I love music, and I’m always—constantly—looking for new stuff to listen to.
Pretty much my favorite activity in life is to sit down in a dark room, pour myself a drink, put on some headphones, and listen to new music in search of gems I haven’t heard before. This is something I’ve been doing pretty consistently since my early teens. (Well, the drinks may have come a little bit later.)
In any case, here are a few recent “fruits of my labor.”
These findings are from the past year or so. I’ve listed each song, in no particular order, with its musical genre and year of release. Feel free to grab a drink and listen along if you’d like.
Young Gun Silver Fox
2018 | YACHT ROCK
I discovered these guys a while ago when I came across a collaboration they’d done with the amazing Rod Temperton. (On a side note, I would list Rod Temperton’s Heatwave among my favorite bands of all time.) They’ve released four albums so far, and each one consists of this sort of very friendly, sunny-sounding yacht rock. Awesome stuff.
By the way, I learned from an interview of theirs that the band name Young Gun Silver Fox is derived from its two members. One of them is a young gun, while the other is a silver fox.
Pretty academic stuff, I know. Really makes you think.
I’m very excited to announce the CD reissue of Minuano‘s first album, Love Logic, on August 22, featuring English lyrics of all songs on the album.
This special reissue is available on Shopify and Bandcamp.
The lyrics were translated by yours truly, and I had the pleasure of spending hours upon hours thoroughly discussing them with Minuano’s main architect and songwriter Ogata Takero, painstakingly going through each and every line to make sure the English lyrics would accurately portray the original vision of the beautiful Japanese lyrics.
Now, just in case you weren’t previously familiar with Love Logic…
Minuano’s debut album, first released in 2009, features influences from MPB, soft rock, jazz, and city pop, reshaping them into a unique soundscape blending romance and ennui, with the whispered vocals of Sakakibara Kaori (Lamp) as the icing on this cake of aural tapestry.
“Lemon Elegy,” a fleeting fusion of the vibrancy of Brazilian jazz and the sentimentality of Japanese lyricism. “Soleil,” with its MPB-esque key changes and a sense of melancholy towards a summer nearing its end. The bossa nova of “A Mischievous Wind,” also featuring vocalist Nagai Yusuke (Lamp). The scaled-down soft rock piece “Rain-Colored Diary” which truly makes one see the raindrops…
A total of 10 songs, capturing in vivid detail these fragments of a world in motion.
This is a conversation with Ogawa Mishio, vocalist of the Japanese new wave band Chakra who were active from 1978 to 1983. Chakra is also the main topic of this discussion. Enjoy!
(Note: This is, in fact, two separate interviews compiled into one post. Thus, the questions and the order of the questions have been slightly edited to maintain the flow of the conversation.)
Interview & text: Shikata Hiroaki (Japanese text: one & two)
English translation: Henkka
Ogawa Mishio links: Website, Twitter
Note: You can buy Chakra’s music on CDJapan.
Chakra — a band of the New Wave Era who radiated a profoundly mysterious charm. Now, their albums Chakra and Satekoso have been re-released with five bonus tracks each!
In this interview, we asked the band’s vocalist Ogawa Mishio about her time in Chakra.
This is an interview with Kitasono Minami about his third (and, as of this writing, most recent) EP, Never Let Me Go. Also included are his liner notes for each song. Enjoy!
Interview & text: Kato Naoko (Japanese text)
English translation: Henkka
Kitasono Minami links: Website, Blog, Twitter, SoundCloud
Note: You can buy Never Let Me Go on CDJapan.
Kitasono Minami, who released his second EP, lumiere, this past July, continues to showcase his increasingly colorful realm of pop. But the artist himself remains shrouded in mystery, choosing still not to reveal his face in any promotional photos. The fact is, however, that even this mystique is something that gives his work a certain kind of charm.
Being in charge of writing all the lyrics and music, doing all the arranging and singing, performing all manner of instruments by himself, but also featuring in his captivating world of sound a great number of highly skilled supporting players—beginning with the strings and a brass section—Kitasono Minami surely offers one so many different ways of enjoying his music, capturing the listener’s imagination.
And now, bringing a renewed sense of inspiration to that sound world is his third EP, Never Let Me Go, which was just released a short while ago. With a focus on winter songs, this work features five warm, bountiful numbers that make for perfect listening as we near the Christmas season. With some new performers taking part in the recordings—Ishiwaka Shun on drums, Kusui Satsuki and Morita Yusuke on bass, Ogaeri Ami on piano—the involvement of these young, spirited jazz musicians is surely another important characteristic of the work.
Eager to learn more about this highly interesting EP whose lyrics stand in stark contrast to its bright sound, we conducted an email interview with the artist himself.
This is a 2003 interview with Nujabes about his debut album, Metaphorical Music. It’s kind of special in that it is one of very few interviews ever given by Nujabes. According to friends who were speaking about him in a posthumous Japan Times article, this is “the only interview they could remember him ever doing.” That certainly makes this a rare treat.
A special shout-out to members of the r/Nujabes community for pointing me in the direction of this interview. I only wish it was ten times longer! (Interestingly, while the article was first published in 2003 and reprinted online in 2020, both versions had a couple of sentences missing between them. I carefully compared the two to make this translation as complete as possible.)
Happy birthday, Nujabes.
Interview & text: Sound & Recording Magazine (October 2003 Issue) (Japanese text)
Photography: 八島崇 (except ※)
English translation: Henkka
Nujabes links: Website, Twitter
Nujabes is a talented underground hip hop track maker who has been gaining prominence for his work published through the Hydeout Productions label in which he takes his sampling sources and puts them to their best use. On his first solo album, Metaphorical Music, he makes the listener rediscover the appeal of said sampled music by interweaving it with spirited MC’s and jam sessions with live instrumentalists.
We visited Nujabes at his private studio where he made the album to ask him about his track making process.