Best J-Pop/J-Rock Album Covers 2017

Check out J-Generation′s best J-Pop and J-Rock album/single jackets of 2017, chosen by contributors David Cirone, Michelle Minikhiem, Marc Bowie, Todd Nelson, John Winner, and Nhu Nguyen.

VAMPS – Underworld
David: The key to damnation never looked so alluring, and VAMPS delivered a dangerously fierce rock album to all who dared to enter.
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Transparent Branches – Plastic Tree (Tribute)
Michelle: An illustration as dreamlike as the songs found on the album. Perfectly represents the mood it will put you in.
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MUCC – Myakuhaku
Michelle: A masterpiece of intricate detail, the unarguably gorgeous artwork is as sinister as it is sensual. Take a closer look and you’ll see why.
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Shiina Ringo – Reimport Vol. 2 – Civil Aviation Bureau
David: For the second volume of Shiina Ringo’s self-cover project, the master songstress revisits the Oiran style of the first volume, Gyakuyunyu -Kowankyoku-, with a clever twist — she’s definitely smuggling something in that doll.
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Denkare – Carnaval The Abyss
Todd: This album cover fits their sound and lyrics perfectly — kawaii merged with the macabre.
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Polkadot Stingray – Dai Seigi
David: Polkadot Stingray turned heads with guitar-vocalist Shizuku’s “Kick-Ass” cosplay in their music video for “Electric Public”. The vintage comic-book style half-tone coloring for their Dai Seigi album cover drove the point home — get ready for an adventure.
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DOLL$BOXX – high $pec
Todd: Artist Masayuki Kojo is a big fan of and friends with Gacharic Spin. Some months back he created an awesome drawing of the band. It looks like the band must have really liked it.
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LOVEBITES – Awakening from Abyss
Todd: Totally sums up what the listener is in store for — radiant beauty delivering sounds of powerful destruction.
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Keisuke Kuwata – GARAKUTA
Nhu: Six rubber duckies in various occupational outfits are lined up on the front of Kuwata Keisuke’s latest LP. It’s a simple but telling cover: it’s been six years since the release of his 2011 album Musicman, and GARAKUTA is filled with tracks of varied genres (rock/country “Sugisarishi Hibi (Going Down)”, jazzy “Yin Yang”) and moods (pensive “Kimi He no Tegami”, Caribbean-filled vibes of “Ai no Prelude”).
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LACCO TOWER – Haruka
Nhu: When beautiful moments come by, be sure to catch them! The thoughtful reminder is suggested on Haruka, the second album from rock band LACCO TOWER, by a pair of hands held out together with palms facing upwards, catching the flower petals gently falling down.
Lacco Tower Haruka

Yousei Teikoku – flamma idola
David: This fearsome fantasy image elevates Yousei Teikoku’s mythical status as the Fairy Empire’s Grand Dictator for Life, Empress Yui, revels in her arcane mechanical transformation. Seductive, dark beauty and a powerful stare match the power of the band’s 20th anniversary single.
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cali≠gari – 13
Nhu: The album artwork for cali≠gari’s album 13 is of the Great Duke of Hell, Astaroth — it’s not cali≠gari if it’s not dark and sinister. The new and unique interpretation is all due to Mineo Maya, an artist who specializes in the classic style of manga drawing.
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Shota Aoi – Flower
David: Not knowing Shota Aoi’s work, this jacket grabbed my attention instantly. Whoever can pull off this gigantic floral fashion with a cutting stare to back it up gets instant respect.
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LiSA – Little Devil Parade
Todd: The colors and imagery in this cover art fit LiSA’s image and sound perfectly — cute and stylish with just a hint of mischief.
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Sakura Fujiwara – PLAY
Nhu: The cover of Sakura Fujiwara’s second studio album PLAY is a watercolor portrait of a girl walking down a bright yellow train track framed by nature painted in deep purples, blues, and greens. It’s an image of both maturity and youth, just like the singer songwriter and her music.
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Koda Kumi – W Face inside/outside
David: The dual-design of Koda Kumi’s W Face is a perfect match for the performer’s split-persona — equal parts dance diva and soulful songstress. Kumi’s half-ready-for-camera cover portrait — face ready, but hair still askew — frames the killer element: the unguarded stare linking to the title track’s pointed personal lyrics.
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AKB48 – Shoot Sign
David: The heroic showdown of AKB48’s wickedly-entertaining music video for “Shoot Sign” is previewed my favorite version of the multiple-CD releases. For all the fans who wished World Idol Pro Wrestling was real, this one wins for the kicks.
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Charisma.com – not not me
David: Charisma.com made a big deal of shedding their OL personas, and MC Itsuka’s new haircut puts an extra F-you into the mix for anyone who expected more of the same (lollipop included).
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YUZU – Iroha
Nhu: The yuzu citrus fruit goes through a really strange four-stage transformation on the cover of Yuzu’s Iroha. But for fans of the folk-rock duo, it probably makes sense. As their first greatest hits album covering the span of their 20 year career, it seems to show the birth of the band — sherbet on top of the yuzu (Yujin Kitagawa apparently named the band after the yuzu-flavored sherbet he was eating), moving into their young and ripe stages, then hitting their ultimate leveled-up form in the Takashi-Murakami-designed final psychedelic look.
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NECRONOMIDOL – DAWNSLAYER
John: Enjoy a bit of manga or anime? I bet you do. This cover certainly has the appearance of a pretty interesting story once you start looking a bit closer.
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AIMER – blanc/noir
David: NekoPOP wouldn’t be here with serious hardcore love for the furry darlings. This double-set makes the cut because… cats.
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Sayaka Yamamoto – identity
David: NMB48’s Sayaka Yamamoto makes a cool, subdued statement about standing out from the crowd and keeping your cool in the middle of it at the same time, forever a problem in the idol world.
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DAOKO – Uchiage Hanabi
Nhu: Singer and rapper DAOKO is the quintessential Tokyo girl – hip and trendy AF. So it was refreshing to see her striking cover artwork for single “Uchiage Hanabi” where she dons a kimono, displays her beautiful side profile and hair ornament with sparks digitally-added onto her hair for extra ‘firework’ effect, as the song title suggests.
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JyuJyu – Kuro Ito
John: The odd sizing of the girls’ heads and their slightly askew poses pull you into this cover. Are they living or dead… or maybe someplace in between?

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BiSH – GiANT KiLLERS
John: If you’re a fan of old time photography, this will certainly reach out to you. The album art also works if you’re a fan (like I am) of the more-than-slightly-creepy.
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