GANG! Warfare: A discussion about ZOMBIE-CHANG’s latest album

At the beginning of March ZOMBIE-CHANG released her latest album “GANG!” A couple staff members decided to review the album , hoping to shed light on who we feel is one of the best up-and-coming artists in the Japanese music scene.

Check out the reviews below!

Kyle

For a while now, many friends have been raving about ZOMBIE-CHANG. While I really enjoyed her last album “ZOMBIE-CHANGE”, and collaboration with YOSA & SALU, I wasn’t completely under her spell yet. That all changed with “GANG!”

The production value on “GANG!” is without a doubt her best to date. The beats and vocals are both top notch, especially the latter. This is most evident in mellow track “KABENOMUKOU“. I don’t know where she was hiding these vocals, but Zombie can SANG! The use of horns that accompany the track melds everything together perfectly, definitely a highlight. The album opens with another highlight, the delightful electronic track “I CAN’T GET TO SLEEP”. Catchy, fun, and quirky it’s a great showcase of ZOMBIE-CHANG’s personality and what she has to offer. It’s everything the perfect promotional track should be, and it’s easy to see why this song was selected to get a music video. The way each song leads into each other is great, there’s no glaring duds, I feel a lot of thought was put into every aspect of this album even down to the tracklist order. I personally have a huge penchant for 60s pop songs, so I couldn’t be happier to see “KAWAII BABY” as the closing track, ZOMBIE-CHANG’s take on the 1962 hit by Connie Francis. She stays very true to the original while still adding enough personal flavor to make the song her own.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve been so excited about a new Japanese artist, I love how we got to see a completely new side to ZOMBIE-CHANG, and I look forward to seeing many new sides of her in the future.

Alex

It’s no secret that spontaneous personalities are slowly taking over the old “diva” concept: this obsolete (yet still followed) marketing will hardly ever die, but it saw an undeniable decline in the last few years, a decline that gave space to talented independent acts to reach the mainstream scene and conquer a well-targeted slice of audience, thanks to refreshing productions and strong charisma.

Zombie Chang (stage name of Meirin Yung) has all the potential to become the next great act to join this new wave of artists: last year’s “ZOMBIE-CHANGE” was one of the most surprising records of 2016, and “GANG!” is a direct evolution of that concept, holding its place in the same area, but also showing remarkable improvements over several departments. The first noticeable detail is the jump in production quality, sharper and deeper than before, that seconds the various vibes featured in here, wether it’s the catchiness of the opener “I CAN’T GET TO SLEEP“, or the subtle oppression of “KABENOMUKOU“. Still, the greatest improvement of “GANG!” lies in the vocal department, where Meirin’s voice is freed from the heavy effects that distinguished her previous works, and is now able to showcase great interpretation in simple yet functional vocal lines. At its core, the record follows Zombie Chang’s familiar pattern made of melodic and linear Electronic numbers that get constantly twisted and manipulated, framed by redundant vocal lines that add a pleasant catchy touch. And that’s really all she needed to do with this record: adopt the same formula while improving it.

All in all, “GANG!” is a short yet very enjoyable record that successfully melds several vibes together, and wraps them up with Meirin’s remarkable sense of rhythm and melody construction. The feeling is that there are more surprises to come in Zombie Chang’s music, and I genuinely can’t wait to see where this path is leading.

Ash

ZOMBIE CHANG‘s transformation from freak folk to electronic indie songstress has been overwhelmingly successful, and this follow-up to her fantastic ZOMBIE-CHANGE further expands on that sound. The transition to new label Bayon Production has added a level of punch, yet her ethereal, floaty vocals are still there and it’s just warm, inviting and exciting to listen to. Whether it be the colorful single “I CAN’T GET TO SLEEP”, the traditional spiked “TARINAI“, the massive, lovely “WEEKEND” with its hard hitting chorus, or the legitimately surprising “KOURAKUEN” which features ZOMBIE-CHANG’s best vocal performance to date (where she seemingly channels the likes of Phew); every track of this 25 minute gem offers something wonderful and unforgettable.

It is easy to understand why ZOMBIE-CHANG, out of all the current ‘alt-girl‘ trend, is one of the easiest for people to adapt to. With GANG!, she’s gotten more trendy, cool and focused. The album sounds great through headphones and the added level of production value will make it even easier for ZOMBIE-CHANG to push through to an audience that wouldn’t necessarily even touch the likes of this music. GANG! is one of the first Japanese albums this year that this reviewer wouldn’t even have a problem pushing to the non-Japanese music listening crowd, it’s hip enough to appeal to the western alternative scene as well as J-pop listeners alike. Most importantly, it always feels honest and from the heart, and this always goes a long way.

Another tick for ZOMBIE-CHANG, who surely is one of the most rewarding newcomers to the scene.

Ronald

In 2015, I described ZOMBIE-CHANG as the Japanese Grimes. Now I want to describe her as a cooler version of Suiyoubi no Campanella’s KOM_I, but one that actually puts work into her music. With her new album “GANG!”, ZOMBIE-CHANG has progressed her sound, going even more in the alternative direction as oppose to a poppier one.

That being said, my favorite song on this release is the poppiest one. “I CAN’T GET TO SLEEP TONIGHT” is such a fun track, full of kinetic energy. I rarely talk about videos, but I first heard the song when I saw the music video, and the first thing that came to mind is “This like a Kato Miliyah video, but if Miliyah was actually able to make her image and sound complement each other.” One of the things I like about ZOMBIE-CHANG is that she is a solid, cohesive entity now. She originally was an alt-folk singer, but she’s been over that for a few years now and has really found her niche as the coolest of the cool girls in Japanese music today. She’s really set herself apart from this pack of rising female talent in the indie scene. Her closest competition would be KOM_I, so maybe that’s why I link them in my mind.
zombiechang

  • Comments

    • Sou

      Completely agree with Kyle about how “ZOMBIE-CHANGE” felt cool for me but not as much as it seemed it resonated with everyone else, this time I’m all about this album! Loving it so much!

      Nevertheless, I don’t share Ronald’s view of how ZOMBIE-CHANG is the “upgraded version” of KOM_I, as for as much they are certainly filling a similar space in the music industry, their work still feel different one from the other; and even though, Suikan still feels “better” than ZOMBIE-CHANG for me.

      • But if Kenmochi Hidefumi wasn’t creating Suiyoubi no Campanella’s music, would people care?

        • Sou

          While that’s almost undoubtly true, I think she isn’t entirely defined by whether she can or cannot produce her own music. KOM_I inspires much more to me than ZOMBIE-CHANG with her voice, her acting on videos is on point… The fact that ZOMBIE-CHANG produces her own music is something really positive that I truly love and find very important in a musician, but not that indispensable. That being said, I understand how this factor is key in your point of view, so I get what you mean and why do you find her better than KOM_I.

    • KOM_I

      I didn’t read all the reviews because I get that you all share a similar opinion. I haven’t listened to her music, but she just looks like any other mainstream, urban J-Pop singer.
      The thing about the “diva” singers is that each had a big influence in different generations, from their music style to fashion style. This kind of “new” singers already have a public in mind that already have a sort of mainstream style and like that kind of songs.
      Like I said, I still haven’t listened to her and barely know anything about her so I might be wrong, but still it’s sort of expected by Arama! Japan to support this kind of singers. It’s just a shame that most of you nitpick on everything a well-established artist does, while congratulating new acts for, well, being new and not very well-known.

      • The music industry is a lot more segmented now than in the past so it makes sense for artists to go after certain audiences.

      • Guest

        There is nothing urban nor mainstream about her though. At least listen to the single damn.

      • BAD KID

        do you think she’s an urban singer cause the album name is gang? where is this coming from why would u comment without reading anything lmaoooooooo

        • HyperMoot .

          “lmaoooooooo” again, pfff, my poor FRT, you obviously don’t have the IQ requirements to lecture anyone. This guy -yet another ‘guest’, that’s incredible the number of guests there are on Aramad- wrote “she just looks like any other mainstream, urban J-Pop singer” so, LOOK LIKE = BE ? my, my, pisa: no ! pizza: yes ! If you think he thinks she’s urban because of the word ‘gang’ what makes him ‘think’ she’s mainstream then? Chang? I still see lots of ‘oooos’ in your LMAOs, shortage of pineapple cream?

          • wow

            Arama certainly have pulled a number on you haven’t they?

          • BAD KID

            lmaooooooooooooooooo

            • HyperMoot .

              you forgot one “o” it should be “lmaoooooooooooooooooo” or were you in a hurry? Busy lynching Ugandans with your KKK buddies or you had problems reading your pineapple notice?

              • BAD KID

                lmaoooo

                • HyperMoot .

                  eeh? no more ink? lack of inspiration? try harder, this kind of essay won’t even lead to a D when you take your pizza test

                  • BAD KID

                    lmaooooo

                    • HyperMoot .

                      listen, Dab Dick, apparently there’s no chance you can fix your LMAO spelling for good, so, why don’t you try something else? You could crawl back to the dark web where you belong and drool over glossy pictures of Morning Musume clones (you in the middle?) then come back with something more elaborate, you do sound like someone whose ancestors were parrots.

                      • BAD KID

                        lmaoooo

    • hasawa

      Honestly, this girl looks like any other alternative trendy up and coming new indie electro pop artist (you, those whose music can easily find in any “indie pop playlist” in soudcoud/spotify lol)
      That being said, i like this kind of article discussing more rofoundly about an artist lastest release. I would be glad seeing more of them on Arama :-)
      That being said, it’s pretty atsoundng how being “hip” “cool” or “trendy” (which are recurring terms in this article) seems to be such a deal in the music scene atm. I may be called naive but being on trend souldn’t be an argument when trying to explain why an artist is good or relevant in the music scene.

      • guest

        i actually like ha but you hit the nail on the head – she’s def not any more exceptional than any other jinde act

      • Well “dated” is often used to describe music, so why not use words like “hip”, “cool”, and “trendy”?

        I don’t expect most artists to stick around for a long time, so being able to be on trend, and seeing what the next trend is and getting on that, is a good thing, as long as you’re able to be true to yourself still.

      • Ash

        “Also, it’s pretty astoundng how being “hip” “cool” or “trendy” (which
        are recurring terms in this article) seems to be such a deal in the
        music scene atm”

        The response when your faves are no longer cool anymore :-p

        (I’m kidding)

        But yeah. Doing this kind of review was fun, it would be interesting to do it again sometime.

    • hhhh

      I like the idea behind that lead track, but the execution is so monotonous that it isn’t memorable at all. Sounds a bit like one of Tentenko’s half-baked CD-Rs with none of the home-made charm.

      • Ash

        Thats interesting you think this, I cant get the damn song out of my head. I woke up with it playing this morning.

        • hhhh

          Well, the single keyboard riff is memorable thanks to aggressive repetition, but to the extent that the rest of the song just kind of fades into meaninglessness against it for me – if they’d switched it up slightly for the chorus, it’d probably be more enjoyable, but all I end up taking away from it is the same three notes.

    • guest

      Japan Times raved about her now you guys? What is with this girl that I’m not seeing?

      • HyperMoot .

        “Japan Times raved about her now you guys? ” it’ll take years before it’s the other way round, well, I hope so

    • guest

      Not usually my thing but I really enjoyed GANG! Are the rest of her albums like this?

      • Hmm

        If you go back one album, its similar enough. If you go beyond that, its nothing remotely alike. Acoustic folky with some punk.