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.
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"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."
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.