Review | Shugo Nakamura “WINNER”

“WINNER” is a fancy single by Shugo Nakamura that is, more than ever, exploring the genres he loves and befitting his writing and composition style.

Regular
Title: WINNER
Label: Lantis
Release date: 16/11/2022
Genre: Jazz-rock/Indie-Rock

Tracklist:

1. WINNER
2. いっせーのせ
3. かたちにして

Track by track analysis:

1 – WINNER

“WINNER” opens the curtains to an elegant jazzy sound in which wah-wah guitar riffs, fancy piano melodies, and punchy basslines are kings.

The verses are slow-paced and groovy, with the melodic guitar riffs and piano melodies creating a laidback soundscape in which you’ll just want to take in the good vibes and enjoy.

When the chorus arrives, the instrumental brings splashy jazzy drums, expanding the soundscape, and giving more than enough space for Shugo Nakamura to deliver a dual performance. The leading vocals are clean and sweet in his mid-tones at the same time as the pitch vocals are performed fully in falsetto.

The bridge stands out for its unpredictability, making the best out of its jazz sound to create a feel-good soundscape that will make you want more and more of it.

All in all “WINNER” arrives with a subdued, mature jazz sound that feels and sounds good from start to finish.

2 – いっせーのせ (Isse Nose)

Things change around slightly for the playful “Isse Nose”. The bassline is dark and deep, slowly leading the way. 

Step by step, the electric guitars and drums join in as Shugo Nakamura’s vocals get gradually muffled until the chorus arrives.

“Isse nose” has a mysterious rock sound that feels unpredictable at all times despite how simplistic it is.

I love the little details about this song. The shredding, distorted guitar riffs in the bridge, the simplicity in the emotional guitar riffs delivered in a blues-y style, and even the way the verses are quiet and playful in their unique mysterious way.

This was the first time Shugo Nakamura delivered a song like this and honestly, I do love that he is bringing more unique details to his compositions.

When it comes to the vocals, Nakamura doesn’t go out of his way to impress – after all, the instrumental is the star in this performance -, ending up delivering a simple performance with highs and lows in tension but mostly muffled throughout.

As “Isse nose” wraps up, you know, for sure, that Nakamura knows how to create an engaging soundscape out of such a simple composition.

3 – かたちにして (Katachi ni shite)

Wrapping up this single is “Katachi ni shite”, song that brings a playful, upbeat and uptempo pop-rock sound that is made for summer.

The vibes are good, the guitars are funky and the bassline is a clear winner in this composition, groovily painting a wide, beautiful soundscape for you.

The chorus brings a bright piano to the spotlight alongside the fast-paced hi-hat-driven drums. While this is far from being the most innovative song in Shugo Nakamura’s repertoire, I can say for sure that I love the vocals on it as well as the guitar work.

The guitar solo in the bridge runs for long enough to grab your attention, heighten the tension and then take you to the dreamy second half of the bridge leading up to the final chorus. The way those chords are pulled in that solo made me wish we all got more from that in Shugo Nakamura’s music. 

On the other hand, the vocals are so, so good. I will highlight the vocals in the chorus as those are, easily, the trickiest in this performance. Nakamura goes from his comfortable mid-toned vocals, takes them for a beautiful crescendo and when the chorus is near its end, he goes for a stellar falsetto that will make chills run down your spine.

While “Katachi ni shite” pales a bit in comparison to the other songs in this release, I feel like it brings a couple of interesting things that worked really well in them and could be featured in future releases.

Solid wrap-up to this single.


Final considerations

And Shugo Nakamura continues to explore his unique brand of jazz-rock and acid-jazz in “WINNER”. 

The sound is maturing, the lyrics are more engaging and interesting than ever as well as the instrumentals show an artist that is exploring new things, embracing passions, and delivering unique songs that will catch your attention.

“WINNER” – the title track – and “Isse Nose” are the songs that stand out the most for me in this release. “WINNER” is all about its acid-jazz sound, groovy, stylish, and all about its “my pace” vibe. 

“Isse Nose” embraces an indie-rock sound with a mysterious vibe all while delivering a simple composition for fans to enjoy. I am not a big fan of the muffled vocals for the majority of the song – as it removes the spotlight from the vocals, instead putting it on the instrumental -, but still, those ended up working within the whole vibe of the song.

For those that love upbeat, uptempo songs to put a smile on your face, “Katachi ni shite” is going to be the tune for you. 

The sound is laidback, fun, and not as mature and gritty as you can find in the other songs in this release. 

In a way, it feels like a song made to wrap up a live show – with an intro that is almost perfect for call-and-response – or to listen to in the summer (or whenever you want to be taken to summer).

I feel that this song doesn’t fit that well in the single’s mood – that was mature and decadent for the most part -something that slightly breaks the consistency it was showing until then.

But then again, singles are made to be instances for artists to try new things and show different sides to their music without worrying about consistency in their sound or following a cohesive story from start to finish. This is my observation as someone that loves to find cohesion and consistency in music – no matter how crazy and unique the CDs may be.

Still, “Katachi ni shite” has wonderful vocals that made me want Nakamura to play more around with them in future releases. The performance in the chorus is a highlight of this CD.

All in all, “WINNER” is a strong, fancy single by Shugo Nakamura that is, more than ever, creating his music, exploring the music genres he loves, and best fitting his lyrics. Nakamura is growing before our eyes and ears and it has been quite awesome to experience that through yet another solid single release.


WINNER” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.


WINNER” is available for streaming on Spotify.


Do not support piracy. Remember to support Shugo Nakamura by streaming via official outlets.

Vanessa Silva
Vanessa Silvahttps://www.handthatfeedshq.com
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder, content creator, and music reviewer. Basically, the only person managing everything at The Hand That Feeds HQ. Stumbling upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus" in 2011 was the start of this journey. If music is thought-provoking or deep, you may find her writing almost essays (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). She's the producer and host of the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

WINNER
いっせーのせ (Isse Nose)
かたちにして (Katachi ni shite)

SUMMARY

And Shugo Nakamura continues to explore his unique brand of jazz-rock and acid-jazz in “WINNER”.  The sound is maturing, the lyrics are more engaging and interesting than ever as well as the instrumentals show an artist that is exploring new things, embracing passions, and delivering unique songs that will catch your attention. “WINNER” is a strong, fancy single by Shugo Nakamura that is, more than ever, creating his music, exploring the music genres he loves, and best fitting his lyrics. Nakamura is growing before our eyes and ears and it has been quite awesome to experience that through yet another solid single release.

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And Shugo Nakamura continues to explore his unique brand of jazz-rock and acid-jazz in “WINNER”.  The sound is maturing, the lyrics are more engaging and interesting than ever as well as the instrumentals show an artist that is exploring new things, embracing passions, and delivering unique songs that will catch your attention. “WINNER” is a strong, fancy single by Shugo Nakamura that is, more than ever, creating his music, exploring the music genres he loves, and best fitting his lyrics. Nakamura is growing before our eyes and ears and it has been quite awesome to experience that through yet another solid single release.Review | Shugo Nakamura "WINNER"