If you were to map my musical DNA, a sizable portion would be indebted to 90’s J-pop. To me, this is a truly magical time in music, but it’s rarely discussed or shared outside of Japan.
Being an aficionado of certain sounds within this era, I’ve tracked down hundreds of highlights over the years. And I think it’s time to share my carefully curated playlists with the world.
With this in mind, we have a new ongoing Bias List feature – The 90’s J-Pop Roadmap.
I’ll be writing about (and rating!) a number of singles from Japan’s 90’s pop boom, constructing a timeline of the era piece-by-piece.
Whether you’re familiar with these artists or not, I invite you to go on this journey with me and discover new classics you may have never heard before.
Wands – Brand New Love
Released February 11, 1998
Like B’z, who I featured about a week ago, Wands were a popular 90’s rock band who have stood the test of time. And also like B’z, I find their music to be pretty hit or miss. Part of this is due to their revolving door of members. The group has had multiple vocalists and instrumentalists since their 1991 debut. Because of this, I don’t consider Wands to have a specific style of their own. Their discography is pretty diverse.
It’s no surprise that my favorite Wands single is also the one that most fully incorporates keyboards. Brand New Love is anchored by a resounding keyboard riff. It opens the track and never lets up, providing a hearty backbone for everything else to swirl around. The song was written by Izumi Sakai, more famously known under the moniker “Zard.” Because of her influence, Brand New Love doesn’t sound much like anything else in Wands’ arsenal.
The vocal on this is absolutely ferocious. It’s the sound of a singer going for broke, unconcerned whether they’ll hit the right notes or not. There’s a certain vulnerability to this approach, wrapped within a powerful performance. I like this contrast, and it fits the song well. Brand New Love is not about subtlety. It starts at “10” and pushes itself to “11.”