Staff Selections: February 2017

Hello Arama readers! Here are our staff picks for February 2017, check them out below.

Alex

Suiyoubi no Campanella

SUPERMAN

All eyes were on Suiyoubi no Campanella for this record. After the mixed reception for their Major debut release UMA, this was the right chance for the Electronic/Rap outfit to avenge themselves, and they succeeded. SUPERMAN is a strong and fun record that’s constantly fresh and surprising throughout its ten tracks, which is all the Campanella fans really needed in this moment. Despite following the pattern that made the outfit successful in its pre-Major era, SUPERMAN still manages to sound refreshing thanks to a much more upbeat approach, and the adoption of 80’s, Funk, and even African vibes, packing a number of impressive influences inside a familiar pattern. A great recovery after a little slip-up.

NECRONOMIDOL

DEATHLESS

If last year’s from chaos born EP was a valid showcase of NECRONOMIDOL’s ability in mixing up Electro-pop with Metal, the unit’s new record DEATHLESS is the ultimate consolidation of this formula. While this approach isn’t anything really new in the maze of a saturated niche like the Alternative Idol scene, Necroma is the only outfit out there who’s adopting it with knowledge and actual seriousness, avoiding the forced “bizarre” path 90% of its colleagues in the industry blindly pursue. Spacing from Black to classic NWOBHM, DEATHLESS brings various sub-genres of Metal to the table crafted with remarkable prowess, while delicately applying sinister Electronic layers on top, making this abused formula sound natural and cohesive for the very first time. This is the record every NECRONOMIDOL fan was waiting for, and the best one to get into the music of the “Ultra-dark idol unit”.

Owatari

KREVA

Uso to Bonno

Uso to Bonno is KREVA’s first album in nearly 4 years and it doesn’t disappoint. The album mixes synths, strings, electronic, and a touch of old school hip hop sounds for an interesting album. The album also finds strength in its features.”Omoide no Mukougawa” features fellow rapper AKLO and former AKB48 member Yuka Masuda is featured on the track “Sanzan.” Yuka has a nice tone to her voice that complements both KREVA’s rapping and the overall atmosphere of the track. Likewise, AKLO lends himself well to the bass heavy “Omoide no Mukogawa.” The album is filled with catchy beats and hooks and these two songs are no exception. KREVA finds a nice balance of hip-hop, rap, and pop in this album that works really well with his rap-singing style.

Shishido Kavka

DO_S

Kavka’s 2016 album “Toridori” rarely received and plays from me, but “DO_S” is a complete 180 from that. In my opinion, Kavka put together better mini-albums than she does full albums. “DO_S” is filled with catchy tracks and great diversity. The mini-album starts off with the energetic and danceable “Tachiagare” and slowly progresses into mid tempo and slower songs. “DO_S” experiments more in its opening tracks which keeps the album interesting. However, Kavka’s take on typical jpop/jrock sounds on the album’s closing tracks are just as good.

Lick-G

Trainspotting

Lick-G is a young rapper and while he comes off as a try hard at times (especially with that hair) he released a pretty solid debut album. He shows talent and has a nice flow. “Hollyview” and “Mellow Akira” are probably my two favorite tracks from the album. They exhibit Lick-G’s skills as a rapper and his ability to keep his raps fresh and interesting. As the album progresses I do find Lick-G’s rapping to be a little bland at times, but the production and the unusual mixture of sounds keeps the album interesting.

Shirakami Mashiro

Tokyo Ni Okeru Sex Friend Ya Koibito No Nanigashi(Mata Ha Sore Ni Nita Jouji)ni Tsuite Kiite Kaita

The only bad thing I really have to say about this EP is that it has an annoyingly long title. The EP is a nice record that takes a more mature turn from some of Mashiro’s vocaloid work. The EP has a mixture of sounds which somewhat remind me of Nakashima Koh, but Mashiro leans closer to pop than Nakashima does. The track Kyouhansha is the standout song on the EP. Its infectious beat and Mashiro’s vocals draw you into the track and make for an easy listen.

Click here to watch the music video for “共犯者”

Ash

Haruko Tajima

Harukonium

Haruko Tajima’s debut solo release “Violence” was a truly balls to-the-wall, no fucks given affair. Outsider music at its most outsider- think along the lines of “This Is Nats” in terms of irreverent but without being too ‘try-hard’ and you’d be close. Her sophomore release, Harukonium is still reaching toward that outer sphere but far more focused, serious, and downright impressive. It’s so much of a leap forward that it’s hard to believe you’re listening to the same artist. Heavy synth, industrial elements, new wave and techno inspirations and fantastic, trance like vocals (it’s hard go this listener not to be reminded at least a little of HYS-era Yapoos) all lead to one of the most exhilarating releases I’ve heard in 2017 so far. A face to keep an eye on.

Megumi Hayshibara

Imawa no Shiginami

While I have had problems with a lot of Shiina Ringo related releases from the last few years, credit is due where credit is due. This single is quite charming- the main track is a real gem and feels like it was written when Ringo’s foray into jazz and showtunes was still something fresh. Megumi’s vocals match up pretty well with the composition and the songwriting is strong. The bside, “Inochi no Ibuki”, is nothing too exciting, but it feels like a traditional b-side, and could likely be the first song with Ringo with no direct tie in for a long while. It’s breezy, quaint and enjoyable. It won’t be something people will freak out about, but it certainly is the most pleasant experience from Ringo in about 5 years. Couple these two tracks with instrumental versions and you’ve got another nice single that goes along well with the last Ringo/Megumi collobaration, Ursurai Shinju.

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  • Comments

    • HyperMoot .

      nice buffet, will pick a bit of Lick-G, Necronomidol, Kreva and Shiina’s song for starters, main course is definitely that Majiko EP !! Will sure listen and listen again and probably ask for seconds.

      • Ash

        Which Shiina song, there’s two on here :-p

        • HyperMoot .

          the main track 今際の死神 (fix the title: it’s ‘imawa no shinigami’ not shiginami/私議波) :-p

          • Ash

            Actually wait that means there’s 3 Ringo songs on here

    • hasawa

      Uuugh… My laptop deceased friday so i couldn’t submit my staff pick on time… anyway…
      Nice to see KREVA on the list! I definitively need to put my hand on his new album asap!
      May try the new Suiyoobi no Campanella as well
      I have a remark about the Natsume Mito EP review though: tbh even though i understand why “TOKYO GIRL” has disapointed a lot of fans (esp the MV), me included, i think Perfume is still Yasutaka Nakata’s most relevant act atm. I raised an eyebrow at Kyary’s last single being “more than decent” when it is actually on the same level than “TOKYO GIRL” imo, but since people were used getting more musical substance in Perfume’s work, the more they have been disapointed concerning this lackluster. As much as Yasutaka Nakata seems to have a lot of fun with Kyary maybe he’s trying to get some fresh blood (“PONPONPON” is gonna be 10 years next year) and is having more interest in making brand new acts even though they may not get the same success as Kyary of any of his former unit.

      • hasawa

        Oh and to save my sorry ass, here’s my February pick! : THE ORAL CIGARETTES “UNOFFICIAL” album already saved 2017
        This album is BRILLIANT! The band got my attention with “Kishikaisei Story” (and its eponymous EP) and i never though they would be able to top this song (esp since the following full album “FIXION” has been pretty disapointing). But this WHOLE album has been a religious experience (special Mention to WARWARWAR) and i’m so glad this album existed when i’ve been so down these last few week~ Bless them!

        • Dalooshe

          I loved fixion and had it on repeat endlessly, but yeah this album is fireeee!!!

      • hhhh

        I felt the same way about the Kyary single – it was better than “Crazy Crazy” since it didn’t have some English one-hit-wonder screaming all over the chorus, but ultimately it wasn’t a very good song on its own.

        Incidentally, I think the reason Mito Natsume’s music seems to be of a higher standard is because her gimmick is playing the guitar, so she can’t be given the same EDM-lite trash as Perfume – instead, her songs need to have more live instrument sounds, and that gives them a lighter, fresher kind of sense.

        Still, her live shows are embarrassing, it’s painful to watch her get on stage with a guitar just to be drowned out by the CD track playing at full volume behind her.

    • aasdsda

      iri 「Watashi」 is the best pick.

    • maguro part deux

      I guess I don’t really understand the rationale for Shiina Ringo writing music for someone like Megumi Hayashibara. Why doesn’t she just sing it and release it herself? Shiina’s a better singer, better looking and more famous, so what is gained by having Megumi sing? I don’t get it.

      • hhhh

        She was clearly commissioned to write it, it’s not like she’s just calling up celebrities and asking them to sing for her.

      • Ash

        More pay for less work

        • maguro part deux

          I’d sign up for that. LOL.

    • Nikki ok

      I like camapanella’s songs, they’re a little weird but that speak-singing style really goes for her, I also like the song with the long title, it’s nice and idk if it’s just because it’s ai otsuka or if it’s the song but I like that one too, overall it’s also nice too see, that the staff picks differ a lot in style and genre