Staff Selections: May 2017

Here are our staff picks for May 2017, check them out below the jump!

Alex

Tricot

3

Strong of a brand new contract with American label Topshelf Records, Kyoto math-rockers Tricot are back with their third studio record, titled – guess what – “3”.

The main attraction behind this band always lied in its remarkable ability in offering the complex patterns of Math Rock in an accessible and quickly enjoyable way, an achievement mostly reached through straight-to-the-point guitar riffs and catchy vocal lines constantly supported by unpredictable tempo changes typical of the genre. This new record doesn’t stray away too much from this winning formula, and while “3” surely plays it safe in more than one area, it still results constantly engaging and successfully keeps the interest up, mostly thanks to a variable mood that occasionally takes a more aggressive turn, mostly noticeable in the opener “Tokyo Vampire Hotel” and in a few other numbers like the frantic “18,19” and “Pork Ginger“.

Throughout the thirteen tracks composing this work, it’s clear that the greatest accomplishment of “3” lies in the perfect balance between slow and fast moments: taking advantage of the formula at the base of their sound, the girls successfully enrich their compositions and make them various throughout a smart use of delicate melodies alternated to aggressive riffs, that constantly shift the tides of this record while keeping its overall mood cohesive. Fans will love it, while newcomers will find a nice welcome to the music of Tricot.

The Pats Pats

A.A.A.

Not an album but a track release, “A.A.A” is a number that recently put Tokyo-based duo The Pats Pats on the radar of several Japanese music fans. Generally following a classic Pop Rock formula, the group enriches this already solid number with noticeable technical prowess, highlighted through several moments like the unexpected refrain in the middle of the track, promptly followed by dynamic drum patterns and crispy bass lines, that leave space to a few guitar solos that keep up the vibe without stealing the spotlight. All of this is paired with an engaging guitar work and a chorus that’s beautifully catchy, making “A.A.A” a joyful and uplifting number not to miss. This is plain lovely, and also your best chance to get to know this talented duo.

Ash

Satoko Shibata

DO YOU NEED A REST FROM LOVE

Satoko Shibata has been making the rounds the last few years as part of this increasing trend of female singer songwriters, and has proven to be one at the top of her field. With DO YOU NEED A REST FROM LOVE (or as other websites list it “Ai no Kyuujitsu DO YOU NEED A REST FROM LOVE?), Shibata reaches further into catchy pop and presents an endearing collection of tracks that is enthralling from start to end. While it’s more poppy than her previous releases, Shibata also remains one of the most simplistic and pure acoustic folk artists of her generation, with most songs being backed warmly by her sole acoustic guitar. It’s essential listening if you’re into the scene, and a less abrasive choice if you’re holding back because of the type of delivery a lot of these acts bring, with Shibata singing sweet as sugar throughout the entire release.

Kano

You Kikkawa

Sayonara, Standard

You Kikkawa has always been a fun idol to follow and she reached a new level (or a new low) with her new single, “Sayonara, Standard”. Granted, the song wasn’t written by her (courtesy of Seiko Oomori), but it does feel like her and all the layers it has almost sound convincing coming from her mouth. “Sayonara” reads like a love song at first but there is also a quip at the obsession with standards within the Japanese society and then the track goes full meta with Kikkawa admitting that… she can’t sing. Not a triumph musically or vocally, yet there is that rebellious feeling that makes it work.

DADARAY

DADAMAN

“DADAMAN” is DADARAY‘s, a band associated with Gesu no Kiwami Otome, second EP and they are not showing the signs of slowing down (both in quality and release frequency as their 3rd EP is scheduled for late June). With this record the band seems to be developing a sort of identity and the female vocals may be adding more than just a touch of charm to the music. It’s too early to tell if they’ll get rid of the “Gesu songs sung by a girl” label or embrace it but either way the tunes are nice and the current EP format works perfectly for them, letting all songs (one of them being a different take on ikitsukushi from DADAISM which feels unnecessary but might appeal to some) shine.

Anime review

Tsuki ga Kirei

Though Tsuki ga Kirei started in April, with only a handful of the episodes being out it wasn’t clear what path it would follow but considering the recent developments it’s becoming obvious that the series is not about lovey dovey with pretty art alone. And though romance and character interactions (and specifically a problem of interaction of people of the opposite sexes) play a huge role here, it’s not as much a romantic series as it is a solid coming-of-age story flashing out all the aspects, the good and the bad, of growing up. The characters still have some years before reaching maturity as they are about to enter high school but the anime manages to make this particular period of their lives feel important. With a couple of episodes left it will be quite exciting to see how far the finale will take the series.

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  • Comments

    • PigeonPop

      Tsuki ga Kirei is such a gem. The nuanced, more honest approach in tackling the genre really stands out these days when the rest of the field have gotten a little too obvious and idealized.

    • I liked the Pat Pats and Kikkawa You’s releases. I’m in such a summery mood right now and those singles/albums fit right up my alley. Pink Cres.’ album is another one I’d add to my list of summer listening and some how Silent Siren has won me back with their latest release.

    • JSBLove

      Omg same! Been repeating Tomochin’s #Iine nonstop cause it’s so catchy! The MV is just adorable <3

    • pondloso

      Satoko Shibata really catch me since her debut single really great.
      Tricot they seem like they never stop growing they music really top tier you will know is they song

      even just from the intro.