Listening to Japanese Music: Monthly Recommendation Round-Up (April 2019)

Short time, but we made it (!!)

How’s everyone doing? Hope y’all are doing all right (if not even better!) as I welcome you guys once again to the Monthly Recommendation Round-Up (!!!). We’re right in the middle of spring so I’m pretty sure a lot of you have been up and about this past month going to to different places and whatnot because of that (even I was out for a couple of weeks myself). I assume everyone has settled down by now for the most part though, leading towards the end of this month, so yeah — welcome back πŸ˜€

Before anything else though, for those of you are new to this blog, or are now seeing this kind of post from me for the first time:

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 Round-Up that I’ll update and share at the end of each post.

Now, because I was actually straight up gone for two whole weeks since the start of April (at a place with very minimal internet/streaming capabilities) I wasn’t really able to be on top of preparing this month’s Round-Up like I normally do. I do like to build up my list slowly throughout the month as opposed to just cramming it towards the end so as a result we’re having a bit of a shorter one this time around. I made sure to make these entries count though (xD)

So as we do; grab your most trusted pair of earphones (or IEMs ’cause we all know they’re bette-), set your volume to your liking, and well, you know what to do from here πŸ˜›

γƒΌγƒΌ

をダハダエむγƒͺをン/adahada alien
by γ‚·γƒŠγƒͺγ‚ͺγ‚’γƒΌγƒˆ (ScenarioArt)
It’s hard not to love ’em really

There’s something very… wholesome about ScenarioArt’s sound that’s just so oddly appealing. I would surmise that that is in large part due to Vocalist/Drummer (yes, you read that right) Kumiko’s peculiar existence as, well, a drummer that also predominantly sings. Not to say that this hasn’t been a thing in the past already (hyper energy Pop/Rock band Gacharic Spin and the prodigious Shishido Kavka come to mind as notable examples). However, in contrast to their predecessors, ScenarioArt’s brand of Rock is a softer one generally. There is a pleasant airiness and lightness to their delivery overall whilst still keeping to an otherwise Pop/Rock base which makes for a nice change of pace really. “Adahada Alien” here is all that, with some splahes of Jazz here and there (quite surprisingly) as an added treat for the unexpecting listener.

η₯‡εœ’η”Ί/gion-cho
by BAND-MAIKO (BAND-MAID)
THEY’RE BACK

And by that I mean, BAND MAID has, for the second year in a row, come out with a song as BAND MAIKO for April Fools (here’s the first one). Of course, like last time, the joke here really is that BAND MAIKO is actually legitimately good (xD). Unlike the previous year though, instead of making another alternate rendition that utilizes traditional Japanese instruments to one of their older songs (not that I’d mind if they did that instead), BAND MAID makes a totally new song with that same sound that still kept (if not even emphasized further) the traditional Japanese aesthetic that they were shooting for before. “Gion-cho” is almost like an infomercial of sorts, both in its “Old Japan” visual, and its lyrics that highlight the intricacies of Maiko attire.

γ γ‹γ‚‰εƒ•γ―ιŸ³ζ₯½γ‚’θΎžγ‚γŸ/dakara boku wa ongaku wo yameta
by ヨルシカ (Yorushika)
suis has a very unassuming power in her voice

Something I noticed when I went and listened to Yorushika’s second mini album ‘Losers Have No Need For Encores (make inu ni ankooru ha iranai)‘ for the first time (great mini album by the way, check it out for sure when you have the time) is that suis can go hard when she wants to. I mean, you’d have to go as far back as ‘Say It (itte)‘ from their PVs to hear suis really just sit down on a line. suis’ uncannily clear and controlled voice has always been captivating without a doubt but hearing this sort of power from her is very much gripping as well. Yorushika’s music have been such a playful mastery of sound and artistry in tandem, and giving credit where credit is due, n-buna’s compositions really make both shine.

ジェγƒͺービーンズ/jelly beans
by γ‚γ„γγ‚Œ (aikure)
“Now, come and eat!”*

*Note: ‘now, come and eat’ (saa, meshiagare) is the last line of the song

Much like a bag of jelly beans, life its own mix of sweetness and sourness, coming in different shapes and sizes and colors. Sometimes we get what we want, while at times (or more often even) we don’t. But we stick our hand in that bag regardless; because that’s what we call living — now, come and eat. […] Aikure have always been really good at being melancholic (lol) despite what their fairly aggressive style of Alternative Rock would lead you to believe and I think that a lot of that does come from Yukimi’s harrowing’y beautiful vocals. “Jelly Beans” is a clear testament to that and then some with this otherwise minimalist/straightforward PV that just has the band performing for the most part (which I do prefer that some bands do at times).

ONE
by パスピエ (PASSEPIED)
Everyone likes a good comeback

PASSEPIED was, at one point in time, a prospective band on the rise thanks to their massive cult following. That said, the general reception towards PASSEPIED (particularyl their music) was fairly divisive. It’s safe to assume that High Energy Electro Pop isn’t really everyone’s cup of tea to begin with, but I also believe that one of the main things that made or break PASSEPIED for people at the time (at least it did for me) was Ogoda Natsuki’s nasal style of singing. Regardless, the band did receive immense support, and in turn was given the opportunity to perform the Opening Theme for Spring 2015’s Kyoukai no Rinne. Hype for PASSEPIED started to peter out afterwards (just goes to show how crucial anison for bands looking to make a name for themselves). “ONE” sees PASSEPIED trying to reclaim that hype that once carried them, and if they keep up this Low Tempo Pop instead, then they have a fan in me.

MUST LISTEN
Gion-cho by BAND-MAIKO/BAND-MAID
If you caught my 2018 Round-Up awards post you might remember that BAND-MAIKO’s “secret MAIKO lips” ended up being my ‘Most Played Song of 2018’. Despite the gimicky nature of the songs they’ve made as BAND-MAIKO, I really do appreciate how BAND-MAID incorporate wa-gakki (traditional Japanese instrumentation) with their now-trademark Hard Rock escalation. Very nice.

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The YouTube playlist is updated so as a reminder, if you wanna catch the songs that will be featured in the Round-Up right away (that is, even before I publish the post proper), just add the playlist on your account’s dashboard. Just, remember to come back here once you finished listening so you can share your thoughts on the tracks πŸ™‚

As I said earlier we do have a bit of shorter-than-usual Round-Up owing to shorter prep time on my end, and I’m pretty sure I missed out on some songs that came out this month, so if you guys listened to anything good that came out recently (or just anything good in general really) then please feel free to send them my way in the comments section below πŸ˜€

Happy Listening guys~!!

6 thoughts on “Listening to Japanese Music: Monthly Recommendation Round-Up (April 2019)

    • I only really just started getting into their discography recently myself (xD) and on the subject of BAND MAIKO specifically, the band actually released a mini-album of these kinds of songs; something you might like to look into πŸ™‚

  1. ScenarioArt seems like my kind of band, I just loved the mellow vibe and sort of slow (towards the beginning at least) pace they expressed. Also that bass line in the second verse was hella nice lol

    Ah, I’m glad to see BAND-MAIKO once again! I recently re-listened to “secret MAIKO lips” and I’m still incredibly impressed by how they pulled off a heavy metal-traditional Japanese music combination like that (the shamisen and electric guitar melded together so well lol). But yeah, “Gion-cho” is another great song from them; the vocals seem to be deeper/more serious than “secret MAIKO lips” but still superb.

    I completely agree with what you said about suis. The vocals are obviously one of the main reasons why I love this group and the variety of pitches and emotion she implements in her singing is simply great. And yep, she can definitely go hard in singing and I’m sure you heard her in “Makeinu ni Encore wa Iranai”, the second song of that mini-album (sooo good lol). Speaking of Yorushika, there was this really nice YouTube cover DAZBEE did of “Just a Sunny Day for You” which was hella good (and a bit surprising, coming from this particular YouTuber) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5u1wYvpH9Dw

    I’ve listened to a couple PASSEPIED songs before, ones that were pretty lively and fast-paced, and it was interesting to hear a much different side of them in the track you included.

    Overall nice roundup this month! As for my own suggestions, I got a few if you don’t mind πŸ˜›

    Stumbled upon SILENT SIREN’s most recent album 31313 and it’s just pure fun to listen to, mainly cause the extremely cutesy voice from Suu. Not sure if you’ve heard this song but it’s probably the one I found the most enjoyable (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=798yCee_6mA). Also I heard they collaborated with one of the groups from Bandori which was certainly a surprise to me.

    I’m not sure if you’re watching an anime this Spring season called Carole & Tuesday but I would highly suggest checking it out if not, since it does express a pretty intriguing story that deals with two aspiring and traditional singer/songwriters finding their place in an evolving music industry… if that made sense lol. But anyways, the cool thing about the music in that show, such as the OP, ED, insert songs, is that they’re actually sung in English by two American ladies (which fits the overall setting of the show) and their performances are pretty nice! Opening song is probably my favorite so far (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48DsZBHi6hw).

    To add onto that last song, I recently found this artist called Nulbarich and I just really enjoy their hip-hop/funk style (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4DnDmnwJoY). And I later found out that Nulbarich did produce the Carole & Tuesday opening, which I thought was cool πŸ˜›

    Sorry for the lengthy comment lol but I appreciate the roundup this month πŸ˜€

    • I’d definitely recommend ScenarioArt’s first couple of EPs then. Very airy and chill with a unique band dynamic πŸ˜€

      Part of me wishes BAND-MAID was this kind of band primarily since this is such a good niche of an arguably untapped or at the very least lesser-explored genre. The only other band that I know implores traditional Japanese instrumentation with J-Rock is Waggaki Band (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_xTet06SUo)

      Yep. I looooove β€œMakeinu ni Encore wa Iranai” because of how hard suis goes in on the chorus. Probably my most played tracked in the past couple of months. Ooh, that’s a nice cover too!

      Ngl, it was a bit weird hearing PASSEPIED like this and based on their most recent release (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5x3WekFoEs) it doesn’t seem like they revamped their style all that much on the whole, and “ONE” here would appear to be the exception.

      Thanks! And oh, for sure, I missed out on a lot of music last month so I actually do need some recs my way as well (xD)

      SILENT SIREN will go down in the books as one of the truest staples of contemporary Girls Rock, and it’s just so awesome to see them still at it. Their discography is an absolute blast to just retrace the history of, as a band that in my opinion showed real improvements over the course of how ever many songs. Yeap, I did come across that song a couple of months back (and almost featured it in one of my Round-Ups if I remember correctly), but I still really do love “Hachigatsu no Yoru” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuRm1JzAsVg) and “FUJIYAMA DISCO” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dOq4V4r8Uw) from them just a tad bit more. And yes, Suu’s voice is just adorable :3 I have my own thoughts on the Bandori collab (mostly if not wholly positive ones with regard to the implications said collab has on 2.5Dx3D, but that’s a discussion for another time :p) but all in all, I think it’s awesome.

      Ooooooh, that Nulbarich track is really nice! With a 3.8 million view MV I’m surprised *I haven’t* come across any of their songs, lol

      Not at all man, rather, thanks for the legnthy comment! :p

      • For sure for sure, I haven’t seen many artists/bands do traditional Japanese music as well (there was this one really nice Touyama Nao song from her newest album that had a nice mix of the traditional genre of music with rock/pop – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXsqImRzm80) so I’d be happy to see more of it in the future.

        I loooove that particular cover channel! Her covers are spectacular to listen to, and there’s a ton of variety ranging from artists like Yonezu Kenshi, ClariS, Eve, to even Hoshino Gen.

        As I’ve been listening to more SILENT SIREN, I should definitely go and listen to their past stuff. Had no idea they’ve been going on for almost 7-9 years now, I thought they were relatively new since they give off a more modern vibe to me personally lol. But yeah definitely, both of those songs are great! You suggesting “Hachigatsu no Yoru” to me last year was a pretty darn good intro to this group.

        Aaaand let me just suggest one more song (haha) I’m sure you’ve heard of the seiyuu pop group Sphere featuring Toyosaki Aki, Kotobuki Minako, Tomatsu Haruka and Takagaki Ayahi. They released a new album for their 10th anniversary and this particular song is probably my favorite song on it, or even one of my favorite Sphere songs in general tbh (https://soundcloud.com/user-725498237/sphere-when-you-feel-love)! Hearing them do acapella is just heavenly πŸ˜›

        • Oh yeah, SILENT SIREN are one of what I at least would consider to be one of the OGs of modern Japanese Girls Rock (whose contemporaries would include bands like Drop’s and Akai Kouen). That’s an interesting observation that you made, as one of SILENT SIREN’s more defining traits is that they are very much a “trendy” band in both their sound and also the way they present themselves (in fact, before they were a band, all members were working as models for the same fashion magazine xD)

          Now *that’s* also insane to think about in a way. That Sphere is 10-years old now (granted, they’ve been inactive for some years now, but still). Seiyuu/Idol groups very rarely stay active for as long as Sphere did to begin with as groups like these are generally more of a timely project (ie, franchise-specific collaborations) than something long-running. The reasoning for that can be attributed to the otherwise tight schedules that seiyuu/idol’s typically have.
          And yes, that final minute is just beautiful πŸ™‚

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