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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Zipper (2)

Looking through the Fashion For Girls section at your local bookshop while the shop owner eyes you with suspicion is actually quite character building, as I found out a few days ago when looking for the new issue of Zipper. Halcali continue their monthly photoshoot in the magazine this month with the brand World Wide Love under the title Rockin' Horror Show, which looks like a good excuse to include the word fuck in big letters across the top of the page if nothing else.

You might have noticed how Haruka is sticking to their usual goof routine, whereas Yukari has decided to switch to a more I'm hot one. A new move for them, isn't it?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Happy Birthday, Haruka!

Haruka turns an impressively adult sounding 18 today (21st). Which means that she still can't vote, or (legally) drink, but at least she can drive a car now!
Whenever I think about them getting older, I think back to that interview where they jokingly suggested that once they started to hit the late teens, they won't be able to play any of their early, more juvenile songs live anymore.
While I hope that isn't true, I can certainly see Haruka being slightly wary of singing a song with a line that mentions her being 16. If the first album was about the ups and downs of being a kid during the summer, and the second album (and arguably Tip Taps Tip and Twinkle Star) about the ups and downs of growing up, it makes you wonder where they'll take the next one.

Update: Haruka posted about it to both her Sony and Buzz Room blogs (a blog that has become terribly neglected of late since the Sony one came into fruition), showing that she got flowers from MTV and cake from Tokyo FM. It's nice to know they're treating her right!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Scant details

It's not much, but it's something. Halcali are definatly recording again. As to what they were recording, Yukari wouldn't say, mentioning only in her diary yesterday that they both went out for curry before heading to the recording studio. So was it the new single? Work for the new album? I pored over the entry from start to finish but there was nothing more than the frustrating hint that she would reveal some information ("We also ate curry before recording Twinkle Star, Check!!check!!it!! and now...this time too!"), but in the end she never did.
Which reminds me about another, even scanter detail. I've read a few rumours that Capitol's Taichi Master is one of the producers working on album 3 (and in another connection, Sony's DJ Tasaka worked as a producer on the new Taichi Master album, and was also involved in Ongaku No Susume's Oboroge Copy View). This might come to nothing of course, and I only mention it because when I posted that rumour I read about Twinkle Star last year, it (eventually) came true.
Hopefully there's some more concrete new single/new album related information just around the corner.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

MTV (again...)

I don't have much love for bland old MTV and their endless Franz Ferdinand rotations, but I'll shake anyone's hand if they'll give Halcali a gig.
They're part of a series of MTV Japan sponsored shows taking place at Tokyo's Shibuya-Ax in the run up to the Video Music Awards on the 27th of May.
Halcali's show is on the 23rd, where they'll be shuffled around with the likes of Hi-Timez and Soul Camp.
Presumably the organisers thought Halcali would slip in neatly with the rest of the bands on that night, and perhaps they will. Just going through the websites and listening to the other bands though, I was reminded just how far ahead, in terms of quality and originality, Halcali actually are. A predictable response from the writer of a Halcali blog perhaps, but take a listen yourself to the other Rip Slyme and (good Lord!) Heartsdales rip offs (that's Delicatessen and Ya-Kyim respectively) MTV are dragging out for the show. Although the appeal of these people (and Hi-Timez too, come to think of it) is lost on me, there's no doubt that this is the world that this newer grown-up Halcali belong to now, and there's no doubt this is exactly the audience that the label will want to pitch the band to. Even so, it's hard to imagine a fan of Hi-Timez greeting Otsukare Summer with anything more than a bemused look and a shake of the head.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sony Anime Festival '06

If you cast your mind back to November last year, you might remember the brief flurry of excitement that came with the long, long, long awaited new Halcali single on Epic Records. When it finally came, it had Sony's In House stamp all over it. Giving the song to a guy who worked on fellow Sony stalwart Yuki’s Joy aside, it was also attached to the back of Sunday morning anime Eureka 7, for which all the opening and closing theme songs are commissioned to Sony artists. Halcali’s actual stint on that show is long over, but it looks like there’s still a bit more mileage to squeeze out of the tie-in yet, as Halcali have been added to the concept festival (I think it’s safe to call it that) Sony Anime Festival ’06.
As Sony knows, the real beauty of attaching one of your artists (particularly a new one) to the back of a popular TV show is that it’s essentially maximum promotion with minimum effort. Who cares about going to the trouble of pleasing, or even considering an existing fanbase when you can just jump on the hoverboard and hitch a ride on the back of an existing one? Tip Taps Tip embarrassed Twinkle Star in terms of record sales, but the fact is that Sony’s promotion of both singles was equally slack, both singles suffering from massive under exposure from a major label that (one would presume) would be able to get this manufactured pop band further up the charts than an indie subsidiary could. The only real difference between the two being, of course, that the former came with free picture postcards and a readymade weekly built in audience.
My problem here isn’t so much the fact that it was attached to an anime as such, it’s more like this general feeling that Halcali have been almost totally neglected by their label except in the few instances where it fits in with their plan for them, which so far appears to be nothing more than to use them as a tool to promote a kids TV show.
Anyway, let’s get back to the plot for a second. The festival will feature a different stage for each show that Sony had artists perform songs on, and will take place over a period of two days in Tokyo (May 6/7) and Osaka (June 10/11). There are a lot of artists on the bill (along with various voice actors from the show), and considering the Eureka 7 stage starts at 6:00pm, this presumably means either very short sets (which Halcali should be used to by now anyway), or…well the prospect of them coming out and only playing their theme tune for the show seems too grim to contemplate.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Chimpanzee

Love Like Pop's Rachael Kuan has an article on Japanese hip hop (Hold Out For The Teriyaki Boyz) in this months issue of The Chimpanzee, which also includes a section on our two favourite popstars.
Print articles in English on Halcali are few and far between and all should be welcomed with two open arms. Rachael's article serves as a great introduction piece to the group and should hopefully help to push Halcali's western infiltration that one step further.
Whenever something in English comes up on this group it always raises the obvious question- exactly why haven't they received a release in Europe or the U.S yet? Can anyone think of a reason why, say, a Best Of wouldn't sell to the same group who bought that Polysics compilation, or, even better, the first Plus-Tech Squeeze Box album? With the likes of Fantastic Plastic Machine and Supercar behind them, all they probably need now is a small supportive push from Sony in the right direction.

Download The Chimpanzee ( Chimpanzee_5_lores.pdf)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

More Nagi Noda

The "excellent Japanese girl pop/hip-hop band Halcali" received a brief mention on Boing Boing the other day (albeit in the form of a comment from a more observant reader), in relation to Nagi Noda, who designed not only the nightmarish bears from Baby Blue! but also the semi-infamous original rip off sleeve for Ongaku No Susume. The entry makes no reference to that particular part of Noda's career, and the hasty shelving of the cover has meant that the whole thing has probably been buried forever.
Thanks to Whiskeyspider for the link.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

MTV Apartment

Our very own Haruka started a regular stint on MTV today on MTV Apt., which she'll host every Monday for 3 months. During the slot she'll generally act as VJ and take video requests and messages and so on. Although considering the shows graveyard slot (1:30 in the morning on a Monday night, then repeated 1 in the afternoon), I'm not exactly sure if they'll even be anyone there watching to take messages from.
Any exposure is good exposure of course, but it's almost painfully frustrating to see Halcali permanently stuck on the bottom rungs of the ladder.