I’m always looking for new music. When I find a new band, the majority of the time, they aren’t really a new band, they’re just new to me. This is a list of the best albums that I listened to for the first time this year, even though they were released sometime before. I’m planning on writing up a best albums of 2016 list as well, but we’ll start here. These are listed simply in the order I listened to them.
Regal Lily – Regal Lily
When I first saw Regal Lily (リーガルリリー) last year, this eponymous first mini album had already gone out of print (some few months after it had been released). Earlier this year I borrowed it from a friend. It’s a great first effort, with two particularly moving tracks: 3. “Majo” (魔女), which has been rerecorded and released on their latest CD The Post, and 5. “Sakamichi no Tochuu de.” (坂道の途中で。 ).
cinema staff – Symmetoronica
I finally picked up a cinema staff CD, having seen them at the Rock in Japan festival last year and been interested. This is a sold post-hardcore(?) 5-track mini with this lead track.
Peroperoshiteyaritaiwazu – Peroperoshiteyaritaiwa
The pop! The funk! Peroperoshiteyaritaiwazu (ペロペロしてやりたいわズ) wins the award for longest band name. Every song on this is great and it’s followed up by an even better full length album released this year. “Bless you!” is probably my favorite track and “Highlight” (ハイライト) is a good example of a heavier song from them (there’s only this live version online).
Yuyun – Curtain Call
This album. Is. So. Good. This would almost certainly have been my #1 album of 2015 if I had listened to it before making my list. 10 songs long and every song is great. But it’s better listened to as a whole. Cohesive yet there is variety in the tempo, tone, and intensity of the songs. Great use of vocals with all four singing. The singer/bassist used to be in Skirt no Naka, a band that I only found out about after the fact and which I would have killed to see live. I only got to see them a few times before they went on a hiatus (the “we don’t want to break up so we’re calling our break up a hiatus” kind) and it still makes me upset! “Hansuu”(はんすう) is my favorite track (live version linked). For a change of pace, the downtempo: “Gyuunyuu” (牛乳).
Mikkai to Miminari – Saijoukai kara, Sayounara
Alt rock/hard rock that packs a poppy punch. Mikkai to Mimimari (密会と耳鳴り)’s first mini album is probably their best work to date with so much goodness packed into just five songs. The newer stuff is still quite good though. Check out “Disco” (ディスコ) with its pretty entertaining MV or “Kagefumi” (影踏み) (live).
Hitsuji Bungaku – BiRTH.ep
Even if this CD only had one track (it has four), it would be on the list, because “Haru” (春) is just that good. Hitsuji Bungaku (羊文学) means “sheep literature” and is one of my favorite band names. I saw them once in 2015, but wasn’t that drawn in at the time. “Haru” changed everything. Unfortunately, the bassist of the band has quit as of their last show of the year, held last week (I think to look for a job for after college in the upcoming job search season), and the future of Hitsuji Bungaku is unclear. Singer/guitarist/songwriter Moeka will at least continue solo music projects.