What have you been listening to lately? My playlists have somehow become even more random of late — my curated playlists on Spotify are horrorshows, basically — but the one thing that I haven’t been listening to very much at all is metal. It’s weird! But other than some adjacent acts like Ghost and Alcest, I don’t think I’ve heard any actual “heavy metal” during the usual daily listening since last week. Call it luck of the draw, I guess, because I can’t think of the last time I would have passed on a good metal album, or even just good modern hard rock (it exists!).
All that being said, finally getting a chance to write about the latest from my girl Yajima Mai didn’t just bring the catharsis of blogging a post, but also finally getting to hear some heavy-ass metal too:
Imagine having to debut as an idol during pandemic lockdowns. Idoling, as an industry, was unsurprisingly able to adapt to full-time virtual performances and lots of livestreams and the like, but those things are all much easier when you’re an act that people know about. Something with fans, like. Much less true for something that has been building toward a first public appearance but hasn’t so much as stepped onto a stage with an audience yet! Obviously a lot of units went on hiatus basically before they even officially launched; others went ahead and did what they could and made the most of it, and frankly those feel like the ones that made the smart decision.
This does bring us to AKIARIM, yes, who had a debut pretty much just as things were starting to go completely haywire but stuck it out and made it work after hitting the pause button and re-debuting in the summer after things had settled down a bit. Hence the anniversary tour and various other festivities all happening now! Among them: Continue reading
Somehow or another, the permanent breakup between BiS and Pour Lui has turned out to be the best thing that could happen to both things — the OG punk idols’ resurrection seemed as likely to be a branding exercise as anything else when they were re-constituted without the founder or any past members at all, yet have been remarkably stable and arguably as good as ever; the OG punk idol herself, the grand dame of this scene, went off and formed a unit that has her fingerprints all over it and, sans some of the pretenses of Lui’s past work, just keeps knocking ’em out of the park.
So yeah, here we are, a second single in as many fiscal year quarters on the horizon, and PIGGS is doing it so good and making it look so easy:
Our girl Saki on the choreo too, if it wasn’t obvious Continue reading
The WAGAMAMA RAKIA glow-up has really been something to behold, hasn’t it? I would say that the group was always interesting, albeit kind of lost amid a ton of competition in their early years, but they did seem to be moving in the right direction by 2018. Then they add MIRI, start to shift their sound a little bit, and then last year’s WAGAMAMARAKIA effectively sealed them as major breakouts. And now look at them compared to this — Minami and Rin are still there from the beginning, but it’s effectively a completely different group doing different things and still just way the hell interesting and doing musical stuff that seems just a step beyond the cutting edge compared to their peers.
The SUPERIORITY EP has a certain victory-lap kind of feel to it in that regard. WAGAMAMARAKIA was the hey-look-at-us, and now here’s the follow-up, five more songs from guest writers that have this much more “street”* feel to them, doubling down on rapping and rocking and idoling all in equal measure — it seems like half of all new units anymore try to work in some raps no matter how incongruous, and while Wagamama may not have been the first, they did seem to emerge as the best practitioners.
The MV for the record’s lead, “JOKER”, hit this morning, and … yeah, really, you just have to experience it: Continue reading
The first EP from Codomomental newbies akugi, Playplay, seems to be hitting the stores in Japan as we speak, and that means that it’s time to show us why we should buy the thing, and that means an MV, and frankly it’s been too dang long since we saw akugi do their thing, so let’s just right in:
Zenkimi guest spot!
I get the feeling that this one is less a Let’s Discover and more a Let’s Mutually Agree To Play Along While Maniac Covers His Ass About New Idols, so bear with me. But if you’ve been anywhere near the wonderful devilsend that is Satanic Punish, you’ve no doubt come across a worthy sister project called DEARDEVIL, which is just such a delicious bit of wordplay that I’m mad I didn’t think of it first. But anyway!
This is DEARDEVIL (Twitter), and this is my first exposure to them: Continue reading
This post was, uh, supposed to run on Saturday, and then through some mechanical error on my part did not run on Saturday. So instead let’s do it when it’s convenient!
I love having Erisu in a permanent state of notification on my phone. Because they don’t do 20 lives per week, every announcement has some actual heft to it, and you’re goddamn right I was stoked when they started their last most recent countdown. The reward was this latest EP, continuing on their theme of alien goddesses come to earth, which is capped by:
Yep! Continue reading
I can’t stop listening to it!
So Melon Bat has a new single out at the end of the month. I saw this news and immediately felt very whelmed by it. We here at this website were early adopters of both Melon and Soze’s solo work (thanks, Brian!), and so championed the project’s growth through its first few releases. What a concept, and what a sound! If you’re intro Boomer retro stuff and the unique aesthetic of monster and/or alien movies and the rockabilly sounds that were popular a couple of generations ago, Melon really is for you. And since we do like those things, it was an easy match!
Ultimately, though, despite getting major distribution and momentarily seeming on the brink of rising beyond mere chika stages, Melon hit a rough patch and seemed to be left treading water between too-similar releases and a concept that felt like it had run its course. And a bit of a reboot! Even their stalwart gaijin wota fans seemed to be moving on. I personally saw glimmers of light in their last record, so maybe the skepticism wasn’t warranted, but here, seriously, check it: Continue reading
Ah, as previously noted, everything’s coming up Malcolm Mask McLaren these days, and now a month on from announcing this summer’s new record from them, the group dropped the MV from what I really hope is the trendsetter for the thing, because this was worth waiting for:
What a payoff! MMM and their melodic hardcore thing have always been such a neat package, and filing down the edges for a slightly more radio-friendly product has done nothing to take away from the group’s core merits, which in no particular order are “cool music that people of a certain age enjoy either literally or ironically” and “an effervescent joy that very few loudol acts can approximate, let alone duplicate.” Given the connotations, “maudlin” maybe isn’t the best word, but you try finding M words in English that correspond to net-positive emotional stuff. These highly attenuated post-titling conceits aren’t writing themselves! Continue reading