We have hit the half-way point of our attempt to capture some of the greatness that the alternative, indie and underground idols of Japan have contributed to the world over the past ten years. If you would like a recap of the methodology we used to arrive at the album rankings, please visit week one’s installment. If you missed last week’s post or want a refresher of the albums that placed 31st – 40th, you can find that here.
Now, on with the next ten albums in the countdown plus one honorable mention that fell just a little bit short of the top 50:
Welcome to week two of our latest project where we blatantly rip off Rolling Stone’s Greatest of All Time lists. These imperfect and perpetually recurring features from the Gray Lady of rock journalism have a special place in my heart. As a young teen who only knew David Bowie from “Let’s Dance” and Labyrinth, my first browse through Rolling Stone’s inaugural best rock album list introduced me to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The encounter was genuinely life changing.
Hopefully, through this exercise of recognizing some of the most influential underground, indie and alternative idol albums of the last decade, you will not only encounter many of your personal favorites, but make some new discoveries as well.
When the original BiS arrived at their decision to disband wayyyyy back in 2014, did they ever consider how all the tangled strands of their legacy would branch out into a dozen hydra-like directions that each evolved into their own unique entities? In the moment, I recall my own bummed out reaction to the breakup quickly turning into eager excitement for the future as each member revealed their plans. There was LUI FRONTiC, Pla2me, BILLIE IDLE®︎, Tentenko’s solo experiments, and then there was one that really especially stuck out to me…. KoshoujiMegumi’s newly announced “Book House Girl”, which promptly became the enigmatically named Maison book girl.
Maison book girl releasing a music video while Storm Dennis batters the UK feels oddly appropriate considering they’re like the idol equivalent of being indoors on a rainy evening. As comforting as their music often sounds, however, their videos are sometimes the opposite, such as today’s offering, “Kanashimi no Kodomotachi”.
This is the other big item from earlier in the week that I wanted to make sure to highlight, like really highlight, and I’m doing it wantonly because it’s a lot and they deserve it. Yeah, I’m talking about Maison book girl, who I still can’t believe I write about as favorably as I do nowadays after quite a long time of both pretending that they didn’t belong and being too xylophone-reliant to take all that seriously. Here we are!
The point of the post, though, is to acknowledge that Maison book girl released an album earlier this week, and it is excellent, the kind of high art that I think just enough of idol has embraced. They also, in conjunction with that release, dropped a couple of MVs that you may or may not agree are the best songs on the album, but I read the selection as “these songs sum up the album go buy it.”
Well, right here in this very spot today, gang, was supposed to be this big primer post for the Tokyo Idol Festival, who to see and where and when. You’ve seen them before if you’ve been around for a while. They’re usually fun to put together, doubly so because they inform how I’m going to be taking in the festival myself, via completely legal and legitimate means and don’t you dare suggest otherwise ha. But like so much else these past several months, that fell by the wayside for want of time. Boo.
Good thing for us that one of the very best things in all of idol this year (and frankly maybe last year too) hit the waves a couple of days ago, and while it took me a couple of days to catch up to it, what Maison book girl is doing here is one of their all-time best things, aurally on point and as perfect a visual accompaniment as you’re likely to get, period. I mean, just soak this in:
It’s just like me to offer to write a quick-take on a topic that really has a lot more going on than just a simplified quick-take!
The MV for Maison book girl‘s recent album’s closing track “Yumea” (Dream) entered public consciousness over the weekend, and it’s a beautiful piece of visual art. If you watched it on a pure surface level with no backstory about it’s intent, it’s still a gorgeous experience in the arena of sound and vision. I’m thinking it’s reasonably safe that the highly loyal Bukuga fans out there have already seen it, but I recommend a rewatch anyway, and if you haven’t, please take a moment. There won’t be a quiz or anything, but it’s important to understand what we’re discussing, and also, it’s a great song and you just really should…
The opening scenes are a questionnaire session leading into a sleep test in a medical facility. It’s then followed with a series of dreamy visuals of girls in headphones looking all introspective. Okay fine, so girls in headphones looking introspective on bus rides isn’t terribly groundbreaking, I’ll cede you that point, but those surreal images that pulsate in time with the odd flickering sound in the song, what’s that about? Well, the end of the video is kind enough to help explain that, and that’s where one realizes the true beauty of this MV. Continue reading →
That was “Semai Monogatari” from Maison book girl’s upcoming album, Yume.
In a time full of general idol weirdness you can always count on MBG to bring something that’s both a pleasant break from everything else, while also being artsy enough to make you go “Hmmmm”. I’m looking forward to hearing the deeper meanings and interpretations from certain fans because god knows I’m too dense to really think any deeper other than “Ooh, pretty!” Continue reading →
Just like there are “dog people” and “cat people”, there is a binary in the alternative idol fandom: Those who think Maison Book Girl’s sound is homogenous enough to believe it’s the same track on loop, and those who think “wow, this is such a new direction for them, I’m impressed” every time they have released a song since their major debut.
Obviously, this author is part of the second category and was once again in awe upon listening to “Okaeri Sayonara”. The music video was released today, along with the announcement of a new album, Yume, coming on November 21.
I have always associated Maison Book Girl with rain, and this MV validates that feeling. While the group has returned to light-colored costumes, the ominous feeling of the lyrics is reflected in the clear inspiration from hospital gowns. Continue reading →