music, news

News that didn’t get posted before, rounded up and posted

Ooh lawdy. There’s a lot here. Having been busy with a flood of other things intruding from that pesky “real life in which I’m not a superstar music journalist who can afford to support himself on writing alone” and the equally pesky “tendency to completely forget about that which I was supposed to be writing about,” the sole regular writer on Memories of Shibuya has been a lot less regular than usual. No matter! Hopefully the old “better late than never” maxim will hold true here, as none of these stories are truly “new” in any meaningful sense, but they are, in fact, new to Memories of Shibuya so I suppose they still count as “news.”

Details of new Cornelius single announced

As had previously been scooped here on MemoShibu, Keigo “Cornelius” Oyamada will be doing music for the newest installment in the venerable Ghost in the Shell anime franchise – notably separate from the Scarlett Johansson vehicle currently slated for a 2017 release. In the lead-up to the theatrical anime feature, a new TV movie by the name of Ghost in the Shell ARISE: ALTERNATIVE ARCHITECTURE will be aired on April 5, with opening and ending themes made in collaboration between Oyamada and anime-music veteran Maaya Sakamoto, who provides the voice for the anime’s protagonist Motoko Kusanagi. The CD single for the Cornelius/Sakamoto songs from ALTERNATIVE ARCHITECTURE will be released June 17, and the original soundtrack will be coming out alongside the theatrical feature on June 20. Composition for the theme songs is being overseen by Shintaro Sakamoto of Yura Yura Teikoku, who featured on Buffalo Daughter’s “Love & Food” last year and, apparently, has no relation to the other Sakamoto featured on the compositions in question.

Hideki Kaji and THE SUZAN releasing a collaborative 7″ on April 18th

Peter, Bjorn & John’s “Young Folks” was the kind of song that would have made “one-hit wonder” accusations completely inevitable, even if the band had followed it up with a string of solid hit singles as they most assuredly did not. With an impossibly infectious whistled melody based on the “Oriental riff” and a beautiful sing-along chorus, it was the kind of single the band was never going to top – which is probably why they never tried. It didn’t take a genius to notice how the stark post-Marxist angst of “It Don’t Move Me” was as much a retaliation against the success of “Young Folks” as anything else, and even though the group has done quite well for themselves, the shadow of that whistled hook looms long over everything they’ve done since. Naturally, the Swedish group’s biggest hit resonated with Hideki Kaji, whose obsession with Sweden certainly has never been any secret, and so for the upcoming Record Store Day event Niw! Records is releasing a cover version of “Young Folks” by Kaji and like-minded indie group THE SUZAN.

Hideki Kaji, Yakenohara and Masakatsu Takagi also released a 7″

If there’s one thing Hideki Kaji loves more than border shirts and Swedish indie-pop, it’s releasing things on 7″ vinyl. His single “Sound of Felicity,” made in collaboration with fellow scene luminaries Yakenohara and Masakatsu Takagi (who Aphex Twin fans probably know from his “Let My Fish Loose“) came out on February 25, and never seemed worth mentioning until just now for reasons that completely escape me.

Reiji Okii of Cymbals’ band released an album, was quite good, didn’t get mentioned on MemoShibu previously

No excuses. They’re called TWEEDEES, they sound like vintage Shibuya-kei, their latest video is embedded at the beginning of this post, and their new album has been out for weeks now. Check them out.

Cornelius and U-zhaan’s “Homesick in Calcutta” series on YouTube

Continuing the collaboration that previously gave us a very silly YMO cover, Cornelius and U-zhaan released a 5-part series to YouTube as a counterpart to the latter’s recently-released Tabla Rock Mountain album. Definitely more in the realm of “interesting curiosity” than “actually enjoyable”, but… well, mileage may vary, maybe some of you will really be into these videos. They’re bizarre enough to appeal to somebody, I suppose.

QYPTHONE’s Izumi Okawara released a single, is on iTunes internationally

While QYPTHONE is officially broken up, the difference is incredibly arbitrary, as the recently-release Strawberry Jam single proves. With the single sung by Izumi Okawara and written by Kentaro Ishigaki, both of the bizarrely-named Shibuya-kei group, and released on fellow ex-member Takeshi Nakatsuka’s Delicatessen label, all three members of QYPTHONE are officially involved with this “solo” effort from a band that’s “broken up.” Now, it’s in no way a bad thing that they haven’t split up as much as it would initially seem, but it does call to attention how arbitrary bands’ status as “together” or not really can be.

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music, reviews

Album review: Negicco – Rice&Snow

Shibuya-kei leaning idol group Negicco is unquestionably the jewel in the crown of Tower Records’ T-Palette label, both their best-selling act and the one the label consistently takes the most risks with. It would be unthinkable to hear anything as sonically varied – without ever falling into the trap of “weird Japan” wackiness like too many contemporary idol groups – as Negicco’s output has been from any of T-Palette’s other acts, but, within the hallowed ground of a new Negicco album, anything is possible. Their second full-length on T-Palette (following 2013’s cheekily-named Melody Palette), Rice&Snow sees a host of new producers and a few returning talents collaborating with the label’s signature act. The multitude of divergent styles, from Koushi Miura of Kuchiroro’s stark minimalism to the sugar-high ecstacy of Takao Tajima’s twin seasonally-themed contributions, could have potentially led to a “too many cooks” scenario, but how does the album hold up?

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music, news

Negicco’s second album coming January 20

Titled Rice&Snow, the second full-length from Shibuya-kei idol group Negicco has been confirmed for a January 20 release date. Featuring selections from Shibuya-kei veterans Takao Tajima (previous singles “Sunshine Nihonkai” and “Hikari no Spur,”) Cymbals’ Hiroyasu Yano (“Triple! WONDERLAND” and new song “Futari no Yuugi”) and ROUND TABLE’s Katsutoshi Kitagawa (new song “Cream Soda Love”), alongside songs from Gouta Nishidera, connie, Shiggy Jr. and other past Negicco collaborators, this new album should definitely be worth a look for Shibuya-kei fans.

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Album review: Asako Toki – STANDARDS: In a Sentimental Mood

After her band’s dissolution in 2003, former Cymbals frontwoman Asako Toki reinvented herself as a jazz singer; this year’s STANDARDS: In a Sentimental Mood is a commemoration of the 10-year anniversary of STANDARDS, her debut as a solo artist. Like that 2004 album and its 2005 follow-up STANDARDS on the SofaIn a Sentimental Mood finds the singer performing light jazz versions of English-language pop standards – much as Maki Nomiya’s live album from earlier this month tackled Shibuya-kei selections with a jazzy touch.

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