When I started this list I knew which artists would be on it, but I didn't have enough time to think out which albums really deserved to be listed. I've taken some time since the podcast (I originally threw my list together in a little under half an hour) and swapped out a few of the albums for others that are better reflections of my taste. So, here it is: my five favorite albums, in no particular order.
Onitsuka Chihiro - INSOMNIA
GLAY - THE FRUSTRATED
m-flo - EXPO EXPO
Bonnie Pink - Golden Tears
the brilliant green - the brilliant green
Onitsuka Chihiro – INSOMNIA
I usually dislike albums like Onitsuka Chihiro's “INSOMNIA.” It is a slow and almost daunting work to listen to that draws heavily from gospel, folk, and acoustic rock, but it is easily one of the most well-made. If people want to know why you like Japanese music in spite of not knowing what they're saying you need to play them “SHINE.” Chihiro's voice strips away language and cuts straight to the bone with pure feeling. It is emotionally draining, a beautiful work of art that stops you in your tracks and pushes all other thoughts from your mind. It is only after the final track has finished that you remember to breath again. FAVORITE SONG: Gekkou
GLAY – THE FRUSTRATED
Yes, originally I said “SPEED POP,” but after thinking it over, I decided on “THE FRUSTRATED.” After years of uneven releases and company-induced artistic impotence, GLAY pulled it together for their tenth anniversary by releasing their best album since “SPEED POP.” “THE FRUSTRATED” was solid through and through, a fan's wet dream. Our band was back and it felt fucking fantastic. From spasm-inducingly creative songs like “coyote,colored darkness,” to gorgeous ballads like “Toki no Shizuku,” and the undeniably feel-good “Minamigochi,” this album had it all. “THE FRUSTRATED” served as the perfect bone thrown to fans before an agonizingly long two year hiatus. Through this album GLAY showed us that they had creative control again, and it would be all uphill from here. FAVORITE SONG: Minamigochi
m-flo – EXPO EXPO
Before there were years worth of “m-flo loves SOMEBODY” collaborations there was the original m-flo. A true hip-hop trio that delivered solid tracks, perfectly balanced toughness and vulnerability. I had a difficult time choosing between this album and their debut, “Planet Shining,” which I had originally announced on the podcast as apart of my five. There are quite a few classic songs spread across the two albums, but I chose “EXPO EXPO” because of the seamless transitions between tracks and the high level of polish and care evident in each song. FAVORITE SONG: How You Like Me Now?
Bonnie Pink – Golden Tears
Bonnie Pink has long been one of my favorite artists. At first I thought it'd be hard to choose which album of hers was in my “top 5,” but “Golden Tears” immediately popped into my head. This album is eclectic in the best possible way. Bonnie utilizes a variety of styles while at the same time crafting an album with a skillfully solid and cohesive sound. When I first listened to “Golden Tears” I was instantly pulled in by the killer intro, “So Wonderful,” and never lost interest through it's thirteen tracks. To this day I can put the album on and be thoroughly entertained from start to finish. FAVORITE SONG: Cotton Candy
the brilliant green – the brilliant green
I know, I know; I said “Los Angeles” originally. However, “the brilliant green” is probably one of the best introductory Japanese language albums one could suggest. I hold Few other female artists in such high regard as the vocalist of buriguri, Tomoko Kawase, a timid vocalist with an enigmatic voice that somehow warms your heart through its chilling timbre. It is a solid rock album that transcends language barriers due to it's melancholic magnificence. The music is compelling and cathartic, a listening experience I suggest to any music enthusiast. FAVORITE SONG: Tsumetai Hana