On Wednesday of last week, the full lineup for the annual Kouhaku performance were revealed. Of all the new comers to the table, it’s hard to say who I was rooting for more – Hoshino Gen or Gesu no Kiwami Otome. When the listing came out, it was clear I didn’t need to choose since both got in.

Hoshino Gen, much like Gesu, is one of the “new faces” that lead the current ‘band boom’ of sorts. The formerly of the rock band Sakerock, the man has done everything from act in various dramas and movies to writing songs in that characteristic retromania style of his. Talented, this man definitely is.

One of the best parts about his music isn’t just the fact that he, to crib a friend of mine, flawlessly mixes old and new. His instrumental backing tracks are the stuff of legend – even without his strangely pleasant voice (raspy as it is), the instrumentals always manage to showcase uniquely all the various components he’s selected, without under or overusing any single element, whether it be the static that starts SUN or the clapping that tends to be characteristic of almost all his music.

If any of the indications for his next album, YELLOW DANCER (out December 2nd), are on the money, it seems like this trend will only continue. Another fantastic thing about Gen is just his simple versatility – he can switch readily between his upbeat tracks like Jigoku de Naze Warui? (2013) to slow ballads like Recordnoise (2014, Stranger album) without any noticeable drop in quality.

So checkout Hoshino Gen, and learn to love that funk!