Ayano Kaneko, one of the best indie artists in Japan


I wrote about Lovely Summer Chan. I wrote about Kamin Shirahata. Now it’s time for Ayano Kaneko. And firstly I must say, it’s fucking amazing we’re living in times when I can find out about all these talented artists from the all over the world, even if they aren’t worldwide famous, promoted and mass-sold to us through all the means available. It’s actually possible to learn about this young girl singer who plays the guitar in Japan, and despite the fact that I don’t understand much, I know enough to decide whether someone rocks or not.

I was intrigued when I first heard and saw the MV for 銀河に乗って (Ginga ni notte) – a leading track off Kaneko Ayano’s second album, 恋する惑星(Koisuru Wakusei – ‘Love Planet’). Shoegaze-y guitars, Kaneko singing her heart out, the band mates wearing animal masks and plenty of space-like electronic sounds made up for an otherworldly experience indeed. It was right up my alley, though I realized pretty soon that this tune isn’t exactly representative of her style. I started looking up for more of Kaneko’s music, and the acoustic stuff is what she shines the most in. Her voice and the only accompaniment of the acoustic guitar create this incredible, sensational combo, which is very hard to beat.

Koisuru Wakusei is a very even album, but few songs that stand out include ホームシックナイトホームシックブルース (Homesick Night Homesick Blues, which I like to think is sort of like Eddie Cochran’s/Joan Jett’s Summertime Blues), マジックペンと君の名前 (Magic Pen and Your Name) – a quirky song with a catchy guitar riff, and 恋文 (Love Letter) which spreads summer-y, reggae vibe and actually appears twice on the album (an acoustic version is the last track).

Koisuru Wakusei was one of the few albums I bought during my trip to Japan this spring – I could’ve easily just ordered it online, but I ended up in Tower Records store in Shibuya and I couldn’t walk out empty-handed. So apart from being a really good release by itself, the CD also has a sentimental value for me. While it leans more heavily on the electric guitars, most of her work has a rawer feel. The simplicity of sounds and lyric themes by no means equals bad.

Live At Zamza and the 1st EP さよーならあなた (Sayounara Anata) were more of a hassle to get, as the international shipping wasn’t available and I had to use the middleman. The live recording is from January 31st this year, and it’s what I’ve talked about earlier – the girl, the guitar, and the emotions overflowing. The intimate setting of the acoustic concert requires from the artist to be genuinely good, and Kaneko proves she sounds even better live than in the studio. Remember the time when the singers had to know how to sing? Few of those remain, and luckily every now and then some new ones come round.
Music video for さよーならあなた shows an uncomfortable story of harassment and the fact that people sometimes turn a blind eye to it (there’s a happy end though). The upbeat nature of the song kind of contrasts with the narrative, but it all eventually makes sense.

きみをしりたい is being sung in a voice that almost seems like crying and it is soul-grippingly good.

  ひかれあい (Hikareai) EP includes 3 songs x 2 – each one gets a second, acoustic version. The leading track, とがる(Togaru) is an energetic song, one of the heavier-sounding in Kaneko’s repertoire. The video features the singer running wildly around, saying ‘I’m tired’, after the cut, which is quite adorable. Not sure which version of 朝になって夢からさめて  I like best, but it’s one of my favorite Kaneko’s tunes. Not sure how to say it, but the main version feels a bit like country?

Finally, 来世はアイドル (Raise wa idol). Or actually, we’re back to the start. The first album, which in fact I’ve listened to last, save for one song from it, スイミング. Yeehaw, I mention country, and Ayano Kaneko recorded a song called カウボーイ(Cowboy). And surprisingly, it works! I’m glad to say that from the very beginning she developed her own brand of music, and she’s been sticking to it. Some of it appears a bit repetitive, but it’s never a carbon copy. I can see innocence, talent and rock n’ roll in her work and I’m absolutely in love with everything she released by far.

Most recently Ayano Kaneko had the 1st LP released. It’s entitled 群れたち, but unfortunately there was a limited number of copies and I didn’t manage to get it. I’ll probably try to get it through Yahoo Auctions at some point. For now I ought to be satisfied with the video for やさしい生活 – Kaneko is just doing some completely mundane stuff, and instead of being boring, she’s awesome, and watching her is simply relaxing.


I’d like to proudly say that I’m most likely Ayano Kaneko’s biggest fan in Poland (hopefully not the only one), which does make me happy a lot. I wouldn’t want to miss out on this incredible singer. Recommended!







2 thoughts on “Ayano Kaneko, one of the best indie artists in Japan

  1. Hi, i’m also a fan of Ayano Kaneko in Taiwan, she has been here for a live last month, as you say,
    her voice with the guitar was just simply but powerful, hoping to watch her play again and wish she would been to Poland someday lol.
    By the way, wanna know which online store you got the album Live At Zamza, it was relly hard to find….thank a lot and nice to meet another fan of Kaneko on the another side of earth.

    • Oh you got to see her live, that’s awesome! I ordered that album through Cdjapan’s proxy shipping service when it was available on the official Kaneko website (the site itself only accepts Japanese credit cards so you can’t order unless you have one, so I had to use proxy service), but I’m afraid it’s no longer available there. Your best bet right now would be searching for it on Buyee or Amazon marketplace, the price might be high though. Good luck with the search!

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