The No Buses frontman’s playlist focuses in on Japanese music, putting the spotlight on some classic tunes from Tricot, Mr Children and RIP SLYME.
The music of Cwondo taps into the basics of ear-worming indietronica. A drum machine, some very pretty guitars, and an understated but emotional vocal. Cwondo’s tunes are often simple but effective, and with each release, from his debut EPs through to his full-length album Hernia and recent singles, Cwondo’s music continues to grow in stature and complexity.
Cwondo, born Taisei Kondo, is likely best known as the frontman of No Buses, a Tokyo-based indie rock band with garage rock influences. Named after an Arctic Monkeys track, No Buses have achieved a degree of fame both within Japan and overseas. The group’s highly-anticipated sophomore full-length is slated for release in late June.
Kondo has emerged as a solo artist mostly in the last year or so, his new music departing from No Buses’ raucous indie. Following two EPs (Too Hard and Visiting Grandma, both 2020) Kondo released his solo debut album Hernia earlier this year. Settling for bright melodies and punchy indietronic beats, Hernia showed fascinating hints of influence from new wave, cloud trap, alternative R&B and dance-punk.
Following Hernia and in anticipation of No Buses’ upcoming release, we caught up with Cwondo to curate a playlist. His chosen theme is “my favourite Japanese music”, for which he added further explanation:
“I'm often asked about foreign music in interviews and I haven't really talked about Japanese music much. But of course I love Japanese music – so I thought I'd make a playlist of my favourite Japanese music.”
By the time I discovered Psysalia psysalis psyche, they had already broken up. It's a shame that I never got to see them live, but when I first heard about them, I immediately went to buy their CD. I remember that it wasn’t easy to find, and that I had to look hard for it. When I was in high school, I wanted to be in a band like this.
I've loved Tricot since I was in high school – “Hatsumimi” is one of my favourite songs from that time. Of course, everything about Tricot is great, but when I first started playing guitar, I was shocked by how cool their guitars were. I practiced a lot with Tricot songs.
I loved this song back when I didn't know much about music, but I think Mr Children has a lot of great songs to listen to now. This is one of them. The melody is great.
This is a soundtrack for Chrono Trigger, a video game that I've completed so many times that it's embedded in the marrow of my bones.
“Kaze no dōkei” is probably a classic song for those who love Chrono Trigger. It’s the song that plays at the beginning of the game when the story starts to unfold in earnest, and no matter how many times you listen to it, it makes you want to get into the game and never leave.
I think RIP SLYME is my generation, so I’ve been listening to it since I was a kid. I have a lot of favourites of theirs, but “Tales” in particular was really good. I’ve also listened to it at every stage of my life, so I have a lot of memories of it.