CHARAN PO RANTAN – Rose Balkan | Vinyl Overview and Artist profile

If you follow the Japanese music scene, you know there’s a pretty impressive amount of artists who mix up different (and, sometimes, apparently unrelated) genres together. It’s a refreshing approach that can lead to interesting results, and while it doesn’t necessarily always work, when it does, it’s a sign of great talent. It’s the case of CHARAN PO RANTAN, a duo composed by sisters Momo and Koharu, but this time it’s something you can’t find anywhere else in the Japanese scenes… it’s actually something pretty unique. And it’s clear since the beginning, when you press the Play button and their compilation album Rose Balkan: these girls are pretty unique.

CHARAN PO RANTAN is indeed a duo that takes typical east-European folk music, mostly Klezmer and gipsy tunes, and perfectly mixes them up with Japanese vocals that would sound totally at home in J-pop’s mainstream scene. The result, in all honesty, is totally amazing, a perfectly working engine fueled by the chemistry between Koharu’s accordion and Momo’s voice. While on paper the sound is certainly aimed to an audience with precise tastes, the reality is that the duo’s music can be easily enjoyed by pretty much anyone, thanks to catchy and well-built melodies framed in a friendly structure, that highlights each section with great emphasis.

After all, the talent of the two sisters is no news: Koharu’s skills with the accordion have even been noticed by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, and Momo’s remarkable versatility in singing is a fundamental element of the group’s sound. This sonic (and cultural) balance has granted the duo an overseas fanbase as well, with performances in England, Canada, U.S. and a few gigs at Austin’s SXSW festival, that exposed Koharu and Momo’s talent to a global scale.

CHARAN PO RANTAN is surely one of the most unique Japanese outfits out there, and their talent in merging such different cultures together is something truly remarkable, showcasing not only the talent, but also the respect the two sisters have towards the culture imprinted in their music.

I recently got my hands on CHARAN PO RANTAN’s vinyl Rose Balkan, a compilation album with some of the best and most acclaimed tunes from the duo, thanks to the guys at Specific recordings, who kindly sent me a press copy of the record. Gotta be honest: this thing looks beautiful, from the cover, to the color of the vinyl that genuinely made me happy, because I didn’t know I needed a pink vinyl in my life until now. This new vinyl will be available on the Specific Recordings shop starting April 22nd, and as you can see from the pics, it also features a CD and a Digital download code.

That’s it guys. As you know, I’m always up to support overseas labels trying to spread Japanese music in the world, and I think it’s important to recognize their great work. So if you love Japanese music… support the artists and the labels bringing these records to us!

– Alex

NECRONOMIDOL – DEATHLESS | ALBUM REVIEW

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Release Date: February 21st, 2017
Label: VELOCITRON
Format: CD, Digital


NECRONOMIDOL’s new album is a journey through darkness not to miss

One of the best things to witness in music, is without a doubt the progression of an artist as it makes its way through different stages of its career. It begins with a concept in mind, followed by experimentation to find the right balance and sound, and then to its conquest.

The “ultra-dark” Idol Unit NECRONOMIDOL is a clear example of this progression. Kicked off in 2014, the project led by producer Richard Wilson made waves in the Alternative Idol niche for its dark and fascinating concept, reflected in a formula that mixed up extreme metal influences with Idol pop bits, in a way that felt natural for the first time ever. From the beginning, the five girls and their team never stopped to improve their formula and build a strong identity: if the unit’s debut album NEMESIS was mostly a compilation of tracks showcasing the initial experimentations of the project, and last year’s EP from chaos born a strong proof of its ability in mixing up different genres, DEATHLESS is the consolidation of the unit’s sound we’ve been waiting for… and not only.

NECRONOMIDOL’s new record is indeed a noticeable improvement in every aspect: the opener END OF DAYS immediately highlights a production that’s much more cleaner and crystalline than before, highlighting dark vibes brought by blast beats and power chords, that coupled with the girls’ delicate and sinister vocals, make this track a perfect opener that showcases the unit’s personality with success. The album’s main achievement, though, lies in the improved fusion between Metal and Electronic influences, that reach an almost perfect balance here: tracks like 4.7L, SKULLS IN THE STARS, and CHUNGKING REDLINE make the mood of the record lighter thanks to Electronic beats and synths, but never go too far on the cheesy side, successfully keeping the dark vibe floating around, and creating a connection between the eight tracks composing the album. The general flow obviously benefits from such a detailed and well structured production, and now more than ever it feels cohesive and solid. Even tracks that follow a precise pattern, like the ballad HEXENNACHT (featuring a nice contrast between Electronic percussions and classic piano strings, first time I didn’t fall asleep on a ballad in a while) and the album closer ITHAQA, loosen the grip on the technical side while elevating the atmospheric factor, with the latter track in particular shining for its catchiness.

With DEATHLESS, NECRONOMIDOL ultimately consolidate their sound, making it more enjoyable than ever. This record is their strongest and most cohesive to date, and it manages to be various while keeping its core personality intact, flowing greatly throughout its eight tracks. The improved production quality and mixing is a big plus too, and makes both the girls’ vocals and instrumentals sound better than ever. All this, and the clear effort that the unit and its team put into this record, makes DEATHLESS Necroma’s best album to date.

Vote: 8.5 / 10

– Alex


NECRONOMIDOL’s new album DEATHLESS will be available in Japanese stores on February 21st, and also worldwide (digitally) on Bandcamp.

BiS – Brand New Idol Society 2 | ALBUM REVIEW for Electric Bloom Webzine

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You know I love the Alternative Idol scene. Well, damn, I just love Idols in general. So how could I miss the chance to review the comeback record of one of the most influential groups of this niche, and of the Japanese music industry as a whole?

Brand New Idol Society 2 is a record that features both old, re-record classics from the controversial career of the unit, and new songs as well, spicing things up with different influences and entertaining both long-time fans and newcomers alike.

This is a fun and very enjoyable Pop-punk/rock record that I recommend to everyone to get a grasp of what BiS and the Alternative Idol scene is all about. Like it or not, this group of relentless girls shook things up six years ago, and exposed many controversial issues of Japan’s society and music scene. Definitely check it out, and be sure to read my review down here on Electric Bloom Webzine!

Read my review of BiS’ Brand New Idol Society 2 on Electric Bloom Webzine!

See you soon with more reviews and… videos?

– Alex

Suiyoubi no Campanella gets back on track with new single “SUPERKID”

Earlier this year, Suiyoubi no Campanella‘s Electro-pop made its long-awaited entrance into the mainstream scene, with several strong records under the belt as guarantee for a major label contract. Far from being a bad record, though, the debut mini album UMA didn’t fully convince the outfit’s ever growing audience, delivering good songs as well as numbers who felt uninspired and kinda rushed, a worrying signal considering the project’s well known meticulous attention for details.

From an artistic standpoint, transitions to major labels can be kind of problematic, and some artists need some time before adapting to what is undoubtedly a new reality: this is one of those cases.

Campanella’s new single, titled SUPERKID, indeed brings the project back on the high standards that spoiled us for the last four years. Featuring three new songs, this release is a short but pleasant showcase of the trio’s outstanding compositional skills, punctually framed by KOM_I’s unique charisma. Aladdin kicks in with a 80’s pop beat, following a linear structure that emphasizes vocals to boost the chorus’ entrance, while the bridge leaves space to an instrumental section, creating a good balance with KOM_I’s lyrical nonsense. Kamehameha Daiou tricks the listener with soothing vocals, while subtly implementing noisy effects and synths in the meanwhile, to then completely shift into Electronic madness towards the end, leading to an unexpected EDM drop that kicks in flawlessly: Connecting several influences and tempo changes between different sections has always been one of the project’s highlights, and it’s well represented in this track. Matsuo Bashou goes back to the classic Campanella formula, with the instrumental taking a step back to leave space to KOM_I’s remarkable interpretation, delivering the catchiest chorus of the single and a pleasant soothing vibe.

With SUPERKID, Suiyoubi no Campanella gets back on track, and sets the bar high once again for future releases. Everything that makes this project so unique is present throughout this single, and only high hopes are left for everything they have in store for us.

– Alex

Oyasumi Hologram – 2 | ALBUM REVIEW for Electric Bloom Webzine

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It took me six months, but finally I reviewed one of the records that I liked the most (so far) in this year: Oyasumi Hologram‘s sophomore album 2.

Oyasumi Hologram is an Alternative Idol duo composed by Kanamiru and Hachigatsu, two girls who are getting more and more recognition in the underground Idol scene, mostly for their catchy (yet deep) compositions and killer live performances.

What I like the most about this project, is the feeling of authenticity expressed in the music, of down-to-earth regular girls singing fragments of a life lived in a huge metropolis. Their live performances are worth of mention too, taking the form of relentless and extremely fun underground gigs worth-attending. These girls have talent, personality, and great tunes: hopefully, all of this will bring them to gain more and more recognition in the scene. In the meanwhile, be sure to read my review down below, and listen to this record: as always, let me know what you think about it!

Read my review of Oyasumi Hologram’s 2 on Electric Bloom Webzine

On a side note, a few interesting records came out last week. I’m already reviewing them, so be sure to stay tuned for more amazing Japanese music to discover 😉

Take care.

– Alex

Sakanaction’s new single ‘Tabun, kaze.’ sets the bar high for new album.

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When someone asks me of the reason behind my love for Japanese music, Sakanaction is usually among the first few things that come to my mind. As one of the main Synth-rock/Electronic outfits of the industry, I’ve been enchanted by their sound right away, whom I discovered while driving by night through the highway connecting Kawasaki to Tokyo. The transition from the atmospherical intro Inori to the beautiful Music in their latest record, made me love their perfect hybrid of Rock merged with Electronic music immediately, giving me a pleasant sense of freshness and uniqueness.

That’s why every time Sakanaction releases new material, my day unavoidably gets better. And finally, after a two-months delay, the talented group led by frontman Ichiro Yamaguchi, released today its long awaited 12th single ‘Tabun, kaze.’ : As always, it didn’t disappoint.

The tracks in this single leans more on the Electronic side, a good choice after a series of (very good) singles that mostly relied on Rock sonorities. The title-track ‘Tabun, kaze’ is a fantastic showcase of the band’s sound, featuring synths perfectly merging with guitar melodies during the verse, developed on the solid bass lines provided by Ami; The whole track is incredibly atmospherical, and both the chorus and the bridge create immersive soundscapes, emphasized by Emi’s synths and Yamaguchi’s on-point interpretation.

This track is beautiful, emotional, huge, and a showcase of what Sakanaction can do best: impressive and atmospherical compositions disguised as simple, synth-rock numbers. Hands down one of their best compositions in the last three years.

The B-side moon will probably ring a bell to fans, since the track has been used several times in live shows from 2014 on, precisely during the highly acclaimed live sets the group always sets up halfway into the show: It’s an enjoyable, linear number that serves the purpose it was created for, which is to be implemented in mixes. The last track is a remix of the band’s classic Rookie made by Hiroshi Fujiwara, but except for a few passages here and there, it’s not something I could care about that much.

Overall, ‘Tabun, kaze.’ is yet another addition to a series of great singles from Sakanaction, who are now more than ready to drop their long awaited new album. The band never sounded this powerful and confident, and I’m anxiously looking forward to their next studio record. And if this series of singles is any indication to go with, it’s probably going to be amazing.

– Alex

Utada Hikaru – Fantôme | ALBUM REVIEW for Electric Bloom Webzine

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Took me quite a while, but finally, my review for Utada Hikaru‘s new album Fantôme is online, on English website Electric Bloom Webzine.

I thought this was a pretty solid record. Not your typical pop collection of songs (there’s a lot of sadness and melancholy, but also a bit of joy), and it has a few flaws here and there… but still, it’s a good and very enjoyable record. Not the new Deep River, nor her new-era masterpiece, but definitely a good record that Hikki’s fans will enjoy.

The reason why I reviewed it two weeks after its release, is because both this record and me needed time. Time to absorb these songs and avoid a rushed judgement, like most headlines out there are apparently doing: I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints, framed by words like “boring”, “uninspired” and even “useless”. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions of course, but the feeling is that many journalists and bloggers jumped on the “bash Hikki to look pro” bandwagon just cause it’s cool. Whatever…

Read my review of Fantôme on Electric Bloom Webzine!

Here’s my review. Hope you enjoy it, and be sure to let me know what you think about it! There’s no score, but i’d give it a 8 / 10.

There’s a new article and a review coming here on my blog this weekend, so be sure to stay tuned!

Take care.

– Alex

BiSH – KiLLER BiSH | ALBUM REVIEW for Electric Bloom Webzine

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As I hinted in my last Blog post, I wrote a review for the new BiSH record, KiLLER BiSH.

For the first time though, I didn’t write it for my blog, but for another website: Electric Bloom Webzine, an English website entirely focused on Japanese Music, with some interesting features, such as interviews with well-known acts, reviews and news.

I just started collaborating with them, and some of my reviews will be featured in the site. Don’t worry about the content, or the style: they’re written exactly as if they should get published here on my blog (as you will notice in the link below). So no compromises. Of course my blog will constantly be updated with articles and reviews as well 🙂

Anyway, enough talk. KiLLER BiSH is a super nice record: surely a strong 7.5 / 8 score. You can read my review at the following link.

[ALBUM REVIEW] BISH – KiLLER BiSH

I’ll see you guys soon, with a new article that will be up next week.

Stay tuned! 🙂

– Alex