I Don’t Know Who This “Margaret” Is, But The All-New avandoned Is Terrific!

The avandoned fans among us have certainly known about the new six-member incarnation of the group for a few months now, enjoying their activity on social media along with bits of live footage, but also eager to get an official release, so now at last we  have an honest-to-goodness MV of the unit together to promote their new (and yet also first) single, “Margaret”! The song is written by singer/songwriter Hana Tsuruuchi , who also wrote “Hello” and “Vadittsu!!” for avandoned previously. ..

I think that Tsuruuchi is a perfect contributor to this group. Her songs have that uplifting positive-vibe feeling that blends nicely with the group’s can-do spirit, and yet and are unique and quirky* enough that they never feel like sentimental cliches. This song is rich and wonderful, and no, I don’t really know who “Margaret” is, but I’m sure she’s a fine young lady who makes cool arts and crafts, owns a lot of hip records, plays a nice piano, and besides, if avandoned like her, that’s all I need to know anyway…

Classic idol group MV trope unlocked: The “Girls running through the streets” shot!

I think this new passage for the group sparks some interesting thoughts as well. It’s a fascinating thing about idol groups, the way they can be a seemingly inseperable unit only day, and then in a very short course of time, can reboot into something new and fresh. When I think about it, making a major departure from the established image of a group is probably the best move in a business that demands keeping the fans on board and constantly working to bring new ones into the fold.

Beni Usakura, who is the leader, producer and primary creative force of avandoned, commented about the challenges of expanding into a larger group, such as finding songs that work for a six-person group as opposed to a duo, the changes in vocal distribution in previous songs, and the new choreography requirements that come with more people on stage. It’s really not much different than launching an entirely new group, even if the name on the marquee is the same.

Margaret” will be released this month on the 26th, and in true idol form, will have two versions available. Also included is a coupling song that translates to “Prescription Warfare” and the two versions will include new line-up recordings of “After School” and “Exploding Romance”, each pressed to one of the variants.

Extra bonus video: Here’s the avandoned girls performing “Hello” with with Hana Tsuruuchi! 

*I’m pretty sure every single article I’ve written about avandoned utilized the word “quirky”. I see no reason to stop that! 

 

 

Meet avandoned…

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

There She Goes: Beni and The Childish Tones!

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

This Bird Has Flown: Avandoned Will Take New Form Again Next Year

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. 

Continue reading

We Review Things: Avandoned’s “Lemon Peels” is Certified Organic

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

We Review Things: SOLEIL is Much More than Alright…

One of the most refreshing musical highlights of 2018 was the debut album of the band SOLEIL, featuring vocals by the delightful neo-Ye´-Ye´singer who performs under the same stage name. Released this past Spring, “My Name is SOLEIL” is still one of my top releases of the year. It was an album that encapsulated my love for the perfect idol-pop of the 1960’s that swept across Europe and went on to take Asia by storm, quite literally setting up the basic formula for the modern jpop idols that we adore today.

When you consider how long it takes artists to record, produce, and set free a new album, it was certainly a pleasant surprise that just a few months later within the Fall of the same year, SOLEIL doubles down with an entirely new album. (It was written, recorded, produced, and released within 6 months!) Who even does that anymore? Most current artists dwell on a new recording endlessly by committee with a dozen cooks in the kitchen all eager to stamp their egos on the project, while the record label stands over it all, checking off the marketing buzzwords on their list to ensure a product that meets it’s bottom line. It often takes years to make an album these days. Releasing two albums in a year is just downright audacious… Continue reading