Mutsumi Okazaki |July 27 2022

Mutsumi’s Picks: May/Jun

Mutsumi Okazaki

List

July 27 2022

Mutsumi’s Picks: May/Jun

Every two months, The Glow’s resident pop/indie expert Mutsumi Okazaki chooses some of her favourite new tracks. Here are her five top Japanese tunes from May and June 2022.

Hikaru Utada – “Time (Live Session from Air Studios)”

Listen: Spotify

Shortly after multi-million-record-selling pop star Hikaru Utada played Coachella, one of the world’s largest music festivals, they recorded this version of “Time” at Air Studios in London. The overall sound and their voice are brimming with a sense of presence, as if Utada were standing right in front of you and singing. I can't help but fall in love with them: once again, Utada showed me that they are one of the world's top artists. I also particularly like the original song “Time”, which is about love and friendship and contains lyrics that are delivered with a sincerity that is very distinct to Utada.

 

Kirinji – “Rainy Runway”

Over the years, Kirinji has gone through many forms and line-ups. The band was formed back in 1996 by Takaki Horigome and his brother Yasuyuki, who were Kirinji’s two constant figures for 17 years until Yasuyuki left in 2013. Kirinji remained a band until 2020, when Takaki took full control.

No matter the form of Kirinji, I’ve always been a fan – and this new track “Rainy Runway” is yet another wonderful tune. Highlighting the vocal talents of Takaki Horigome, he sings of being positive and courageous despite the rain. It offers another insight into the potential of the Kirinji project with solely Takaki at the helm.

 

Aimyon – “Hatsukoi ga Naiteiru”

Aimyon is a singer-songwriter who has gained a following mainly among young people in their teens and twenties. An award-winning musician, she’s also well-known for writing theme songs for various Japanese films and TV dramas. While lots of popular singers with her kind of audience tend to be perceived as one-off trends, Aimyon has steadily built up her popularity, becoming a well-established and widely respected artist.

Aimyon’s new song “Hatsukoi ga Naiteiru” [My First Love is Crying] is her 13th single. The song is about love – her speciality – and, once again, it’s the kind of tune that catches your ear after a single listen.

 

SAMOEDO – “Suiteki”

SAMOEDO is a four-piece band which formed earlier this year. The project was started by Shinichi Sugawara, who’s also known as a member of now-disbanded rock band Siamese Cats. He invited bassist nakayaan, drummer Kento Suzuki and keyboard player Naruki Numazawa to join SAMOEDO – Suzuki is active in Never Young Beach and nakayaan in Mitsume, so it's exciting to see a new band spun together by four people with separate musical careers.

I can't wait to hear what kind of music they're going to come up with! Debut track “Suiteki” sees a warm, minimalist beat combine with Sugawara's soft vocals – it’s a gentle, warming song and, for me, it’s been perfect for listening to while taking a leisurely stroll around the neighbourhood.

 

Satoko Shibata – “Understood”

Singer-songwriter Satoko Shibata has been going strong for a decade now, branching out from singing and music into writing and poetry. This year she released a new album, Bochi Bochi Ginga [Bochi Bochi Galaxy] and one of the best songs on it is “Understood” – a track that makes you strongly aware of Shibata’s sharp lyricism.

Reading the lyrics, the song seems to depict resentment and anger towards society and the everyday life as seen in the pandemic. Each sentence is honest and sometimes angry, but it’s always combined with her unique humour and a profound sense of melody.

Ten years may have passed since Shibata debut Shibata Satoko Jima [Satoko Shibata Island], but I still love following her music and witnessing the changes in her musicality.

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