Nagi’s Japan Trip Album Roundup!

Nagi’s Japan Trip Album Roundup!


Hello and welcome back to O!susume RadioBeat! January was something a bit different, and that was mainly because I (Nagi) spent nearly all month over in Japan! I haven’t been able to go since 2019 for fairly obvious reasons, so while I would have loved to stay longer, I at least got three good weeks of travelling around and visiting friends. I got to see a rare snowfall in Kyoto, which felt like some kind of good omen for this coming year (maybe not for those unfortunate souls stuck on the shinkansen due to the inclement weather tho…)

Since I haven’t lived in Japan for a number of years now, sadly my membership cards to a couple big-name media rental chains have lapsed and aren’t renewable, so that means this trip wasn’t the next big jpop/jrock harvest I was hoping for. But, while I was digging through the many thrift shops I searched out during my journey for cool clothes, I did happen to pick up a few albums I wanted for my collection (for super cheap as well, a few of them cost 50 yen!) So I figured, why not share them here and give my thoughts? This isn’t an official album review per se, as we are simply a recommendation blog, but I’ve got some opinions I’d like to dump on the internet regardless.

Mihimaru GT – Mihimarise (2008)

Mihimaru GT is primarily a hip-hop band, which is not a genre I’ve got a lot of playtime in. However, I’ve had their track “Diverge” in my playlists for over a decade now, so I figured it’d be worth giving its full album a try. Mihimaru seems to blend more structurally with jpop than the few other hip hop bands I’ve listened to, which is a bit of a shame because I think their raps are the strongest part of their sound. I’m a fan of some of the quirkier tracks like “Love Sick” and “Gazen Yeah!” (and of course “Diverge”), but I don’t think I’ll be going back for a full-album listen anytime soon.


nano – nano’s REMIXES (2016)

If you’ve been following the blog, you’ll know that I did a broadcast on nano back in November of last year, so I was excited to pick her up in hard copy. I will admit that I’d probably prefer one of her original studio albums to a remix album, one with only seven songs at that, but I’ll take what I can get. The remixes are alright; in my opinion if you’re going to remix a song, especially a song with a well-established sound like nano, you gotta go the extra mile and make something people wouldn’t expect to hear. Most of the tracks are pretty straightforward wub-wub house arrangements over the instrumentals, which is like, fine, but I don’t have any urge to listen to them over the originals.


SPYAIR – Just Do It (2012)

SPYAIR is one of the upcoming broadcasts this year that I’m most excited to write! While I have a hard time sticking to a true favorite band, SPYAIR has always had a place around the throne. I won’t say they’ve got particularly great range, they’ve got a signature sound and seem content to structure their albums around it; for me in particular, that is not a problem because SPYAIR feels pretty much tailor-made for my musical tastes. So I can’t really be unbiased here. That being said, I’m surprised they hid some of the best songs in the album’s bonus disc, like “I’ll be there” (what I wouldn’t give for a metal remix with growls), “Reset” and (a bit funky and swingy? Yes please) and “Come on” (please use those basslines more!). They feel more experimental and unpolished, which I am also all for.


SPYAIR – Kingdom (2017)

More Spyair! I think this one’s a stronger album than Just Do It, but why pit two bad bitches against each other? We’ve got a couple of more experimental, out-there tracks on this one too- sometimes it pays off big time, like with “Midnight” (god that piano with the squealy guitar is exquisite) and other times it doesn’t feel quite coherent, like with “C!RCUS”, but still full marks for trying.


GRANRODEO – Pierrot Dancin’ (2017)

GRANRODEO’s another band slated for a broadcast later in 2023. I became familiar with them through the various anime OPs they did, particularly in the late 00’s/early ‘teens, and was enchanted by just how fitting they are for TV-length, high-octane j-rock tracks. These guys seem like they have a blast producing and playing their music, you can feel the self-indulgence in their progressions and lyrics and general vibe. I also love when they collab with other bands since their focus is pretty narrow, and having another act with a complementary sound makes a whole greater than the sum of its parts. To be fair I did get surprised a couple times while listening to the album by quieter and more composed tracks, so I’m looking forward to discovering more of their range.

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