Ever heard about a new band, but had no idea where to start listening? Breaker Japan’s resident music expert, Luke, emerges from a dark corner of the office to help you out. Every month, he’ll be handing out his thoughts on the most original musical acts in Japan. In a musical landscape usually associated with girl groups and anime robot singers, these are the artists that make the Japanese music scene come to life.
Most associate Kyoto with golden temples and geisha, not girl powered math pop-rock. Hailing from Japan’s ancient capital, the trio of Ikumi Nakajima, Motoko Kida and Hirome Sagawa make up Tricot. Their advanced playing and dreamy vocals mask the challenge of keeping up with their rhythmic spontaneity. In 2016, drummer Yuusuke Yoshida became a full-time member, only the second official drummer in the band’s history of many sessions drummers, and he goes above and beyond with his tight, dynamic style.
Ikumi plays rhythm guitar and sings with cute, squeaky vocals. Teamed with lead guitarist Motoko, the two of them power back and forth between riffs with astonishing coordination despite time signatures that are hard to wrap your mind around. Could this be J-pop meets math rock? J-math-pop-rock?
Tricot are picking up the pace with their third album release last year and a new single a few months back. They are also expanding outside of the already well-explored Japan. Their latest album, 3, reached number 5 on the Billboard charts. The release was followed by a world tour and a whopping 47 (of 49) prefecture tour of Japan. The energy and drive of these girls (plus Yuusuke) is reflected in their sugar-rush, hyper-speed, math-pop-rock glory.
Girls are well represented in the underground music scene in Japan, a country not exactly known for its forward thinking stance on gender equality. Exploring the Tokyo rock scene, you will find an abundance of girl bands with attitude that often scream louder and rock harder than the boys. In the male dominated world of rock, it’s comforting to stumble across something as powerful and uniquely feminine as the music of Tricot.
With 3 albums T H E, A N D, and 3, as well as a handful of singles and several YouTube videos, Tricot offer plenty to sink your teeth into.
“99.974” is one of their earlier songs but shows how they packed a punch right from the start. The transition from each of the pop choruses takes you on a staggered journey of twiddly guitar and cracking drum grooves.
In 2013, Tricot released their first album T H E on their own label Bakuretsu Records, which rose to number 18 on the Japanese Oricon charts. The track “Ochansensu-su” is a fantastic representation of their ability to merge the dreamy vocals of Ikumi with a song that is full-throttle drum pedal to the metal.
Next up is the first single from their second album A N D. For this album 5 different session drummers were used to complete the recording process. The music video for “E” cleverly gets around the fact that they had no official drummer as one of the girls pops on and off of the drums. The breakdown shows how creative they can be with backing vocals, and Motoko shines through with her twangy guitar work.
Released just a few months ago, “Potage” is the latest single from Tricot. As one of their slightly slower paced songs, it could be perceived as one of their more poppy numbers. However, in true Tricot style, they sprinkle it with a generous helping of eccentricity.
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