In an article on the film The Runaways (www.cnn.com/2010/SHOWBIZ/Music/04/09/modern.runaways.girl.bands/index.html), Breeanna Hare of CNN asks, “Where are the modern-day Runaways?” Japan is a good place to start. Here are a few of the all-female rock bands from Japan (I’ve added more videos to a YouTube playlist, you can see them here: www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL127DDE49F921367D
(note: this article is a repost of one I wrote last year)
LAZYgunsBRISKY is a four-piece band garage-rock band formed in 2006 and featuring Lucy (vocals), izumi (guitar), azu (bass), and Moe (drums). They have released two full albums to date and are signed to the Babestar label. Their songs are almost entirely in English. I have the 2009 release, 26times. The album is a little uneven, with the opening tracks—Liar, Bitter Day and Navy Star—creating a powerful opening that isn’t sustained throughout the whole album. Whenever I need a pick-me-up, however, a song like Navy Star, with its happily churning bass riff, never fails. I first heard the album in a record store listening booth and immediately thought, “Wow, this is a must buy!” LAZYgunsBRISKY aren’t as well known as some other all-female bands like Scandal or Stereopony, but with their English lyrics and hard-rocking sound, they can hopefully reach a wider audience soon.
Scandal is a four-piece pop rock band featuring Haruna Ono (vocals, guitar), Tomomi Ogawa (bass, vocals), Mami Sasazaki (lead guitar,vocals) and Rina Suzuki (drums,vocals). They formed in 2006, when the girls were in high school in Osaka. They started out playing street performances, were soon offered club gigs and have really broken out during the last few years, during which time they also tried keeping up with their studies. Though they are still promoted as a schoolgirl band, I guess that as their ages now range from 19 to 21 they have finished school already. They are now signed to Sony’s Epic label and are about to release their their second major album. Their first album, Scandal – Best Album, is a strong collection of straight-ahead rock songs, with the first half having more of a rock’n'roll influence and the second half moving towards slightly more sophisticated pop-rock arrangements. Their songs are in Japanese.
The second album, Temptation Box, was released in August 2010. The band’s sound is a more polished and varied in this album, incorporating more pop songs (even a couple of ballads) and more sophisticated arrangements. For example, one track makes use of a ska-influenced rhythm while another has an eighties feel. In this album, Tomomi seems to be taking on a more important role, frequently taking over vocal duties and working on more complex bass lines. For me the standout tracks are Shunkan Sentimental (used as a theme song in the Fullmetal Alchemist anime) and the song with the ska-like rhythm: プレイボーイPartII.
This is an interesting video of the band playing Space Ranger in their early street performing days: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2elUuLUiJKc.
- Official website: www.kitty.co.jp/scandal/main_en.html
Stereopony are a three-piece band featuring Aimi (vocals and guitar), Nohana (bass) and Shiho (drums). They are similar in age to the musicians in Scandal—around 20 years old. The band formed in Okinawa in 2007, are signed to Sony and have just released their second album Over the Border. They have a more polished sound with some songs being reminiscent of the singer-songwriter Yui (with whom they’ve collaborated in the past), some songs having a j-pop feel (with Aimi singing in a higher, lighter, more typically j-pop voice) and others using a more indie sound. Stereopony covers has a wider musical range than Scandal and LAZYgunsBRISKY but lack the power and bite of the two bands. A lot of the power in Steropony’s sound comes from the drums, while LAZYgunsBRISKY and Scandal give greater prominence to guitar and bass riffs.
- Official website: www.stereopony.com/index.html (Japanese)
- Fansite (Very Good Days): http://verygooddays.tk/ (English)
- Fansite (Flowers and Dreams): http://stereopony.syunikiss.org/ (English)
New Strike Zipper
New Strike Zipper is a six-piece punk/nu-metal band formed in Tokyo in 2005 and featuring Chiori (vocals), Nao (Vocals), Yuki (guitar), Yuino (guitar) Mika (bass) & Ka-ni (drums). So far, they have released one album—All Is Not Lost. Unlike Linkin Park, in which one vocalist handles rap while the other sings, both vocalists in New Strike Zipper do some of each.
New Strike Zipper Online
- Official Website: ip.tosp.co.jp/i.asp?i=newstrikezipper
- MySpace Page: www.myspace.com/newstrikezipper
tokyo pinsalocks, featuring Naoko (vocals/keyboards), Hisayo (bass & and programming) and Reiko (drums & programming) are a rock trio that have sound thats’s build on rock and is influenced by electronica, funk and psychedelic rock. They formed in 2000 and are still going strong. Their line-up changed in 2006 when their Tomocchi, the guitarist, left the group. Rather than replace her, they decided to go for a more different sound. They’ve released five albums and a few mini-albums and singles.
tokyo pinsalocks online
Eu Phoria (2002-2008)
This was a short-lived Tokyo-based band, releasing only three singles in 2007 and 2008 before splitting up. The band featured Shoco (vocals), Tomo2 (guitar), Ayaka (bass), Reona (keyboard) andSawa2 (drums) and seemed to be heading for a more pop-oriented rock sound. One distinguishing feature of the band was the classic rock guitar solos from Tomo2.
Nakanomori BAND (中ノ森 BAND) (2004 – 2008)
Nakanomori BAND (中ノ森 BAND) was a four-member band featuring Ayako (vocals/guitar), Yucco (bass), Cheeta (drums) and Shinamon (keyboards). They were signed for Teichiku records (the official webpage of the band is here: A HREF=”http://www.teichiku.co.jp/artist/nakanomori/” TARGET=_”front”>www.teichiku.co.jp/artist/nakanomori/). They debuted in 2005 and released three albums before disbanding in 2008. Their songs veered between pop-rock and pop ballads. To me, the song I Need LOVE is remniscent of Don’t Get Me Wrong by Chrissie Hyde and the Pretenders (Ican’t find that online anymore, so here is another).
Zone started as an eight-member dance-oriented pop idol group in 1997, but to differentiate themselves from other idol groups on hitting the market, they morphed into a four-piece rock/pop band featuring Miyu Nagase (lead vocal, guitar), Mizuho Saito (vocals, drums), Maiko Sakae (vocals, bass) and Takayo Ookoshi (vocals, guitar). Yakayo left the band in 2003 and was replaced by one of the former Zone members—Tomoka Nishimura. The members were all quite young and attending high school at the time. For example, Miyu was born in 1988, making her just shy of seventeen at the time of the band’s final performance. This video of their biggest hit, the beautiful and melodic Secret Base is from that farewell concert.
Here is Scandal’s recent cover of Secret Base
Did I miss one of your favorite bands? Write a reply and let me know.