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.
Tokyo’s She Talks Silence expanded into a trio this year, but new track “Holy Hands, Holy Voices” reveals that loneliness remains at the core of this band’s sound. “Holy Hands” doesn’t change up the style She Talks Silence used to craft some of this blog’s favorite songs of the past few years, but rather amplifies it ever so slightly. The guitars are buzzier, slightly more feedback than usual coming out of the speakers during stretches of this song. As Ian Martin notes in his take on this song, there are instances where it sounds like She Talks Silence are about to spill into a guitar solo. Yet underneath all of those cutting noises is Minami Yamaguchi’s voice, a very pretty source of sound but also made to sound tiny against the music, like it’s lost and trying to find a way out of all the cacophony. There are moments where she sounds on the verge of getting out of it, of some sort of transcendence has her voice tries to hit notes she has rarely braved before. Yet, critically, she always gets pulled back in, one glimmering guitar that peaks in later in the song summing up the melancholy of “Holy Hands.” Listen above.
Here’s a new video from Chabe (who records as Cubismo Grafico and fronts Cubismo Grafico Five), for a song from his album last year. “Rewind (Holiday 91)” was one of the laid-back highlights of Me., which was this blog’s choice for the 23rd best album of 2011. Watch above.
Posted in Music
Tagged chabe, video
Here’s a new one from Molice, called “Fatima.” It’s some solid follow-the-bouncing-ball rock, improved drastically by the lead vocals, which remind me of (oddly enough) the matter-of-fact delivery of Vanilla Beans. Well, only during the verses…the chorus bursts open as Molice tend to do. The above video also finds the band falling in love with the mirror effect available in most video editing software. Watch above.
Posted in Music
Tagged molice, video
She’s on the left, away from the creepy puppet thing.
Straight to the point: This new single from Nanba Shiho pails in comparison to her last two releases, particularly this year’s triumphant “Shoujo, Futatabi.” That song, released all the way back in January, hinted at a better path for J-Pop to follow, one able to hold hands with the future (electronics) while still being loyal to the structures of the past. Shiho imagined a J-Pop world where the digital leanings of Perfume were common-place and integrated into pop form in clever ways. It was the first of many J-Pop songs exploring new territory, whether that be from MiChi’s post-Perfume jaunts or Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s candy-coated madness. “Shoujo, Futatabi” may not have ended up a sales juggernaut, but it is important in 2012.
This new song, though, seems to be about getting your hair cut over some relatively safe piano strokes and guitar strums and beats. It’s not bad…and their are legitimate sweet moments, like the post chorus “fu-ooos”…but definitely an effort by Shiho’s people to nab her a TV theme show or commercial appearance (a hair cuttery, perhaps?). Nothing wrong with that, but it’s possible to achieve commercial visibility without having to play it so safe…case in point…Shiho’s face graced a series of mobile phone ads here in Tokyo for the last few months, presumably on the strength of her first two, far more adventurous singles. Here, she’s too safe and cutesy…the part where she says “bye bye,” presumably to her hair, just makes me click over to the Zooey Asks Siri Twitter. I’ve still got hope (two for three, not bad!) so let’s just hope the below is able to spread her name more and move on, yeah?
Tokyo’s Taquwami, who has been releasing a steady stream of great music over the past few months, has a new EP out in either July or August (as the YouTube description says, “it’s still up in the air”). He’s put together a preview of the album – called Blurrywonder, which manages to describe his production style in one jammed-together word better than I have for like seven months now – which you can listen to above. Now, one should obviously wait until hearing the whole thing to make big statements like “this sounds great” but…this sounds great. Favorite moment is the song that kicks up at about the 4:20 (heh) mark, the one that sounds like Animal Collective’s synths being melted over cough-syruped Euro-pop vocals. Just click play.
Posted in Music
Tagged taquwami, video
Haven’t heard much from Birds Melt Sky in a long time…2010, to be exact…which explains why I completely forgot what they sounded like. I originally wrote a post about “Oneday, Someday,” noting how it marked a change in style for the group because the beat was more prominent, making the song more physical, more danceable (I had this word in italics). I thought Birds Melt Sky were doing shoegaze stuff before, so this new track sounded pretty neat. Then I went back and listened to that old song linked above and…turns out “Oneday, Someday” isn’t all that much of a stylistic shakeup, but really more of the same! Which isn’t bad…it’s still a good song…but also a little disappointing. Ahhh well, listen above.
Over the past year, I’ve gotten a little burned out on found-footage videos. They were charming for a while, but now just feel like forced nostalgia. This attitude, though, clashes with what I think about Greeen Linez’ new song and video “Hibiscus Pacific.” Though the video below relies on VHS-quality footage of old Japanese advertisements and bikini vids (the latter of which gets turned into a pretty sweet sex joke), the dated clips match up so well with Greeen Linez’ music I end up ignoring my previously held views. “Hibiscus Pacific” sounds like how I imagine bubble-era Tokyo did – glitzy and decadent and pretty much the aural equivalent of those magazines they hand out in first class. Yet it’s more complex than any glossy mag about sail boats, full of subtle shifts in sound that, nevertheless, manages to sound deeply pleasurable even in the far more economically strained world of 2012.
Plus, check that elephant, can’t hate on a video with such a fly animal in it.
Playing with irony is a dangerous game…one wrong move, and suddenly what sounded like a good joke transforms into something legitimately off-putting. Idol-duo Vanilla Beans have always tip-toed on the edge just fine, their winking brand of J-Pop managing to deliver catchy tunes alongside the smirks. New single “Non Section,” though, comes close to tumbling over. The video has moments of the old Vanilla Beans – the still shots look sorta thrift store, while every part of the video involving the group eating/touching food comes off like a nice parody of AKB48 – but it also tends to leave the camera focused on Vanilla Beans’ legs too long, or focus a little too much on the two of them laying on a bed together. It’s not as clever as previous clips.
The music, meanwhile, is also hit or miss. The emphasis on cheesy guitars early on takes the air out of this song quickly, although the pre-chorus singing saves the song a bit thanks to how the group vocally zig-zag their lines. The chorus isn’t one of the duo’s knockout hooks – “Nicola” this ain’t – but rather one of their serviceable ones, the type that isn’t bad but also the sort that play it a little safe. Overall, pretty middle-of-the-road music from a duo capable of something much more subversive. Here’s hoping the rest of 2012 is spent getting that grin back.
Courtesy of Neaux
Osaka’s Friendly Hearts Of Japan have been quiet for a while, but now they have a new album out this week and “Zeitaku,” a new track and video in advance of their full-length. And just in time, because I needed a laid-back song to soundtrack my lazy weekend, where simply not having anything (that) pressing to do and opening a window seem like paradise. “Zeittaku” is simple, but sometimes those are just what you need. Watch above.