Okinawa Electric Girl Saya Is a “Black Angel”…

Okinawa Electric Girl Saya’s new album “Black Angel” is finally out, and she’s been working overtime doing shows and publicity to promote it!  Not only is she consistently interesting and daring with her musical choices, but with a non-stop succession  of live performances and a highly active social media presence, Saya has also emerged to be easily one of the most tirelessly committed artists on the scene right now. I’m really not sure if she actually sleeps or has a battery pack hidden under her black clothing.

The avant-garde idol from Okinawa is also quite prolific, releasing a steady stream of experimental CDRs nearly monthly along with her regular output. A few of those works are even on Bandcamp, which we covered here a months ago. Her new album is a crowd-funded effort, featuring quite a number of collaborative guests helping this unique vision come  out in what’s certainly her biggest push on the edge of the envelope yet. Saya already released one MV last week, and now a second one has already arrived! Here’s the most recent, a video for “Black Flower”

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Boris is Love

Okay, so I started to ask the proprietor of this website “Hey Maniac, you think just this once, based on their recent activity, you could humor me into declaring Boris the ultimate endgame in this experimental synthesis of idols with rock music that’s been happening over the last few years and post this new MV on the blog even though it’s a complete stretch of our already shifting mission statement?”

And he’d either say “Hey, why the heck not?” or “C’mon man, don’t mess up my life’s work. You post that Boris MV and you’re fired.”

But anyway, he’s been away on business, so I didn’t ask him and posted this recklessly, so if my bags are packed in the next day or so, you know why!

Mother-F’n Boris man. Even your non-weeb friends love them. They’re absolute freakin’ titans of drone-noise-experimental-soundscapes who’ve recorded a massive discography on a dozen different labels. So when TRASH-UP!! Records, a label that I first came to love through their magazine, low-budget films, and releases by the quirkiest of the quirky world of chika idols announced that they were celebrating their 10th (!) anniversary with an EP by the band, I was pretty excited. Giddy might even be the better word! I even joked that I couldn’t wait for the eventual collaboration between the power-trio of sludge and the label’s flagship unit SAKA-SAMA.

https://twitter.com/TrashupRecords/status/1161112803026935809?s=20

Well, that collaboration hasn’t happened yet, but they did play a gig with the TRASH-UP!! groups along with the wonderful Aqbi roster of artists for the label’s big anniversary showcase, and it was worth noting that the band, especially Wata, seemed quite comfortable and welcoming of their surroundings. All my kidding aside, it really does open up thoughts of potential possibilities and reminds us of an important thing, the walls dividing genres have been knocked down and utterly destroyed as they always were meant to be for the good of music enjoyed by the truly open-minded masses. I think this is our new future, and it pleases me highly. 

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You Can Listen to the APOKALIPPPS Now!

Idol supergroup APOKALIPPPS have been active for a while now, but unfortunately a bit out of reach for us Western fans. The group is still very much an indie thing and their previous singles haven’t been terribly assessable due to their limited distribution, so supporting the group has mostly consisted of cheering the group on from afar…

Well, cheer up peeps, because the APOKALIPPPS is finally reaching worldwide!

The wonder group has self-released an EP, “APOKALIPPPS ONGEN”, and it’s also seeing a digital release via the major streaming networks, so you have no excuse to sleep on it! I eagerly decided to give a listen…

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NaNoMoRaL Return With A Little MV And A Lot Of Heart..

The producer/singer duo of Amamiya Miku and Paseli-chan are one of the most active groups on the scene, playing tons of live shows and finding time for the occasional CD-R release to keep their flow of creative output fresh-faced and continuously evolving. Their group, NaNoMoRaL still remain one of the great stand-outs of a saturated scene, because they pursue their own vision and eskew the easier paths to more conventional success as an idol unit. This gamble pays off for them, at least on an artistic level, as they consistently make excellent, powerful music with lots of heart and courage!

The CD-R is a single song “Donen Shizuru” (I hope I got that right.) and it’s very much a continuation of one of the more unique and distinctive sounds to be found in idol circles. And as an extra treat, Amamiya stars in a low-key DIY MV to share the song with the world at large…

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TRASH-UP!! Records Presents “Idol & Art 3”!!

One of my personally most-anticipated idol events of the year isn’t TIF, or Jam Expo. It doesn’t even even feature performances for that matter. For me, it’s the annual collaboration between TRASH-UP!! Records and Tokyo’s Mograg Gallery, “Art and Idol”, now in it’s third incarnation! It’s a simple and irresistible premise, an art show where all the art is created by idols. Now it’s it’s third edition, it’s fantastic to see this event be so successful and well-regarded.

When you think about it, it’s a perfect idea because the idol world is packed with wonderfully artistic talent who are always pursuing multiple ways to express themselves. As it’s been covered before in this blog, idols, especially within the chika circles, are multi-layered creatives who consistently deliver an entire package of intriguing work beyond singing and dancing.

With previous showings, it’s been the practice to keep the artwork under wraps until the opening, and then after a few days, images of the participant’s artwork pops up online via social media. I find it fascinating to see what the idols came up with, and in some cases, it’s illuminating to see their creative output because it offers a new peek into their personalities. Other times, it’s just cheeky fun. (Like the time the Dot-chans presented miniature terrariums with chirping crickets inside!)  But regardless of what they do, it’s never boring. Continue reading

Kai’s New MV Makes The World A Better Place…

So hot on the heels of the release of Moonlight Tokyo, (Which is excellent and brilliant and probably one of the best releases that will come out this year.) Kai and TRASH-UP!! Records have followed up with an MV for the song “Himitsu No Tobira”.

As I mentioned in the review, this is one of my personal favorite tunes on the EP, with it’s uplifting organ groove and cool little xylophone vibes. I loved this song, and now here comes an MV that takes something already great and elevates to an even higher plane!

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We Review Things: Kai’s “Moonlight Tokyo”

Ever since it was announced that Aqbi superstar Kai was joining the TRASH-UP!! roster, I’ve been looking forward to hearing what she’d be doing as a solo artist. Kai of course, is no stranger to TRASH-UP!!, having been part of the oddball folk song trio Engawa, (Most often referred to in these parts as “The weird Beni/Kai thing”) and considering the close ties between my favorite idol label and Aqbi, (Including Yoneko and Mizuho connections!) it made perfect sense as career transition…

Anyway, there’s been a bit of an anxious delay on my part because I tried to order “Moonlight Tokyo” from Amazon Japan and it was momentarily listed with a possibly two month shipping delay. (!) I don’t know if I’m correct in my theory, but I’d like to believe that’s because it was a surprisingly bigger seller than anticipated, so that’s what I’m running with. It pleases me to share that the digital version is finally online!! streaming with Spotify and Apple Music, and the latter platform is selling it via iTunes as well. For lossless purists, I keep checking on OTOTOY but no luck just yet, but don’t assume it won’t happen eventually.

So anyway, how is Kai’s solo debut? Continue reading

I Don’t Know Who This “Margaret” Is, But The All-New avandoned Is Terrific!

The avandoned fans among us have certainly known about the new six-member incarnation of the group for a few months now, enjoying their activity on social media along with bits of live footage, but also eager to get an official release, so now at last we  have an honest-to-goodness MV of the unit together to promote their new (and yet also first) single, “Margaret”! The song is written by singer/songwriter Hana Tsuruuchi , who also wrote “Hello” and “Vadittsu!!” for avandoned previously. ..

I think that Tsuruuchi is a perfect contributor to this group. Her songs have that uplifting positive-vibe feeling that blends nicely with the group’s can-do spirit, and yet and are unique and quirky* enough that they never feel like sentimental cliches. This song is rich and wonderful, and no, I don’t really know who “Margaret” is, but I’m sure she’s a fine young lady who makes cool arts and crafts, owns a lot of hip records, plays a nice piano, and besides, if avandoned like her, that’s all I need to know anyway…

Classic idol group MV trope unlocked: The “Girls running through the streets” shot!

I think this new passage for the group sparks some interesting thoughts as well. It’s a fascinating thing about idol groups, the way they can be a seemingly inseperable unit only day, and then in a very short course of time, can reboot into something new and fresh. When I think about it, making a major departure from the established image of a group is probably the best move in a business that demands keeping the fans on board and constantly working to bring new ones into the fold.

Beni Usakura, who is the leader, producer and primary creative force of avandoned, commented about the challenges of expanding into a larger group, such as finding songs that work for a six-person group as opposed to a duo, the changes in vocal distribution in previous songs, and the new choreography requirements that come with more people on stage. It’s really not much different than launching an entirely new group, even if the name on the marquee is the same.

Margaret” will be released this month on the 26th, and in true idol form, will have two versions available. Also included is a coupling song that translates to “Prescription Warfare” and the two versions will include new line-up recordings of “After School” and “Exploding Romance”, each pressed to one of the variants.

Extra bonus video: Here’s the avandoned girls performing “Hello” with with Hana Tsuruuchi! 

*I’m pretty sure every single article I’ve written about avandoned utilized the word “quirky”. I see no reason to stop that! 

 

 

Cinema & Boy CQ Elevates Idol Beyond Our Preconceptions…

Sokichi Osada had a plan for his own idol group that would be a unique and daring take on the genre and he created, produced, and managed a group with that mission in mind. That group, Shoujo Kakka no International, was probably born too soon to really enjoy the fruits of the underground boom of nontraditional, experimental idols, but they were certainly legendary among those in the know. As many great and daring projects go, the financial stress of running an idol group proved to be unprofitable and difficult, and so it came to an end. Sokichi took time to write a series of essays titled “The Idol Suicides” about his experience for a web-magazine that’s no longer around, but thanks to some reaching out from our very own Papermaiden, we were given the privliedge of republishing the essays on this very blog.

But despite Girls Excellency International’s collapse, Sokichi’s creative idol bug wasn’t out of his system yet. Almost immediately, he began work on forming a new idol group that was even more experimental and unique than his first brainchild. A group with an intriguing vision, or has he put it into his own words…

Cinema and Boy CQ make some of the most consistently interesting art  in the entire idol genre, and on multiple levels, they challenge and shatter nearly every pre-conceived idea of what idol music is. Continue reading

SOLEIL Unveils “This Year’s Model”!

SOLEIL continues working in the classic yé-yé tradition of prolifically releasing fresh material at a near non-stop pace. Over the course of last year, she recorded two albums along with a series of singles, and now in 2019, she’s got a new single just out that will be followed by her third album in July!

The new single is “Mellotron Girl”, released as a 7″ record on the Vivid Sound label, in association with Victor Records. Before it was even released, there was a bit of a mad rush to secure a copy, with unscrupulous resellers already trying to finagle outrageous prices for a record that didn’t even exist yet, but thankfully it looks like the label and distributors stepped up to the demand and it became realistic to still pre-order one without breaking the bank. 

SOLEIL’s label uploaded a “short version MV” of the new song, and it fulfills what must be a requirement in the idol business, that all artists must eventually film an undead-themed music video! (Those poor “mummies” look kinda worn-out in the running shots!)

It’s a terrific tune rooted in that timeless French 60’s pop sound! The b-side is also another cool retro throwback, but for this song we get a cover: “High School Lullaby”, an 80’s synth-pop hit originally recorded by Imo-Kin Trio, and written by the legendary Haruomi Hosono! This version exchanges the city-pop vibes with some groovy surf-guitar set to a ska beat and totally pulls it off…

And as the for the upcoming album, “Lollipop Sixteen” will be out of July 17th, so be sure to look out for that! (I really love the reference to Elvis Costello’s “This Year’s Model” in the design theme.)  It’s already listed for pre-order in a few places, and it stands to reason that streaming options will be available as well.

If you’ve listened to SOLEIL’s previous albums, (Which I’ve discussed here..) you’ll probably have a pretty strong notion of what to expect. And while I don’t think it’ll be much of departure sound-wise, I have no doubt the new album will be packed with short and sweet sugary goodness that’ll make for perfect summer listening!