|EP by Folks|
|Released||February 12, 2014
(see release history)
|Genre||Indie rock, indie pop, shoegazing, electropop|
Background and development
Folks first formed in 2013 when former Galileo Galilei members Fumito Iwai and Kazumasa Noguchi moved back to their birthplace of Hokkaido to start a band. Iwai and Noguchi asked former Guild member Yoshitomo Kobayashi to join their band, and they moved to Sapporo, renting a house with Iwai's older brother Katsutoshi Iwai and his friend Masatsugu Takahashi, who later joined Folks. The group based themselves at their hometown of Eniwa, Hokkaido, and released their first extended play Take Off in March 2013, and performed at the Rising Sun Rock Festival, on August 17, 2013.
Writing and production
Newtown was recorded in Sapporo, at Hit Studio and Geimori Studio in 2013. The album features four of the five songs on Take Off, along with three new compositions. Fumito Iwai is the main songwriter and vocalist for the album, writing every track except "River," which was written and sung by Katsutoshi Iwai. The song "Good-bye, Friends" was composed by all members of Folks, but featured lyrics written by Fumito Iwai. Their self-produced 2012 extended play Take Off was produced and arranged by Fumito Iwai alone. After the members performing the album live for a year, it began to feel like their own album as well, and not just Fumito Iwai's. Newtown featured all the members contributing to the arrangement and production. The arrangements of Take Off songs were changed after the band performed them in front of live audiences. Fumito Iwai had never considered what the songs would sound like live, so experimented by changed the songs' percussion balance and tempo, and created live arrangements for the songs.
Work on Newtown started several months after their first live concert in April 2013, as the members created ideas and discussed what they wanted to do together as Folks. The style of French indie rock band Phoenix's album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009) influenced the members greatly, and they sought to use some of the techniques Phoenix used.
The song "Replica" was written in the summer of 2012 by Fumito Iwai, and was written about the end of summer in Hokkaido. It was the first song he worked on after leaving Galileo Galilei, and expressed the sort of music he wanted to create. The first song recorded for the Newtown sessions was "Forever." The song "Everything Is Alone" was described as having an "updated funk sound" by Fumito Iwai, and was a mix of everything the band members wanted to express in a song. They had difficulty in arranging and tuning the drums, as the band members had not worked with live drums in a recording before.
The song "Gaga" from Take Off was re-titled "You're Right" for Newtown. Fumito Iwai felt the main association of the word was American musician Lady Gaga, and changed it as the association felt too limiting. The song "Two Young" was not been performed by Folks at lives before Newtown's release, but was written as a song to perform live. "Good-bye, Friends" was based on a demo Katsutoshi Iwai made, then Noguchi expanded on. However, the song was created by all of the members of the band, discussing and experimenting together.
After Newtown was recorded, Fumito Iwai and Yoshitomo Kobayash went to Tokyo to oversee the mixing of the extended play. Tatsuki Masuko, member of Japanese instrumental band Rovo, was brought in to help mix and mastered Newtown. This was compared to Take Off, which Fumito Iwai mixed all by himself.
The title Newtown refers to the planned community of Megumino in Eniwa, which is a motif of the release. The cover and artist promotional photos were taken in Eniwa by photographer Yoshiharu Ota, as well as the music video for "Everything Is Alone." The video was shot at the members' homes in Megumino.
Promotion and release
"Everything Is Alone" was the lead song promoting the album. The song was released to radio stations and received a music video, which was a power play video on music video station Space Shower TV in January 2014. The song received minor requests to radio stations on a national level in January 2014, however was extremely popular in Hokkaido, being the number one requested song at radio stations for January 2014. The song peaked at number 81 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Airplay Chart. The song was chosen as the February ending theme song for Nagoya radio station Zip-FM's Spice Up weekend morning radio show.
The band performed their first live outside of Hokkaido at the Tokyo Tsutaya O-West on January 20, 2014. The band held their first live in Eniwa just after the extended play's release, on February 15, 2014 at the Eniwa Musōkan, where Fumito Iwai's high school band Guild first performed.
To promote the album, Folks appeared on many Hokkaido-based radio stations such as FM North Wave, Air-G', STV Radio and HBC Radio. They were also featured in an interview for music magazine Musica.
Critical reception to Newtown was positive. Akihiro Okumura from What's In? was impressed with the "overseas resonance" of the band, likening Folks to indie rock musicians like Passion Pit and Mumford and Sons, as well as having the approach of James Blake. Okumura was very impressed by the "lyrical vocal lines" of Fumito Iwai and Kazutoshi Iwai, and likened them to the 1980s city pop movement in Japanese music. Saori Kishiba, a reviewer for Skream!, likened the band to Animal Collective and Arcade Fire, praising the "dreamy pop sound" and polished arrangements of songs on Newtown. CDJournal reviewers felt the EP makes the listener feel the "transparent feeling and pathos" of Northern European rock, while having a post-rock base. The reviewers praised the "beauty of fusion" in the album's "pleasant songs", and that their harmonies "reminded you of an aurora".
|1.||"Everything Is Alone"||Fumito Iwai||4:18|
|2.||"Two Young"||Fumito Iwai||4:15|
|4.||"Good-bye, Friends"||Fumito Iwai, Folks||5:23|
|6.||"You're Right"||Fumito Iwai||5:05|
|Japan Oricon weekly albums||81|
Sales and certifications
|Oricon physical sales||800|
Personnel details were sourced from Newtown's liner notes booklet.
- All members – arrangement, production
- Yoshitomo Kobayashi – guitar, synthesizer, percussion, chorus
- Fumito Iwai – vocals (#1-4, #6-7), guitar
- Katsutoshi Iwai – guitar, vocals (#5)
- Kazumasa Noguchi – bass, chorus
- Masatsugu Takahashi – programming, synthesizer, chorus
Technical, production and imagery
- Yuri Furukawa – A&R chief
- Noriyuki Kikuchi – A&R
- Kenichi Koga – recording engineer at Geimori Studio (#1, #3, #5-7)
- Tatsuki Masuko – mixing, mastering
- Yoshiharu Ota – art direction, photography
- Naonori Sakamoto – assistant recording engineer at Geimori Studio (#1, #3, #5-7)
- Hirano Tanaka – art direction, design
- Naoya Tsubakihara – support drum, drum technician
- Hirokazu Tsuruha – recording engineer at Hit Studio
|Region||Date||Format||Distributing Label||Catalogue codes|
|Japan||February 12, 2014||CD, digital download||Ki/oon Music||KSCL-2354|
|March 1, 2014||Rental CD|
- "Newtown Folks" (in Japanese). Tower Records. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
- Saori Kishiba (February 2014). "Interview: Folks" (in Japanese). Skream!. Archived from the original on February 10, 2014. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
- "北海道発5人組バンド、FOLKSがキューンからデビュー" [Hokkaido five member band Folks to debut under Ki/oon.] (in Japanese). Tower Records. December 12, 2013. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
- Newtown (Media notes) (in Japanese). Folks. Tokyo, Japan: Ki/oon Music. 2014.
- Sachi Harada (February 11, 2014). "FOLKS 「感情を理論でコントロールした音楽って最強にかっこいい」2014.02.11 Tuesday" [Folks: Music with theory-controlled emotions is the coolest thing.] (in Japanese). Kram!. Archived from the original on February 18, 2014. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
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- "恵庭市のロックバンド「フォークス」が地元でライブ 原田市長にメジャーデビューを報告" [Eniwa rock band Folks local live, Mayor Harada reports on their major label debut.] (in Japanese). Tomakomai Mimpo. January 28, 2014. Archived from the original on February 10, 2014. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
- "メディア情報" [Media Information] (in Japanese). Ki/oon Music. February 18, 2014. Archived from the original on February 18, 2014. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
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- "オリコンランキング情報サービス「you大樹」" [Oricon Ranking Information Service "You Big Tree"]. Oricon. Retrieved February 18, 2014. (subscription required (. ))
- "ＮＥＷＴＯＷＮ／ＦＯＬＫＳ" (in Japanese). Tsutaya. Retrieved February 10, 2014.