Best Japanese Music of 2020: The JPU Records Playlist
Hello! If you're here just for the tunes, scroll down and get listening! For everyone else, read on. The JPU Records Playlist is a collection of tracks from Japan and beyond handpicked by members of bands on our roster or our staff and available on Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube and Deezer. For the majority of 2020 members of SCANDAL and Lie and a Chameleon took turns selecting their favourite songs and offering a further glimpse into their musical inspirations. Now, for the first time this year, the playlist is crammed with great Japanese music we've released. They're all from this year (or there abouts) and spans everything from Japanese indie rock bands, heavy metal and some sneaky slices of J-pop.
We kick off the playlist with what we think is one of the best Japanese songs of the year: Sokoninaru's 'avoided absence'. Just wait for that guitar solo to rip apart the intro. This is followed by a track that was originally released in 2011, but after YEARS of negotiations with Sony Music Japan, we were finally granted the rights to the GazettE's catalogue to stream. We could've picked any of the GazettE' tracks, to be honest, they're all gold. Then there's 'Flying High' by BAND-MAID. We released their brilliant album CONQUEROR at the start of the year (the CD version includes English lyric translations and Romaji, along with all BAND-MAID CDs released from us!).
We felt out newest band One Eye Closed's brilliant track 'Low' fitted perfectly to follow BAND-MAID. We hope you like it! They have two EPs and their latest single 'N.C.H.' out now, so if you like this, make sure you follow them and give all their tracks a try. Things get funky from here with 'U-Yeah!!!' from KARI-BAND. This is formed by BABYMETAL bassist BOH and ex-BABYMETAL drummer Yuya Maeta (who is interviewed in the latest issue of RHYTHM Magazine in the UK), we released their second EP at the start of the year. It's the first to be released since the passing of their guitarist Mikio Fujioka. From 1st of December we will also be releasing their debut EP, Kari Ongen, with Fujioka-san. It's a must for fans of prog rock / jazz fusion.
The funk continues with track two of Japanese idol group Niji no Conquistador's latest single. We picked this one, as crazy as it sounds, to compliment the funky vibes of KARI-BAND. It's called 'Shukan Shounen Shoujo' and we hope you like it. Then we go from kawaii to mannequins with attitude with FEMM's Sit Down from latest EP 404 Not Found. It sees the electronic rap duo dabble with elements of trap music and dark pop.
SCANDAL's latest single SPICE switches things up with some upbeat J-pop rock, and is swiftly followed by Sumire Uesaka's fantastic 80s inspired romp 'Run Fast, Rasputin'. One of our favourite tracks from the anime voice actress and singer’s newest CD NEO PROPAGANDA.
We see the playlist conclude with a number of Japanese female bands and artists, starting with the one track on the playlist not released this year: SIN ISOMER's epic 'The Last Spell'. Suitably followed by the English version of 'We Are' from Aldious, recorded with new vocalist R!N. It's from their album Evoke 2010-2020, the second part of the collection we will be releasing in 2021.
Things take a softer pace with ELFRIEDE's latest track from YouTube 'Eikou e no Yell', and then the newest single from bikini rioter Ena Fujita: 'Dead Stroke'. It's from the anime fighting series BAKI. Things conclude with our heavy metal hell raisers LOVEBITES and their fantastic 'Raise Some Hell'. Then, to bring some calm unto the world, we thought it was best to finish things with a cheeky track from our Japanese Christmas album: Happy Kids Xmas. It's available to download and stream in full now, or on CD with lyrics in Japanese script and romaji. Nearly all the songs are sung in Japanese and super cute and fun!
Enjoy and please subscribe / follow the playlist so you'll automatically get the next batch of songs when they go live. Share it and play it loud!