YeYe: Surprisingly Palatable Alt-Folk Hipster J-Pop

yeye-head-720

YouTube remains a goldmine of undiscovered and underexposed original music, and Japanese tunesmith YeYe is yet another example. Working solo, her songs strangely inhabit some realm between Astrud Gilberto, Goldfrappe, and Norway’s Ephemera. She sings a little off-key at points, but the songs and arrangements are generally slick, and have a simplistic naive charm that makes it all work. Magically, even when playing with the entire alt-folk hipster ensemble, the charm generally stays intact. If they could tweak their vibe slightly so as not to exude the inescapable contrived-ness present when playing high-end Nords and collectibles like YeYe’s classic Guyatone guitar, they’d probably have something with a pretty broad appeal going on. But as charming and chippy as they are at present, they’ll probably remain pretty niche. Coordinating nicely with their high-end hipsterness, apparently one requirement of their work is that all the songs are spelled using lower-case, as if they were lifted from an e.e. cummings poem. Which frankly, they may have been, given their sparse poetic charm.

morning

This one sort of nails what works best with YeYe: tightly-crafted alt-folk with a chippy melody and nice edits that demonstrate that she probably played all the tracks herself. If this song doesn’t make you happy, we suggest you seek professional help…

say

Welcome to YeYe’s bathroom, via UStream LIVE. Meandering from a sort of “Astrid Gilberto in Tokyo” vibe to something that sounds almost like Norway’s Ephemera, you may find the slightly discordant or flat notes off-putting, or you may find them actually charming.

a girl runs

It all almost falls apart here thanks to a distinct lack of rhythm. But the toy-like quality of their playing creates its own excuse, rendering it all merely childish and cute.

Mrs. Sing Lady Summer

Perhaps leaning a bit too much on the “let’s be cute Japanese chicks in the forest” shtick, this is still a charming simple tune, with YeYe’s Guyatone enjoying a starring role again.

ate a lemon

Feeling somehow like the video producer just finished watching some OK Go videos, there’s also a bit of potentially cloying hipsterism that you’ll notice when the whole band is present. If they were American and played the same song in Portland, this might not work so well.

Take us to Lithuania

If the subtle hipsterisms of the last video bothered you, you might want to skip this one; they go Full Folk Forest Hipster.

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