May was an interesting month in the world of JRock. Golden Week gave us the #stayhome event, with several acts putting some of their past performances online to help encourage people to keep to the new lockdown requirements that hit Japan. With so many concerts and shows cancelled, it became more and more important for bands to get their content online, which has been a great change from Japan’s dubious treatment of online distribution in the past.
With that in mind, I wanted to share a few of the songs that have gotten me through the lockdown. Some of these songs are new releases from rising stars. Some are older jams reimagined in a new way. Some are songs that I just didn’t catch until this past month. Either way, these songs got me moving and grooving exactly when I needed them.
My JROCK May Playlist
Jet by Polkadot Stingray
Everything about this song is smooth as silk. With Shizuku’s jazzy vocals backed by a super cool guitar and drum combo, Jet was a great addition to Polkadot Stingray’s video library when it hit YouTube at the end of March just as lockdown started. If you’re looking for something to get you moving across the kitchen while you cook, this is guaranteed to do the trick.
Full House by Girlfriend
This is the first song I heard from this band and it hit me hard. Every single member of this Osaka based band is incredibly talented. When this video hit at the end of April to mark Girlfriend’s second full length album, I had this tune on repeat for at least a week. There is some incredible musicianship on display here from the whole band, but Mina’s skills on the bass are legit and, at just nineteen years old, she might be one of the best bassists playing anywhere in the world. Mina’s Twitter is filled with videos of her casually jamming if you need further proof.
Young and insanely talented, Girlfriend is going to be huge in JRock in the next few years. I promise you that.
Hero Too by My Hero Academia
As someone who usually watches his anime dubbed, I was so excited when this song finally played during My Hero Academia’s long delayed fourth season Funimation dub. Not strictly JRock but still perfect for getting me moving and motivated to tackle whatever this crazy world has coming my way, the song provides a desperately needed climax to a long, emotional season. For months, I’ve been just wanting to see Eri finally learn to smile. I don’t care if it was predictable and easy to see coming because I needed that bit of joy at that moment.
YouTube is full of covers of this song, but for me the LeeandLie version hits in just the right way, capturing the joy and drama that this whole season of My Hero Academia has provided.
Real Folk Blues by Anime Lab
Any discussion of anime music has to include at least something from Cowboy Bebop. In a show that oozes style from every frame, the music still manages to stand out. Especially the ending song, The Real Folk Blues. So when Funimation and Anime Lab teamed up to deliver this special edition to raise money for charities supporting people through the pandemic, it certainly caught my attention.
With original members of band The Seatbelts and Yoko Kanno joined by rappers, members of the original English cast, and a huge array of socially distant musicians, the fact that they manage to capture the original feel of one of the coolest songs of all time while also feeling fresh and relevant more than twenty years after its original release.
So what did you listen to last month? What bands caught your ear and got you through the weeks of lockdown? Let us know on the usual socials. Till then, see you, space cowboy.