Weekly J-Song Roundup #1 – UNCHAIN, Goose house, Kamishiraishi Mone (and more!)

School has started for me a few weeks ago, so you might not see much from me as of now. However since I’ve been dying to talk about Japanese music more on the blog, I’ve decided to do a weekly (?) segment, compiling a list of songs that I’ve discovered either from Spotify’s incredible recommendations, YouTube, other people, anime music, etc. Basically I was inspired to do this segment from both finding a ton of good songs on Spotify recently and me seeing other content creators like music critic YouTuber, Anthony Fantano, do it on their own creative space.

Plus, I think this will help me stay pretty active on this blog. I don’t want to seem like I disappeared from writing lol

Let’s begin with our very first J-song roundup!


“Robinson / ロビンソン” – UNCHAIN

I’ve talked about UNCHAIN before on my last J-music suggestion post and since then, I’ve listened to a lot more of their stuff. It was hard to pick one of their songs to feature on this list, but this particular track stood out to me the most. “Robinson” is definitely a great example of what UNCHAIN is like as a rock band and the kind of style they bring to their music, rock with soul/funk incorporated into it, but also it feels a bit more mellow and feel-good than some of their other songs I’ve listened to. Tanigawa Masanori’s always soothing and incredible voice mixed with the distorted guitar in the chorus and nice drumming by Yoshida Shogo, I highly suggesting giving this track a listen to.


“Ashitamo / 明日も” by SHISHAMO (Cover) – Goose house

AND THE GODS FINALLY LISTENED TO MY PRAYERS

As you may know, SHISHAMO is my all-time favorite Japanese artist/band (hell, I paid way too much to import one of their T-shirts lol). I’ve also been very fond of the popular musical group Goose house who are well-known for their great covers of popular Japanese music, as well as writing and performing the opening theme to the hit anime Your Lie in April, “Hikaru Nara”. What do those two groups have in common? Well, I’ve been waiting for the day that Goose house covers a SHISHAMO song because… why not?

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And it seems like the day has finally come, as Goose house released a cover of SHISHAMO’s most popular song, “Ashitamo”, a few days ago. I was screaming inside when I saw it on my YouTube homepage.

Goose house did a really nice job with this cover, I’d say. Kei, Manami, and Sayaka KILLED IT when replicating the vocal performance of Miyazaki Asako, the main vocalist and guitarist of SHISHAMO, in this particular song. The guys in the back also did good on the instruments, more specifically Watanabe Shuhei beautifully doing that memorable guitar riff you hear at the beginning of the song and how the other Shuhei recreated the trumpet part on the keyboard.

Everything about this cover is amazing, these guys are hella talented, and I can die happy now.


“Eden” – Kalafina

Before I happened to stumble upon listening to a few of Kalafina’s songs on Spotify a couple of days ago, I only heard about the group from fellow aniblogger, Moya from The Moyatorium. But when I actually started listening to their music with the limited knowledge I have about them, I instantly liked their sound. The incredible elegance and a sort of “epic” feeling you hear in this song thanks to things like the instrumentation, it’s just super, super nice to listen to. And I can’t not mention the voices of these three ladies, it’s like listening to three goddesses sing.

However if you want to learn more and read a way better analysis than what I just wrote about this group, definitely go check out Moya’s Kalafina tribute post!


“FUN!” – Rizumu Shin

The title of this song speaks for itself; it’s “FUN!”.

I think what I would categorize this song/artist as is definitely “light funk pop”. It’s a pop song incorporating funky vibes, while still having a feel-good and light-hearted mood to it. The youthful vocal performance of Rizumu Shin is probably what puts the cherry on the musical ice cream sundae, as his voice is really soothing and warm to listen to. Pretty much all the instrumentation in this song is great whether that be the combo of acoustic and electric guitar, the synth, or even that old-timey piano playing right at the end. Everything blends in with each other really well.


“Cassette Tape / カセットテープ” – Kamishiraishi Mone

You most likely know who Kamishiraishi Mone is if you happened to watch the hit 2016 anime film Kimi no Na wa. I say that because she voiced the main female part of young, Itomori-raised Miyamizu Mitsuha. And as you may have noticed in that film, she has a wonderful sounding voice and also did a pretty darn good job portraying Mitsuha, given that she didn’t have much experience voice acting before (she is usually does live action stuff). Kamishiraishi Mone’s beautiful voice was also featured in her rendition of the ending theme to Your Name, “Nandemonaiya”. While I still love RADWIMPS’ version, it’s definitely a much different listening experiencing when hearing Mitsuha sing this song.

But let’s save Mone’s version of this song for another post, and focus on her solo musical career. I’ve been listening to her album “and…” over and over for the past couple of weeks (I want to review the album hopefully soon), it’s interesting to hear her sing different genres of songs whether it be a slow ballad or a very foreign-inspired track like “Sunny”.

“Cassette Tape” probably has to be my absolute favorite song on that album, as it beautifully showcases her vocal abilities and it’s just a fun and uplifting song to listen to. It’s not too slow, it’s not too fast, it’s a very upbeat and happy track. All the instrumentation like the trumpet, the drums, the subtle electric guitar, all mixed in with Mone’s INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL voice, it’s a real joy whenever I listen to this song.


“Ai / アイ” – Motohiro Hata

Welp, we’re referencing another Shinkai Makoto film here (lol).

For anime fans, Motohiro Hata is probably popularly known for his song, “Rain”, being featured as the ending song to Shinkai’s 2013 anime film The Garden of Words (i seriously loved that movie). I also seriously loved that song, and is probably one of my favorite tracks out of all the songs featured in Shinkai Makoto’s films.

I discovered the rest of his music on Spotify, and it’s definitely on the same level of enjoyable as “Rain”. Particular this song, “Ai”, was one of my favorites off his All Time Best album and damn… it’s one heart-warming song to listen to. Motohiro Hata’s vocal performance steals the show in this track; incredibly beautiful voice he has and it’s very apparent that he can hit those high notes very well. I’ve always been a fan of acoustic pop music, and this mellow ballad is a great example to listen to.


“Say it. / 言って。” by Yorushika (Cover) – Groovy groove

I learned about this song acapella cover duo Groovy groove from my good friend Leap250, and since then, I’ve been listening to their past work and also keeping up with their newest cover releases on YouTube. These two have covered a ton of popular music already such as Aimer’s “Kataomoi” and they even did a Boku no Hero Academia theme song mashup. Even though I never was into the acapella style of music, I still acknowledged and enjoyed the unique type of making music. I think Groovy groove has re-lightened my interest in acapella since they do such a good job doing it. I don’t exactly know who is who but if I’m not mistaken, Shige’s impressive beatboxing and bass replication combined with Mori’s really nice voice makes for a great musical duo to listen to.

They recently covered Yorushika’s “Say it.”, personally one of my favorite tracks from n-buna and suis, and it was interesting listening to this particular version. While there isn’t the memorable electric guitar riff and overall rock vibe to it, Groovy groove’s version is a lot more mellow. But even then, I think this cover is pretty spot on and very similar to the original song. They did a great job!


I think those are enough songs to indulge for the week. I wanted to post this at the end of this week but I was just too excited to start this segment (lol).

Hope you enjoyed this week’s round-up of J-music! I honestly am not sure if this will be a weekly segment, but I’ll try my best to gather up a list of songs for you guys every week. By the way, I have been accumulating J-songs on a Spotify playlist for a while now, and if you’d like to take a peek at this random mix of music (which will be updated very frequently), go ahead and click on this link!

And of course, if you have any J-music suggestions of your own, feel free to share them in the comments. I’m always open to new songs to listen to!

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-al

  1. Yayyy I’m glad you enjoy Kalafina!

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  2. Weekly music suggestions is gonna be sweet (xD)
    More so because I don’t really use Spotify as much as I probably should (are you on premium /is it worth it?) so I’m actually curious to see how much I’m mission out on, since most if not all of the Japanese music I encounter are from YouTube.

    I mean, I’m always bound to say nice things about Goose house and Groovy groove (eyyyyy), but it’s amazing when bands/artists you like cover other bands that you like right? 😀 Though I guess with Goose house in particular that just becomes more and more frequent the more arists I know of (lol)

    I /am/ however suprised that you’ve just happened to stumble across Kalafina only recently, not necessarily from a music standpoint, but even from anison — to which they’ve done quite a fair bit of, ranging from niche titles to a couple of fan favorites throughout the years. Kinda gives me an idea of shows you haven’t watched, loljk. Bue yeah, it’s sad that we only have a couple months of Kalafina left before they disband, but what they brought to the table in terms of Chamber/Baroque J-Pop is something that we’ll al remember them by for a long long time.

    Shin Rhythm (could also be “New Rhythm” as a pun) sounds like a slightly happier Tomofumi Tanizawa at least on the vocal end (which is nice xD), expecially when he goes high.

    I first saw Kamishiraishi Mone in the Chihayafuru movies, but I only /knew of her/ after the fact from Your Name., if that makes sense. There wasn’t a whole lof of singing in Chihayafuru (she reads poetry very beautifully though :3) and I only learned that she sang her own version of “Nandemonaiya” not too long ago as well so her singing prowess was definitely a curve ball for me. “Cassette Tape” here is reeeaaaally good.

    Now, then; recommendations (xD).

    Goose house recently put up a cover of a VERY iconic idol song/duets in “Raion” (Thunder) This will set the tone for the rest of my otherwise random recs today, lol
    ~ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCIbjEia-oI)

    Here’s the original version by May’n and Nakajima Megumi for reference.
    ~ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPsmi_wbsRs)

    Now, here’s Emitsun AND Taketatatsu Ayana singing it (yes)
    ~ (https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5dvlv6)

    Aaaaand here’s Tomoril/Tomoriru singing it with Megumi Toda
    ~ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_v1Eh37dgo)

    Finally, it’s not “Raion” anymore (lol), but here’s Tomoril singing SAO OP1 “crossing field” by LiSA on the same program as the above
    ~ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnwD7U_AjFE)

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    1. I do have Spotify Premium and currently on a free trial but I think I’m actually going to pay for a monthly subscription at this point. It’s just that I listen to music mostly on my phone and the mobile app is significantly limited compared to the desktop version (e.g. you can’t listen to specific songs and instead forced to use shuffle, good amount of ads, etc.). But if you’re not someone who listens to music on your phone that much and/or can bear the ads, the free desktop app might be better for you. But back on the topic of J-music, their suggestions are incredible and they never disappoint. As a matter of fact, they suggested me a really nice song today that I’ve been listening to over and over (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GThm-qHavNI)… now it really sounds like I’m getting paid by Spotify to say these positive things 😛

      Definitely agree! I love covers, and even consider some covers of certain songs to be more enjoyable than the original version. It’s nice that groups like Goose house or Groovy groove provide us with their own renditions of songs from artists we love.

      Now that you mention it, I found out Kalafina did perform an ED for Madoka Magica… I guess I didn’t pay much attention to that one, or the fact the other EDs were more memorable to me like Madoka/Yuuki Aoi’s “See You Tomorrow” (lol). But yeah, my list of anime mostly consists of slice-of-life CGDCTs or romcoms so it’s not that… diverse 😛

      On the topic of Kamishiraishi Mone, I actually didn’t know she had musical talents as well until I heard her version of “Nandemonaiya”. After experiencing her vocal performances with that song, as well as her album, I’m definitely looking forward to her future releases.

      Ohhhh, I was wondering what this song was at first since I’ve heard it before, then I found out it was one of the OPs to Macross Frontier. I think my brother showed me this song, it’s very memorable and I can see it being iconic. But wow, Emitsun and Ayachi? Can’t say I expected them two to do something together, but it was nice hearing Emitsun perform a song like this, compared to her stuff in the LL discography.

      I have a good feeling Tomoriru is a seiyuu/idol that’s up-and-coming. Given her involvement already in big franchises like Love Live and SAO, plus the fact that she can sing really well (and in more of a deeper tone, it seems), I can see her finding more success in the future (I also can’t believe she’s only like a year younger than me lol). But yeah, by watching the videos you showed me, as well as listening to her performance in Setsuna’s solo PV, Tomoriru’s voice is fantastic.

      Also thanks for stoppin by and leaving a comment! hope you enjoy the next installment of this segment 😛

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      1. I’m on the fence about it really. While I do do most of my music listening on my phone, I don’t do it 24/7, or at least I’ve gone a day or two without really listening to anything. A subscription /would/ compel me to actually use it but, I dunno, when I compare it to subscriptions I already have (like Crunchyroll or HiDive) that price point is just :/ Granted music streaming services pay much more in licenses compared to anime ones so I do get why it’s like this.
        Maybe I’ll try out a.. trial (lol) myself.

        Oooh, lol, I actually know DADARAY, or rather I was very much aware of them from their first release. Mostly because the bassist here is Manager-san from Gesu (and, iirc, the music is produced by Kawatani Enon, Haha!)

        Nothing wrong with that really. Ah. Though if I may, there /is/ a pretty good CGDCT anime that has a Kalafina OP called “SoRaNoWoTo” that you might like.

        I was really just surprised Goose house would go and cover Raion (and so randomly too) so do forgive my Raion spam (xD) I guess a couple of interesting things to note about that is: most of the time that Goose house does anison it’s Manami doing the singing/guitars; and a lot of the times they sing idol songs they jave Johnny Saito; so of course, when it’s a song sung by an idol in anime we get both of ’em, lol

        Tomoril is pretty high spec yeap (and at such a young age too!). She’s gonna go places, that much we can be sure of, now that she’s landed herself on what I continue to contend as the biggest multimedia project in recent memory. Definitely will be interesting to see her career trajectory moving forward.

        Eyy, not at all. And likewise thanks for doing this. Not a whole lot of people talking about J-Music (at least on our end of aniblogosphere) so I’ll definitely drop by next time as well 😀

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