It’s the end of the year, and cautiously I’ve decided to start an end of the year lists reviewing some pretty nifty music I’ve come across. These lists won’t be in a particular set order since I’m terrible about doing that sort of thing. My brain all of these years later still tends to indicate order of importance, rather then just them being neat and the like.
Without further ado, here’s my top ten picks for JRock in 2018.
GIRLFRIEND – ミライリスト
Girlfriend is pretty new to me, and this was their major label debut with Avex. I haven’t been able to dig into their older content, but this piece did stick out to me quite a bit. Sakika’s vocals are fantastic, and it’s nice to see a bit of a push for Nagisa and Mina to have a bit of their vocals added.
For once Avex didn’t push an image change, and noting that are the girls are only 18/19 makes me thankful for that. The concept for the video is pretty interesting but I can’t gauge how close it actually goes to the song. Nonetheless, an enjoyable track and you can bet I’ll eventually get around to doing a girls rock profile for them.
Goodbye holiday – きらり
Goodbye holiday both blessed me this and absolutely broke my heart. Even just this snippet of kirari made my whole week. I can’t tell you how many times I replayed this bit throughout the year. It’s simple, catchy and just everything I was looking for in a song.
Of course, the heartbreak is that after 10 years of playing together the band disbanded in May of this year. Just when I was starting to sink my teeth into them too!
Alas, my bittersweet entry on this list. It’s too good to not include, even if it breaks my heart a bit remembering.
RADWIMPS – Mountain Top
RADWIMPS is probably best known for being tied-in to the ‘Kimi no namae’ fame, but the group has had a comprehensive discography spanning almost two decades. I’ve always loved Yojiro Noda’s vocals, and he has flawless English delivery in this particular song.
They’re truly a band where I can’t contribute more to their discourse since there’s not much more to say. They’re just that good. ‘Moutain Top’ just happens to be my particular pick of their’s for this year.
米津玄師 – Lemon
Kenshi Yonezu has been on fire this year. Given the absolute success of ‘Lemon’, ‘Flamingo’ and ‘Teenage Riot’ from this year, it’s hard to remember that he came from producing vocaloid songs. He’s a talented soloist who again, I had a really hard time picking my favorite release from this year.
‘Flamingo’ almost edged out ‘Lemon’ but overall ‘Lemon’ has had more time to really grow on me. From the haunted melody, fantastic use of lyrical style dance, and direction within the song and the music video, ‘Lemon’ is a masterpiece.
Again, it’s hard to comment on something that I just know is ‘good’, so I’ll leave my thoughts there.
tricot – “potage”
These ladies (and one gent) really don’t need too much introduction to my blog. They’ve been around for a bit, and I’ve hyped up this particular song of there’s before too. Tricot doesn’t disappoint.
Hearing this track live of course really helped out quite a bit as well. There’s nothing quite like following up a release and then being able to hear it live so soon after release. As always, the changing time signatures, flawless execution and direction in MV and real life is incomparable.
Long live Tricot, the math-rock band that made me a little less scared of math.
The trees – ひらり
The trees are a nice little indie number that just gives me summer vibes all the time. It’s probably due to me discovering them around the same time thanks to isakutatakahashi from J-pop through my looking glass . It goes to show that recommending music via blogging really does have an impact!
Most people associate Japanese rock as being hard-hitting or super ‘Westernized’ but it can be fun and light like this as well. The trees remind me a lighter way of thinking about life, and that rock can be more gentle too.
It’s a short and sweet piece, which is easy to digest but allows you to crave more.
+A – 忘却のセイント
I really didn’t know that +A, was a special crowd funded project between Akira (soloist and vocalist of Disacode), and Ayasa the violinist. Goes to show you what a little research can show you! It helps that they enlisted the additional help of MiA from the now defunct Mejibray to help with their sound.
I’m not quite sure if this track/release is a one off or not. Even if it is, it’s a damn good one off. For being crowd funded, it’s got the money behind it to produce a beautiful and artistic MV that really just shows the talent of all the members. I wouldn’t mind if this became a full time unit, and I’m secretly waiting for a whole lot more.
Ayase’s violin coupled in this piece is just fantastic. Akira’s vocals always sound amazing but the power between the duo is just… unmatched. This was so well thought out as a side project.
(I mean it’s also cool like there’s a bit of fan service for a fangirl like me in there too. but that’s really for once not the actual point)
Lamp – 夢の国
I have to be 100% real with everyone; I don’t know when/where/how I was introduced to the band Lamp. It’s gotta be somewhere in-between blogging, Youtube recommended stuff, and just my own random tangents online, but damn. I’m really glad I found this band.
In a similar vein as the earlier mentioned the trees, Lamp reminds us that JRock doesn’t have to be hard to be heard. Sometimes something soft and catchy like this is enough to draw us in. I really get the feeling when listening to Lamp that I’ve heard them before. In a non-ironic and non-comparison sort of way.
They remind me of my parent’s music that I sat through many a dinner in my youth listening to. What I mean to say is that there’s something comfortable of Lamp’s tracks, that they feel familiar but otherworldly. And after all that it’s still approachable music, at least to me if that makes any sense.
BAROQUE – AN ETERNITY
The more I listen to BAROQUE, the more at peace I feel with my life. I know that sounds depressing in a certain sense, but it’s calm and comfortable energy. It kinda almost feels like old Janne D’Arc (the band of course) in one sense, and then something completely different in another sense. I can’t quite pin down my feelings.
It’s almost haunting, except this song doesn’t quite haunt me the same ways that other tracks do. In fact, I almost forgot about it but had put it in a memo for this list actually. My brain works in mysterious ways I suppose.
The imagery as well, just really connects with me since well, it looks a bit like where I live now. It’s more white and grey then blue and black lately but in the late summer/early fall it certainly felt that way.
Much like when I first introduced this track in my monthly favorites, I clicked this piece at random. In fact, I’m not quite sure if this track belongs in the rock genre at all. All I know is that the trumpet opening gave me nostaglic shivers in the best sort of way.
Muramatsu Tokuichi builds a simple concept, with a very similar imagery as above mentioned BAROQUE. Despite the similar imagery reminding me of my own current circumstances, they’re completely different feelings. I’m kinda tearing up while re-listening and re-watching this video in full to be honest.
The trumpet is kicking me back to my jazz roots, especially with Orbert Davis if any of you know your jazz trumpet players. It’s quiet, it’s actually kinda sad, but it’s really beautiful and striking. I had to fit it in, and it’s closer to rock then anything else.
And well, you heard it all here first. Or maybe you’ve checked out some of these songs earlier this year thanks to me or someone else. As always, drop me a comment if you discovered something new, or if you have something that didn’t make my list!