December 28, 2017

Three Japanese Bands I Discovered in 2017

In this post I’d like to share three Japanese bands that I discovered this year that have all found a recurring place in my playlists.

I’ve found that overall Japanese music works well for me while working, because I can’t (yet) understand the lyrics. So I don’t get caught up in listening to the words.

Without further ado.


Early this year I stumbled upon tricot, and immediately fell in love. The first two songs I heard were Pool and Tobe. Both somehow reminded me of At the Drive In, something about the feeling and sound.

It’s hard to describe their style. A lot of electric guitars and intense drums. Their Wikipedia article describes them as a “math rock” band. I’m not too familiar with that genre. It’s rock/punk sort of, but with weird rhythms and melodies.

Later this year they released their third album, aptly named 3. According to Spotify it has been my most listened to album — by far. I had it on repeat for a couple of weeks after it was released. The first track, Tokyo Vampire Hotel (check out the Music video), kicks things right off, but it’s not only full speed ahead. “3” contains a number of more chill tracks as well.

My favorite track of the album is the last one, Melon Soda. It’s melodic, full of feeling. The base line is super cozy and keeps the pulse through the entire song. Just love this one. The music video is great too!

I like almost all of tricot’s songs. They are fantastically talented musicians. Just check this studio recording of the song Niwa. Since The Mars Volta shut down, these women has climbed to the number one spot on my “bands I really want to see live”-list. Judging from the recordings on YouTube, people in their crowds are standing way too still.

Satellite Young

Gear switch. We’re no longer in rock territory. We’ve been transported back 25 years. Seems like we’re sometime in the 80s.

Satellite Young is a fairly new addition to my music roster. They showed up in my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify the other week.

I’ve long been a fan of cheesy eighties synth-pop and this band really strikes a synth-pad-chord on my Moog-harp-heart. Bands like The Midnight, Futurecop! and Mitch Murder have circulated my playlists for a long time now. An addition to this genre from Japan was most welcome.

The song that Spotify had added to my weekly playlist was, Don’t Graduate, Senpai!. After the first 10 seconds I had to interrupt whatever I was working on to take a closer at the band.

The self-titled album has a bunch of great songs, and a feature by Mitch Murder. If you like synths and retro-wave, this might be for you.

Polkadot Stingray

Back to the rock with another recent find; Polkadot Stingray. Their style is a bit more straight forward, compared to tricot. The first track I fell for was エレクトリック・パブリック (Electric Public). Which seems fitting as the base player from tricot, Hiromi Sagane, guests on it.

I am by no means a music reviewer, so if you’d like a more in-depth analysis of their first album I recommend you read Japanese rock band Polkadot Stingray have a voice to be heard by Patrick St. Michel.

Yet don’t let the hook distract from the small details, like when everything slows down and teeters towards reggae, or the sudden jazzy twists. It’s a fitting intro to the group, as it is a zippy number highlighting the band’s musical chops and radio-ready centers, but with all sorts of weirder details on the sides.

The upbeat funky style just hit home for me and I am looking forward to hearing more from them!

Honorary Mention: Babymetal

Late last year I was actively searching YouTube for some J-pop and got served the video for BABYMETAL’s Gimme Chocolate!!. Clearly a product of the Japanese Idol Culture, engineered to push just the right buttons in my brain. I was a fan from there on.

I mean, how charming are three girls being tough as hell, singing metal (with a heavy dose of pop mixed in). These girls are talented. The lead singer has fantastic range.

The Road of Resistance live performance is just a fantastic rock anthem. The 20.000 people crowd does nothing but add to the epic feeling. Those mosh pits are not to be taken lightly. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention The One. Just epic.

I’m seriously impressed by these girls. Also a band on my “bands I really want to see live”-list. Many (presumably white male) metal-fans seem offended by them. “This is not metal!” Well, I’m not ashamed to admit that I honestly think BABYMETAL are awesome.

If you liked this attempt at recommending and writing about music, please let me know @simmelj!