Like most fans, my first exposure to Japanese rock bands was in the form of anime opening and ending songs. From classics like Yu Yu Hakusho’s Spirit Bomb to modern jams like My Hero Academia’s The Day, the genre is a great introduction into what makes Japanese music so good. Over the past several years, I’ve done a deep dive into Japanese Rock, finding bands and singers that have quickly made it onto every playlist I put together. If you are in the market for new music to obsess over, here are my suggestions for some Japanese rock bands that will get you moving.
Our Japanese Rock Suggestions
Best Known For: Flyers (Death Parade Opening)
Bradio (short for Break the Rule and Do Image On) is something of an enigma on my playlist. Among the punk, ska, and rock that I generally listen to, they certainly stand out. With their funk vibes and over the top style, they are like nothing else out there, but with their musicianship, energy, and almost supernatural ability to have fun, they are certain to lift your spirits. Their 2015 single Flyers has the dual distinction of being the most upbeat opening for the most depressing anime and having one of the most visually confusing music videos of all time. The video for Happy Shanana, their latest to find its way onto YouTube, brings the positive energy that I think we all need right now.
Best Known For: Glory, YOLO
Band-Maid is a metal band consisting of former maid café hostesses, who dress up in frilly maid outfits, greet their audiences as “masters” and “princesses” before playing some of the most accomplished and technically brilliant metal songs out there. In fact, Kanami Tono is one of the best young guitarists in the world right now. Ignore the gimmick of their clothes or the cutsey image they project. Kanami’s solo in 2016’s YOLO is undeniable fire and holds up to any guitarist playing today. This is a band that wants to conquer the West in a big way and they’ve got the talent to do it. Their high energy live shows leave you pumped, so they should be high on your ‘To See’ list whenever they tour next.
Best Known For: Shunkan Sentimental (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood opening), Shojo S (Bleach opening)
It might seem a bit odd to put Scandal on a list of bands you might be sleeping on, considering these young women from Osaka have been playing and touring together for nearly fourteen years, have sold over 1.4 million records in Japan alone, and own their own record label, but this is my list so what are you going to do? Besides, this is a band that has consistently improved with each studio album, with their most recent, Kiss From the Darkness, being their best to date. With songs that range from the hard rock Masterpiece to the pop-infused Tonight, Scandal is only getting better as they develop. They’re due to play in London in September so be sure to check them out if you get the chance.
Lie and a Chameleon
Best Known For: mononoke in the fiction (In/Spectre opening), 0 (Bleach: Brave Souls opening)
This band is set to absolutely tear up the Japanese rock scene in the next few years. Fronted by lead singer Cham, Lie and the Chameleon bring an industrial edge to their sound that sets them apart from anything else coming out of Japan at the moment. Cham’s quirky performances and striking vocals are driven by the steady skill and eccentric dancing of guitarist Sosuke. With their first major label single hitting stores in January and being featured as the opening for the In/Spectre anime, this is a band that is on a steep upward track so don’t be surprised if you hear more from them in the very near future.
If you’re looking for some more Japanese music tips, check out our Top 10 Anime OP’s!