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indigo

indigo's unpopular favorites of 2016

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indigo's unpopular favorites of 2016

It's a little after midnight here, so basically I missed the deadline, but it's still sunday somewhere! I'm not in it for the prize really, I just wanted to get this list out there for fun so I didn't really invest in creativity, it's just a simple list. I imagine these artists won't appear on many - if any - lists. It's good to have a bit of diversity too, right?

 

Some of these videos might be blocked for you, my apologies for that!

 

Here are the Japanese albums I enjoyed the most last year!

 

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ムニムニ (Munimuni) - A KILLS A

 

I feel like this album would be on a bunch of EOTY lists if it wasn't for the hmm... unique vocals. I have never been bothered by his voice, though. And he uses his lower register a lot more on this mini-album anyway. I must admit the vocal melodies and delivery can be for an acquired taste. Every time I hear someone say "I love the music but can't stand the vocals" about a band I enjoy, it makes me particularly happy for some weird reason. Few of us have been waiting for new Munimuni material for ages and finally we got a new mini-album! A KILLS A is only 17 and half minutes long but it's still something. And that something is 17 and half minutes of quality music: melancholic rock with fucking awesome atmospheric, wailing shoegazey guitar. Just listen to it on BIG MONEY or NEO SONG, for example. Third song &4 is the weakest point on the album but it's still good.

Sample song

 

Highlights: BIG MONEY, NEO SONG, KOGEN

 

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Age Factory - LOVE

 

I'm not entirely sure, but I like to think that this album is about a summer, two teenagers and first love. As you know, everything feels 10 times worse when you're a teenager, especially a break up. This album has that whole bittersweet, exaggerated end of the world atmosphere. You could almost cut these feels with a knife. I simply adore the vocalist's voice, I just want to give him a man-hug and say "it's alright". It's near impossible to pick a favorite song, they're all my favorites. This album needs to be listened to from start to finish as one consistent piece of music. For me "LOVE" hit hard, one of my favorite rock albums in a long time. 

Sample song

 

Highlights: EVERYTHING, maybe with the exception of Veranda

 

 

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iri - Groove it

 

I stumbled upon iri's music randomly. I saw the cover art and was intrigued. A few youtube song samples later I was excited. After the full album I was hooked. The album is influenced by urban music; R&B, soul, funk, hip-hop. The production on the album is smooth and groovy. The list of producers include mabanua (ナイトグルーヴ), STUTS (Wandering) and Kenmochi Hidefumi (breaking dawn, フェイバリット女子) among others. iri's voice is soulful and despite her young age she sounds mature. There's even some parts where she is rapping but she is comfortable with it, it doesn't sound awkward or try-hard. Perfect music for a night drive in the city!

Sample song

 

Highlights: breaking dawn, Wandering

 

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友川カズキ (Kazuki Tomokawa) - 光るクレヨン (Gleaming Crayon)

 

Tomokawa has been around for a long time. He's been churning out albums regularly for 40 years and I think we're close to 30 studio albums by now. He's known for his avant-folk style of music and Gleaming Crayon continues on the same line. The most well-known characteristic of Tomokawa is his idiosyncratic voice, I'd describe his technique as "coughing-your-lungs-out". It's desperate, disgusting, intimidating. Most of the time his voice is accompanied by acoustic guitar. There's also some occasional instruments; distressing drums, scary strings, sporadic saxophone, you name it but which ever the instrument, it's always a harrowing feat.

Sample song

 

Highlights: つつじ, 愉楽

 

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SALU - Good Morning

 

I remember when I saw the PV of first single Tomorrowland and thought to myself "this is trash". Well, since then I have changed my opinion a bit, it's still my least favorite song though but the rest of the album makes up for it. The opener "All I Want feat. Salyu" is a strong one. It's nothing like "Tomorrowland". It's an emotional song, with a piano-based beat. The subdued "la la la's" which serve as a chorus are beautiful and last minute lets Salyu shine. The production on this album is great for the most part, it's soulful. There's jazzy horns, piano aaaaand I just noticed that I love to list instruments. SALU flows on these beats effortlessly and he got some good hooks. There's surprisingly lot of singing too, like on "How Beautiful" and "Lily". All featuring artists do a great job, there aren't any rappers but singers Salyu and Mika Nakashima and trumpeter Kuroda Takaya. Especially Salyu almost steals the show on her feature.

Sample song

 

Highlights: All I Want feat. Salyu, How Beautiful, タイムカプセル

 

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Yellow Studs - door

 

There are bands that I wish would evolve with every album, and then there's bands like Yellow Studs. They have basically been doing the same thing since forming - garage-ish rock with hints of jazz - never really changing their sound, and damn I'm glad they haven't! They have nice melodies, raspy vocals and great instrumentation with catchy guitars, cool upright bass and some lovely keyboard/piano. I've always enjoyed their faster tempo songs the most, and this album proves it true again. おはよう (Ohayo) is a great example, it might be one of the best songs they've done so far and it's one of my favorite songs of 2016! It's simply a fun album which never fails to lift my spirits. 

Sample song

 

Highlights: ガラクタ, おはよう

Edited by indigo

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1 hour ago, indigo said:

I remember when I saw the PV of first single Tomorrowland and thought to myself "this is trash". Well, since then I have changed my opinion a bit, it's still my least favorite song though but the rest of the album makes up for it.

Lol, I had the same thought about Tomorrowland the first time I heard it. It grew on me a lot after I saw a live version but yeah, part of me still thinks that video is awful.

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