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!

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.

 

 

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!

 

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…

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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Saturday MV Galore can’t stop, won’t stop: New Chiaki Mayumura out!

If you were planning for a boring saturday without any visual stimulation, you should probably give up on these foolish plans right away.

Idol is happening and you’d be depriving yourself of some good stuff.

This very short MV could have been a contender for the weekender, but I feel it wouldn’t do it justice. This needs a better showcase. Please take in this minute and a half shockfull of corporate insanity.  Whether the baldness drums, the pertinent suggestions of what to do with shareholders and higher ups at your next christmas party or the sheer contrast of the hymn-like music (a reference to school songs, perhaps?) compared to the chaos of the MV.

Once again, have a great weekend!

 

 

 

Maison Book Girl : Automata

Maison Book girl will soon be releasing their new album SOUP, and we are therefore graced with a music video for the song Kujira Kōjō (Whale Factory).

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YOU’LL MELT MORE! Once Again Prove They’re The Real Queens…

Sometimes I think You’ll Melt More! is the most criminally underrated group of all in the sub-sub-genre of music we celebrate here. They exist in this odd spot where they’re too big for the chika circuit, but yet just out of reach of the true heights of fame and praise they truly deserve.

While other groups get more Western fan attention with outlandish stunts and forced controversy, YLMM! focus on actually making fantastic music with a lot of heart and earnest ambition. Clearly when you see the sizes of their crowds and the loyalty of their fans, it’s notable that they’ve done very well for themselves, but I really feel like they deserve even more than what they’ve already (impressively) achieved.

I’ll even admit that I don’t always give them the love they deserve as often as I should, and that’s simply an offense on my part. I think the issue is that You’ll Melt More! have been making their psyche-fueled-freakout-krautrock-inspired magic since 2012, and when an idol group lasts this long, we kind of start to take them for granted, and that’s a terrible mistake!

One of the personal course-corrections I made for for 2019 is that I would get back to aggressively supporting this group as vocally as they deserve, and this recent live video of the group performing their nearly eight-minute space-rock monsterpiece “Only You” from their their 2015 magnum opus album “You Are The World” is the perfect window to refresh what is already gloriously refreshing.

This video highlights the final stop on their tour for the “Never Give Up Drunk Monkeys” release, shot at Zepp Tokyo in front of their most loyal fans, and it’s a document of just what kind of greatness idols are capable of with a lot of heart, soul, and quite a bit of physical risk as well. I know there’s plenty of videos for “Only You” floating around, but I never get tired of watching them perform this epic. I’d say this is the song to pull out if you want to sell this group to a friend unfamiliar with them, but also, this is a great piece of music to show that person in your life who doesn’t even know what idol music is. It’s peak non-traditional art idol in my eyes, and a great summation of what our favorite misunderstood genre of music can achieve.

And then there’s the performance itself, the vocals have that not-quite-perfect but yet lovely ring, the set is amazing, the dragon dancers add just the right flavor, and the emotions! Kechon has tears streaming down her face, and those are the tears of hard work and giving it your all for your art. Chiffon is still the most underrated idol vocalists around, and cooler than cucumbers in the freezer. Ano is Ano and thank goodness for that, doing her Ano-ish things, including spending plenty of time floating around on the adoring crowd.

And of course we have Younapi, who should’ve been voted Queen of the Scene multiple times over, fearlessly climbing a ladder like she’s about to pull the wrestling finishing move of the year while hyping up the audience with positive vibes of pure charm. I swear, every time I watch an “Only You” performance I want high-five the sun in the sky. It’s just beautiful.

Also, I’m glad Younapi got down from that ladder okay. (Off camera) That made me a little anxious.

2019 is still young, and Spring is around the corner. Still plenty of time for You’ll Melt More! to continue their usual pace and release an album, six EPs, ten singles, and a gazillion MVs before the year ends. I’m looking forward to all of it!! 

 

 

 

 

 

We Interview Idols: YONEKO

In this current early 2019 period of disbandments, graduations and letdowns, a favourite from all the way since the birth of Homicidols has instead gone down an opposite route. Herself being a victim of the “start of the year curse” just last year, Yoneko has been buckling down hard to make sure there’s at least one idol providing consistent positivity through the tides of bad news from other performers. In just three months, Yoneko has graced us with a digital single, three CD-Rs, a fantastic collaboration with FEATURES and three music videos.

Most recently, she has been making a passionate effort to reach out to her fans outside of Japan, turning her into a beloved figure amongst the western idol fandom almost overnight.

She’s even going through the trouble of setting up a Bandcamp for overseas fans, despite the burden being so tedious it led her to drop a curse word or two!

As she welcomed her overseas fandom with open arms, Yoneko expressed her interest in being interviewed by foreign blogs. And, well, as a foreign blog that has followed her career since 2016, how could we not take such an opportunity? And so, via a few email exchanges, Yoneko was more than happy to answer some of our questions. Continue reading

Like a Butterfly from a Chrysalis, Yoneko’s Emergence Is Beautiful and Kind of Terrifying

Today’s been a pretty good week for Yoneko fans; not only is she actively reaching out to foreign fans and even working on a Bandcamp for you all (not to mention we might even have something special coming up in the near future!) but she brought out yet another music video! It hasn’t even been a month since the last one! Yoneko sure is good to us.

Well, that was just dang adorable! The track, “Kasei no Koibito” (or “Martian’s Lover” in English) has actually been available on online platforms such as iTunes and Spotify for about a month now, and has already become of my personal most-played tracks of the year so far. But if you haven’t already listened to it yet, now is your chance to appreciate Yoneko’s dreamy brand of electro-pop for yourself. The music video, following hot off the heels of “Auoo”, follows a similar kind of breezy, playful expression that’s like a cross between Oomori Seiko and a child’s bedtime story. Yoneko already proved herself a force to be reckoned with long before she even became a soloist, but I can say with certainty that she is an idol to look out for in 2019.

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.

NaNoMoRaL Grace Us With an MV, a New Song, & Lots of Feeling…

The power duo NaNoMoRaL have been charming us with some really terrific music since last year, with their debut EP “Nisan ka Tanso” being one of my personal favorite releases of 2018. When you combine Amamiya Miku‘s raw, emotional vocals, and terrific stage presence with Kajiwara Paseli‘s tech wizardry and secondary vocals, you have a group that’s proven themselves to be a unit worth watching.

I feel like 2019 could be a highly eventful year for these two, so it’s welcome news to see their first true “MV” finally released, and it’s for a new song at that!

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