Hands on Necronomidol’s “DEATHLESS” Limited Edition vinyl

The Necronomidol project grew up a lot in 2017. After years perfecting and refining a now definitive sound, in the last months the ultra-dark Idol unit really took off and shown to both Japan and the world its true potential, bringing the five girls to perform in Europe (with an upcoming U.S Tour on the way) and release a new amazing single, as well as their second full-length album DEATHLESS, that gained widespread critical acclaim from several headlines and blogs.

I too thought that DEATHLESS was a great record. It’s an album that brought Necronomidol on a whole another level, both in terms of sound and overall quality, experimenting with different influences while being cohesive, and exposing a more mature and enjoyable side of the unit’s sound: surely one of the highest peaks from the Alternative/Underground Idol scene this year.

The girls and their team really worked hard this year to make the Necronomidol project stand out, and the results speak for themselves. But before this great year for the ultra-dark Idol unit comes to an end, Necronomidol has one more surprise in store for their fans: a new vinyl release.

Just like their debut record Nemesis, DEATHLESS too is getting an analog release, a limited edition printed and distributed by French label Specific Recordings, with whom I have collaborated several times in the past. As great fans of Necronomidol, these guys not only took the chance to bring this record on vinyl format to the fans, they also gave it a new look, thanks to the hand of French artist Pierre Weird, who drawn a brand new cover for the record. As shown by these pictures, the result is nothing short of amazing.

 

The re-design affected the vinyl itself too, and it honestly looks beautiful. Pictures can’t possibly capture the real color, but this Sari green is stunning to see once you hold the record in your hands.

 

As for the sound, it was a lot of fun to hear this record on my system. I’m generally a headphone guy, but hearing the opener END OF DAYS and its violent riff and blast beats on my speakers honestly made me smile like a child on Christmas day. I’d say it made me bald, if I already wasn’t bald.

Necronomidol’s DEATHLESS Limited Edition vinyl will be up for pre-order on December 1st, and will go on sale on January 5th 2018. The release comes in three editions, with different vinyl colors: 300 copies on “Risaki Black”, 200 copies on “Sari Green”, and 30 copies on black or green including a limited printed ouija board.

 

I’m sure that every Necronomidol fan will love this, so if you’re interested, be sure to check out Specific Recordings website to get your copy of the DEATHLESS vinyl.

As usual, I’d like to point out that I don’t get paid for promoting this product. I do it because I’m always up to help fellow fans to spread Japanese music to the world, and the guys at Specific Recordings have always been great friends to collaborate with in this task. Therefore, thank you once again for sending me this beautiful vinyl.

I’ll see you guys soon!

– Alex

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For Tracy Hyde – He(r)art | ALBUM REVIEW for ARAMA! JAPAN

I just finished writing my review for He(r)art, the second studio album from Tokyo-based Shoegaze outfit For Tracy Hyde. Considering how much I liked their previous releases – and after the promising single “floor” – I had pretty high expectations for this record.

And boy… these guys made it: He(r)art is without a shade of doubt one of the best records of 2017. This album resonates so much with me, particularly with my memories and life experiences in what I consider my second home, Tokyo. The record is filled with so much passion for music and emotions that it couldn’t be otherwise, spacing between different moods and vibes, while still being absolutely cohesive, structurally rock-solid, and delicate in its flow. It’s really a trip worth taking.

Be sure to read my review of the new For Tracy Hyde album by following the link below. This is one of my favorite albums of 2017, and I hope that you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.


FOR TRACY HYDE’S “HE(R)ART” ALBUM REVIEW ON ARAMA! JAPAN.


– Alex

BiSH – GiANT KiLLERS | MINI ALBUM REVIEW

Release Date: June 9, 2017
Formats: CD, Digital
Label: Avex


The new BiSH record suffers from a clear identity crisis, but there’s still hope for the future

BiSH is without a doubt the act from the Alternative Idol niche that’s getting the most attention. After last year’s well received record “KiLLER BiSH”, the six relentless girls came back with a single a few months ago that raised more than an eyebrow among fans, not for its quality per se, but for the lack of hard-hitting tracks in favor of a clearly mainstream-oriented approach; the reaction was so loud that even the unit’s producer reached out to the fans on Twitter, citing “Budokan” as one of the reasons behind this stylistic approach. Definitely a clear explanation.

As a consequence, this new release from BiSH – that takes the form a five tracks Mini Album titled GiANT KiLLERS – has been awaited as a sort of indicator of the unit’s stylistic direction in this particular moment of their career: between those who expect a total mainstream turn in their sound, and those who hope in a revamped version of the relentless attitude that marked the unit’s previous records, no one truly knew what to expect from this mini album.

“GiANT KiLLERS” is a record that lies in the middle of the above-mentioned expectations: not a series of slow-tempo ballads, neither a complete collection of bangers. The potential is still there, and there’s no doubt about it: the title track and opener is a perfect representation of what the unit is capable of, perfectly merging a catchy approach to the franticness typical of the BiSH sound, with fast-paced drum patterns and melodic riffs culminating in a chorus made of catchy vocal lines and Punk-reminiscing choirs, resulting in an instant earworm and a powerful track for live shows. If there’s a sound that best represents BiSH in this moment of their career, it’s definitely this one: it fits their identity while being extremely fun and refreshing.

It’s a shame that “GiANT KiLLERS” doesn’t nurture this winning formula, as the record kinda fails at keeping the interest up after the great impact of the first track. There’s nothing necessarily bad here, but most of it sounds shallow and even repetitive at times: Nothing sounds like it was made from leftovers of the “Orchestra” recordings, and while it’s a style that can somehow find its place in the structure of a full record, it’s pretty clear that piano melodies and cheesy symphonic layers just don’t fit in a mini album of a unit that gives its best when feasting on Punk Rock and Metal influences. “VOMiT SONG” suffers from a problem the unit showcased in recent times, that lies in overly lengthy and uninspired choruses; this issue is partly present in “Marionette” as well, but the track ultimately works thanks to electric guitar riffs that enrich several sections. The record still occasionally showcases interesting ideas, particularly in “Shakai no Rule“, featuring a goofy and playful approach – a first for the unit – that works surprisingly well, coupled by a straight-to-the-point and carefree chorus that’s as simple as effective: it’s a fast and fun track that kinda plays it safe, but it still stands out as one of the best-crafted numbers on this mini album.

Overall, “GiANT KiLLERS” is a record that shows a lot of uncertainness. It tries to be overly appealing and friendly, an approach that comes in contrast with the nature of the project and the girls alike, consequentially failing due to a clearly uninspired songwriting. On the other hand, it also shows that BiSH can still rock and adopt interesting ideas, other than finding a perfect compromise between their typical sound and the position they’re in, as shown by the brilliant title track.

For this, “GiANT KiLLERS” suffers from a clear identity crisis, and it’s surely the weakest release from BiSH to date. At the same time, it also proves that these girls and their team still have what it takes to make exciting music that can satisfy their fans, as well as attracting new ones. They just need to choose the right direction, because it’s clear that they’re trying to satisfy their fanbase as well as developing a way too forced mainstream appeal, and the result is naturally conflicted and unconvincing. The hope is that they will take a moment to realize what’s best for them, while rocking bigger stages and ranking higher in the charts.

Vote: 6 / 10


– Alex

Natsume Mito – Natsumelo | ALBUM REVIEW for Electric Bloom Webzine

A bit late on this one, but finally my review of Natsume Mito‘s debut record Natsumelo is online!

This record is as important for Mito as it is for Yasutaka Nakata, and they both did an amazing job here: Mito’s charisma and interpretation fits Nakata’s style greatly, and the production is overall brilliant. I can say without a shade of doubt that this is the best record Nakata has produced in years… I’d say since Kyary’s Nandacollection. It’s fast, fun, and full of different influences, both new and old; it has a clear modern touch, but at the same time it revisits sounds that are part of Nakata’s past, sometimes even going as far as including Shibuya-Kei and Chiptune bits.

Natsumelo is a great record that fans of both Mito and Nakata’s productions will undoubtedly love. Be sure to read my review on Electric Bloom Webzine!

– Alex

NECRONOMIDOL – DEATHLESS | ALBUM REVIEW

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Release Date: February 21st, 2017
Label: VELOCITRON
Format: CD, Digital


NECRONOMIDOL’s new album is a journey through darkness not to miss

One of the best things to witness in music, is without a doubt the progression of an artist as it makes its way through different stages of its career. It begins with a concept in mind, followed by experimentation to find the right balance and sound, and then to its conquest.

The “ultra-dark” Idol Unit NECRONOMIDOL is a clear example of this progression. Kicked off in 2014, the project led by producer Richard Wilson made waves in the Alternative Idol niche for its dark and fascinating concept, reflected in a formula that mixed up extreme metal influences with Idol pop bits, in a way that felt natural for the first time ever. From the beginning, the five girls and their team never stopped to improve their formula and build a strong identity: if the unit’s debut album NEMESIS was mostly a compilation of tracks showcasing the initial experimentations of the project, and last year’s EP from chaos born a strong proof of its ability in mixing up different genres, DEATHLESS is the consolidation of the unit’s sound we’ve been waiting for… and not only.

NECRONOMIDOL’s new record is indeed a noticeable improvement in every aspect: the opener END OF DAYS immediately highlights a production that’s much more cleaner and crystalline than before, highlighting dark vibes brought by blast beats and power chords, that coupled with the girls’ delicate and sinister vocals, make this track a perfect opener that showcases the unit’s personality with success. The album’s main achievement, though, lies in the improved fusion between Metal and Electronic influences, that reach an almost perfect balance here: tracks like 4.7L, SKULLS IN THE STARS, and CHUNGKING REDLINE make the mood of the record lighter thanks to Electronic beats and synths, but never go too far on the cheesy side, successfully keeping the dark vibe floating around, and creating a connection between the eight tracks composing the album. The general flow obviously benefits from such a detailed and well structured production, and now more than ever it feels cohesive and solid. Even tracks that follow a precise pattern, like the ballad HEXENNACHT (featuring a nice contrast between Electronic percussions and classic piano strings, first time I didn’t fall asleep on a ballad in a while) and the album closer ITHAQA, loosen the grip on the technical side while elevating the atmospheric factor, with the latter track in particular shining for its catchiness.

With DEATHLESS, NECRONOMIDOL ultimately consolidate their sound, making it more enjoyable than ever. This record is their strongest and most cohesive to date, and it manages to be various while keeping its core personality intact, flowing greatly throughout its eight tracks. The improved production quality and mixing is a big plus too, and makes both the girls’ vocals and instrumentals sound better than ever. All this, and the clear effort that the unit and its team put into this record, makes DEATHLESS Necroma’s best album to date.

Vote: 8.5 / 10

– Alex


NECRONOMIDOL’s new album DEATHLESS will be available in Japanese stores on February 21st, and also worldwide (digitally) on Bandcamp.

Oyasumi Hologram – 2 | ALBUM REVIEW for Electric Bloom Webzine

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It took me six months, but finally I reviewed one of the records that I liked the most (so far) in this year: Oyasumi Hologram‘s sophomore album 2.

Oyasumi Hologram is an Alternative Idol duo composed by Kanamiru and Hachigatsu, two girls who are getting more and more recognition in the underground Idol scene, mostly for their catchy (yet deep) compositions and killer live performances.

What I like the most about this project, is the feeling of authenticity expressed in the music, of down-to-earth regular girls singing fragments of a life lived in a huge metropolis. Their live performances are worth of mention too, taking the form of relentless and extremely fun underground gigs worth-attending. These girls have talent, personality, and great tunes: hopefully, all of this will bring them to gain more and more recognition in the scene. In the meanwhile, be sure to read my review down below, and listen to this record: as always, let me know what you think about it!

Read my review of Oyasumi Hologram’s 2 on Electric Bloom Webzine

On a side note, a few interesting records came out last week. I’m already reviewing them, so be sure to stay tuned for more amazing Japanese music to discover 😉

Take care.

– Alex

Utada Hikaru – Fantôme | ALBUM REVIEW for Electric Bloom Webzine

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Took me quite a while, but finally, my review for Utada Hikaru‘s new album Fantôme is online, on English website Electric Bloom Webzine.

I thought this was a pretty solid record. Not your typical pop collection of songs (there’s a lot of sadness and melancholy, but also a bit of joy), and it has a few flaws here and there… but still, it’s a good and very enjoyable record. Not the new Deep River, nor her new-era masterpiece, but definitely a good record that Hikki’s fans will enjoy.

The reason why I reviewed it two weeks after its release, is because both this record and me needed time. Time to absorb these songs and avoid a rushed judgement, like most headlines out there are apparently doing: I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints, framed by words like “boring”, “uninspired” and even “useless”. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions of course, but the feeling is that many journalists and bloggers jumped on the “bash Hikki to look pro” bandwagon just cause it’s cool. Whatever…

Read my review of Fantôme on Electric Bloom Webzine!

Here’s my review. Hope you enjoy it, and be sure to let me know what you think about it! There’s no score, but i’d give it a 8 / 10.

There’s a new article and a review coming here on my blog this weekend, so be sure to stay tuned!

Take care.

– Alex

BiSH – KiLLER BiSH | ALBUM REVIEW for Electric Bloom Webzine

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As I hinted in my last Blog post, I wrote a review for the new BiSH record, KiLLER BiSH.

For the first time though, I didn’t write it for my blog, but for another website: Electric Bloom Webzine, an English website entirely focused on Japanese Music, with some interesting features, such as interviews with well-known acts, reviews and news.

I just started collaborating with them, and some of my reviews will be featured in the site. Don’t worry about the content, or the style: they’re written exactly as if they should get published here on my blog (as you will notice in the link below). So no compromises. Of course my blog will constantly be updated with articles and reviews as well 🙂

Anyway, enough talk. KiLLER BiSH is a super nice record: surely a strong 7.5 / 8 score. You can read my review at the following link.

[ALBUM REVIEW] BISH – KiLLER BiSH

I’ll see you guys soon, with a new article that will be up next week.

Stay tuned! 🙂

– Alex