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New video from Saku, single details from Negicco and more!

Can’t wait to hear the new Saku single? Live in Japan and/or know your way around a VPN? Saku’s cute new single “Shunshoku Love Song” has a full promotional video available on YouTube for your viewing pleasure, in which the smiling Saku plays acoustic guitar while a high school girl falls in love and takes pictures of things. It’s sweet.

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Love Negicco and Asako Toki? Never thought you’d hear of a collaboration between the two? Well, you’re in luck – it has been revealed that the former Cymbals singer is writing the lyrics for the new Negicco single “Mujun, Hajimemashita” (coming out March 29), thus further cementing Negicco as the most Shibuya-kei of idol groups. Additionally, the single’s LE version will come with a bonus disc featuring Shibuya-kei inspired acts Yakenohara and Yuri Miyauchi’s remixes of “Space Nekojaracy” and “Oyasumi”, respectively. The bonus tracks will also be available with OTOTOY‘s lossless, DRM-free digital version, as is the norm for that most wonderful of websites.

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Meanwhile, those who had given up on a revival for long-dormant singer-songwriter Kenji Ozawa’s illustrious musical career have reason to be excited. The Flipper’s Guitar founder has teased at a live tour and new material on its way, and Takao Tajima of Original Love says that the new songs are sounding great – being cooler than all of us, naturally Tajima was invited to Ozawa’s secret invitation-only live event earlier this month.

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Finally, Clammbon fans who had been waiting to get any of their previous albums on disc have good reason to hold off for another few days, as Columbia is reissuing a series of eight of the group’s previous albums on February 3. The reissue series contains 2003’s imagination, mono and stereo versions of 2005’s Ten, 2007’s Musical, 2010’s uncreatively-named 2010, 2009 remix album Re-clammbon2, 2006’s cover song collection LOVER ALBUM and its 2013 sequel LOVER ALBUM 2.

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New singles announced for Saku and Takeshi Nakatsuka

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As the second major single from neo-Shibuya-kei chanteuse extraordinaire Saku, “Shunshoku Love Song” (jacket photo pictured above) will be coming out on February 24, featuring new song “Onaji Sora” and an acoustic version of previous single “START ME UP” as B-sides. Saku’s career has been on the up and up since getting on the soundtrack to the hit film Biri Gal last year, and while the production lineup for the new single has yet to be announced, odds are very likely that regular collaborator Hideki Kaji will be involved in some capacity – and, perhaps, so will Kaji’s frequent partner Hirohisa Horie.

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Takeshi Nakatsuka has long been one of the hardest-working men in Shibuya-kei, putting out music at an exhausting rate and, with the obvious exceptions of completely mercenary projects like his staggeringly inessential (but likely lucrative) Piano Man Plays Disney albums, a surprisingly high level of quality. His next 7″, JAPANESE BOY, is looking to be a great one even by his usually elevated standards. Unchantable has previews of both the free-jazz inspired title track and its B-side, a velvety smooth cover of Sayuri Kokushou standard “Valentine Kiss”, and the single is due out on Feburary 10.

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New videos from Towa Tei and Negicco

The first video from CUTE is out now, with an appropriately old-school clip accompanying the star-studded “LUV PANDEMIC” – with Haruomi Hosono, Yukihiro Takahashi, Keigo “Cornelius” Oyamada, Leo Imai and actress Yuka Mizuhara providing their faces and voices to the incredibly bad song. It’s absolutely horrendous by all means, possibly the worst single Tei has ever put out, but just look at all those guest stars!

For those who prefer their music videos with far less wasted talent, Negicco and Sachiko Kobayashi recently revealed their “Niigata☆JIMAN!” video, a cute song made to promote tourism in Niigata city (soon to be home of the next regional expansion of Yasushi Akimoto’s ongoing 48G project). Negicco fans, rejoice! Everyone else, continue to be confounded by the continued presence of this only tangentially Shibuya-kei group’s presence on Memories of Shibuya!

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New video for an old song by Towa Tei

A short version of the Bakubaku Dokin-supported number “Upload” from Towa Tei’s Mach 2012 album got the animated video treatment recently, and if this is your first exposure to “Upload”, be warned – it’s probably not going to leave your head for another year or so. Seriously. Thing is an earworm like few others. Tei’s Cute LP comes out July 29, and anyone who wants to hear more of “Upload” can find it on the fun (albeit brief) Mach 2012.

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Negicco’s Megu featured on happy machine song

Described by Natalie.mu’s delightful copywriting as “a Frenchman who loves Japan”, happy machine makes music that makes not descending into snark incredibly difficult. Making his debut in the netlabel scene before signing to Tower Records’ in-house label (no, not T-Palette – the one people don’t care about, the label that’s just called “Tower Records”) and snagging Megu from Negicco for a guest appearance, this is as much of a bio as I can be bothered to write and you can feel free to look up the rest yourself if you care. The short version of the resulting track is embedded above, and if you actually like this for any reason you’ll probably be happy to know that happy machine’s building the machine comes out on July 8.

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New album from Towa Tei? New album from Towa Tei!

His first full-length release since 2013’s Lucky, Towa Tei’s new album will be called CUTE – and the guest list  alone is certainly worth getting excited about. Boasting contributions from the likes of post-rock darling Leo Imai, frequent Tei collaborator YUI of Bakubaku Dokin, Yoshinori Sunahara of Denki Groove, and Shibuya-kei veterans Keigo “Cornelius” Oyamada and ASA-CHANG, he’s moving away from the international cast of contributors that had graced recent releases and focusing exclusively on Japanese talent – not, in any way, a bad thing.

The album comes out July 29 on Tei’s own MACHBEAT label, and Natalie has a full tracklisting.

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New videos from Cornelius, Original Love and color-me frog

If Keigo Oyamada seemed a little less busy than usual last year, he’s more than making up for it in 2015 – the latest update to his Kokakua Sound page is a “studio live” version of his laid-back Ghost in the Shell theme song “Mada Ugoku”, featuring vocalist Maaya Sakamoto and the Cornelius band. No YouTube mirror as per usual, but thankfully Kokakua Sound’s generic video player works perfectly fine. Which is a lot more than can be said for some pages, or anything that ever used RealPlayer. Why did anyone ever think that program was a good idea?

If soul is more your thing, Takao Tajima has you covered – a digest version of the upcoming Original Love album Lover Man has been helpfully made available to the most popular video-sharing site on the web, containing previews of each song on the new release – including Tajima’s own version of “Sunshine Nihonkai”, a song written for Negicco and previously featured on the girl group’s Rice&Snow album.

Perhaps most excitingly, Shin-ichiro Aoyama’s color-me frog has released their first music video, a sparingly-animated clip set to the binaural sounds of Aoyama’s most musically daring work to date. Echoing the work of Shibuya-kei pioneers like Takako Minekawa and Kahimi Karie, “Sky Holic” marries Sayoko Nagamuu’s gorgeous vocals to a warm, summery musical backing that only makes the vocals’ unconventional mixing that much more striking. Girl on the Train is yet to have an official release date, but it should be out by the end of the Summer – definitely a release to look out for.

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