Various Artists

Judy and Mary 15th Anniversary Tribute Album

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Judy and Mary were a particularly genre-crossing band in their heyday, with a concept lending itself well to a compilation that also stretches to grab artists from across the spectrum of modern Japanese pop. The album opens with Ikimono Gakari in a bit of straightforward guitar pop (to be revisited stylistically later in the album by Scandal), followed immediately by a Puffy track that at once shows off exactly what they're famous for while overshadowing the duo with overly sludgy guitars. In the midst of some lesser tracks, Tamio Okuda contributes a characteristic styling of "Sanpomichi" and the duo Halcali provide a strangely compelling groove track in "Rock Pure." There's pure unadulterated cacophony in Midori's contribution of cutesy nu-metal, a sweet piano ballad from Ai Otsuka, and a basic bit of singer/songwriter work from Suneohair. The album finishes on a medium note with Magokoro Burazasu's folksy little romp in "Doki Doki." The album as a whole is a mixed bag by any measure, but the breadth present is a fairly intriguing avenue for further exploration, both of the artists represented and of the original Judy and Mary songs.