Last Year, America got a pumping rock-fist of Japanese Music when X Japan, the most popular J-Rock band ever, played their debut U.S. show at Lollapalooza before rocking through a few major cities on their first North America tour. I witnessed their fiery pyrotechnics and emotionally-charged duality between tearful ballads and pure rock fury firsthand.
Was I thoroughly rocked? Hell yes, but then again, I've been an X Japan fan for years. What about folks who showed up at Lollapalooza to see Lady Gaga or The National? Could X Japan win them over, or make any headway toward mainstream success in America, for that matter?
The litmus test to determine America's willingness to let a 30 year-old Japanese Rock band into our soundscape begins on June 28 when X Japan will release "Jade," the first single from their as-yet unnamed, upcoming album with mostly English lyrics. The release date coincides with X Japan's European Tour kick off in London. So far, there is no release date for the full album.
"Music is very powerful, and we believe it can help us bridge the gap between East and West," X Japan band leader Yoshiki Hayashi said in a press release issued Monday. "We hope that 'Jade' will be the first step."
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So how does "Jade," the first track from X Japan since 2008's "I.V." and the recruitment of new guitarist Sugizo, stack up? From the drum-pounding intro rhythms to the operatic intonations in singer Toshi's vocal work, "Jade" puts to rest any lingering doubts I had that this 21st century iteration of X Japan would somehow fall short of the band's legacy. But don't take my word for it. Give this 30-second sample of "Jade" a listen.
Need more X Japan? Check out video of this live performance of "Born To Be Free;" another track from the band's upcoming album.