RAY – Yellow


RAY’s colorful saga continues: the shoegaze idol group aims to both soothe and excite with their latest EP Yellow.

For our last batch of reviews, I’d been covering groups who were really bringing the heat with some high energy and fun releases. This time I decided I’d go back into some review suggestions to find my next subject and came across RAY’s latest effort, Yellow, which follows in suit with their last two releases titled Blue and Pink. What heavily intrigued me about this group was the fact that they dabble in the realm of shoegaze: a subgenre of indie and alternative rock that makes use of heavy distortion, ethereal nature and high volume. Even more interesting were the producing credits, so I just knew I had to check this one out.

Yellow is a four track EP that was released on June 19th through DISTORTED RECORDS, with an 18 minute run time, so it makes for a pretty quick listen. The first song, “Koharuhi” was produced by Tomoya Matsuura, member of the shoegaze band monocism. Straight out the gate you get that wide open, atmospheric sound that the genre is known for alongside some subtle feedback. The vocals are soft, but full of heart, and the members harmonize well together. With it’s light guitar work and mid-tempo drums, the track makes for a nice and relaxed listen, keeping this consistency throughout. The second track, “Reignition”, has a little more pep in its step as well as more upfront pop influence. Though it was produced by Ishikawa of the noise pop band my dead girlfriend, it’s not as wild as one might think. However, it does have the right amount of bounce to bring the listener out from the almost hypnotic nature of the previous song. The drums and guitars are more energetic and the vocals in the chorus are nice; there’s also a neat little guitar solo around the 2 minute mark.

Track three, “17”, has the most interesting producing credit yet: Kei Toriki of post-black metal band Asunojokei. The song opens with a very dreampop-esque soundscape, buzzing and glittery with a touch of distortion. It also has a fair amount of switch ups to keep the song interesting, at the 1:55 and 2:42 marks, and a real satisfying climax towards the end. The final song, “Rusty Days”, brings back a chilled vibe with a simple and sweet ballad track. Much like the opener, the vocals are sweet and true and the chorus contains a mix of Japanese and English. The beat sounds like something you’d find at the end of a feel good film, eliciting a light feeling of happiness in the heart. All in all, it’s a solid finisher.

If you’re looking for something to cool off the summer heat then look no further than Yellow, and while you’re at it, check out the group’s previous works! Plus, with the inclusion of a fourth member as of July, there’s a new voice to look forward to in RAY‘s future projects.

TOP 10 IDOL MV – June 2021

TOP 10 IDOL MV - June 2021

Every month I get lost among the many awesome MV that come out, and it’s often quite hard to choose the best ones. Last month gave us lots of good stuff as usual, so let’s take a look at the coolest videos of June!

10) くぴぽ (qppo) – あんだーすたんどみゅーじっく (Understand Music)

If I had to describe “Understand Music” by qppo, I’d say that it’s probably the kind of video that YouTube reactors would love to make funny faces to. I mean, we’re talking about an idol group featuring a guy with pigtails singing on some digital hardcore stuff. In any case, the song is pretty good.

9) RED-i – Without You…

We talked about RED-i last week through Chika Radar, but I guess they deserve to be mentioned here too. The emotional rock sound of “Without You…” is a very nice introduction for this group, and the more I listen to it, the more I want them to release some new songs as soon as possible.

8) akugi feat. メイユイメイ (Mei Yui Mei) – period

akugi keep releasing songs with idols from other codomomental groups, and more often than not they are quite interesting. In this case, “period” starts off quite light, but then turns into a horror heavy hip-hop tune with Mei Yui Mei screaming her heart out. Well, I can’t say it didn’t catch me off guard, and that’s why I like it.

7) パピプペポは難しい (Papipupepo Wa Muzukashii) – スーパーSAMURAI忍者・カラテマン (Super Samurai Ninja Karateman)

In their latest MV, Papipupepo Wa Muzukashii turned into some colorful super-heroines. And a giraffe, of course. If that is not enough to make you want to watch it, let me tell you that “Super Samurai Ninja Karateman” is a song that you’ll find yourself listening to it over and over.

6) AKIARIM – アリム (Arim)

The only downside of AKIARIM‘s MV is that we get to see the complete line-up only for a few seconds at the end, since the song doesn’t feature the two newest members. Other than that, “Arim” is a pretty solid song, powerful and catchy enough to be enjoyed by every fan of rock idols.

5) めろん畑a go go (Melon Batake A Go Go) – 哀しきIDOL (Kanashiki Idol)

Fans of retro music must be really grateful for the existence of Melon Batake A Go Go. They never disappoint and always manage to bring back sounds from when most of us weren’t even born. “Kanashiki Idol” is yet another great one from them, and it gets even better when it gets faster towards the end.

4) B.K.S.N – シーラカンス (Coelacanth)

I have to say that B.K.S.N deserved to be in the top 3, but as usual there were way too many great MV’s last month. Nevertheless, “Coelacanth” is an awesome song combining the complex melodies of jazz with the energy of rock and, of course, the typical idol catchiness. They are seriously an impressive and underrated unit.

3) MAD JAMIE – Livehouse(e)na

The punk idols in MAD JAMIE have been on a roll lately, releasing one MV after another. There were two in June (the other one being “Kaneakese”), but I chose “Livehouse(e)na” because the catchy chorus is one of the best things I’ve listened to in June.

2) 我儘ラキア (Wagamama Rakia) – JOKER

Every time Wagamama Rakia release a new video, they always end up in these Top 10’s. “JOKER” blends a metal riff, a slightly dissonant verse, an almost pop/punk chorus and MIRI’s god-tier rap. And as if it wasn’t enough, they all look stunning in this colorful MV; even more than usual, I mean.

1) RAY – コハルヒ (Koharuhi)

Calm, soothing and slightly nostalgic shoegaze/dream pop is what you would expect from RAY, and that’s exactly what they bring us with their latest MV for “Koharuhi”. The filter used in the video gives some sort of teenage memories from the Eighties I’ve never lived vibes, which together with the song gets pretty dreamy and otherworldly. Great job as usual from this group.

Honorable Mentions

YOIMACHI Festival streaming on YouTube

Yoimachi Festival 2021

On the 17th of January, Yoimachi festival will be streamed on YoutTube on four different channels. Among the many artists, some idol groups will also perform: below you can find the schedule of the idol groups (in Japanese time) and the links to follow watch their performances.

Channel よ

  • NaNoMoRaL @ 15:00-15:30
  • RAY @ 18:10-18:45
  • 一瞬しかない (Isshun Shikanai) @ 20:10-20:35

Channel い

  • ピューパ!! (Pupa!!) @ 13:30-14:00
  • THE BANANA MONKEYS @ 14:30-15:00
  • グーグールル (GuGu LuLu) @ 17:35-18:10
  • ステラシュガレット (Stella Sugarlet) @ 20:35-21:05

Channel ま

  • SAKA-SAMA @ 14:00-14:30
  • 始発待ちアンダーグラウンド (Shihatsu-Machi Underground) @ 16:00-16:30
  • グデイ (Goodday) @ 17:00-17:30
  • Ringwanderung @ 21:00-21:30

Channel ち

No idols

Besides these idol groups, there will also be more artists performing at the festival. You can find the full schedule on the official Yoimachi Festival website.