New 99 Letters: “Night Walker”

Though this line gets rolled out anytime I write about Osaka’s 99 Letters, it’s still a vital disclaimer – this is not simple novelty, nor is it the sound of some kid desperately clinging to his youth by rocking out to the Kirby’s Pinball soundtrack in his room. Nope, this is someone taking a particular set of sounds (in this case, 8-bit audio) and transforming it into something that moves, music that’s meant to jog more than just memories of your first NES. Many of 99 Letters previous songs turned these noises into ragers, banging and bleating bashes to the skull reminiscent of Crystal Castles more fist-forward moments, good music concerned primarily with the physical. Lately, though, 99 Letters has been growing more complex – see the recent shimmering beauty of “Dexters Laboratory,” which this blog missed but warrants repeated listens. “Night Walker” builds on this by being a constantly morphing number, one still capable of moving bodies but now more thought out, showcasing more craftsmanship from the young producer. It’s a good step for him, and a great track. Listen below.

Beat Is Murder Featuring Memory Girls: Beat Is Murder EP

Zone out for a second, or let your preconceptions win out, and you will miss the real hook of Beat Is Murder’s debut EP. More on that later, though, because I almost blinked past it too. Beat Is Murder is the new moniker of the outfit NUBACK, who is the founder of the label Too Young Records. Too Young is home to Memory Girls, a group I wrote about a long time ago and promptly dropped off the radar…only to reappear on this two-song release, singing back-up. The two songs here – and that’s being really fair, because “Green Monday” is basically a remix of the first song “This Is Our Answer” – are the sort of limb-moving joints DFA Records in New York rose to fame on, snippets of funky guitar next to vintage synth all set to an unobtrusive beat. The vocals move in lock-step, and Beat Is Murder work in one great detail with the drum machine, one beat sounding like it’s covered in digital fuzz. Overall, it’s a great bit of indie-dance music.

Yet, after a few listens more, it dawned on me this is more than that – this is an anti-nuclear song, one of the first tracks from this year to directly comment on Japan’s use of nuclear power. This came out Monday, which also happened to be the day of a giant anti-nuclear protest here in Tokyo. In more “I don’t believe I missed this” details, the Bandcamp page declares “NO NUKES. THIS IS OUR ANSWER.” The clearest line here is “we don’t need any plants, any plants, anymore.” This is a strangely subversive song – for half an hour, I was bobbing around unaware Beat Is Murder was urging Japan to ditch nuclear power. Even though the presence of a political message doesn’t make this EP good music in and of itself (that’s what the groove is for!), I have to admit it’s nice to see an indie artist in Japan not shy away from saying…anything about this. Listen below, or get here.

Controlled Karaoke: MTV Iggy Interviews Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

MTV Iggy interviewed 2012`s most interesting J-Pop star, and you should read the interview right now. Personally, the biggest highlight is that she listens to K-Pop acts Big Bang and 2NE1…that and she doesn`t seemed particularly pumped to listen to J-Pop. Related – this Japan Times inteview with her. She mentions the K-Pop thing there as well, but I had forgotten about it.

Chat: Salyu X Salyu (Featuring Salyu, Cornelius, Yumiko Ohno And Asa-Chang)

Last year’s Salyu X Salyu project, a collaboration between J-Pop siren Salyu and inventive producer Cornelius, was an exploration of an individual, in this case Salyu herself. Long a middle-of-the-road J-Pop star blessed with some incredible pipes that seemed wasted by most, Salyu X Salyu allowed her to just let go, an artistic rebirth urged on by Cornelius’ unobtrusive sonic creations.

It’s an intensely individual project, yet that hasn’t stopped Salyu and Cornelius (real name Keigo Oyamada) from touring behind Salyu X Salyu. They assembled a Salyu X Salyu Band and have toured all over Japan and, recently, Europe, including a stop at Spain’s Sonar music festival this past June. Augustus KKB, of London outfit Kero Kero Bonito, recently talked to Salyu, Oyamada, Yumiko Ohno and Asa-Chang of the Salyu X Salyu Band on June 15, before the group played a show at London’s Jazz Cafe. Ken Kobayashi handled translation duties.

Listen to the interview above, or read a transcript after the jump.

Continue reading

New Rapunzel8083: “Dalí Jazz”

“Surreal” doesn’t even begin to describe it. “Dalí Jazz” signals a detour for beatmaker Rapunzel8083, who has recently been focused on making straightforward tracks. This latest song, though, is anything but straightforward – it’s nine minutes of discombobulated thoughts strung into one number, the sort of madness you’d expect from the dream logic of Un Chien Andalou. Listing the directions “Dalí Jazz” takes reads like an exercise in listing various musical genres – it jumps from 1920’s crooning to glitchy electronica/jazz to sad Spanish horn sounds to a fragile section that could have come from Camelot (the one with knights). Asking “why” seems a bit pointless, just sit back and go with it. Listen below.

Jesse Ruins Release New Video For “Sofija”

Wait, so is it “Sofija” after all? When I bought the Dream Analysis album earlier this year from iTunes, it had dropped the “j” and came closer to sounding like an actual name. Yet now, with the release of this new video, the “j” is back and a glance over at the Captured Track’s website confirms it’s “Sofija.” Confusing!

Less confusing is the above video, which features footage of the trio playing live, along with some lingering shots of lights and the back of heads. It’s a big change from the last “Sofija” video…no blood this time around!…so check it out above. Plus, the song still rules.

Music Alliance Pact July 2012

This month’s installment of MAP features the usual assortment of great music – best add that Poolside song to your summer mix right now – and our choice for the Japanese song is Cuushe and her gorgeous “I Dreamt About Silence.” It isn’t a summer anthem really, more of a woozy dream of a song meant for late nights inside, but still one of our favorite songs of the year. Check it – and a bunch of excellent music from around the globe – below.

Click the play button icon to listen to individual songs, right-click on the song title to download an mp3, or grab a zip file of the whole 37-track compilation through here.

JAPAN: Make Believe Melodies
CuusheI Dreamt About Silence
Tokyo artist Cuushe last brought out an album three years ago, and it turns out she spent the stretch of time after it was released building her own world. I Dreamt About Silence sees her stretched-out vocals covered in hazy synths, every sound wrapping around one another to create a glowing track you want to be enveloped by. Cuushe shows the best way to escape the rush of the modern world is to construct your own dreamy universe.

ARGENTINA: Zonaindie
Los Coming SoonNo Way
This is one of our favorite releases from 2012. We Are Family is Los Coming Soon’s first album, in which they deploy 10 great songs filled with electronic textures and a soft, minimalist funky-disco base, all played with real instruments (no programming whatsoever). It was hard to pick one song for MAP, but we think No Way is representative of the whole record (you can buy it here).

AUSTRALIA: Who The Bloody Hell Are They?
Flaws is an understated instrumental track that drives the emotive dream-pop at the heart of Runner. These guys originate from the west coast of Australia but their sound would sit perfectly with any shoegaze stoner melody coming out of 90s Melbourne. Flaws builds beautifully to a crescendo layered with harmony and a wall of hazy guitars.

AUSTRIA: Walzerkönig
Ogris DebrisSexy Chair
This electronic duo is best known for their onomatopoetic track Miezekatze, a club and radio hit in 2010. Mixing such diverse genres as house, funk and soul, the tongue-in-cheek track Sexy Chair is taken from the Affine Records compilation What A Fine Mess We Made. The most recent Ogris Debris release, The Way feat. Ken Hayakawa (listen on Soundcloud), has a more Arabesque vibe to it.

BRAZIL: Meio Desligado
BNegão & Seletores de FrequênciaEssa é Pra Tocar No Baile
It took almost 10 years for BNegão & Seletores de Frequência to release their second album, but now their music is even more influenced by black music and rhythms such as Afrobeat, soul and samba rock. Essa é Pra Tocar No Baile is one of the breakthrough tracks of the record.

CANADA: Quick Before It Melts
DigitsWhere Do You Belong?
My heart melts every time I hear Alt Altman – the one-man techno R&B band known as Digits – purr: “It’s just a broken heart/but you ain’t had a broken heart/like this,” on Where Do You Belong? A song this catchy and infectious should come with warning labels: “May induce repeated listens and become lodged in your head for weeks at a time.”

CHILE: Super 45
La Big RabiaNos Gusta Que Sea Así
Music abounds during times of crisis, and La Big Rabia is one of the symptoms of this social unrest we are living with in Chile. Their EP, La Bestia, and their shows begin with a disruptive speech made through a loudspeaker by singer Sebastián Orellana, a sort of tired and furious crooner. After this, a retro rock disposition is unleashed on songs like Para Todos Los Hijos De Puta, with its chorus: “Todos contra los poderosos / Todos contra los que tengan sed de poder” (“Everybody against the powerful ones / Everybody against those thirsty for power”).

CHINA: Wooozy
Glow CurveBrain Washer
Glow Curve formed in Beijing in 2011 and are influenced by post-rock and electronic music. The quartet absorb and explore new elements to blend complex instrumental sounds from contrasting emotions – manic or quiet, warm or cold.

COLOMBIA: El Parlante Amarillo
Zalama CrewNo Hay Marcha Atrás
Zalama Crew is a collective based in Cali, a city very close to the Colombian Pacific coast. An excellent example of what is happening in these lands, their project mixes hip-hop, urban and world music. No Hay Marcha Atrás (“There’s No Turning Back”) is taken from their first album Zalama Lekum, which fuses African rhythm with electronic sounds.

DENMARK: All Scandinavian
With the amazing vocal of Fanney Ósk Þórisdóttir as a general highlight, Danish/Icelandic trio Kúra’s debut Halfway To The Moon is a dark, melancholic and rather enticing affair mixing electronica, trip hop, dub and (indie) rock. Here’s single Anchor, co-produced by acclaimed DJ and producer Buda (Lulu Rouge) and accompanied by this beautiful video by Kristian Touborg and Jesper Dalgaard.

ENGLAND: The Guardian Music Blog
JosephinePray That I Move
Manchester’s Josephine Oniyama is not another soul girl, even though some early breathless accounts of her work and voice are of the “you won’t believe this isn’t a classic lost R&B or blues recording” variety. Actually, as Pray That I Move shows, Josephine’s vocal delivery and idiosyncratic lyrical vision have more in common with Morrissey than Mahalia Jackson. She’s already made a big stir on the regional scene with Elbow’s Guy Garvey and singer-songwriter Ed Harcourt among her champions. Her debut album, Portrait, is out on October 8.

Minttu & OlliCorduroy Boy
Minttu & Olli are a graceful couple homebrewing sweet pop songs. With great vocal harmonies, a gentle folky spirit and smooth melodica sounds, the duo is a Nordic version of She & Him that could have easily been featured in the soundtrack of (500) Days of Summer.

FRANCE: Yet You’re Fired
The Lemon QueenSailing In A Wild Love
The Lemon Queen hails from Angers, east of France, where the music scene is flourishing at the moment, with everyone trying to play their cards right. The band makes a difference with their psychedelic pop-rock sound, reminiscent of Klaxons, a comparison particularly true on Sailing In A Wild Love. With catchy melodies and an undeniable energy, this quartet should be followed very closely.

GERMANY: Blogpartei
Sandy BirdRevoke
Little is known about this band from Berlin which formed in 2008 and have already experienced some member changes. Revoke is taken from their Bambaloo EP. Expect to hear more of this promising post-rock act soon.

GREECE: Mouxlaloulouda
Electric LitanySad Part
Bleak and broody music has never been quite so thrilling. Sad Part is an elaborately orchestrated, inherently dark, minimalist, piano dirge, like a sad dream scented with rain, with searingly compelling lyrical imagery, eerie vocals full of intuitive swells and fades, pauses that embrace some of the pious silence of a prayer and tremolo guitars that do an excellent job of creating a beguiling atmosphere. Electric Litany’s highly anticipated sophomore album is set to be released later this year.

ICELAND: Rjóminn
ÚtidúrGrasping For Air
This latest track from the ambitious chamber-pop 10-piece sees them entering almost disco-like realms. A new album should see the light of day in the coming months but those who want to get to know this joyous collective better should check out the band’s 2010 debut album This Mess We’ve Made.

INDONESIA: Deathrockstar
Marcel TheeEndless Heart
After more than 10 years channeling his creativity with the indie-rock band Sajama Cut, Marcel Thee is now the only original member left. Here he pursues his passion for lo-fi, layered sounds, gospel music and poetry. If you love W.B. Yeats, the album is a tribute to him.

IRELAND: Nialler9
No Spill BloodGood Company
Formed from members of Adebisi Shank, Elk, Magic Pockets and Hands Up Who Wants To Die, No Spill Blood’s first EP is released this month on Sargent House, home to Fang Island, Omar Rodriguez Lopez and Les Butcherettes. If you’re familiar with any of the bands mentioned then it won’t surprise you to hear that No Spill Blood play it fast and furious, running on the noxious interplay between drums, effect-laden synth, low-end bass fuzz and bellowed vocals.

ITALY: Polaroid
CosmeticLa Fine Del Giorno
Cosmetic may sing in Italian but I’m sure their songs will speak to you anyway. Their rough and nervous shoegaze sound often drifts towards more muscular music as it makes way for an explosion of guitars. When I saw them live the first name that came to my mind was Dinosaur Jr. The motto on their Facebook page – “Noise and melodies that fight to get the better of each other” – pretty much sums up Cosmetic.

MALTA: Stagedive Malta
Bark Bark DiscoLet’s Do This
Bark Bark Disco is a lo-fi pop band fronted by former inventor Morris Woodcock (great-grandson of Manfred von Richthofen aka The Red Baron). Their songs have a raw immediacy with catchiness befitting a Broadway musical. Let’s Do This is from their latest EP of the same name.

MEXICO: Red Bull Panamérika
Sonido Gallo NegroLeticia
Chicha is a psychedelic mixture of cumbia with rock ‘n’ roll elements, originating in Peru during the 70s. Mexico City’s Sonido Gallo Negro have unearthed the genre and hybridized it with local surf and rockabilly. Supplemented by the spooky visuals of design wizard Dr Alderete, their live shows are an intoxicating display of collective hypnosis. Throughout July 2012, this song and 13 more will be available for free download from Red Bull Panamérika as part of our fourth birthday compilation.

NETHERLANDS: Subbacultcha!
EARTH CONTROLMijn Nieuwe Steekkar
Art-school punks Bert and Marcel met at Groningen’s local venue Vera. Every week they formed a brand new band, recorded an album and played one show. But with EARTH CONTROL, things didn’t go exactly as planned; the duo decided to continue under this capitalized moniker. Though barely audible due to their lo-fi production and sub-par electronic equipment, EARTH CONTROL sing in their native Dutch tongue. Their sardonic lyrics deal with everyday subjects such as cell phones, sweaters or, in this case, the online purchase of a new trolley.

Grita LobosMr Danger
Grita Lobos is a musician who hides behind an Ethiopian mask, his sound influenced by New Order and Depeche Mode in mesmerizing electronic songs that suggest dark stories. Mr Danger is taken from his debut self-titled album which features vocals from actress and singer Anahí de Cárdenas.

PORTUGAL: Posso Ouvir Um Disco?
Micro Audio WavesCartoon Real
Micro Audio Waves, who made history in 2004 by becoming the first Portuguese band to have a John Peel session, have released four albums and a fifth is due soon. Cartoon Real is a MAP exclusive free download, taken from their Zoetrope concept album, developed with choreographer Rui Horta and released with a DVD featuring one of their unique multimedia and performance live shows.

PUERTO RICO: Puerto Rico Indie
El MedioHasta Caer
El Medio is the solo project of Leonardo Balasques (Oscilador 4, Balún). Since 2004, Balasques has used this outlet to release very personal songs about life, friendships and love. Using his bedroom (and subsequently his living room) as a recording studio, Leo has crafted an expansive discography that experiments with the confrontation of synths and traditional instruments to create a folk/pop hybrid that warms the heart and stimulates the brain. El Medio has just released the album No Le Tengas Miedo Al Amor, on which you’ll find Hasta Caer, featuring strings by Balún’s Angélica Negrón and an unexpected, yet much welcomed, dose of blistering guitar noise and distortion.

ROMANIA: Babylon Noise
SubcarpațiUnderground Folclor
Subcarpați is an explosive mixture of old and new. It’s an eclectic combination that brings together melancholy Romanian folk songs, Romanian unity songs, traditional instruments and the rhythms of trip-hop, dubstep, hip-hop and dancehall.

RUSSIA: Big Echo
On this short preview from his upcoming album, beatmaker Lomovolokno moves to the next level of romantic harmonies, leaving us excited for a full-length release. He is one of those people who needs time and space to make music, so you need to wait patiently. But when the tracks are finally out, there is nothing as beautiful to compare.

Holy EsqueRose
There’s a tangible buzz about the Glasgow music scene right now and part of that has to do with the emergence of Holy Esque. There’s a dark magic about their sound. The rasping, quivering vocals of Pat Hynes calls to mind The Undertones or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, while the squalls of guitar elicit comparisons with Joy Division or Glasvegas. The anthemic Rose, a MAP exclusive free download, is taken from their excellent debut EP.

SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To…
KiatRiding Past Draco (feat. Klose)
Exciting times are looming in the urban jungle of Singapore as audio-visual super-collective Syndicate turns up the heat, dropping influential honcho Kiat’s new album like an A-bomb of intricate beats and samples that warp you into the inner workings of string theory. Featuring stellar collaborations with artists such as Vandetta, Klose, Digital and Isaac Aiesili, the album – titled The Inner Galaxy – decisively proclaims that electronic music from Singapore has come of age and is a force to be reckoned with. Evolution never happened this fast.

SOUTH AFRICA: Musical Mover & Shaker!
Fire Through The WindowHey!
Meet Fire Through The Window. They have the ability to take a simple melody, add their very own quirky styling and turn it into something truly infectious and endearing, all while maintaining a fun pop sensibility. That is wholly true with their song Hey! – it is fun, funky and best shows off the band.

SOUTH KOREA: Korean Indie
WagwakArabian Night
Loud indie-folk duo Wagwak have been around for a few years and made themselves a name at home. They recently left Korea to travel through Europe, playing gigs where they can, and having sung in English all along they’re well prepared to bring their sound to an international audience. Before moving from their native Seoul, Wagwak released EP The Way To Drive Into The Arabian Sunset, opening with the slightly psychedelic Arabian Night.

SPAIN: Musikorner
Stand Up Against Heart CrimeI Can’t Stand Myself Sober
Stand Up Against Heart Crime are five desolate souls whose lives have been touched by unease and unhappiness, five romantics who create the soundtrack of a loser who has grown up through the years. They are from Barcelona, and they have played in one of the most important festivals in Spain, Sónar. I Can’t Stand Myself Sober is a pitiful fable of lack of self-esteem.

Hanna is Gothenburg-based Hanna Göransson, formerly known as Hanna Lovisa and one half of Cat5. As Hanna, she has teamed up with acclaimed Swedish producer Dan Lissvik (of Studio) and Canada’s Young Galaxy to record her new EP Lioness, where feisty pop á la a certain Robyn meets Lissvik’s characteristic grooves. The Lioness EP is out now via Sunshower Records and a first full-length is in the works.

MarochineBraunvieh Express
Marochine is an instrumental band from Lucerne which alternates its style skilfully between jazz and noise to create beautiful soundscapes. They have released a four-song EP that can be downloaded for free on Bandcamp.

SoakedGroove On
Soaked is a synth-pop band based in Istanbul. They formed in 2003 but their first EP only came out in 2010. With the success of it they recorded the Aftermath album at the end of 2011. In their own words, they describe themselves as “not only a musical ensemble but also a creative artistic platform, determined to provide the quality performance and art that Turkish audiences crave”. It might sound pretty pretentious but it sure is true.

UNITED STATES: I Guess I’m Floating
PoolsideSlow Down
New-to-the-scene DJ duo Poolside, from Los Angeles, couldn’t have found a better way to jump into the public consciousness than funky superjam Slow Down. Sounding like a sublime mix of Sebastien Tellier and LCD Soundsystem, the track glows and shimmers in every way – and now it’s perfectly positioned to dominate summer mixtapes across the world.

VENEZUELA: Música y Más
Tomates FritosEterna Soledad
Tomates Fritos returns to the Music Alliance Pact after first appearing in July 2010. This time they have released their fourth studio album, Hotel Miramar (free to download on Bandcamp), in which they dare to show a “purest” side to the band – a slight departure from the folk sound that featured in previous records.

New House Of Tapes: “Chaos Tape” And “Midnight Echo”

Nagoya’s House Of Tapes makes “house music,” but that’s simplifying the situation way too much. Up to now, his music has sounded claustrophobic, his rush of synths and beats practically sucking all traces of light from the music. House Of Tapes’ two latest songs continue the vacuum-like effect – despite both “Chaos Tape” and “Midnight Echo” featuring sunny bell chimes, these tracks are ultimately heavy affairs, even the laser-like electronics covered in shadows. I could picture both of these played in a club, but only late into the night, when everything starts spinning around a little too violently. Listen below.

Station To Station: Music Station For July 13, 2012 Featuirng Princess Princess, Rola And Keisuke Kuwata

Not the most upbeat week in Japanese news – car crashes, dead pandas, Ichiro Ozawa in general. So here is a quick (so many songs this week) edition of this feature to turn that proverbial frown upside down. Or make it sag a bit more, who knows.

Ikimono-gakari “Kaze Ga Fuiteiru”

NHK is Japan’s equivalent of the BBC, a nationwide network that airs news along with various cultural programs and language-learning shows (and a solid collection of kids shows). They are, for the most part, a very good entity, a lovely break from the other major networks which are (obviously) big corporate monsters full of a lot of inane programming. For the most part, I will defend NHK from detractors.

NHK, though, went and selected the above song from perpetual snooze-button-band Ikimono-gakari as their official song for the 2012 London Olympics. Now, to be fair, it’s a safe choice for them – Ikimono-gakari excel at the cheesy, semi-ballad stuff that can sound inspiring or melancholy on the turn of a 10-yen coin. It is a perfect match for the drama of the Olympic games (at times uplifting, at times crushing, mostly filler while you wait for the good stuff). That said, this is still borderline identical to every ballad off of this year’s Newtral, and those weren’t exciting in the first place. This probably works wonders between breaks in rhythmic gymnastics, but as a song I would like to move on.

Keisuke Kuwata “愛しい人へ捧ぐ歌”

I’m not positive how trustworthy the above video is – I swear the beat is off at various points – but this SOUNDS like Kuwata so it might be legit. If so, yeesh. This is a sleepy – in the sense that I’d like to zonk out, away from this limp guitar stroking – number that features Kuwata pushing his voice in grating directions. This might be a traditional Japanese song…or it just might be trying to sound like one…but the whole thing sounds off, regardless of what era it’s from.

TVXQ “Android”

At first I though “whoa, this J-Pop band is taking cues from K-Pop production, all electric and bouncy and rich in brostep breakdowns!” Then I remembered TVXQ are Korean, and one of the forefathers of the current K-Pop boom in Japan so it wasn’t that special. Still, listening to this compared to uhhhh everything else on this list is jarring – whereas most of the singles here are content to find a decent verse and carve out a chorus that a soda company can get behind, “Android” jumps all over the place, full of menacing electronics, club-ready synths and, yep, brostep. I don’t think it approaches any of the music Big Bang has released this year, but it’s overall a solid, shifty song unafraid to push away from comfort.

Princess Princess “Diamonds” And “The Hottest Summer In The World”

Princess Princess are a band that existed from the early 80’s until 1996, becoming one of the most important rock groups in Japanese history along the way. After the early years spent not seeing much success, the group eventually broke out and became one of the most popular groups of their time, selling out large venues and moving a whole lot of units. They became the first all-woman group to play the famed Budokan arena, and their single “Diamonds” (above) was the first single in Japan to sell a million copies. This year, they’ve reunited for a string of shows aimed at raising money for the Tohoku region.

Princess Princess’ actual music resembles what, based on my admittedly small glance into 80’s Japanese rock, most bands at that time sounded like. They sound very much of a different era – the vocals are far rougher than any commercial J-Rock you could find today, the creaky edges left intact. The music, meanwhile, sounds a bit simplistic but with some highlights – see the synths in “Diamonds.” It sounds outdated, but there is also something charming about it all. That might just be me waxing nostalgic for something I didn’t live through, but these are good tracks and, in the case of “Diamonds,” important ones.

Tomohisa Yamashita “Love Chase”

Hey how about this new song from some Johnny’s guy? Well, to the group’s credit, this doesn’t sound like typical Johnny’s garbage…it is way too electronic and full of rapping. Unfortunately, both of those things sound half-assed and the whole thing sounds like the dippiest of pop.

Rola “Memories”

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu didn’t become a big-deal pop star because of her Harajuku-model past…plenty of folks from non-musical backgrounds have transitioned into J-Pop careers, like Rola, another former model. Her “Memories,” though, is a standard-issue ballad, her debut single but one failing to show anything particularly interesting about her, the singer.

Turns out Kyary’s secret weapon was…good music.

Winner Of The Week – TVXQ

New Okadada: When The Night Falls EP

Man, it’s pretty crazy that we live in a time when someone can throw an album up on Bandcamp whenever they want and the listener can pay just five dollars (or less!) to download it. As long as we ignore all the industry doom and gloom, it’s kinda a great time to be a music fan! Electronic-music producer Okadada took advantage of the Bandcamp platform and released a new EP, When The Night Falls, earlier this week. You can get it here, for whatever price you’d like. Which, again, is crazy, because this is a release worth more than a “$0.00” on the order page. Okadada is another future-leaning producer in a country that’s starting to overflow with them, his specialty being able to create laid-back grooves that still manage to sound daring. Opener “Difference” is burbling disco joined by smooth vocals, lovey-dovey things about how “there is magic again.” And that one isn’t even the slowest disco song on the EP – “Secret Fantasy” unfolds leisurely, and even a deep vocal sample can’t break this one out of its groove (aside: would love to know where that sample comes from). Even the gruff “Rubber Ray” matches the dusky vibe of the whole EP. This is a really well-done release, and worth a few bucks at the very least. Get it here.