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!

Melon Batake a go go Go Rogue With “Runaway Girl”!

What? Melon slow down? No way, they’ve got two speeds: “Go” and “Go-Go”!

So fresh outta the gate from their recent incursion into the west (Of which Chris shared his harrowing experience here.) and following up their so-recent-the-paint’s-still-wet MV for “Nightmare Before Vampire” (Of which Maniac discussed here.) we’ve already been smacked across the melon with a new video for their to be congruously released single “Runaway Girl” and owe it to ourselves to go-go check it out…

I’ll tell ya, I do like this one more than the “Vampire” tune, with certainly wasn’t bad by any means, but just more “Hey that’s pretty good!” good than “Holy-Crap-That’s-Sick-Outta-My-Head-Awesome-Good!” good. I don’t have any scientific analysis to explain why that is and really it’s subjective anyway, but this song sticks the moon-landing a little harder and nails the delivery. What’s interesting as well here is that the song is essentially another Rukatama solo showcase, and it’s also a cover of a song by 80’s rockabilly revival band ROGUE, which gives the tune a bit of familiarity among a segment of their older-school Japanese following.

As for the video itself, there’s an enigmatic story unfolding here that I hope never gets explained because it’s more fun to interpret it yourself anyway. Is Rukatama being confronted by her darker-half persona? Is she trying to run away from her inner self? Are the other Melon girls here to help her, or are they forcing Rukatama to come to terms with her darker destiny? And at the end of the MV, when she sits on the couch next to them (and herself), has she accepted her fate or has she mastered it? And what’s the significance of the subtitling beyond the fact that Thai script has beautiful aesthetics that look organically mysterious?

And also: Idols and guns… idols sure do love to pack heat! Somebody oughta write a dissertation over-analyzing “Post-war Japan Popular Culture and it’s Fascination for Young Women with Firearms”. Not me, that is, but somebody.

On July 26th, Melon Batake a go go, through their new major label, will release “Nightmare Before Vampire” and “Runaway Girl concurrently as separate singles. (“Hey, why not just release one EP? Because IDOL That’s Why!”) If you love the Melon, maybe get a copy of the goods yourself, or at least keep an ear out for legit streaming avenues, and absolutely definitely tell your friends about these psychobilly idols from outer space. They’re on a mission to spread their fanbase (Go Go’s) worldwide, and that means good things may very well come our way if we prove worthy!

Oh hey, while we’re at it, here’s a video of ROGUE performing “Runaway Girl” for a little comparison and context. Enjoy!! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okinawa Electric Girl Saya Has Projects You Can (And Should) Support!

It’s been far too long since we’ve talked about Okinawa Electric Girl Saya, but within the space of when we last discussed her idol/experimental art fusions and now, she’s truly been tireless in her pursuit of her craft. I’d say Saya is among the most relentlessly active people on the scene, with consistent live performances, new collaborations, (Hey Soze!) and recordings practically weekly if not daily. What may have begun as a casual dipping into the well of avant-garde audio has become a full-time embrace of the bolder and more outré edges of the musical spectrum…

For some time now, Saya’s been releasing monthly CDRs of her noise experiments that she sells at shows, but these releases are a bit hard to get hold of outside of Japan. If you recall in the previous article, I mentioned that Saya has a unique aura that would do quite well with the Bandcamp business model, and I’m pleased to tell you that currently there are indeed some selections available at last.

Aside from her own self-released works, Saya’s been offering a few of her collaborations via Terminal Explosion, a label based around noise, industrial, hip-hop, and underground electronica run by a mysterious beat-maker known only as Ax. Currently, there are two available CDR (or digital) releases and a collaboration album that you can pre-order, along with some nice little merch items!

The first is “Dischord”, an EP that features a beautifully unique take on a Okinawan folk song..

 

The second is “Mayhem” , a series of chaotic but compelling noise-blasts that go hard…

 

And soon-to-come is a full-length album titled “Chastity”, which you can pre-order now

 

The digital downloads for “Dischord” and “Mayhem” are “name your price”, or you can buy them as CDRs for ¥1,000 each with (very reasonable) international shipping available. The album “Chastity” has a pre-determined price digitally, but also has a few tangible package options that include a t-shirt, a badge, or even all three recordings as a bundle, so check out the options and see what looks good to you!

In addition to these cool releases, the ever-prolific noise maker is also currently about 80% done crowdfunding another entirely new album called “Black Angel” that as of this writing, only has about two days left! The funding site, Campfire, is intended to be used only in Japan, but it is possible to lend your support by using a service like Tenso to serve as your “Japanese address”, so there is a window to help if you wish…

And you know what the other cool thing is? We’re not even half-way through the year yet, so it’s realistic to expect that this flurry of output for 2019 isn’t even close to being finished yet! What else will Saya do, and who else will she collaborate with? I don’t think she’s conceding any limitations on what she’ll accomplish. That’s what keeps an artist artist fresh and exciting, so let’s all enjoy where the trip takes us, and support her wherever we can. 

All Kai All The Time!

I was just like everybody else when There There There’s announced their disbandament.  A little disappointed, a little confused, and a little worried about where all our favorite ravenesque girls were all going to go. Thankfully, most of it worked out well, with some former members like Rere and Mei staying with AQBI, and in a completely appropriate and perfect twist of serendipity, Mizuho and Kai seamlessly joining the roster of TRASH-UP!! Records, which is also a home for another former AQBI mainstay, Yoneko, who’s working harder than ever as a self-produced idol.

But this post is all about Kai, (!) the delightfully deadpan idol who, despite her detached demeanor, somehow easily connects with her fans in her very own way. I’ve always really liked Kai and her rather non-idolish approach to being an idol, and I’ve been looking forward to see she how adapts to the stage as a soloist, so let’s check out her first MV, a number called “Moonlight Tokyo”

How about this song? It’s no secret that it’s an easy sell on me when you go 80’s retro, so that’s certainly no complaint! It’s a terrific tune that I’ve listened to on repeat several times already since it debuted. I have no idea if this synth-dance-groove thing is an indicator of her future work or just a one-off tune, we’ll just need to see, but I’d be totally cool with Kai becoming a neo-city-pop queen and making a regular gig out of this sound. All the same, I have an equally positive feeling that with TRASH-UP!! at the helm, she’ll be trying out other genres as well and testing some unexpected waters for the benefit of all of us.

And what about this MV?  I enjoy it’s quirky VHS (or is it Betamax?) look, complete with an old-school aspect ratio and it’s blown-out-saturation. Also, the video brilliantly tackles a classic debate that even the idol world contends with: Are you a cat or dog person? I keep telling people, “Why not both?”, and it makes me pleased-as-punch to see that Kai agrees with me!

The video also answers another anticipated question: Would the TRASH-UP!! incarnation of Kai, with her newly colored hair and a wardrobe other than black crow costumes, maintain the classic Kai personality-type we’ve come to know and adore? It sure looks that way! She’s just as endearingly disconnected as ever, coming off as the sort of person who’s far more comfortable with a couple of cute pets than a room of chanting wota, and doggone it (see what I did there.), that’s the Kai we love! Would you really want it another way?

At present, I haven’t seen any word yet on any actual releases for Kai yet, digital or otherwise, but I think that’ll happen soon. Currently she’s preparing for her live debut and cooking up some merch that she showed off (see above) on twitter. There’s also an official website for her solo work, appropriately with the perfect domain name all-kai.com, cause this 100% pure Kai, and that’s just what we the people need!

I think we’re off to a good start here! And we still have Mizuho’s upcoming idol group, ATOMIC MINISTRY (Which is an awesome group name!!) currently in it’s audition phase to still look forward to. I keep repeating it for the people in the back, TRASH-UP!! is the real future idol dynasty to watch out for, and I’d recommend paying attention to all the exciting things they have in the works.

 

 

You Should Get RAY On Your Radar Right Now…

I’ve been kind of tingling with giddy anticipation all day today since this bit of news broke via a retweet from the Dots staff twitter. As you may know, the mysterious mind behind Dots has been quietly planning a successor to the seminal experimental and constantly evolving shoegaze idol project, and at last, it appears that the time is nigh for the next event to break out and dare I suggest, likely shatter expectations with an exciting new unit…

It’s RAY, and their plan as stated, is to bring about “Omnidirectional music development and performance”. The group is determined to achieve a fusion of idol with different fields of interest in ways that have never been done before. They’ve also stated that they fully intend to reach out and collaborate with creators on a global level, and they’ve already made good on that promise: Their first international connection will come in the form of music provided by the amazing Austin, Texas shoegaze band Ringo Deathstarr. (This is the part where I went from excited to really really excited.)

It turns out that Ringo Deathstarr toured Japan earlier this year and crossed paths with Dots while making the highly active shoegaze scene there, and well, good things came of it. This is a pretty high-profile beginning that could potentially introduce RAY with a pretty new audience, with a nice bit of indie-cred attached to it!

So who are these RAY girls? A couple of things: This group will be significantly different  because the members will not be anonyomous entities. And not only will they have names attached to their faces, but each girl will also pursue solo work, and work on individual projects using crowdfunding to help pursue their goals. It’s a very unique and yet still groundbreaking arrangement that’ll be interesting to see unfold. Here they are…

(I’m not sure if anyone looks familiar to you or not, but I’ll offer you this much… One of these girls is somebody whose eyes you’ve never seen before…)

RAY will be making their live debut on May 1st, and it’s a safe bet that they’ll be highly talked about shortly after. You can follow the group’s twitter account here, their official website here, and also click on the members above to follow them too!

Very cool and very wonderful things are unfolding here, and this is your opportunity to not miss the boat.  RAY is gonna show us the way!

 

The Dot-chans Just Gifted Us A Little Creative License…

In seems that even in a world where our dearly beloved shoegaze idols have been spirited off the mortal plane, we will (thankfully) never truly be left behind in a totally Dot-chan less world. Even now the ethereal beings slowly unravel little parting gifts that will allow us to continue reaping the rewards of their time on Earth.

The Dots dropped their final album “Points” last week, (along with a 7″ single!) gathering up their remaining unreleased tracks. There will be a review of that album here in the next day or so, so watch out for that a bit later! But let’s talk about this newest offering first…

While “PD” could certainly mean “Post Dots”, in this case, it stands for “Public Domain”, as in certain works in the Dot-chan universe have been placed into the care of all of us. Now before you start pressing your own Dots merch and bootlegs, keep in mind that there’s still ownership and restrictions that apply here!

Continue reading

For Melon Batake a go go, Plan 9 is a State of Mind

So if you’re keeping track, so far Melon Batake a go go have been:

  • Sick Idols
  • Idol Cats
  • The Idol From Outer Space
  • Idol of the Wilderness* 
  • Idol From Another Planet

…and as we see in this MV, they’re also the “Idol From Plan 9”!

We already know the psychobilly-flavored song (which is terrific!) because it’s a track included on their album “Ikasuze Idol 1.2.3!!’ released early in the year, so for the purposes of this article, let’s discuss the video. This has got the same inherent DIY quality that’s charmed us with their previous MVs. It’s low-budget, spontaneous, and you can very plainly see the members of the group are having a lot of fun. That’s really all you need, y’know? Continue reading

YOU’LL MELT MORE! Once Again Prove They’re The Real Queens…

Sometimes I think You’ll Melt More! is the most criminally underrated group of all in the sub-sub-genre of music we celebrate here. They exist in this odd spot where they’re too big for the chika circuit, but yet just out of reach of the true heights of fame and praise they truly deserve.

While other groups get more Western fan attention with outlandish stunts and forced controversy, YLMM! focus on actually making fantastic music with a lot of heart and earnest ambition. Clearly when you see the sizes of their crowds and the loyalty of their fans, it’s notable that they’ve done very well for themselves, but I really feel like they deserve even more than what they’ve already (impressively) achieved.

I’ll even admit that I don’t always give them the love they deserve as often as I should, and that’s simply an offense on my part. I think the issue is that You’ll Melt More! have been making their psyche-fueled-freakout-krautrock-inspired magic since 2012, and when an idol group lasts this long, we kind of start to take them for granted, and that’s a terrible mistake!

One of the personal course-corrections I made for for 2019 is that I would get back to aggressively supporting this group as vocally as they deserve, and this recent live video of the group performing their nearly eight-minute space-rock monsterpiece “Only You” from their their 2015 magnum opus album “You Are The World” is the perfect window to refresh what is already gloriously refreshing.

This video highlights the final stop on their tour for the “Never Give Up Drunk Monkeys” release, shot at Zepp Tokyo in front of their most loyal fans, and it’s a document of just what kind of greatness idols are capable of with a lot of heart, soul, and quite a bit of physical risk as well. I know there’s plenty of videos for “Only You” floating around, but I never get tired of watching them perform this epic. I’d say this is the song to pull out if you want to sell this group to a friend unfamiliar with them, but also, this is a great piece of music to show that person in your life who doesn’t even know what idol music is. It’s peak non-traditional art idol in my eyes, and a great summation of what our favorite misunderstood genre of music can achieve.

And then there’s the performance itself, the vocals have that not-quite-perfect but yet lovely ring, the set is amazing, the dragon dancers add just the right flavor, and the emotions! Kechon has tears streaming down her face, and those are the tears of hard work and giving it your all for your art. Chiffon is still the most underrated idol vocalists around, and cooler than cucumbers in the freezer. Ano is Ano and thank goodness for that, doing her Ano-ish things, including spending plenty of time floating around on the adoring crowd.

And of course we have Younapi, who should’ve been voted Queen of the Scene multiple times over, fearlessly climbing a ladder like she’s about to pull the wrestling finishing move of the year while hyping up the audience with positive vibes of pure charm. I swear, every time I watch an “Only You” performance I want high-five the sun in the sky. It’s just beautiful.

Also, I’m glad Younapi got down from that ladder okay. (Off camera) That made me a little anxious.

2019 is still young, and Spring is around the corner. Still plenty of time for You’ll Melt More! to continue their usual pace and release an album, six EPs, ten singles, and a gazillion MVs before the year ends. I’m looking forward to all of it!! 

 

 

 

 

 

#idolvalentines Are in the Air!

Valentine’s Day is a perfect holiday to be an idol fan, isn’t it? What better way to celebrate idol adoration than to reimagine those ultra-innocuous little slips of paper you handed out in school as meme-esque riffs on the ultimate icons of platonic affection. It’s just too good to pass up, which why we’re once again diving into our #idolvalentines celebration!

I think most of you know the drill, but humor me as I explain it anyway. All you need to do is come up with some cute Valentine’s Day card ideas and share them via twitter with the tag included. The only real rule is that you have good, clean fun and enjoy yourself. You may use whatever creative tools you have at your disposal, it’s all good with us!

And just because Team Homicidols are extra good sports, we’ve got few transparent .png file templates (Just save the images) for you use if you so wish … Continue reading