It’s that time of the year again, and the first of this decade! This particular year though, due to personal circumstances, I have reduced my picks from 10 to 5. Additionally, due to my listening tendencies I didn’t have enough materials for a Girl’s Rock post, and a normal JRock post so I combined the two categories for this year. I’m hoping next year I’ll have better luck and be able to split them again, but I’m not going to force it. As always there’s no ranking, just some nifty tracks and little blurbs about what made it stick out to me.
As always, this isn’t a ‘best’ list, just songs from the past year that I want to share with you. Here’s hoping to find, or perhaps re-discover some music from this past year. Without further ado, here’s my Top 5 Picks for JRock and Girl’s Rock artists in 2020!
アンダーグラウンド (Underground) – My First Story
I sincerely might be the only My First Story fan that liked this release. There was a huge amount of anticipation for the album, and a lot of fans were let down by “Underground”. I’m not surprised that My First Story started to make some changes, nor am I surprised that a lot of fans don’t care for this track. It feels very much ‘Westernized’ in instrumentation and themes then their prior releases, despite there being no English in the track.
This song feels less heavy, and more intentionally gritty if that makes sense? There’s still an amount of that critical rock grit, which usually sways me away from a band, but works for this particular release. It’s hard to describe, but if you’re at all familiar with the group that might make sense. From a technical standpoint, all the band members absolutely killed it on this track especially with the breakdown around 3 minutes in. Hiro’s voice is still rough around the edges, really digging into the emotion and overall the piece is solid. It certainly stuck out to me more then others this year.
JUST FIGHT – TRiDENT
You might remember this unit from last year on my Girl’s Rock post under the name of ガールズロックバンド革命 or Girls Rock Band Kakumei. Early in 2020, former member Junna ended up leaving the group. The remaining members Asaka, and Serina decided it was as good a time as any for the group to change from Girls Rock Band Kakumei into TRiDENT, although they still put both in their Youtube titles. It was after Junna’s departure that they brought on Nagisa to fill their lineup.
While not as electrifying as last year’s “VOLTAGE”, “JUST FIGHT” has it’s own strengths. Asaka’s vocals have only grown more distinct with each release, and her guitarwork while more simplified for this release is still solid. Serina’s bass line is just as good as I remembered. The only thing is that Nagisa hasn’t quite filled the shoes left behind by Junna. The big positive I have to give the group is they do feel more refined and polished with this release. There’s still some insane energy backing them, but it’s much less chaotic.
Lament Moment – そこに鳴る (Soko ni naru)
(TW: Flashing Lights throughout the entire MV)
Hey we have a returning band from last year’s JRock post! The duo hasn’t stopped releasing music of the highest quality, coming to head with their October album release of “超越”. I have yet to dig into that aside from the lead track listed here, but it’s on my never ending list!
Misaki Fujiwara, the bassist and female vocals can absolutely shred. Her energy is absolutely insane, especially in the opening notes of this song. I’m always a sucker for a female bassist, and Misaki seems to have taken the top spot in my unofficial ranking. As for Juko Suzuki, the guitarist and male vocals isn’t a slacker either. He tends to lead the charge vocally, and has some insane technical skills on guitar too. The duo know exactly the right timing for songs to have a breakdown and show these skills off, without wandering into jam-band territory. Something that would be pretty hard to avoid given the sheer intensity of their music. They’re creeping higher on my radar with each release, and that they just released a full album in October there’s lot of material for me to go back in the achieves and listen through.
ジュブナイルに捧ぐ (Juvenile ni sasagu) – 神はサイコロを振らない (Kami wa saikoro furanai)
Please move past the debatable preview image. I promise it’s worth it. I’m not quite sure how this band ended up on my radar. I think it might have been a Youtube recommendation, or someone’s post here in the blog-o-sphere but that’s not here nor there. From what little I’ve researched they seem to have been around since 2015 officially, but have really only taken off last year. Very much a indie feeling band, with some funding behind them as they’re currently signed to Virgin Music/Universal Music.
I’m pretty sure these guys are going to be the next big thing in the coming decade. Just a feeling. There’s a real sense of some pretty rough ideas and emotions within the band’s song. This track really highlighting the major points that a lot juveniles go through, without being spiteful or cruel. It’s raw and unfiltered, but with a sense of poise and focus to the lyrics and meaning. Yanigita Shusaku has a very stable, but engaging voice that lends itself to being emotional but not overbearing. Of course, the band itself has a high level of technical skills and are really cohesive as a unit. I’m looking forward to seeing where they go in the next coming years.
shoku-zai – DIE/NING / Doro Doro
Apologies if the embedding on this link is weird. I’m not sure how to better format it. However, I’m not going to spend too long on this one. DIE/NING already made an appearance last year on my Girl’s Rock picks, and they have their own profile here on my page so it’s pretty obvious I think highly of them. They also annouced earlier this month that they are going back to Doro Doro as their band name. If you want more in-depth thoughts you can click the links and read my thoughts there. I recommend the whole album of course, and I’m still very much excited to see what they have in store for us.
With all that said and done, I’m calling this Top 5 a wrap! Be sure to check out my follow up for Visual Kei when it comes out! Let me know your thoughts below on the artists and songs I missed in the comments below!