Have You Heard The Good News Of RAY?

The glorious RAY posted on their twitter to look forward to an upcoming announcement, which sounded very promising for once, as opposed to all the downtrodden news we’ve gotten recently. “Yes please o’ etherial shoegazing idols , give us something good!! We need this!!”, we were all thinking to ourselves…

And so today, (Which is is actually now yesterday as of this publishing.) the good news was delivered! Have you heard? Listen and listen well, those who believe, and welcome to the light, those of you who are new…

https://twitter.com/_RAY_world/status/1250378525732786176

 

Yes, Sweet Hipster Moses, RAY is releasing their first album!! I swear the sun came out and bathed the Earth is a pink glow while the Corona virus cowered a little today. Everything just got a little better. And oh, guess what else? For a limited amount of time, the album in it’s entirety is uploaded on YouTube, to let you taste the rainbow a little bit early!

Maybe before I say anything more about the details, I’ll leave the embed right here and let you dive in. So go ahead, breathe in, and savor a full preview of RAY’s very first full-length album, entitled “Pink”

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RAY Want To Spend “The End Of The World With You”…

This dropped a few days ago, but it was simply too good to let slip past the radar. Shoegaze idols RAY,  (Successors to the now-legendary group with no with no real name save for a row of dots) are still not a year old, but have already made a huge impression with a dose of effortless charisma and incredibly strong musical collaborations with top-tier talent.

Their first EP release “Blue” was a near-perfect collection of songs that revealed a sky’s-the-limit potential. We’ve been treated to MVs for “Butterfly Effect” and “Meteor”, and now there’s a more low-key video for the closing track, “The End Of The World With You”

https://twitter.com/_RAY_world/status/1230809425134227457?

As the tweet above explains, this MV offers us a retrospective of the group’s upward trajectory since their inception, including most notably their acclaimed show in Taiwan.   Let’s have a look!

It’s just what you’d expect, a fun and exciting behind the scenes look at RAY traveling, performing, eating, bonding, y’know, doing idol stuff! One thing that gives RAY something of a leg-up on the dearly departed Dot-chans is being free of the challenges that came with a group maintaining a mysterious air of anonymity. We get to know Yua, Norimaika, Sayaka, and Tsukihi in a much more personable way and that’s ultimately a better plan for the idol business model. These ladies are just terrific, and seeing them cavort and have fun as they explore the possibilities offered in this journey gives one a warm, joyful feeling. (Which is a fascinating juxtaposition to the heavier melancholia of the actual song.) 

And what a song!! Holy heck I love that opening riff and the way it sort of fakes you out before the song takes off. This tune sounds amazing at high-volume, so make sure you don’t just watch this on your phone, for goodness sake. 

And you know why the song is so darn good? Because it’s written by Hata Yusuke of cruyff in the bedroom, veterans of Japan’s highly-lauded shoegaze scene. These sonic technicians have always been on point, so of course this song roars as much as it soothes…

I’m really looking forward to another release by RAY, and I’m especially hoping we can get a full album from them this year possibly. If not, that’s okay too though, music this good is worth the wait. Just keep these RAYs shining on us, please. 

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RAY Drops a Visually Stunning Meteor of Emotions and Reverb…

It was just mere days ago we were talking about that wonderful footage of RAY performing live in Taiwan, and we took a moment to also mention that the group will also be releasing their first single/EP, entitled “Blue”. The release has lovely cover art and an extremely impressive roster of collaborators. Now we’ve been blessed with another highly anticipated track on the disk, “Meteor”, featuring an instrumental arrangement by Elliot Frazier of the highly regarded Austin band Ringo Deathstarr!

This is one of those times and RAY is one of those groups where I try to remain self-aware of my effusive praise and realize that if I get too over-the-top raving about how much I love this, I run the risk making some of you question if my judgment is clouded by my gushing enthusiasm. Yeah well, I’m raving cause Holy Moses I love this song to the moon and back.

Even if this wasn’t one of my favorite groups currently on the scene, I’d be still incredibly excited and wanting more. The wash of the guitars, the reverb, bubbling bass and the drums are just perfect examples of the musical influences of this group. And the lush, almost buried (Sung in English, no less.) vocals are beautiful indeed! There’s a bit of a half-joking argument in shoegaze circles that in this genre, the vocals need to be barely heard and nearly indecipherable to be truly gazing at shoes, and this certainly does that, adding a delicious air of mystery to the song. (The actual lyrics are in the YouTube description, by the way.) 

As for the MV, it’s just gorgeous, brimming with sensory overload and yet an underlying feeling of melancholia. It intimately captures how a megacity like Tokyo can be at equal turns exciting and bursting with bustling activity, but yet at the same time be the most oppressively lonely place on Earth.  Notice how the MV begins with high-tech consumer-driven dazzle, but by the end, mundane images of street cleaning and trash collection work their way in, as the superficial wonder of the city gives way to garbage bags and emotionally exhausted people hanging their heads low on the late-night streets.

There’s so many amazing shots here, from the wide pans over the busy intersections to the close-ups of pay phones and long treks down vacancies corridors, that tell us a dozen stories at once. And binding everything together is RAY member Marino Kai wandering through it all, trying to simply get through this night and maybe hopefully finding something better tomorrow as she pauses to silently sip a beer.

RAY is delivering on it’s every promise here. A beautiful merging of music, art, and the concepts of idol in complex, fascinating ways, with collaborations by top talent. I hope this upcoming release really puts them on the map, and that people everywhere take notice. I would love to see this group visit Austin and perform at SXSW, showing the real potential of this genre beyond the old idol tropes and stereotypes. Here’s wishing them the best! 

https://twitter.com/_RAY_world/status/1180784780381569024?s=20

 

 

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RAY Gazes Upon Taipei… (With Live Footage!)

RAY, the next generation shoegaze idols who arose from the ashes of the legendary dot-chans, have been hard at work crossing genres, boundaries and now borders. The group visited Taiwan and performed a show in Taipei. Excitedly, I scanned Twitter and YouTube hoping to find some footage of the concert. Viz and Rain were also thankfully on the case, and proved to be ethusiatic as always to help out…

And Rain went and found an upload of the entire set! He certainly wanted to make sure we didn’t sleep on it… Continue reading

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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!

 

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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…

https://twitter.com/tokyo_tsukurou/status/1116686540153819137?s=20

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!

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Despair Not for the Dissolution of our Dearest Dots

Before dashing off this article too briskly, I took in the last evening to ponder yesterday’s announcement that the dot-chans have scheduled what will be their final live, do a little research to understand what I could, and also to reflect on where we go in a world without the beloved shoegaze idols we’ve come to know.

I know that most all of you who follow the group are already aware of the impending closure, because I heard from a number of you about it, some in personal messages, and others from reading your reactions online. It speaks to the unique specialness of this group in the way many of you expressed your thoughts with a feeling of personal loss and perhaps a sense of disappointment. Oshi-loss, as Kerrie refers to it, is a very real emotional reaction when you’ve connected to an idol who’s graduating or a group that’s dissolving. And although these dot-chans have largely maintained a sort of aloof anonymity, they still touched a part of each of us fans. It’s also very notable to point out, as this article from Matt Bedford of Muso Japan demonstrates, that the group succeeded in gaining followers outside of idol circles.

I did reach out to Japanese fans, and I also read the group’s blog entry containing the chan’s statements. I can tell you that amongst the fans, the announcement was a surprise, and there is no obvious tangible reason for the dissolution that’s been given. I can also tell you that the dot girls of Tokyo are going to remain just as mysterious as they’ve been right up to the end. Everyone is very much remaining in character, and I not only appreciate that, but I love that that’s how they’re going out. The more I think about it, I’m less interested in finding out the “why”, and more interested in celebrating what we knew. In their blog statements, the members of the group seem to be upbeat and positive to travel into their futures. I get no sense of sadness.

The group’s primary manager/producer/visionary also kept the mythology going, explaining that the ethereal manifestations that took the shape of girls will inhabit those forms for only a limited amount of remaining time, and then the end of that time on Earth is here. The dot-chans were always meant to be impermanent, and so they move on to new planes of existence.

If you really want my non-mythology theory, I believe the dots are disbanding for the very best of reasons: Because they’ve largely achieved what they set out to do. Now they can go explore new things in their lives which may or may not include obsessive fans and metaphysical concepts. (There’s also the matter of this being a nearly no-profit industry, but I think that’s a given with most art-driven projects.) Some time ago, it was hinted that there was a new project underway that I thought was going to be a sister-group to the Dot-chans. That project is still happening. So far, almost nothing has been revealed about it except that it’s continuing the innovative high art concepts that Dots have broken ground with. I believe a torch is being passed, and it’ll be exciting to see what’s coming as this new project takes a tangible shape.

I want to tell you dear people reading this: Do not anticipate this event with despair, but rather look forward to the new things to come. Don’t miss the Dots with sadness, but remember them fondly with affection. This is the way of things, and like a passing satellite in the sky, it’s something you should cherish for simply having seen it.

The dot-chans will have their final live on March 24. They will also have additional activities building up to the last show. And since they still have unreleased recorded material and more songs, including another great tune written by Azusa Suga of For Tracy Hyde, (The video posted above!) I also suspect that they’ll have some more musical output to be consumed as well. I know the fans will support the group to the fullest and send them off in celebratory style, because they deserve it.

Now let’s thank Dots for what they gave us and wish them the very best.

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Homicidols TV Party Tonight!

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, the Art 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!

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We Review Things: The tipToe./Dots Split Single is a Concoction of Fizzy Goodness


DIY rock bands figured out a long time ago that the “split-single” is a great way for fledgling artists to achieve the milestone of getting a record out there. Two bands chip in their money, and each gets one side of a 45 rpm vinyl record, ready to share with the masses. And for music lovers, it’s a pretty nifty deal as well, cause for a low price point,

you could take a chance on hearing two new bands you might happen to dig. It’s a great punk-rock tradition that plenty of bands still carry on today. 

And now here come two darlings on the indie-idol set, tipToe. (That’s how you stylize the type.) and ········· (You know, Dots.) with a split/collaboration single entitled “Tokyo Sentimental”. The two groups have been friendly buds for a while now since they shared a bill in which the tipToe. girls surprised the audience by coming out on stage wearing the Dots’ patented visors and vintage dresses and paying a little tribute to the ethereal idols. It was a fun little moment that brought tipToe. to my attention for the first time, and thanks very much for that! 

So how’s the single? “Tokyo Sentimental” is only four songs and it’s quick listen, and the two groups make the most of the brevity.  Continue reading

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No Shoes Were Gazed Upon During The Making Of This New Dots Song

About the only predictable thing about Dots is that well, they’re not predictable. In the past few weeks, a furious flurry of activities has suddenly sprung from the enigmatic collective of non-corporeal idols, including the announcement that two of the chans are about to move to new planes of existence. Things are happening again in the Dots universe, and they’re happening rapidly.

Late last month, Maniac shared his thoughts on a new Dots song that was posted online. I also really love the song a lot, like a whole lot. It’s an absolutely wondrous  burst of the kind of shoegaze purity that gives me life. That song belongs alongside Ride, Lush and of course MBV’s best songs, all archived within the Shoegaze Hall of Fame cause it’s just that good.

But hold on, now there’s a new Dots transmission that just dropped! This new song arrived quietly in the form of an “Image Video”. Fresh off the radiant energy of the previous preview tune, I was of course all aboard for another rush of swirly guitars and wispy vocals, but this is Dots, and you don’t get to make a call on what to expect so easily:  Continue reading

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