Listening to Japanese Music: Monthly Recommendation Roundup (April 2021)

It’s spring!

Winter is well behind us now, and the season of new beginnings has yet again come upon the Monthly Recommendation Roundup! This time of the year is very much known for bringing out people’s seasonal allergies, so I do hope everyone’s doing fine, wherever you may be, whether it’s the pollens or otherwise 🙂

Before I proceed any further, if you’re new to the blog and/or this is the first time you’re seeing a Monthly Recommendation Roundup post ー

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 Roundup that I’ll update and share at the end of each post.

The monthy flew by faster than expected, and admittedly we were cutting it close with this month’s Roundup, but it’s here, you’re here, so we’re all good 😀

ーー

ここで息をして/koko de iki wo shite
by eill
Hell of an anison debut

The spring season of anime is in full gear now and what better way to celebrate that than by checking out some of the standout themes that we have this time around. Though for this song here at least, it was actually a bit of the opposite in that I only really decided to check out Tokyo Revenger’s once I found out that the Roundup Favorite Discovery of 2019 awardee eill would be singing the ending theme for it. The anime’s pretty solid thus far, but Koko de Iki wo Shite is an absolute banger of an ED that shows off eill’s sultry and playful singing style (reminscent of Utada Hikaru, who was herself featured in last month’s Roundup). Super happy for eill for landing this anison gig, which as we all know is quite the opportunity to be had ([NO NAME WEEB] over on YouTube made a video on the very topic, and is definitely worth the watch)

Bursty Greedy Spider
by 鈴木このみ (suzuki konomi)
Nearly ten years in the game, and she’s still killing it

It’s honestly quite wild when you think about how Suzuki Konomi started out her artistic journey when she was just sixteen. She made her media debut back in 2012 with the song CHOIR JAIL, which was used as the opening theme for Tasogare Otome x Amnesia. Suzuki has since made a career out of providing some of the most memorable songs in anime to date, winning the hearts of fans with her deep and resounding vocalizations not at all befitting her appearance, making a name for herself as one of the premier Anison artists today. She graces the fandom yet again with Bursty Greedy Spider as she shows why she rightfully belongs in talks of top names in the genre. My favorite parts are when she sings in chorus with the other band members who, interestingly enough are members of Kishida Kyoudan and the Akeboshi Rockets.

春の羅針/natsu no rashin
by adieu
I can listen to this for hours I feel

Speaking of Roundup Awards winners, the recipient of 2019’s Best Prospect of the Year, adieu, also makes their presence known in this month’s Roundup with ther new song Natsu no Rahari. Largely absent in the past year (presumably due to the pandemic), it appears Kamishiraishi Moka is now picking up where she left off with her VERY promising debut that left fans (such as myself) wanting more. She continues to set herself apart from her songstress sister Mone in this song, with both her more melancholic deliveries and her preferred sound that lends itself more to atmospheric Folk-y Pop/Rock. There’s a neat thing in play with the lyricism here that I want to point out. The song starts out with the line “soshite” (‘and then’), which actually makes it so you can wrap the lyrics on itself, making for an endless loop (XD).

エイプリル/april
by BabySitter
Good to see them back at it

I’ve mentioned it before back when I first got the chance to feature them as part of the Monthly Roundup, but BabySitter has always been a band that I’ve been excited for ever since I came across them. This would have been around the time when my fascination for Japanese Girls Rock was at its peak, where I couldn’t help but look at BabySitter as the next generation of talent that would make themselves known. Unfortunately, Girls Rock isn’t as big as it used to be a couple of years ago, and the past year in particular was just a rough spot for Japanese music altogether. BabySitter in particular would also be among the ones who had opted to sit out for the rest of 2020 and, after more than year since their last release, now they’re back. April is about as fitting of a track as any to come back with, and hey, they still got it!

pure circle (Machiya Session)
by JYOCHO x KYOTO
JYOCHO was made to be part of nature

Now, this is something a bit unprecedented in that I don’t believe I’ve ever featured a song twice in the three or so years of me doing the Roundup. Of course this isn’t *exactly* the same pure circle that I shared with you guys back in 2018, and as you might have been able to surmise from this video, this is an acoustic rendition of said song. In partnership with Aoi Kyoto Stay, a rental guest house service out in Kyoto (hence JYOCHO x KYOTO), JYOCHO is making acoustic versions of some of their most popular tracks in what the band calls “Machiya Session” starting with pure circle here. Guitarist and Composer Nakagawa Daijiro is certainly not unused to pulling the plug so to speak, so this project is really just a nice way to show off the band’s artistry and aesthetic, as the scenery in tandem with their music is quite the audiovisual treat.

Forced Shutdown
by 楠木ともり(kusunoki tomori)
Worth the wait ❤

Continuing this trend of me doing things I don’t usually do, I reserved a feature spot for Forced Shutdown well before the song’s full version became available, as I knew ahead of time that the PV was dropping the 28th of this month. Suffice it to say, I’ve been waiting for this release since it got announced, stemming from my appreciation for seiyuu perfomer and singer/songwriter Kusunoki Tomori. ‘Tomoriru’, who we crowned as our Artist To Look Out For back in 2019 continues to amaze with Forced Shutdown here, which sees the burgeoning artist come in to her own once more whilst still keeping true to her sound. I especially like how this is reflected in the song’s structure here, which almost has this neat contrast of having her usual cadence (like how we hear her in sketchbook) now being accompanied by aggressive drum work.

unravel (n-buna from ヨルシカ Remix )
by TK from 凛として時雨/lingtositesigure (feat. n-buna from ヨルシカ/yorushika)
And here I thought TK collaborating with suis was insane

On the subject of alternate renditions of songs, TK (lead singer, guitarist, and composer for LingTositeSigure) has come out with a remix of his now-iconic anison offering unravel of Tokyo Ghoul fame, which sees him enlist the help of the one and only n-buna whom most from around these parts would know as the one-half of doujin standouts Yorushika. The two seemed like an unlikely pairing the first time I heard this project was going to be a thing (despite knowing that TK already collab’d with suis in the past) but the more I listened to this rendition, the more I started to think that there couldn’t have been anyone else that could level with TK’s raw emotion other than n-buna who himself is an artist that wears his heart on his sleeves and bares his soul on each and every one of his compositions. Together, as you can hear, they’re magic.

デモーニッシュ/dämonisch
by ツユ (tuyu)
These guys have it down to a science

As you may have already noticed, we’ve now stumbled upon the nigh-inevitable doujin corner of the Monthly Roundup (lol). If you’ve been following my posts for sometime you should know that these have been somewhat of a staple in what I choose to feature, and while the scene sort of quieted down in the past couple of months (perhaps as a result of some much needed rest after having an explosive year prior), we’re now starting to see them back yet again, starting with the very sure-handed TUYU that never fails to deliver. There’s a certain method to the band’s madness that, as with their other songs, is ever so present for Dämonisch. The characteristic rhythm shifts is just something that TUYU have mastered at this point and together with Rei’s singing, theirs are just a sound that I’ll never get tired of I feel.

それでも好きだよ。/soredemo suki dayo
by すいそうぐらし (suisougurashi)
You bet I’m featuring yet another new Doujin band 😀

Not gonna lie, at a certain point, you do kind of start to hear Doujin music as being somewhat uniform in terms of how they sound. That is to say, SuisouGurashi’s Soredemo Suki da yo does remind me quite a fair bit of YOASOBI’s Yoru ni Kakeru. Is that bad? Well, Yoru ni Kakeru is still an absolute banger, so more songs like it couldn’t hurt right? (XD) In all seriousness though, I do think that for Doujin music, it’s not so much the ‘music’ that makes it what it is, rather than what is being sung about. I talked about Doujin songs generally having darker themes being a thing before, and this is another example of that. The fast and upbeat dance track is just a means to tell an otherwise disheartening story which, for this song, is about a girl who continues to pine for her boyfriend who she had already caught cheating on her. 

MAYDAY
by AIMI
She had me with that first line, ngl

Back in March, Terakawa Aimi (better known as simply “Aimi” or “Aimin” amongst her fans) of BanG Dream! fame, made her official solo artist debut under the moniker “AIMI” with the release of ReSTARTING!!. The song lends itself to a more traditional J-Pop/Rock sound which in turn led me to believe that that was the particular direction she had chosen for her music career forward, but then her follow-up release of MAYDAY earlier this month dropped would otherwise beg to differ. That is because, unlike the conventional sounds of her debut single, this song is instead seemingly a nod to the increasinly popular trend of doujin-style music, and you guys should know by now how much I like those (XD). AIMI is most definitely a true Singer/Songwriter at heart, and I absolutely love that she’s willing to put herself out there like this.

MUST LISTEN:
Forced Shutdown by Kusunoki Tomori
Something that I haven’t had the opportunity to talk about in the times I’ve featured Tomoriru’s songs as part of the Monthly Roundup is her sense of lyricism. This is something that I would like to properly explore further in my own time (and possibly even write about in the future) the more of her songs we get to hear, but one thing I would like to highlight for this song is what seems to be a recurring theme in her songwriting, particularly her use of the word ‘tokeru’ (to melt). Whether or not the word holds special meaning for her is beyond me, but this brings me back again to what I talked about the last time I talked about one of her songs in that, you really do get a feel for how much of her sentiment she pours into her music. It’s endearing to see in such a young and promising artist, and I look forward to seeing more of it. 

ーー

Both the YouTube Monthly Roundup playlist and the Spotify Monthly Roundup playlist have been updated with this month’s featured songs to be listened to at your pleasure 🙂

I really enjoyed compiling this month’s Roundup (and I know I can say as much because I ended up culling more songs than I normally do), which just has a lot of artists that I personally do love to bits, but what do you guys think? Did you like this month’s recommendations? Lemme know in the comments! While you’re at it, if you have any recommendations of your own (doesn’t have to be Japanese music but, y’know XD), feel free to drop those down there too!

Lastly, if you’re hankering to read more about Japanese music, feel free to check out this month’s J-Music Exchange/Rate; which, of course, is the album review series between myself and Al (from Omunibasu.Blog). This month I ended up doing a review on Awesome City Club’s “Catch The One“, whereas Al went and talked about one of my personal favorite albums of all-time in Kinoko Teikoku’s “Neko to Allergy”.

That’s gonna be it for me at this time. As always, I do hope you all enjoyed the time you spent here. Happy Listening, and till next post~!!

7 thoughts on “Listening to Japanese Music: Monthly Recommendation Roundup (April 2021)

  1. Nice list for this month!

    That eill song was pretty sick; I’m not watching Tokyo Revengers but that song seems like it’s a great choice for that particular anime, judging from the promotional visual and the vibe it gives off. I also checked out that NO NAME WEEB video you linked and that was definitely an interesting topic to talk about! And even for artists who haven’t gotten or chosen the opportunity to make a song for an anime, I feel like when fans listen to anime OPs/EDs on places like YouTube and Spotify, it just naturally (or rather, through the spot-on algorithms) suggests some music from those non-anime related J-artists, which certainly allows them to get more attention in general (IIRC that’s actually how I discovered eill). So yeah, I think that’s another way anime has ‘changed’ the Japanese music scene. Plus, I do hope eill (and some other artists) gets the opportunity to have her music be included in more anime.

    I think Forced Shutdown further proves that Tomori can perform any style of music, if I’m being honest. We’ve heard her do a plethora of genres from slow stuff to intense Setsuna songs to this particular recent release (and add on all the other, different anime character songs she’s done)… you were most definitely correct when you chose her as an artist to look out for lol

    That Suisougurashi song does remind me a lot of Yoru ni Kakeru! And now that I think about it, it almost sounds like a subtle parody of the YOASOBI song, tbh haha

    You must have some similar experiences but being in a community that’s very much intertwined with the Bandori fandom, it’s kind of inevitable for Love Live seiyuu fans to see/hear/learn about the Bandori VAs lol. And while I still don’t know much about Aimin, I think after hearing “MAYDAY”, I definitely have a much better appreciation for her and her talents. Going back to the topic I’ve talked about before, seeing the differences with how certain seiyuu perform in whatever franchise/project they’ve been apart of and how they do in their solo careers (e.g. Shuka), it’s interesting to see/hear the contrasting styles Aimin expresses when comparing her as Kasumi and her as AIMI (although, I barely know anything about Poppin Party/Bandori so I might be wrong here lol). And again, I’m sure she takes what she has learned during her time as a Bandori seiyuu and puts it towards her solo career, which is a great thing. On another note, Aimin doing doujin-style music seems to be a good fit for her, given that she’s already done certain covers for the Bandori game like Dramaturgy (Ayaneru, surprisingly, also sounds incredible in that cover!)

    Yeah, again, solid list! (sorry if it’s getting lengthy)

    I’ll give a couple suggestions, even though most of what I’ve been listening to has been seiyuu artist-related lol. Because of Idoly Pride, it actually made me tap into the solo careers of the TrySail/TRINITYAiLE seiyuu; more notably Nansu (Natsukawa Shiina) who, I feel, unfortunately gets overshadowed by Tenchan and Mocho (definitely not implying that it’s their fault, fans just seem to like those two more). But I discovered that her solo music is actually pretty great! Yellow Flag’s pretty cool (https://youtu.be/mezTyyHh104).

    Lastly, Liyuu has recently skyrocketed in my Liella seiyuu rankings (probably cause of her selfies/cosplay photos lmao) so I thought it’d be cool to listen to the music she’s previously released. And it’s pretty damn good! TBH, if I didn’t already know that she’s originally from China, I would’ve thought that I was listening to a normal, native idol/J-pop artist. Apparently Liyuu claims that her Japanese still isn’t the best but even then, she really does sound like a natural (https://youtu.be/LiBPEJx6CmY)

    • Ayy, thanks! 😀

      I’m definitely glad eill is finally getting her time in the spotlight, and likewise, I can only hope this raises her stock even further in both the Anison community as well as the Japanese music community in general. To segue into the topic of Anime changing Japanese music, and how algorithms make it so people who like Anison *can* get recommended songs from non-anime related J-artists, I believe this is also part of the reason why Doujin music became so widespread too (as those tend to have animated PVs, which is then more likely to appeal to those who listen to a lot of OPs/EDs). It’s a very interesting audience phenomenon across media that I do think can only really occur in something like Anime, which is somewhat a form of multimedia in itself.

      See, I was gonna say ‘I wish Tomoriru would try out Doujin next’, but then I remember having listened to her rendition of YOASOBI’s “Yoru ni Kakeru” last night and it’s just about as amazing as you’d expect it to be XD (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhE62WRT78Y)

      On the subject of “Yoru ni Kakeru”, LOL, that would actually be something if Suisougurashi was purposely trying to sound as close to YOASOBI as possible, ’cause even their *first* song sounded very much in the same vein as YOASOBI’s style of Doujin I feel XD (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kw__PSO3nRQ)

      Pretty much, yeah. I primarily know Aimin mostly from Bandori (even though I, same as you, don’t really follow the franchise). You’re right though in that it’s almost inevitable to not know at least know of her if you become entrenched deep enough in LL! fandom, where at some point you just end up kinda seeing the overlaps across these sort of 2.5D franchises. I do agree that there are times when certain seiyuus sing differently when they sing songs as their character for the franchise they’re part of to when they sings songs as themselves, and I think this is where we can sort of distinguish between the designation of ‘seiyuu performer/idol seyuu’ and ‘artist’ in that regard respectively. Of course, the two aren’t mutually exclusive, nor is one a “better” title to have than the other, and recognizing these different phases of their careers I feel is just a nice way to appreciate their overall body of work.

      No worries, my comments end up always being lengthy too so you’re good 😀

      I mean, you know I’m sorely lacking in that department, so I’ll take any seiyuu artist recommendation I can XD I might be worse off in that I only really know of Tenchan, but yeah no this song sounds REALLY fun! Not at what I would’ve expected after just being told that she’s a member of TrySail, LOL

      Yeeaah, her selfie game is gonna be way ahead of the other girls, at least for a while yep (it definitely helps that she’s probably the most comfortable in front of a camera in that regard too XD). I wanna say (based on what I’ve watched so far of Liyuu and her interactions with the other Liella girls) most of her troubles with Japanese end up being vocabulary more often than not, which is why she might think her Japanese isn’t up to snuff just yet. Otherwise, this song reminds me a whole lot of ClariS actually, so I do wonder now if Liyuu was/is a fan of theirs, Haha!

      • Ahh yeah, the animated PVs in doujin songs definitely can cater to the anime-focused fans, that’s a good point. And overall, it really is great to see that something as widespread as anime can introduce more and more people, especially overseas fans, to these fantastic J-artists.

        I heard Tomori did that Yoru ni Kakeru audio drama, so I had a feeling we’d eventually get to hear her rendition of that song. And now that I look back on it, it’s fun to see all these different versions of that one track from all these different people/artists whom I’m personally familiar with ​like Tomori, Nagase Mana, Bandori, Team Y, etc etc. Makes me realize that viral songs/covers truly are a big part of the music culture.

        I feel like the vocals and especially the brief piano sequence at the beginning (of both Suisougurashi songs, tbh) made me think, “oh yeah this is super similar to Yoru ni Kakeru” lol. But Suisougurashi seem to have a bit of their own flair/charm so hopefully they’ll further branch out and evolve their particular style.

        From what I’ve heard on her Logline album, Nansu really enjoys going the pop-rock route, compared to her fellow TrySail mates (Mocho enjoys performing softer or brighter-sounding music which certainly pairs well with her higher-pitched voice) so it’s nice to have some variety when it comes to the solo careers of those three. Same goes for Sphere and, really, any seiyuu artist/idol unit.

        Ohhh ok, I see what you’re sayin about Liyuu. There was that one recent Liella video where they were doing the clothes challenge and she had a hard time saying “accessory”, which lead to the hilarious interaction with Nako. But yeah, it seems that vocabulary might be a bit difficult for her. That said, I am wondering if she’ll incorporate Chinese/Mandarin in her solo music (or even the future Liella songs), similar to how a lot of J-artists of mixed nationalities do so in their stuff.

        And I would certainly suspect that she’s somewhat familiar with ClariS, given she’s cosplayed as characters from shows like Oreimo, Cells at Work, Eromanga-sensei 😛

        • Yup, you can really see how much of a trend Doujin music ends up being when it starts to get covered by more mainstream artists. It’s kinda ironic in a sense too (or at least something that comes full circle for them) in that a lot of the times Doujin artists start out doing covers of popular songs themselves.

          It was definitely the way the piano leads in to the rest of the instrumentation that reminded me of YOASOBI there yep, but yeah, with only just two songs out right now I’d love to hear more from them.

          That’s true. They really don’t have to follow suit with the style of music that their group/unit has, but it really is quite the departure if you’d only heard them as TrySail prior I feel (then again, not like I’ve listened to my fair share of TrySail songs so XD)

          I think that’s something LL! is very likely going to explore with Liyuu at some point going by how we have “Queendom” for All Stars’ Lanzhu (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ataiyAT9Zws)

          Hah, that’s a neat overlap in itself then XD

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