In what can only be described as another weird year in the world, there were some good sides up until 2021. The Tokyo Olympics gave us all something, Squid Game took the internet by storm. , the #FreeBritney movement has succeeded in its quest, plus we’ve been treated to a slew of great releases from some of our favorite Japanese artists. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite tracks from our Spotify playlists this year, as well as some new discoveries we’ve recently fallen in love with.
Yuragi – This blue, I will come
Yuragi has been steadily rising through the ranks of the Japanese rock scene since releasing his first single in 2015. Earning a spot on Fuji Rock’s “Rookie A Go-Go” stage in 2019, as well as supporting slots with many international artists such as Turnover, Japanese Breakfast and Tigers Jaw. They had made a name for themselves even before the release of their debut LP in June of this year. Yuragi (which means fluctuation in Japanese) stays true to his name on his nine-track LP For you, Skillful but gentle, mixing heavy shoegaze and minimalist and ethereal electronics. Lead singer Miraco’s delicate voice soars to “That Blue, I’ll be coming”, the intro stripped to the wall of its bloated and blurry crescendo. Keep an eye out for a “Remixes and Rarities” version of their album in the coming months, featuring collaborations with national and international artists.
Gato – xx (check, check)
Describing themselves as a group “suddenly appeared in 2018”, Gato seems to have materialized, fully formed, as a group unlike any other on the Tokyo scene. Over the past three years, the five-piece group has built a reputation for insane live performances and a sound that somehow mixes elements of indie, EDM, music and music. hip-hop, rap and traditional Japanese music. For the uninitiated, “xx (check, check)” which comes from their second album, U + H, perfectly represents the sound they became known for, with heavy bass and samples alongside arpeggios koto (traditional Japanese string instrument). Gato will perform at Liquidroom’s New year party later this month.
DAN – The Meetings
DAN is a name you’ve probably seen popping up a lot in recent years. Formed in 2014, they rose to prominence locally and abroad after performing at the Fuji Rock Festival in 2016 and 2018, which earned them the opportunity to perform with established local and international artists such as The xx and Floating Points. “The Encounters” comes from their third album NO MOON and includes the guest voices of rapper Takumi (from hip-hop duo MIRROR) and Hikam (from audiovisual duo Tamanaramen). What starts off as a distinctly mellow alt-R & B track to begin with, slowly evolves into a heavy Caribou’esque dance floor banger. DAN ended his year with a sold-out performance at Usen Studio Coast on December 9.
YurufuwaGang – Madras Night Part 2 feat. DOPETY CHINZA
Yurufuwa gang is the hip-hop project of rappers Ryugo Ishida and NENE. Previously active as solo artists, since the duo’s formation after meeting in Tokyo in 2016, the two have gone on to be recognized by prominent figures internationally for their effortlessly brash and catchy pieces. Their 2021 second single “Madras Night Part 2” is a remix of a track previously recorded on SHINKAN1000’s concept album A GREAT ESCAPE, released earlier this year. The new track, with guest vocals from Chinza Dopeness, is a decidedly heavier version of the original that draws inspiration from modernity Gaana, a style of Tamil music from Chennai, India. Discover Yurufuwa Gang’s Instagram for a list of live performances coming in late December.
xiangyu – MANHOLE
Having only started his music career in 2018, after making a sudden transition from fashion design, Xiangyu made a name for himself on the local scene with his healthy, minimalist approach to music creation. During those three short years she experimented with a variety of styles and “MANHOLE” proves that she thrives musically. Backed by layers of heavy bass, flute and traditional percussion, “MANHOLE” showcases Xiangyu’s fast rap chops and further reinforces his distinct originality as an artist. Xiangyu ends his year with his big screen debut in the movie “Spaghetti Code Love”, which hit theaters in late November. Attend Xiangyu’s concert at Ebisu Batica on January 9th.
ASA Wu – dozen of dice (feat KM)
Taiwan-born ASA Wu has come a long way since releasing her third single “dozen of die” in early July. The raw content and confident execution of the piece made it hard to believe it was just the artist ‘s third release at the time but, with the release of his first EP presage, in August, it is clear that the artist has the gift of constantly creating good “Emotional RnB” bangers.
Wednesday Campanella – Alice
Wednesday Campanella came back in force this year after the departure of their lead singer in September. When it was announced that eight-year-old lead singer KOM_I would be leaving the group, producer Kenmochi and group director Fukunaga were joined by the project’s third vocalist Utaha, followed by the release of double single Alice / Buckingham at the end of October. All eyes were on Utaha to meet the high standards set by KOM_I and, to the relief of many fans, Utaha and new track, “Alice”, lived up to expectations, bringing new energy and life to a track. familiar with Campanella from Wednesday. with their classic mix of J-Pop, EDM and hip-hop sounds.
Wez Atlas – Thinking too much
Born in Japan and raised in Colorado, 23-year-old Wez Atlas had a great year in 2021 with the release of his first mini album Chicken soup for one in July. One of the main singles of the album, “Oéritéink”, is a contemplative hip-hop track mixing technical lyricism with a soft, melodic voice. Wez Atlas often switches between Japanese and English in his lyrics and uses both in this track to create a lyrical manifesto on achieving mental clarity.