DEADGRANDMA’S BEST ALBUMS OF 2017: 10-6

10. Seiko Oomori- MUTEKI

MUTEKI is a celebration of all things Seiko Oomori, the ultimate in fan-service. 18 re-recorded songs selected from her entire backlog, stripped down to their essence, either backed with her trademark acoustic guitar or some delightful piano work, it’s a treat for any Seiko Oomori fan. It also features two new full studio songs that are both wonderful in their own way, but let’s face it, we’re all here for the acoustic songs.

It’s addictive, time consuming (at nearly a full CD), indulgent, essential and utterly Oomori. While it didn’t resonate as much as this years main release, “kitixxxgaia”, it certainly is a must hear for anyone interested in hearing some of the top-tier J-pop at the current time. Read my more in-depth review here.

9. CHAI- PINK

CHAI’s debut full length is one of the most charming albums of 2017. Short, wild, groovy and energetic, PINK marks one of the most exciting newcomer albums in quite a while. CHAI have a real sense of control, and never are ones to take themselves too seriously. The musicianship is very strong, the vocals shout-along and full of youth edge. It’s addictive, colorful and most of all, damn fun. Can’t recommend this one enough.

8. Björk- Utopia

Björk returns in 2017 with her longest album of her entire career. It’s also one of her most colorful and layered releases. Some may find it overwhelming or even impenetrable at first- indeed, there are barely any ‘catchy’ moments on this beast. Those who have the patience though, will be rewarded for their time, as more and more of this album reveals itself through repeated listens. A latecomer in 2017, but such a strong release that it managed to shoot it’s way into the Top 10 without any hesitation. It’s big, it’s bold, it’s Björk.

7. Hirone-chan- Yume no Yume

Hirone-chan’s “Yume no Yume” was the biggest surprise for me in 2017. After a string of promising but fairly “Seiko clone” style albums, Hirone-chan finally found her calling with this one. It’s an absolutely gorgeous listen that creaks, pops and rattles along with a complex subtlety that becomes more and more noticeable on repeated listens. Hirone-chan really has matured significantly, and her songwriting has improved tenfold. A must hear for fans and newcomers alike.

Read my full review here.

6. Leah Dou- Kids Only

Leah Dou returns with her sophomore album, and damn what a followup. A sophisticated, engrossing and hypnotic record from end to end, Dou really expands on the sound she is known for and takes her experimental side to a new level. It’s a perfect album to chill out with, and certainly the most interesting Mandarin language album you’re gonna come across this year. An intoxicating blend of looping samples, beats, funk, jazz and smooth vocals- it’s about as perfect a second album a fan could ask for. Most of all, it feels honest and truly from a place that Dou understands and owns. Get on it.

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DEADGRANDMA’S BEST ALBUMS OF 2017: 10-6

REVIEW: CHAI’s Homegoro Series is the sweet little EP you’re looking for.

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On appearance alone, you could be forgiven to think that CHAI would be another cutesy idol group- anyone new to the group could take any frame from their video clip for “Sayonara Complex” out of context and it would fit that stereotypical mold. However, upon actually listening, what is revealed is something much, much more exciting. This is a ROCK outfit in all senses of the word; and despite the cute veneer, there’s some truly hard hitting, focused tunes coming out of this surprising beast of a band.

The first thing you will notice when hitting up CHAI’s second EP is how damn punchy it is. Sure it’s loud (but playfully so), but it’s also very crisp. Guitar work is always front and center, and the drumming simple but tight. The bass is beautifully buzzy and holds quite a bit of weight to it, has great key work, and is all held together by ridiculously appealing and cute vocals from all members of the group- it almost feels like you’re at a private live set.

Secondly, and most importantly, the tunes are fantastic. REALLY fantastic. Every song on the five track EP offers something equally charming and memorable. Whether it be the sweetly upbeat march of single “Sayonara Complex” or the bouncy, hard edged rapping elements of “Boys Seko Men“, nothing here seems redundant or out of place. It’ll hook you in from the opener “Sound and Stomach” right through to the end of its short and sweet 20 minute run-time.

So go ahead, go and listen to this surprising little gem while it’s hot. Conventionality is definitely NOT what the group are going for- and bravely have given a surprising, charming mix of pop, funk and indie all wrapped nicely in a rock coating with this EP. If you’re even remotely into Japanese rock music, this is a sure fire bet that you will enjoy it. It leaves the listener satisfied, encourages repeat listens and makes you crave more from the group. One to keep an eye on for sure!

8/10 CHAI’s second EP is a fantastic listen, it’s boundless energy, bouncy tunes and heavy dose of playfulness merge to create one of the most un-skippable releases of 2017.

REVIEW: CHAI’s Homegoro Series is the sweet little EP you’re looking for.