Music Topics

NMB48 'Teppen Totande!' (Laugh Out Loud Records)

Mar 21, 2013

NMB48 "Teppen Totande!" (Laugh Out Loud Records)

by Patrick ST. Michel

Contrary to popular hemming and hawing, the big problem with Oricon chart-dominating act AKB48 isn’t their music. Their discography certainly contains misfires, but producer Yasushi Akimoto and company can pen great material for the dozens-strong group. Last year, they boasted two of the best ...

Yucca 'Our Journey''

Dec 27, 2012

Yucca "Our Journey''

by Craig Exton

Six long years after their first two enjoyable albums, Tokyo band Yucca made a welcome return in June 2012 with the even more impressive “Our Journey (to anywhere we want).” It may not be the most innovative album of 2012, but because of its ...

The 50 Kaitenz 'Rock 'n' Roll Love Letter'

Dec 27, 2012

The 50 Kaitenz "Rock 'n' Roll Love Letter"

by Daisuke Kikuchi

Rock music in Japan has become reliant on programming, synthesizers and new technology. While that electronic advancement has made it easier for bands to start out through D.I.Y. websites, new artists can sometimes lack live-performance techniques and the experience of interacting with an audience. ...

Expe 'Emeralda'

Dec 20, 2012

Expe "Emeralda"

by Erik Luebs

As Expe, Takatoshi Yoshitake’s October release “Emeralda” approaches the technical thresholds of guitar and percussion, but avoids the egotistical posturing that characterizes much progressive music. Instead, “Emeralda” dives deep into meter and timbre all while maintaining a cool, nuanced sensibility. It’s a funk record ...

Jazz Collective 'Jazz Collective'

Dec 20, 2012

Jazz Collective "Jazz Collective"

by Sean Smith

If you’ve been to any jazz or funk gigs in the Kanto area over the last couple of years, there’s a good chance you may have seen trombonist Takao Hirose up on stage. In addition to featuring in the horn section for other acts ...

Various Artists 'Fogpak #4'

Nov 15, 2012

Various Artists "Fogpak #4"

by Patrick ST. Michel

Walk into the nearest record store and check out the prices — CDs for ¥2,000 on the low end, some creeping into the ¥3,000 range — it’s a lot for 10 or 12 songs. Thankfully, a legal online alternative exists. SoundCloud and Bandcamp allow ...

Chatmonchy 'Henshin'

Nov 1, 2012

Chatmonchy "Henshin"

by Shawn Despres

Since making their major label debut in 2005, Chatmonchy has established itself as one of the country’s most popular female rock bands. As a trio, they released several chart-topping discs and sold out gigs at the iconic Nippon Budokan. In 2010, the band played ...

Mamadrive 'Mousou Tengoku'

Oct 18, 2012

Mamadrive "Mousou Tengoku"

by Craig Exton

On their first full-length album, Kobe’s Mamadrive prove pretty good at capturing the energy and power of their live shows. Masako Shibuya’s strong voice leads the songs and her distorted bass lines work with Maika Sasakawa’s guitar riffs to weave counter-melodies around the vocal ...

Superfly 'Force'

Oct 11, 2012

Superfly "Force"

by Patrick ST. Michel

Superfly does one type of sound so well that there is no reason to try anything new. The project — primarily the stage name of singer Shiho Ochi, with some songwriting assists from Koichi Tabo — plays guitar-centric rock indebted to the music of ...

Miu Sakamoto 'I'm Yours!'

Aug 16, 2012

Miu Sakamoto "I'm Yours!"

by Patrick ST. Michel

“I’m Yours!” is the third album to come out of the partnership between Japanese pop singer Miu Sakamoto and The Shanghai Restoration Project, an American outfit led by Dave Liang that merges traditional Chinese instruments with contemporary electronic music. They’ve been handling the production ...

Her Ghost Friend 'Looking For Wonder'

Jul 26, 2012

Her Ghost Friend "Looking For Wonder"

by Patrick ST. Michel

Something tells me Her Ghost Friend doesn’t believe in the concept of guilty pleasures. The duo of DJ Obake and singer Shinobu Ono create pop music with bouncy hooks that isn’t too far removed from the songs currently topping the Oricon charts. Her Ghost ...