I like music. I listen to a lot of music. I also like Japanese cinema (a long with others) so some people automatically assume I am in fact a Japanophile. I am not. I don’t know or care about the latest Gackt album or what Ayumi does these days, so whenever anyone asks for some J-Pop or J-Rock recommendations I like to rattle off a list of, rather pretentious, bands that are the best thing to come out Japan musically. Today I share them with you, maybe together we can rid of horrible music…
5. Eastern Youth
Eastern Youth are not a particularly different, or intelligent band. They aren’t strictly for Sceney Hipsters (as I like to call them) but they do prove to us that not all popular Japanese music is sugary, sentimental or damn right crazy and unlistenable. They are perhaps the Japanese equivalent of our run of the mill rock bands, perhaps Foo Fighters from the land of the rising sun. But they do make good music, unlike the afore mentioned. They don’t have funny hair cuts, dress up like women, entice the largest gathering of 13 year old Japanophillic goth girls and they sure as hell don’t have creepy fan fiction written about them. What they do do (haha) is make good old honest music. In Japanese. No good if you want to understand the scamps.
I recommend: Eastern Youth – 365
If you are into the post rock circuit you no doubt know everything there is to know about Mono. They don’t write songs, they write musical soundscapes, with soaring highs and frantic outbursts of energy coupled with the relaxing planes and darker lows. They aren’t a different band in fact there are many who are almost as good, but they have an edge. One of the best things about this band, and this is only shared with one other, is that they regularly tour outside of Japan, and often in the UK. The guitarist is also very sweaty.
I recommend: Mono – You are There
3. Special Others
Special Others are a weird band to place. They share a lot of attributes we would associate with Post-Rock bands but have this incredible Jazzy sound. Their music is ruined by the addition of some vocals, these vocals aren’t rammed into every bar and they aren’t as bad as some but the music could stand alone. Their album Quest features some very catchy and upbeat choons including “Laurentech”. I wish I had the talent of these guys. I should mention there is nothing highly technical, it just sounds… right.
I recommend: Special Others – Quest
Every now and then a band comes a long with the ability to single handedly rock the musical underground by it’s very foundations. Boris have this ability, and to be honest I’m not all sure why they haven’t. Every album I have heard is completely different from the last, but never tiring. Everything from spaced out 20 minute epics to Leftfield almost Grunge music. If you haven’t had a chance to check these guys out, do it. Much like Mono they tour a lot, so catch a show.
I recommend: Boris – Pink
Mirror are essentially, and simply, a Math–Indie-Post-Experimental-Rock band. I came accross them by accident but from the first 30 seconds of the first song from their album “On, Then, In” I was hooked. A lot of the bands playing the same kind of music string everything out, songs are double the length they should be, intros put Lord of the Rings to shame and the music gets boring. Mirror on the other hand are refreshing. They aren’t better than the last bands I have listed, there is just something so captivating by the music.
A kind of music easily accomplished by a couple of talented guitarists, a good bassist and an alright drummer. If there is one thing you do today, try and hunt down this album.
I recommend: Mirror – On, Then, In