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

TeddyLoid just killed Aina’s voice, and I can’t stand it.

TeddyLoid. This guy.

After releasing one of the worst Japanese albums of the last few years, a senseless chaotic mess that goes by the name of Silent Planet, the young producer had the worst possible idea: make a followup to that mess of a record. And, of course, it’s not that he got better or anything, since the only thing he apparently did in recent times is to act like he’s the new Tetsuya Komuro or Yasutaka Nakata, when his actual greatest accomplishment was updating his twitter profile pic.

So, of course, I stopped caring about this guy. He kept releasing trash, like that DAOKO track (a girl that apparently only tofubeats cared to valorize properly), while showing signs of a chronic disease, that makes him act cool by adopting a musical direction that died a long time ago, that “”dubstep”” Japan briefly adopted in its mainstream circles and then immediately dropped because, well, it was already too late when they realized it was even a thing.

Then this morning, while I was painting a wooden window as the good Italian low-paid craftsman I am, I received a notification on Facebook: a friend of mine posted a video on a group I follow: it’s a new TeddyLoid video. Fine, another trash song I can avoid. Then I look closely at my phone and I notice “feat. Aina The End (BiSH)“.

No way. What the hell is going on. Jesus Christ, the wooden window can wait. But not Aina.

Guys. Seriously. This is the most embarrassing, pathetic, obsolete, forced piece-of-shit track I listened in a long time. Yes, TO THE END is the same TeddyLoid stuff. This guy is stuck in a time capsule from 2010 or something. The wubz. Guys, THE WUBZZZ. Not even Skrillex does that shit anymore, because it was already old when HE started doing it.

But that’s not new with TeddyLoid. He’s pretty much the only guy on this planet that thinks “”dubstep”” is still a cool mainstream genre that’s selling. And even outside those moments, the rest of the track just sounds old, repetitive, and genuinely bad. It truly gave me an headache, and I listened to it like, what, three times maybe?

But here comes the real problem: Aina. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love this girl, I love her to death. She has a wonderful voice, great interpretation, strong charisma, and a personality that flows through every note she sings. She’s a great dancer too. And that’s why it hurts so bad. Because her talent went completely wasted with this track.

This fucking dude vocoded the shit out of her voice. Yes, he DIGITALLY ALTERED Aina’s voice, making it unrecognizable. It sounds bad. It kills all her personality, charisma, talent, everything. I don’t wanna sound like a fanboy asshole, even though I probably am, and it surely isn’t the first time something like this happens in the history of music, but I can’t stand this on a personal level. It’s terrible. It’s like autotuning Bruce Dickinson’s voice: Who the fuck would even think of something like that? No one. (that’s not a comparison of course).

TeddyLoid’s got a big problem: he can’t valorize nor adapt to the artists he collaborates with. He literally butchers their talent. Everything from Silent Planet on, when he basically started to have the right connections to the right artists, was a clear proof of this. If you choose an artist, you have to be sure you can get the best out of him/her to reach your vision as producer, not killing their talent and personality to just do whatever you feel like doing to be cool, cause the result is gonna be terrible, and you’re definitely not going out as the cool producer you think you are. And no, I’m no producer myself: it’s history that proves how this approach is just wrong.

I genuinely think TeddyLoid is one of the worst and most overrated producers I ever heard. He’s all smoke and no fire, making himself big with other artists’ names, while killing their talent in the process. Honestly, I’d rather listen to my dog barking at my neighbor than listening to this track. I’m just sad I had to see this excruciating process apply to one of my favorite singers of the Alt Idol scene.

TeddyLoid. This guy. He would sure as hell be more talented at painting this wooden window than making music.

– Alex

BiSH – KiLLER BiSH | ALBUM REVIEW for Electric Bloom Webzine

cqomdmavmaatypc_orig

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

Mid-year Review: 2016 in Japanese Music

maxresdefault

We’re in the middle of June (actually heading towards the end of the month), and so I decided to make a recap of the most noticeable music the Japanese Music Industry offered to us in this first half of 2016.

I can’t deny it: these six months were pretty good in terms of new music. For several reasons, including being introduced to certain niches of the Japanese industry, there have been quite a few records that I enjoyed a lot, only framed by a few disappointments here and there. Let’s start with the good side.


The Good

There have been some very interesting surprises in the last six months, and some (predictably) great albums as well. First off, Seiko Oomori‘s relentless, and sometimes genial TOKYO BLACK HOLE, is a great collection of heartfelt and well crafted tracks, who gather an impressive number of influences and puts them under Seiko’s magnifying glass, with an enjoyable and various output as result. With this great piece of work, Seiko ultimately elevated herself as relevant and influential figure of today’s J-pop scene, a status that will become even clearer in the coming months. J-rock outfit Soutaiseiriron brought an equally brilliant record with Tensei Jingle, by far the album I enjoyed the most this year, thanks to a perfect flow and light-hearted vibe that make me come back on these colorful tracks on a daily basis; Definitely one of the most enjoyable and rewarding records of this year and, on a personal level, one of the best ones since I discovered the Japanese scene six years ago.

Senza titolo 2

Fully deserving a place in my personal ranking, Bokutachi no Iru Tokoro.‘s Gomi is yet another great piece of J-rock that’s worth all your time, with great accessibility and masterfully crafted compositions. Shifting to a completely different genre, Hiromi Uehara’s record SPARK, enriched by the contribute of bassist Anthony Jackson and drummer Simon Phillips, is another gem not to miss, where the piano singer graces us with Jazz-y and pleasantly melodic tunes that could brighten the darkest of days.

From the Japanese Indie sphere, a niche I’m still very new to, the acts that surprised me the most are Indie-pop/Rock outfits Acidclank and CRUNCH: the first recently released an EP composed by two wonderful tracks that made my mind fly all the way to Tokyo (this is how you conquer me), while the latter released an interesting collaboration with American track-maker Alex Ruby, that led me to the group’s remarkable Blue Blue Blue EP (this one released in 2015).

Deserving a paragraph on its own, the biggest surprise of 2016 so far definitely came from FAMM’IN, a unit composed by Avex artists FEMM, Faky and Yup’in, three acts that I consider mediocre at the best. Still, the newly born unit released what is without a doubt one my most looped tracks right now: circle is a deep, fresh and unpredictable trip through electronic elements, traditional Japanese instruments, enigmatic build-ups, unexpected trap beats, and distant atmospheric vocals. Describing this track with words could never give a proper idea of its nature, so the best way is just to enjoy it on your own.

On the Alternative Idol side of things, there have been quite a few interesting releases as well. Probably the hottest unit of the niche at the moment, BiSH continues to walk the road opened by their predecessors and pioneers BiS, with relentless and pop-ish influences merged with Punk rock/Metal, all packed in Fake Metal Jacket, a solid record filled with enjoyable tracks and live anthems that are making the group more and more popular by the day. In the meantime, Maison Book Girl proved once again their value with summer continue, a festival of acoustic layers and electronic bits that, despite not really bringing anything new to the table, it still manages to stand out as a very enjoyable record. Ultradark Idol Unit Necronomidol didn’t miss the opportunity to shine either, as the EP from chaos born brings back the group on track with well crafted tracks and masterful application of several influences, a needed (and much appreciated) effort following a record that split the fandom into two at the beginning of the year.

The not-that-good

Sadly enough, the two records that partly disappointed me belong to two of my favorite mainstream acts. First off, Perfume, that with COSMIC EXPLORER delivered a wave of mixed feelings to their fandom: It’s a nice record, but at the same time not consistent enough, especially considering the standards they always managed to keep up with in the last ten years: this album features some very good tracks, but suffers from a bad tracklist and rushed (and unnecessary) album mixes, that split the album between new convincing tracks and old singles treated in a not-so-convincing way.

2-12

Of course, BABYMETAL’s METAL RESISTANCE is the second album that didn’t meet my expectations. I gave this record a 6.5, and after almost three months, I hardly see how I could have given this record a higher rating. As a BABYMETAL fan since 2011, I am indeed convinced this album is extremely overrated: Is it bad? No. Is it great? Neither. It’s overall quite nice, very good in a few occasions, and bad in others. The real problem though, lies in the exaggerated will of making this project sound as aggressive as possible, killing part of its nature and desperately pressing the accelerator, until the whole thing unavoidably crashed (Tales of the Destinies). No, this is not evolution: this is losing sight of things and blindly head towards a single direction. I admit it makes me sad to say this, especially because I’d still see them live everyday, and because From Dusk Till Dawn is one of my favorite tracks this year, but seriously, this whole album is not what the world claims. And to those saying I am a “first album elitist” (still laughing), I just can say that I can hear the difference between a masterful record and a mediocre one.

The Bad

Ayami Muto, the best solo Idol in recent years, has retired. Kyary didn’t.

Also, stupid scandals getting in the way.


– Alex

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

maxresdefault

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.

img_bish_major_debut_2016-EC

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

BiSH go punk and destroy everything in “DEADMAN”

Alternative Idol group BiSH released yesterday a new track with respective Music Video titled DEADMAN, and as easily expectable, the girls go wild in this one. As always.

The sound of the group famously spaces between raw sonorities – mostly Rock and Metal – and this time around the short track (barely two minutes long) sees the six girls going into full Punk/Hardcore mode with relentless guitar riffs and alternate verses featuring both clean and harsh filtered vocals. It’s a fast, punchy track that does the job fine and fit the sound and charisma of the group well, and it’s exactly what all the BiSH fans want from these crazy girl.

The video shows the group strolling around Asakusa and Akihabara by night armed with baseball bats, hammers and various tools, “destroying” everything they find with some cool effects that clearly remind of a certain Porter Robinson video. Despite this, several elements from both the track and the MV are a clear tribute to BiS’ infamous track IDOL is DEAD, which is pretty cool and shows once again how BiSH love to pay homage to their predecessors. Also, wait for that ending.

DEADMAN will be released on May 4th as the group’s Major Debut single. Be sure to check it out!

CfWg0iKUYAIPpEl

– Alex