Melodies from Japan and AAPI Artists Vol. 1
Updated: May 1, 2021
As JETs, we are all inevitably exposed to Japanese pop music, whether it’s from the edited beeps and boops at the grocery store, or from the late nights out at karaoke. Some of you may even be able to sing a song, especially if you, like me, got tired of singing the same songs from that one British band (looking at you, Queen), and instead snatched the karaoke tablet thing to input your own song before your fervent coworkers could politely force you to sing even when it’s *checks watch* 2 AM in the morning.
In these monthly posts, I’ll be hoping to add a few more Japanese and AAPI bands to your playlist. We’ll be exploring different time periods and genres so I’m hoping to include something for everybody!
But Brian, I have no idea who you are!
On JET, I have slowly created a massive playlist of both obscure and well-known Japanese music to listen to on my bus ride home from Nagasaki City. My tastes were refined through visit upon visit to the Tsutaya store (renting 5 CDs for 1000 yen!? Take my LINE card, PLEASE),. I am no *pushes up glasses* music expert, I simply have just consumed more than the average person, so I hope from these posts you’ll be able to get some good tunes to add to your playlist!
In addition, a condensed version of these blog posts will also be included in the JETAANC newsletter - so sign up here if you haven’t already!
So without further ado, let’s move on to our first three bands for April!
Mainstream Math Rock Band: tricot
Image from tricot’s Twitter account
tricot (トリコ / trēkō), is a math rock band from Kyoto, known for their quirky rhythms and eccentric music style. If you’ve never heard of math rock, just think of it as an alternative rock vibe, but with an emphasis on the instrumentals - oftentimes you’d remember a math rock song not because of the vocals but because of specific riffs and curious little syncopated rhythms.
Tricot is unique because of their variety - they can produce hard melodies to dance to, but they also have moodier, melancholic songs that you can relax to at your own leisure. Unlike most other math rock bands, they do have a vocalist and their songs are structured a bit more like mainstream music, with a chorus and a bridge. With this combination, they’re a great band to ease into more traditional math rock!
you’re in a melancholic mood and want to kind of headbang in a dark room
you REALLY want to headbang in a dark room
you love live instruments and musical technicality
you enjoy their quirky fashion and funky music videos
you want to hear something very non-mainstream
One day I’ll be able to see them live, but for now I’ll be content to listen to their music online. Check them out on Spotify or their YouTube page. If you don’t know where to start, I recommend watching a bit of their live Audiotree performance here!
Nostalgic and Melancholic: mol-74 (full Japanese name: モルカルマイナスナナジュウヨン)
Image from mol-74’s website
A 4-man indie alternative band whose melancholic melodies remind me of Snow Patrol or The Postal Service. The main vocalist, Takeichi Kazuki (武市和希) has a ghostly tone to his voice, which when combined with the uplifting, yet melancholic tones of the guitar create a sound that instantly makes me relive those nostalgic memories of my youth (I’m 27). Yes, this band might make you either cry or be REAL melancholic, but I often come out of their songs somewhat… hopeful. Like in the end it’ll be alright.
you enjoy singers with higher pitch
you want your mind to be taken to the peaceful ocean
you’re the type of person to curl into a ball and listen to sad music when you’re sad
you had a bad day and you want to be in a hopeful place
Guitar Whiz from the Bay: Yvette Young
Image from Triple Crown Records
Though the intent of these posts are primarily to slowly make people adhere to my Japanese musical tastes, I’d like to also include musicians from the AAPI community, because they often fly under the radar!
Yvette Young, the frontwoman for her band, covet, hails from San Jose, California. Besides rocking out with her math rock band, Young has a YouTube channel where she covers songs and demonstrates incredible technical skill on guitar, and sometimes violin. I love to just have her videos on a playlist while I’m working, since she covers a lot of different vibes, from soothing to exciting, which keeps my workday interesting! Her band, covet, is genuine math rock, with more of a hard rock beat, but still has some great melodic pieces here and there.
you want rock music that is not so hardcore
you want to appreciate technical skill
you love instrumentals
you feel like vibing until suddenly hours have passed and you realize you’ve done no work
you want to support local NorCal talent
That’s it for now! I hope at least one of those bands piqued your interest. And if not, check back again next month for some more bands to bop to!