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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Back in the studio

Yes, that's right.
According to todays diary entry they were up in a studio in Daikanyama (Tokyo?) somewhere recording a new song. This is great news. Not just because they're back in the studio so soon after Tip Taps Tip, but because they stuck with i-dep's Nakamura Hiroshi to do it. I loved both of his contributions to the Tip Taps Tip single (Pisudori and Halcali 'n' Bass), and back in my review I hoped that he would become a regular part of the new team.
Although they weren't really single material, those b-sides represented a much smoother transistion from old Halcali to new than Tip Taps Tip did. So with any luck this is an indication that Halcali are going to form the kind of small, tight songwriting group that saw them through Bacon so well.
No other details on the song yet of course, except for a "wait 'till next year!" comment from Haruka. This also fits right in with what they said during this interview (Thanks to Sora Kara) about putting out more singles next year. Although this was always a given、it's good to get something concrete on these things.

Update (finally some more news...)
That "new song" they mentioned is going to be a new single, and by the sound of things it should be released early next year. They finished some b-sides for it too.

Update 2
New single next month!

Friday, December 16, 2005

With a bullet...(2)

Tip Taps Tip clocked in at #27 on Oricon's weekly chart (12/19). They shifted 8,182 copies to get there.

#27...

I need to think some more about that before I post about that placing, but...were you expecting something higher?

OK I thought about it.
I think my original reaction just shows my absurdly high expectations of this band. 27 is a quietly respectable showing, and it's certainly far away from my original fears of a total flop.

A year is a long time to stay away in this age of mayfly pop acts, and they've definatly been working hard promoting TTT with this slew of interviews, gigs, radio and TV appearances. All of which point to Sony actually making some effort to remind people that this band still exists. What I can't understand then, is why the single was not advertised on the Upcoming Releases board in either HMV or Tower? Was this something specific to Nagoya? It seemed like a bizarre oversight for a band that really needed to put their foot down and say "we're back".
On the singles day of release I went back to both places hoping to find that something small (a listening station perhaps) had been set up to promote it. It took me so long to find the single in HMV that I thought I got the release date wrong. Tower offered nothing in the way of promotion either, just a few copies of the single tucked away in the New Releases section. I'm not sure who's at fault here, but It seems a shame, a waste almost, that Halcali's hard work couldn't have been met in the record shops with a average sized sign at least.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Twinkle Star (again...)

Minor news, but...
Last September I posted a rumour that the new song was called Twinkle Star, based on a few live reports that I had read on the Japanese internet. After that turned out to be wrong I forgot about the song until today, when I was browsing through the latest issue of What's In magazine, which featured a report of Halcali's Candy Stripper gig. The mystery 3rd song in that set was in fact Twinkle Star. As it seems unlikely that they would include an album track in a 5 song set from an album that hasn't been released yet, I think it's a fair guess that it's either the abandoned new song or (more likely I suppose) a dropped TTT b-side. At any rate, I look forward to hearing it when (if?) it sees the light of day.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Music Station




A few minutes ago, Halcali marked their first return to Music Station in about a year. Yukari said she was so nervous that her stomach hurt, and during the performance you could tell the TV nerves were racking them a little bit. It was a good performance overall though, and I love those Tip Taps Tip haircuts!



Next-
It's a year old, but it's still great- Halcali doing Baby Blue! on Music Station has been posted on You Tube. As i'm sure you've noticed, the DJ is the same here as in the TTT performance. Is this long time Halcali live DJ DJ Non? If so, it looks like he was one of the few to survive the cull.

With a bullet...

No. 19 and rising...!! (on Oricon's daily ranking)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

??

What on earth is this?!

Reviews (5) Tip Taps Tip




I've spent so much time over the past few weeks puzzling over Halcali's return that it feels slightly strange to actually have the thing in my hands. It almost seems like I've written too much about the song already, but it deserves this one last run though. That's mostly because, on my stereo the bass thumped life into the song that didn't exist for me before. While that bland middle eight still smacks off a "hey look, we can sing!" moment and as such feels out of place, there's an inherent sweetness in the song that should hopefully appeal to the 15-25 year old kids who are most likely to buy it.
Onto what was the main attraction for me, the b-sides. Both of these songs are thankfully handled by the same guy, i-dep's Nakamura Hiroshi, creating a unity in the sound and adding tightness to what are usually resigned to the throwaway tracks of a bands back catalogue. It's only two songs, but it's good to feel a sense of continuity with this band again, something that kept Bacon together but which led Susume to fall apart. While these songs are no masterpieces, they are both arguably more Halcali than the a-side can attend to, and as such are probably the main reason you need to get hold of this single.
The H and Y penned Halcali 'n' Bass has some of the easiest, sweetest rapping we've had since Halcali Bacon. Listening as I write, the song is growing on me more and more. Let's not forget they wrote the lyrics to this song themselves, taking step 2 (the first being co-writing Osusume's Wakakusa Dance) in a process that will hopefully lead them to taking a more active role in the songwriting for the third album.
Pisudori (Peace Dream) is the winner though. Combining the best elements of this new, 'singing' Halcali while keeping careful tabs on the bands past, it's catchy, fun, and it's got a group of 6 girls sweetly la-la-la-ing through the chorus at the end. I'm sure you were nervous about this new Halcali as much as I was, but this is definitely the right direction for them, and has propped my spirits up again in expectation of what's to come.
Which reminds me, O.T.F. had nothing to do with this. I suppose I knew this anyway, but this is still the first Halcali release without a total produced by credit. I'd hate to see what happened on Susume happen again, and have the band rented out to make a third album with 10 different producers coming up with 10 different Halcali's. I hope they get a small group in to tighten the reins again. Now that it looks like Halfby and the rest of the old crew have been forgotten (although I'd love to see Halfby write another song for them), I wouldn't mind at all if Nakamura came back. At the very least, it feels good to be enthusiastic about this band again.

A quick note about the 'free gifts'. Don't be worried if they go out of stock before you can get a copy of the single. It's nothing to be excited about. There's a booklet detailing characters from Eureka 7, and a large sticker (shot above). Both the booklet and the sticker are larger than the CD case, meaning there's no comfortable place to store them. It's more of an annoyance than anything, to be honest.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Tomorrow!

I know I’ve not been terribly friendly to Tip Taps Tip over the past few weeks, but I’m undeniably excited about its release tomorrow. Wandering into McDonalds on the way home from work yesterday, I heard the song come over the speakers, sandwiched in-between something I didn’t recognize and the new Ken Hirai song. It was certainly good to hear it playing there, arguably the place where a lot of the people most likely to buy the record would hang out. It was also the first time I’d heard it in public, but as I listened I couldn’t help but find a few of the old worries creeping back in.

For a song to work in a public place like that, it needs to rise above the level of all the other background music you dismiss and disrupt a conversation long enough to lodge in the brain for the few seconds it takes to hook the casual listener in. What it really needs is a forceful, memorable chorus. While I was happy to sit there and quietly sing along until the person I was with told me to shut up, I was left with the impression that the song lacks a hook strong enough to make the casual listener put their coke down and prick their ears up. It just kind of nudges past you on the way to the toilet, whereas really a ‘comeback song’ like this should have come in and pushed you right over.

Before I get too bogged down in anything too anti-TTT again, in its defence I will say that although it lacks an immediate impact, it’s a grower. More so now that the effects of the initial shock are wearing off. Although it’s obviously not going to come close to outselling that Ken Hirai song that followed it in McDonalds yesterday, it does have a certain charm lacking not only in Pop Star but also in a lot of the fluff that Halcali will be sharing the bill with on Music Station Friday night.

So the new single is out tomorrow, only 1 year and 2 months since the last one. I don’t exactly love Tip Taps Tip, but I still love this band. They’ve definitely been working hard recently, and despite having a few reservations, I really hope the record sells.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Tip Taps Clip

In case you still haven't seen it, you can now watch a clip of TTT, along with a bit of Halcali commentary, over on the official site.

(The next day...)
I found this.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

i-dep

According to Yukari's most recent diary entry, the Tip Taps Tip b-sides (that's Pisudori and Halcali'n'Bass) have been produced by i-dep's Nakamura Hiroshi. i-dep's site features samples from their debut album Smile Exchange. It all sounds a bit Harvard-lite to me, but by all means head over there and judge for yourself. Nakamura was also a guest on last nights Buzzroom with H and Y. There's a short post about it, along with a picture on his blog.

Music Station

Halcali's big push continues apace with an upcoming appearance on Asahi TV's Music Station on the 9th of December. I distictly remember the quality of their performance of Baby Blue! destroying all the competition during their last appearance on the show, but that was nearly a year ago. Baby Blue! has a ragged edge missing from Tip Taps Tip, but a live performance of the song could be just what's needed to bring it to life.

I should have the whole performance up for sharing after the show.