It’s been two months since I looked ahead (twice), and most of those releases have now hit shelves. The holiday season is usually slow when it comes to releases — it doesn’t pick up till February and March, as labels gear up for the summer touring seasons. So what’s on the horizon now?
Number Girl, Omoide In My Head 4 ~Rare Shu~, Dec. 14
Wrapping up the commemorative reissue campaign celebrating Number Girl’s formation a decade ago, Omoide In My Head 4 ~Rare Shu~ collects Number Girl’s contributions to various artists collections, as well as hard-to-find songs. So far no hint on what’s on it, but I’m crossing my fingers for “Samurai”, “Tokyo Freeze” and “Zazenbeats Kemonostyle”. Some of the early comps and demos would be nice to have too.
The special edition contains a DVD featuring footage from Number Girl’s 2000 tour of America.
ZAZEN BOYS, ZAZEN BOYS III, Jan. 18
If “Himitsu Girl’s Top Secret” is any indication, ZAZEN BOYS is getter freakier. The third eponymous album arrives a little more than a year after the 2003 double-punch of the band’s first two albums. I wasn’t fond of the first album, but I dug the second. Mukai Shuutoku is all over the place nowadays, so who knows what the third is going to sound like.
Tokyo Jihen, Otona, Jan. 25
I thought Tokyo Jihen would lose something with Hiizami Masayuki returning full-time to PE’Z. Not so, as the single “Shuraba” demonstrates. It’s a song that doesn’t grab you on first listen, but its catchiness reveals itself a few spins later. The coupling track covers, however, are where the band shines, which doesn’t really bode well for Ringo-chan’s own writing. Her solo work was vibrant by comparrison, so I’m checking out Otona more out of curiosity than desire.
OutKast, Idlewild, First quarter 2006
OutKast’s soundtrack to its movie, My Life in Idlewild, was originally scheduled for a Dec. 6 release, but it’s now been pushed to the first quarter of 2006. Big Boi had wanted to get Kate Bush to sing on this album. He also wanted to get Sade as well. Huh, where is that lady anyway …
Utada Hikaru, “Passion”, Dec. 14
“Be My Last” was the sleeper ear worm of 2005. I was absolutely unimpressed the first time I heard the song. I gave it a few more tries, and before I knew it, I couldn’t stop playing it. In fact, “Be My Last” manage to wash away the residual disappointment of Utada’s English debut. I look forward to hearing what “Passion” sounds like.
Hayashi Asuca, Choo, Dec. 14
Hayashi Asuca has a fascinating voice, but like most pop stars, the people choosing her material could probably be a bit more adventurous. Hayashi’s debut, Saki, was strong and promising. The follow-up, Hatsukoi, was a lot like the first album but with slightly weaker material. Here’s hoping Choo isn’t a third strike.