From mosh-pit-ready to reggae-touched sounds.
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5 Dec 2017 - 1:37 PM  UPDATED 5 Dec 2017 - 1:37 PM

Lots of good music came out of Japan in November, but keeping track of it all can be a challenge. Don’t sweat it, we've highlighted a few Japanese releases well worth hunting down...

GANG PARADE: “Gang Parade Takes Themselves Higher!!”

Management company WACK had a particularly solid November, seeing their marquee act BiSH release a thunderous new album and perform on some of the biggest weekly music shows, along with a new full-length from scrappy outfit BILLIE IDLE and an agency-wide compilation. Yet the best work coming from WACK in November, and maybe all year, was from GANG PARADE. Indeed, the group takes themselves higher on their latest. The first couple of songs serve as a body-check, full of rumbling bass lines, shouted lyrics and something approaching an EDM drop on the number “Gang Parade.” Yet they open up from there, with plinky synth-pop (“Are You Kidding?”) and mid-tempo waviness (“Futsu No Nichijo”). Moving from mosh-pit-ready to sentimental, it shows GANG PARADE’s sonic flexibility, and simply offers up one of 2017’s best idol albums.

Chip Tanaka: “Django”

Hirokazu Tanaka helped create some of the most famous video game soundtracks in history. He’s worked on the music to Tetris, Earthbound and Metroid among others. And he’s got his own solo project, under the name Chip Tanaka, wherein he mixed 8-bit blips with other instruments to create lively dance-pop and reggae-inspired slow burners. Django is the first album from this moniker, and it’s a masterclass in creating songs from game-derived sounds. The key? Tanaka doesn’t fall for easy nostalgia, primarily because he invented the songs many other artists now channel in their music. He’s free to follow his own path, and the end result is exhilarating.

Crunch: “Tenkiame”

Nagoya trio Crunch excel at turning over feelings over space. The indie-pop band’s debut album Tenkiame finds them crafting slowly opening numbers where memories get reflected on as guitars and drums slowly build everything up. Sometimes they spill over; see the galloping “Simple Mind," but often they reflect real moments of reflection, stalling out and ending with no real certainty, like “Blue.”

Young Juvenile Youth: “Mirror”

The first full-length album from nervy electronic duo Young Juvenile Youth generates unease even in its most floor-focused moments. The Tokyo project melds skittery beats with clear vocals, making for madcap dance-pop on the wobbly “Slapback” or the driving “In Blue,” but also turning slow-burning meditations like the menacing “Her” into unnerving creations that are tough to turn away from.

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