Artist Spotlight: Hideki Kaji, music

Artist Spotlight: Hideki Kaji (week two)

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After Bridge’s disbandment, Hideki Kaji made the decision to set out and make his name as a solo artist; which proved to be quite a good call, as his releases under his own name consistently rank among the best examples of the Shibuya-kei musical style one is likely to hear. In week two of our spotlight, we look at the early years of his solo work, in which he stepped out from under the shadow of his peers in the Shibuya-kei scene and made his own identity known to the world.

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in the mix, music

In the Mix: DJ Hayato’s “Tonight J-Pop Mix”

Working with a “night drive” theme, DJ Hayato of Choudoii Records spins a wonderful mixture of Shibuya-kei and Japanese pop tunes on “Tonight J-Pop Mix.” With Negicco, paris match, m-flo, Takeshi Nakatsuka and others in the mix, it’s a top-notch selection that’s sure to brighten up any night – even if you’re not driving through Tokyo in a vintage sports car.

Tonight J-Pop Mix by Dj Hayato on Mixcloud

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music, news

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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Artist Spotlight: Hideki Kaji, music, Uncategorized

Artist Spotlight: Hideki Kaji (week one)

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Hideki Kaji’s name may be an obscure one to Western audiences, but as one of the architects of the Shibuya-kei sound, his influence on Japanese music would be nothing less than utterly irresponsible to overlook. While he is rightfully known as a songwriter first and foremost, the multi-instrumentalist Kaji has worn many hats across his four decades as a musician – and is every bit as notable as a solo artist as he is for any of the various other projects he has contributed to.

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music, The Canon

The Canon: Pizzicato Five – Bossa Nova 2001

bossa nova

Although the origins of the style we now know as Shibuya-kei can be traced back to the late 1980s (with acts like Original Love and the first incarnation of Pizzicato Five serving as the prototype), it is worth considering that the actual phrase itself wasn’t coined until the early ’90s – and that, despite Flipper’s Guitar being considered as the first Shibuya-kei group by many, the duo of Kenji Ozawa and Keigo Oyamada had already broken up before people were even calling their music “Shibuya-kei.” In this sense, Pizzicato Five’s Bossa Nova 2001, released in 1993, represents one of the earliest essential examples of Shibuya-kei as a musical movement with a name and defined ideology – and, as such, no attempt at forming a Shibuya-kei canon would be complete without it.

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music, news

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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music, news

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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