Top Pops! Portland’s Aan, Japan’s Shintaro Sakamoto of Yura Yura Teikoku

“Pop music shouldn’t always get a bad rap,” says Top Pops!, a recurring selection of pop music highlights across a selection of styles. Portland’s Aan bust out a killa new track and Japan’s Shintaro Sakamoto, formerly of psych outfit Yura Yura Teikoku, sees a U.S. release for his pop-jazz-rock solo. Plus a mini throwback homage to Yura Yura Teikoku!


Aan (not to be confused with their Portland neighbors AU despite the consonant-consonant confusion) is one Portland band we’ve never really written about on REDEFINE. To be very honest, I haven’t been the craziest about the samples I have heard — until now! The band’s latest direction breaks them out of simple straight-forward songwriting and into edgier territory, as encapsulated by the preview track for their upcoming album, “I Don’t Need Love”. The 7″ release of this track comes out this month via Cool Summer Records and the full-length, Amor Ad Nauseum, comes out… sometime in the future. Peep their Into The Woods session below for some fucking passion! I know not what the future holds for Aan, but this is a big step in the right direction, dudes! They also have a short string of tour dates coming up, below.


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8/2 SANTA ROSA, CA @ Christy’s on the Square
8/5 SANTA BARBARA, CA @ Muddy Waters w/ Avi Buffalo + Little Owl
8/6 LOS ANGELES, CA @ The Echo w/ Wildcat! Wildcat + Incan Abraham
8/7 FRESNO, CA @ 55 Fulton w/ Light Thieves + Greener By Color + Actress
8/8 SAN FRANCISCO, CA @ Cafe Du Nord w/ Religious Girls + French Cassettes
8/9 PORTLAND, OR @ Holocene — Into The Woods party
9/7 PORTLAND, OR @ MFNW at Star Theater w/ Pains of Being Pure at Heart + Moon Duo


Shintaro Sakamoto

How To Live With A Phantom was released in late 2011, but the pop-funk-rock record by Japan’s Shintaro Sakamoto, known for his work with psychedelic weirdos Yura Yura Teikoku, saw its release last week via Other Music Recording Co. Yura Yura Teikoku broke up in 2010, and Sakamoto’s solo material is much more straight-laced, perfect for any remotely romantic moment (in the poetic sense) — be it for lounging by a pool or sitting by a raging fire. Jazzy tendencies with prominent Latin influences, a style found often in ’90s Japan pop music, are a mainstay of How To Live With A Phantom. The tracks dance adorably into your mind with grooves that make you want to embrace stereotypically Japanese cuteness.

See below for album tracklisting and some Yura Yura Teikoku throw-back materials! Expect a full album review coming soon.

1. In A Phantom Mood
2. You Just Decided
3. My Memories Fade
4. Mask On Mask
5. A Stick And Slacks
6. A Gleam Of Hope
7. Dancing With Pain
8. Something’s Different
9. How To Live With A Phantom
10. Small But Enough


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Yura Yura Teikoku

Yura Yura Teikoku are good for you. As are butts with animated speech/(fart?) cloud overlays, evidently. Modern dance at its finest here!


Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

In 2017, Vee released the narrative short film, Searching Skies — which touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States — and co-organized The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. 2022 sees the release of their next short film, Reckless Spirits, which is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature film.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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