Thursday, 18 July 2019

Interview With Chitose Saki of 2& - Selective Hearing Interview

*This Interview has been cross-posted from Selective Hearing.

Back in April of 2019, 2&'s (DOUBLE AND) own Chitose Saki made her way back to the UK for a second round of performances after her previous stint in June of 2018 where she acted as a supporting act for NECRONOMIDOL. This time however, Saki stood centre stage as the headliner act and performed alongside fellow underground idols GARUDA and 14th Generation Toilet Hanako-san.

Since speaking with Saki for the first time back in 2018, 2& has undergone a few small yet significant changes, including Saki's recent change of her moniker from Saki to her full name, Chitose Saki, as well as the announcement that 2& has been signed under the label REDMusic. She has also been learning English since her first stint in the UK.

Now, more than a year after our first interview with talented and greatly adored Chika (underground) solo idol, Selective Hearing have reached out to talk with Saki once more about the April 2019 UK tour, 2&'s latest album released for the UK tour, and a little more.

All answers were written in English by Saki, with help from her English teacher. Thank you Saki for your time, and for answering everything in English!

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Diving Into The Catch Of The Day! - A Look at 'Jūnin to iro / Kingyo no Uta' by BANZAI JAPAN (Single Review)

*I am but a human, and though I try to check my errors and mistakes, I skip a few from time to time. So if you care to be so kind, please point out the errors of my post. I will be forever grateful. Thank you in advance~

It's time for the catch of a day, and with my reborn interest in reviewing music - not music videos, shock freakin' horror - today I have managed to fish out a little bit of BANZAI JAPAN from the sea for everyone to check out with me!

In their major debut single, BANZAI JAPAN introduce the world to their interesting mix of traditional sounds meet EDM and modern pop, but with this small collection of fun, interesting sounds, will BANZAI JAPAN successfully fish you out of the water and sink a catchy music hook into you, or will you be left flailing for something far more worthwhile?

In one of their biggest leaps since the groups first overseas performances in both France and England in 2018, BANZAI JAPAN are now taking a further step forward with their major debut single, Jūnin to iro / Kingyo no uta, a colourful release that will dazzle their current fans whilst reeling in a few new ones.

And hey, with a cover like Type A has, who wouldn't be intrigued by this group and what they have to offer? It's so entertaining and strange to look at that it seems quite... catchy, if you will. Ahem

Well, it isn't just BANZAI JAPAN's imagery that catches ones attention. From how they dress to the way they sound, there is no denying that BANZAI JAPAN as a group are quite intriguing as a whole. Maybe my own bias is showing here, but in terms of their sound and style, I find the group to be rather vibrant and refreshing, and though their schtick might not be the most original out there, this group has a goal that fans can appreciate, and in turn I appreciate their efforts as both individuals and a group.

Also, before I get into the history part of this opening, can I just say a huge CONGRATULATIONS to BANZAI JAPAN for tapping that #1 Oricon spot on their first day? Cause damn girls, that was something I didn't expect. Kudos to you, and thanks for being such amazing sports and working so damn hard on your major debut. What a damn milestone.

Okay, celebrations aside, let's do some brief diggin':

Made up of 16-members, BANZAI JAPAN was originally formed in May of 2014 as a project which would promote the culture of Japan through music, dance and idols. Auditions began in a month later in June 2014, with the first initial members of the group being revealed between July and August respectively. In November 2014, the first three members - Shinkai Yuna, Minamo Mizu and Hanasaka Saya - held their first live performance. In December that year, BANZAI JAPAN held their first 'real' live performance as a group.

Over the years the group has seen members come and go thanks to the 'revolving door' system that most female Japanese idol groups have adopted, however BANZAI JAPAN's mission has stayed consistent. With a goal to promote Japan's vibrant culture and various prefectures, BANZAI JAPAN aim to scout Evangelists, girls from various prefectures who will promote their hometowns and its charms to their audience. With each member representing their individual prefectures, it has become BANZAI JAPAN's goal to recruit at least one girl from each of japan's 47 prefectures into the group so that they can share Japan's culture with the world. The group also has a sub-unit, ASHIGARU JAPAN, which includes both trainees and full-fledged BANZAI JAPAN members.

There are currently 11 prefectures being represented by an Evangelist, with a total of 21 prefectures being represented in the groups history.

In April 2018, BANZAI JAPAN won the Tokyo Candoll 2018 contest, which allowed the group to travel to France, where a selected amount of members were able to perform at Japan Expo Summer 2018. The group then went on to attend Hyper Japan Winter 2018 in the UK, with 7 members representing the group.

Since the groups inception, BANZAI JAPAN have released 4 singles and one full-length studio album, with Jūnin to iro / Kingyo no uta being the groups first double A-side. As of 2019, the group are under Victoria Beats, a sub-label under Nippon Columbia. BANZAI JAPAN is managed by Cospanic Entertainment, a company which aims to promote the group not only around Japan, but the world, with the official website offering both Japanese and English descriptions. Some members of BANZAI JAPAN also know a decent amount of English.

With an aim to visualise Japan's magnificent culture to the world, BANZAI JAPAN will entertain you with their music and dance performances, which includes a mix of traditional Japanese and modern-era styles, with fan-waving being a key aspect in the groups choreography. Fan participation in fan-waving and para-para is also heavily promoted by the group

And with that, it's time to hook ourselves a catch in the form of BANZAI JAPAN's Jūnin to iro / Kingyo no uta! Are you ready to take the bait and leap into the BANZAI JAPAN fandom? With their catchy music, mesmerising choreography and super sweet personalities, how can you not entertain the idea of being fished by any of them?

It's time to dive in! Shall we? ;)

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

The Vengeance Of An Idol Wronged - 'scions of the blasted heath' by NECRONOMIDOL (EP Review)

*The following EP was sent for Review purposes. My opinions my own, but my love for NECRONOMIDOL is unwavering. Just so ya know.

**If you see any typos, blips, issues or misspellings seen within this review, please feel free to point them out. I am but a mere mortal, and us mortals make mistakes. Help me to improve this space bit by bit, typo by typo.

With their new EP release - the first to feature the groups 2019 lineup, as well as the debut of the two most recent members - NECRONOMIDOL are set to blacken stages further with scions of the blasted heath, a 5 song EP that will feature songs themed around trauma, entropy and conquest, whilst exploring Lovecraftian influences along the way.

With jacket art drawn by manga artist Jun Hayami, a new collaboration track as well as some returning composers, NECRONOMIDOL's latest in music is sure to intrigue a few new listeners, whilst also bringing the older fans back with even more catchy tunes and invigorating compositions.

Are you ready to delve into the depths of Idol Hell?

(This Review has been cross-posted with Selective Hearing, where you can read a far more condensed version of this post if your eyes cannot handle the sheer amount of letters and mumbo-jumbo)

With the halfway point for 2019 encroaching upon us in swift fashion, it makes sense for NECRONOMIDOL to deliver unto us all some brand-spanking new music. A mid-year release, some fans might find the timing of scions of the blasted heath a little later than usual for a group, however this EP could not have been dropped at a better time, and here's why:

Promotions for the groups latest release will begin just a month shy of NECRONOMIDOL's up-coming July tour, EUROPEAN INQUISITION, which starts in France on July 11th, and will see the group perform in London, Birmingham and Inverness in the United Kingdom, as well as the Netherlands, Germany, Finland and Sweden, with the latter three countries being a first for the group to conquer, performance-wise.

scions of the blasted heath also acts as the official EP debut for newest members Kenbishi Kunogi and Michelle, who both debuted with the group back in January this year.

So whilst the latest NECRONOMIDOL release may be a late edition for some, the timing could not have been better planned, as scions of the blasted heath comes at a point where NECRONOMIDOL will be promoting their European tour a lot more heavily. This EP will also serve as a great starting point for newer fans and listeners who may be attending the up-coming shows for the first time. Likewise, scions of the blasted heath will act as a fuel for the more seasoned listener's excitement, allowing older fans to truly soak in the atmosphere of NECRONOMIDOL right before their tour is set to begin.

Either way, this EP will certainly deliver some much-needed anticipation when it comes to the groups European tour, as well as the overseas stage debut of Kunogi and Michelle.

I feel this group needs little to no more introduction, but if you are curious about the group and what they do, please check out my handy-dandy NECRONOMIDOL Introduction which goes through a bit of their history, as well as the groups releases and music videos. For now though, it's time to take a dive into this EP release and hear exactly what it's all about.

With a little bit of Lovecraft, a dash of trauma and a pinch of light-hearted Idol-ness thrown in there, scions of the blasted heath will drag you into a world of atmospheric beauty. Are you ready to delve into NECRONOMIDOL's intricately-spun web?

It's time to lose ourself in the music.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

A Theme From Spring - A Look at 'Date Datte' by READY TO KISS (Single Review)

*I am human and I make mistakes. So call me out on everything I make a blunder in, and help me correct those typos, misspellings and mis-translations.

Spring may have passed us by, but READY TO KISS keep the season alive in their most recent single, Date Datte. With four new songs accompanied by their instrumental counterparts, READY TO KISS deliver a whisper of both the vibrant and darker tones that Spring can deliver during its reign.

For their first single of 2019, will Date Datte deliver the tone and style the title creates, or will it leave people desiring more when it comes to sound, vocals and more?

Creative outlets, I have plenty, but my creativity does not always manifest itself in the form of the written word. Whether it is crafting, drawing, brainstorming story ideas or writing out a review, I always fall back on something creative when I need it most. Right now writing is my personal therapy, and for the first time in a long while this blog has become Sanctuary, so I will do my best to make use of this desire to write and review whilst I can.

And hey, let's be honest here; it's not like I've been making use of this space as I should be. I can only hope that I get to some PV Reviews before too long, because I really do miss them.

With that semi-emotional spiel spielled, today's review comes in the form of my latest ear-splitting delight, READY TO KISSES Date Datte, released way back in March of this very year (2019). Featuring eight tracks (including instrumentals), 8 editions and a few squeaky, sub-par vocals, Date Datte will surely deliver an array of sounds for all listeners, and perhaps a few earaches along the way. It depends on how much you can handle in terms of vocal capability, or a lack thereof.

Oof, that is very tongue-in-cheek, isn't it?

Before I go on a mini-rant and lose you completely, let's take a quick History check on the group itself, shall we? Here we go:

Debuting in late 2013, READY TO KISS began their activities with as a 5-member unit under GET CRAZY, with former Houkago Princess members Chiba Sakino, Noda Hitomi, Nagafuji Aoi and Kobayashi Rena - as well as newcomer Ichinose Anju - making up the group in its first phase. The group did not release their first single until January 14th, 2015 however, but were already known amongst underground idol fans for their high-energy performances. In July 2015, READY TO KISS made their major debut under Stand-Up! Records, a subsidary to Universal Music Japan which also housed acts such as Iketeru Hearts, Afilia Saga East and others.

READY TO KISS stayed with Stand-Up! Records throughout 2015, however parted ways with the agency after that. In 2017, the group underwent a major lineup and image change, and had their second major debut under King Records with their second major single (third if you include their indies release). Currently, the group has released six singles as well as a mini-album titled reset.

There are currently 7 members in the group: Chiba Sakino, Uehara Ayuko, Kiyokawa Reina, Amau Kisumi, Sasaki Miho, Makino Hiromi and Harukawa Momona.

And with that all written and overviewed, it's time to get to the review itself. Let's take a little listen, spill a bit of ketchup and crank up that volume (but not by much) because it's time to talk about music, and maybe those vocals as well. Let's discuss, dear readers.

Ready, set... GO!

*This gets pretty candid at the end, because I am inconsistent in my tone. Typical.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

The New Era Starts Soon! Houkago Princess Reveal Covers for 'Shin Jidai Princess / Princess no Teigi' + Other Updates!

And in others news, I love HouPri.

Oh, wait. That's not news. Oops.

With July quickly swooping upon us, it comes as no surprise to see that Houkago Princess have already begun their usual round of promotional activities and release events in order to showcase their up-coming single, Shin Jidai Princess / Princess no Teigi. The first single of the year, this will also act as the official debut single for members Kohinata Nanase, Tani Nobara, Yamamoto Natsumi, Takano HiyoriAoi Mizuki and Sawada Momoka, whilst also being the first single to feature Sekine Sasara as the groups leader. Furthermore, the single will be the 10th Princess-themed release from the group, and will act as a new 'chapter' in the groups story. It is also Houkago Princesses first Princess-themed Double A-side, and will be the first single released within the 'Reiwa' era of Japan.

... That's a lotta firsts, right there.

Set to drop on July 10th 2019, Shin Jidai Princess / Princess no Teigi will be available in five editions, and contain four tracks that will be standard for each edition.

Friday, 24 May 2019

The 10-Year Entertainer - A Look at 'Oguma Ayame Full Best Mini Orchestra Album' by Oguma Ayame (Album Review)

*Calling out my mistakes, typo's and spelling errors is appreciated here. Call that shit out, help me a little bit, and make this blog a better place. Thank you.

With 10 years of entertainment under her belt and a desire to perform, Oguma Ayame currently has one physical release to her name, as well as a handful of digital releases. Despite this small pool of songs to her name, Ayame has a dedicated following thanks to her ability to create laughter on and off the stage.

And though we may not have a chance to see her perform, we can instead take a look at her style of music. It's time to experience the tunes of a 10-year entertainer in all her glory. Are you ready to listen to some music?

It has been a while since I yearned to review a single or album this strongly, but ever since receiving Oguma Ayame's first studio mini-album as a gift some months back, I have felt a weird pull and desire to talk about Oguma's music on my blog. Sure, my thoughts regarding her music may not be well-structured when I get to talking about this album in full, but I'm excited to talk about it, nonetheless.

Having owned Oguma Ayame Full Best Mini Orchestra Album for a few months now, I have had my fair share of time to listen to each track more than once, which has in turn allowed me to form a solid opinion of the release in its entirety. And yes, I want to share these very thoughts with you because, dear readers, sharing is caring, and also because I can post what the heck I want on here. So yes, it's another album-esque review, from me to you. Because I can.

And before I spew even more lacey nonsense, let's chitter a little bit about Oguma Ayame herself:

From what has been recorded so far, Oguma Ayame has been active within the entertainment industry for 10 years, starting out as a Maid in Akihabara where she would perform on a small stage for the customers, before deciding that she wanted to take on a live-house stage and act as an idol. In May 2011, Ayame began her idol-career with the group Chocolate☆Whip, where she acted as a 3rd generation member and completed the 4-member lineup. In 2013, Ayame began her solo activities, and in March 2014 went solo full time after Chocolate☆Whip's disbandment.

When she isn't singing live, Ayame also works as an ear-picking and massage specialist, and promotes her work-place to fans on Twitter. Despite holding down a second job, Ayame is serious about performing and not doing anything half-way as an idol, which may be why she has continued going strong for 10 years, despite the set backs she may have faced in her journey as a chika-idol.

And with that short blurb out of the way, it's time to delve into the album itself. It's time to give Oguma Ayame Full Best Mini Orchestra Album a chance, but what will the final verdict be?

Read on and find out~

Saturday, 11 May 2019

The Indie, The Idol & The Infamous Live Overview: The London Side

*All images used have been credited to their original owners. Any photos used without credits are my own images
**Any mistakes present in the post, please do feel free to call me out on that shit. We all have things we gotta improve on, and I definitely need to improve on my Typos.

With idol lives becoming a more frequent phenomena within the UK music scene, it seemed like a no-brainer that Orion Live's next step would be to bring along some of Japan's most mesmirising underground performers, where they would show them off in three of the UK's leading music-savvy scenes.

(Promotional Image owned by OrionLive)

Presented by Orion Live and starting off in London on April 20th, heading over to Manchester on April 22nd and rounding things off in Birmingham on April 23rd, three underground solo idols -  DOUBLE AND (Saki), GARUDA (Sakimura Yuffie) and 14th Generation Toilet Hanako-san (Hanako) - embarked on an Easter-weekend and Bank Holiday tour, with Saki leading the way as the Headlining act of the Indie, Idol & Infamous live shows.

And in a surprise twist just days before the event itself, it was revealed that Rukatama of the group MELON BATAKE A GO GO, of which Yuffie is also a member of, would be joining the girls during the tour. Acting as a goods salesperson for the GARUDA stall, as well as a camera-person for all of Yuffie's live performances, Rukatama took the chance to travel to the UK, whilst also promoting herself and MELON BATAKE A GO GO to the foreign fans who had travelled to see these three girls perform on a brand new stage.

Travelling to three cities and performing at three different venues, the warm Bank holiday event proved to be a loud and messy event for all attendees as Saki, Yuffie and Hanako showcased their own unique performance style, their brand and - of course - their voices to a UK audience.