You know that it’s a tough time for the team when a Trash-Up!! affiliated act puts out two selections in a week’s time and nobody brought it up. So it has been! I’ve been busy in ways that would scandalous a worker bee, and chats with others quickly devolved into “no, we’re getting killed at work right now.” And also, a Trash-Up!! act has been dropping material all over YouTube!
In this case, it’s SAKA-SAMA, who plural of the people you see write ’round these parts are absolutely in love with, and for obvious reasons: They not only can do it all — all styles, all genres, all times — they do do it all, and with aplomb. Not everything that they do “rocks” per se, but everything that they do is, usually, worth the time you spend with it. This is why, after their exquisite (and weird!) single, their forthcoming album is going to be something to embrace with fervor:
We’re heading into a new season, so it’s only natural that SAKA-SAMA change their line-up and try a new musical style yet again! And before you can say “Hey, this doesn’t sound like a SAKA-SAMA song!!!”, you have to ask yourself: Has anything ever really sounded like a what you’d expect a SAKA-SAMA song to sound like to begin with? Sure they were “Low-fi Dream Pop” just back in February, but the new single is described (by TRASH-UP!! Records) as “Sushi and Space and Disco”, and don’t think for a moment that I’m going to possibly question that bold of a mission statement.
On a personal level, the timing of this new single couldn’t be better, it’s been a weird and hazy last couple of weeks, and the prospect of a hurricane reaching into my coast and wreaking havoc any day now isn’t doing much to relax me at all, so thank goodness the TRASH-UP!! house act is sharing some positive vibes to help allay the dread for a few minutes…
Actually, you know what this reminds me of? Morning Musume’s 2000 single “Happy Summer Wedding”, in which Momusu debuted four new members with an upbeat tune paired to a lively, multi-cultural MV that successfully altered the entire dynamic of the group. It was a departure not entirely devoid of risk, and it paid off big. All those new 4th Generation faces became as iconic as the previous members.
I mentioned this before: I always feel a bit of trepidation when a group I support adds new members because I find myself questioning if they’re needed, but inevitably and before long, I always end up not being able to imagine the group without them. And that’s how I feel about the current seven member SAKA-SAMA line-up. I just adore these girls and the essentially brand new group they’ve become. I still hope we get a dose of the lo-fi-dream-pop-psychedelic-country-arthouse aesthetic with this current roster, but no matter what, I can’t see them ever doing anything wrong. It’s still a SAKA-SAMA world after all…
I was recently re-listening to Yume no Hate Made Mo, SAKA-SAMA‘s EP from February on TRASH-UP!! Records, (I still listen to it frequently actually) and as of this halfway point in the year, I’m still holding firm that it’s the very best release of 2018. I just don’t think anything as comes as close to accomplishing a feat of aesthetics mixed with music as this mini-album. The only question I have is, When do we get more?
The first indication of that is a newly unveiled live recording from the group entitled “LIVE from SAKA-SAMA WORLD”, an audio document of their very first and highly successful one-man show. SAKA-SAMA have quite a sizable catalog of songs now, despite their one EP, a compilation track and a 7″ single being the only tangible products of their work. I’ve been pining for more some time now, so here’s a chance to check of their material just beyond my grasp. The only issue now is that this live-release is only available at their shows, so woe to those currently unable to attend and get their hands on one.
In the interest of expanding awareness of the live recording and spreading the joy of their live shows, TRASH-UP!! uploaded the most professional footage of the group that’s ever been available, and these videos are terrific!
Now here’s a ton of live SAKA-SAMA video up on the YouTubes, but the editing and the pro sound-mix really makes these especially amazing to watch. You’ve always been able to tell with their other footage that these girls give 200 percent and have a lot a lot of fun when they preform, but these really capture a fire and spirit that hasn’t been seen so clearly before! They’re completely singing their hearts out, screaming, jumping, thanking the crowd for their support, and loving every moment of it.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen them so artfully full of DIY spirit and projecting it so intently in the crowd, who send the love right back at ’em. To me, this is a whole new fresh perspective on a group I was already fully on board supporting, so these videos have made my day.
Now hopefully they’ll take some of these unreleased songs and capture some of this fantastic energy into a studio, mix it up, add some of that trademark A-level TRASH-UP!! graphic design sense, and release another new audio gem fondly enjoy like a fine collected piece of art. It’s a SAKA-SAMA world, and thank goodness we live in it!
It’s something of a watershed for every idol group when they finally achieve a following that allows them to achieve their first headlining one-man show, and the hard work of being an upstart underground unit finally came together for SAKA-SAMA this past March 17!
The venue was packed with assorted fans of all types, including Soze Nakamura, Amamiya Miku (you may remember her as “Natsu” from Avandoned, and now she’s part of a quirky project called NaNoMoRal) and Hiiro Moeof xoxo(Kiss&Hug) EXTREME in attendance, and of course the TRASH-UP!! Records staff lending their unique vibe to the event! If the gushing praise throughout the quirky corner of Twitter let us in on anything, it’s that the show completely charmed everyone in the venue. And to cap it off wonderfully, Machiko of Bon Voyaaz joined the group (in their new stage outfits!) for an in-the-round and non-amplified encore that really made the night special:
And if you’ve listened to SAKA-SAMA‘s debut EP, none of this is a terrible surprise because this release is simply fantastic. It’s been out for roughly a month now and remains in heavy rotation since the day I got it. Eclectic would be the first word to manifest in my mind, as it goes from electro-fuzz-garage-dance to twee-country-to spoken word to their signature wispy “lo-fi dreampop”.
I’m feeling quite comfortable that this delightful platter will indeed sit among my favorite releases when this year draws to a close. And they’re not done yet: A 45″ vinyl single will be among the hotly coveted items being unleashed for Japan’s Record Store Day. At this rate, we might be about to witness the summer of SAKA-SAMA!
And for further reading, (in Japanese)here’s an interview with TRASH-UP’s founders, taking about the magazine they created that eventually brought them into idol appreciation, and ultimately into creating their own group.
BONUS CLOSING VIDEO: Here’s Dr. Mahiru teaming up with Melon Batake A Go Go’s Soze(She’s EVERYWHERE!!) to enjoy some stage banter and sing a few songs, including covers of Dots and Bellheart. Enjoy!!
Man, when this thing came across the feed on Friday, I almost couldn’t wait to share it. I’ve been in long-distance gawky love with SAKA-SAMA ever since they first started to pollute Trash-Up!!’s stages with their signature style of post-rock weirdness, and I harbored hope that, like a few others before them, they’d be able to take their excellence and ball it up and use it in exchange to make for a breakthrough moment of some sort.
Maniac mentioned it in the Weekender, but it bears repeating: “Lo-Fi Dream Pop” idols SAKA-SAMAare releasing an EP on TRASH-UP!! Records due out on February 28! You’ll pardon me for being a bit giddy, but I think this is a big deal … a minor milestone if you will. SAKA-SAMA’s been teasing us for well over a year cow, with tons of terrific live footage on their label’s YouTube Channel, but no actual studio releases save for some show-exclusive CD-Rs and a lone free song on OTOTOY. It’s no stretch to say I’ve been looking forward to this as much as any DOTS release, especially since SAKA-SAMA is a fellow torch-bearer for the cause of cool and strange avant-art idols.
Of all of the things to ever follow on cross-platform social, getting into Trash-Up!! has got to be one of the better decisions that you can make; the do-it-all zine/promoter/record company/metaphysical scene hangout is such great nesting ground for some of the most interesting stuff in idol, whether part of the main roster or connected through the various media that the company produces. NECRONOMIDOL, Dots, Minna no Kodomo-chan and more have all been Trash-Up!!-related without being Trash-Up!!-affiliated.
The main roster is always good as hell, too, though mercurial in its composition (because idol). For example? Avandoned. And SAKA-SAMA, whose blessing of the world with new live video is the impetus for this post!
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 →
Welcome back to Indie Idol Wednesday, you guys! I actually have a whole mess of stuff that would be good for your listening pleasure today, stuff from the real dregs of idol, some of it just lousy with how indie it is, but I also knew that SAKA-SAMA had been busy with some newer material, and I wanted us to get a chance to check it out at an appropriate time.