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

The month just kinda flew by huh? (xD)

It doesn’t feel all that too long ago when I last had you guys on here for my Monthly Recommendation Round-Up, but, that may just be me. Maybe August kinda dragged on a bit longer for some (though I’m sure those who’re just coming off of summer vacation wouldn’t really mind that, lol). Whatever the case may be; we’re here, we’re back, we’re on.

To those that have found themselves here for the first time however (either here for this series or my blog as a whole); welcome! As you may have already guessed based on the title of the post, this is a post series that I do where I feature Japanese music that: have come out this month, have only come across this month, or just songs that I want to let you hear — all of which are, of course, songs that I liked or I’ve ended up liking and subsequently would recommend to you guys to listen to.

SO, grab your earphones or your headphones (y’all are free to just straight up blast these through your speakers), set your volume to your preferred levels, and let’s get at it.

ーー

最後の日/saigo no hi
by Lucie, Too
They grow up so fast :_)

In a bit of spillover from last month (mostly because I didn’t want to link too many songs on there) we start of this month’s round-up with Lucie,Too with Saigo no Hi, a track coming off of their latest single that just dropped towards the tail end of July. Those of you who got to follow this series back when it started in February would remember Lucie, Too as one of the first bands I ever featured here and, in the span of six or so months, I am genuinely happy to see/hear the band develop so much in such a short amount of time. I mention before how I liken their sound to be very much “garage-like” and while the band seems to have gotten away from that, now sporting a bit more polish (special mention for those beautiful bass lines), they do still showcase that side of ’em as you’ll hear in the break at 02:05. Interesting to note too is how thematically mature (and really just sad) the song is compared to the last song we heard from ’em — where we went from a cute and cheery first love encounter to a heartful goodbye for someone leaving their hometown.

さようならサマー/sayounara summer
by PERO
It’s that time of year~

Yeap, it’s summer (well, midsummer-ish in Japan and that part of the world in general), and in Japan mostly the season can be summed up with; yukatas, cicadas, and fleeting romances (lol). I’m kidding, of course — there’s ice-chilled watermelons to be had as well, but I digress. PERO make their way back in our round-up in relatively quick turnaround after having been featured in June but I at least would think that it’s very much warranted given what we have here in Sayounara Summer. We can say for certain now that PERO has fully departed from being an alternative rock group and have now found a home in pop/rock and credit to them this new sound does work for them, especially with the way Mukaidaa Mei works her vocals (the quick pauses she does are sooooo good!). If there’s one thing they did kinda go back to here from their first run as an indie group it’s their low cost PV aesthetic (xD). Of course, it’s probably not by choice (I mean, they’re indie), but I would view it as a reminder that PERO can’t help but be an artsy band at the of the day.

Ambivalent
by Keyakizaka46
Imagine if Kawatani Enon composed an idol song…

Now, I am aware that I mention the guy at least once whenever I do this, but what can I say, Kawatani Enon has been very influential in what I would consider my J-music upbringing (lol) and really whenever I hear Progressive Pop like what we have here, I can’t help but pay a bit of homage to him in whatever form I can. I’d also like to think that it says a lot about Keyakizaka46’s sound that they can even be put in the same discussion. It’s no secret that as far as the idol genre of music is concerned, Keyakizaka46 (the kanji counterpart at least) are just downright weird when you compare them to most mainstream idols; what with the whole sanitarium aesthetic they have going on for this PV, not to mention the song itself talking about the very meta perspective of idols who sing about relationships despite not having any interest in being in one (hence “ambivalent” /an otherwise taboo subject), and of course the song again sounding very much like a Gesu no Kiwami Otome track (which I do really mean as a compliment xD). They also do something very un-idol-like in a lot of their PVs which I really like, and it’s when they just… dance their own dance (they do it around the 03:10 mark here).

雲と幽霊/kumo to yuurei
by yorushika
To round off our list of round-up regulars ー

We have yorushika’s latest track (at the time of writing), Kumo to Yuurei. In as much as I do love introducing up-and-coming bands and artists to you guys, these round ups will invariably reflect my actual playlist, so do expect to become familiar with some of the names that get featured here as I do tend to follow the releases most if not all them. Aside from giving some of ’em a bit of a signal boost (in how many eyes and ears I can attract), part of why I do try to feature different and relatively unknown musical acts is to provide as wide of a selection of tracks as I can for you guys to sample, so you don’t “get tired” of a certain sound (which I do know can happen). Luckily, I feel that I won’t have that problem with yorushika even if I have them on for every succeeding month. n-buna and suis never cease to be as refreshing as they are with their multi-faceted approach to J-Pop. The duo even flip the script on us this time around with a bit of a callback to n-buna’s earlier style, which mostly implored aco-gui (common Japanese truncation for “acoustic guitar”) to slower tracks in general — and in hindsight a stark contrast to the spunkines of yorushika’s releases as of late. A very nice change of pace if anything.

FLAG
by metro polica
I feel like I should’ve already featured metro polica (in some capacity) through my Japanese music posts ー

As I feel that they do deserve that much more in the way of publicity as a band that is seemingly looking to take up the mantle of Electronic Rock left behind most notably by school food punishment, and carried to a certain extent at present by ねごと (long-time favorites for many fans of the genre, and I would presume fans of J-music in general). A year in between releases however saw metro polica kinda drop down in my priority list of musical acts to follow, which is also the reason why they haven’t made it to my monthly round-ups until now. Here they are now though and really they didn’t lose much of a step since I last heard of ’em (it helps that they were touring in the interim). I made the comparison earlier but metro polica actually loses out on a bit of angst that made sfp. stand out, where the former comes across as inherently cheery-er, but the instrumentation that the two groups use are fairly similar — which is nice, since there haven’t been a whole lot of bands going for this sound until only recently (some of ’em I’ve even featured here, with bands like THE INCOS and GRANNY SMITH). It helps too that “Miki” is such a powerful vocal presence (and just a presence overall) for metro polica.

Driftin’
by Mime
This song is hot :3

P-VINE Records has been the absolute home for Funky “Trip-Hop” for a good while now; featuring bands like Spangle call Lilli line and TAMTAM — and now the Tokyo-based quintet Mime joins their fold as a VERY promising addition to their current lineup of artists. The Vaporwave/Chillwave aesthetic they have going on with Hikari’s singing is hard to come by as it is (the common practice nowadays is inducing an electronically drowned-out and echo-y waveform to pre-existing tracks to give it that distorted Rustic Pop feel) much less put to good effect with her sultry vocal runs. The soulful jazz being displayed by the rest of the members blends really well with it as well, making for a bit of sensual auditory experience unique for today’s current musical landscape. The group is still relatively young, having with their run with P-VINE here being their first “real” major break, so I do hope they stick around for a while as these types of sounds are few and far between outside of this record label and I’m sure y’all would agree (especially after hearing this song) that we’re in dire need of more.

Cast a spell on her
by Spangle call Lilli line
Well, I did go through the trouble of mentioning them so might as well (xD)

August was just… alright, with its offerings, and while I do make it a point to always say at the start of the round-ups that I won’t solely be featuring new bands and artists, but this musical journey of discovery does go both ways (as I may’ve most likely alluded to at some point) and I sift through a fair number of new releases on a regular basis always with the intent of finding good music to listen to and ideally recommend to someone — and I do like doing that more than me just putting up three or four songs that I listen to on an almost-daily basis and ramble on about it (lol). BUT sometimes, like now I’m not really feeling what I’m hearing, it just can’t be helped (xD). So do allow me to pull one out of my personal library of favorites to close us off with a song that’s nearly as old as I’ve been on the Internet. Don’t let that deter you though, as SCLL is as timeless as they come with their dreamy Down-Beat that has pretty much withstood the test of time (as you might agree here) for what would be twenty years now since the band’s inception (SCLL began activities in 1998!)

Must Listen: Saigo no Hi by Lucie,Too and Driftin’ by Mime
I’ve had relatively high hopes for Lucie,Too ever since I featured them here at the start of the year, and I’m honestly very glad to know that my hype was well-warranted now a couple of months removed since; with an even better showing than their first one. Driftin’ by Mime is just a really fun track that gets more and more addictive each time you listen to it.

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The playlist is live and updated so if you didn’t get to hear everything here in one-go, alternatively, you can use that to backtrack a bit easier (since they’re all on YouTube anyways). BUT, make sure to head back on over here once you listen to the songs as I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts on ’em 😀

As I mentioned last month I have a couple of Feature Lists already in the works (meaning I’ve thought of a theme and what songs to put in and not much else beyond that xD) as well as a Band Feature that I’ll be getting to relatively soon, in commemoration of a concert that I’ll be going to in a couple of weeks’ time (!!!) so stay tuned for that as well.

How was August you guys? Like any of the songs above?
Lemme know in the comments down below! And also, if you have recommendations of your own (either J-music or otherwise) feel free to share them too!

Have a good one, and till next post~!!

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

  1. I was target with PERO and Keyakizaka46 but I missed Lucie Too lol. Thanks for the really solid picks for this month! My August picks were just ‘alright’ as well with a few gems here and there, such is life. I’m not sure how much of a hip-hop/R&B person you are but Rude-a’s ‘Take Me Back’ and SIRUP’s releases were amazing this month.

    Looking forward to the band feature and hearing about that concert if you care to share later on too.

    • Ooh, glad to hear you follow Keyaki /and/ PERO too, Haha! More so PERO (xD) Thanks Rise! lol, I tried yeap. This month had too much “summer is over” vibes which I think might’ve contributed to how the music that came out of it was all slow jam, lol
      And yes, I do dabble every now and again with Hip-Hop and R&B but yooo that Rude-a track though.

      I’ll definitely be talking about it soon. To give you a hint; I’ll be watching a girls’ rock band :p

      • I mean, how could I not when I follow you? lmao And you’re welcome! There is a ton of summer is over vibes this year which has surprised me. and right? that Rude-a giving me feelings.

        !!!! I have no idea who it is but I am immediately excited!!

  2. All of these are really nice, I gotta say (lol). FLAG and Driftin are probably my favorites, the lead vocalist for metro policia is just incredible to listen to, and I’ve always loved funky-style music and Mime definitely give off a Suchmos-vibe.

    I think you’ve already seen me talk about these on Twitter but the ex Negoto album you gave me was a great listen! I’m thinking of writing the Exchange/Rate review to the album soon but I’ll talk further details w/ you soon 😛 There were some really nice tracks in that album I couldn’t stop listening to like “メルシールー”. Also Kamishiraishi Mone’s stuff, I found it to be lovely to listen to and her variety in music kinda surprised me, mainly cause the only song I’ve heard from her was her version of Nandemonaiya from Kimi no Na wa. But yeah, her album “And…”, I’d suggest taking a peek at it on Spotify 😀

    • Thanks (xD) gotta say it was a bit of a struggle this month deciding which songs to feature, but I’m glad I picked out some enjoyable stuff in the end still, lol.
      metro polica is a powerhouse in the making but Mime just wins me over with that flowy study-music track of theirs.

      I’m immensely glad that you got to listen to ex Negoto (and better man than me as I’ve yet to fully listen to the Ohashi Trio album you sent me :(() but eyy, メルシールー/MerciLou was THE song that got me into Negoto in the first place so I’m happy that that one resonated with you too (spoiler for when we do another Exchange/Rate, my favorite track off of ex Negoto is ふわりのこと/fuwari no koto) Yeah, I feel like I shoud step my Spotify game up a bit more, but yeah oddly enough Kamishiraishi Mone reminds me a bit of KanaHana, Haha!

    • Oh wow, believe it or not this was actually on my short-list of songs to feature for this month, Haha! You’re right in that this should’ve been on here in that regard, lol (and eyy nice find nonetheless!)

      • i look up on your list too . i havent listen to japaneses quite long ( 4 year perhaps) until recently, when i discovered Yoruchika , it’s like open a new era to me with all those UTAITE and new faces , they are very unique and ROCk in a new way i think. i wonder what change in 4 year because when i listen to them right now, it’s was like tressure to me (4 years without any music EHH ). My favorite artist now is Yorushika and 美波 (Minami i guess , i dont know japanese and on the road to learn it because of these music, her voice is very skillful and suis has a clear and perfect relax voice ) and maybe little sana too.
        So keep it up bro!
        thanks bro .

        • A lot can happen in 4 years, and I can say that as someone who’s been listening to Japanese music for more than that, some things have definitely changed in the general landscape of things; one of which being what you mentioned, the rise of singer-songwriter/utaites now that video sharing platforms are even more far-reaching than they were before, Haha! I look forward to your journey of discovery in this new age of Japanese music.
          I wil, and likewise, thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts!

          • well kind of only me listen these kind of music in my place (it’s weird though ) so the sharing ideal is little bit strong xD i always wish people should appreciate these music more than just Pop music like K-pop or those pop teen love. But it’s ok now.

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