The Saga Clone Wars

Although highly praised for its ingenuity and fashion-forward consciousness, Visual Kei has its own fashion trends– especially now that certain bands have begun to see moderate international renown. It happens in every genre, really, that the bands that really make an imprint on the market start to create some horrible monster within their business. This horrible monster is called simply a “blue-print”, and is what every aspiring artist succeeding them follows in the hopes of finding similar levels of success. For example, ever since princeling band Alice Nine built a veritable fan-girl fan-base, pretty much every new Visual Kei band’s bassist has been styled to look identical to A9‘s Saga. They even try and match their physical appearance. It must be a tough world for any bassists who don’t look like his identical twins. I guess there’s always plastic-surgery.

But, to be true, my perspective on the whole thing isn’t nearly as bleak as I make it sound. It’s not all just grasping at the fame of the forefathers– not at all. I do believe in genuine and sincere appreciation of the preceding groups– they do become famous, and thus they do become role-models for the bands that follow. In this case, of course they want to get the same perm– they’re trying to invoke the same energetic power of the person they admire. I’m sure every single Visualist has experienced, on some level, trying to copy the style of their favorite artists in the same exact attempt to draw on the strengths of their role-model. Why we choose to judge so harshly the fans who are actually trying to make music for a living, I guess we will never know. “Plagiarism” and “copying”, we call it, without actually even thinking about what it is they’re doing, or trying to achieve. Those are cruel words, I think. While certainly there are agencies behind a lot of it, saying “dress him like Saga, and then he will be popular and steal Saga’s fanbase.” I think that there is also just as strong a possibility that the member himself is saying I admire and respect Saga-san and his bass playing. And then, whether done consciously or not, he begins to style himself in the same model he so respects.

Fortunately, many people who start out copping someone-else’s style usually (hopefully) come to draw on their own unique style and strength. At the beginning, though, the effort that it can take to move from Point A to Point B can be so great that the person in question may not feel like it’s possible, and as a result, they draw from someone else and use that as their inspiration that drives them to be able to summon the courage it takes to actually put themselves forward. Once they have moved from Point A to Point B, and it becomes time to move to Point C, then, they can actually look at who they have become, and realize that they no longer need to draw directly from the source that initially gave them strength. They are able to find their own strength, their own style, and emerge like a butterfly from a cocoon, stretching out its own wingspan, colored with its own unique patterning.

Summer Single Shortlist

Let's see some summer shockers, please...

Hiroto’s (front right center) expression in this picture basically sums up how I’ve felt about most of the new stuff I’ve heard the past couple of months. For example, at first D’espairsRay‘s Love is Dead sounded passably cool until Jrockers net-wide reached the unanimous decision that it sounds too much like You Spin Me Round to actually make it casually listenable. Usually I try not to listen overly much to any Visual Kei that makes me think of Adam Sandler in the ’90s. It’s not that the single is bad or anything, because it’s not bad, it’s just that I, and I’m not sure about anybody else, have started feeling a bit lethargic about the recent releases. There have been quite a few “best-of” collections and “nyeh” status singles released lately, I need a real stunner lest I should go catatonic.

And before any devoted and emotional fans start frothing at the mouth– I do concede that there are some releases that I know would be unfair to include in this generalization.

I don’t usually organize release information like this, but since there are so many awesome bands releasing summer singles in the next few months, I thought it would be worth compiling instead of doing a million one-liner posts announcing them (which I pretty much never do).

Summer Releases (they had better be good..)

Alice Nine // “Untitled” 8.04.10

Their latest release was a best-of in late ’09. Now that the boys are off duty for a few minutes (in regards to touring) they can actually write some new music. Hana was a pretty good single before the best-of, and although it wasn’t particularly ground-breaking, even the B-side Cross Game was pretty cool.

Creature Creature // “Untitled” (album) 6.16.10

I didn’t buy the first album, because I’m afraid that I’ll wake up one night and find Morrie standing over my bed….But DEAD END rocks, and Tetsuya rocks. Not that that means that CC rocks. I always got a real kick out of the caption on an upload of their “Paradise” PV: “Tetsu is at it again, with his creepy looking band and creepier lead singer”. –BanhBaoX That all being said, I thought the song Kaze no Tou rocked. It was reminiscent of L’arc, but on an even deeper tier of emoism.

D // “Untitled” 6.30.10

After warming up considerably to their brand new album 7th Rose, I feel slightly more lenient with the goths.

GACKT // “Untitled” 6.16.10

He likes to keep everyone guessing.

girugamesh //”Untitled” ??.??.??

First real venture after everyone declared them sucking because of NOW. After NOW became one of my frequently listened-to albums, I realized that I don’t give a damn what the rest of the Jrock community says; you can bash giru all you like, and I will still buy their music. Just make the A-side feel like an A-side

MUCC // “Yakusoku” 6.09.10

I’m slightly give-or-take about MUCC on the best of days, but I feel like this one sounds like the anime theme song it was made to be (seriously).

VAMPS // “Devil Side” 5.12.10

When I saw the cover art for this in the sidebar of my blog, I thought “Who put this ero pic in my sidebar?!” I was appalled. Naked girls with devil-tails don’t appear there unless I say they do.

+ VAMPS // “Live 2009” (DVD) 5.12.10

I want a Region 2 encoded DVD player.  I seriously think my computer will take drastic action if I try and set it up to handle R2 DVDs.

+VAMPS // “Untitled” (single) 6.09.10

I hope nobody reports me for indecent imagery in the sidebar .

Tetsuya // “Roulette” 5.19.10

In contrast to Hyde becoming very vagabond, Tetsuya remains as well behaved as ever. Still, you can’t resist bass lines like that, nor can you really say no to his happy-go-luckiness, even though, if you’re anything like me, you’re a jaded, macabre, and demented Visualist.

The GazettE // Film Bug II (DVD) 8.04.10

Only seasoned Jrockers can call things “I” and “II” without actually presenting evidence as to a chronological system. Where is Film Bug I?

+The GazettE // NEXT SCENE 7.21.10

I hope I can redeem the shame of not even remembering the last thing they released by pre-ordering this one!

**Pick ’em up at my favorite spot**

Note: titles subject to change prior to release date. “Untitled” is pending the release of complete information.

A9 Back to the Future

It would seem that the first round of the 2010 tours are starting to wrap up here, with a few carrying on until the end of this month. Many of the summer tours have already been announced, but it would appear that there are still plenty coming. Today’s draw is a double announcement from danceable visual princelings Alice Nine. The pretty boys will release a new single on August 4th (details pending), and they will hit Japan with another tsunami of a tour, this time spanning across four months.

It looks like the boys are also sporting a slightly more mature look lately. I believe this was the look that was used for the CDJapan special offer last month, and is now featured on their MySpace and official website.

Alice Nine Summer Tour 2010 : “FLASH LIGHT from the past”

July 5th @ Shibuya O-EAST
July 10th @ Niigata LOTS
July 12th @ Sapporo PENNY LANE 24
July 13th @ Sapporo PENNY LANE 24
July 15th @ Hakodate club COCOA
July 19th @ Yokohama BAY HALL
July 21st @ Kashiwa PALOOZA
July 25th @ Live House Hamamatsu Madowaku
July 28th @ Ebisu LIQUIDROOM
July 31st @ Nagano CLUB JUNK BOX
August 1st @ Toyama club MAIRO
August 10th @ Hiroshima CLUB QUATTRO
August 12th @ Kyoto FANJ
August 14th @ Nagoya CLUB QUATTRO
August 15th @ Nagoya CLUB QUATTRO
August 18th @ Sendai darwin
August 19th @ Sendai darwin
August 24th @ Shinagawa Stellarball
September 15th @ Kooriyama Hip Shot Japan
September 17th @ Aomori QUARTER
September 19th @ Kanazawa AZ
September 20th @ Fukui Hibiki no Hall
September 22th @ Kobe VARIT.
September 24th @ Takamatsu Olive Hall
September 25th @ Kouchi BAY5 SQUARE
October 5th @ Namba Hatch
October 9th @ Okayama CRAZYMAMA KINGDOM
October 11th @ Fukuoka DRUM LOGOS
October 13th @ Zepp Nagoya
October 17th @ Zepp Sendai

Standing tickets (advance): 4750 yen. Seated tickets: 5250 yen.

January 6th (’11) TOUR FINAL “TOKYO GALAXY” @Nippon Budoukan

Tickets 6300 yen (advance),  6825 yen (doors).

Source: Shattered Tranquility

D’espairs Dances On

The full PV for D’espairsRay new single LOVE IS DEAD hit youtube a few hours ago. I have to admit, I haven’t listened to these guys in ages, and I’ve basically only heard clips of most of their new stuff. Seeing this video definitely inspired me to get back into D’espairs‘ stuff, so for that I’m glad.

 The video is pretty cool. Note how the band-members don’t actually wear the bird-masks, but pass them off to backup people. You also hardly see anyone but Hizumi, though, and a few glimpses of Tsukasa rockin’ out. Maybe Zero is embarrassed about the hash his makeup person made of his innocent eyebrows.

 I’m not sure where this electronica/dance Visual Kei trend is coming from, but, as I already mentioned the other day, it’s hitting quite a few releases this quarter. We all know PSC boys alice nine. have always done this stuff, but lately it’s been the vets, like BUCK-TICK and now D’espairsRay. Which seems sort of strange. I’m not complaining, though. I find it really refreshing, especially since I am not the kind of person who uses “different” synonymously with “bad”.  I say keep it coming, it’s about time people started branching out and doing some fun and different things.

Video Credit: YukariKisaki

Pull Up A Seat With D’espairsRay 4/4


Regular Edition

D’espairsRay released the preview for the PV of their new single, LOVE IS DEAD, to be released April 4th. As I already mentioned  the single is produced by abingdon boys school’s own mixin’ master Kishi Toshiyuki. Although you can really only get so much of an impression out of a 15 second clip, I’m having some sort of brain-skip that keeps vacillating between Alice Nine (take your pick) and Buck-Tick‘s incredible dark disco Dokudanjou Beauty. This is not a dissing of D’espairsRay by any means, and I’m looking forward to hearing the full single– especially as the associations my frazzled faculties are making are particularly flattering.

By the way, I know it sounds like I was scorning their new look the last time I mentioned the band, but actually I think they look quite cool in the few glimpses you get from the preview. The hats and shirtless flashy jackets  feel somehow cabaret and, let’s face it, the look is pretty timelessly “in”.   

Video credit:YukariKisaki

Limited Edition

Alice in Wonderland…Move over!

Seriously! For Visualists, there’s a new Alice now. Although not a bland blond promenading through psychedelico and British humor nobody else understands, Visual Kei has a new aural wonderland and an Alice to go with it, the Visual boy-band PSC Company offspring, Alice Nine is taking the Jrock world by storm.

They will summon up a (sort of) new wonderland for us on March 24th with the release of their greatest hits album, Complete Collection 2006-2009. The album will feature their hits songs released during the respective years of activity….The happiest news of all is, CDJapan is offering an exclusive promotion for the release. Not only will pre-orders placed before March 18th win the external bonus poster (while first-press is available), but they will also include a band photo, and a member photo of your choice. (Photo size: 18.0 x 12.8 cm)

In addition, the members of Alice Nine will autograph the band photo for 40 lucky purchasers who preorder the CD before March 18, 2010 11:59pm (Japan Standard Time). AWESOME! The 40 lucky winners will be chosen at random from orders placed before March 18th etc, and will not be announced.

**Click: Alice Nine greatest hits release promotion**

Good luck!

As the Crow Flies…

2009 was certainly a year of many changes in the Jmusic scene. New bands formed, many indies bands failed (unfortunately), and several popular bands decided to go on hiatus. However, 2009 and these fresh new days of ’10 have also seen several promising solo and side projects popping up in relation to some of the greatest bands out there today.

One of these side projects which is not to be missed, is the darkly named KARASU. KARASU, which means either “withering”, or “crow/raven” in Japanese, is the session-project of some of the most respected names in Visual Kei. Vocals are provided by the renowned Tatsurou of moody metal shredders MUCC, guitars by hiroto of Alice Nine and Mizuki of Sadie, bass by dunch of jealkb, and last but not least, the backbone of a band: drums by Kenzo of Ayabie. With this stunning lineup of talented and well-known musicians, this dark, moody Visual Kei group promises to tear up the music turf with a tornado of sound starting today, January 27th,with the release of debut single, Lastica.

In honor of their debut, the band will be appearing with interviews and spreads in Visual Kei publications including FOOL’s MATE and SHOXX. They will also make appearances on various live radio programs and on television, as a special spot on NHK General Program’s MUSIC JAPAN.

Get your copy now and check these guys out.

Note: Not to be mistaken with the already-established band by the same name. Man…didn’t these guys have a good Japanese dictionary lying around when they came up with a name..?