Once upon a time (it was about five months ago!), I was showing ye olde website to a friend. You see, IRL Maniac isn’t always Maniac IRL, and not everybody in the social orbit is aware of this joint’s existence. I don’t exactly hide it — I’ve introduced myself at parties as “owner of North America’s finest J-pop website about punk rock girl groups” on several occasions — but nor do I flaunt it because, well, I know a lot of boring-ass people and choose to not cast my pearls before swine.
In the context of the tale, Friend in Question had heard me talking about a group* and was curious about the description, in response to which I ultimately produced my phone and did a little tour of the Ultimate Homicidol Playlist. As I expected, the original sheen of excitement wore off after a few minutes, but then this particular Kamen Joshi MV popped up and her enthusiasm was suddenly re-piqued.
She wanted to know why the members were dressed the way they were, why the masks, why the song sounded like “something from a Disney Channel movie,” etc. I answered the best that I could, which was interesting because I easily had the least to say about Kamen Joshi than about any of the other groups that I’d showcased. Friend in Question noticed: “You sound like you don’t like this one as much.”
“You know,” I said, “they’re kind of one of those things that you either feel strongly about or not at all.” Continue reading →
I know! You’d think it’d be easy. I can think of bad puns right now, but none of them are even oh-Maniac-chuckle-chuckle funny, and that’s the lowest level that I strive for. What’s the point of being a fancy idol blogger if you can’t make people acknowledge that they ought to awkwardly laugh for the sake of the wild-eyed madman screaming at them in HTML about things?
Anyway. Still, no idol news of note this morning, so let’s keep plumbing recent weeks’ unpublished drafts and see what happens. Like, for instance, a new-enough group that has notably been popping up in lots of photos with other idols but is yet to generate much of a following — NEAR!
Interesting! What else do you have?
I’ll take it! This isn’t actually a new unit, per se, given that they debuted like way back in the spring, but a 2018 debut is a 2018 debut, damn it, and I’m the boss here. They’re the “most confident idol,” is the angle, which probably means that they’re basically walking ganbare fists but would be way more fun if “confident” were more along the lines of “kept in confidence,” which would allow for all kinds of neat interpretations, including my preferred epithet of NEAR as human embodiments of the Keep of Secrets from OG Warhammer (remember Warhammer!).
But naw, let’s keep it sane-ish and just say that they remind me of 969 in good ways.
For a smaller, less-followed unit, NEAR produces a ton of media to take in, so make sure to follow them on Twitter and YouTube for the goods. For instance, of the girls just celebrated her birthday in a video that looks like it was produced by Lein on a day when she really wanted to keep the demons at bay but couldn’t quite hold them all the way back:
Has anything interested happened in the Idolverse yet today? I suppose that depends on your perspective. However: No. Not yet. There are apparently announcements to be made later, and that’s great, but I want to blog a post right now. Good thing there are so many new idol groups to catch up with!
So remember a few weeks ago, in the Weekender, when I was like “ex-BiS tongue piercing Nakayama Yukiko did an idol group”? It happened! Unveiled last week! They are Kimi no Mawari (Twitter). This is the teaser for them: Continue reading →
Kerrie is a great big fan of Gokigen Teikoku. Whereas I have always enjoyed them and at times felt like they, of anybody, had the potential to really shake up idol from the grassroots, my interest was more academic. For Kerrie, it’s more visceral — she owns one of those epic Ichiho body pillow doodads, for goodness’s sake. And so, it was an incredibly difficult decision to yank this out from under her when she wasn’t able to write it up immediately, and then deliver exactly the opposite take that I’m sure she’d deliver! Ahahahahahahahaha!
So anyway, Gokitei. If you’re newer ’round these parts, they started off as one of the super-indies, having broken with their management (as a different unit with a different name) to idol how they wanted instead. Their whole approach was oddball, putting real (or the appearance of real) personality on raw display (drunk dialing your groupmates!); their music veered left and right but always within the boundaries of fun, enthusiastic and genre-disregarding. They were fun.
And they are fun still. That’s the thing — most other super-indies, as they gain popularity, wind up back in some management company’s loving arms just to deal with the logistics of it all. Not Gokitei! If anything, they’ve doubled down on their independence while continuing to riff on idol tropes, right down to having a trainee unit. It has, though, come at a cost, as the original five-member lineup has ebbed and flowed over the last couple of years and now stands at a trio, with only Ichiho left of the originals. Depending on how you hold it up to the light, I don’t think it’s out of bounds to say that she’s the closest person in idol right now to embodying what Pour Lui was doing with OG BiS, and in fact may be an even greater realization of that vision.
From the time that IVOLVE was launched to the first time that I felt moved enough to write anything about them was literal months, I think; months again passed after that moment before they again appeared in this feed. It was a two-fold problem, I think: They didn’t have a blow-out kind of debut, and they weren’t explicitly a loud unit of any particular stripe, either.
On the latter, that still holds true, but the last few months have proven to be good and cool and active ones for IVOLVE, and I had to curb my own worst impulses* to hit the play button when these showed up on Soundcloud the other day. The thing is, I’ve been doing a lot of IVOLVE, and Homicidols Dot Com likes to cast wide nets for all but the most momentous of idol happenings, so would I really want to do more IVOLVE when there are other things on like heavy rotation at the moment?
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 →
Dear idols: When you take on the massive lift that is going from the Tokyo underground to international touring, you get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the ol’ Homicidols editorial calendar, and things that I’d ordinarily Weekender become features. If I can goose interest in your gigs when they’re going to happen right here in my country, I’m going to do it, you know?
In this case, with Oyasumi Hologram now only a couple of weeks away from their first (and hopefully not last!) run of U.S. tour dates, I wanted to highlight some live video from their gig over the weekend. If you’re new to them or just plain on the fence about whether to get to the Bay Area or New York or Philadelphia, maybe these little tastes of what’s in store can sway you. Or you’re like me and will just plain enjoy seeing OYSM doing their thing!
After that first couple of videos, I didn’t reckon that we’d been getting a trailer for IDOL SHREDDER that’s practically the length of many groups’ EPs with almost three weeks left until the album drops, but I’m also not going to complain about a bigger, fuller, better look. Frankly, nobody should!
I don’t have the best track record when it comes to converting other humans to the charms of this very grown-up unit with a very grown-up orientation, but please do, friends, consider it. As “just” idols, REGiNA KiSS was in fact quite good; with the band behind the slightly retooled duo, they mix things up more frequently and take some interesting chances. I’d love for this to wind up on some major streaming services so that folks can get the experience in full.
Guys, I’m a dum-dum. Now, if you’ve been following this website for any period of time you’ll already know that, but seriously, I’m a dum-dum. Over an entire month since I announced this release (among other things) and still I waited, impatiently. “Aagh, when will they hurry up and start selling this EP somewhere other than their live shows? It’s not even on their website!”. Then reader and Friday Fun regular Chris dropped a bombshell on me:
“Why don’t you just get it on Ototoy you cretin?”
Ototoy. Of course.
Surprise surprise, there it was. Right there. The “September 10th” release date almost taunting me.
Well, whatever, this isn’t the first sleepy review I’ve written long after the actual release date. Actually, I don’t think any of my reviews so far have been on time. Kind of a downside of being sleepy, you see. Tiredness slows you down. And, on two days without sleep, I think now’s a better time than any to get this month-old draft out of the way. Continue reading →
Have I ever mentioned the “Idols That Maniac Frequently Forgets Exist, Ranked” list? That started off as a pretty okay joke post, then became alarmingly serious as I worked on it — I seriously forget about a lot of idols. I’ll probably never publish it. But for real, BLACK NAZARENE is on there, which is a shame given the self-driven wota hype about their debut earlier in the year.
And it was a good debut! The deflation was less an issue with BLACKNAZARENE than it was wotas’ inability to sensibly respond to stimulus. Nonetheless, while the group has in fact been developing nicely and carving out their niche over the course of the year, they’ve been below the radar because they aren’t the most prolific thing in the world. Maybe they’re making a move now, though, because (as Andrew pointed out) they dropped themselves a new MV today, revealing and unacknowledged but apparent semi-abandonment of their “THUGxkawaii” image: