The 50 Greatest Alternative Idol Albums of the Last Decade: #1 – 10

Here it is!! The final top ten in our countdown of the 50 Greatest Albums of the last decade. Be sure to let us know the albums you feel we were criminally negligent to exclude, and the punishment you think we deserve. We are collecting your feedback for our follow-up article: “Albums We are Awful for Leaving Off the Greatest Albums List”.

While we know that our imperfect process (and questionable taste) has overlooked some stellar albums and deserving units, we hope that you have still found the exploration worthwhile. I know I have enjoyed revisiting some classic albums that I haven’t listened to in years and even discovered a few new favorites. We may try the exercise again, perhaps with the “50 Greatest MVs”. If we do, we’ll find a way to incorporate community participation in the selection next time.

Without further ado:

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A Yellow RAY of Sunshine For You!

Spring is here and new life is emerging from the Earth (It really is!) and the days are nice and long! We’re gearing up for summer with (hopefully) significantly less Covid-ness and I for one, am longing for a new soundtrack for the humid nights I’m driving around with my windows down. What’s it gonna be? I’m sure you all have multiple things you’re anticipating, and here’s the newest hat thrown into the summer soundtrack sweepstakes…

The glorious genre-spanning etherial beings of light that we know as RAY are streaking across the heavens with a new four-song single release simply called “Yellow”! This announcement alone is a stop-the-presses level of importance as it is, but the wonderfully generous souls behind RAY have been gracious enough to give you (for a limited time) a complete listen to all four tracks! You’re now excused if you want to cut me off here and go listen immediately, after all, I’m as excited as you are and understand fully..

https://twitter.com/_RAY_world/status/1396767933804605441

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Have You Heard The Good News Of RAY?

The glorious RAY posted on their twitter to look forward to an upcoming announcement, which sounded very promising for once, as opposed to all the downtrodden news we’ve gotten recently. “Yes please o’ etherial shoegazing idols , give us something good!! We need this!!”, we were all thinking to ourselves…

And so today, (Which is is actually now yesterday as of this publishing.) the good news was delivered! Have you heard? Listen and listen well, those who believe, and welcome to the light, those of you who are new…

https://twitter.com/_RAY_world/status/1250378525732786176

 

Yes, Sweet Hipster Moses, RAY is releasing their first album!! I swear the sun came out and bathed the Earth is a pink glow while the Corona virus cowered a little today. Everything just got a little better. And oh, guess what else? For a limited amount of time, the album in it’s entirety is uploaded on YouTube, to let you taste the rainbow a little bit early!

Maybe before I say anything more about the details, I’ll leave the embed right here and let you dive in. So go ahead, breathe in, and savor a full preview of RAY’s very first full-length album, entitled “Pink”

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RAY Want To Spend “The End Of The World With You”…

This dropped a few days ago, but it was simply too good to let slip past the radar. Shoegaze idols RAY,  (Successors to the now-legendary group with no with no real name save for a row of dots) are still not a year old, but have already made a huge impression with a dose of effortless charisma and incredibly strong musical collaborations with top-tier talent.

Their first EP release “Blue” was a near-perfect collection of songs that revealed a sky’s-the-limit potential. We’ve been treated to MVs for “Butterfly Effect” and “Meteor”, and now there’s a more low-key video for the closing track, “The End Of The World With You”

https://twitter.com/_RAY_world/status/1230809425134227457?

As the tweet above explains, this MV offers us a retrospective of the group’s upward trajectory since their inception, including most notably their acclaimed show in Taiwan.   Let’s have a look!

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RAY Drops a Visually Stunning Meteor of Emotions and Reverb…

It was just mere days ago we were talking about that wonderful footage of RAY performing live in Taiwan, and we took a moment to also mention that the group will also be releasing their first single/EP, entitled “Blue”. The release has lovely cover art and an extremely impressive roster of collaborators. Now we’ve been blessed with another highly anticipated track on the disk, “Meteor”, featuring an instrumental arrangement by Elliot Frazier of the highly regarded Austin band Ringo Deathstarr!

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RAY Gazes Upon Taipei… (With Live Footage!)

RAY, the next generation shoegaze idols who arose from the ashes of the legendary dot-chans, have been hard at work crossing genres, boundaries and now borders. The group visited Taiwan and performed a show in Taipei. Excitedly, I scanned Twitter and YouTube hoping to find some footage of the concert. Viz and Rain were also thankfully on the case, and proved to be ethusiatic as always to help out…

And Rain went and found an upload of the entire set! He certainly wanted to make sure we didn’t sleep on it… Continue reading

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…

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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…

https://twitter.com/tokyo_tsukurou/status/1116686540153819137?s=20

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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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.

Homicidols TV Party Tonight!

Streaming video is marvelous, isn’t it? It’s a completely indispensable resource for us Western idol fans in particular, allowing us to keep up with events and shows that we’d otherwise miss out on, so thank goodness for that. Quite often, following an event I especially wish I had seen, I hit the internet in the days afterward to see if I can find some video, and lo and beyond, often I find what just what I wanted. One thing that’s nice about chika-level idols in particular is that many of these groups have relaxed rules for filming shows. Some groups even have just about nearly every gig uploaded for fans to see. I’ve had a few favorites lately, and I thought I’d share them in one handy place and perhaps help bring something your way that you’ll especially enjoy. It’ll be like a TV PARTY!

First up is Avandoned, the duo who have never failed to make me happy and excited to see what creative endeavors they’ve taken on next. These are the girls who I feel have really broken ground, having elevated to a new sub-sub genre, the Art Idol. Another thing I love about them, they’ve been escaping the usual dark basement club circuit and performing in quirky shops and galleries, attracting crowds out side the usual flock of wota devotees. Avandoned’s relationship with the Vivid Sound label is really striking gold, with a string of vinyl singles that suit the group’s vision perfectly. Avandoned have a new single coming out on October 10th, and they perform the a-side here in this video at the 28:33 mark. It’s another perfect fix of pop-goodness, and they sing like they’re having the time of their lives!

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