Lots of good music came out of Japan in April, but keeping track of it all can be a challenge, especially for those living outside of the island. Don’t sweat it, in this monthly column, we highlight a few Japanese releases well worth hunting down...
YUC’e Macaron Moon
Electronic artist YUC’e creates hyper-Technicolor dance-pop that some have tagged as “kawaii bass,” owing to how she pairs bell chimes and xylophone notes up against burbling walls of bass. Her latest release, Macaron Moon, highlights her frantic sugar rush at its best, with the title track and “Cappchino” offering up some of her hardest-hitting numbers to date, but with enough cuddliness on the edges to not frighten. She also adopts elements once common in Shibuya-kei, incorporating elements from obscure styles – see the horn-tinged theater-vibe of “Night Club Junkie.” If you like your Japanese music cute but with a bite, YUC’e is for you. Get it here.
Kyoto rock trio tricot’s latest album finds them refining their twisty-turvy style, zipping all over the place and still crazy about sudden tempo changes, while also still letting a more unpredictable emotional core come through. But that makes it also sound a little less fun than it actually is – 3 is just loaded with catchy numbers, such as the galloping “TOKYO VAMPIRE HOTEL” (above) or the shifty “DeDeDe.” Yeah, it’s easy to be wowed by tricot’s technical mastery, but don’t forget those hooks. Get it here.
tofubeats Fantasy Club
Long-running producer tofubeats gets personal on his latest full-length Fantasy Club, eschewing the guest spots that dominated his earlier releases in favor of taking the mic himself. A few friends pop up, including rising rapper Young Juju on the melancholy hip-hop of “Lonely Nights” (above), but for the most part it’s just tofubeats singing through a thick layer of Auto-tune and wrestling with confusion and loneliness...and eventually finding release via slow-burning dance tracks and the lush pop of “Baby.” It covers a stylistic ground, but is connected by tofubeats’ character.
Tokyo Health Club Michitonosogu
This one, from rap four-piece Tokyo Health Club, caught our eyes first thanks to the video for “Supermarket,” (above) which finds the group spitting rhymes while on cherrypickers. It’s a clever idea, and it helps that the laid-back song shines too, thanks to its throwback production and the unit’s tag-team approach to vocals. This extends to the Michitonosogu mini album too, one of the month’s best Japanese rap releases and all around solid listen.
Hear us on SBS PopAsia Digital Radio
Listen in 24/7 on Digital Radio, by downloading our free mobile app or by streaming live here on our website.
Download the app here: