New music from Japan (Spring 2021 edition)

Notable new Japanese releases, in brief


My focus has been all over the place this year, and writing about music hasn’t exerted the same thrall that it did during 2020. There are at least a dozen albums that should also have been included here, but I wanted to get something out in time for this month’s Bandcamp Friday, on the off chance that anyone reading this fancies chucking a few yen in the direction of the artists mentioned here. Gig listings will return when Tokyo gets out of the latest state of emergency, possibly never.

Best Japanese music of 2020

A personal Top 10 Japan albums of the year



Back in January, I paid money to watch Cats at the cinema. In retrospect, it feels like that’s where 2020 all started to go wrong. It’s been a grim year for many, and—compared to friends who’ve lost loved ones or found themselves out of work—I feel like I’ve gotten off lightly. Being slightly under-employed for much of the year has given me plenty of time to listen to music, and I’ve written about over 100 Japanese releases during the past 12 months (if you missed them, you might want to check my Spring, Summer, Mid-Summer, Autumn and Winter round-ups). Much as I fear for the future of the live music scene, here and elsewhere, creativity will apparently never be in short supply. It’s been inspiring to see artists respond to the challenges (and unexpected opportunities) of the COVID era. This is the pick of the stuff I’ve written about this year: albums that I thought were exceptional, or that resonated with me the most.

New music from Japan (Winter edition)

Notable Japanese releases from 2020, in brief


You can tell that end-of-year lists don’t count for much in Japan from the volume of significant releases landing during late November and December, which would normally be considered the fag-end of the year. Before I try to cobble together a Top 10, here’s my final round-up of interesting sounds from this fine country, including a handful of things that I missed earlier in the year. As per usual, I’ve included Bandcamp links where available, and would encourage you to consider stumping up the cash if you hear something you like. Send any hate mail to the usual address.

New music from Japan (Autumn edition)

Notable Japanese releases from 2020, in brief


Apologies to the half-dozen people who’ve been relying on this blog for Tokyo gig listings. I haven’t had much mindless downtime to fill recently, which is why the listings are looking a bit... bare. I’ll try to get things updated soon, but in the meantime, here’s another whistle-stop tour of some of the aural delights bubbling up from the Japanese underground.


New music from Japan (Summer bonus edition)

Notable Japanese releases from 2020, in brief

With live music in Tokyo still mostly confined to smaller venues that can afford to put on shows with only a dozen-odd people in attendance, most of the action is still happening online. Trying to keep up with all the interesting stuff being released right now can make you feel like the protagonist of Woman in the Dunes, but here are a few of the things that have caught my ears recently, including new music from Nisennenmondai, Boris, Ai Aso and Sapphire Slows, the long-awaited return of You Ishihara, and some remarkable outsider sounds of very dubious providence.