With a large music industry such as Japan has, the second largest in the world, it is inevitable that music fans will be inundated with a profusion of good (and also less good) music from this country. It is impossible to keep track of this and write a review about it per video. But to avoid missing out on gems, it is time for a weekly list of new music videos from lesser-known Japanese musical acts that are definitely worth watching.
We are now looking back on a selection of videos that were released in week 23 of 2023. We sincerely hope you enjoy the new discoveries!
KITANO REM – Evil
It has been a while since we saw some news from singer-songwriter KITANO REM and that we have written about her, but she has not been sitting still. She has cut off her long hair (although it has partly grown back), can mostly be found on stage with her trusty guitar and has been making new music through home recordings, including the single SPLAT. Now she is back with the song Evil where she has extended the Do-It-Yourself approach to her music video, the latter being up close and personal. And in September, she has another show planned, namely her very first solo show. Plenty of good stuff from this intriguing indie musician from Osaka. — Recommended by Francisca
GARUDA – #GARUDA
A brand new video from GARUDA, the dark industrial gothic solo project of Yuffie Sakimura who is also active in idol group MELON BATAKE A GO GO. Fans can look forward to a new EP by GARUDA and #GARUDA is one of the tracks. The EP will be released on 26 July. It remains to be seen whether GARUDA will come to Europe in the near future. HYPER JAPAN was already conquered (again) last year and that was only the beginning, so what will be Yuffie Sakimura’s next moves? She has a number of exciting performances lined up in Japan, including GARUDA’s first one-man live performance with a band. — Recommended by Francisca
街鳴り (Machinari) – 猫 (Neko)
Last Valentine’s Day, the very first EP was released by Machinari, a four-member band from Osaka. Since October last year, the band changed from a three-piece to a four-piece formation, and the first EP is a good example of a fresh start. The EP is titled 生き抜く (Ikinuku, survive) and gives a good idea of themes the band deals with in their songs, think of everyday life, unrequited loves, and other not-so-happy feelings. With this, the band wants to say that people going through this are not alone. The physical version of the EP has been available since April. — Recommended by Francisca
MUCC – 99
Last year, rock band MUCC celebrated their 25th anniversary with lots of live shows, a new album, 新世界 別巻 (Shinsekai), which was followed up by a mini-album in December of the same year, 新世界 別巻 (Shinsekai bekkan). Last week, the band released a split single with deadman, Birth, with each band creating its own track with the theme of Ubugoe (baby’s first cry). There are also alternative versions of the two tracks with the vocalists swapped. In July, both bands will share the stage at Spotify O-EAST. — Recommended by Francisca
Dr. Smokin’ Frog – LET ME FEEL SO GOOD
Dr. Smokin’ Frog, an Osaka-based rock band, got formed in the summer of 2018 and currently consists of four members. In these five years, the band has released several singles and albums, including two albums in 2021 and 2022, a live album in 2022 and three singles, all of which can be listened to via streaming services. They describe themselves as “old fashioned, cutting edge” on their social media. While drawing inspiration from rock & roll and roots music, the four-piece puts a lot of effort into developing a unique sound that is distinctive to Dr. Smokin’ Frog. — Recommended by Francisca
umbrella – dilemma
After releasing four consecutive digital singles and a mini-album last year, this year it has been different as dilemma is the first song of 2023 for the visual kei band umbrella. After next year, the four-piece band will reach the 15-year mark in terms of activities. In those years, umbrella, hopped from label to label and worked on an extensive discography, with the alternative band ‘providing’ umbrellas for fans’ hearts to protect them from the rain (of negative emotions). — Recommended by Francisca
Bocchi – 夏に溺れる (Natsu Ni Oboreru)
This rock band is ready for summer, last week Bocchi’s very first EP was released, with the title track, Natsu Ni Oboreru, receiving a music video, a pleasant summer song. The four-member rock band was formed in the spring of 2021 after the musicians met via Instagram. The quartet began releasing singles this year, starting with a couple of singles, 言葉だけ (Kotobadake), 青い記憶 (Aoi Kioku), and 夜のため息 (Yoru No Tameiki). These singles eventually got featured on Bocchi’s first EP. A young promising band to keep an eye on. — Recommended by Francisca
Next week we will be back for a new list of new music videos to check out. But you can also look back to the earlier editions of this weekly article series for when you yearn for more musical gems! Want to read more about how this project started or check out the YouTube playlists? Click here for all the information.