It’s Olympic season and — much like the Games — Japan’s new music releases this July have been dominated by precocious youngsters. Featuring tracks from Wez Atlas, PEARL CENTER and ASA Wu, our roundup this month is packed with relative newcomers who are all kicking goals in their respective genres. Whether you’re after upbeat, summery pop jams, 2000s emo vibes or hip hop, this month’s roundup of our favorite new releases delivers the gold. Listen to the full playlist on Spotify here and check out some highlights below:
Wez Atlas – Overthink
Taken from the recently released mini-album Chicken Soup for One, “Overthink” is a contemplative hip hop track blending technical lyricism with smooth and melodic vocals. Born in Japan and Raised in Colorado, 23 year old Wez Atlas often switches between Japanese and English and uses both in this track to create a lyrical manifesto about achieving mental clarity. The Chicken Soup for One release party is at WWW in Shibuya on October 29.
ASA Wu – dozen of die (feat KM)
Released on July 2, “dozen of die” is the new single from Taiwan born ASA Wu. Self-described as “Emotional RnB” the track’s raw content and confident execution make it hard to believe that it’s only the artist’s third release. Featuring influential Japanese producer KM, it’s probably the most upbeat and catchy song about wanting to die that you’ll hear this summer.
PEARL CENTER – Flutter
Formed in 2019, relative newcomers PEARL CENTER also have a knack for writing precociously catchy pop songs. Dripping with nostalgic 80s-style optimism, “Flutter” evokes the kind of midnight-drive-through-Tokyo imagery you’d expect from a modern City Pop band. They’ve had a stumbly start to their career without the ability to perform live for the most part but have been consistently releasing material since signing to Japanese label RALLYEYE in March 2021, including a number of successful collaborations. Catch them performing at Local Green Festival in September.
millennium parade – U
Acting as the theme song for Mamoru Hosoda’s new anime Belle: The Dragon and the Freckled Princess, “U” is the new track from millennium parade featuring Kaho Nakamura. Led by King Gnu front man Daiki Tsuneta, millennium parade is a creative collective combining artists from music, film, design and illustration who have quickly made a name for themselves since their formation in 2019, also creating “Fly With Me,” the theme song for the new “Ghost in the Shell” series. The film Belle premiered at Cannes films festival in July to a 15-minute standing ovation and — driven by frenetic percussion and urgent vocal delivery from Nakamura — “U” feels like an instant classic in the world of anime theme songs.
DYGL – 7624
“7624” is the opening track from DYGL’s new album A Daze in a Haze. Reminiscent of early 2000s emo, “7624” is a melancholic counterpoint to an otherwise fairly upbeat 3rd album. DYGL (pronounced day-glo) will be touring their album across Japan throughout late 2021, early 2022.
Milet – Ordinary Days
Milet’s new single, “Ordinary Days,” features as the theme song for newly released drama series “Police in a Pod,” based on the manga of the same name. Only beginning her career in 2018, Millet has shot to fame with a number one debut album and many of her tracks featuring in various television series. “Ordinary Days” is an earnest Love Song brimming with the kind of positive energy that makes you forget about the oppressive Tokyo summer heat.
Read more about music in Japan:
Dreamy indie tunes straight from Tokyo
Five punk-fuelled friends are out to revive Tokyo’s indie music scene
Embracing the Unconventional with Utena Kobayashi
How faith in a steel pan transformed a university dropout’s life