…Yeah, being the youngest person at my department has exposed me to music I don’t think I ever would’ve listened on my own (XD) On that note, welcome back to the Monthly Recommendation Roundup where I constantly try my best to expose *you* guys to Japanese music, the likes of which ideally are ones that you might not have listened to on your own as well 🙂
If this is your first time coming across the Roundup 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.
I don’t say this often, but I personally really liked this month’s selection of bands and artists, which ended up featuring a good number of returning Roundup favorites, some bands and artists on the come up who’re just tearing up the scene as of late, and even some new and very interesting faces to get excited for.
by クレナズムｘクボタカイ (culenasm x kubota kai)
That’s more like it
Culenasm has a bit of a unique distinction for being a band in recent memory that has had two sides to them. A side that wants to make chill, Shoegaze-y tracks, and a side that wishes to dabble in more Doujin-oriented sounds. Whether or not the latter was in response to the changing of the times is beyond me, but it did certainly feel that way in their first couple of attempts at it. It wasn’t until when I featured them last that it seemed as though they found a happy medium between the two sides of their musicality, where I thought they might have finally discovered the sound they’ve been searching for. That being said, it seems as though the band’s exploratory ways aren’t behind them just yet, as we get a completely different, more Pop-y sound from them here in Hodokenai Kakehiki, this time with the help of one Kubota Kai.
by ツユ (tuyu)
A bit different than what we’re used to from them, but in a good way!
If you’ve been following the Monthly Recommendation Roundup in the past year or so, you should already be familiar with doujin standout TUYU, and their trademark fast rhythm shifts. However, if this is your first time hearing them, you wouldn’t really think to describe their sound as having that sort of quality, and well I wouldn’t blame you if you did. Chuuken Hachi is a definitely farcry from the band’s usual offerings, which is a song that sports both a calmer composition and markedly less despairing imagery when compared to the band’s earlier more agressive-sounding and darker-themed songs. Not to say this song doesn’t tug at the heart strings, as it most certainly does by depicting the age old tale of the one and only Hachiko. Whether or not this is a permanent thing remains to be seen, but I really like the direction that TUYU went here.
夏だらけのグライダー/natsu darake no glider
by Little Black Dress
Kawatani Enon does it again
I can’t tell you exactly under what circumstances I ended up coming across the otherwise mysterious singer-songwriter that is Little Black Dress this past month. What I *can* tell you is that it’s most likely due to the involvement of the polarizing Kawatani Enon. I mentioned it before in my album review of DADARAY’s DADASTATION, but everything that the man touches just turns into gold. Not to say anything bad about LBD’s songs prior, but Natsu Darake no Glider just hits different. Of course, I could’ve all but just been conditioned to like Kawatani’s compositions given how much I like his many projects thus far, and even here you’re gonna see some familar faces in the form of Kawatani’s most trusted musicians. It looks as though LBD has different people compose her songs each time, but I wouldn’t mind hearing more of this pairing.
心がイエスと言ったなら/kokoro ga yes to itta nara
by 黒木渚 (kuroki nagisa)
Always gonna be a fan
I feel as though I say as much every time I get to talk about a song of hers, but I will never not like Kuroki Nagisa’s music. Something about the way she writes her songs just draws me in. I talked about how academic her songwriting feels to me the last time I featured her on the Monthly Roundup, but one thing that I neglected to mention is the fact that Kuroki is in fact a novelist who has written quite a number of books already. I’ve thought about how that might explain why her approach to music is the way it is, with how she seemingly treats all of her songs as if they were literary prose in both structure and delivery, as you’ll get to hear here in Kokoro ga Yes to Ittanara with how measured it sounds. While Kuroki’s time in the spotlight appears to have long past, her love for the craft is something that I will always respect and love about her in turn.
風去る時に/kaze saru toki ni
Another Doujin band to be excited for
There’s never any shortage of Doujin music here on the Roundup on whichever month you happen upon it, as some of you might already have come to expect, wherein we’ve played host to both prominent names in the genre like Yorushika and YOASOBI as well as and up-and-coming ones such as SuisouGurashi. When we featured the latter last April, we talked about the uniformity that has seemingly come about with regard to the way Doujin songs sound, and much like before we have yet another song here in Kaze saru Toki ni that’s fairly reminiscent of YOASOBI’s Yoru ni Kakeru in terms of structure and progression. Like last time, I never really see this as a knock against bands, and if anything I find it very interesting when they choose to do so. At the very least, they managed to catch my attention with this one (however much it might be worth XD)
by 文藝天国 (bungeitengoku)
This band is such an art project
I hesitate to even call BungeiTengoku a band in the traditional sense, seeing as how the heart and soul of this creative venture lies not with your usual members of your typical band, but in song composer Shinonome Ko and visual director Sumi Aika. The pair is looking to reimagine Alternative Rock with their unique and avant-garde approach to Japanese music that aims to focus more on imagery and sound in tandem with one another, to win the hearts of people from all generations by tapping into their sensibilities. Together with the transient vocal stylings of the mysterious Hal, it appears they’re all about set to do just that. Snorkel is but a taste of what BungeiTengoku have to offer, and I’m immensely curious as to what these girls have thought up in terms of what they have in store for us in the future. Most definitely a group to look out for.
by 羊文学 (hitsujibungaku)
And they’re still getting better
We crowned HitsujiBungaku as our Most Improved Band/Artist Of 2020 in last year’s Roundup Awards, primarily because of how much you’re able to hear the band’s growth and improvement in their releases for that year. The shift from a more Shoegaze-oriented sound to something more Pop-y and radio friendly was gradual yet distinct enough that one who had the chance to listened to them back in the band’s earlier years would be able to tell the difference. Now, where traditionally I’m someone… opposed (for lack of a better word) to the idea of bands feeling that they need to change their sound to suit the tastes of a more general audience, I instead very much like Hitsujibungaku’s approach in doing so here. Mayoiga still carries with it a lot of the band’s personality whilst also being an easy listen for those encountering them for the first time.
by 神はサイコロを振らない × アユニ・D(BiSH/PEDRO) × n-buna
(kami wa saikoro wo furanai x ayuni d x n-buna)
A wonderful crossroads of artistry
In yet another unlikely crossing of paths, the propensity for which seem to increase the more famous Yorushika gets, n-buna once again finds himself part of a beautiful collaborative effort akin to his previous contributory work for the likes of Kamishiraishi Mone and LingTositeSigure. This time he has lent his talents to Alternative Indie Rock band Kami wa Saikoro wo Furanai (awesome band name btw) who in turn have also employed the help of Ayuni D of BiSH/PEDRO fame. Despite it sounding not at all like a song you’d expect to be made by him upon first listen, Hatsukoi might just be n-buna’s best artist contribution thus far (in my opinion at least), and I attribute it to his ability to draw out the emotions being put on display by both KamiSai vocalist Yanagita Shusaku and Ayuni D here. I sincerely hope this isn’t the last time these guys collaborate.
by 美波 (minami)
I only ever remember that I miss minami whenever she drops a new song
It’s unfortunate that minami releases a song like once a year nowadays, but by that same token, it does make the times she does come out with a brand new single all the more special. Whether or not that’s her intent is beyond me, but that’s what I felt when I saw DROP in my recommendations for the first time. Suffice it to say, I was immediately filled with excitement the moment I realized this was a new song by her, and as I’ve grown accustomed to listening to her songs, I listened with bated breath knowing that at any point she’s gonna explode with emotion like she always does. Surprisingly, DROP actually ends up sounding a bit more controlled compared to her previous songs, with greater emphasis on her rhythmic vocal runs. The song is still rife with emotion though, and more than anything I’m just glad to see her back.
by アド (add)
So very soothing and wholesome
Add is a band that I’ve been wating to feature here on the Roundup for the longest, if only for the sole reason that the band’s drummer Nishimura Kon was formerly the drummer of Kinoko Teikoku, which as some of you might know is one of if not my favorite Japanese band of all time. I wanted nothing more for them than to to find success in their lives following their disbandment, and while the band’s former frontwoman Sato Chiaki has gone on and established her solo career, the futures of the rest of the members were unclear from the onset. It puts me at ease knowing that now Nishimura too is still continuing to make music, and not only that, if Shitatsudzumi is any indication, it appears that Kinoko Teikoku’s Folk-y Japanese Pop/Rock sound lives on through him. I’m definitely looking forward to hear more from this band moving forward.
Hatsukoi, by Kami wa Saikoro wo Furanai x Ayuni D x n-buna
In my album review of Kamishiraishi Mone’s note, I got to talk about her collaboration with n-buna for the song Eien wa Kirai, wherein I noted that n-buna’s faster guitar-driven style didn’t leave a whole lot of breathing room for Kamishiraishi’s singing to fully take shape, which in turn made for a song that felt a bit cramped in some parts. It would appear that he had since learned from that experience after hearing his work for Hatsukoi here by providing a markedly slower and simpler composition for both KamiSai vocalist Yanagita Shusaku and BiSH idol/PEDRO frontwoman Ayuni D to play around and be their selves with, and the end result is something uncannily beautiful. While suis will always be the muse that best fits his artistry, I’d be lying if I said that I’m not also looking forward to n-buna’s future collaborations with what he was able to do here.
As I mentioned earlier, this month saw to a good mix of bands and artists who’ve been on a bit of a roll as of late, some who we haven’t heard from in a while, and also couple of promising talents as well, so I felt extremely good about this one. That being said, what do *you* guys think? What are some of your favorites from this month if any? Lemme know down in the comments!
Likewise, if you guys have your own songs you want to recommend to *me*, by all means drop me a link. There’s way too many good music out there, so I’m sure I’m missing out on a lot too XD
Before I send you on your way, don’t forget to check out this month’s J-Music Exchange/Rate album reviews. Al and I talked about albums that remind us of Summer Rock Festivals this time around. Al had me listen to Magic Number by go!go!vanillas (you can read my review here), and I in turn had Al go and take Hump Back’s Ningen Nanosa for a coupld of spins. You can catch Al’s review over at Omunibasu.Blog.
WIth that; keep cool, stay hydrated, and I’ll see you guys in the next one.