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Friday, May 26, 2006

MTV countdown show aftermath

They finished the MTV gig on the 23rd, which was put on as a warm up for the Japan Video Music Awards taking place on the 27th. For those with no access to cable, MTV have put up a few photos and a live report of the gigs over on their website.
This is the Halcali section of the live report. Coming from the MTV site itself, it reads a bit like a press release so of course it's hard to judge exactly how well the gig went from reading this but it does give you some idea of what happened.

最後にステージに登場したのはHALCALI2人。肩肘張らない自然体のHALCAYUCALIがステージに現れると、会場はまるで友達同士のパー ティのような親密なムードに。脱力系の振り付けを踊りながら、“ギリギリ・サーフライダー”“エレクトリック先生”とヒット曲のメドレーで畳み掛けてい 2人。終始ステージでも笑顔で、当の本人たちもライヴを心から楽しんでいることがひしひしと感じられた。

Halcali were the last group to come out on stage today. Looking totally natural and relaxed, as soon as they came out on stage the mood of the place changed to something that felt like a private, intimate party that Halcali were putting on for friends. Going through a series of what looked like exhaustingly choreographed dance sequences, they went first though Giri Giri Surfrider and Electric Sensei before pressing on with a medley of their hit songs. Even as the last act of the day their smiles didn'’t fade, giving us the impression that they were really enjoying their time on stage.

That medley part sounds strange, making me think they were stuck on at the end with another 20 minute set. What could the medley have incorporated? Strawberry Chips flowing into Marching March flowing into Baby Blue! flowing into Tip Taps Tip flowing into Twinkle Star?
There was a negative review of the gig posted on the Japanese BBS 2Ch that made a reference to the girls looking like they were singing their own songs in a karaoke box. The rest of the review was so over the top negative that it just sounded like the guy was Trolling for responses, but isn't that the place where singing medleys belongs? Honestly, who on earth thought that just giving people scraps of songs in a high profile gig of this type was a good idea?

Still though, we can't say no to Halcali getting shows like this, and it's good to see that they haven't given their old songs the boot yet.

MTV also posted 3 photos from the gig here. It looks like they defiantly sang Tip Taps Tip at least.

Halfby goes to a major


Halfby has left Second Royal records for the much bigger and presumably plushier arms of Toy's Factory. Last years Green Hours lp still kills me even several hundred listens later, and the usual concerns about whether a move to a major constitutes a compromise to the sound will be addressed when he releases his first single on the label, Screw the Plan, on July 26th. I wonder why he chose Toy's Factory? They have such a weird mash up of artists on their roster, from Sonim and boring old Mr. Children on the Japanese side to indie boy favourites Mogwai and Ted Leo and the Pharmacists on the other! I personally would have sent him off to Sony, if only to get him back in the studio with Halcali. (Information from Chipple)

Before I forget, I was surprised to see Halcali's blog at number #7 on Sony's popular artists' blogs list. It must be all those pictures of their fingernails that they keep posting.

O.N.S. Mk.2

Sora Kara was gracious enough to provide us with great scans of the art of the re-released Ongaku No Susume album. I went into my ideas on the hows and whys behind the re-release back when it happened (here too), and none of it left much of a nice taste in the mouth. For Life will maintain it was to mark the 100,000 sale of Susume, but it seemed to coincide eerily with the whole Nagi Noda/pakuri debacle. While something obviously wrong about a well known artist blatantly stealing another, lesser known artists work and trying to pass it off as her own, who among us can say that there isn't also something obviously wrong about those disturbing things that grace the new cover? Thankfully, things get a little more professional inside, but the cover art just seems horribly rushed. Presumably the lawyers came knocking.

Again, a million thanks to Sora Kara for taking the time to scan the sleeve for us.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Volume of Symphonic Poetry

So goes the subtitle to the Best Of Eureka Seven soundtrack album which of course features Tip Taps Tip alongside other opening and closing numbers by the likes of Nirgilis and Denki Grove (I had no idea they featured on the show). The limited press version comes with a DVD which features the opening and closing credit sequences minus the credits, two versions of the opening credits of the PS2 game and an original Eureka Seven 10 minute anime.

It's available at Play-Asia, or you can get it from Amazon Japan. It actually looks to be a cut above the usual anime soundtrack deals, and with Halcali on there too, it might be worth picking up a copy.

Which reminds me, someone uploaded the Tip Taps Tip ending theme to YouTube, in case you still haven't seen it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Zipper (3)

Here's the latest shot from Halcali's ongoing collaboration with Zipper magazine. This month's spread is called 15人の夏トップス (The Summer Tops of 15 People). Halcali clock in at number 15.
They're looking more like themselves this month, and I'm glad to see they've been given free reign over what to wear as opposed to being kitted out in the usual Candy Stripper-esque gear. It's still surprising to look back at their old promo shots in comparison though. They take one year off but come back looking like they've aged five.
Not that this is a bad thing of course, the thing I was worried about wasn't that they were going to stop wearing their baseball caps to the side but that the move to Sony was going to steamroller all of their unique sparkle into the ground in an effort to water them down to get them further up the charts. I'm not sure that's happened so far, and now I'm not sure it will.
Apart from the fact that so far, Sony have shown only minimal interest in Halcali anyway, musically I still don't think that we can use the two singles they've released so far (a Halcali sedated for an anime tie-in and O.T.F's massively delayed, possible Halcali swan song) to determine exactly how the switch has changed them, if at all. To me at least, their continuing involvement with i-dep's Nakamura promises a lot at least.
Looking at these regular Zipper appearances though, has that unique spark gone? I don't think so. A lot of that spark originally came from the gift Halcali received that most teenage pop stars don't- the freedom to do what they want and dress how they please. That one early promo shot that tried to deck them out as the new Heartsdales aside, they still seem to have that freedom. They still look like they're posing themselves, dressing themselves and acting like themselves, and I can't think of many other people in Halcali's position that are able to stand up and say they can do that.
Judging by all those holidays to Europe and Asia they've been taking recently, they're being treated pretty well by their label too. Hopefully by the time the next single rolls around Sony will spend a little bit of that money on promoting it.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hiroshi Nakamura/One Song Set

More recording talk from Halcali's blog today, where Haruka oh so casually mentions they were back in the studio, again with i-dep's Hiroshi Nakamura. This is the guy who lovingly crafted the three pop gems that were arguably wasted as b-sides on Tip Taps Tip (halcali 'n' bass, Pisudori) and the virtually unheard Twinkle Star (check!!check!!it!!). Unlike a few other producers I could mention, he knows exactly what makes Halcali good. Does this mean he's working on album 3? The new single?
Hopefully both.

In other news, they wrapped up the Tokyo end of Sony's Anime Festival. I originally worried that such a crowded bill would only give them time to play the Eureka 7 song Tip Taps Tip, which is, of course, exactly what happened in the end.
The only upside of having them walk out on stage, play one song and walk off again is that it's a show that I'm not too bothered about missing (I was thinking about heading up to Osaka to catch the next one). Hopefully the new album will be something Sony invests a little something in, and we'll get an actual tour with actual sets that last longer than 20 minutes.

You can watch a short video of Halcali commenting on the festival here (you can only watch it with Internet Explorer for some reason). I added a transcript in the comments box.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Do-nuts (2)

Do you remember The Do-nuts? If you're like nearly everyone in Japan, including their own record label, you probably don't. If you're in the market for a charming, cheapish Halcali rip-off though, you could do worse than picking up a copy of their debut single, Nagisa no Go-Go Girl! Almost everything about the band had some kind of H and Y ring to it, from the old Bacon-esque beats, to the style, to being ignored by their record label. Or so I thought! Reading through a magazine promoting The Do-nuts' label Spice Music, it looks like they haven't been dropped at all, and will be back this summer with a new single. Which will make it roughly a year since they released the last one. Although it's unintentional on Spice Music's part, it's hard to not snicker slightly as the Halcali comparison points pile up and up.
That said, I'm actually quite pleased they haven't been dropped. Mostly because I can imagine how heartbreaking it must be to have a shot at stardom when you're a teenager only to have it ripped away from you. Even though they were basically abandoned by Spice Music (the lack of promotion was far worse than anything Halcali had to endure), their enthusiasm didn't seem to fade, even when reduced to playing car parks on department store roofs and the like. They've been pretty regualar with their blog too, which I'm sure helped to keep their small fanbase going.
I'm looking forward to their new single, I can't deny it.