Check out J-Generation′s best J-Pop and J-Rock album/single jackets of 2016, chosen by David Cirone, Jen Wang, Greg Hignight, and Nhu Nguyen.
Koda Kumi – Winter of Love
David: Fierce. Fierce. Fierce. Even in a moment of repose, the Queen’s presence is electric.
Leo Ieiri – Hello To The World
David: The perfect microsecond between inhale an exhale, Leo Ieiri’s reach transmits a world of feeling in emotional surrender.
Yukueshirezu Tsurezure – Post Katastrophe
David: Sitting on their alt-idol thrones, Yukueshirezu Tsurezure (Not Secured, Loose Ends) lord over the devastation caused by the collision of sprite-like vocals, nightmarish intensity, and dark, manic screams.
Walküre – Walküre Attack!
Greg: This lively cover conveys the energy of the newest addition to the music of the “Macross” franchise, the “Tactical Sound Unit” Walküre. The idol group is a key part of the anime series, and front and center on this first of their two albums released in 2016.
BiSH – FAKE METAL JACKET
Greg: BiSH got their conquest of 2016 off to an early start with the second album, released in January. Great, simple cover showing off the members and the group’s wry sense of humor.
EXILE SHOKICHI – THE FUTURE
Jen: The normally tough-looking EXILE member is displaying a vulnerability in his eyes and pose that just ramps up his sex appeal.
Kanon Wakeshima – Luminescence Q.E.D.
Jen: It’s great seeing Kanon show off a more mature and rock ‘n’ roll side, but the pink envelops are a reminder of the sweet, whimsical girl we all know and love.
Yumi Matsutoya – Uchuu Toshokan
Nhu: Yumi Matsutoya looks like a fabulous alien queen from a 1960s sci-fi movie as she steps out from a time warp into a modern day library.
Charisma.com – Aidoro C
David: MC Itsuka and DJ Gonchi have always displayed a special kind of synchronicity, but the cover for Aidoro C proves they’re truly joined at the head.
Namie Amuro – Dear Diary/Fighter
David: As far as epic pairings go, you’d be hard pressed to find any duo more fearsome than Namie Amuro and Death Note‘s shinigami-supreme Ryuk, ready to out-smart and out-dance any and all foes.
GACKT – Last Moon
David: GACKT’s majestic fantasy is awesome — even more Gackt-awesomely-awesome than usual. This is the final boss you don’t want to fuck with.
The THIRTEEN – LIAR.LIAR.
David: The terrifying feeling of turning the wrong corner in the wrong room and getting suddenly too close to the wrong people. Back away slowly.
Kaya – Perfana
David: Kaya pulls off a stunning night-club Medusa effect. Glamorous, dangerous, and breathtaking.
exist†trace – Royal Straight Magic
Jen: Jyou’s androgyny is on point, as there is no indication of her gender here. The card is flying straight at us, as if this mysterious person is issuing a message to give the album a listen.
Pentagon – Popcorn Monster
Jen: This cartoon rendition of the band members in their popcorn costumes is very cute and hides the song’s creepy nature.
D – Wonderland Savior
Nhu: D continues their love of Alice in Wonderland with a steampunk makeover on the cover of “Wonderland Savior”. The smash up is a welcoming addition to the visual kei scene where steampunk has yet to be executed properly.
L’arc-en-Ciel – Don’t Be Afraid
David: With their positions as J-Rock elite firmly in place, it would have been easy for the members of L’arc-en-Ciel to back off this campy homage to zombie life, but they went full throttle instead, bringing ultimate never-seen-before-style to the undead.
Onmyouza – Karyoubinga
David: Onmyouza’s deep dive into mythology yields yet another majestic creature, the immortal Buddhist diety Kalaviṅka, with a golden voice to match vocalist Kuroneko note for note.
Granrodeo – Trash Candy
David: Stunning, cherry-red visuals, and the jawbreaker you’ll never forget.
BAND-MAID – YOLO
David: Iconic rock images make a statement, and BAND-MAID’s steely-sharp headphones (complete w/ Saiki’s trademark blue rose) tell you everything you need to know about this band’s combination of hard-rock shredding and ferocious beauty.