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 40 of 2023. We sincerely hope you enjoy the new discoveries!
Pod’z – When I
Pod’z (stylised as pod’z) are an acoustic music unit from Kyoto, consisting of three members with the addition of vocals, guitar and keyboard. Together with their different personalities, they create music that is neither purely pop or rock, yet somehow both new and nostalgically familiar with a variety of fun, gentle, serious and powerful songs. After releasing several singles and a full-fledged album, they have arrived to single number 5, When I, described as a song for those who fight in invisible places. — Recommended by Francisca
Pulplant – 何者 (Nanimono)
Rock band Pulplant emerged as a new force amidst the pandemic, demonstrating remarkable determination by actively crafting and releasing their music despite the challenging times. Starting as a four-piece and now active as a trio, they create a dramatic and technical rock sound with dark lyrics and do not fear using odd time signatures and other elements. According to the band, the new music video which is at the same time also their fourth music video unveils the true essence of Pulplant, the song is meant to empower the listeners to face themselves. — Recommended by Francisca
あるゆえ (Aruyue) – 紗 (Veil)
We have written about Aruyue several times, so it is interesting to see what the four-piece rock band from Tokyo is currently up to. This week saw the release of Aruyue’s sixth digital single, and remarkably, they only released (digital) singles this year, whereas the quartet closed 2022 with a mini-album after a few singles. They are currently mostly active performing and next year they will have been active for five years, so maybe we can see a full-length album released then. The strength of Aruyue’s music is the strong vocals and punchy rhythms. — Recommended by Francisca
Ulma Sound Junction – ROAR
Progressive rock band Ulma Sound Junction was formed in 2005 by four childhood friends from Ishigaki island (Okinawa). Their music weaves together the robustness of loud rock and nu-metal, a narrative-like progression typical of cinematic storytelling, djent-inspired rhythms, and avant-garde sound techniques, all wrapped in catchy compositions. They dub the music as ‘Cinematic Core’. In November, the four-piece band will release their commercial album via King Records, titled INVISIBRUISE, in addition, ROAR is the opening theme song for the anime series Ragna Crimson. — Recommended by Francisca
生活第二 (Lifesecond) – Ollie
Lifesecond can be summed up as a four-person Yokusaka-based creative collective. They work with a Do-It-Yourself mentality: they use a production method in which they each take responsibility for music production, artwork, and video creation and combine them into one work. Ollie is the collective’s fifth effort and by the art collective, the song is described as a must-listen for skateboarders and introverts. For the music video, they invited all acquaintances to film in the dead of night while skateboarding. — Recommended by Francisca
ザアザア (XaaXaa) – ドロー (Draw)
The first contact with anime has been made for visual kei band XaaXaa, their third single of 2023 is the ending theme song for the anime series Duel Masters Win: Duel Wars-hen since the 8th of October. The rock band started activities in 2014 and all the songs they release are conceptual and created in the studio in an analogue style. They gained a following for their emotional and powerful performances and are known for their dark, passionate music and striking visual style. Recently it was announced that they’re set to make their U.S. debut performance at Katsucon in February 2024. — Recommended by Francisca
梟 (Fukuro) – 月光 (Gekkou)
Soon, this colourful and artistic band will celebrate their second anniversary, although it feels like this band has been active for much longer if we look at the output of their releases. After releasing several mini-albums and a single, where they managed to impress audiences from day one, especially since the band consists of so many familiar faces, the four men will finally release their first full-length album later in October, マイノリティ・マイノリティ (Minority Minority). The band line-up consists of a vocalist, a pianist, a bass player and a drummer, but without a guitarist, making for a unique instrumental arrangement, bringing out a different sonic texture and musical dynamics with a focus on the piano’s melodic and harmonic elements. — 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.