Japanese indie, rock, and electronic music

Shen’s Top Artists of 2010 – The Best and The Forgotten

Nov 22 2010

Time to close my list out with who I consider to be the biggest artist of 2010. And maybe some overlooked ones as well.

When looking at all of the artists that released material this year, MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS pretty much covers all the bases that I used for judging. Going major, the band released their first major double-a-side single “ひきずるビート/まで。” (Hikizaru Beat/Made.) in Februrary. This was followed up with the band’s first full-length album “ゼロコンマ、色とりどりの世界” (Zero Comma, Iro Toridori No Sekai). With these releases, not only did the band continue to develop their idiosyncratic alt-rock sound, but, especially with their album, they also somehow made it incredibly easy to approach.

Of course, the band’s promotion to major status and the streamlining of their sound might be worrisome to some. The announcement of the departure of guitarist Chiemi Ishikawa due to medical reasons is also something to be concerned about. But fans will find the band’s next accomplishment in 2010 the most promising. Headlining the Next Music from Tokyo!!! vol 2 tour, MOTFD made their first overseas trip to Canada. Hopefully, in the future, this leads to more overseas tours by the band.

MOTFD also marked their first-ever “one-man” live this year at the illustrious SHIBUYA-AX venue. The following video, featuring the songs “ひきずるビート” (Hikizaru Beat) and “ゼロコンマ、色とりどりの世界” (Zero Comma, Iro Toridori no Sekai), is from that show.

When considering who to give the title of honorable mention, I decided to honor three bands that I think did not get nearly enough credit by us here at SparkPlugged. I like to think that, most of the time, we cover all the important releases of the year. But, sometimes, we miss a few. It happens. So, here, I’ll give some credit to those artists I feel we overlooked this year.

Half-Life – J-POP

For those not familiar with the band Half-Life, they are fairly similar to bands ranging from he to NICO Touches the Wall. Their newly acquired major status might make some disillusioned with their sound, but they manage to bring a lot of energy and emotion to their music. The band released their second full album “table”, the EP “Many comes, many past ep.”, and single “J-POP” this year.

People In The Box – 旧市街 (Kyuushigai, The Old Town)

People In The Box has consistently made solid releases year in and year out. Their sound has also remarkably matured over each release. But, somehow we missed covering their release of the very solid album “Family Record”.

SEBASTIAN X – 世界の果てまで連れてって! (Sekai no Hate Made Tsuretette!, Take Me to the Ends of the World!)

After watching this video, I don’t have to tell you that SEBASTIAN X is easily one of the quirkiest bands in the world of Japanese indie. Not only does the band’s sound make you turn your head, but they forgo using a guitar at all. But, that doesn’t stop them from being something to look forward to. They released their second mini-album “僕らのファンタジー” (Bokura no Fantasy, Our Fantasy) in August.

So, that’s my top 10 of 2010! Hope you’ve enjoyed my list and look forward to more SP goodness in the coming year!


  • Neaux

    7 years ago (#)

    Extremely sparkpluggy top 10 list..all excellent bands. Your honorable mentions are also a very necessary part of 2010.

  • SparkPlugged - Plugging the best of Japanese indie, rock and alternative music » Blog Archive » Shen’s Top 10 Artists of 2010

    7 years ago (#)

    […] The posts featuring my top 10 will be linked below as they are published: 10. Kuroneko Chelsea/Droog/SuiseiNoboAz 9. Sekai no Owari 8. Base Ball Bear 7. POLYSICS 6. Fujifabric 5. bloodthirsty butchers 4. Spangle call Lilli line 3. andymori 2. OGRE YOU ASSHOLE 1. MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS Honorable Mentions: Half-Life/People In The Box/SEBASTIAN X […]

  • Aion

    7 years ago (#)

    I wonder how much the sound of massdre will change now Chiemi has left the band. Overall a pretty good list. though I preferred Half-Life and SEBASTIAN X higher in the lists as they are among my favourite Japanese bands at the moment :). Can’t wait till I get Half-Life’s new album soon :)

  • Kayleigh

    7 years ago (#)

    MOTFD was stellar at their TO shows; great choice, and a great list overall! I’m going to check out the names I haven’t heard of right now~

  • WonsanUnited

    7 years ago (#)


  • Shen

    7 years ago (#)

    I really thought about adding Kimonos to the list. If I had made a top 10 albums list, their self-titled would easily be one of the top albums of the year. But, just fell short in my eyes in terms of artists. Plus, we kinda covered it already.

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    7 years ago (#)

    […] writer Shen recently named MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS (DREGS from here on out) the “biggest artist of 2010” and I think dude’s got a point. After a few years working the minors, DREGS released a […]

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