With the end of the year (unbelievably) in sight as we cruise into the latter months of 2022, we’re back with our monthly dose of new music from Japan. The hottest month of the year saw fire releases from young up-and-coming Tokyo artists like post-rock newcomers bed and electro producer Natsumi Hirota as well as a long-anticipated release from folk-pop mainstays Humbert Humbert. Listen to our full August playlist here, check out our special mentions below and keep an eye out for live shows from many of this month’s artists around Tokyo later this year.
Skaaai – Homework
“Homework” marks the sixth single from rapper Skaai and his fifth of this year. Gaining notoriety through the Abema TV program “Birth of a Rap Star” and other initiatives such as Red Bull Microphone Relay, Skaai began releasing music in earnest in 2021 and his releases to date have proven his ability to experiment with style, delivery and flow. The son of a Korean mother and Malaysian father, Skaai spent time growing up in Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Canada and the United States and brings this multicultural background to his music with many of his tracks, including “Homework,” featuring lyrics in English, Korean and Japanese.
bed – Kare Wa
bed, perhaps ironically self-described as “music for sleeping well,” is a new four-piece alternative rock band from Tokyo. Having only formed earlier this year, they’ve already attracted attention with their first single “Apologize” and new single “Kare Wa.” Where the first single lead with a distinctly post-punk sound, “Kare Wa” takes an industrial turn reminiscent of 90s Ramstein and Nine Inch Nails with a droning, doom-laden guitar riff, electronic rhythmic elements, minimalist, distorted vocals and a fittingly dark film clip directed by TROY. bed is performing at Tokyo’s WWW X on September 22 with DYGL and Osaka’s NOON + CAFE on October 10 with No Buses and Luby Sparks. More information here.
Natsumi Hirota – The grass on the other side
“The Grass on the other side” is the second single from Tokyo-based electronic producer, Natsumi Hirota. Active since quitting her graduate job in 2019, Hirota draws on her techno and jazz influences, producing progressive electro tracks laced with idiosyncratic samples which create almost-visual soundscapes. With two EPs, two singles and a number of mixes already under her belt, her third EP, pop quiz Vol. 2 is due for release on September 9.
Summer Eye – 求婚 (Kyuukon)
Summer Eye is the solo project of Tokyo-based singer-songwriter Tomoyuki Natsume, previously of indie-rock band Siamese Cats. When Siamese Cats disbanded in 2020 after 13 years of activity, Natsume turned his attention to writing and producing music with vintage electronic instruments and synths. The new track, uses an analogue synth and drum machine to create a mellow pop song, the lyrics of which explore modern attitudes towards love, proposal and marriage.
Humbert Humbert – ふたつの星（futatsu no hoshi)
Pop duo Humbert Humbert is gearing up to release their 11th full-length album, their first in two years. Originally formed in 1998 while the pair were in college, the duo’s music has appeared in countless films, TV shows and advertisements making them one of the most prolific Japanese bands of the past two decades. Their latest track “ふたつの星 (Futatsu no Hoshi),” the lead single from their forthcoming album, is a slow-burning folk track in contrast to their previous rock-influenced single “岬 (Misaki).” The new album 丈夫な私たち (Daibu na Watashitachi) will be available from September 7 and the pair will be touring throughout the rest of the year. More details available via their website.