It has been a rough couple of years since COVID curtailed two of my favorite past-times (travel and live music) and my absolute favorite thing (traveling to see live music). This past weekend’s trip to Los Angeles for the U.S. debut of ATARASHII GAKKO! at the Head in the Clouds festival was both my first trip and my first music festival in over two years.
So many things have changed!!
Not only is travel and the festival-going experience itself radically different from the pre-COVID era, I realized that the nature of these show reports also needs to evolve since the last time I wrote one up. The recent ubiquity of concert livestreams (perhaps the only positive outcomes of the global pandemic) means that most of you readers who were interested in seeing the show have already done so via Amazon, Twitch or a bootleg upload on YouTube. This relieves me of my pre-COVID responsibility of composing a written portrait of the show itself, so I’ll focus on the elements of the festival experience that didn’t get captured on video (including a surprise close encounter with AG! themselves: READ ON!). Continue reading
ATARASHII GAKKO! have a dropped a new MV and launched the world-wide distribution of “Pineapple Kryptonite”. Pineapple Superman is not amused.
The MV sees the New School Leaders battling a dog-napping space alien in a Southern California setting (I’m not sure how it survives MIZYU’s twin tail helicopter attack) while the tune takes them to some new musical geography as well. The verses of “Pineapple Kryptonite” are a moodier take on AG!’s signature blend of piano funk, acid jazz and hip hop before transitioning into a surprising, liquid drum & bass chorus. This is an ethereal, soulful vibe we’ve not experienced from the Leaders before.
When future music historians look back at the history of the genre the English-speaking world, for lack of a better term, generally refers to as “Alternative Idol”, the decade of 2010 to 2020 will be seen as foundational. Underground idol in Japan has been around since at least the late 90s, hard rock composers were penning songs for idol units in the mid 2000s, and indie idol has probably existed since the birth of the idol genre itself. However, it was the year 2010 when the momentum of disparate events would begin to coalesce and eventually define the broad genre we know and love today. That year’s creation and subsequent seismic success of BiS and BABYMETAL would inspire the formation of hundreds of punk and metal idol units. At the same time, the zeitgeist of the early 2010s independently birthed several other less prominent but just as significant influences. Bellring Girls Heart, You’ll Melt More, Especia and others emerged to embrace an edgier and more avant-garde approach to idol, crafting the sounds and sensibilities of post- and pop-punk, new wave, techno and progressive rock into something entirely new. These early groups inspired both creative composers and adventurous music fans to embrace independent and underground idol as an effective medium for expressing almost every subgenre of rock, hip hop and electronica. Over the past decade, alternative Japanese idol has grown into a world class laboratory for the creation of some of the most innovative music on the planet. Continue reading
This was way too good to Weekender, way too much of just the right energy at the right time to hold up and admire for all of its athletic and artistic excess, super charming and, hell, even kind of inspiring. You may also recall that I vowed to exploit the ever-loving christ out of ATARASHII GAKKO!’s emergence for Western audiences by posting about them in lots of ways all the time and making sure that ol Homicidols Dot Com shows up a lot in search results! I am very clever.
BUT NOT SO CLEVER AS ATARASHII GAKKO!, who “Night Before the Exam” today, which is the extended one-take version of a clip they released back in the early days of their international breakout. I warn you, you will want to dance, but to attempt to dance like ATARASHII GAKKO! for more than, oh, a few seconds is going to leave you breathless and possibly looking for the ice pack and ibuprofen:
Imagine being this fit
After that last release of theirs, I do worry a bit that Our Friends Formerly Known as Leaders may abandon their wild-ass acid-jazz-fueled whatever-you-call-it musical flavor for something perhaps a bit more internationally “normie” friendly, but that they (and 88rising) brought this out is some relief.
And now that we have sufficiently padded our SEO for the week, this is your Homicidol Maniac, signing off!
ATARASHII GAKKO! dropped an MV for the new song “Freaks”, featuring Indonesian rapper Warren Hue and whole heya of sumo wrestlers.
Once again utilizing the square, Instagram-friendly aspect ratio, the members display mini-super powers as they battle sumo wrestlers in a battle to see who’s most goofy. Continue reading
After their November announcement of signing with American multimedia platform 88rising, and their December participation in the DOUBLE HAPPINESS Global Holiday Festival, ATARASHII GAKKO! are continuing their quest for world domination with the January release of, “NAINAINAI”, their first international single and MV.
Atarashii Gakkou no Leaders have dropped the news that they will be kicking off 2021 with an international debut courtesy of a newly inked agreement with the US-based 88rising. Our favorite four-member piano funk meets post-punk and acid jazz unit will be be taking on the world under the name, ATARASHII GAKKO!
The latest trend in idol lives is to not announce livestreaming options until the in-person show is sold out. While I’m sure this makes good financial sense to manager-san, it creates nothing but headaches for fancy idol bloggers trying to put together a robust weekend livestream preview. Luckily, there is also The Calendar which receives constant updates as last-minute livestream announcements come to light. In the meantime, here’s some notable shows we’re aware of that are coming your way this weekend via various streaming media platforms.
ZOMBIE POWDER kick off the weekend, sharing the stage with the hardest working unit in chika idol, Dan te Lion and others in the 41st volume of the excellent Diffusion Φ Brightness taiban series.
If shoegaze and dreampop are more your style, the incomparable LiLii Kaona, cana÷biss and more are performing in a line up headlined by electro pop artist Mariko Takei. Continue reading
Every year, enduring songs emerge that collectively define the summer months. They are the infectious tunes that serve as the backing music for the few brief months between school years, or the soundtrack of unforgettable vacations. Summer is often a transitional time of new experiences and transformation. The accompanying music will later inspire nostalgia for a specific point in time when everything changed.
On the verge of an unprecedented summer time, more than ever, we have no idea what the season may bring. Team Homicidols is here to help eliminate the uncertainty in one area at least: filling out your summer playlist.
Homicidols Nominations for Song of the Summer, 2020
Boys Be Anarchy, Nani’n’Nerun?
Nominated by: Papermaiden Continue reading
It was about time BABYMETAL paid homage to David Bowie. I mean, while Bowie crushed just about every pop genre on the planet except Heavy Metal, he was largely responsible for the early creation of Glam Rock.
- Without Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, we have no KISS.
- Without KISS to influence a young Yoshiki, we have no X Japan.
- With no X Japan, we have no BABYMETAL.
So when BABYMETAL’s new single, “Elevator Girl”, opens by directly channeling the piano riff from Bowie’s early 80s classic, “Modern Love”, the circle of life seems, in some ways, complete. In truth, the direct influence on this single is probably less Bowie’s soul and groove-flavored New Wave, and more the J-Pop fusion of acid jazz, funk and techno that coalesced around the same time period into the broad City Pop genre. City Pop has seen a lot of attention lately with interest from Vaporwave aesthetes, YouTube channels streaming curated City Pop feeds 24-7, and it’s own brief “I didn’t know [insert name here] put out a City Pop album” meme.
City Pop is also heavily influencing a number of current groups in the alternative idol world including early album-of-the-year contenders Atarashii Gakkou No Leaders, GuGu-LuLu and the fledgling OWA Yoru.
(This is a lot of words so far just to talk about a three-minute song. What we are seeing here is an unfortunate side effect when a group as musically fascinating as BABYMETAL only releases three pieces of new material in a twelve-month span. In the absence of an “Elevator Girl” MV to talk about, let’s continue the over-analysis:) Continue reading