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fitear1590 last won the day on January 28 2015

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About fitear1590

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    Hizaki's Weave
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  1. Anyone know what band Rikito might be from? Or did he just arrive via time machine?
  2. Makes me wonder about Chobi and Satoshi though. Didn't they leave DIV (which ultimately resulted in total disbandment), because of 'creative differences' over the EDR Tokyo-direction the band's sound was going? And now, ACME is closer in style to earlier DIV.
  3. Looks like the vocalist and guitarist from DIV, Chisa and Shogo, are back with a new band, アクメ/ACME! Their social media handles (Instagram, etc.) appear to have been updated to reflect the new band name. Members Vo. Chisa Gt. Shogo Ba. Rikito Dr. Hal (Swastika-kei tho?) Also, they've got a mini-album, SENKOU, coming out in August. 2017/08/02(Wednesday) 01.SENKOU 02.Trick×Trap 03.MONSTER 04.EDGY 05.MELODY 06.テバナシライダー 07.KAMIKAZE DCCNM-503 ¥2500(+tax) 2000枚限定
  4. rf_zpsrqmpzhks.jpg
    Art kei cheki or white hipster chick polaroid?

    1. Seimeisen


      art-kei hipster

    2. Peace Heavy mk II

      Peace Heavy mk II

      tbh that's what checki look like anyway, so 

    3. emmny
  5. A band I follow recently shared the article "Why Music Ownership Matters" and I thought it was an interesting read. Here are a few exemplary quotes, in case you can't read the entire thing: So, what do you think, does this article have a point? I must admit, the power streaming companies have over individual pieces of media can be scary and it's something I've thought about before. There was this one older German movie I really liked on Netflix streaming a while back. In physical form, the movie only exists on VHS in the US and region 2 DVDs in crappy quality. Netflix, for whatever reason, had some remastered version in pristine HD quality. But now that the film is no longer available in their online library (to quote the article: this particular movie likely didn't 'justify upkeep anymore'), it's like this HD version never existed. I would gladly pay for a Blu-ray version, but it's simply not offered. Maybe I'll never get to watch it again and that sucks. Sure, that's just one movie, but think about the bigger implications of streaming's role in archiving. I will say, one aspect that seemed downplayed in the article is the material difference between downloading and streaming. Both are digital, rather than physical, but remember, this article is making the argument that the shift from 'ownership' to 'streaming' is the more significant one. So, I would think downloading technically falls under the category of 'ownership' (you have file ON your computer hard drive), rather than 'streaming.' These days, I would say about 80-90% of my non-Japanese music listening is done via streaming, like Spotify. Is there some difference in that culture of listening via streaming versus listening by downloading? And since this is a Japanese music forum, what can we make of this article? Do you think the general 'Japanese music industry' or particular Japanese music scenes are still promoting music ownership over streaming? Discuss!
  6. Keep the posts coming, everyone! I am loving these Thanks for the feedback. I was just trying something a tad more sensational this time, since we've gotten word that some list titles in the past weren't snazzy enough. But I do stand by the transformations I chose. Part of the fun in this list for me was removing the factor of development over time and just showing radical changes, side-by-side, from point A to point C, D, or even Z. Sleeping salaryman is one of my faves in this thread!
  7. If you want to make a guest contribution to the June Recommended Tracks list, you have until Monday, June 26 to send your short submission to me. More details here:


  8. This featured list is dedicated to some of the most head-turning transformations in Japanese music. Whether from budget VK drag goth to plastered pop boi or trading in a watermelon dye-job for lightly tousled locks spilling out from under an ill-advised fedora, we've got examples of, let's say, aesthetic 'evolution' in every which direction. And, surely, this list is just a taste, so be sure to let us know in the comments what are some other unbelievable transformations in Japanese music that we didn't get to cover. @fitear1590's Picks 麗羽 (ErecSia, ALPHONSTEIN) → いっち (みるふぃね, キャンゼル, ★NOハウス) Reiha (ErecSia, Alphonstein) → Icchi (Milphinne, Canzel, hoshi NO house) Right around the turn of the century, Reiha, as he was known back then, made his first foray into the world of VK. Talk about jumping into the deep end first! Who knows what he looked like as a teen, but Reiha's aesthetic in his first bands ErecSia and presumably ALPHONSTEIN (there are no available photos of this band to my knowledge) was very much 90s VK 'goth' trash -- I mean that in the nicest way possible. Pictured above with red hair and a frilly lolita aesthetic, it's indisputable he was influenced by 90s queen Kei, vocalist of Key Party Records' legendary Eliphas Levi who came just a few years earlier. Rounding out the aesthetic are cassette tape releases of seance chants, banshee screams, and low-budget atmospheric Lockheart Castle-kei. By late 2002, Icchi, his new moniker, pulled a night-to-day transformation and was releasing full-blown oshare kei in a group called Milphinne. Future bands Canzel (2007-2010) and hoshi NO house (2012-2016) continued to deliver upbeat pop-rock, twinkling synths, and sparkly looks. It's all a far cry from how he started off visually, but every once in a while, you can hear remnants of his ErecSia/ALPHONSTEIN vocal freak-outs, especially live. Interestingly, Eliphas Levi's vocalist made a similar change, moving on to oshare band Vinett in the early to mid 2000s. PIECE → 超時空アンドロイド-PIECE- → グリモア PIECE → Choujiku Android - PIECE → GRIMOIRE Around 2009, Kasumi Shinjou (ex-SMILE, Gekijou Tenor) opened Dear Dolce, home to the likes of リロード (Reload) and メメント・モリ (Memento Mori), the proto-bands of グリーヴァ (GRIEVA) and 黒百合と影 (Kuroyuri to kage). As a super indies label, fans were often required to turn a blind eye to budgetary constraints, but unfortunately, PIECE suffered more than their labelmates. How else do you explain this PV? Pro-tip, do not waste all your funds on the cheesy lens flare effect. Even after Dear Dolce's shutdown in 2012, the band continued as 超時空アンドロイド-PIECE- (Choujiku Android -PIECE-). Their revamped aesthetic was kinda cool, I must admit. In 2015, the band's musicians reemerged in GRIMOIRE, kicking their singer of 5 years to the curb, instead being joined by the former embarrassing lip-sync rawr vocalist of Dear Dolce's Diement. Thankfully, he keeps his mouth shut now, lol. With new stage names, a gloomy and imaginative zodiac theme, and a dark graveyard carnival sound with chugalicious riffs, GRIMOIRE represent an unlikely phoenix, risen from Dear Dolce's ashes. Now, this is a transformation I fully support! えみる (愛狂います。) → 涼木 聡 (Yeti) Emiru (Aicle) → Satoshi Suzuki (Yeti) Who would have thought one of the most visually flamboyant members of the mid-2000s VK scene would one day forego hair dye and settle for totally casual outfits? Let's start with Emiru, back when he was the love-him-or-hate-him lead singer of Aicle. Admittedly, he started off quite rough. He legitimately sounds like Cartman in "シドロモドロ (shidoro modoro)". Because of his helium tone and straining to hit notes in earlier releases, it would be easy to write Emiru off as a 'bad' singer, but that would mean ignoring how commendably he 'compensates' in all the other things he does with his voice. What really contributes to Emiru’s success as a vocalist is his variety. In any given song, you might hear any combo of the following: growling, oldschool Madeth Gray’ll-esque 'fast talking,' shrieking, maniacal cackling, whispering, and more. Some absolute highlights include Emiru chanting off the number sequence of pi in the punky "球形無限連鎖~ミズタマ~ (kyuukei mugen rensa ~mizutama~)", or the demonically adorable alter-ego he takes on in "まみむめモンスター君 (mamimume monster-kun)." After Aicle's sputtering out, Emiru resurfaced in Yeti, which started off quite strong, arguably leading the VK/indie rock movement with bands like Chanty and SRASH NOTES GARDEN. I was willing to accept them despite Aicle's disbandment, but the more six-song mini albums Yeti release, the less remarkable they become (though previews for their sixth mini, HOWL, are quite promising!). By now, they've apparently cut all ties to the VK scene, performing exclusively with other J-indie artists. The 'Emiru' persona must be in there somewhere and I hope he'll grace us again one day. 小山田圭吾 (フリッパーズ・ギター) → CORNELIUS Keigo Oyamada (Flipper's Guitar) → CORNELIUS This one is still a puzzle to me. Flipper's Guitar started in the late 80s as a proto-Shibuya kei/Britpop-worship extravaganza. Citing Western twee legends like The Pastels and Aztec Camera as influences, their infectious guitar pop was unmatched in Japan. Guitarist and vocalist Keigo Oyamada even performed their first album three cheers for our side〜海へ行くつもりじゃなかった (umi e iku tsumori janakatta)〜 in what I still consider to this day to be the most endearing use of Engrish in Japanese music. They went on to release two more albums, in Japanese, while still sticking to their indie pop guns. Only occasionally did they introduce more diverse influences like jazz and house music, with the third album Doctor Head's World Tower particularly showing a move in the direction of sampling. Flipper's Guitar disbanded in the early 90s, but Oyamada returned a few years later as an experimental/electronic solo artist under the moniker CORNELIUS. Tunes like "MUSIC" show little relation whatsoever to the work of his former band. While I do enjoy me some CORNELIUS, a part of me wishes he would go back to composing sunshine-y guitar pop. 分島花音 Kanon Wakeshima Back in the late 2000s, MALICE MIZER's (in)famous Mana took a protégé under his wing. Kanon Wakeshima's initial music took after what we've come to expect from Mana's projects, implementing twinkly music box arrangements and dark orchestration befitting of the OG gothic aristocrat. What really set Kanon apart, however, was her cello work. While so many arrangements in this strand of the VK scene are riddled with canned strings, Kanon proved she has the chops to actually play. After her first album, however, her production relationship with Mana came to an end. Ever since, she has distanced herself from her darker orchestral beginnings. Although she still plays cello from time to time, it's no longer the center of attention, with her music generally assuming a more pop-oriented nature. Plus, she deviated from her gothic lolita aesthetic. While I don't particularly care for Kanon's work in this second era, one undeniable hit has been "ツキナミ (tsukinami)." Despite the goofy nurse and deliverywoman outfits, the song is a masterful pop tune with surprisingly noisy flourishes, though you wouldn't even believe it's the same artist as something like her debut single, "still doll." 女王蜂 Ziyoou-Vachi / QUEEN BEE Ziyoou-Vachi started making waves in 2011 with the release of their mini-album, 魔女狩り (majo kari). The band stuck out in so many ways: having the backing of a major label while churning out raucous punk, featuring two multiracial siblings as band members (vocalist Avu-chan and drummer Ruri-chan), and always coming prepared with vibrant, drag-alicious outfits. Furthermore, Avu-chan (who, I believe, identifies as trans) would often switch between a gruff ‘male’ voice and a squeakier ‘female’ register, keeping the vocal work dynamic. Even in PV tracks like “デスコ (disco)” or "フランス人形の呪い (France ningyou no noroi)", it was common for the band musicians to keep the distortion and zaniness set at 11, while Avu-chan did her thing. This flamboyant sound and aesthetic more or less continued for the next two mini-albums. It was the dry spell from 2012-2015 that seems to have had the biggest impact on the band’s sound. Since their return, it's not uncommon to see the band members with natural hair colors and sporting simple outfits, like suits. The sound also became uncharacteristically polished with songs like “スリラ (Thriller)“ or "金星 (kinsei)" ironing out the band’s signature fuzzy edge. Although Avu-chan now exhibits commendably more vocal control, the unpredictable melodies are all but gone. While I can see why the second wave of Ziyoou-Vachi has garnered more popularity (working alongside the likes of NEGOTO, Tokyo Jihen’s Ukigumo and the dresscodes’ Ryohei Shima; well-attended festival appearances; TV interviews and commercial work for Avu-chan; etc.), I think many of us here at MH miss the band’s former noisy glory. @doombox's Pick 狼哦 (ハートレス) →TSUYOSHI (Unveil Raze) Rouga (Heartless) → TSUYOSHI (Unveil Raze) Maybe since I'm still not finished emotionally digesting the ハートレス (Heartless) reunion I was able to attend last year (which also happened to be my very first visual kei concert experience in Japan, ayeeeeee) and witnessing the departure from what Heartless used to be to what the members are currently involved in really stayed with me. Especially guitarist Rouga's transformation to his current evolution in the band Unveil Raze where he performs under the name Tsuyoshi Ikeda. While his playing sounds like a natural progression from Heartless' more metal aspects, Tsuyoshi has fully dropped the flowery, melodic aspects that make visual kei what it is and has moved straight into hard rock and metal full-time. His physical changes are the most notable now that he's just about covered himself with tattoos, shaved off his hair (up until very recently started growing it back out again), put on some muscle mass, and dropped all of the heavy make up. It's always interesting to me to see how certain visual musicians would be when they aren't in full costume and if the reception of them would be more or less favorable. Tsuyoshi is a strong case in point that music will speak for itself in the end no matter how it's dressed up. Though, I remain a strong believer that a little eyeliner never hurt anyone. @Zeus's Pick XecsNoin → XECSNOIN Let me recount to you a story of a band who was always behind the curve, and why only following trends will get you nowhere. XECSNOIN, originally stylized XecsNoin, formed in 1998 as yet another melodic rock visual kei band inspired by the Finnish and Scandinavian death metal scenes. A few things were working against this band from the very start, as their activities coincided with an overall shift in the sound and style of visual kei. The goth style was losing popularity and this left XecsNoin out in the cold. A rotating cast of members did them no favors as well; originally the group was LOKI (vocals), JIN (guitar), K (guitar), JUN (bass) and Yuzuki (drums) which is pictured left. Constant member changes plagued the band - they replaced five members in three years - and while the band was stable long enough to record their first album, vocalist LOKI quit and then drummer HiЯo was fired not long after. K, JUN, and ZAKURO persevered, changed their name to XECSNOIN and their sound to death metal - because that was all the rage in 2005 - and found K.K. and ZEN for drummer and vocalist respectively. At some point around 2010 after releasing a single and EP with a more melodeath sound, both K.K. and ZEN left and were replaced by vocalist U (ex. THE EIGHT) and guitarist HIROKI (ex. EXCEPTION). Unlike THE EIGHT, XECSNOIN managed to put U to work and released their second album Corridor to the Sky. Even though they've changed radically, you can still hear the visual kei influence in "DISILLUSION", linked below. Unfortunately, troubles were never far and the Reaper of 2016 took XECSNOIN in his grip of disbandment along with other fan favorites. Perhaps this one was more merciful than most, but I believe XECSNOIN wallowed in obscurity precisely because all they did was follow trends. "DISILLUSION" is their most recent sound. "Spiritual Road" is as early as YouTube allows, but there's even older than this! Also the picture is very misleading but whatever. @togz's Picks てんてん (餞ハナむケ。→KuRt→朱ィ。→ケミカルピクチャーズ→kiss my way→My BACTERIA HEAT IsLAND→ラッコ) Tenten (Hanamuke→KuRt→Benii→Chemical Pictures→kiss my way→My BACTERIA HEAT IsLAND→LACK-CO.) Tenten (Taira Kazuhiro) debuted in the visual kei scene in the year 2000 with a little band called Hanamuke. That means our little (not so little anymore) buddy here has been at it for SIXTEEN YEARS! While his tendency to bounce from band to band may be an annoyance to some, it's a godsend to others. Generally the groups he partakes in only last a few years or are ideas that never fully surface, but his fans are left with the feeling he will always be back. Musically he's dipped his toes in a variety of styles. Hanamuke and KuRt have a similar sound and style while Chemical Pictures had a lighter look and less harsh vocals. He's always had a raspy feeling to his vocal technique and proved his skill to growl or scream, but over the past 16 years he has grown not only as a vocalist but as a person as well. His most recent project is LACK-CO. which includes other well-known faces in the scene such as IVY (ex. DIO, Remming), SAN (ex. NEGA/BFN), and Milk (fka Satoshi ex. para:noir) There is no telling for sure how long this act will last, but it's good to see him still active in the scene after all these years and bands. @plastic_rainbow's Picks 怜 (Clarity → kannivalism → バロック → baroque → kannivalism → BAROQUE) Ryo (Clarity → kannivalism → barokku → baroque → kannivalism → BAROQUE) Where do I even begin with this guy? Ryo has gone through so many different transformations throughout his music career, both aesthetically and musically. If you've never bothered looking at his band history, you may not realize that he wasn't always that orange/brown haired punk with lip piercings or the simpler blonde-haired man that he now is. Believe it or not, Ryo used to dress-up in an old school visual kei style with his brighter orange/red hair in messy pigtails, wearing crazy colored contacts that is evident from his early days of Clarity (1998-2000), old kannivalism (2001), and very early baroque (2001-2004). Later, Ryo leaned on a more mature and manly appearance, growing a goatee in the late years of old baroque, and then gradually grew his hair out in second era kannivalism (2006-2011). All of that is now in the past though. Musically, his singing style follows the same trend as his appearance. Ryo began singing in quirks and cackles that are quintessential to older visual kei, which you can hear in "トリップショートケーキ (Trip Short Cake)". During some experimentation over the years, his vocals went from a deep to a rap-singing style, that is sometimes raspy, gentle, and whispery as he does in "Ila.", or just something completely fun and wacky like in "カスタリーンナ (Castarina)". Ryo is probably one of the most versatile Japanese vocalists that I know of and it's quite unfortunate that he now lazily employs autotune in the new BAROQUE (2012-present). It's true that he has used autotune before, but only to a lesser extent. The amplified autotune in a song like "DREAMSCAPE" for instance, camouflages all his singing talent in the years before. Who knows, maybe he'll make another abrupt change in the coming years. Whatever he does, I sure hope it'll be good. 悠希 (Crystallium(gt) → SUBDUAL → De stijllia → 人格ラヂオ → Solo) Yuuki (Crystallium(gt) → SUBDUAL → De stijllia → Jinkaku Radio → Solo) Although Yuuki performed in several bands before, he is most well-known as the vocalist, guitarist, and main composer of Jinkaku Radio (2001-2012). Jinkaku Radio was an indie duo which, at a glance, seemed to follow the string of dark and heavy suit-kei bands. However, what made them stand out musically from the rest was the softer, yet nasally vocals of Yuuki's. Their musical style was also less aggressive as Yuuki rarely screamed or growled, and mostly sang in anguish or grief along with heart-rending guitars and sad melodies, which in turn labeled them heavily as gloomy and depressing. Despite showing their brighter side during lives -- Yuuki manically flinging a cloth doll at the audience and fooling around with balloons -- the forlorn image from their music left such a strong impression that it became quite a shock to most fans when the duo started putting out happy-go-lucky music out of nowhere. It was as if they were injected with some happy oshare kei fluids and had magically recovered from all their misery. Although it's true that they released something cheerful before, which was basically a tongue-in-cheek song about bangyarus, it wasn't until the release of their second album Ichibyou in 2010 that they started writing upbeat music as part of their actual serious music. Currently, Yuuki continues writing music as a solo artist, and as he basically wrote all of Jinkaku Radio's songs he can still pull off some of the same sounds in his solo works. However, it's highly unlikely that we'll hear any more of those heart-wrenching and depressing songs like "姥捨て山(Ubasuteyama)" or "午後の落下(Gogo no rakka)" again, which essentially encompassed the melancholy and wistfulness of Jinkaku Radio. 悠璃 (9ミリ。) → ゆーり (イロクイ。) → おかゆさん (秘密結社パンピー) Yuuri (9MIRI.) → Yuuri (Irokui.) → Okayusan (Himitsu Kessha Hanpii) In the visual kei scene it's nothing unusual to see a male dress-up all feminine and girly. Yet, even though so many visual kei musicians wear dresses, frills, thick eyelashes, and lipstick as part of their getup, very few go as far as undergoing a sex change. Okayusan (or Okayu), formerly known as Yuuri from the oshare kei band Irokui. (2005-2011), was one of the few who did. It happened not too long after Irokui.'s disbandment in 2011 that Yuuri underwent surgery and even went into prostitution under the name of Yuu Takizawa for a while. Seeing that she gradually became less of a colorful punk and more of a gorgeous looking woman during the late years of Irokui., especially in their last look for Aimai Stripe before the disbandment, the sudden sex change did not come off as a huge shock to me. Still, the rumors of her being involved in prostitution shook fans in many ways. Even though Okayusan now lives her daily life as a woman and as a youtuber, it does not change the fact that she still holds the same passion for singing as she made a short return to the music scene in 2012 along with ex.Irokui. guitarist Hazuki to form Himitsu Kessha Panpii. Two years later, she also sang for one song in contribution with a producer named TACOS NAOMI, but as far as singing again full time goes, the idea seems to be nothing but a thing of the past. ----------------------------------- We hope you enjoyed the list! Maybe we'll do another installment in the future! Which of these transformations is most surprising to you?
  9. Yes! So glad they took a shot at rerecording these. Looking forward to the full versions.
  10. Koochewsen never ceases to fuck. me. up! And iconic bathtub scene, haha.
  11. Since both of those track 6s are two of their oldest songs, I wonder if they'll be rerecorded? (Actually, I wonder about all of the old tracks being included.) "Boku to tulpa" had passable production, but if they don't rerecord the "Gensou" track, it will really stick out like a sore thumb, production-wise.
  12. Sense8 canceled... no!!!

  13. Fixed it! Thanks for pointing that out, sakuran!
  14. Greetings, MH! The ORZ team just recruited new members, so we are back stronger than ever with our latest batch of recommended tracks! Check them out and let us know what you think! (We apologize if some videos aren't available due to region restrictions!) @-NOVA-'s Pick "Reason for being" by NIL UNDER RAIN NIL UNDER RAIN is a new band fronted by Vo. Kyoma (ex-RevleZ) and backed up by ex- Xepher members and its bringing a lot of HEAT!!! "Reason for being" is packed with solid riffs, breakdowns (3 of them to be exact), and an amazing solo. The song alters from two distinct styles, slow and soft to fast and heavy. As the song approaches its peak the band begins a breakdown sequence and builds up the beat by playing faster. While all this happening, Kyoma adds a couple growls and Kaana takes the beat away with a very unique solo. It's been 2 years since RevleZ disbanded but to my surprise Kyoma's singing style hasn't changed. His growls may not be as strong and powerful in this single, but hopefully they will be in later releases. It's clear these guys have worked hard on making a strong first impression since there are no signs of 'cheap-kei' here. This song is a great start to what may soon become an amazing band and maybe surpass RevleZ and Xepher's level of success. I think the fact that all these guys aren't new to the scene really helps them. Also their previous bands have made names for themselves. Hopefully this band can go far. @The Reverend's Picks "働かずに食う [IA Ver.]" by KOHH "I Don't Work [IA Ver.]" by KOHH You know that slightly anxious moment when you’re talking about music with a new-ish acquaintance and start to say 'This sounds nerdy, but I really like this Japanese…'? This song and video are exactly what that other person is thinking as soon as you drop the J word. "I Don’t Work [IA Version]" is a chiptune (hell, part of it is literally a chopped-and-screwed version of some music from the original Super Mario Bros.) remix of KOHH’s original "I Don’t Work" with the vocals completely replaced by vocaloid singer IA. What was originally a lackluster not-single-worthy-even-though-it-was-one (KOHH sounded bored on it, he doesn’t even shout out Oji once!) mid-tempo hip hop track is transformed into something bright and addictive and maybe a bit subversive when filtered through the trippy lens of pink-haired IA and the accompanying ‘90s CGI reel of a video. "Melon Soda" by tricot The crown princesses of poppy math rock are back with their third album 3. "Melon Soda" is the second single from the new album and one of their most accessible songs to date. It starts with the bassist showing off her chops and follows with a mostly mellow, pretty song. My fave part is actually the second guitarist interrupting the sweet song with some purposeful background feedback at :54. Tricot, as usual, have a great combination of female vocal melodies and non-traditional indie rock. The video doesn’t really have a story, as much as a central conceit. Basically everything is moving backwards (except for the vocalists lips!)... which is done very artfully, but it seems like most of the girls’ actions are not things they’d normally be doing as much as they are things that beat you over the head that they're backwards (ripping paper, pouring things out, putting a newton’s cradle in some coffee what??) @plastic_rainbow's Picks "Grateful Dead" by MINAKEKKE A new female singer-songwriter enters the scene with her debut album called TINGLES. Before you think that MINAKEKKE is some generic pop singer, let me tell you that she's like no other. Instead of singing cheap love songs, she mixes genres like folk, shoegaze, new wave, and goth together into one album full of a haunting sweetness. One highlight of the album is the song "Grateful Dead", which takes you to a realm of 80s gothic horror with a roar of a thunder at the beginning. Some drum machines, gloomy guitars, and tambourines creep in and you've got everything laid out. MINAKEKKE's lovely and swaying vocals; however, soften the threatening mood and carry you gently through the horrific ordeal. If you like uplifting acoustic guitars and folk drums, or dreamy synth melodies, to haunting organs and creepy guitar noises, be sure to check out the rest of the album. With MINAKEKKE's mesmerizing vocals, you will surely be swept away into her dreary, yet peaceful, world of darkness and dreams. "Saddest Song" by 北出菜奈 "Saddest Song" by Nana Kitade Feeling sour about Nana Kitade's new music direction ever since her comeback, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were 1-2 enjoyable tracks from her new album VIOLET BLAZE. In her previous solo work, she donned a charismatic gothic lolita rock star appearance, but this time around she disrobes her old rock style and takes on a new electronic pop star approach. Even for someone who doesn't often listen to such kind of music, I was quite impressed by Nana's beautifully strained vocals in "Saddest Song". The track opens with a tune that oddly reminds me of the "Intro" by The xx (excuse me if I butcher this comparison), but with added-in dubstep breakdowns, serene droning, and of course, Nana's feminine vocals. The other highlight of the album is "Borrowed Time" and I highly recommend her new album to all Jpop listeners. "Unfading Scent" by Shelling I recently found out about this shoegaze/dream pop band hailing from Tokyo that has been around since 2007. Despite being around for that long, they've only released a total of three albums, with their newest one being Waiting For Mint Shower!! . Shelling consists of two members: female on guitar/vocals and male on guitars, who like to call their music 'sherbet pop'. Quite fitting for any shoegaze/dream pop band. Their music touches on the roots of shoegaze and creates a heavy wall of noise that is layered by creamy ethereal vocals, as done with the track "Unfading Scent". If you’re looking for some of that My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive distortion, Shelling is the way to go. @qotka's Picks “N.G.Y” by 麗麗-reirei- It's camp time! These indie kids are back with their first single since reforming, paying tribute to their hometown of Nagoya. Usually I'd write this kinda thing off as a graceless attempt at taking a karaoke in-joke gag and trying to make it happen -- and let's face it, things that are never going to happen are rife in indie vkeiland. But reirei's self-appointed Nagoya ambassadorship reads as sweet and genuine, loaded with heaps of self-deprecating humor both Nagoyites and outsiders can relate to. Traditional-sounding synths, a copy-paste shamisen sample layering the back of the mix and full Nagoya-inspired frocks - "N.G.Y" is a low budget production but hardly a half-assed one. If you're going to let everyone in on your private joke you have to make it as elaborate as possible, and there's nothing more elaborate than Nagoya Castle shoulder pads. The result is so clumsy it's endearing; makes you wanna attend their live and rock out to this with their fans. All three of them. Hell, the chances of me visiting Nagoya this year have tripled since this was released. "トイレでGO!" by cali≠gari "toire de GO!" by cali≠gari Moving on from thrift-shop drag to a cult classic. cali≠gari are back at it, promoting their latest release 13 with a fun track that may not be the strongest one on the album but does a great job at showcasing the band’s signature grotesque tongue-in-cheek vibe and dark humor. They accomplish this by giving a taste of their more mischievous punk-rock side - strong but measured thick bass slapping, rushed percussion and The Other Shuuji’s playful vocals/storytelling. Coupled with a morbid PV featuring a housewife snapped and gone murderous, "toire de GO!" is what cali≠gari are all about: shock value that always seems to border on some sort of a social or political saying without ever explicitly going there. In this case, it could be the story of a woman getting her revenge at an abusive partner, or just another one of those 'murder mysteries' that get on the news every once in a while - 'man cooked and flushed down the toilet by ex girlfriend' sounds like great click-bait. Either way it's a well-told, engaging story that'll have you hooked start to finish. And if for some reason you haven't had the chance to check out this band yet and you have a taste for everything dark, twisted and queer, this could be your gateway. Just sayin'! "地獄のこども" by Luminous101 "Jigoku no kodomo" by Luminous101 Musashino city’s finest – Luminous101 may still be playing livehouses where most of their audience consists of the other five bands on the lineup, but they sound a lot bigger than that. "Jigoku no kodomo" may not be the most sophisticated track you’ll hear in 2017, but it has a beautiful, bright melody with clear Britpop influences and just the right gentle vocals to go with it. Only time will tell if this band will survive the cruel reality of Tokyo's indie music scene, but for now we have this sweet piece of pop candy that's guaranteed to put a smile on your face -- at the moment only available on YouTube. @tetsu_sama69's Picks "VENOM" by REIGN So... this stuff right here. This song is just amazing. All of it sticks right into my vein and gives me tingles in a particular part of me that I want more of. Something about "VENOM" feels so much like And, yet REIGN adds a whole new spice that takes me back to why I like Ikuma so much as a musician. Its opener is a twisted rhythmical party which is only enhanced further by their new drummer Kazuharu. It tears into a mess of screams and heavy guitars that may have been a bit too much, if it weren't for the fact that the song takes quite a bit of turns that it sweeps you up into a sweet melodic tornado. REIGN has definitely discovered their own personality with "VENOM" and are stepping away from their more spooky-kei background into a force to be reckoned with. "ボクノ悪イ癖" by ヴァージュ "Boku no Warui Kuse" by Virge First of all, everyone who whined about Ryo from Medina being the vocalist for this band needs to sit down and check themselves because they're obviously delirious and need to see a doctor to get their heads checked. Virge is 100% proof you should never judge a band by who the members are, but simply by what they put on the table. UTOPIA is a treasure trove of visual gold and it's refreshing to see that guitarist Sizuki and bassist Shin still possess the musical prowess that made MALISEND more than just a momentary blip on the radar. Virge has the spirit of older visual styling that is very evident in its composition, especially in "Boku no Warui Kuse". The screams and clean vocals are just the sprinkles for this musical cake that has been baked to perfection. Even the synths are nowhere near overdone and fit so perfectly that you can tell there was great effort put into the framework of the song and the mini-album as a whole. "おしまい" by キズ "Oshimai" by Kizu No one expected a band like Kizu to turn out this way with lead singer LIME taking front, who previously sang for oshare kei band LEZARD. The supercharged opener takes over you in way that you just can't help but burst out in a fit of headbanging. Every single member of the band strikes a match that starts a musical firestorm. Despite the darker nature of the band, LIME's unique vocals fit perfectly with the heavier instrumentals and is well aware of his vocal boundaries. The whole song is perfectly executed and the psychological aesthetic fits so well with the band. I had "Oshimai" on repeat for almost a good hour at work when it popped up. The track is an instant infectious hit for anyone who likes a bit of dark drama in their visual kei bands without being overwhelmed by terrible synths and ugly vocals. It'll be interesting to hear the full release along with seeing what else Kizu will bring in the future. "ゲシュタルト" by ピサロ "Gestalt" by Pisarro If you've been sleeping on Pisarro you're definitely missing out big time, which could result in a possible negative judgement on you and your visual taste. Anyone should be familiar with their vocalist Kairi from SIVA/gaNesha who formed Pisarro in 2016; with experienced members from Cardinal, Varyl, and LucaRia. Pisarro has had a colorful discography so far, and with "Gestalt" they just keep on delivering. "Gestalt" is a wonderful treat for the ears with its solid melody and execution that doesn't turn into a stereotypical visual power ballad. The clean guitar solo from Kaede is a highlight as it's not drawn out and fits like a puzzle piece that was missing to complete the excellence that is "Gestalt". @emmny's Picks "昨日の怖い夢。" by 黒百合と影 "Kinou no kowai yume" by Kuroyuri to kage FULL DISCLOSURE: I was held against my will for 30 minutes by KTK stans in exchange for this review after calling the song a flop upon first listen. I would like to officially recant my statement calling "Kinou no kowai yume" a 'flop' and formally change the legal status of the track to a 'bop'. KTK have been a bit controversial for me within the past year or so, as they have taken a major stylistic detour post-member departures. While I've gotten used to their new style, I can't fully shake what could have been from their first album. One day I was walking back alone from a night of rowdy drinking and gossiping from a bar and I decided to play this track again, turning it up a little bit more than usual. I didn't pick up on any of the following before that listen, and it is imperative for anyone to play this song as loud as you can possibly tolerate. The track opens with the biggest riff Kuro's put to record and K's pummeling, clanky bass work not far behind; the bass and guitar are mixed in a way that sounds like a sandwich to my ears at full blast; guitar occupies mid while bass takes sub/bass and treble. The end effect is maddening and I'd liken it to deep frying my ears. Mei's vocals bring in the first verse, and he kills it with the wobbly, atmospheric vocals that are now his trademark while K's minor scale riff weaves in and out of his voice before launching into grunts. Chorus comes, rinse and repeat. If you'd like to have a pleasant little goth nu-metal audio experience, go ahead and play it at normal volumes. If you want to feel the claustrophobic, nauseating intensity that Kuroyuri to kage are known for...heed my recommendation. "「哀しい日はいつも雨」" by シェルミィ "Kanashii hi wa itsumo ame" by Shellmy Shellmy are coming for world domination and you heard it here FIRST...although you might not be able to tell based on this song. PV spot on Danger Crue aside, it's a totally unflashy or "major" sounding ballad; the band eschew their bittersweet sound for Plastic Tree melancholy, with Hyo's usually unaffected vocals turning into a tastefully emotive vessel for the delicate lyrics. It's not so much lyrical melodrama as it is a simpler, more honest look at a breakup told through our beloved 'sadness=rain' trope...literally. Hyo's gotten a following through being relatable to fans; talking about suicide, bullying, depression and the like with candor and "Kanashii hi wa itsumo ame" continues with that very personal, detailed, storytelling/writing style that is otherwise missing from the scene. Shellmy gave us the ballad we wanted but didn't think we deserved in 2017 and at this rate their upcoming full-length will be the album of 2017--this time we deserve it though, the year's been dry for visual kei. Here's to hoping Shellmy will save the day. @Original Saku's Pick "メロス" by 水曜日のカンパネラ "Melos" by Suiyoubi no Campanella Coming off of the successful album SUPERMAN from earlier this year, we have a new single from dance electro-pop juggernaut Suiyoubi no Campanella. "Melos" makes for a nice track showcasing some more of that EDM sound that has been ever-present in the SUPERMAN material, but with some good variations that shows it can stand on its own. The chorus has a catchy hook that draws you in with a mesmerizing vocal assault from KOMUAI combined with the electronic beats that really rock your core. While not a complete departure from the album singles we've heard previously, "Melos" does tread more into the EDM realm previously mentioned and makes for a great album follow up. It also sounds excellent on my AVR speaker setup; the production is polished and mixing is clear as water. @fitear1590's Picks "Afterglow" by The fin. It's been over a year since we last heard from The fin. with their disappointing Through the Deep EP. Although they have downsized to being a trio now, their sound is slowly returning to form. The billowing keys and powerful drumming in "Afterglow" recall some of the band's signature work from their gorgeous debut album Days with Uncertainty from late 2014. Adding to the mix is a simple, but deliciously fuzzy bassline that lends the song a slight post-punk edge underneath all the fluffiness. Admittedly, "Afterglow" does come off a bit interlude-y; I hope we'll be treated to a full album sometime later this year, so the song can display more synergy with surrounding tracks. "深呼吸" by PELICAN FANCLUB "shinkokyuu" by PELICAN FANCLUB 2015 was the year of PELICAN FANCLUB, hands down. With two glorious mini albums, these giant-T-shirt-wearing newcomers won me over. They were poised to become my favorite J-indie band, but their next release OK BALLADE, although solid, just plateaued my appreciation for the band. Overall, I'm afraid their recent debut album Home Electronics is continuing that trend rather than raising the bar set by their excellent early releases. Having said that, there are some highlights planted throughout the album, one of which is the opening gambit "shinkokyuu". Endou's effervescent voice and the blissful riffs set an uplifting tone. Hopefully, Home Electronics will prove to be a grower over the course of the year, but for now I'm content with cherry picking individual tracks like this one. Guest Recommendations: @Ada Suilen's Picks "バライロノセカイ-Le monde de la rose-" by D’ERLANGER If you have a little knowledge of the visual kei scene, you cannot miss something of this incredible band, one of the few which continued their brilliant work despite the changing times and the coming of new and fresh contexts. With their last work dated on April 2015, it was great to see them in action once again with a new album; the lead-track incorporates all the elements which drive the release and in general D'Erlanger's music, with a warm melody, energetic rhythm, where the guitars have a relevant role and touching vocals by Kyo, surely one of the best singers of the scene. A must for J-rock amateurs. "TRIGGER (feat. J)" by Lynch. Lynch. is one of the bands which mostly represented my personal experience in the J-rock universe and they never disappointed in being powerful and great, even when they seemed repetitive in their own. With the arrest of Akinori occurred last year, there was fear that they would lose their appeal, as expected in situations like these. But they didn't give up and continued to play as a four-man band, with a new release coming. The lead-track of Sinners EP, made in collaboration with J (bassist of Luna Sea), maintained the energy seen in their music, but this time there's something new, represented by an articulate vocal interpretation by Hazuki and a stronger technique from the guitars, for an addictive metal theme. Thanks for checking out our recommendations this month! And another big thanks to our guest contributor Ada Suilen! If you have any thoughts on the list, or if you have any recommendations of your own, we look forward to seeing your comments below!
  15. Yes, kudos on the variety of bands they lined up for this! Ready for fitzcore (PELICAN FANCLUB, THE NOVEMBERS, and a crowd of rebellion)