Released: 22.07.15 / Label: ROSE RECORDS
Hiyashichuka is a Japanese dish (also known as hiyashi ramen or reimen) consisting of chilled ramen noodles with various toppings often served in summer. This EPs jacket (seen above) is an artist depiction of a hiyashi chuka restaurant, and just looking at it makes me hungry. Sunny Day Service (SDS) have done a great job naming this summer release, but let’s learn a bit about the band before we take a listen.
SDS is a three-piece band that’s been on the scene since 1992. While this year would technically their 30th anniversary, the band took a break from 2000 to 2008, so really it’s roughly their 22nd year together. The group made a huge impact early on in their career, bringing new life into a music scene that was hungering for something fresh and Western. While labeled a ‘rock’ band they’ve made music spanning a variety of genres including Shibuya-kei, folk, garage, neo-acoustic, and hip-hip. This is a band that’s been a major player in the J-Indie scene for three decades and they’re still making music today. Hiyashichuka is the title track from their latest EP which just dropped on July 15th. So let’s hear what they’ve put together for us this time.
As the lyrics point out, “Hiyashi chuka has begun.” Ok, that’s not exactly what they meant, but still. This song is beautifully played and the incredible mix and intricate extended outro really make it shine. SDS has such a unique sound and incredibly varied writing style. In this one track there are pop ballad melodies, Clapton-like guitar riffs, a groovy funk break, and 70’s style harmonies in the chorus. All these styles flow seamlessly into each other. It’s a real achievement making a song this all over the place feel homogeneous, and they pull it off in the most relaxing way possible.
(Sadly this song doesn’t know how to use the vibraslap effectively (at 1:47). For notes on proper usage see this review.)
The lyrics are one of the sticky points for me. I’m already not a fan of food analogies, and while I understand the use of a summer food to express a relaxing summer mood, this just seems a bit bottom-of-the-barrel. The English lyrics are equally lazy. It makes me think they didn’t spend as much time on the lyric writing as they did the music.
As for production value, the recording, mix, and mastering of the track are at the level I’d expect given the group’s tenure. Yet I was still left feeling like something was lacking. I’m not sure what that could be, maybe an issue of personal taste. But it’s still nice to hear a band this confident. And a necessity for a song that’s meant to put you at ease.
Stream or download the track