Shintaro Sakamoto "You Just Decided" (video)

Shintaro Sakamoto "You Just Decided" (video)
When Exclaim! recently posted our list of ten great albums you may have missed in 2011, we tried to cover a lot of bases. But of course, even we missed a few stellar records that were sadly overlooked last year, including Shintaro Sakamoto's brilliant How to Live with a Phantom.

Released in Japan late last year via Zelone Records, the album marks the first proper solo effort from the now-defunct and much-missed Yura Yura Teikoku, easily one of finest modern Japanese rock bands of the last two decades. In many ways, Sakamoto's solo offering picks up where Yura Yura Teikoku's 2007 swan song Hollow Me/Beautiful left off, dropping any old hard-rock antics for mellowed-out soft rockisms that include funked-out basslines, bongos, flutes and, yes, even some sax.

Of course, it's all still anchored by Sakamoto's circling, hypnotic guitar patterns and that silky smooth croon of his, but it's all less cluttered than the work of his old band, making each track come out cool, calm and more than a little collected.

Below, you can check out "You Just Decided" in the video, which were guessing was animated by Sakamoto himself.

While it doesn't look as if this record is getting any sort of wide North American release, luckily for us Mesh-Key has scored some of copies of How to Live with a Phantom, and you can pick up a copy here. The label even has the limited double-disc version, which comes with a full disc of instrumentals.

And if you've yet to explore Yura Yura Teikoku -- and have four hours on your hand -- we highly recommend you watch Shion Sono's cinematic epic Love Exposure, which prominently features several of the band's key tracks.