Yurumerumo (You’ll melt more!) slows down a little bit, but keeps it solid with『うんめー』

Yurumerumo (You’ll melt more!) is one of the most intriguing Idol acts out there, and also the one producers and musicians apparently have the most fun with, considering the number of high-profile artists taking care of their music (and those who feature them in their own works). As natural consequence, the unit’s sound spaces throughout several musical influences, with a recent New Wave turn that particularly fit the sound of the four girls.

With “Unme” – a new track released just today – Yurumerumo slows down a little bit and pursues a slower and more standard course, but keeps it interesting by maintaining the elements typical of the unit’s songwriting, such as energetic drum patterns hidden in several sections, and a bridge enriched by an electric guitar solo coupled by the unit’s typical back choirs. It’s a simple track, but at the same time it does everything possible to be engaging, showcasing a meticulous attention for details typical of Yurumerumo’s works.

Whatever this unit does, it’s always filled with care and smart songwriting, even when it’s something less eclectic like this track. Which is probably the main reason why everything Yurumerumo does is just worth listening. Be sure to listen to the track and watch the video down below!

– Alex


Release Date: June 9, 2017
Formats: CD, Digital
Label: Avex

The new BiSH record suffers from a clear identity crisis, but there’s still hope for the future

BiSH is without a doubt the act from the Alternative Idol niche that’s getting the most attention. After last year’s well received record “KiLLER BiSH”, the six relentless girls came back with a single a few months ago that raised more than an eyebrow among fans, not for its quality per se, but for the lack of hard-hitting tracks in favor of a clearly mainstream-oriented approach; the reaction was so loud that even the unit’s producer reached out to the fans on Twitter, citing “Budokan” as one of the reasons behind this stylistic approach. Definitely a clear explanation.

As a consequence, this new release from BiSH – that takes the form a five tracks Mini Album titled GiANT KiLLERS – has been awaited as a sort of indicator of the unit’s stylistic direction in this particular moment of their career: between those who expect a total mainstream turn in their sound, and those who hope in a revamped version of the relentless attitude that marked the unit’s previous records, no one truly knew what to expect from this mini album.

“GiANT KiLLERS” is a record that lies in the middle of the above-mentioned expectations: not a series of slow-tempo ballads, neither a complete collection of bangers. The potential is still there, and there’s no doubt about it: the title track and opener is a perfect representation of what the unit is capable of, perfectly merging a catchy approach to the franticness typical of the BiSH sound, with fast-paced drum patterns and melodic riffs culminating in a chorus made of catchy vocal lines and Punk-reminiscing choirs, resulting in an instant earworm and a powerful track for live shows. If there’s a sound that best represents BiSH in this moment of their career, it’s definitely this one: it fits their identity while being extremely fun and refreshing.

It’s a shame that “GiANT KiLLERS” doesn’t nurture this winning formula, as the record kinda fails at keeping the interest up after the great impact of the first track. There’s nothing necessarily bad here, but most of it sounds shallow and even repetitive at times: Nothing sounds like it was made from leftovers of the “Orchestra” recordings, and while it’s a style that can somehow find its place in the structure of a full record, it’s pretty clear that piano melodies and cheesy symphonic layers just don’t fit in a mini album of a unit that gives its best when feasting on Punk Rock and Metal influences. “VOMiT SONG” suffers from a problem the unit showcased in recent times, that lies in overly lengthy and uninspired choruses; this issue is partly present in “Marionette” as well, but the track ultimately works thanks to electric guitar riffs that enrich several sections. The record still occasionally showcases interesting ideas, particularly in “Shakai no Rule“, featuring a goofy and playful approach – a first for the unit – that works surprisingly well, coupled by a straight-to-the-point and carefree chorus that’s as simple as effective: it’s a fast and fun track that kinda plays it safe, but it still stands out as one of the best-crafted numbers on this mini album.

Overall, “GiANT KiLLERS” is a record that shows a lot of uncertainness. It tries to be overly appealing and friendly, an approach that comes in contrast with the nature of the project and the girls alike, consequentially failing due to a clearly uninspired songwriting. On the other hand, it also shows that BiSH can still rock and adopt interesting ideas, other than finding a perfect compromise between their typical sound and the position they’re in, as shown by the brilliant title track.

For this, “GiANT KiLLERS” suffers from a clear identity crisis, and it’s surely the weakest release from BiSH to date. At the same time, it also proves that these girls and their team still have what it takes to make exciting music that can satisfy their fans, as well as attracting new ones. They just need to choose the right direction, because it’s clear that they’re trying to satisfy their fanbase as well as developing a way too forced mainstream appeal, and the result is naturally conflicted and unconvincing. The hope is that they will take a moment to realize what’s best for them, while rocking bigger stages and ranking higher in the charts.

Vote: 6 / 10

– Alex

CY8ER comes back with more members and a catchy tune. I like it.

Electro Idol unit CY8ER is back with a new track titled Kakushiemu, the group’s first appearance since three more members joined the project (excluding the much discussed hazmat suits handshake event… gotta love the marketing).

After a pretty nice single as a trio back in April, with this new track CY8ER leans towards a much catchier and melodic approach: Kakushiemu is indeed an upbeat – and uplifting – Techno-pop number that revolves around a playful melody hiding a subtle oriental flavor, that kicks off the track nicely and greatly enhances the chorus when coupled with the girls’ catchy vocals. The beat and bass lines bring clear Techno-pop vibes to the table, sometimes venturing into the Dempa field with brief yet frantic rhythmic outbursts that give a nice touch of variety to the track.

This is a nice come back for CY8ER; even though I still don’t quite understand the meaning behind the addition of new members, it’s good to see them back full of energy and catchy Electro tunes, because that is exactly what I expect when clicking on a CY8ER video. Nice one.

Cornelius plays with contrasting vibes in the greatly crafted “Sometime / Someplace”

After the very good reception of “If you’re here”, Shibuya Kei pioneer Cornelius is back with “Sometime / Someplace”, a newly released number featured in the producer’s upcoming record “MELLOW WAVES” ( June 28).

The track doesn’t stray too far from the mood of “If you’re here”, with a vocal interpretation and soothing electronic bass lines that emanate clear melancholic vibes; at the same time, “Sometime / Someplace” features several uplifting elements that mostly lie in layers of frantic acoustic riffs and playful drum patterns, creating an effective contrast that keeps the listener engaged. A totally unexpected electric guitar solo brings slightly noisy elements to the table, a very nice touch that works perfectly in the context of the track.

Be sure to listen to the track down below, and watch the wonderful video as well. It’s really, really cool.

– Alex

Have a nice Day! and Seiko Oomori team up in “Fantastic Drag”

When the collaborative track between Electronic outfit Have a Nice Day! and singer/songwriter Seiko Oomori was announced, I was honestly excited: they’re two of the artists I enjoy and follow the most right now, and their striking charisma and way of composing music makes them some of the freshest artists in the scene. The track was actually released on late April, but its music video has been released just yesterday on Japan-focused YouTube channel Lute, so I thought it was the right time to express my feelings about it.

Fantastic Drag is an Electronic number where Have a Nice Day’s typical synth melodies are looped to infinity as usual, featuring actual verses instead of the same phrase repeated over and over again; it all sounds nice and not different from what the group usually delivers in their energetic live shows in underground venues in Shinjuku, and that’s really all I expected and wanted to hear from them. Seiko Oomori takes care of the second verse, and she delivers as usual, thanks to her extremely dynamic voice and versatile interpretation: she’s one of the few artists that just can fit in every context, no matter if it’s an Idol pop anthem or a raw Punk number. She just sings her heart out, and it works great among the Electronic intricacy of Have a Nice Day’s synthesizer layers.

Yet, I can’t help but feel… underwhelmed. The song is undoubtedly good, both artists just do what they usually do in this track, but at the same time it doesn’t dare to go beyond that, and ultimately there’s really nothing that truly makes it stand out. It’s the sum of two talented artists, and the result is obviously good, but the feeling that this collaboration could have been much more exciting still lingers around my head. Maybe it’s because of its linearity, or the fact that I find the track unnecessary long, and while I don’t mind it at all, I still think this could have been a much more intriguing showcase of two artists with unique charisma.

Listen to Fantastic Drag down here, and enjoy the MV (which is very nice).

– Alex


Release Date: June 3, 2017
 Digital, CD (only a few copies)
Label: Self-released

Future Funk and Japanese 80’s Disco flawlessly merge together in Mikazuki BIGWAVE’s new record

Riding the wave of the 80’s revival/vaporwave phenomenon, Future Funk is probably the genre that melds past and future sounds in the most enjoyable and effective way. Whereas most projects out there sound as simple revivals or throwbacks to the good old 80’s vibes (not that it’s a bad thing), this particular sub-genre shows a strong will to effectively adapt modern influences into this sound, usually resulting into intriguing and enjoyable compositions.

Yokohama-based producer/singer Mikazuki BIGWAVE – also member of the Pink Neon Tokyocollective – is one of the most representative artists of this fairly recent genre, and with “Watashi no YUME DIARY” she’s bringing her most solid and convincing work to date. Setting aside the fact that with thirteen tracks this is actually more of an album than a EP, this record is pretty much the answer to anyone who’s wondering what Future Funk actually is: a fusion of 80’s Japanese Disco with Funk-imbued instrumentals, put in the frame of a modern execution overflowing with digital alterations.

Mikazuki BIGWAVE does a very well done job in exposing this approach, and the result is a pleasantly catchy and well-crafted record. As expectable, the whole work is filled with shiny Synthesizer melodies, slapping bass lines and funky guitar riffs, backed up by samples and vocals that fit the mood of each track with smart digital manipulations. The record is not afraid to chop-up parts and toning down the mood at its own will to expose the juiciest sections, adopting modern influences like the Techno-pop beats of “Sweet Days“, probably the track that dares the most in the whole record, yet without compromising the core formula of it. While the neat fusion of old and modern is certainly the star of the show here, shiny melodies and catchy passages are what makes this record so enjoyable, with tracks like “You’re the only one“, “Midnight Highway” and “BLIZZARD” as prime examples, featuring striking soundscapes that make these numbers instant earworms.

Watashi no YUME DIARY” is a fun and greatly crafted record, filled with details that create catchy compositions often featuring some impressive soundscapes. In the midst of the whole 80’s revival wave, Mikazuki BIGWAVE‘s record stands out for its flawless balance between old and modern, as well as for its excellent songwriting. A very enjoyable record not to miss.

Originally posted on ARAMA! JAPAN. Be sure to listen to the record down here:

Acidclank’s new track “Rocks” is just as good as you would expect

I can say without a shade of doubt that Acidclank is currently one of my favorite Indie artists from Japan; the outfit’s 2015 debut record “Inner” was a pleasant and various record mostly based on Brit Rock influences, while last year’s “Night In” EP shown a side of the project that leaned towards slower and nostalgic vibes, an approach that greatly fits the band’s sound (it was one of my favorite releases of 2016).

Acidclank is finally back on the scene with Rocks, title track taken from the outfit’s first single set to be released on June 14. This indie Rock number finds the outfit mostly merging influences from both “Inner” and “Night In” in a seamless way, with raw-sounding riffs and up-tempo drum patterns backed up by melancholic melodies, with a redundant guitar solo placed right before the end of the track that noticeably boosts the nostalgic mood of the track; it’s a straight to the point song, but it’s also very well detailed and crafted, showcasing a sound that now more than ever represents this band’s identity.

As a fan of the group, I’m very excited to see what they have in store for this new single, sure that more valid tuned are on the way. Listen below.

– Alex

CLOCK & BOTAN’s “Gloomy” is a solid and beautiful debut for Ayano Yanagisawa

After the disbandment of crow-themed Idol unit BELLRING GIRLS HEART last year (reformed recently under the name THERE THERE THERES), almost each member of the original group took its own road to start new projects. Member Ayano Yanagisawa is the only one who decided to go solo, and with her first single Gloomy released just yesterday, the Music Video for the title track is now available as well. And I absolutely love it.

The track is a simple and straight to the point Pop number, but acoustic riffs and retro-sounding layers of synthesizer give it a melancholic and beautiful vibe that just works wonders with Ayano’s vocal lines. Gloomy is a very heartfelt track, and the way so many emotions are conveyed in such a simple and friendly structure is a sign of remarkable skills in the songwriting department.

I love everything about this. Be sure to listen to the track and watch the video below!

Satomimagae’s new record “Kemri” is a dark and heartfelt journey worth looking forward to

Today’s discovery is Satomimagae, a singer/songwriter who debuted in 2012 under Tokyo’s White Paddy Mountain label. Kemri is the third album of the singer’s discography, and is set to be released on June 6, but you can already listen to three of the eleven tracks on Bandcamp right now (check below). After listening to these songs, I was honestly pretty impressed with this girl’s music.

Ethereal vocals and clear acoustic guitar notes are the base for Satomimagae’s compositions, that occasionally get enriched by atmospheric elements that take the form of brief but massive waves of Electronic effects, who take the spotlight right away in the opener Bulse. The soundscapes Satomimagae successfully summons are the result of a cold yet heartfelt vibe, a contrast of emotions particularly noticeable in Leak, that often uses the help of distant electric guitar notes that slightly remind of Shoegaze vibes. There’s also space for more soothing and less haunting vibes, as shown in Mebuki“, where the singer’s delicate voice flies above a layer of ethereal back-vocals, conveying a strong sense of melancholy.

From this brief but substantial preview, “Kemri” sounds like a record that sets a clear mood and plays with it by briefly welcoming different vibes and moods, making each track a story of its own. Satomimagae‘s formula is strong as the emotions she conveys in these numbers, which is why Kemri is now one of the albums I’m looking forward to the most right now. Be sure to listen below.

NoGht’s “Nostalgic Radiance” is a perfect track to kick off the week

Let’s kick off the week with something engaging and soothing, shall we? Something that delicately wakes your brain up on a Monday morning in just the right way. I would never try to wake you up with EDM or Black Metal, so you can trust me.

Osaka-based producer NoGht just released its new track “Nostalgic Radiance“, a five-minutes Electronic number that showcases remarkable skills in several departments; the track revolves around a simple yet effective riff, that takes the listener throughout mutating soundscapes made of dreamy details that constantly emerge and progress, briefly cut only by a small breakdown that leads to a final section marked by stronger melodies and drum patterns. Progression and structure are definitely the highlights here, and despite its length, this track does an amazing job at keeping the vibe up.

Nostalgic Radiance” is a well-crafted track from NoGht, that showcases a remarkable use of melodies and details to create precise soundscapes. Nice one to kick off the week. Listen below!