DIY rock bands figured out a long time ago that the “split-single” is a great way for fledgling artists to achieve the milestone of getting a record out there. Two bands chip in their money, and each gets one side of a 45 rpm vinyl record, ready to share with the masses. And for music lovers, it’s a pretty nifty deal as well, cause for a low price point,
you could take a chance on hearing two new bands you might happen to dig. It’s a great punk-rock tradition that plenty of bands still carry on today.
And now here come two darlings on the indie-idol set, tipToe. (That’s how you stylize the type.) and ········· (You know, Dots.) with a split/collaboration single entitled “Tokyo Sentimental”. The two groups have been friendly buds for a while now since they shared a bill in which the tipToe. girls surprised the audience by coming out on stage wearing the Dots’ patented visors and vintage dresses and paying a little tribute to the ethereal idols. It was a fun little moment that brought tipToe. to my attention for the first time, and thanks very much for that!
So how’s the single? “Tokyo Sentimental” is only four songs and it’s quick listen, and the two groups make the most of the brevity.
“Soda Pop Aquarium” by tipToe. leads us off, an upbeat pop number that’s in keeping to what the group does best: Infectious Jpop confectionary goodness. tipToe. has this sort of tightly interwoven style of vocalizing that works perfectly for this tune. It’s very pure and light, but anything but a throw-away track.
“Can You Feel the Change of Seasons?” by the dot-chans follows that, and it’s everything I love about them. Sometimes the Dots go for odd, polarizing (I enjoy it personally) experimentation, and other times they reach for rich and uplifting guitar-driven pop with lovely, lilting vocals. This is the latter, and it soars. Like the best songs by the group, this could’ve been a favorite track off a classic 90’s Brit shoegaze album.
For the next two tracks, the two group’s each covered a signature song of the other…
“Soda Float Kibun” features tipToe. taking on the task of covering Dots. This version features a whole new arrangement of the song, which was originally written for the Dots by For Tracy Hide’s Azusa Suga. (He also wrote “Slide” for the group as well, which he discussed in an interview for this blog.) It turns the original song into an uptempo, glitchy dance tune, and I really enjoyed it. I was also curious to know what Azusa himself thought of the departure in style, and it turns out he loved it as well!
Actually I adore it, I'm a sucker for electronica-esque glitches in pop music so I think the arranger did a wonderful job!
— 夏bot.FTH (@chelseaguitar) August 22, 2018
Here’s a video of tipToe. (as Dots) covering “Soda Float Kibun” in its original arrangement…
And lastly, “Cream Soda No Yuuustsu”, the third song on here with a carbonated beverage theme. This time it’s the dot-chans turn to cover one one of tipToe.’s better known songs, a longingly meloncholy ballad that stuck with me the first time I heard it. And herein is one of the unexpected surprises of the single: The Dots actually stick very close to the original, with the only truly notable change being more emphasis on guitar over the keys. I even took a moment to play the two songs simultaneously to myself, and they fit together with little discordance.
“Cream Soda No Yuuustsu”, the original version…
So here’s the inevitable question: Which group “wins” the single? Keeping in mind that while I do indeed enjoy all the songs on this release, and my undying bias for Dots is well documented, I’m gonna say that tipToe. walks away with a stronger feeling here. I gotta give it to them, they embraced the possibilities of this collaboration single and went with it, taking more risks and testing the waters of what they can do. Their bold cover of “Soda Float Kibun” is my favorite track on the single. I’d give Dot’s “Can You Feel the Change in the Seasons” a not-terribly-behind second though.
I did actually order this single as a physical CD, but I haven’t received it yet, so I’ve got no real commentary on the package design, although I do love the promo photos that have been released for this release. Thankfully for Westerners, this single is available on iTunes and other outlets that you purchase from such as OTOTOY. I believe you can stream it now too. But be warned, it was a royal pain to track this down because once again “·········” proves to be a just about an impossible search term, and it also helps to type in tipToe. the way they write it out. (Or better yet, just use links via their Twitter accounts.) I’ve been curious to see if Dots will ever compromise on their name as they become more popular, and especially if they reach out to the Western market. (Which they are beginning to do.) But it looks like they won’t be budging on that, even if does create a challenge in getting their music out there. (I admire that non-commercial commitment, however.)
But in the spirit of our hopes and dreams of Jpop crossovers in the West, I’d like to encourage you to give this a download, or at least a few streams. It’s a great release, and I think for many of you it just might be a great way to check out tipToe., who I think are destined to increase their popularity in the next year, while at the same time, supporting our favorite nameless non-corporeal idols.