I think I run against the grain as a fan in the Tokyo music scene. Someone who likes a punk band like Moga the 5 Yen doesn't typically also listen to piano pop quartet Orange Plankton, as I do.
On the assumption that you also don't necessarily like every genre of rock/pop that I enjoy, I've arranged these CDs in order, the highest on the list (Orange Plankton) being the most mellow and pop, while the lowest (Moga) is the loudest and hardest rock. It's pretty arbitrary, but just to give you an idea.
I've chosen ten CDs by ten favorite bands. When I could, I picked shorter-length CDs such as EPs so you can get a feel for the music without getting a full album. I give links to Amazon Japan listings for these CDs . I think Amazon's the cheapest way to buy them outside of Japan, though I could be wrong. In Japan, most of these should be available in big record stores.
By the way, the only reason that the album cover photos are of different sizes is that I haven't figured out yet how to unify the sizes. It doesn't mean I like the Clicks the most because their album cover is published the biggest -- though I do like the Clicks.
Mizu no Niwa (Fanciful Garden)
Orange Plankton's "Mizu no Niwa (Fanciful Garden)"
band home page
Piano pop music to relax and float (mentally) to. Listen to it for Yumi's emotion-filled singing, her voice somewhere between that of a girl and a grown woman, the elegant piano soloing by Yuki, and the swinging ensemble work.
Cecil's "Tiger Lily"
Cecil is a mystery musical unit that hardly ever performs live and counts as one of its members an illustrator. Their sentimental pop sound is as stylish as their art. Yukichi's singing is distinct -- a preciously cute and somewhat nasal sounding voice.
Everything advantage Lucy has recorded shines; every album, EP and single this guitar band has created is indispensable, to me. But just to get a sense of their sound, this early EP of theirs (when they were called Lucy van Pelt) is excellent.
It has perfect structure: an upbeat, engaging opening song, two mellow tunes with interesting instruments (a recorder and an accordion) on tracks two and four, another upbeat number in the middle, and to close the album, a song called 'Red Bicycle', one of the band's early classics.
I don't know how many times I've listened to Red Bicycle (many times). And I don't know how many times I've listened to just the intro of the song, one of the most dramatic and beautiful intros I've ever heard, starting with a scintillating guitar arpeggio.
Vasallo Crab 75's "Breathe"
The sound of pop music's future. Guitars and an electric violin weave catchy melodies that explore fresh sonic territories.
Passionate, great rock 'n' roll that reminds you of the records that first made you crazy about rock. Everything from scorching rockers like the tunes Buffalo and Sundae Champion to pretty ballads such as Star Light.
This maxi-single might soon be out of stock after the band's recent split-up; if you can't find it, try their greatest hits album instead. Tight rock with imagination. The songs seem to stretch much longer than their few minutes' duration, as the band uncovers interesting rock sound possibilities.
A rock fun ride with three beauties as companions. This is simple rock 'n' roll in all of its amp-powered glory. Using rock as a backdrop, the girls have a kick singing about love and guys.
Ingredients: A cup of Pop, a few tablespoons of grunge, a teaspoon of punk, four girls.
The result: the Noodles.
What Nirvana might have been like if Kurt Cobain was born in Kyoto and went on to form a Japanese rock band. Heavy rock with nice melody hooks.
A lot of new punk rock bores me, maybe it's aging. Not Osaka's Moga, though. (If their music can be called punk at all.) Moga's songs seem to go down the familiar tracks of hard rock, but somewhere along the way they derail and take you to a place with an unexpected sound vista. (I'm not sure how to read the title of this album ((the characters are difficult)) so for now I'm calling it 'the faces album', sort of like the White album.)