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In 2017, Yubisaki Nohaku celebrated their ninth year as a band. This may come as a surprise to many foreign fans given their relatively recent introduction to audiences abroad, but the respect they get in the indie scene in Japan is the true mark of what they have earned over the past nine years. Their constantly transforming yet always spirited and original take on the classic emo formula has gained them fans of the most savvy indie music buffs and immense respect from their fellow bands. Another marker of their accomplishment came earlier this year, as they were chosen by Shelter livehouse in Shimokitazawa to be one of the first bands to release an album from their record label, Shelter United. In this way, TAMAMONO is both a marker for how far Yubisaki Nohaku have come as well as a turning point for the group itself. The album shows both the maturity and knowhow that the group have developed over the years, as well as looks to their future with a bright and positive outlook.
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The pseudo chorus of first track “VS.Oni” characterizes the relentless nature of TAMAMONO, with an aggressive string of chords that increase in intensity with the volume at which you listen to them. “Koumori” is guitarist Junko Kimura’s chance to shine, and she lives up to the expectation with a similarly unceasing assault of delayed chords and sporadic fills. “Chotto Machi Na” is the most aggressive song on TAMAMONO, and the song that falls in line most with Yubisaki Nohaku’s previous release, Full Range. This is especially true when it comes to slap bassist extraordinaire Yukoshiko, who doesn’t get as many chances to show off that particular skill here as compared to that album. That being said, “Chotto Machi Na” doesn’t feel out of place on TAMAMONO, and is so fundamentally a Yubisaki Nohaku jam, with every member really letting loose, that its inclusion on this comparatively lighter release is as refreshing as it is energizing.
Yubisaki Nohaku – “Amashougun No Koi”
“Amashougun No Koi” is on the more straightforward end of Yubisaki’s repertoire, with very few stand out guitar or bass lines. Rather than do a disservice to the band as a whole, this puts vocalist Kana’s always impassioned performance in the spotlight, making it also one of the band’s catchiest and most endearing tracks. This song is also one of the biggest contributors to the overall brighter tone of this album compared to past releases. Album closer “Afterlight,” also included on Shelter United’s release compilation Girls’ Collection, aids in this tonal effort, with the added benefit of ending TAMAMONO on both an impassioned and decidedly hopeful note.
While TAMAMONO certainly lacks a lot of the sonic fuzz and punch that made Full Range the force of nature it was, as a whole, this album is tonally far more unrelenting. There isn’t a token “slow song” to be found, and while all of the band’s albums have been fairly consistent, this is by far the release that excels most in that regard. TAMAMONO takes a lot of the best things about previous albums, like the wonky effects of SAKANA and punchy groove of Full Range, and filters them through a more straightforward indie lens, without losing any of the things that make Yubisaki Nohaku the distinct and effective group they have come to be over their nine years as a band.
TAMAMONO is available for sale internationally from CDJapan and HMV. You can follow Yubisaki Nohaku on their website, twitter, or Facebook, or look for them on tour in Canada this May with Next Music From Tokyo.