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

We’re back in it!

It feels like it’s been quite a while since I last did this (mostly because last month’s round-up was what it was) so in stark contrast to how much I felt August flew by, October felt like a good stretch of time almost, with me now doing a “proper” Monthly Recommendation Round-Up two-ish months since my last one. Suffice it to say, we have some catching up to do, and eight weeks is a long enough time for good songs to pile up (xD)

Welcome back, for those who have been following these Round-Ups over the past couple of months; and for newcomers, welcome (!!!) — as you may have surmised from the title, this post is part of a regular ongoing series wherein I recommend and share Japanese music (either new releases or just songs I want to put out there) at the end of every month. As these are recommendations, I actually really do like the stuff that I’ll be sharing (lol), and the hope is that by the end of it all you guys do too. Like ’em, I mean 😀

SO, as we do during these round-ups — grab your favorite pair of earphones/headphones (speakers if you don’t mind), set your volumes to a comfortable level, and well.. you know what to do~~

ーー

グッドバイ/goodbye
by あいくれ
The best case scenario in getting arrested are the cops pulling out musical instruments out of nowhere and jamming out with you.

Though it would probably help if you had Yukimi’s tantalizing vocals if you do have a run in with the police. あいくれ (aikure) is a band that I’ve been made aware of back when I first started getting my feet wet with Japanese music, and as they themselves were relatively new to the scene as well (debuting only in 2015), there wasn’t to be heard from them at the time. So admittedly グッドバイ kinda fell in-between the cracks for me in terms of new releases when it first came out (roughly a year ago) as I’d since turned my attention to other bands whose developments I could follow more keenly. Which is a shame, because this song just makes good on aikure’s already solid showing as a Female-Fronted Alternative Rock band even back then. VERY promising, and I’ll be sure to keep proper tabs on them moving forward.

おかえりさよなら/okaeri sayonara
by Maison book girl
Of course I’m featuring another Mbg song (xD)

Long-time followers of the Japanese Music Round-Up all pretty much know by now that Maison book girl songs sound more or less the same (lol). Is that a knock on their sound? Well, I mean, they’re still the only idol group out there (other than sora tob sakana maybe) that’s made a name off of funky time signatures and what I’d consider noir-esque aesthetic. The former, although a tad bit over-done (lol try playing three or four songs of theirs in succession and you’ll get what I’m saying), is still a nice change of pace from your usual idol songs; but really it’s the latter that is, in my opinion, the true appeal of Mbg. Mbg has always come across as very atypical of the otherwise standard idol mould, not strictly in their “edginess”, but in their approach to seemingly put forth ”Aesthetic Idol” as a genre — and I’m obviously all for it.

ふれてほしい/furete hoshii
by CICADA
God I missed these guys

CICADA is probably the only Trip-Hop group that I’ll love as much as I do, and I’m extremely happy to see them drop an icy chill track in what would be two years now since they last did so. The transition from Trip-Hop to straight-up Trap Music is subtle, but it’s there; with CICADA letting off on the keyboards a bit and layering in more jazzy downbeats in lieu of it. What hasn’t changed however is the “sultry synth” that I’ve come to know and love from CICADA, accentuated by the flow of Akiko’s otherwise deceptively powerful vocals. ふれてほしい is in a lot of ways demonstrative of what CICADA has been up to in the last two years since we last saw ’em, in both the slight change in sound and the circle of artists they’ve apparently found themselves in company with (the PV here as you’ll see features cameos from other artists).

寄生/kisei
by ゼノ (xeno)
You know you’re in for a ride when a band describes their sound as “ill”

In the wake of chouchou merged syrups.‘s departure from the Japanese music scene, I figured that they were gonna be the last of what I would call Ling tosite Sigure inspired Progressive Rock Bands to come out of the wood work. Lo and behold ゼノ (xeno) have (quite aggressively) made themselves known to the public, almost with a chip on their shoulder in not even being included in the discussion of J-ProgRock until fairly recently , as they now take to the stage and pick up where cms. left off. There’s a bit more of a Heavy Metal bite to xeno’s sound when compared to the more prototypical Ling tosite Sigure guitar-laden sound (see sokoninaru, HaKU, and the aforementioned chouchou merged syrups.) which I do believe mostly stems from the drum work at play here for 寄生. It’s a feisty track that at best is xeno screaming to the world “can you hear us now!?”.

Emma
by レイラ (layla)
Nothing says being thankful that we live today than rocking out on a rooftop shouting “thank you” at the top of your lungs

Of course, the song is a bit more touching than how I’m making it out to be, but you kinda have to do this for レイラ (layla)’s songs which on the whole are just rife with angst towards the realities of life (xD). Kinda ironic when you consider how young vocalist Aria must be if we’re basing it on her looks alone as she does fittingly have a bit of an uncharacteristically deeper voice than most female Japanese singers that I would peg to be the same age as her. In a bit of a similar way as to how “angry” xeno sounds to me, there’s a certain fed-‘upness to layla that I can’t quite put my finger on — whether it’s in the continued garage-type Rock that they make or Aria’s no-nonsense delivery. At any rate, layla continues to impress with Emma, slowly but surely becoming a staple in the female-fronted J-Rock scene.

Camelia
by mili
We Disney now

Dark Disney, that is (lol). mili’s Classical/Chamber Pop is, without mincing words, an oddity in the world of Japanese Music. At the very least I struggle to come up with an equivalent counterpart alongside them currently (kalafina, and Kajiura Yuki in general might put up a decent claim, but that’s about it). I mean, when was the last time you unironically heard a bandoneon in Japanese music? (xD) I rest my case. mili’s brand of dark fantasy has been a favorite of its immense cult following for years now, and it’s only until recently that the band has started to enjoy their own notoriety; being featured in popular mobile games Cytus and Deemo, as well as performing the opening theme for Fall 2018’s most polarizing title in Goblin Slayer. Camelia is but a taste of what this group has to offer. Interesting to note is that vocalist “momocashew” is multi-langual (which should explain why most of their songs are in English) and is a self-proclaimed fujoshi according to her Twitter profile. …Okay, that last one has nothing to do with anything, I just thought that was awesome.

11月のメロンソーダ/11gatsu no melon soda
by 四丁目のアンナ (4chome no anna)
This song is wild (xD)

And not just because the PV has five people in pajamas raiding this poor dude’s apartment (I mean, other than I guess vocalist Rinka’s constant glomps throughout the video, I would not want to be that guy). There’s a whimsical liveliness to 11月のメロンソーダ that just makes for a fun listen on the whole, and if I were to set apart one thing to be the reason as to why that is, then surely it’s Rinka’s powerful and clear voice that carries the song (if I were to compare it to someone, I’d say tricot’s Nakajima Ikkyu, with a bit more oompf). 4chome no anna (Hole in District 4) are a fairly young band, who describe their music as “Hyper Taiwan Nihao Japan Pop, or in short, Super Tokyo-style” (…yeah I wish was making this up, lol) and well, I’m definitely here for it. 11月のメロンソーダ is actually the first of what’s looking to be a 3-month continuous PV release window (their new one already dropped a couple of hours ago) so eyy who knows may we’ll see them again here next month. …And yes, that one guy totally licked his guitar.

Must Listen: Furete Hoshii by CICADA
If you’ve kept track of my “must listen” picks for each month, you’ll notice that I tend to be biased towards chiller tracks, and the only real reason I could give you is that those are the type of songs that I get hooked on the most. I must’ve had the first CICADA album on loop for like a month straight when I first got my hands on it, so they do have that effect (on me at least). If anything I might just be happy to see them back (xD)

ーー

The playlist is updated, so as always, if you didn’t feel like going through every single one of the tracks here then you can just back-track up on there. Just bookmark it so you always have it with you (kinda, lol) or better yet append it to your YouTube dashboard if you have an account. HOWEVER, be sure to head on back over here once you’re done catching up to share your thoughts on this month’s round-up. It would be greatly appreciated if you do 🙂

That about does it for this month (xD). As much as I would’ve loved to have a sort-of Halloween-themed round-up in keeping with the festivities, I didn’t think far enough ahead for that (and I wouldn’t know how to go about choosing songs for that to be honest). BUT more themed posts in the form of Feature Lists are in the horizon so stay tuned for those. I know I keep saying that every time in all of my outros (lol) but yeah, as I believe I’ mentioned last month, the ideas for them are mostly there and all’s I need to do is actually make the posts, Haha!

How was October? Did you like (or not like) any/all the songs for this month?
Let me know in the comments! Also, if you gave recommendations of your own (Japanese music, music in general, or anything else) do feel free to throw those in too 😀

With that, happy listening, and till next post~!!

 

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

  1. I loved all of these selections like Maison book girl’s and Mili’s song was interesting to hear even though I’ve heard many J-tracks that have all English lyrics. But I think my favorite one was CICADA as well; those first few seconds with the bassline and the synth is just too good of an intro lol. I’ve gotten really into the trap/hip hop/jazz combo kind of music recently, thanks to artists like LUCKY TAPES or SHE IS SUMMER, songs like those are just reeeeally nice and chillax to listen to. Also it was a little surprising seeing mico from SHE IS SUMMER in the MV

    I think the past month for me was mostly filled with music from groups Kawatani Enon has been a part of, especially DADARAY (lol). I recently did a song roundup on my blog based around his music, and it was fun to dive deeper into the parts of his discography I never got to discover more in depth like getting more into indigo and listening to Gesu’s debut album. But I think DADARAY has definitely become one of my all-time favorite J-bands so far, I just love everything about them.

    If you don’t mind, i’ll put a few DADARAY suggestions here lol:

    UtsukushÄ« Shiuchi/美しい仕打ち (my personal favorite song of theirs) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNoHpWcKXlo

    They also did a live/unplugged ver. of that song during a J-WAVE radio session, hella nice – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsJYEjLUSx0

    WOMAN WOMAN is a more unique track from them, still a great song – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9jruIpWCSs

    So yeah, very nice roundup this month! 😀

    • That is true, hearing songs sung in English by Japanese artists isn’t all that uncommon — and if anything I’d put the emphasis more so on their delivery of it; theatrical, sing-song-y, and very Disney-esque (if that makes sense xD). CICADA are such a trip, and I definitely agree that these are the type of ongs that you generally don’t get tired of hearing (I’ll pass you CICADA’s album later :p). I know, lol, suprised me too really.

      Ooooh, yeah I saw! I still need to give that Kawatani round-up of yours a go once I get the chance to just sit down and catch up to stuff. The guy’s been pretty influential with what I now choose to listen to so I’m looking forward to your write up on him (as someone who finds himself primarily an indigo la End fan over a Gesu one at that), and I might also drop a relatively obscure Kawatani Enon track recommendation on there too depending on whether or not it made it on there, Haha!

      Oh, not at all! 😀
      美しい仕打ち I wanna say was one of if note the first song I’ve heard of theirs, if not イキツクシ (both very good for debuts really), but yeah definitely really loved the former when it came out. That studio version is something else though — really nice. WOMAN WOMAN was kinda right around where I left off DADARAY (loved Breeze in me though xD)

      • Oh definitely, especially with that mili song. It was really impressive to hear her sing in all English and have that theater-like/Disney vocal performance, like you mentioned. And even for other J-artists who have sung in all English, one that immediately comes to mind is Ohashi Trio, I just love how they can still sing really well despite English not being their first language.

        Also, yeah! Please do check it out since I think I’m still an indigo la End amateur and would love some more great suggestions of theirs 😛

        • Not gonna lie, Ohashi Trio’s English surprised the heck out of me the first time I heard him sing (lol I really have to just hunker down and do our J-Music Exchange Rate for that one of these days xD)

          Will do :p

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