Hello Arama Japan readers! We are back with our monthly wrap up feature (well bi-monthly in this case). A few of the staff members have come together to share their faves for the months of June and July. Find out what the staff was loving these past 2 months! Also feel free to post what you loved this past June and July in the comments!
Gesu no Kiwami Otome. – Romance ga Ariamaru
Their single “Watashi Igai Watashi Janai no” was in my last group of selections and now they’re here again. There isn’t a drop in standards here. I really like the dual pianos in parts of the song. I also like the interplay between the piano and the guitar in other parts of the song. There’s a funky, yet smooth, groove to the song that I really like my music. The bridge of this song is great because it really let’s Chan Mari’s piano skills shine. It also provides a softer contrast to the rest of the song. Enon’s softer vocals in this part of the song mesh well with the piano.
The B-sides on this single are just as good as the A-side. “Saidentity” has a somewhat similar vibe to “Romance ga Ariamaru”, but with more of a focus on drums. The second B-side, “Ink”, is more chaotic than either song, but in a good way.
indigo la End – Kanashiku Naru Mae ni
For those who don’t know, Enon Kawatani is the frontman and creative force behind both indigo la End and Gesu no Kiwami Otome. He did a double release on June 17, releasing this single and the Gesu no Kiwami Otome. single I just reviewed. These 2 bands are different though. indigo la End has more of a traditional indie rock sound and it shows on “Kanashiku Naru Mae ni.” There is some really good rhythmic guitar work on this song. It gives it a nice energy. There is also some great guitar work on the first B-side, “Kawaki.” This song also has a more rock feel to it than “Kanashiku Naru Mae ni”, it’s a bit heavier. I do like how they mellowed out the single at the end with “Natsuya no Magic”, the second B-side. It’s a relaxing, summer night song, as the title indicates.
Shiggy Jr. – Summer Time Love
I really love this song. It’s so fun, so bright, so joyful, so energetic. It is the Japanese summer song of 2015. This song has an 80s feel to it. There’s a funk to it that I like. The bass on this is a real driving force. I love the use of strings on this song; it adds a certain sweetness. I really like the last 30 second or so of this song. The strings just exploded and take me to this place of pure joy. There’s something really nostalgic about it.
I also love the remix that Kuchiroro did of this song. It chops the song up some and it gives it a bit of different feel. It makes it a lot more disco-y and dreamy.
Maaya Sakamoto x Cornelius – Anata wo Tamotsu Mono / Mada Ugoku
Smooth is the first word that comes to mind when I think of this single. The whole single is just really rich and well produced. Between Maaya’s voice and Cornelius’ production, it’s a match made in heaven. I’m reminded a bit of his collaborations with Salyu while listening to this. I think I might actually like this more than that. I would love to see Maaya and Cornelius collaborate more in the future.
Yuko Ando – Naimononedari no I Want You
This song is from “Matsumoto Takashi Sakushi Katsudo Yonjugo Shunen Tribute ‘Kazemachi de Ahimaseu’.” It’s a tribute album that celebrates Matsumoto Takashi’s 45th anniversary as a composer. I initially got this for the YUKI song on it, but I stayed for the Yuko Ando song. I was blown away by this. It’s so funky! This is probably the most alive I’ve ever heard her! This is a cover of C-C-B’s 1986 hit of the same name, but it’s very different. The original is kinda cheesy, but Yuko does a good job of adding a touch of sophistication to it.
Hata Motohiro – Suisai no Tsuki
“Suisai no Tsuki” is one of Motohiro’s simpler ballads. I had my issues with his voice in his acoustic album “evergreen” at times, but in this song, it’s flawless. The arrangement and the melody are both nothing special but I like that it’s not over-orchestrated like a lot of J-pop ballads nowadays.
I liked it a little more than “Himawari no Yakusoku” because it’s more toned down. The real standout, however, is the b-side “Sign up Baby”. It’s a funky soft rock number that shows off the roughness of his voice in a good way and makes me want for more.
[Alexandros] – ALXD
“ALXD” is one of my favorite releases of 2015 so far. It’s just the right blend of mainstream and experimental that a rock album needs to be in my opinion. They had some risky song ideas (the sudden change of tempo in “Boo!” and the hot mess that is “One-tempo okureta Monster ain’t dead” as a whole for example) but it works damn well.
My favorite track is “Droshky!”. The trumpets in the arrangement may not be for everyone but the song has a lot of power. Next up is “Coming Summer”, the album’s only ballad – but it’s not boring at all. The guitar solo is really cool and Yoohei’s voice sounds pretty nice if he keeps it down a little.
I also enjoyed both “Wataridori” and “Dracula La” which were released on a double a-side single together. The former shows [Alexandros]’s more serious side while the latter is rather playful. If you’re into bands like ONE OK ROCK, this album is definitely what you should check out!