Pitchfork just finished up their Top 200 Albums of the 2000s list today and only two Japanese albums from the past ten years placed – Boris’ Akuma no Uta (#197) and Boredoms’ Vision Creation Newsun (#39, but should be higher in this writer’s humble opinion). I realize the folks over at the ‘Fork needed to cram a lot of great music in (and Bright Eyes) but surely a couple other Japanese LPs could have snuck in? Since making end-of-the-Ought’s lists are totally in right now (and because I have no shame when it comes to capitalizing on said trends), I’ve put together a short list of Japanese albums from this decade that would make my personal “top whatever albums” list. No rankings, just a quick little blurb about each.
– The Pitchfork list genuinely surprised me when they didn’t include Boris’ Pink because they seemed to genuinely dig it when it first came out. It got an 8.7 and ended up as the ninth best album of 2006 in their poll. But no mention of it now…which is a shame, because it’s a ridiculously rockin’/loud/awesome album deserving all the praise. And, on a personal level, Pink helped me overcome my metal-phobia.
– Zazen Boys released several albums worthy of decade-end consideration, but 2008’s Zazen Boys 4 stands out. To simplify matters, Zazen Boys are basically the Japanese Battles – robot-like precision but still funky, with vocals that are basically nonsense but add a humorous dash to the music. 4 finds the Boys at their most confident and most excellent, whether they are crafting electro slow-burners like “Asobi,” wild grooves like “Weekend” or whatever the hell “The Drifting” is.
– You didn’t expect me to make this list without including Lullatone, did you? The duo’s 2006 effort Plays Pajama Pop Pour Vous perfectly showcases their intimate “pajama pop.” One of the most unique albums of the Oughts, and one of the most charming.
– Cornelius dropped two great albums this decade, and though I dig Point I’d champion 2006’s Sensuous. The album jumps all over the place, from precise rock to more jazzy number (I mean, it ends with a Rat Pack cover), but always sounds thrilling. Cornelius also gets points for putting on one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen.
– Unlike a lot of the other albums I’ve included on this list, Rainstick Orchestra’s The Floating Glass Key In The Sky doesn’t shine because of spazzy guitars or strange vocals. This album’s a gem because of how easy-breezy the seven instrumental tracks sound. This is some of the most peaceful and laid-back music made in a very frantic decade, and it sticks with you.
Any great Japanese albums you think should get some props this decade? Comment people!