Boris is Love

Okay, so I started to ask the proprietor of this website “Hey Maniac, you think just this once, based on their recent activity, you could humor me into declaring Boris the ultimate endgame in this experimental synthesis of idols with rock music that’s been happening over the last few years and post this new MV on the blog even though it’s a complete stretch of our already shifting mission statement?”

And he’d either say “Hey, why the heck not?” or “C’mon man, don’t mess up my life’s work. You post that Boris MV and you’re fired.”

But anyway, he’s been away on business, so I didn’t ask him and posted this recklessly, so if my bags are packed in the next day or so, you know why!

Mother-F’n Boris man. Even your non-weeb friends love them. They’re absolute freakin’ titans of drone-noise-experimental-soundscapes who’ve recorded a massive discography on a dozen different labels. So when TRASH-UP!! Records, a label that I first came to love through their magazine, low-budget films, and releases by the quirkiest of the quirky world of chika idols announced that they were celebrating their 10th (!) anniversary with an EP by the band, I was pretty excited. Giddy might even be the better word! I even joked that I couldn’t wait for the eventual collaboration between the power-trio of sludge and the label’s flagship unit SAKA-SAMA.

https://twitter.com/TrashupRecords/status/1161112803026935809?s=20

Well, that collaboration hasn’t happened yet, but they did play a gig with the TRASH-UP!! groups along with the wonderful Aqbi roster of artists for the label’s big anniversary showcase, and it was worth noting that the band, especially Wata, seemed quite comfortable and welcoming of their surroundings. All my kidding aside, it really does open up thoughts of potential possibilities and reminds us of an important thing, the walls dividing genres have been knocked down and utterly destroyed as they always were meant to be for the good of music enjoyed by the truly open-minded masses. I think this is our new future, and it pleases me highly. 

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TRASH-UP!! Records Presents “Idol & Art 3”!!

One of my personally most-anticipated idol events of the year isn’t TIF, or Jam Expo. It doesn’t even even feature performances for that matter. For me, it’s the annual collaboration between TRASH-UP!! Records and Tokyo’s Mograg Gallery, “Art and Idol”, now in it’s third incarnation! It’s a simple and irresistible premise, an art show where all the art is created by idols. Now it’s it’s third edition, it’s fantastic to see this event be so successful and well-regarded.

When you think about it, it’s a perfect idea because the idol world is packed with wonderfully artistic talent who are always pursuing multiple ways to express themselves. As it’s been covered before in this blog, idols, especially within the chika circles, are multi-layered creatives who consistently deliver an entire package of intriguing work beyond singing and dancing.

With previous showings, it’s been the practice to keep the artwork under wraps until the opening, and then after a few days, images of the participant’s artwork pops up online via social media. I find it fascinating to see what the idols came up with, and in some cases, it’s illuminating to see their creative output because it offers a new peek into their personalities. Other times, it’s just cheeky fun. (Like the time the Dot-chans presented miniature terrariums with chirping crickets inside!)  But regardless of what they do, it’s never boring. Continue reading

We Review Things: Kai’s “Moonlight Tokyo”

Ever since it was announced that Aqbi superstar Kai was joining the TRASH-UP!! roster, I’ve been looking forward to hearing what she’d be doing as a solo artist. Kai of course, is no stranger to TRASH-UP!!, having been part of the oddball folk song trio Engawa, (Most often referred to in these parts as “The weird Beni/Kai thing”) and considering the close ties between my favorite idol label and Aqbi, (Including Yoneko and Mizuho connections!) it made perfect sense as career transition…

Anyway, there’s been a bit of an anxious delay on my part because I tried to order “Moonlight Tokyo” from Amazon Japan and it was momentarily listed with a possibly two month shipping delay. (!) I don’t know if I’m correct in my theory, but I’d like to believe that’s because it was a surprisingly bigger seller than anticipated, so that’s what I’m running with. It pleases me to share that the digital version is finally online!! streaming with Spotify and Apple Music, and the latter platform is selling it via iTunes as well. For lossless purists, I keep checking on OTOTOY but no luck just yet, but don’t assume it won’t happen eventually.

So anyway, how is Kai’s solo debut? Continue reading

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!

https://twitter.com/mizuho_TUR/status/1119952235683651584?s=20

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.

 

 

The Cycle of Life in Aqbi Idols, Part Deux

It feels like we just did this

In keeping with today’s apparent theme, let’s take a few minutes to acknowledge the death of one of the true giants of our scene and the life that’s springing forth from that destruction.

The other day, THERE THERE THERES held their final performance, a joint show with their longtime besties in You’ll Melt More!(.) You can and should watch the literal whole thing:

Heck, here’s a bunch of photos, too: Continue reading

We Review Things: “It’s a SAKA-SAMA World”!

SAKA-SAMA have been something of a favorite with Team Homicidols since they first formed in 2016, but at the same time, they’ve remained a perplexing enigma of an idol unit. Constantly shifting membership rosters are always part of this territory, but this group seems especially prone to changing it’s line-up with each passing season, with only Kokone and Dr. Mahiru providing consistency as it’s founding members. And the music of SAKA-SAMA, primarily billed as “Low-Fi Dream Pop”, is in truth equally unpredictable, with a wide variety of unique genres and styles that run the gamut of shoegazey indie-pop to oddball quirky country songs and spoken word pieces, making it a rather difficult task to describe what exactly the group does. Mind you, this isn’t a complaint by any means, I’m just trying to clarify why writing about TRASH-UP!!’s in-house idol group is well… quite a challenge. 

So after a couple of years of compilation tracks, EPs, singles, and one live recording, SAKA-SAMA have finally released an actual, honest-to-goodness full length album, titled, appropriately enough, “It’s a SAKA-SAMA World’! I’ve been excitedly anticipating this release since the moment it was announced, and I eagerly snatched it from OTOTOY right away. I came to realize quickly that this is an album that, just like anything related to SAKA-SAMA, has certain unique traits that can’t be summed up after a breezy listening session. This is what we call a “grower”, or a “slow-burn”, wherein one must dig in deeply to truly reap the rewards of the listening experience, and develop an opinion based on multiple takes instead of relying on easy gratification. 

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SAKA-SAMA’s Space Sushi-disco Single Spectacular

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…

SAKA-SAMA Brings The House Down In Their Own Unique Way

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 NakamuraAmamiya Miku (you may remember her as “Natsu” from Avandoned, and now she’s part of a quirky project called NaNoMoRaland Hiiro Moe of 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!!

You Should Be Getting Excited About The New SAKA-SAMA EP…

Maniac mentioned it in the Weekender, but it bears repeating: “Lo-Fi Dream Pop” idols SAKA-SAMA are 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.

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SAKA-SAMA Was Made for Indie Idol Wednesday

I’d been seeing this group’s name on a few bills associated with the wonderful TRASH-UP!! and among the tweets of some of the people who seem to be really well keyed in on the funnest parts of the Tokyo underground, and I finally gave them a listen yesterday. Get a load of this:


I sense a trend

SAKA-SAMA! They bill themselves as “lo-fi dream pop idols.” I believe three of the words (minus hyphen) in that statement. Continue reading