakana loses a fair bit of their sound when they can’t harmonize their high notes as much as they would want to (which is hard to do on faster tracks like this one), and while the instrumentation is usually there to pick up the slack for them, even that can get old for some people. I see this as a slight reinvention for sakana and I do hope they run with this and go full-on Math/Post-Rock moving forward. There is a window for that transition and this release sort-of proves it (I mean, this is like their least idol-like song ever in terms of delivery and imagery)

Slow-Motion Love/スローモーション・ラブ, by PERO
Welcome back~! In more ways than one!

On the subject of reinventing, PERO (formerly the “PeroPeroShiteYaritaiWa’s”) have come out of hiding with a new look, and a what’s looking to be a new sound for them as well. At one point in time PERO did try to rock the indie aesthetic of combining more “artful” obscure visual narratives with aggressive alternative rock. To give credit to the band it did work for a while (more than that, they were really good at it), but at the same time you know that they were really trying hard to get inside that niche — and /we do/ know this because we actually have a sampling of how they used to sound like when they first debuted (give it a listen here!), where they were almost Vaporwave Pop/Rock more than anything. They also look like they’re having more fun making these kinds of songs too so there’s that as well. Whether or not going back a bit to their roots is a good thing remains to be seen of course, but they sound good at least, and that’s already half the game there.

Onna wa Kawaru/オンナは変わる, by Gesu no Kiwami Otome (ゲスの極み乙女)
… DID SHE JUST BUST OUT BEETHOVEN’S SYMPHONY #5???

The answer is yes, yes she did. Holy sh**. It’s easy to forget how much of a talented super group Gesu no Kiwami Otome is because of the stigma surrounding them, but every now and again they do a good job at reminding us of how rife with technique and skill each of them are with songs like ‘Onna wa Kawaru’ and maaaaaaaan do they not hold anything back here — Kawatani’s guitar-work is excellent as always; Manager’s bass lines are as smooth as ever; ちゃんMARI got to show her classical chops; and heck I think Ikoka’s even better now on the drums since we last saw her. The vocals might put off someone who hasn’t listened to any song sung by Kawatanei Enon so I understand that, but I mean just by the instrumentation alone you can hear that everyone was on point for this (that break in 2:37 is just godly). I always end up praising the guy as a composer whenever I feature Gesu or indigo la End but yeah no Kawatani Enon knows music like the back of his hand, and it’s always a treat getting to hear his handiwork. And lastly.. since when did Ikoka get so gorgeous??

mottainai by ayutthaya
We have a reunion!

Albeit indirectly (and in this small small corner of the aniblogosphere of all places). Bit of a J-Rock history lesson for ya; Ohta Mio (Vo./Gt.) used to be one half of promising indie duo Microcosm back in 2011 along with Hona Ikoka on drums — the very same Ikoka who’s the drummer now for Gesu no Kiwami Otome(!!). The two have went vastly different paths since their last appearance as a musical act in 2014 (where Ikoka had already started working with Gesu a year prior). Where we saw Ikoka’s popularity sky-rocket right out of the gate by being the “face” of Gesu, Ohta Mio went a different, more music-centered route. Not to say that Ikoka got by with just her looks (as she is a superb drummer in her own right), the difference in the trajectory their careers took as artists is just fascinating. I mean, here they are now with both their respective bands releasing new songs in the same month and a quick look at the view counts would tell you which band is more popular. Ohta always had the vocal chops for the mainstream I believe (as you’ll hear here in ‘Mottainai’), and while not as pandering as Gesu, ayutthaya’s brand alternative rock is sure to win some fans too.

Hoshifuru yoru ni/星降る夜に, by Karappo Peperoncino (からっぽペペロンチーノ)
Wait.. This isn’t a cover of a Vocaloid song?

On the last Monthly Recommendation Round-Up I talked about how “Vocaloid” has become a genre in recent years, and this little number here by Karappo Peperonccino (this name tho xD) is what I was talking about. I did some digging after having come across this song because I was so convinced that this was a Vocaloid song but alas, it is not. If you went up to me and played this I probably would’ve said it was, owing to the general flow of ‘Hoshi Furu Yoru ni’, which has the shifts in vocal pitch and the modulation of speed in some parts that is pretty much the staple of any Vocaloid song. To be fair though, ranko (the voice behind KarappoPeperonccino) is a former utaite (a cover artist that primarily sings Vocaloid stuff) so maybe she took that with her as her listeners would be more familiar with that style of singing (a la 96neko and early Nano).

Kyou ga Owatteku/今日が終わってく, by Hump Back
I think I understand now why Momoko’s singing style is so oddly distinct.

She’s always shout-y (xD). It was a bit more subtle in their first EP (which is still to this day one of my all time favorite CDs out there), but I gotta admit they kinda lost me with that on the release of “hanamuke” back in November. I mean, it’s not necessarily a bad singing style, but they laid it on a bit thick in their last EP (which does wear on you after a while) and as harsh as it is for me to say fell a bit flat. I’m not entirely sure as to what would be the remedy for that (personally I’d say just tone the Power Punk down a notch) but I would surmise that this was in large part due to Hump Back getting a new bassist and drummer, and Momoko (Gt./Vo.) ended up having to carry ’em a bit as the band’s centerpiece. ‘Kyou ga Owatteiku’ sees Hump Back regain their footing a bit which is nice — granted it’s still Momoko sort-of screaming at you (which is really just this band in a nutshell now) but they make it work this time. I think. That or I just want to like Hump Back again.

Minna no Uta/みんなのうた, by SHISHAMO
Would you really risk your hair doing this? (xD)
(Also, is that Fumika Shimizu as the hair salon trainee??)

Coming off of my album review of SHISHAMO 3 for the J-Music Exchange/Rate with Al (which you can check out here), I ended up listening to a lot of SHISHAMO this past month and while I do know that SHISHAMO dropped not just one but two PVs in that time, I just couldn’t not share this track with you guys. If you did read my review then you’d know that this isn’t my favorite track off of SHISHAMO 3 (the honor of which goes to Nettaiya), and while I could rave about the sultry/chill Slow Rock of Nettaiya just as easily, I felt like this current lineup needed a happier song — and ‘Minna no Uta’ is just all sorts of fun. The background trumpets add to the zaniness of this Ska-like offering which to me at least gives off kinda like “Good Work Everyone~!” vibe that I mention in my review as being a perfect way to cap-off SHISHAMO 3, and really any sort of lineup as I’m doing so for it now.

– –

Must Listen:Rhythmy by POLKADOT STINGRAY and Onna wa Kawaru by Gesu no Kiwami Otome
You can never really go wrong with POLKADOT STINGRAY (in my opinion) and you can count on any release from them to be fairly solid, but Rhythmy is arguably a stand out offering compared to everything they’re brought out thus far. Onna wa Kawaru, underneath Gesu no Kiwami Otome’s infamous grime (lol), is just a masterful display of music, which really is hard to come by in today’s J-Pop landscape.

The playlist is updated so no worries on that end (like, if you wanna go back to some of the songs you can just look it up on there). Just bookmark it in your browsers OR better yet if you have a YouTube account just add it to your dashboard playlists. If you wanna read through my thoughts on the past couple months’ recommendations, they’re all in the Japanese music page — along with my feature lists (I have something in the works that I’ve actually had on the docket for a while now so stay tuned) AS WELL AS a new thing that I started doing with fellow aniblogger-slash-Japanese-music-enthusiast Al (from SliceOfAlfredo) called J-Music Exhange/Rate (check it out if you haven’t yet!).

Is this month of songs any good? Lemme know down below~!
While you’re doing that, if you have your own recommendations (Japanese music or otherwise), feel free to drop ’em links too!

Happy listening y’all~

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

  1. Nice selection here!

    Yeah, that Polkadot Stingray MV, I think because I don’t know the lyrics and just assumed it was a nice mellow song that’s not about drugs, I was just so confused when I first watched it. But either way, still a good song lol. Other than that, I really enjoyed a handful of these suggestions like Slow Motion Love (the lead vocalist has a nice voice), Gesu no Kiwami Otome is always interesting to listen to and you reminded me to listen to more Hump Back since I love their music. And I think your reasoning is the same when it comes to Minna to Uta, it’s a great song to end off the album and probably one of the most-listened-to SHISHAMO songs for me.

    I mean, other than listening to SHISHAMO’s new album (which I wish I could give you a link to a few songs that don’t have an MV), there are a few tracks I’d suggest: I don’t know if you watched this show this Spring anime season called “Wotakoi” but the band of the opening theme, sumika, is really nice. Here’s one of my favorite songs off their first album (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kygd-n5VXtU). Secondly, I know I gave you the album already but I felt like giving you a preview of Ohashi Trio (if you haven’t listened to it yet) would be nice so here’s one of my favorites lol (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2B8SxuQjbTo). Lastly, I think I need to spread the word of Toyosaki Aki and her beautiful voice… (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFT-huujar8) 😛

    • You’d notice it’s also the first time a Polkadot Stingray PV wasn’t *all* about the band members (lol) but yeah no it’s such a trip xD Can’t wait to see what the continuation to it looks like.

      I like PERO as an alt. rock outfit more, but it’s gonna be interesting where they go (sound wise) after re-debuting.

      Gesu no Kiwami Otome is pretty mucha a box of chocolates in that you can’t really be sure about what you’re gonna get — but at least it’s bound to be sweet (xD).

      Yey, more Hump Back love ❤

      The trumpets are just so refreshing, haha!

      Well, I have my ways if I really wanted to, so I'll check 'em out when I have the time :p

      I haven't yet (much like I haven't been watching much anime, sadly) Ohhhhh, this sumika song tripped me up 'cause it sounded like that one Lucky Tapes song at the start, lol, but yeah, that's definitely nice.

      Yeah, I'm gonna take a crack at THIS IS MUSIC on one of my days off, but ngl I did /not/ expect to be hearing an English song here xD Really good sway from that piano jazz.

      Toyosaki Aki's career as a crossover seiyuu/singer has always been very fascinating to me (in that there are clear breaks between the two worlds /she's not 2.5D) and that in large part I would think is because her voice just works for both. And yes, suffice it to say, it /is/ beautiful.

  2. I feel so behind on this month’s girl’s rock from Japan so I’m glad I took the time to listen to everything you posted! I was digging the new Polkadot Stingray as, despite it not being quite their usual speed (literally and figuratively). PERO was a surprise for me since I haven’t listened to them before but any girl’s rock band is someone I’ll be for sure checking out more of from them. And overall, I’ve really enjoyed your picks this month!

    • Eyy very happy to hear that 😀
      And likewise, glad you liked this month’s round-up!
      Yeah, Rhythmy is a nice and very welcome change of pace for Polkadot Stingray (they only seem to do like one of these kinds of tracks in their releases so far, lol). But yeah no I honestly thought PERO called it quits when I havan’t heard anything from them in almost 2 years. Very promising band that needs a push bad.

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