I Review Things Weirdly: BiS | “Re:STUPiD”

Cover art from the album Re:STUPiD by Japanese idolcore legends BiS

This review’s going to be more than a little different from how we usually do things, because a thought occurred to me when folks started to talk about the songs being released from Re:STUPiD as if they might be unrecorded work from Lui Frontic Akabane JAPAN (I can see arguments pro and con and have at different times supported either) — we’re thinking about BiS and their music now in the completely wrong way. See down at the end for the punchline and why I legitimately think that’s good and bad, but for now … on to the review! Continue reading

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I Review Things: Yukueshirezutsurezure | “Post-Catastrophe”

Other than Babymetal’s Metal Resistance, I don’t know if I had more eagerly awaited an album in 2016. In absolute terms, “meteoric” isn’t a great way to describe Yukueshirezutsurezure’s rise, but in terms of awareness (at least among our kind) and rapidly defining a sound and attitude, they ran a marathon in a short while, only just failing keeping up with their equally compelling big sisters in Zenbu Kimi no Sei Da in total releases.

So yes, I anticipated that this was going to be a definitive album. I had such high expectations of it that, like a former jock parent who just can’t let go, I’m probably being a little bit unfair to the work, which should always be taken as it is rather than as I or anybody else want it to be. Nonetheless, I gotta be honest: I’ve struggled with this one. Continue reading

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I Review Things: Yanakoto Sotto Mute | “Sealing EP”


It’s not a secret that I’m super-duper excited about the launch of Yanakoto Sotto Mute. Grunge idols from the people who brought us Bellring Girls Heart! That’s pretty much guaranteed to be right up Maniac’s alley. And their first EP, 8CM EP, proved that this was a project way the hell on the right track; hard alt-rock with well-matched vocals and members who put on as elegant and artistic a stage show as you’ll see in idol.

Their big sisters are going on hiatus, and Yanamyu are being featured in the farewell tour. With the opportunity to share a big stage in front of a big audience, can they take a big step up after just a few months of existence and become a player in the alt-idolverse? Can their second EP (available for free until the 26th!) follow up on the promise shown in the first and equip the group for what’s to come?

Guess you’ll have to read the whole thing. Continue reading

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I Review Things: PassCode | ‘MISS UNLIMITED’

Covert art of Japanese idolcore digital EDM clubcore idol group PassCode's MISS UNLIMITED single

I never thought I’d review a single; I just didn’t see the point. And yeah, “MISS UNLIMITED” is listed on iTunes as an EP, but it’s three songs and an air vocals version of the title track, and that’s a single in my book.

So why would I bother reviewing this one? A lot of reasons, actually: Because there’s an ongoing discussion around whether idols other than Babymetal can achieve crossover success in the West; because PassCode is among the most cited and seen when newcomers go looking for “what else is like this”; because I felt like it; and so on.

This is PassCode’s major label debut. It’s available internationally via iTunes (and probably other mechanisms, too, eventually). It’s already available in Europe and soon will be in North America. This might not be going all-in, but it’s a move aiming at international audiences.

The question then becomes whether it’s actually any good.  Continue reading

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I Review Things: ICE CREAM SUICIDE | “I.S.C.R.E.A.M.”

Cover art for alt-idol denpacore idol group ICE CREAM SUICIDE's debut EP I.S.C.R.E.A.M.

I can’t remember a promised debut that generated more excitement among our little community than ICE CREAM SUICIDE’s. Hell, I was practically beside myself at the thought — between the name and the art and the sophisticated introductory campaign of three groups by a newcomer agency and the inclusion of former Bellheart member Anna-chan, it all seemed like the idol world had heard our pleas and put together a special little project just for us.

And then they had their live debut, and BOY were a lot of people confused. Instead of a -core-riddled harsh idol project speckled with yami-kawaii violence, we got what sounded like a safe, contemporary-standard denpa-style pop song. I remember the Twitter chatter that day: Had we been had? Like, of course denpa makes sense because it’s so hot right now, but where’s the rock? Sanity did ultimately prevail and people seemed to reach a consensus agreement to withhold actual judgment until the debut EP, I.S.C.R.E.A.M., was released.

So what does I.S.C.R.E.A.M. sound like? What does ICE CREAM SUICIDE bring to the world? On to the review! Continue reading

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I Review Things: BiSH | “KiLLER BiSH”

Cover art for Japanese idolcore group BiSH's

For all of the chaotic good news surrounding the return of BiS to actual existence, the first major-label release of their official successor, BiSH, almost managed to fly under the radar. Hell, even the introduction (and subsequent Internet love-in) of Ayuni D seems to have gotten more hype. And the one-day bonus sale pre-release of KiLLER BiSH actually garnered complaints from people — I’ve seen everything from “it’s a cheap stunt” to “why are you such a rip-off, Watanabe?” — and warranted official replies from BiSH on Twitter.

I hope everybody has a chance to clear their heads and shut up for a second so they can listen to this album. (Also, the lyrics are available here if you can Japanese.)

It’s BiSH’s third full album release, all in a span of roughly 16 months (insane), which also includes the “OTNK” and “DEADMAN” singles, which is remarkable; considering that they tour pretty much constantly, it’s almost impossible in fact. For the sheer number of songs now in their discography, plus the schedule and move to a major label, one could be forgiven for thinking that they’d be toning it down. The same was expressed around “DEADMAN,” for which “toned down” is not something you’d use as a description. But this is an album, a major investment by a label that knows what it’s doing.

Basically, did KiLLER BiSH deliberately get a little lost in the shuffle? Or is it delivering on BiSH’s burgeoning promise?

GUESS YOU’LL JUST HAVE TO READ THE REVIEW!  Continue reading

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We Review Things: Hauptharmonie | “Herz über Kopf”

Hauptharmonie is one of the most unique musical projects I’ve ever come across. Self-described as idols that exist outside of this Warring Idols Period, with a sound that knows no era, they can be music for everybody and almost nobody all at the same time; I’ve described their sound as “music for music lovers.”

Accordingly, I’m completely and totally in love with them. They’re the soundtrack to chain-smoking your way through a bad divorce in your office building’s basement gin joint. I want them to bring their faux-demure-barefoot-angry-flapper selves to this country to play the New Orleans Jazz Fest and blow people’s minds.

A while back, Phillter translated into Japanese a request letter that I could send to idol managers; there’s this here website, and you’re covered on it, and I’d really like to write a review of your next release, so would you please consider sending a press copy of it? Most don’t reply, but some do, and Hauptharmonie’s reply was absolutely gracious and generous. For enabling the acquisition and because Hauptharmonie is impossibly cool, Phillter wondered if he could contribute to this review, and to that I say sure.

So. On to the review!

Continue reading

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I Review Things: Guso Drop | “Mushi”

Cover art for Guso Drop's mini-album Mushi

If you’re something of a heavy idol regular, you know Guso Drop, and nothing about this should come as any surprise to you; if you’re new to Guso Drop or relatively unfamiliar with them, what’s the matter with you you can use this as a starting-off point: Earlier this year, when BiSH announced a ban on certain rowdiness at their live shows, Guso Drop decided to stay true to their underground, punk-as-fuck core and proclaimed that not only would they never dream of doing such a thing, but they were henceforward therefore to be considered the heaviest idols in the world. Continue reading

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I Guess It’s ‘Celebrate Tsurezure Day’

By a set of happy coincidences, gang, a whole bunch of Yukueshirezutsurezure stuff has been in the offing today, as if you hadn’t already noticed.

First, the site review of Antino Ideology.

Second, a very cool interview, translated.

Third, one of those rarest of birds, some live video from their in-store release event: Continue reading

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I Review Things: Yukueshirezutsurezure | “Antino Ideology”

Cover art for Yukueshirezutsurezure's mini-album Antino Ideology

The unofficial disclaimer on this EP is this: From the perspective of this Maniac and this website, the emergence of Yukueshirezutsurezure (along with their sister group Zenbu Kimi no Sei Da) in the past year is one of the most exciting things in idol, period. While new trails are being blazed pretty much week to week, somebody will naturally stand out more than others, and Tsurezure is like this incredible beacon of loss and pain.

Want to know more? Check out this interview with them.

As befits an idol group, in just over six months of existence, they’ve already experienced their share of membership turnover, but they haven’t slowed their trajectory one bit, for which kudos to Codomomental management are deserved; to stand out and keep standing out in a ridiculously competitive scene, you must keep moving. No sooner was this CD in stores than the group’s first official single was announced for an August release.

That piece, given recent developments in the membership and something of an emergence of a core sound, will likely be a stepping-off point for the group, their real debut. This EP, on the other hand, very much is a collection from its formative period, and as such includes several different moves in its short length.

So with that being said, what is the verdict on this relative time capsule? Continue reading

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