3 Japanese Music Acts You Should Really Listen To

Phillip Costigan

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Somehow over the past year or so I’ve managed to find myself in a weird Japanese music binge, spanning multiple artists and genres. In the west we tend to stick to western hemisphere artists and rarely venture into the realms of J-rock and K-pop, so listening to some Japanese artists really opened my eyes to what kind of music the eastern hemisphere can produce.

These are 3 awesome acts that have become some of my most listened to artists over the past year:

 

Supercell:

Supercell is an 11 member band, of which only one actually writes music. The rest of the members are actually artists and illustrators that provide artwork for the band’s music videos and album booklets. The lead songwriter is known only as Ryo, and he writes, performs and produces all the music aside from the vocals. Supercell uses guest vocalists which change every album, giving each one a distinctive feel and style.

Originally they used the Hatsune Miku vocaloid, however for their previous two albums they used female vocalists. The first, Yanagi Nagi, was a doujin musician, and would post covers of herself singing Supercell songs on NicoNico, the Japanese equivalent of YouTube. She was asked to be the vocalist for Supercell’s first album with a human singer, entitled “Today Is a Beautiful Day”. The two most famous tracks on the album are Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari (in English: “The Story You Don’t Know”) which was used as the ending song for the anime Bakemonogatari and “Perfect Day, the music video for which is an original animation work by the animation studio Madhouse:

 

Their most recent album features the vocalist “Koeda”, who was just 15 when she was recruited to join Supercell for their third album, Zigaexperentia. The most famous song for the album is “My Dearest, which was used as the ending song for the anime Guilty Crown:

 

 NoisyCell

The other “Cell” on the list, NoisyCell is a three-piece band that consider their genre to be “ROCK/EMO/SCREAMO”. What’s interesting about NoisyCell is that all the vocals for their songs are performed in English, and oddity for a Japanese band. I first learned of NoisyCell when they produced the ending song for the anime Barakamon, entitled “Innocence”:

 

Innocence was part of the band’s first album, “Your Hands” and most recently the band released a new song which served as the ending song for the anime Death Parade, entitled “Last Theater”.

Innocence and Last Theater are quite different to most of the songs on the album, with the other songs really leaning into the screamo feel, which can be felt in one of the first singles from the album, “Your Hands grasping Even Yourself”:

 

nano

nano is a doujin music artist that was originally born in New York, but later moved to Japan and began posting covers of songs to NicoNico. nano was eventually singed up to a record label and has produced 3 full albums, the most popular of which is “N”, which was released in 2013. “N” contains nano’s two most famous tracks, “No Pain, No Game” which was used as the opening song for the anime “BTOOM!” and Nevereverland:

 

 

nano’s style is to blend Japanese and English lyrics together, which again is quite different for Japanese musicians. Her latest album released in January this year, entitled “Rock On.”

 

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Phillip Costigan