We have reached the second-to-last week of our Top 50 countdown featuring the albums that placed 11 – 20 plus one honorable mention that didn’t quite make the final list of 50.
“Why the honorable mentions?”, no one asked, “Why not just make it a top 55 or 60?”
There are a few reasons such as we had to draw a line somewhere, and also because we wanted to respect our quasi-democratic process. The primary reason though is because, when we first took a look at the final top 50, we were surprised by a few things that weren’t there. This week’s honorable mention is a prime case in point:
In case you missed it, Watanabe stranded GO TO THE BEDS on a deserted island earlier this week. If you’re like me, you’ve had a browser window open on your desktop during working hours so you can keep up on the livestreamed hijinks. Time zones being what they are, my working hours largely coincide with Japan’s sleeping hours, so I have still managed to get quite a bit of work done this week (and keep The Calendar mostly up-to-date) despite the distraction. So besides that, what’s there to watch on this final weekend before Tokyo Idol Festival?
By now most of you know that Kai, one of our favorite quirky oddball idols around these parts, has decided to step down from all activities. TRASH-UP!! Records released a statement late last week breaking us the news…
For a lot of us, this retirement of sorts is a more personal loss than usual in a business where graduations and disbandments are common events that we’ve developed an understanding and acceptance of. Kai was just something… well, unique, y’know? Aside from her fans, she’s also always been a consistent friend of idols. I can’t recall exactly how many times she showed up in my instagram feed having lunch with someone else I followed. Beni made a point to post her well-wishes and reminisce over some fond memories…
One of my personally most-anticipated idol events of the year isn’t TIF, or Jam Expo. It doesn’t even even feature performances for that matter. For me, it’s the annual collaboration between TRASH-UP!! Records and Tokyo’s Mograg Gallery, “Art and Idol”, now in it’s third incarnation! It’s a simple and irresistible premise, an art show where all the art is created by idols. Now it’s it’s third edition, it’s fantastic to see this event be so successful and well-regarded.
When you think about it, it’s a perfect idea because the idol world is packed with wonderfully artistic talent who are always pursuing multiple ways to express themselves. As it’s been covered before in this blog, idols, especially within the chika circles, are multi-layered creatives who consistently deliver an entire package of intriguing work beyond singing and dancing.
With previous showings, it’s been the practice to keep the artwork under wraps until the opening, and then after a few days, images of the participant’s artwork pops up online via social media. I find it fascinating to see what the idols came up with, and in some cases, it’s illuminating to see their creative output because it offers a new peek into their personalities. Other times, it’s just cheeky fun. (Like the time the Dot-chans presented miniature terrariums with chirping crickets inside!) But regardless of what they do, it’s never boring. Continue reading →
So hot on the heels of the release of Moonlight Tokyo, (Which is excellent and brilliant and probably one of the best releases that will come out this year.) Kai and TRASH-UP!! Records have followed up with an MV for the song “Himitsu No Tobira”.
As I mentioned in the review, this is one of my personal favorite tunes on the EP, with it’s uplifting organ groove and cool little xylophone vibes. I loved this song, and now here comes an MV that takes something already great and elevates to an even higher plane!
Ever since it was announced that Aqbi superstar Kai was joining the TRASH-UP!! roster, I’ve been looking forward to hearing what she’d be doing as a solo artist. Kai of course, is no stranger to TRASH-UP!!, having been part of the oddball folk song trio Engawa, (Most often referred to in these parts as “The weird Beni/Kai thing”) and considering the close ties between my favorite idol label and Aqbi, (Including Yoneko and Mizuho connections!) it made perfect sense as career transition…
Anyway, there’s been a bit of an anxious delay on my part because I tried to order “Moonlight Tokyo” from Amazon Japan and it was momentarily listed with a possibly two month shipping delay. (!)I don’t know if I’m correct in my theory, but I’d like to believe that’s because it was a surprisingly bigger seller than anticipated, so that’s what I’m running with. It pleases me to share that the digital version is finally online!! streaming with Spotify and Apple Music, and the latter platform is selling it via iTunes as well. For lossless purists, I keep checking on OTOTOY but no luck just yet, but don’t assume it won’t happen eventually.
Does Yoneko ever stop and take a break? Apparently not, because she’s released yet another new, self-composed song and music video to commemorate today’s transition from Heisei to Reiwa era. Directed by Kai, of all people, in the first in what I hope will be many collaborations by ex-Bellrings who jumped to Trash-Up records.
The song itself reminds me of Bellring gone lo-fi. And the music video fits pretty well, matching both Yoneko and Kai’s recent forays into retraux aesthetic. I’m not going to lie, through about half of the song I was expecting a sudden burst of clear vocals and thrashing guitars at each break, but nope, she sticks to the quiet, fuzzy audio quality for the entire track. But after I got used to it, I really began to appreciate the simplicity of one girl and her electric guitar. Would I say this was a good tribute to the ending Heisei era? I’m not really well-versed enough in Japanese culture to know for sure. But it’s a quality, chill, lazy-day track that I could easily imagine myself listening to alone in the garden on a sunny day, or in my bedroom on a late night, and that’s good enough for me.
Now, where’s that Kanra/Kai/Mizuho reunion single we all want?
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.
Why yes, finally, we have an honest to goodness post about ENGAWA on this site! Engawa is, as you may know from reading this blog, what is often referred to as “That weird Beni-Kai thing with that old guy.” That guy by the way, is Koji Ishikawa, who was for many years the percussionist for a well-known and respected comedic folk group called Tama. (Who were really very good!)
Somewhere along the way, Koji formed this project with our beloved Beni and Kai, and together they play these high-spirited, light-hearted and lo-fi shows on occasion. Koji plays a minimalist home-made drum set while Beni and Kai sing and dance about in a silly, child-like way. You’ll either think it’s a swell time or a grating assault on your sanity, I’ll leave that up to you…
What a wild ride. I only just recovered from Maison Book Girl last month, and now I’m back from hanging out with three other idol acts with barely any time to relax in between each one. I feel like I’ve ascended to a new plane of existence. A huge thank you to everybody who made this happen, from the Orion and show staff to Maniac and you guys, the readers (a couple of whom I even met on Monday! Sorry if I seemed awkward!) you’re the best.
Before Maniac changed plans to honor the new Oshi, this interview with Screaming Sixties’s very own Kai was the first of the week. Sadly, her partner in crime, Montero, couldn’t make it to the UK due to some last-minute visa issues, so Kai came completely alone this time around. But at the show, she promised to come back and bring Montero with her! Be warned, England.
Despite being nervous at going it alone, nobody would have been able to tell from Kai’s dominant energy and confidence once she was on stage. It was as if Montero was still performing for us, we just couldn’t see her. Like her spirit had possessed Kai to create one super-powerful being to make up for her absence. What I’m trying to say, is that Kai rocked it, and did an amazing job despite the unexpected setbacks.
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