Music / CD Reviews | LISTENING POST

Tenkiame "So Sad About Us"

by Patrick ST. Michel

Special To The Japan Times

Tenkiame “So Sad About Us” (Independent)

Tokyo’s Azusa Suga is a busy man. For the past four years he has been managing online label Canata Records, recorded woozy electronic pop under the name Shortcake Collage Tape and played in indie-pop band For Tracy Hyde, which has garnered some mainstream attention that has resulted in opportunities to open for bigger bands.

As Suga tries to push For Tracy Hyde into the spotlight, he has also started up a new group called Tenkiame, who has just released the EP “So Sad About Us.” The project seems to be Suga’s chance to revel in the kind of fuzzy, unhinged sounds that For Tracy Hyde can’t indulge in if it wants to maintain its current momentum.

Tenkiame, which also features members of indie acts Batman Winks and Seagull Travels, draws heavy inspiration from shoegaze and more uptempo underground bands. The sludgy “Candy” even sounds a bit like Dinosaur Jr. before a mid-tune guitar freak-out turns it into something wilder.

The group never zones out too much, though, and sounds best when the members are playing at faster speeds. “You” provides a poppy chorus of backing “woos,” while opener “Splash!” gets spiked by Suga’s pained lyric “You are my broken mirror.”

Suga’s vocals also play a huge part in making “So Sad About Us” stand out, but its real purpose is to separate Tenkiame from For Tracy Hyde. His singing is far from polished, delivered rough and even a bit nasally when hitting higher notes. In an effort to get For Tracy Hyde a wider audience, Suga stepped back from lead vocalist duties in favor of the sweeter sounds of female vocalist Lovely Summer. He’s confident behind the mic with Tenkiame, though, and his raw delivery gives the band a more immediate emotional punch — his voice almost breaks on “Candy.” Let’s hope it’s an attempt at intensity and not a sign Suga is stressed from working too much.

“So Sad About Us” is available for download via Tenkiame’s Bandcamp page:

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