Japanese rock continues to reveal itself in many unique forms while maintaining an eye for mainstream attraction, none more so than Indigo la End and ゲスの極み乙女 Gesu No Kiwami Otome, both bands headed by the mastermind of 川谷絵音 Kawatani Enon.
さよならベル ‘Sayonara Bell’ (‘Goodbye Bell’) is a perfect choreograph of catchy J-rock. Reminiscing of his ex-girlfriend, Kawatani and his rhythm entourage dream up a pleasant mix of smooth harmonic progressions, a rousing falsetto chorus melody and dynamic rock guitars, drums and jazz-tinted bass lines, all of which are filtered through a subtle and hazy shoegaze breeze.
On the other hand, younger cousin group Gesu No Kiwami Otome boast a more unusual and progressive yet equally enticing musical charisma. The band consists of Kawatani and three other members from different musical units and roots whose main motivations were to just enjoy playing and experimenting with each other without any direct mainstream goal (the irony being that they are now a popular, unique and successful J-rock group). However, their ethos centered around experimenting has led to unrivaled tracks like 私以外私じゃないの ‘Watashi igai watashi ja nai no’ (‘It’s not me, except me’). The organised melange of styles (from contemporary jazz piano figurations, alt-rock/new wave ensemble forces, catchy funk and math-rock guitar licks) under an essential ‘J-pop’ energy makes this track totally distinctive.
One of Gesu No Kiwami Otome’s latest track 無垢な季節 ‘Muku na Kisetsu’ (‘Pure Season’) featuring in their upcoming album 両成敗 Ryouseibai embraces a Fox Capture Plan-like math-rock introductory piano solo which sets the driving momentum of the track, further supported by some relentless drum rhythms and bass grooves. Offsetting the high-tempo treadmill is the eloquent tone and lyricism of Kawatani’s vocal melody, which imbues a refreshing quality.
Regardless of any language barrier, both Indigo la End and Gesu No Kiwami Otome are sublime examples of J-rock that propels any listeners into blissful experiences.
- オトナチック Otonachikku
- パラレルスペック Parallel Spec
- 悲しくなる前に Kanashiku naru mae ni (‘Before I Get Sad’)
- 夜汽車は走る Yogisha wa Hashiru (‘The Night Train Runs’)
© Isaku Takahashi