Hamidasystem crash, Hamidasystem reboot, Hamidasystem restart! Now that we have the pun quota sorted, Shiika and Mikoto are back with a few new friends!
Idol’s jagged edge.
Let’s tell a story, one that involves yet another attempt at forming a heavy idol group and failing and coming back stronger.
I’m actually not talking about Parallel Japan, but their predecessor, Parallel 5.
Notice anything, or anyone, familiar? Like maybe a certain center for a certain idolcore phenomenon? She’s obviously doing other things now. And that’s literally the story of Parallel 5 — they formed as something of a dance unit with their own vocals, all self-produced, and then lost one of the best singers in the game probably right about the time when they were starting to feel like they were getting somewhere. “Look at Me,” after all, is a pretty okay song.
This is usually the part of the story when the rest of the group breaks up, gets repackaged, etc. But rarely are such things the choice of the members so much as it is the prerogatives of management, and Parallel 5 were running that show themselves.
So despite losses in March 2015, the remaining members — Sari, Asumi and Tibiyui — basically said, “Okay, nbd, let’s reboot.” And that’s what they did. They kept working. According to reader Caleb, they were promised debuts that never materialized. Somebody disappeared with their money; yes, Parallel Japan could very easily have a sad trombone accompaniment.
Definitely feel free to correct this, but most indications are that their first significant appearance on stage following the regroup was actually at the 2015 Tokyo Idol Festival backing up none other than Pour Lui:
They also, without a single official release, spent the autumn of that year rolling out a series of videos that really highlight what Parallel Japan is all about:
The first thing that springs to mind for me when I think about Parallel is a news segment that MTV News did following Kurt Cobain’s death. It involved interviews with mourners, one of whom remarked that he didn’t even know what to do with himself anymore, given that Nirvana was about all he listened to. “Well, them, and Mudhoney.” I’m not saying that Parallel is the Mudhoney of idolcore (not like the way that I look at Himekyun Fruit Can as the Van Halen of rock idols), but that for every ascendant master of a particular scene or sound, there are always keeping-it-real, beloved-by-fans acts at the margins, fiercely independent and just embodying grit and earned emotional expression.
That is Parallel. You can see it in their dance — crisp and professional, a cut above just about everybody else not named Q’ulle, but so expressly violent — and hear it in their songs — raw, largely unfiltered, intense and purposeful. This isn’t yami-kawaii; this spits in kawaii’s face.
But unlike with Mudhoney, I get the feeling that Parallel’s story has a happier ending, or at least a more successful one. You may have noticed that they’re suddenly all over the place, sharing stages with everybody from BiSH to Screaming Sixties to NEXT Shoujo Jiken; their anniversary show was loaded with groups featured on this site, and idol Twitter buzzed about it for days. And for what it’s worth, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a group more well-respected by their peers: Maybe because they’re independent, or maybe because they’re just plain loved, but everybody takes photos after and genuinely shows a lot of affection.
Of course, such a sudden burst of attention is bound to mean something, right? As of this writing, the scuttlebutt suggests an album, which would be very cool. If anybody out there would get a huge bump out of working with pro producer to refine their sound, it’s Parallel, and the same goes for their presentation if they can get with solid management, especially if that management doesn’t make them lose their indie edge. Like, for example, these guys. The sudden appearance of this track on Soundcloud, and the accompanying art, suggests the possibility.
So keep an eye out for Parallel. They seemed to be poised to do some serious damage.
What they sound like
A gritty combination of hard rock and idolcore. Their performing style is so well-conceived and well-executed that you can almost tell the sound of their songs just from watching them dance. Which is violent. They are violent even when nobody actually gets hurt. Violence.
You’ll like them if
This is a tough one, and I hate to bring back Seattle scene comparisons, but I actually think that you’ll be able to get into Parallel Japan best if you’re a fan of those 90s-era bands that were distorting blues rock and adding punk and metal elements. Of course, Parallel involves plenty of synths, too, in which case the PassCodes of the world can give you a good place to start.
Entries on the Ultimate Homicidol Playlist
There isn’t one yet!
Just you and me, punk rock girl!
Do you like idols? And do you like things that are fun? And do you like rock ‘n’ roll music played at a fast tempo? Well, then you’ll like The Spunky. Get over yourself.
I can say with total honesty that I (even I!) hadn’t yet connected with THE SPUNKY when preparations for this site began, but I was cruising other websites and communities on the regular to make sure that I would be exposed to enough artists to warrant actually having a site that wouldn’t be just another Babymetal tribute.
“You failed at that one, Maniac!” Oh, you.
At any rate, I actually had a few light touches with THE SPUNKY along the way … unfortunately at the same time that I was getting a little idol fatigue. It’s not the idols’ fault that “Thunderbolt” was first played by me in the context of Little Brother asking out loud if every girl in Japan was in some kind of idol group.
But the name registered, and I recalled that there was an album coming out, and I even managed to follow up on that. And when I got to play the teaser, I got a little excited.
Of course, where most of all-of-us first got acquainted with them was in the 2016 Homicidols Corenament, where they shocked the literal world by winning the punk idols category and ultimately finishing in third place with their entry “Rock ‘n’ Roll and Idol and I”:
What are the things that stand out here, and just in general across their work? One, it’s all really well-written and well-produced, part of which you can tell because 2) the members are stupid talented, and their voices are put right out in front.
Also, their music is fun. This site owes its life as much to BiS and their legacy as anything, and there’s usually a certain merriment in the culture-shocking madness to those groups, but it’s all so deliberate that, if you take a step back, you wonder why they even bothered if it was all so joyless. Not the case for THE SPUNKY, who I’m not sure can even define “irony,” let alone apply it to their work.
And dammit, that easy-breezy attitude is very, very welcome sometimes.
These bouncy bolts of lightning are currently beginning what could be looked at as their big move, having recently relocated their performance schedule to Tokyo after getting their start in Nagoya. They’re also close to a ton of talent on the production side, with musical contributions from members of Kishidan (the band that inspired C-Style) and Mad Capsule Markets.
And, relevant to the point of this whole site, they have their eye on international markets.
I have to think that they have a chance. As mentioned, the music is on point, but the members really do make it happen. Rira is quite good on her own, but the real talent shines when she and Yuhi are working together. And I hate to celebrate one member over others in a group so small, but it’s worth pointing out that Yuhi (at 15!), given a chance to really show her chops with a power ballad …
If you’re having a hard time picking her out, you are crazy, because this is a solo song.
… she gets up there with the Nakamotos and Azumas and … the Ends (?) of the world.
At this point, having pumped out three quality singles and a full album in a little over two years together, and having relocated operations to the center of the idolverse in Tokyo, and being loaded with talent, the future for THE SPUNKY is a bright one.
What they sound like
Their base sound is a rough amalgam of Bay-area punk, with the brightness of the Bouncing Souls tempered with just a bit of an edge, but they’re legitimately “rock ‘n’ roll idols” with some true rockers in their repertoire. They may be idols, but the rock is real. And also the idol. They do that, too.
You’ll like them if
You’ve always wanted Hot Topic to come to life, or you still go to the Warped Tour every year even though it’s a caricature of itself and you know enough idol to think, “You know what this second stage needs right now? Idols doing punk that’s roughly 80 percent better than that terrible band that acted like a Jane’s Addiction cover band but sounded more like the sound that Dave Navarro’s liver makes in the morning.”
Entries on the Ultimate Homicidol Playlist
THE SPUNKY, make more YouTube-able videos of your best stuff. I can’t make things happen with Soundcloud! Nonetheless, “Rock ‘n’ Roll and Idol and I” and “Thunderbolt” are both there. “Kanjo VOLTAGE” would be if you had a non-live video for it; nonetheless, enjoy the crap out of this very good song.
“Kanjo VOLTAGE” (single)
“Rock ‘n’ Roll and Idol and I” (single)