Sungha Jung – Monologue

To be honest, there aren’t many superlatives left to describe Sungha that haven’t already been used. Monologue is his fourth solo record and this one is almost entirely self-composed bar the one rearranged cover of Kimi o Nosete (Carrying You) that he’s been performing on the tour circuit for the last 2 or so years.

For once, he’s got a proper music video to promote the album and it’s for The Milky Way, one of the highlights of Monologue. His technique is always flawless, but now you can tell his composing skills are moving on in leaps and bounds; I daresay I’ve been enjoying Sungha’s recent works a lot more than those of Oshio Kotaro’s and I greatly look forward to hearing the magic he’ll create in years to come.

Check out his version of Kimi o Nosete (from Laputa) above.

As always, you can purchase Sungha’s albums from his official website. He’s constantly touring so do check out if he’s playing somewhere near you soon!


Nakada Yuji – Song Composite

It seems like an unwritten rule that all half-decent Japanese singers must release a covers album at some point in their careers – not even someone like Nakada, who isn’t a mainstream musician by any measure, is immune to this.

An interview with Pia sheds some light on his choice to make such an album – as part of Tsubakiya Shijuusou, the jazz/hard rock type of music the band produced afforded Nakada little opportunity to actually “sing”, and he was keen to test the limits of his vocal ability. Thus, Song Composite, an acoustic-based covers project, was born.

I want people to say (to me) – ‘Your singing is good’.

Nakada’s song selection may not be the most inspiring with the usual suspects – Nakamori Akina’s Slow Motion, Yuming’s Ano Hi ni Kaeritai and Ohashi Junko’s Silhouette Romance all familiar components of many a covers album, but as always it’s the interpretation and in this case, the vocals, that sell the song. And sell them he does.

I’d single out his version of Kubota Toshinobu’s Missing as being the standout vocal with the cover of Moriyama Naotaro’s Itoshi Kimi e a close second. As a matter of fact, Nakada performed the latter with Moriyama himself for Bokura no Ongaku quite a few years ago – here’s a link to the video. It’s great to see how two vocalists who are so different both in their singing style and genre, can make a song work.

The first press version of the disc comes with a bonus DVD containing footage of his 2013 tour and seriously, Nakada is awesome live. It is also well known that he has a huge legion of female fans thanks to his 色っぽい image…

The Florist – Dark Entries

Yet another shoegaze supergroup following in the footsteps of Geek Sleek Sheep, The Florist gathers members from Starboard, Tribal Chair, Pick2Hand and Nature Living. The quartet released their first album Dark Entries in April and it’s worth checking out if you’re a fan of the fuzz.

Official website.

Humming Urban Stereo – Reform

A self-cover (mini) album project to celebrate Humming Urban Stereo’s 10th anniversary, Reform takes songs from the late, great Humming Girl’s era and updates them with the electro-disco sound Lee Jeeren adopted for his latest studio release Sparkle.

A myriad of guests (G.Na, NS Yoon-ji, BEG’s Narsha, Ladies Code’s Ashley) are his featured vocalists and they do a great job of aligning HUS’s past with its current direction. Lead promo track SCULLY DOESN’T KNOW (above) in particular, is a blast.

the brilliant green – THE SWINGIN’ SIXTIES

Can you believe Bye Bye Mr Mug was released 17 years ago? It’s crazy. Kawase Tomoko will be turning 40 next year too…

On 23rd July, Buriguri will be releasing THE SWINGIN’ SIXTIES, a self-cover best of album featuring a bunch of reworkings of their best tracks plus one new song A Little World – PV above. There will be love there ~愛のあ場所~ has already gotten a pre-release on JP iTunes and it’s great!

1.There will be love there~愛のある場所~
3.You & I
4.Rock’n Roll
5.Hello Another Way-それぞれの場所-
6.Stand by me
7.Bye Bye Mr.Mug
9.Blue Daisy
11.A Little World

The special site for TSS!

f(x) – Red Light

I just can’t get MILK out of my head.

SM has not hidden the fact that Red Light‘s target audience is the international Kpop fanbase so reading K-netizen comments on how they’re hoping for something ‘cute’ and ‘fit for the summer’ from f(x)’s new record has been hilarious. A Pink is the solution for them, really.

Despite f(x) functioning as SM’s sandbox for experimental sounds, the music on Red Light is hardly ground-breaking…it’s just 2-3 years behind US musical trends, like Kpop tends to be. So yes we get trap and electro house, hah. Still, Red Light has SM getting their musical approach and strategy for the group 100% spot on – they know what the foreign media and fans like to hear from them and they’ve catered to those whims perfectly with tracks like Dracula, Butterfly and of course, MILK. There is the odd snoozer (Summer Lover is dull as fuq) but they don’t spoil overall proceedings and Red Light will no doubt top critics’ lists once again by year-end.

Uchu Conbini

Uchu Conbini (宇宙コンビニ) is a three-piece math-rock/prog-pop band from Kyoto with members aged around 20-21. Formed in 2012, the trio released their first album Somaru Oto o Kakunin Shitara in October 2013 and also got a release outside Japan via iTunes with the title Feel The Dyeing Note. In May, they toured Canada with Kinoko Teikoku and a few other bands as part of the Next Music from Tokyo series.

Like all good math bands Uchu Conbini’s guitar work (courtesy of Nakagawa Daijiro) is impressive and added to the melodious voice of singer/bassist Ohki Emi, produces a sound that is technically proficient yet clean and harmonious. The video above combines two songs; 8films, an instrumental to showcase their playing chops, which then segues into tobira, a sweet track with vocals.

Their next album Tsuki no Hansha de Miteta is due 6th August, so keep a lookout for them! For more details, visit Uchu Conbini’s website.

Yoshizawa Kayoko – Henshin Shojo

I think one of the strange things that being addicted to AKB48’s Koisuru Fortune Cookie did to me was to awaken a desire to listen to the 80s inspired doo-wop/disco/kayokyoku kind of stuff that Moritaka Chisato and Takeuchi Mariya used to excel at. Unfortunately there aren’t too many modern-day Jpop singers doing that kind of music so I was really happy when I stumbled across Yoshizawa Kayoko via a bizarre desire to find out what Sakai Yurie, formerly of CureaL, was up to these days. Well, Sakai is occasionally part of Yoshizawa’s live band, playing bass. What a happy coincidence that turned out to be…

Check out the sample above for a taste of Yoshizawa’s amazingly fun debut major mini album Henshin Shojo!


xxx of WONDER is an all-star mixed media collaboration featuring the following individuals:

Nanba Shiho – solo vocalist
Dr.Usui – multi-instrumentalist, member of MOTOCOMPO
Frenesi – solo musician, aka Kumasaki Fusako
Kishida Mel – illustrator
Julie Watai – photographer focusing on otaku/akiba culture, part-time idol

In xxx of WONDER (simply read ‘of wonder’), each member has a specific role: Nanba provides vocals, Dr.Usui composes, Frenesi writes lyrics, Kishida does illustrations and Watai provides sleeve artwork and the group’s photography. Additionally, the PV for Meisekimu Madonna is directed by Nakama Norihisa (The Aprils) and choreographed by Asahi Taichi (Genius).

I am hoping this project gains traction since it features some (of my favourite) talented people.

Check out their official website!