Brand-new Idol Society release “Did not”, one of the best tracks since the unit’s return

If there’s one thing that music taught us in recent years, is that revamped projects trying to resuscitate the concept that made them famous in the first place usually can’t reach substantial results. In regard to this, I think BiS is adopting a smart behavior; it’s a common argument that the unit led by Pour Lui – in terms of visuals and concept – is not as provocative and daring as it used to be, and the whole team behind this project knows very well that trying to repeat what BiS did back in the days would be pointless today: they already did what they wanted to do, and that’s in the past. It’s clear that the unit is currently keeping a slightly lower profile, but it’s also experimenting with different influences and toying with its sound, an approach that’s currently giving good results, and that may bring to unexpected surprises in the future.

BiS recently released a music video for the upcoming single SOCiALiSM (May 31st), a pretty standard number featuring Ska-influences inherited from their last album. I thought it was an ok track: nothing outstanding, but not bad either, and the MV successfully showcased the personality of each girl, an element that kinda missed since the re-formation of the unit last year.

Today is the turn of the single’s B-side Did not, a track that showcases a relentless and straight-to-the-point approach thanks to fast-paced drumming and a subtle Metal touch that infiltrates in several sections, mostly in the verses and in the rhythmic patterns composing the chorus; there’s a lot of emphasis on melodies too, that keep the frantic vibe of the track up and culminate in a surprisingly solid guitar solo that leads to the last chorus flawlessly.

Fast, frantic, fun… Did not is a solid and well-crafted track, one of the best since the return of BiS. Listen below.

BiS – Brand New Idol Society 2 | ALBUM REVIEW for Electric Bloom Webzine

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You know I love the Alternative Idol scene. Well, damn, I just love Idols in general. So how could I miss the chance to review the comeback record of one of the most influential groups of this niche, and of the Japanese music industry as a whole?

Brand New Idol Society 2 is a record that features both old, re-record classics from the controversial career of the unit, and new songs as well, spicing things up with different influences and entertaining both long-time fans and newcomers alike.

This is a fun and very enjoyable Pop-punk/rock record that I recommend to everyone to get a grasp of what BiS and the Alternative Idol scene is all about. Like it or not, this group of relentless girls shook things up six years ago, and exposed many controversial issues of Japan’s society and music scene. Definitely check it out, and be sure to read my review down here on Electric Bloom Webzine!

Read my review of BiS’ Brand New Idol Society 2 on Electric Bloom Webzine!

See you soon with more reviews and… videos?

– Alex

BiS keep trolling fans with new song “Human After All”

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The rebirth of Alternative Idol group Brand new Idol Society, pioneering act of the niche, is still seen with suspicious eyes from the audience: To this day, many fans still question the necessity of reforming this historical unit, especially when BiSH’s success is growing bigger by the day. The “behavior” shown so far by the newly reformed unit hasn’t helped as well, with new members (recruited by leader Pour Lui) faking horrible vocal performances on stage for months, to then suddenly sing properly from one day to another. Of course, there’s also the story of the “rival group” SiS, who performed live once and then got immediately disbanded, to then be merged with Idol group GANG PARADE.

Simply put: the management behind these groups (a.k.a. Junnosuke Watanabe) just loves to troll and have fun seeing fans going crazy. Which is nothing new, really.

Whatever is going to happen next, for now BiS keeps on going with live shows, and new music as well. The unit just released a new song on Soundcloud, Human after all, which is nothing more than a Halloween-themed song with rock bits here and there: Thanks to a linear progression and a chorus kicking in unexpectedly, the track features a nice contrast, and thanks to a catchy lead melody it somehow works pretty well in being a light-hearted, ironic track. Be sure to listen to it down here.

It may not be what BiS fans were looking forward to, but it’s undeniably a fun track. And probably another joke by the girls and their management.

– Alex

Are Major Labels pushing the new wave of J-pop?

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Last week, I stumbled open something that turned out to be unexpectedly good: a collaboration between FEMM, FAKY and Yup’in, a temporary unit occasionally called FAMM’IN. A team of artists that could easily trigger one of the biggest mediocrity fest ever, basically.

As you can guess, I’m not a huge fan of the three acts from Avex, one of the biggest Major Label companies of the Japanese music industry. These groups never found a way to stand out in the market, bathing instead in the limb of mediocrity: FEMM had some catchy EDM tunes in the past – but shown a clear inconsistence at the same time – while the other two hardly ever came up with something that I could find interesting. Last years’ terrible collaboration between FEMM and FAKY was the icing on the cake, and convinced me to stay away from these girls and their music.

This time around though, I’ve been proved wrong. Well, at least for seven minutes.

FAMM’IN indeed released the Music Video for circle, an electronic-oriented number mixing vocals auto-tuned into oblivion and traditional Japanese instruments, watered down in an unpredictable but functional structure. The track showcases an interesting contrast between different elements, and it does a good job at that, maintaining a soothing and almost mysterious vibe throughout its duration. Simply put, it’s a track that works greatly. Pretty much all the opposite you would expect from three acts that usually bring mediocre upbeat pop tunes on the shelves of Tower Records.

What’s even more interesting, though, is that the rest of the EP the track is featured in is exactly what these acts have been doing so far, which is mostly mediocre music. Only circle makes the difference, and not coincidentally, it’s the the track chosen to promote the release. Curious, isn’t it? This fact, and the thoughts of Tokyo-based journalist Patrick St. Michel brought me to think: Why is Avex doing this? Then I realized, that this is actually what one of the biggest Major labels in Japan has been doing for a while: promoting music that brings a breeze of fresh air to the J-pop scene.

Over the last five years, the japanese colossus indeed kept a vigilant eye on artists that, in a way or another, brought fresh sonorities to the J-pop market and its several ramifications.

One of the first acts taken in consideration by Avex has been TOKYO GIRLS’ STYLE, an Idol unit featuring Funk and Jazz influences greatly merged over a classic Idol pattern, reaching its momentum with the highly acclaimed record Limited Addiction. It’s no understatement that they have been one of the first groups of the 2010’s to make Idol pop relevant from the mere musical standpoint. Oddly enough, the major label tried to change the identity of the group by announcing the abandonment of the Idol scene to undertake an “artistic” path. The result? Nothing has truly changed, the unit lost one of its former members, and their music hasn’t been as interesting as before. Leaving aside this doubtful choice and its poor results, it is the mindset behind it that’s to notice: The will of making a standardized reality artistically more relevant. The same thing that happened in the seven minutes of circle.

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Seeing the matter from a broader point of view, the label had no problem in taking under its wings relevant acts that are changing the tides of today’s J-pop, with Oomori Seiko as prime example of the colossus’ lineup: The singer/songwriter, after gaining relevant and well deserved attention in the independent scene, made the big step by shifting to Avex, delivering two albums (including the excellent TOKYO BLACK HOLE) and evolving her style while delivering unique charisma through her music, becoming one of the most influential J-pop artists of our days. Taking another look at the past, the enrollment of the controversial Idol unit BiS, that shook the Idol scene with aggressive and provocative concepts, shown a clear interest in artists that can potentially play a game-changing role in certain niches. The same thing happened to the group’s spiritual successor BiSH, that’s gaining more and more popularity by the day with their punk rock influences and rebellious charisma.

Seeing a gigantic major label like Avex trying to push the artists that are bringing a breathe of fresh air in the J-pop scene, is a sign that times are changing: People is getting tired of the classic Diva concept (ironically represented by Avex artists like Ayumi Hamasaki and Namie Amuro) and of the usual Idol projects made of plastic smiles and uninspired songs. And as the generation of artists that created these now aged patterns is slowly becoming less and less relevant, a new wave of young and innovative artists is gaining ground. Avex clearly knows this, and other labels such as Warner Music Japan are slowly recognizing the rise of this new reality, with the recent signing of electronic outfit Charisma.com and the upcoming deal with rising artist Suiyoubi no Campanella as proof of this.

With this in mind, the hope is that major labels will play a relevant role in this generational change, giving exposure and artistic freedom to the countless valid artists of the independent scene, willing to take their spot in the japanese scene with originality and talent. And from the looks of it, that’s exactly what’s gonna happen.

– Alex