Miscellaneous contemporary Japanese music
(or, Other J-rock I like)


Glay, together with Luna Sea and L'Arc~en~Ciel, are currently three of the biggest J-rock bands around. This pop-rock group consists of Teru the vocalist, Takuro and Hisashi on guitars, and Jiro on bass. And like LS and L'Arc, they started as a visual band, but have toned down their look as they became established. They seem a pretty easygoing, fun quartet, and they've been around for a long time! Longer even than LS, I think, though LS "made it big" earlier, if I'm not mistaken. I think most of their songs are loud and pretty noisy with largely unterraced dynamics, but not heavy. In fact, the overall impression I get is that most Glay songs are light, fun and almost pop-ish. One of my favorite aspects of their music is probably the guitars - the guitar parts in their songs are surprisingly melodic and even slightly nostalgic. They evoke impressions of summers, memories of childhood, and skating down the sidewalk with all the exuberance and carelessness of youth. A couple of examples I can think of offhand is Hisashi's guitaring in Pure Soul and You May Dream. I like all the members collectively, but I probably like Jiro a little bit more than Teru, Takuro and Hisashi ^_^. Next to the guitars, the bass is my favorite part of their music, especially in However. And it's pretty amazing to me that even in their fast songs with all the noisy guitars almost but not quite screaming, I could still hear the bassline. As for the vocals, I had to get used to Teru's voice before appreciating it. I still am not crazy over his voice, but it's attractive in its own way (I find his speaking voice very sexy ^^). A majority of the songs are written by Takuro. I think he manages to straddle the fence between rock and pop perfectly. However, one criticism I have about their music is that it tends to be repetitive, at least in my opinion. Glay's accessibility has moved them into the mainstream music scene, and it's a testament to how famous they are when the Tower Records in my city made such a big hype over their new album as it normally would for J-pop acts ^_^.

Pics from JRock DIMENSIONS


My favorite Glay songs:
1. Glorious
2. Beloved - Teru's voice is very nice here and the guitars are very, very lovely.
3. Mermaid - has now become a favorite ever since I saw the MTV on a local channel. After repeated listenings, I'm of the opinion that this may be one of the best songs Glay has ever done, musical-wise.
4. Shutter Speeds no Teema - Cool song! The tune is fun, loud and in-your-face somehow. Jiro's style is very different from Takuro's but they're both great songwriters.
5. However
6. Good Bye Bye Sunday - another song written by Jiro, has a very retro and nostalgic feel.
7. Lady Close
I really like the Makuhari version… the way Jiro shouted “sweet junk” is so kakkoii! ^^
Freeze My Love
9. Two
Bell Silence
10. More than Love
Hit the World Chart! -
I really liked the chorus here, and I think the tune is very, um, Glay-ish.
12. You May Dream
13. Soul Love - Hisashi's brief guitar intro to Takuro's solo.
14. Yuuwaku - I found it repetitive the first few times I listened to it, but it grew on me ^^.
15. Pure Soul - for the lovely guitar solo.
16. Yes, Summerdays - Sounds like movie music ^_^.
17. Young oh! oh!
18. Savile Row
19. Burst and Acid Head
– sound really great performed live.
20. Special Thanks - the melody is just a little too predictable for me, but the music video made me like the song ^^;. I guess that's why they call them "promotional" videos.


Glay 1999 "pure soul" live in Big Egg video
A TDK commercial
Music Station (Glay, Luna Sea, etc)
Be With You music video

Interesting or unsubstantiated or inane Glay info

The mp3 file is meant to serve as introduction to Glay music. If you like it, please buy their albums.

Listen to streaming j-music
Includes Luna Sea, Glay, L'arc~en~Ciel, hide, Kawamura Ryuichi, Inoran, X Japan, Buck-Tick, Guniw Tools, Dir en grey, Oblivion Dust, Mr Children, etc.

However (mp3)
Pretty pretty melody with a distinct and catchy bassline.

Be With You (midi)
I didn't entirely love Teru's voice in this, but it's a very nice song.

dir en grey
Pic from Japanese Channel

Don't be misled by the picture. The members of Dir en grey are all guys - from left: Die (guitar), Shinya (drums), Kyo (vocals), Toshiya (bass) and Kaoru (guitar). I think their songs are quite good, though I'm not into all the screaming and screeching in ZAN. To be fair though, I only listened to the song once - probably if I'd given it the chance to grow on me, it would ^^. DeG is a visual band. Which means they dress outrageously, crossdress, wear tons of make-up, sport weird and multicolored hairstyles, and generally you can't tell whether they're guys or girls. It's unintentionally liberal and very cool ^_^. They're a very... endearing... band ^^. Somehow I have this impression of them as a bunch of boys out to have some fun and raise a few eyebrows ^^;. I like Kyo's voice and I think he's cute ^^. He's only 160 cm (which is my height - très petit!) and I think he looks weird out of make-up (like a typical Japanese juvenile delinquent ^^;) but there's an air of inexplicable cuteness about him ^^;;;. Much of their bass-driven music are loud, fast, and heavy. I have heard their music described as “old” Luna Sea – that is, dark, angsty gothic rock. My favorite songs of theirs are mazohyst of decadence and Akuro no oka, both of which, incidentally, are written by Kaoru. My favorite members are Kyo, Kaoru, and Die whom I think is conventionally beautiful and extremely sexy (pity about the weight loss, though).

The mp3 file is meant to serve as introduction to Dir en grey music. If you like it, please buy their albums.

Listen to streaming j-music
Includes Luna Sea, Glay, L'arc~en~Ciel, hide, Kawamura Ryuichi, Inoran, X Japan, Buck-Tick, Guniw Tools, Dir en grey, Oblivion Dust, Mr Children, etc.

A loud, rather fast-paced song with an infectious pounding beat.

malice mizer
Pic from Japanese Channel

This is a group which I like for their image and not particularly their music ^^. Malice Mizer was formerly a group of five, but their vocalist Gackt left to pursue a solo career and their drummer Kami passed away. MM now has three members - band leader Mana, Kozi and Yu~ki, none of whom are on vocals. But recently they have recruited a new vocalist and has released a new album - Bara no Seidou - albeit under an indie label. I'm intrigued by the image of Malice Mizer. Unlike most J-rock bands, they have not "normalized" their look at all. Even Dir en grey, formerly a wildly visual band, are now looking more subdued. MM's costumes and make-up are as lavish and extravagant as ever, and there's a sense of the fantastic about them that has to do with a breakaway from conformity. Mana is a man in drag and he exemplifies the surface extremes of "woman" - the perfect hair, heavy make-up, doll-like beauty and aura of bitchiness. It is, however, this visual aspect of the group that would probably prevent them from ever being accepted by mainstream music fans (this reason being why so many other J-rock acts have toned down their look, I suppose). Their music seems a combination of rock and classical, leaning rather heavily on the latter. From what I've listened to, they seem to use a lot of traditionally "classical" instruments, such as the piano, strings, and even bells. Their ex-vocalist Gackt was apparently classically-trained. Some criticism about him. Legions of fangirls rave over his voice, but personally I find it quite bland, not really memorable at all. Ditto for his solo works. I've listened to Mizerable several times, but for the life of me just cannot recall the melody. However, I do like Oasis, for some reason. IMO, he's a step up from a pop idol because he is indeed a skilled musician (it seems he plays the piano, several woodwinds, trumpet, percussion, etc) but much of his fandom seems to operate on the same principles. His image as the consummate romantic goth hero has no doubt huge appeal for teenage girls. Not to mention his bishounen looks... though I tend to feel like laughing every time I come across any pictures of him ^^;;. It's just that his expression is so - so vacuous most of the time! *ahem* No offense to Gackt fans ^^. Back to MM. Pronunciation? When I first heard about them, I thought the name was pronounced the English way: "mae-lis mai-zer". Then I read somewhere that their name was supposed to be French. So, it should be something like "mah-lis mee-zherrr" ^^. And then there's the Japanese pronunciation "marisu mizeru". Gesundheit.

Guniw Tools is a two-man band established sometime in the late eighties, if I'm not mistaken. Vocalist Full takes an active role in the creation of their music, everything from songwriting to designing the album cover, while Asaki is the guitarist and does the sound programming, etc. I think Full (or Furufuru as his name is pronounced in Japanese) is an amazing artist - his drawings are weird, quirky and sometimes comic, and remind me of art I associate with childhood. He's also a great vocalist. Sometimes his voice, to me, seems to be a cross between Ryuichi's (Luna Sea) and Billy Corgan's (Smashing Pumpkins). I really, really like their music, I can't recommend it enough. The songs they produce are excellent, and weird and quirky like Full's art. When I first heard Ladybird's Sleeping Art, I remember I kept thinking it reminded me of something. I have come to the conclusion that it's SP's Ava Adore - the techno beat is quite similar. In fact, Guniw Tools' electronica-driven music reminds me a lot of the Pumpkins' Adore album. My favorite songs are Ladybird's Sleeping Art, Cullucoo Vision, Hush and Cool, Drop an Oar, DADA and Fancy Pink.

Listen to streaming j-music
Includes Luna Sea, Glay, L'arc~en~Ciel, hide, Kawamura Ryuichi, Inoran, X Japan, Buck-Tick, Guniw Tools, Dir en grey, Oblivion Dust, Mr Children, etc.  


I'm crazy about this band at the moment! ^_^ Buck-Tick is made up of Sakurai Atsushi on vocals, Imai Hisashi and Hoshino Hidehiko on guitars, Higuchi Yutaka on bass and Yagami Toll on drums. They started out as an indie band in the early eighties, and released their first album Hurry Up Mode in 1987. Their first album with a major label (Victor) was also released later in the same year, titled Sexual XXXXX!. I don't know why, but I was very surprised to find out that this band is as old as X Japan ^^. I guess it's just because X Japan had reached such mega status in that country and touted as the pioneer of visual rock. I see them as the granddaddies of J-rock *smile*. Anyway, like I said, I'm currently nuts about Buck-Tick and Atsushi's voice! What a beautifully skilled, sexy voice the man has! He is one of my favorite vocalists, right next to hide and Ryuichi (Luna Sea). In fact, I think I may like Atsushi's vocals as much as Ryuichi's. My first impression of BT songs is that they sound like traditional rock songs, with familiar guitar chords, amplified bass and added electronic effects. But there's an undefined something in their music that makes me like it so much. Apparently their influences are British post-punk rock bands Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Cure, so if you like them, you might like BT as well.

My favorite Buck-Tick songs:
1) Miu
2) Gessekai
3) ... In Heaven
4) Candy
5) Romanesque
6) Just One More Kiss
7) Under the Moonlight
8) Hyper Love
9) Asylum Garden
10) Aku no hana (flower of evil...? ^^;;;)

Listen to streaming j-music
Includes Luna Sea, Glay, L'arc~en~Ciel, hide, Kawamura Ryuichi, Inoran, X Japan, Buck-Tick, Guniw Tools, Dir en grey, Oblivion Dust, Mr Children, etc.  


Globe is a pop act, not a rock band. I'd heard their songs some time back, but passed them off as just another generic pop group. Then, there came a time when I kept coming across the name TK associated with various and sundry, and my curiosity was piqued. Who the heck's this guy and what's the big deal with him, I wondered. I was pretty surprised when I found out that he was one of the trio of Globe. So I gave the album Love Again another try. I picked a random song and it turned out to be You are the one and at first I thought it was weird and then I liked it. The second song I tried was Love Again and I liked that as well. After that I listened to the whole album but those two are my favorites, along with Wanderin' Destiny and I'm bad. Okay, now I can see what the big hype about Komuro Tetsuya's all about ^_^. I mean, reading about his being a big-shot producer is one thing, but actually listening to his songs is another. Globe songs are sung by a female vocalist. Normally I don't really like Japanese female singers because their voices are too high-pitched and sweet, and after a while seem to blend together so that it sounds the same no matter who's singing ^^;;. But I like Globe's vocalist whose voice I find to be not as saccharine sweet as most others.

The following mp3 files are meant to serve as introduction to Globe music. If you like it, please buy their albums.

Listen to streaming j-music
Includes Luna Sea, Glay, L'arc~en~Ciel, hide, Kawamura Ryuichi, Inoran, X Japan, Buck-Tick, Guniw Tools, Dir en grey, Oblivion Dust, Mr Children, etc.

You are the one
Starts off weird but it grows on you ^^. Very catchy tune, and just when I thought I'd got used to it, came another weird part where the chorus "You are the one" is sung out of tune and pronounced in such a way that made my teeth ache. Other than that, I really like both the female and male vocals here - Keiko's voice wanders in the high registers with seemingly no trouble at all and I find the rapping in Japanese quite melodic and charming. The musical accompaniment sounds techno-ish to me and very nice. If there is ever a "morning" song, this is it ^_^.

I'm bad
Another catchy song. Marc Panther takes centerstage here, I suppose, since he sings and raps a lot in this piece.


L'Arc~en~Ciel is Hyde, Tetsu, Ken and Yukihiro. The name means "rainbow" or literally "the arc in the sky". I've only heard one album of theirs, Heart. I heard it at about the same time as Luna Sea's Shine, and I remember thinking that they seemed somehow similar. Except that I liked Shine better ^^. They're not actually similar in any way at all, and if anybody complains that Shine is pop, Heart is even more pop ^^. Vocalist Hyde is very bishounen-ish, thus he has a huge fan following. Why is it that I always have contrary opinions when it comes to singers whose voice everybody seems to rave over? Apparently Hyde has a fantastic range, is "incredible", "phenomenal", etc etc. Don't get me wrong, I do like his voice. But I think it sounds terrible in lives ^^;. It's so out-of-key sometimes it's surprising. And there's one thing that's sorta bugging me. I saw somewhere (on a website or something, I don't remember) a fan describing his ability to sing soprano. I'm not sure on this, but isn't it physically impossible for men to sing in soprano (excluding the castrati of the old days)? Besides, I notice that sometimes when Hyde hits those high notes, he's actually singing in falsetto, unlike say, Ryuichi who sings "genuinely" in the high registers. Okay, okay, no comparing ^^ (Ryuichi is after all one of my favorite vocalists so I may be biased). But overall, L'Arc music is quite good and fairly accessible. It's no surprise they're so popular. My favorite songs on the Heart album are Loreley, Birth!, Promised Land and Milky Way. I also like some of their older stuff like Blurry Eyes, it’s one of my favorite J-rock songs.

Oct '00 ~ I bought their latest album, Real, and I like it so much I'm currently listening to it over and over! ^_^ It's much better than Heart, IMO. My current favorite on the album is Time Slip. So lovely! And I was very surprised when I heard get out from the shell because the song was used in a commercial here and I've always thought of the tune as a commonplace commercial jingle ^^. I also like Neo Universe, Love Flies, a silent letter and All year around falling in love. And is it just me, or does this album sound SP-ish? Probably it's just me ^^.

The following mp3 files are meant to serve as introduction to Laruku music. If you like it, please buy their albums.

Listen to streaming j-music
Includes Luna Sea, Glay, L'arc~en~Ciel, hide, Kawamura Ryuichi, Inoran, X Japan, Buck-Tick, Guniw Tools, Dir en grey, Oblivion Dust, Mr Children, etc.

Hyde's voice is very nice here. Cool song.

This was the theme for the Rurouni Kenshin movie. It means "rainbow".

Image credits

Has image galleries of Glay, Luna Sea, L'Arc~en~Ciel, Malice Mizer, etc.

Japanese Channel
Galleries, mp3s, mpegs, band info, translated and romanized lyrics, Winamp skins, wallpapers, and other J-music related paraphernalia.

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8/00, uploaded 10/00