I’m always annoyed with myself for not being more up-to-date on J-pop, but it’s just so hard when Japan does everything humanly possibly to stop those outside the country from accessing it. I’ve become so accustomed to streaming now that when something isn’t on Apple Music I usually just find something else to listen to.

Anyway, I still stumble upon a few new J-pop releases thanks to my fave music journo Patrick St. Michel, so here’s a few tunes I’ve been obsessed lately.

Maison Book Girl – Rooms

I’ve been completely addicted to Maison Book Girl’s latest album image for a couple of months now. And it’s actually on Apple Music, which is even better! The alt-idol group just released a new single, “Rooms,” which follows the same formula as the catchiest stuff from image. They really have a unique sound with lots of jagged violins and stop-start production that treads a fine line between pop and indie.

Monari Wakita – I’m With You

Longtime readers will probably remember that I was obsessed with the girl group Especia for a while. They’ve sadly disbanded now after suffering a string of flops and member changes, but the good news is that the main vocalist is now a solo act. Monari Wakita has generally stuck to the signature city pop sound of Especia’s early work on her first few singles, so much so that it doesn’t even feel like the group split. Her latest, “I’m With You,” is a little more on the dancey, ’90s side. which is a fun change. 

Junho – Ice Cream

Junho is the hottest, cutest, and most bootylicious member of 2PM, and his Japanese solo career has produced music as good as the best stuff coming out of JYP Entertainment. His latest, “Ice Cream,” is the perfect summer song, serving jittery synth-pop with a scoop of funk. I bet SM are kicking themselves that they don’t have this for NCT Dream, cos it’s good enough to be a breakout hit for the group.