I’m going to talk about some J Pop albums I’ve listened to recently. It will be fun? This features a lot of albums from this year so far. That’s cool. Okay.
PASSPO : Cinema Trip
Do you know why the group looks so happy on the cover? Because they just set the bar that high for idol music in 2017. PASSPO returned with a vengeance in 2016 with three fantastic singles and now the result of this label switch has paid off with 13 tracks of great, hard driving, cute & fun idol power pop. There is high energy, great vocals and big catchy songs. It rocks and doesn’t hit a bump in the road or slow down the party. Film is a great moment, it starts like a sappy ballad then kicks into super overdrive with one of the fastest tempos on the record, and it just stays that way. Love Refrain was written by Suu from the cutest J Rock band ever Silent Siren, who play on the track. Mr. Wednesday is just perfect. Gimme Gimme Action was a badass song for last holiday season! Cinema Trip is a fantastic record and my favorite from the group yet!
Yoko Hikasa : Couleur
Yoko’s first album is surprisingly hard rocking and packed full of awesome explosive choruses and jamming riffs. She is my favorite seiyuu, and given her fantastic performance as Mio in K-On! one would except awesome vocals, but Yoko goes even further and really puts a lot into these songs. She is expressive, playful, and full of personality, handling the tunes with a sweet but cool energy. The last track FLOWERS best highlights her vocals, she does awesome! The music has elements of grunge and even a bit of gothic rock, there are a couple of ballads to break it up.
Highlights include the jamming Pollution with wonderful verses and a soaring chorus. Sleepy Hungry Minds is akin to a K-ON! song with it’s energy, beat and poppier vocal line. It has all the elements, Yoko rides along the verses and the ending bass fill recalls Mio. Seek Diamonds brings horns and reflects the lighter side of the album. But the sheer number of awesome rock songs are Couleur’s high point, as well as the performances. Very good listen!
E Ticket Productions : E Ticket Rap Show
Alt idols are fascinating and endlessly creative. E Ticket Rap Show is a 7 song EP featuring the most kawaii rap you’ve heard in your life. However it’s value as a production shouldn’t be overlooked. This thing is insane, for one all the girls have great flow and hold the tunes very well. Rinne is the most upfront and “classic” while Shiina Pikarin fries minds with her insane number FIRE LIAR. This EP boasts great variety, Nagi Nemoto’s tune Out Loud has an airy instrumental over her smooth flow. This is seriously an excellent and fun collection of tunes and we need more!
Haruko Tajima : Haruko ni Umu
Haruko ni Umu is an interesting 30 minute album of very odd lo-fi electro tunes. The songs ride on simple keyboard and drum machine tracks, it’s incredibly weak as a production but quickly you realize this is the point. Haruko sings in a manner akin to the traditional Japanese singers, with a deep tone and straight phrasing. Much of the choruses are heavily repeated phrases and she keeps steady the whole time. Using autotune here and there and saying some odd lines in English like “lost my sex in 2017”. Haruko ni Umu is a fun oddity. It’s nothing too crazy but it’s certainly something weird and fascinating.
Kaji Hitomi : Naked
Okay I’ll admit, the cover made me listen to this album. I was very curious what it would contain and while the image shows Kaji topless unzipping her jeans, the music is hardly as naked, it’s more dressed in heavy layers of production. Naked is a good sounding but sort of bland J Pop record. There are a lot of stringy ballads and some rather dry dance tracks. It does contain the gem Cover Girl however. Instantly I liked this song with it’s guitar part and pulsing bass. This is a fantastic track! I enjoyed other tracks as well but I didn’t find Naked to be a very compelling listen, and aside from the stand out songs I don’t see myself going for re-listens. But I really like Cover Girl!