During this ongoing column, I’ve covered the grounds of both K-Pop, J-Pop, and even C-Pop, as well as electronic artists in those respective countries, to seemingly no end. Unfortunately, I haven’t really featured any foreign rock bands, a problem that I’m going to remedy this week.
And thus, “A Girl’s Guide to J-Rock” has been born. This week’s column will feature the likes of Tricot and Passepied, and will feature all lady-fronted bands (because girls are superior, duh). While I do love me some Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Number Girl, and KANA-BOON, I’ll save them for another day (maybe).
So here we go. Girl’s Guide to J-Rock. Grab some Pocky and strawberry-flavored Calpico, because let’s face it, that’s the best flavor. And let’s do this.
5.) “ここだけの話 (Just Between Us)” by chatmonchy
Chatmonchy is an all-girl indie rock band hailing from Tokushima, Japan. Despite only having two current members, chatmonchy’s remained active for the past 15 years, even doing a brief US tour in 2010. The duo-former-trio has even had their tracks featured in anime such as the progressive Princess Jellyfish in the past. Chatmonchy’s all girl power, all of the time. The last album released by chatmonchy came out in 2009, and while lead singer Eriko Hashimoto recently had a child, the state of the band has yet to be determined en masse. Here’s to hoping Eriko and bassist Akiko Fukuoka don’t call it quits yet!
Recommended if you like: Cutesy indie rock duos and anime theme songs
4.) “僕に彼女ができたんだ” by SHISHAMO
Contrary to the prolific chatmonchy, SHISHAMO’s only been around for a couple of years. SHISHAMO’s a trio, consisting of two gals and one dude, not quite a 100% girls’ group, girl-power charm still radiates from its female lead singer and bassist. Plus, lead singer-guitarist-lyricist Asako Miyazaki has really cool hair. (Her bangs are cut in a slant for crying out loud!)
Recommended if you like: Girls with cool haircuts
3.) “E” by Tricot
I’m not really that well-versed in math rock. I guess Number Girl qualifies under this genre, as well as the American band Slint. Other than that though, I can’t tell you off the top of my head what math rock is (a Google search tells me that the genre is guitar-heavy and “rhythmically complex,” whatever the hell that means). However! Tricot is a great band. Currently a trio of awesome ladies, the band emanates exactly what a girl-rock band should be: cool. Switching from melodic to angst driven at the drop of a hat (or key), Tricot’s a band to watch. Plus, their newest album just dropped, and has the cutest streaming site I’ve ever seen.
Recommended if you like: Math rock???
2.) “スマトラ警備隊” by Sōtaisei Riron
Etsuko Yakushimaru, a.k.a. one-of-my-favorite-vocalists-as-I’ve-probably-mentioned-before, fronts this post-rock band. Sōtaisei Riron hardly plays any live shows, doesn’t really talk to press, and doesn’t allow photos taken during performances; however, they’ve regularly produced albums since their start in 2006. While each of the members does seem to have their own projects apart from Sōtaisei Riron, the group as a whole create beautiful, collaborative music together that goes unmatched in the J-Rock realm, or at least so in my opinion.
Recommended if you like: Mysterious, elusive rock groups
1.) “MATATABISTEP” by Passepied
Passepied is once-more a lady-fronted pop rock band from Tokyo. Formed in 2009 by keyboardist Narita Haneda at the Tokyo University of Art, the band comes from a unique background of classical music and deep music theory. Their pop sensibilities ranging from various eras, as evidenced by their dense catalog of singles and mini albums, give Passepied a unique outlook among other J-Rock and even J-Pop acts in the scene. With a girl at its helm, PASSEPIED’s strong pop vocals add another layer to their overall strength.
Recommended if you like: Bands that aren’t quite pop and aren’t quite rock