Best Japanese/overseas albums of 2010: Tokyo Indie

by and

The Brixton Academy — “Vivid”

Obsessive-compulsives for the 1980s sound, it’s hard to argue that The Brixton Academy (TBA) and their debut album “Vivid” are anything original. What sets “Vivid” apart, however, is an honesty and craft not seen in the ’80s-influenced music of today. Where other enthusiasts of that decade choose to camp things up, even lyrically scoffing at the genre (see Grafton Primary and Chromeo), there is more sincerity in “Vivid,” with songs such as “So Shy” and “In My Arms” pointing to feelings of longing and heartache without feeling contrived. The trick is in the musical arrangements, with TBA knowing just when to trade their hooky ’80s synths and samplers for a solitary guitar, drums and vocals. The result is an album that brings in many shades of the ’80s, from the poppy and up-beat to the more sobering sounds of postpunk, but in its blending, “Vivid” possesses a character very much its own.

Efterklang — “Magic Chairs”

Efterklang’s third album “Magic Chairs” is arguably their “pop” record, casting aside the sprawling soundscapes of second album “Parades” for a more direct and more intravenous sound. Songs such as “Modern Drift” and “Soft Beating” have such a theatrical drama about them that there have been Arcade Fire comparisons. Each song is a stand-alone masterpiece ready to be the soundtrack to your life.

Tokyo Indie is a multinational collective focusing on music journalism, promotion and club events.