Japanese Bands: The List 2

This entry is part of 2 in the series Japanese Bands: The List

You didn’t think one blog post could cover all your Japanese music needs, did you? Yeah, neither did I. So here I am, after a lot of diligent searching and listening, bringing you more info on Japanese music. Yay!

[Hip-Hop]

Wise
This gentleman appears to have debuted last year with great flow, positive lyrics and fun music videos (Rip Slyme and M-Flo are in the “audience” of the video for Shine Like a Star).

Steady & Co.
A collabo unit made up of KJ and BOTS of Dragon Ash (DA) — the former being head honcho and lead singer of DA, the latter the DJ of DA — Illmari from Rip Slyme and SHIGEO from SBK. They were active around 2001 and released a couple of albums. I only found out about them a few weeks ago, but they had some really cool songs, like 春夏秋冬 (which I looped for a like a week straight), Stay Gold (this song’s lazy mellowness reminds me of LFO’s Summer Girls…some people might not take that as a compliment but I do mean this as a good thing) and Time Erases Everything. As you’d expect from the illustrious Dragon Ash and Rip Slyme, the songs fuse hip-hop and guitar elements very well. SHIGEO rhymes in staccato, nasal style that’s both very distinctive and very catchy.

Flick
I’ve only ever heard one song of theirs, and I can’t find any of their albums, but the fantabulousness of one track, 時代特急/Epochal Special Express alone was enough to get them on my list.

[Unique]

東京事変/Tokyo Jihen/Tokyo Incident
椎名林檎/SHIINA Ringo
SHIINA Apple is the lead singer of Tokyo Jihen, she also sings alone sometimes, but I’ve gone and put them together. I don’t even know how to classify her music. But they use guitars, drums and Shiina’s powerful-in-a-Björk-way-rather-than-a-Whitney-Houston-way voice, and it sounds like jazz and rock’s lovechild.

[R&B]

Lisa
Beforehand, I criticized Lisa for leaving M-Flo. I was mean. I’m sorry, Lisa. For one thing, Lisa’s departure from M-Flo does appear to have impelled the remaining two to do great collaborative work with just about every major female R&B vocalist in Japan, and Lisa for her part has done a wonderful job out on her own. She even raps on some of her tracks: I hate slow music, and (contrary to what I had feared from looking at her album covers) lots of Lisa’s solo songs have not been stingy in the speed department. Rejoice!

宇多田ヒカル/Utada Hikaru
A little slow for me, but…to each their own.

[Rap/R&B/Reggae-Pop Mix]

Orange Range
Okinawa in the hizzouse! Watch the music videos (PVs) to get the most out of their songs. Typically, when I first hear and Orange Range song, I don’t like it that much (there’s just something “missing”), but after watching and enjoying the playful silliness of the PV, the song tends to grow on me as well.

ケツメイシ/Ketsuimeishi
I think these guys are one of the original hip-hop/reggae fusion acts (these are in abundance here) from Japan, and they appear to have been around so long that they’re on break right now. Never fear, they have tons of cool ablums (Chris Rock invented this word) recorded just for you to listen to.

mihimaru GT
Put a very friendly, happy, even kawaii, face on hip-hop, but without making the music suck. Props for that alone.

[Geek/Folk]

勝手に観光協会/Katte Ni Kankou Kyoukai/We Done Gone And Made a Tourist Association on a Whimsy and Quite Without Anyone’s Permission
These guys went around every single prefecture in Japan and composed a funny song about it. Earthy, raw and hilarious. One of the guys in the band is a regular on a late night TV show hosted by タモリ/Tamori, where they have a segment called 空耳コーナー/Soramimi Corner, wherein are showcased sections of famous foreign songs which have lyrics that are prone to being misheard as actual Japanese sentences. ROTFL. I wonder what Snow’s Informer (does anyone remember this but me?) sounds like as “Japanese”…

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  36 comments for “Japanese Bands: The List 2

  1. quendidil
    April 20, 2008 at 13:25

    Haha, I love Shiina Ringo too.

  2. Gwindarr
    April 20, 2008 at 14:06

    How ’bout some Chinese music goodness as well?

    Also, I don’t think anyone has mentioned レミオロメン. Anybody else listening to them? I’ve really gotten into a few of their songs.

  3. James
    April 20, 2008 at 17:13

    これを読むときに椎名林檎を聞いていた。

  4. nacest
    April 20, 2008 at 21:16

    Thanks for including 椎名林檎. She has me addicted (*_*)

    Gonna try some of the others, thanks.

  5. vgambit
    April 21, 2008 at 01:25

    You’re still missing Shing02.

  6. April 21, 2008 at 13:13

    Thanks for the list. I second the call for Shing02 🙂

    A fun way to find Japanese hip hop is through last.fm . Just choose type in the name of a Japanese hip hop act and click ‘Play Similar Artists’ (for some reason ‘Rhymester’ seems to have a good group of similar artists). They have tons of Japanese artists on there, from unknown to famous.

    note: For some reason (licensing rules?), if you’re in Japan you have to make sure your computer thinks it’s in America to play most last.fm stations . If you’re in America, much more straightforward.

  7. Davis Bynum
    April 21, 2008 at 15:53

    I’ll second the recommendation for レミオロメン. I’ve loved them ever since watching 1リットルの涙 (1 Liter of Tears). I think a lot of their songs are probably too slow for khatz’s tastes though. 😛

  8. April 21, 2008 at 16:22

    Haha, when people ask me what Japanese music I like, Shiina Ringo is usually the first name I say. She’s really something else.

    Sometimes I mention Ulfuls, an old-school Osaka rock band that sings in Kansai dialect. They often sing about Osaka itself which is always fun.

    Also, I like Soil & Pimp Sessions. They’re a heavy-jazz band. I’ve seen them live twice in small venues. Great great stuff.

    You can also get your hands on lots of new Japanese music at hearjapan.com, I recently picked up some DJ Baku over there, a DJ I have caught live in Osaka. Good stuff!

  9. April 21, 2008 at 16:33

    Hey for Chinese music, look up Cui Jian. He was considered to be the father of rock in China. Great stuff.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cui_Jian

    Great great stuff!

  10. krusher
    April 22, 2008 at 10:41

    Breif list of Hard Rock / Heavy Metal bands that sing in Japanese:

    Seikimatsu – Cool & old Traditional band: www.seikima-ii.com/

    Gargoyle – Thrash Metal band with Folk elements: firstcell.net/gargoyle/paso_index.html

    P.P.P – Two girls singing traditional Heavy Metal, you can download all of their songs from their site: www.geocities.jp/tgcqm159/

    Aphasia – All girl hard rock band: www.aphasia.jp/

    Onmyo-za – Female-fronted Symphonic Metal band, they sing about Japanese Culture: www.onmyo-za.net/

    Kinda hard to find good bands that sing in Japanese, the stuff I’m into is almost always in English, but they’re out there!

  11. Mark
    April 23, 2008 at 18:09

    I’d definitely recommend Funkymic and the Saturdays rism, 韻シスト, cro-magnon (excellent live) and will second the call on Soil&Pimp. Note, the second two suggestions are a bit short on the lyric front, but who knows you could go to a gig, meet cool Japanese people and have an amazing conversation in Japanese about cool music… 🙂

  12. AJ
    April 25, 2008 at 23:58

    Good call on posting ケツメイシ! I’ve loved them for a while now. They pretty much rock my socks all over the place.

    I also checked out 東京事変 and they are amazing! I’ve only rarely listened to Shina Riingo, but now I love her.

    Also, thanks for bringing up Rip Slyme again. I got some of there stuff now and I’m addicted. And also for the mention of Steady & Co. Those guys are amazing! I’m definitely picking up their CD as soon as I get back to Japan in a month.

    Finally, I don’t know if it’s been mentioned, but スチャダラパー is absolutely amazing. Check anything out by them. If you want a couple of free songs, just post here and I’ll upload a torrent sample.

  13. April 28, 2008 at 17:13

    I second スチャダラパー!

  14. AJ
    May 1, 2008 at 04:16

    www.cultureuniversal.com/jk/tracklists/track_flick.htm

    Check out that site, Khatz. Apparently Flick has three singles out (two songs on each). They’re probably due up for an albums soon then, no?

  15. khatzumoto
    May 4, 2008 at 18:05

    @Harvey
    ええねん!

  16. May 12, 2008 at 06:18

    I discovered Tokyo Jihen recently and FELL IN LOVE. Man, what great music! I agree that they’re almost unclassifiable, but the album ‘Variety’ definitely shows roots in 70’s progressive rock to me.

    I happened upon this great indie band called Bon Voyage that classifies themselves as ‘ Pop / Lounge / Indie’, but they have a very nice, flowy, unique sound. Every song of theirs makes me feel good. www.myspace.com/bonvoyageweb

    Through BV I also found a great shoegazer/rock band called Lenno (www.myspace.com/lennojp). Their EP is not available outside of their shows as of yet, but they’re working on ways to sell mp3s.

  17. May 12, 2008 at 06:19

    Hmmm, it didn’t link right. www.myspace.com/lennojp

  18. Mallory
    July 23, 2008 at 13:12

    Anyone listen to SOULHEAD, or Lecca, or Aya Kamiki, or ZONE?

  19. Mallory
    August 30, 2008 at 05:41

    Hmm…maybe not…

    Does anyone know of any good Japanese female rap artists?

  20. valentina
    October 5, 2008 at 21:34

    Hi!!! I LOVE THIS BLOG!!AMAZING !!
    I would like to invite all of you to listen another GREAT BAND called: RENTRER EN SOI…..
    They have a theme for their music… ‘return in yourself’… that’s what their music do…
    THEY ARE AMAZING and Satsuki (the voice of the group) put his soul when he sings.
    They deserve to be listened. 😉

  21. Aaron
    December 27, 2008 at 17:24

    I like electronic-based music and I found Coppé through a radio station called Limbik. I highly recommend Coppé for you adventurous types looking for off-the-radar music. Sometimes there are vocals, sometimes not. But she has a huge discography and a lot of it is really good. Here’s her MySpace: www.myspace.com/martiancoppesta

    • FauxSho
      February 27, 2012 at 06:48

      Hey Aaron, I’m also into electronic music but I haven’t checked out Coppé. Will definitely be looking her up when I get the chance later today. Out of curiosity, what other groups were you able to find? It seems easy to find electronic music but often times it can be too poppy for my taste. So far my favorite electronic artist I’ve found is immi. You can look her up on itunes if you haven’t found her yourself yet.

  22. Amanda
    January 1, 2009 at 05:06

    I love OLIVIA and 亜矢 so much~! 亜矢 isn’t really well known though, which is sad. Very good rock music <3

  23. Hextator
    May 9, 2009 at 06:34

    Wait, I haven’t seen Dir en grey listed on any of these lists.

    Sure, they deserve to be the single item on a list of their own, but…I haven’t seen a list like that, either.

    What’s going on here? Is there some other band list that’s in Japanese, which I unfortunately am not literate in (yet)?

  24. Hextator
    May 9, 2009 at 06:37

    Oops; come to think of it, I haven’t seen FLOW mentioned yet, either.

    To think most of my Japanese music comes from bands not even mentioned…*sniff*

    “These posts are old! Give me a break!”

    But…!

  25. seniorsnips
    May 19, 2009 at 02:57

    does anyone know any bands that sound like system of a down?

  26. Morticia
    June 24, 2009 at 15:10

    I really like Aural Vampire; the music is so upbeat yet kinda dark!!
    Also, Ali Project is awesome too.

  27. Ian
    August 31, 2009 at 14:53

    Does anyone know a good alternative radio station?

    I’ve been bumming around, but I’m still building immersion, so I can’t really read what’s going on.

    I don’t even know the Japanese word for alternative.

  28. hi
    November 20, 2009 at 06:41

    I like Namie Amuro a lot. She’s more pop though.

  29. グレゴリ
    December 11, 2009 at 06:16

    Does anyone know about a band called IOSYS(イオシス) and can recommend anything similar?

  30. nippyon
    July 19, 2010 at 02:42

    Does ANYBODY know any GOOD Japanese rock and/or metal bands? I’ve been searching everywhere on the internet, but so many people think visual kei=metal, which isn’t the case at all. I listen to American bands like Metallica, Sevendust, Megadeth, Slipknot,etc. for metal, and for regular rock, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Rolling Stones, Poison, and once again Sevendust. Punk rock is fine too. And anything like the following bands. ESPECIALLY Jinn and HIGH AND MIGHTY COLOR.

    To add to the list: Crazy Ken Band–very jazzy, and bluesy, “タイガー&ドラゴン” was the theme for the drama of the same name.ガールフレンドis good too.
    Rock: Bump of Chicken, Sambomaster–Hikari no Rock, Jinn, HIGH AND MIGHTY COLOR, UVERworld(“Rush” is good, the rest are okay)
    Pop: Yui, GACKT, KELUN, Lunkhead,ケツメイシ
    Misc:pe’zmoku–jazz band who did an ending called “Gallop” for Bleach the anime
    Tokyo Jihen(awesome just like khatz said)
    Rap/ Hip-Hop: Home Made Kazoku, Sakanaction
    Almost all of the endings and openings for Bleach the anime are awesome.
    PLEASE HELP MEEEE!!!>.<

  31. Kiba
    September 30, 2010 at 08:04

    Shiina Ringo and Tokyo Jihen are amazing. She is absolutely the best.

    Cocco is another favorite. Chara too, and Bonnie Pink. I love RADWIMPS.

    More favorites:

    Shakalabbits
    Great3
    Yaida Hitomi
    Do As Infinity
    SAWA
    Chatmonchy
    Yum!Yum!ORANGE
    SKAFF-LINKS
    Base Ball Bear
    Usotsuki Barbie
    0.8 Byō to Shōgeki
    Zazen Boys
    LITE
    Yuki
    YUI
    Hirano Aya
    World’s End Girlfriend
    noanowa
    Who the Bitch
    JinnyOops!
    GO!GO!7188
    LAZYgunsBRISKY
    detroit7
    Hanuman
    THE PINK☆PANDA
    NICO Touches the Walls
    Boom Boom Satellites

  32. brandon
    October 4, 2010 at 23:03

    Does anybody here know of some Japanese bands that sound like Radiohead? I particularly like their albums ‘OK Computer’, ‘Kid A’, and ‘The Bends’. sleepy.ab and Shiina Ringo are the closest I’ve found so far.

  33. nippyon
    November 5, 2010 at 23:14

    ACID BLACK CHERRY( aka A.B.C.) is a very good (pop-rock?) band. Yasu’s vocal’s are even better than the amazing guitarmanship–it’s pretty awesome. The whole band has tons of energy, so their lives never, ever dissapoint. Definitely my new favorite band. If you Yasu’s vocals, he also used to sing for a band calle Janne da Arc. A couple links:
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8Bo-67CGas
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_ejpsS1vUY&feature=channel
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gzfr7_fkT0c&feature=channel

    But no matter what type of music your’e interested in, I would recommend subscribing to the avex music channel on Youtube. Avex owns all the biggest, most popular, (best and worst) Japanese bands and groups. That includes giants like Ayumi Hamasaki, GACKT, AAA, and ACID BLACK CHERRY.

    Also good: RADWIMPS, HYDE, FLICK(rap), AAA(kind of a cute group, alot of fun), m-flo, LUNCHTIME SPEAX, Tommyheavenly6, Malice Mizer(w/Gackt; probably one of the first Visual Kei bands ever), BROTHERS ON THE RUN

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_UXCrdj9AY
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MaF-bWeLGw
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi4R6zSGCSI&p=FE2E371F6799485B&playnext=1&index=75
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=ny9QNHChPHE
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5fstYn4wUQ
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=ui8kXgjeeVU
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjI4e3QEoPQ
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhOLmgupZe8
    GACKT then: www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-OrqyUgelU
    GACKT now: www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYYcuEcYD_8
    Due to GACKT’s wide popularity, theres also alot of interviews, commercial sound bytes and things like that for listening. Even if you dislike his music, everything else he does is hilarious. So extra kudos to gackt.

    Thanks kiba for posting some really good stuff!
    Peace out,
    nippyon >.<

  34. FauxSho
    August 2, 2011 at 00:37

    Highly recommend vividblaze for anyone looking for music with a lounge/jazzy feel with a slight touch of electronic. Just heard them through Culture Japan and became an instant fan.

  35. H4
    July 26, 2014 at 08:12

    Yay! Shiina Ringo and Tokyo Jihen on this list! Love them to peices so talented and just awesome music!

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