Fennel - slow down

18 May 2022  •  Filed under

Last year, I stumbled across BAND-MAID, a Japanese rock band. It was another breath of fresh air into the sails of my unfurling musical renaissance, and I really enjoyed watching their live performance videos. I listened to some of their albums, but nothing really grabbed onto me as tightly as those few videos.

Intrigued, I’ve kept poking around YouTube for more Japanese bands, and found quite a few that I’ll probably write about. One of those is Regal Lily, whose song “GOLD TRAIN” totally blew me away. Their musical style matches up more with what I listen to on the regular, and my incessant playback of that music video tuned the algorithm to other artists that slot into my particular indie pop/rock, shoegaze, & post-rock tastes.

Consequently, I recently discovered slow down, and it’s a really great record. It’s the solo project of Sagane Hiromi, who is also the bass player for venerated math-rock band Tricot. Under the moniker Fennel, Hiromi makes catchy indie rock reminiscent of early 90s college rock bands like The Lemonheads, Blake Babies, and Letters to Cleo.

There’s a good variety of vibes on this mini-album. Opener “drunker” appropriately rides a loose, serpentine, R.E.M.-adjacent riff, while “Sunday” is an energetic banger full of crashing drums à la Letters to Cleo. Naturally, most of the lyrics are sung in Japanese, but there are a few earnest explosions of English, like on the closer “You and I”. Personally, I enjoy listening to Japanese lyrics; not being able to understand the words is kind of a relief and emphasizes the vocals as more of the instrument that they are.

Anyways, I highly recommend this album, especially if you’re into those early 90s influences. Coming from a bass player, I’d expect the rhythm section to be strong, but the guitar work and vocal melodies are also really good. It’s prime spring/summer energy.

Slow down.

© Jared Christensen

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