School’s back, and so are we!
Welcome once again to the Monthly Recommendation Roundup! Hope everyone had (or is having, depending on where you are in the world) a nice summer. If you’re back in school right now, well (1) bummer, but (2) don’t fret; I can at least offer you some music to listen to as you toil away with your homework tonight (XD)
If it’s your first time here and you’re not entirely sure what I’m talking about 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.
Stacked list again this time so let’s now wait around any longer and let’s get to listening to some tracks!
by 竹内アンナ (takeuchi anna)
Long time, no see? 🙂
The last time we featured one of Takeuchi Anna’s songs as part of the Monthly Roundup, I told you guys it was gonna be her year. Unfortunately, that was back at the start of 2020, and I’m willing to bet that that wasn’t anybody’s year. After dropping a single and even going on a small tour since then, she’s made her way on here again with ICE CREAM and… well, not gonna lie, it sounds very different from the sound that we sort of knew her by. Notably absent in this song is the acoustic guitar which, as you’ll hear in the vast majority of her previous songs, is a bit of a Takeuchi Anna staple (I mean, both her Twitter *and* Instagram handle is @AnnaSingGuitar, so you know she loves the thing). Granted, it’s not as if artists aren’t allowed to change it up every now and again, and it’s not as though this song is bad either (rather, it’s insanely catchy).
by Myuk (formerly kumagawa miyu)
I’m pleasantly relieved (XD)
In as many times as I’ve featured both Takeuchi Anna and Kumagawa Miyu (now known as ‘Myuk’) in the same Roundup, I made it a point to always try to bring up how intertwined their musical careers are to one another, despite how much they have since deviated from being *just* AcoGui stylists. Though in an uncanny twist of fate, the guitar that served as the centerpiece for literally all her songs prior, has also now been pulled back in favor of synth and an overall more “produced” sound. Again, not really something I find fault with when it sounds this good. More than anything I’m just happy to see ‘kumamiyu’ continue to be relevant (with Afureru here being used as the ending theme for a variety show) seeing how her much awaited anison debut just so happened to be for The Promised Neverland S2 (and we all know how that one turned out).
by 黒子首 (hockrockb)
Hockrockb has been a band that I’ve been very much hopeful towards ever since having come across them last year, so much so that for the 2020 Roundup Awards they came out with my Most Played Song (by way of Champon) as well as becoming my Favorite Discovery for that year. The band has not only now come out with their first full-length album (which I HIGHLY recommend that you guys check out), but they also went ahead and made *four* PVs of some of their new songs on their channel, and trust me when I say I was *this* close to just featuring all three (lol) in the interest of letting more people know about ’em. Endless Roll here is bar none my favorite out of the four though, featuring heavy acoustic guitar focus and vocalist Hori Ageha’s very captivating singing style, both of which I’ve come to love from Hockrockb.
積乱雲の下で/sekiranun no shita de
by クレナズム (culenasm)
See, this was what I was talking about
In last month’s Roundup I mentioned how culenasm seemed to have this sort of dichotomy in their approach to making music, as being a band that dabbles in both Shoegaze as well as a more conventional Pop/Rock sound. In a lot of ways it’s almost like a coin flip as to what you’re gonna get whenever a new culenasm song comes out. In what has been somewhat of a recurring theme here this month, I don’t think this makes Sekiranun no Shita de a bad listen, it’s just… bizarre (XD) in a fascinating sort of way. Like, if you go ahead and bump the playback speed of this song by a quarter of a step to 1.25x, this song all of a sudden becomes oddly reminiscent of Yorushika (which, as we’ve talked about previously too, appears to have had quite the influence on the band). I dunno, something about all this is just so interesting to me (lol)
対岸の彼女/taigan no kanojo
Song starts at 06:00, but I implore you to watch from the beginning
Something that Japanese bands/artists do generally to this day (in contrast to the West) is treat music videos as a story-telling medium. Case in point, this PV for Taigan no Kanojo comes in at about eleven or so minutes in total length, with more than half of video dedicated to showing us the scene that puts the song in its proper context. The first six minutes depict a funeral for what can be inferred as the unceremonious passing of a female in her thirties, succumbing to some sort of heart condition. A man, presumably the husband (now widower) of the woman is seen going through the motions of losing a loved one, forcing to appear cheery in front of his peers to no avail. The song (the title of which translates to “her across the riverside”) starts and all we’re made to see after… is grief. Yeah, you can’t not love yonige for this, I feel.
by 楠木ともり (kusunoki tomori)
On the subject of story-telling
In her most recent fanclub-exclusive one-man livestream event, Kusunoki Tomori (of primarily Love Live! fame) came out with a unique proof of concept for a “concert”, that involved reading out the lyrics of her songs in the same manner as one would read passages aloud from a book, to coincide with the theme of ‘telling stories through words and music’. Something we’ve talked about in the past with regard to ‘Tomoriru’s’ approach to artistry is that she seemingly places a whole lot of sentiment in the songs she writes. The words she uses all appear to have special meaning for her personally, and lyricism suggest that she hopes to be able to convey that through the music she creates. Taruhi, I feel carries the same sentiments by essentially being a song in the form of letter written in prose meant for someone faraway.
by あたらよ (atarayo)
While I’ve come across their hit song 10gatsu Mukuchi na Kimi wo Wasureru by way of a cover by Kohana Lam. I havent’y actually listened to Atarayo in earnest up until Natsugasumi started playing from my Spotify while I was in the middle of a jog (lol). In a lot of ways I do regret not having come across the band sooner, after hearing for myself how they truly sound, but at the same time I’m glad I’ve now found them. Theirs is a nostalgic sort of bittersweet melancholy that just resonates with you I feel, more so for the Japanese youths/young adults specifically, who appear to be the target audience for this band. Something of note that I found interesting in relation to that while looking up Atarayo is that they describe themselves as faving ‘fed off of sadness while growing up’. Definitely a relateable band to look out for.
by MAISONdes【102】feat. 和ぬか, asmi
Speaking of Japanese youths and young adults
It seems that one of ways songs get popular over in Japan right now, funnily enough, is through TikTok. While the Japanese definitely use the social media platform the way it was intended (or at least the same way that everyone else in the world is using it), a lot of Japanese artists have taken to the video-sharing service to put out their stuff. Some names of those who have enjoyed the notoriety that comes with one of their songs being used as a viral TikTok are Yorushika and YOASOBI with Tada Kimi ni Hare and Yoru ni Kakeru respectively. MAISONdes joins the fold, with their song Yowanehaki becoming the latest TikTok sensation. MAISONdes isn’t one entity, but is rather a collaborative *concept* across multiple indie artists, the room in which they operate in having been given a name (similar in a way to the now-reknowned Goose house)
by 月詠み (tsukuyomi)
Welp, it’s that part of the Roundup again 😛 Long-time followers and readers would know that I would refer to this as the Doujin portion of the Monthly Roundup, wherein I feature the collaborative band projects between Vocaloid composers with other musicians and singers. The rise of the likes of the aforementioned Yorushika and YOASOBI has since paved the way for other bands to follow suit, with Tsukiyomi here being yet another promising name to add to the ever-growing list of ‘Doujin’ artists out there right now making fantastic music. Something that sets Tsukiyomi apart from other bands of the same ilk I find is vocalist Mikoto’s singing, which is far and away some of the most resounding and overall poweful vocals I’ve ever come across in these sort of Doujin-oriented tracks. Very reminiscent of Wagakki Band’s Suzuhana Yuuko.
モノクロのままで/monochrome no mama de
by しらぬい (shiranui)
Well that’s certainly promising
Now, as much as I do in fact really love Japanese Prog/Alt. Rock, it’s no secret that the genre is sort of at a weird place right now, where the most popular name in the genre at present is arguably the already-established Ling Tosite Sigure and outside of maybe sokoninaru and Cö shu Nie no one else really follows I would think. Add to that the fact that the other two bands that remind me the most of Shiranui here (namely aquarifa and lical) are bands that have since stopped making music, so suffice it to say it can’t be helped that it always feels a bit disconcerting coming across a band like this knowing how small the audience for it is. Nevertheless, I lean towards being hopeful than not, and I do think Monochrome no Mama de does at the very least instill some confidence for sounding the way it does with its ephemerally pleasing Prog Rock.
“Endless Roll” by Hockrockb
I’m sorry, I have to do it. I’ve been doing it for a number of Roundups now, but I have to take every opportunity I can to make these guys known. At the very least I want to try my utmost in making sure that some if not all of you reading this now would come away from this month’s Roundup thinking ‘Wow, Hockrockb is actually pretty great!’, because they truly are in my humble opinion. Endless Roll is far and beyond not even a fraction of what the band has to offer, but it is definitely a nice little taste of what they bring to the table. The song is only one of a whole slew of Alternative Rock goodness featured in the band’s first full length album Kokkaku, which dropped just last month. If you liked Endless Roll, I do again highly recommend checking that album out in your spare time when you can. I can guarantee it to be well worth your time.
Now enough about the song I liked the most from this month’s Roundup; what songs stood out for you? Lemme know down in the comments section below! Likewise, if you came across a song or a band/artist this month that I didn’t mention, feel free to share them with me too. I’d love to hear what you guys have been listening to this past month 🙂
Don’t forget to catch this month’s J-Music Exchange/Rate if you haven’t yet. As some of you might already know the Exchange/Rate is the tandem album review series between myself and Al from Omunibasu.Blog, wherein each month we go and review Japanese music albums based on a certain theme. The theme for the month of August was “albums that (we think) are good to listen to while studying”. You can check out my review of LUCKY TAPES’ Blend over here and Al’s review of Fullkawa Honpo’s Girlfriend From Kyoto over at Omunibasu.Blog.
We also announced in this month’s Exchange/Rate that there will be no album reviews next month (at least as part of this series), and we’ll hopefully resume by October the following month 😀
Maybe I’ll write something up in the meantime, we’ll see (XD)
That’s it for now though. As always, thanks for stopping by. I can only hope you enjoyed this month’s featured songs if not even found a new band or artist to follow.