After a long hiatus (because university life is tough, man), I’m back with fresh recommendations that I think you would enjoy. Each month is tied to a particular genre so read through to find out what tickles your fancy.
*These aren’t albums that were released within the months that they are categorised under. Rather, they’re just records that I like which I really want to recommend.
April » Noise Rock | May » Pop Rock | June » Electronic
PassCode — CLARITY
Released: 3 / 4 / 2019
PassCode formerly made music that was dime-a-dozen amongst the Japanese idol scene. However, since 2014, they’ve been able to supplement their bubblegum pop charm with a fierce dash of noise rock. Clarity sees them improving their tightrope act of balancing these seemingly contrasting aesthetics to an even greater degree. Though their work could be unfairly criticized as “anime soundtrack music”, PassCode is still a group that excels that the lane that they’ve put themselves in.
MAXIMUM THE HORMONE (マキシマム ザ ホルモン) — Kusoban (糞盤)
Released: 21 / 1 / 2004
Best known for their work on the two ‘Death Note’ anime opening tracks, MAXIMUM THE HORMONE’s sounds extend far beyond just metal. Incorporating elements of funk, hip-hop, pop and ska, the band’s work is much more accessible to those looking to get into noise rock without the overly chaotic aesthetic. Kusoban can be seen as more of a punk record than a metal one, but still, listening to the band bounce between genres like an over-energised bunny is already worth the price of admission alone.
Otoboke Beaver (おとぼけビ～バ～) — Itekoma Hits
Released: 26 / 4 / 2019
If I had to compare Itekoma Hits to another similar album released this year, it would be Rico Nasty’s Anger Management. Both records are extremely short and feature angry women performing their hearts out over impeccable instrumentals. Still, Otoboke Beaver’s vocal abilities are only matched by their stunning guitar and drum work. Most tracks run than less than 2 and a half minutes long, but it’s more than enough to completely assault your senses and leave you wanting for so much more.
RADWIMPS — ANTI ANTI GENERATION
Released: 12 / 12 / 2018
Striking gold and achieving worldwide recognition for their work on the ‘Your Name’ movie soundtrack, RADWIMPS has always excelled at translating adolescent emotions into a musical format. Yet on ANTI ANTI GENERATION, the band steps out of their comfort zone. Embracing genres like rap, pop and jazz, it feels like RADWIMPS is attempting to shed themselves of the pop-punk corner that they’ve unwittingly painted themselves into. Resulting in one of the most exciting J-rock records in recent years.
Indigo la End — PULSATE
Released: 18 / 7 / 2018
PULSATE is Japanese pop-rock stripped back to its most basic. It’s inoffensive, relaxing, charming and all in all catchy as hell. If RADWIMPS aims to shed its pop-rock image, Indigo la End wholeheartedly embraces it. This album is serene-like as every song on here effortlessly flows from one to the other. There’s nothing groundbreaking on PULSATE, but the way the band sticks to the usual can be surprisingly breathtaking.
OGRE YOU ASSHOLE — Alpha-beta vs. Lambda (アルファベータ vs. ラムダ)
Released: 3 / 10 / 2007
This is a band that owes their entire existence to the movie ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ after Modest Mouse bassist Eric Judy wrote the quote “Ogre You Asshole” on drummer Arata Nishi’s arm. Alpha-beta vs. Lambda serves as a homage to the classic movie franchise. Noticeably more inspired by Western punk bands than local ones. The guitar riffs, vocals and general tone of the record wouldn’t be out of place amongst later Modest Mouse material. It’s pop-rock without really sacrificing the rock aspect of the music.
tofubeats – RUN
Released: 3 / 10 / 2018
tofubeats’ sound is an outlier within the larger landscape of J-pop. On his 4th studio album RUN, he does away with the house-inspired style of his previous work and instead chooses to go into a more dance-pop direction. Relying less on his auto-tuned vocals and more on his production, RUN is a decidedly more upbeat affair than his previous material while also showing that he can do much more than just atmospheric lo-fi music.
Shinichi Atobe – Butterfly Effect
Released: 27 / 10 / 2014
Shinichi Atobe’s Ship-Scope EP released in 2001 is a beautifully haunting project that turned into a legend within the Japanese techno scene. 13 years later, he came out of hiding with his debut album Butterfly Effect. Every song on here features repetitive loops of sounds that embraces a minimalist aesthetic which unsettles the listener while at the same time manages to be strangely inviting. Almost as if it could have been made the perfect soundtrack to a late-night 90s B-grade horror flick, Butterfly Effect is a record that’s distinctly unique from its other electronic contemporaries.
Hidefumi Kenmochi — Footwork (沸騰 沸く)
Released: 15 / 5 / 2019
In recent years, Hidefumi Kenmochi has been better known for his work with Wednesday Campenella, with his solo material being criminally overlooked. Much of what he’s done in the past also greatly differs from his work with the band, and the same goes for his latest record Footwork. The sample-heavy production is entrancing to listen to, as the high-energy beats harken the record back to the popularity of B-boy music in the early 2000s with a modern contemporary twist.