music, news

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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music, news

News from Negicco, Cornelius and Konishi

Something for everyone here, no matter what permutation of Shibuya-kei you find yourself preferring. For those who favour the quirky, unconventional alternative sound that characterizes Shibuya-kei’s more experimental extremes, Penguin Cafe Orchestra has just the thing. They recently did a cover song exchange with Shibuya-kei pioneer Keigo “Cornelius” Oyamada, and have shared a video for their cover version of Point highlight “Bird Watching in Inner Forest”, rechristened  “Birdwatching in Silent Forest” and accompanied by footage of birds in silhouette against a striking backdrop of fluid imagery.

If the pop kitsch of Negicco is more your speed, they recently released a live album as an exclusive to Japanese music destination OTOTOY – happily free of any pesky DRM and regional restrictions. Titled “Negicco to Gakkou”, the album captures the girls’ performance at the “alternative art space” 3331 from October 10 of last year, available in a number of lossless formats as per OTOTOY standard. The girls also have an announced release date for their next single, which is as yet untitled and will be coming out on August 11. As with all of Negicco’s recent singles, it will be available on 7″ vinyl in addition to CD and DVD options, although, in an unconventional move for the group, both A and B-sides will be getting the music video treatment. A version with a bonus disc containing three remixes will also be available, as was the case with Hikari no Spur – most likely this version will make its way to OTOTOY, as such was the case with the aforementioned single as well.

Old-school fans should get a kick out of the announcement of Yasuharu Konishi’s new album as “Pizzicato One”, his second full-length under the name and first release as P1 since 2011’s One and Ten Very Sad Songs. The new album, titled Watakushi no Nijuu Seiki (“My 20th Century”, for those of whom are understandably miffed by the fact that Memories of Shibuya never translates titles for things) features contributions from a guest list that, true to form, is dominated by fashion models and actresses – Konishi is, after all, still Konishi – and is written and produced in its entirety by the man himself.

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Artist Spotlight: Original Love, music

Artist Spotlight: Original Love (week two)

Every month, Memories of Shibuya will be taking a look at a different artist or group, with featured songs – one per week – highlighting the peaks (and, occasionally, troughs) of their musical career.

Original Love underwent some dramatic changes along with the transition from an indie label to the major leagues, and one of the most dramatic changes was in the adoption of a completely new sound – one far more in line with the Shibuya-kei movement that was quickly picking up steam than the rock music that Tajima first made his name with.

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Artist Spotlight: Original Love, music

Artist Spotlight: Original Love (week one)

Ema9lPXhEvery month, Memories of Shibuya will be taking a look at a different artist or group, with featured songs – one per week – highlighting the peaks (and, occasionally, troughs) of their musical career.

Even as the internet obliterates most barriers to attaining information, and just shy of all the world’s music is conveniently accessible from anywhere across the globe, there still remains a fairly strong divide in terms of which Japanese groups fans outside of Japan do and don’t know about. Former Matador signees Cornelius and Pizzicato Five sit comfortably on one side of this divide, having gained significant cult followings outside of their home country, while on the other side sit acts like Love Tambourines and this month’s spotlight group, Original Love. These groups never released albums or performed overseas like their more well-known scene counterparts, and as such they remain far more obscure on the global scene. So, naturally, Memories of Shibuya is here to step in and shine some light on a more obscure corner of Japanese history, with our spotlight falling on former Pizzicato Five vocalist and sometime Negicco collaborator Takao Tajima’s long-running band, Original Love.

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