O!Susume – Polkadot Stingray

Broadcast 15: POLKADOT STRINGRAY

I’m excited to recommend POLKADOT STINGRAY today on this edition of O!susume RadioBeat. I’m always on the lookout for a good J-rock/J-pop band with great female vocals, and this band immediately stood out for me when they first came onto the scene for their interesting instrumentals. Some of my favorite songs from the band don’t have music videos so if you’re interested after the article, also consider checking out a few of my favorite songs: BLUE; ばけものだらけの街 (Bakemono darake no machi; A City Full of Monsters); ジェット・ラグ (Jet Lag); and ラブコール (Love Call).

Members: Shizuku (guitar and vocals), Harushi Ejima (guitar), Yuki Uemura (bass), Kazuma Mitsuyasu (drums)

Years Active: 2015-Present

Point of Origin: Fukuoka, Japan

Who is POLKADOT STINGRAY?

POLKADOT STINGRAY is a Japanese Pop/Rock band featuring clear and pleasant vocals and catchy instrumentals with just the right amount of mainstream appeal. The band was created in 2014 in Fukuoka by Shizuku on vocals and guitar, Muro on guitar, and Kasuma Mitsuyasu on drums. They soon gained Yuki Uemura on bass, and after the release of their second single in 2015, Muro left the band and was soon replaced on guitar by Harushi Ejima to fill out their current line-up. POLKADOT STINGRAY started off by self-releasing and self-directing their first few songs through Tower Records until they were quickly picked up by the major label Universal Sigma. 

Soon after releasing their first digital single TELECASTER STRIPES, and their first EP Honenuki, POLKADOT STINGRAY quickly gained mainstream success. They’ve worked with members from some exciting contemporary Japanese bands such as Gesu No Kiwami Otome, FREDERIC, Hitorie, and Tricot. They’ve also released a few theme songs and ending themes as well as collaborated with Jetstar, an Australia based airline company for their song Jet, as well as created a song for an Android commercial

The band also has a mascot called Hannaki Bibi (半泣きビビ; Half crying Bibi), who is a black Norwegian Forest Cat featured on their logo, merch and in their videos and albums. He has a tear in one eye, as well as a red bowtie, and he has his own game (in Japanese) on the band’s website called Bibi ba Shiri Yaru. See if you can find Hannaki Bibi in the videos I’m recommending today!

The band and its members are all relatively young, so they have a lot of room to grow and experiment with their music in the coming years. With three albums and four EPs to date, POLKADOT STINGRAY have already displayed a strong musical identity, so I’m excited to see where they will go from here. 

We’re starting strong this Friday with this energetic and exciting song called “Keshin,” meaning “incarnation,” animated from the Japanese studio Kamikaze Douga. The transitions between the band and the animated sections of the video are seamless and the coloring and animation style go along really well with the song’s vibrancy and exuberance. Shizuku’s vocal style is refreshing, and the short catchy riffs from Ejima Harushi are one of my favorite parts of POLKADOT STINGRAY’s music in general. I really love his solo at 2:12 which is unexpectedly melancholic, but a wonderful place musically to go to in the song. “Keshin,” also features Chan Mari on keyboard from Gesu no Kiwami Otome, which is another great J-pop band that focuses on intricate and refreshing instrumentals. 

“阿吽” (A-un) is the second song I want to introduce today, which is a little bit slower than “Keshin” but has all of the signature captivating instrumentals that I love from POLKADOT STINGRAY. There’s a gentle keyboard part that sweetly moves us along, played by guest player and comedian, Hollywood Zakoshisyoh. Make sure to stick around until after the credits to get a little bit of a feel for his humor, even if you don’t understand Japanese! In addition to the catchy keyboard refrain, the band expertly adds in and takes away different instruments throughout the song to change up the feel of it all while expanding upon the core melody. I especially love the guitar textures that start around 1:43 and the bass around 2:30. 

“A Stinging Spica” is the last video I want to introduce todaywhich I think is a great visual representation of how each band member contributes to their overall sound. The video starts off with a small Rube Goldberg machine and turns to each member playing instruments in front of a part of the machine, as if to say that each of their individual parts work together to create the whole musical machine. I really like this visualization because one of my favorite features of the band is how they add and subtract each instrument in order to create their sound. The beginning of the song is more disjointed and staccato with the different instruments playing in turn, but later on they come together in a more smooth and connected way in order to express a different musical articulation. It’s just really well done, so I hope you enjoy it!

Other Links

Website: https://polkadot-stingray.jp/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/POLKA_fukuoka 

Album tracks: https://www.generasia.com/wiki/POLKADOT_STINGRAY 

Article about the song “Jet” on Ongaku To You (another Japanese music blog!) https://www.ongakutoyou.com/blog/review-polkadot-stingray-jet

More about their mascot: https://jpop.fandom.com/wiki/POLKADOT_STINGRAY

 

This Broadcast was written by Erin; you can find them on instagram at @thekniterin.

Author: Nagi