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Discovolante's Best of: 1990 (Japan Edition)

From the beginning of the year to the end, via the Sputnik release calendar.
The End with Begin

Genoa was one of the most unsung bands in Japanese thrash, around only a few years and subsequently only releasing three albums before calling it a day. Their most acclaimed moment would come in 1990 with the release of their second full length "The End with Begin", which is full of off-kilter music changes and bubbling with influences not like many thrash bands of the time, neither in Japan or elsewhere. A killer album by a band with a sense of humor as vast as their music style.
2Kinniku Shojo Tai
Circus-dan Panorama Shima he Kaeru

Kinniku Shojo Tai went to the top of not only the metal stratosphere, but practically the entire Japanese music scene, with the release of their second full length album "Circus-dan Panorama Shima he Kaeru". Becoming their most commercially successful album reaching number 3 on the Oricon charts, "Circus-dan..." explores far more ground than "Buddha L" and indeed loosely follows a circus theme, which climaxes on the final track "Ganzo Takagi Boo Densetsu", a rerecording of a track that kinda... sorta pissed off the comedian of the same name, Takagi Boo.
Break Through

B'z is a duo that would go on to make history for being the best-selling artist in Japanese music history, selling over 82 million records and going. It seemed like the path was paved from the get-go as their first two albums were certified platinum and the latter selling over a million copies. B'z would go on to continue on their way to the top of the food chain with the release of their third album "Break Through", which ends up being, in my opinion, their finest effort yet. It has an irresistibly smooth pop groove that still ends up with a solid hard edge, primarily due to the wails of guitarist Tak Matsumoto. A fantastic effort and perhaps the first one to truly show off the superstar potential B'z had, and which, naturally, they would seize to the fullest.
A Town That Colorful Merry Fell

Uchoten are one of the most bizarre bands the Japanese music scene had to offer in the early and mid 80s, before eventually branching out into a much lighter and straightforward sound, although maintaining a biting and pitch black sense of humor. This new switch in styles during the late 80s led to a bit of a drop-off in quality in my opinion, but Uchoten made a comeback in 1990 with "A Town That Colorful Merry Fell". While it follows in the tradition of their more orthodox sound that they established for the past few years, it manages to sort of revisit the spirit of their wilder earlier days with the frenzied way the genres are cycled through the album. A great return to form to one of Japan's leading arthouse new wave bands.
5Barbee Boys
Eeney Meeney Barbee Moe

Barbee Boys wrapped things up (at least for 29 years) with their sixth, and to date final, full length "Eeney Meeney Barbee Moe". It is known for being their most ambitious effort with a lot more depth to the tracks than on their previous albums. Seeing as how they split two years later, "Eeney Meeney Barbee Moe" is one hell of a closer to a tremendous run.

Lindberg would make history, along with Rebecca and Personz, for putting female-fronted rock music on the map. While they had a slower start than Rebecca (although probably quicker than Personz), Lindberg would start their commercial conquest with their third full length album, appropriately titled "III". Fueled by the legendary single "Ima Sugu Kiss Me", "III" would wow Japanese audiences with its euphoric, catchy nature, and it would score the band not only their first top 10 Oricon album, but their first chart topper out of three consecutive albums.
7Denki Groove
662 BPM By DG

Future electro gods Denki Groove got their start in 1990 with the release of their independently released EP "662 BPM By DG", which is perhaps the most opposite in sound. It is a highly experimental rap effort with a few electronica tidbits thrown in, but it ends up being really... really good. Despite "662 BPM By DG" being essentially the redheaded bastard children of Denki Groove's discography, it's an intelligent and extremely addictive piece.
8New Rote'ka
Yossha, Yossha, Yossha

New Rote'ka follow up their perfect debut full length "Harlem Yarou" in 1990 with "Yossha, Yossha, Yossha". A lot more poppier in nature than the predecessor, it also has the distinction of being their most commercially successful album in their very extensive catalog.
9Strawberry Fields

One of the earliest bands to break the Japanese mainstream, Strawberry Fields would go on to achieve some decent success from 1991 through their split in 1993. But right before they had their shot at mainstream success, they would release their magnum opus with the EP "Charme" on an independent label. The songs have a brilliantly charming (no pun intended) glistening new wave/post-punk sound that is truly dynamic. Eight songs of pure bliss with very, very little filler.
10Mimori Yusa

Following up her fantastic 1989 album "Harmoniodeon", Mimori Yusa released easily her finest album of all, "Hope". Her folk style is perfected with beautifully crafted tracks, spearheaded with the eerie-yet-stunning "No no Hana". Just marvelous stuff.
11Galapagos (JPN)
Down by Law

Heavily influenced by Bow Wow Wow, Galapagos was a female-fronted alternative rock band that was around from the late 80s through the mid 90s. Their debut, 1990's "Down by Law", is easily their finest effort, and is a psychedelic-tinged bouncy record with heavy jungle post-punk overtones akin to their aforementioned heroes. Although the psychedelic touches is what really separates Galapagos from Bow Wow Wow, and the overall combination makes "Down by Law" such a damn good album that makes it one of the best and most severely underrated albums of the decade.
12Marchosias Vamp
In Kazmidity

Glam pioneers Marchosias Vamp came through in a huge way with the release of their first full length album "In Kazmidity", which would end up being not only one of their crowning achievements, but also their highest ranking album and only one to break the Oricon top 10. The loud and proud, sticky and grandiose sound that makes Marchosias Vamp so goddamn amazing is captured specifically on "In Kazmidity". Probably my personal favorite glam album, alongside their 1987 EP "Pleasure Sensations!".

By-Sexual is one of the earliest visual kei bands to take the mainstream by storm, alongside the aforementioned Strawberry Fields. Releasing two albums in 1990 alone, the best one of the two, and their best album of them all, is the second: "Sexuality". While the predecessor album "Culture Shock" is a fun pop punk effort, "Sexuality" takes the cake because of its more varied sound, particularly so on the haunting track "Autism". One of the all time best early visual kei albums.
14Wink (JPN)

By late 1988, Wink had skyrocketed to the top of the idol pop universe, and would eventually wind up being one of the last commercially successful idol groups until MAX and Speed arrived in 1996. They were also ridiculously prolific, releasing their fourth full length album "Crescent" in December of 1990, which would mean they released four full lengths and an EP in a two-year span. With "Crescent", Wink fine-tune their mature sound and make one of their smoothest, most enjoyable efforts.
15Mami Yamase
Oyayubi Hime Futatabi...

Following the release of her insane "Oyayubi Hime", Mami Yamase decides to focus a bit more on the hard rock influence of the album with the follow-up "Oyayubi Hime Futatabi...". While "Oyayubi Hime" is definitely a more varied effort, its sequel is as enjoyable in a more organized fashion. A bit like the theory of organized chaos on disc.
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