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.

https://twitter.com/avandoned_idol/status/1042337650328268803

If you pressed me to label them, I would venture to describe Avandoned today as a neo-twee-feel-good-art-pop-rock-idol group. They evoke in me memories as diverse as 60’s girl groups, “family bands” like the Partridge Family and the Cowsills, and more modern indie-pop groups with punk attitudes like Sarah Records’ own Heavenly and Another Sunny Day. That’s some pretty amazing spiritual company to keep! Beni’s been DJing professionally for a few years at this point, and the benefits of her musical education and her networking with a who’s-who of the coolest indie-garage-punk torch carriers has most certainly made her one the cool kids. Meanwhile Kotao contributes her art-school sensibility and charming sense of humor into the mix, making the duo a much stronger and fully realized musical force than many folks might be aware of. 

The single kicks off with the title track, written by Chabe of LEARNERS, and it’s a lively guitar strumming number that feels just like sugary lemonade in the final days of summer. It’s fresh and exciting, but yet has the satisfying comfort of an elusive flashback of childhood memories. Think of that great song you loved as a kid, but can’t quite remember, and the rush that comes over you when you hear something like it that stirs those pleasant emotions of your past. That’s “Lemon Peels”! 

The b-side is also a tasty treat. “Chanto Koko ni Sain Shite”  (MV above), written by Yabuyuta of the band SEVENTEEN AGAiN, is a good-natured and incredibly catchy mid-tempo rock number with a sparse guitar/bass/drum arrangement and harmonies to die for. At under three minutes, it’s a short tune as well, but that’s more than okay. It’s nice to see songwriters who understand that keeping things compact is often far more effective that dragging a song out when it’s not needed. That’s what 7-inch records are all about, getting you to pick that needle up and putting it right back for another go!

The accompanying CD also includes the instrumental versions of the two songs, which brings me to a question: Do you ever listen to the instrumentals included on idol singles? I recommend it! You’ll really wake up to a new way of hearing your favorite songs and it’s really quite fascinating. I frequently realize a lot of these tunes are far more sophisticated than I take them for at face value. We could probably write a whole another article on that…

By the way, that delightful MV for “Chanto Koko ni Sain Shite” was edited by Beni herself! And that’s yet another reason you should be supporting Avandoned: They’re DIY indie-idol pioneers. At this point it’s almost easier to ask what they haven’t done. From lyrics to merch to set-design and art, Beni and Kotao have achieved much of their goals as entertainers on their own through hard-work and determination. Despite their deceptively easy-going sound, I frequently refer to Avandoned as being pure punk-rock, and I stand by that. They continue to do what they want on their own terms, and it’s something we should encourage and support. They stand out among the crowd by being themselves, which is a blessed and too rare thing.  A decade from now, I’ll still be treasuring these records they’ve put out, and I’ll always be proud of them for what they’ve done. Heartfelt art lasts forever. 

I’ll leave you with some footage of their recent one-man show, which was a massive success! SOLEIL, Monari Wakita, Naoki Nemoto of the Childish Tones, and Soze from Melon Batake a go-go were just a few of the people attending the event.  Oh, and by the way — Avandoned announced at the gig that they’re working an actual honest-to-goodness-full-length album! No release date or details yet, but you can bet I’m watching closely for more news about that! I have a feeling that 2019 is going to be a great year for Avandoned! 

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