Alternative Japan // A Playlist by Caylan Hallows

Alternative Japan // A Playlist by Caylan Hallows

I wanted to provide our readers with a playlist of alternative songs that they hopefully haven’t listened to before. This playlist starts with the nosier side of Japan’s music scene with some great punk tinged tracks and transitions into a more chilled-out vibe towards the end. Hopefully there’s something for everyone on here!

Check the playlist here

harunemuri // ‘Make More Noise of You’

The opening track is from harunemuri, a singer songwriter/rapper from Yokohama. This track is the opener from her debut album harutosyura which combines rapping, noise rock and just about everything else.

CHAI // ‘N.E.O’

A slightly more poppy anthem from CHAI; a band whose mission is to redefine what it means to be cute by questioning its narrow concept. ‘N.E.O’ is a catchy anthem from a band with a great mission statement.

Otoboke Beaver // ‘Oniisan Anone’

Described by The Cribs as “Punk-as-Fuck” and in my humble opinion, one of the best punk bands about today. Otoboke Beaver specialise in blisteringly fast choppiness akin to an all-female Ramones on speed.

tricot // ‘potage’

A jazzier track from Kyoto math-rockers tricot. Combining intricate instrumentals and pop-esque vocals, tricot maintain an accessible but interesting sound that shouldn’t be overlooked.

toe // ‘The Latest Number’

Like tricot, toe is another math-rock band where you will find intricate instrumentals, particularly on this track but with a much more low-key vibe. This song is enjoyably quiet, not wasting any notes, and acts as a nice transition from the noisier side of Japanese alternative.

mouse on the keys // ‘Stars Down (feat. Dominique Fils-Aime)’

A collaboration between mouse on the keys, a highly energetic instrumental band combining many genres and instruments and Montreal singer Dominique Fils-Aimé. This track is super slick and dramatic whilst really highlighting the diversity of Japan’s alternative scene.

Shintaro Sakamoto // ‘Let’s Dance Raw’

Originally of psych rockers Yura Yura Teikoku, Sakamoto now makes dreamy, 70’s inspired pop music. Really unique stuff that shouldn’t be missed.

Kikagaku Moyo // ‘Nazo Nazo’

Kikagaku Moyo bring great psychedelic rock to the scene that doesn’t feel cheesy and dated. ‘Nazo Nazo’ is a meandering song that is a great chill-out anthem.

Elephant Gym // ‘被子’

A smooth jazzy track incorporating soft vocals and a super tight bass line from Elephant Gym. This song hits all the right notes: chilled-out and intricate, but not pretentious.

Shonen Knife // ‘Lazybone’

Shonen Knife have fans from just about every important alternative band from America. Nirvana, Fugazi, Sonic Youth – you name them and they are probably fans of Shonen Knife. Punky and Poppy, Shonen Knife are veterans of the Japanese alternative and have been excelling for several decades now.

Check the playlist here

Caylan Hallows