The idol world doesn’t slow down for a second, does it? And especially so if you’re one of the busiest bees in this bustling business, that is Beni Usakura. In a relatively short span, (especially in idol years), she’s gone from an abandoned audition candidate to group member to group leader, organizer, producer, marketer, and all-around DIY master of a hearty never-say-die group that is a breathing manifestation of her creative energy.
During the entire taxing process of preparing for Kotao’s departure, she’s been holding auditions for new members to keep her beloved group’s legacy going. Beni decided to tease us a bit for a couple of days, but at last, we’ve been introduced to her first officially inducted member… Continue reading →
Hey, I know we’re dealing with the impending graduation of Kotao from Avandoned and of course, it’s a monumental upheaval for a very special group, but if there’s one thing I know, Beni is never ever going to slow down for a single minute. She’s gotta be hands-down one of the hardest working people on the scene, and her latest endeavor is one to really be excited over, a 45″ single collaboration with her friends and frequent stage partners, The Childish Tones!
I’ve been looking forward to this since it was announced, but waited to see if maybe we’d get an MV or something to go along with the details, and now here we are! The record consists of Usabeni and The Childish Tones on two tracks, one being a cover of the classic Nick Lowe power-pop number “Cruel to be Kind”, accompanied with a cover of The La’s“There She Goes” for the b-side!
Yesterday an MV was shared for the La’s cover, and it’s a delightful trip to twee-town once again with Beni: Continue reading →
Though Fall is my favorite season, there’s always a hint of trepidation it’s arrival. The sky gets a little gray, the days get colder and shorter, and naturally, we all know the Winter is approaching by the year’s end. And additionally for us idol fans, we find ourselves anticipating the upcoming new year, because we know good-and-well that some of our oshimen and favorite groups won’t be around by this time in the future, cause that’s what we’ve signed up for the when we got into this subculture.
Last Friday, a little precursor to the change of the seasons and the new year in waiting arrived: Kotori Kotao, the other half of the duo-era of Avandoned, announced that she will be graduating in April of 2019. In a statement, she explained that quite simply it’s too difficult to balance the intensity of idol work with her personal focus on art. This is something I find terribly relatable, so I can’t possibly take issue with it. Kotao joined the group in 2016, at which point Avandoned was closing its previous era with the departures of Nayuta and Konomi and rebranding the group as a trio. At that point I knew very little about her, but she certainly won me over very quickly, to the point where it became difficult to imagine Avandoned without her. As I got to know more about her, I found her endlessly fascinating and talented.
Life’s best pleasures are simple things: Walks in the woods, black coffee, dogs n’ cats, and 45rpm singles. And speaking of singles, Avandoned, the delightful queens of quirk, gave us their second release this year, following up the completely fabulous old-school jam “After School” with their latest offering, “Lemon Peels”.
This is their third single on the terrific Vivid Sound label (the first was the nearly perfect “Donut Friends”), which has produced some bountiful musical fruit for Beni and Kotao. The vinyl-oriented label’s been around since 1973, and with that sort of history and experience, they’ve really shown an understanding for what makes this duo unique and tapped into that by helping them align with label-mates like Magic, Drums, & Love, Monari Wakita, and SOLEIL (although SOLEIL jumped into the majors with Victor Records). With these resources, along with their friendships with great retro-rock bands like LEARNERS and The Childish Tones, Avandoned have really come into their own over the past couple of years, and I think they’ve finally arrived at what is truly their own sound, and not simply the vision of outside producers. Continue reading →
Streaming video is marvelous, isn’t it? It’s a completely indispensable resource for us Western idol fans in particular, allowing us to keep up with events and shows that we’d otherwise miss out on, so thank goodness for that. Quite often, following an event I especially wish I had seen, I hit the internet in the days afterward to see if I can find some video, and lo and beyond, often I find what just what I wanted. One thing that’s nice about chika-level idols in particular is that many of these groups have relaxed rules for filming shows. Some groups even have just about nearly every gig uploaded for fans to see. I’ve had a few favorites lately, and I thought I’d share them in one handy place and perhaps help bring something your way that you’ll especially enjoy. It’ll be like a TV PARTY!
First up is Avandoned, the duo who have never failed to make me happy and excited to see what creative endeavors they’ve taken on next. These are the girls who I feel have really broken ground, having elevated to a new sub-sub genre, theArt Idol. Another thing I love about them, they’ve been escaping the usual dark basement club circuit and performing in quirky shops and galleries, attracting crowds out side the usual flock of wota devotees. Avandoned’s relationship with the Vivid Sound label is really striking gold, with a string of vinyl singles that suit the group’s vision perfectly. Avandoned have a new single coming out on October 10th, and they perform the a-side here in this video at the 28:33 mark. It’s another perfect fix of pop-goodness, and they sing like they’re having the time of their lives!
Anyway, I kinda-sorta knew this video was gonna happen, cause Ashley and myself are both unabashedly devoted Avandoned fans, and a while back I dropped a not very subtle hint that I’d love to see them do this song. (Actually, I think I said “PLEASE DO THIS SONG!”) It turned out Ashley was already intending to do it anyway, cause she’s cool like that, so this video is something I’ve been looking forward to for quite a bit. So without further ado, here’s Ashley and Bekah saying “Hello”!!!
It has been so goshdarned long, you guys, since Avandoned last appropriately graced these pages that I had this little twinge of hesitance when, finally finally finally, their post-hiatus return single finally landed, and we got the kind of MV that only Beni, Kotao and a small handful of like-minded creative weirdos would dream of putting together. One, as perhaps the twee-est of all twee alt-rock art idols, Avandoned only aligns well with the mission of Homicidols.com at about 80 percent of the same frequency as, say, You’ll Melt More!; two, this is usually Brian’s gig.
I can only imagine that my dude will forgive, though, as he’s probably still recovering:
That’s great, but please do “Explosive romance” next, please and thanks
Yeah, the video is quirky and off-beat and fun as all hell, and maybe that’s what Beni and Kotao want you to be paying attention to, but let us please consider this absurdly catchy, fun, jam-tastic little song all on its own merits for a minute: That opening beat had me wondering if Avandoned wasn’t taking a very obvious and deliberate cue from the Jackson Motherhubbard 5, but then the chords went all haywire and on a trippy Very Brady adventure we went. The Partridge Family would’ve struggled to keep up that kind of positivity. Continue reading →
It would seem rather obvious that most people working in some facet of musical expression got where they are because they love crafting music. But there is a very special type of writer/performer/contributor among the multitude that stand out because they are not just musical artists, but because they are passionate, giddy star-struck fans of music themselves. These type of creators tend to not approach music clinically or with overly practiced technical skill (although many are indeed highly skilled), but rather with a metric ton of heart and soul poured into making every moment shine in whatever they do.
I often think of people like Alex Chilton, Brian Wilson, Joan Jett, Daniel Johnston, Jad Fair, The Cramps and Shonen Knife being among these. None of these are (or were) simply musicians making great music, but they are (were) fans of great music harnessing that joyful love into amazing music. I am more than pleased to add Beni and Kotao from Avandoned to this list. Continue reading →
One of the more enjoyable and exciting things in the bold new world of non-traditional idols is the continuing openness of personal self-expression nurtured into the performers. While there’s always been a creative streak within the scene even in it’s more “commercial” days, I really started to take notice of this new emergence of experimentation with the debut of Maison book girl in 2014…
Those first press photos of Koshouji Megumi’s post-BiS group, with their modernist fashion style and aesthetic, seized my attention immediately, and I’ve never gotten that impression out of my mind since. With MBG and other bold new groups taking the stage, the “alt” prefix started being applied to this emerging trend, but to me, I saw their efforts as being more about personal expression and a desire to take idol from a product market into high art. To this day, I refer to Maison book girl as an art project, and their genre as being “Art-Idol.” Continue reading →
Kotao being a high school senior (presumably), she’d like to be able to focus on her college entrance exams. Ordinarily? That’s terrible news! For everybody but Kotao! But this is easily the first official hiatus announcement that made glad to see it. Continue reading →