Maison Book Girl brings cool, sophisticated and intelligent idol music to Canada.
For many years, idol groups have dominated the Japanese music scene. Most recently, AKB48 and Momoiro Clover Z have created a monumental surge in the popularity of female idol groups—somewhat to the detriment of artists and bands that write and perform their own music.
Since J-pop idol music is a manufactured product emphasizing image and style over song quality and substance, there has traditionally been a separation between the idol scene and indie/underground artists that create music from the heart. However, due to the massive popularity of female idol groups, in recent years even hole-in-the-wall venues that once catered exclusively to punk and hardcore have been forced to curate events with amateur idol groups. Interestingly, this has led to cross-pollination of idol culture with the adventurous, experimental side of underground music. Newer underground idol acts avoid the bubblegum dance pop of mainstream idol music in favour of more eclectic and diverse sounds, including BiS (punk), Kotei Camera Girl (hip hop), Yukueshirezutsurezure (screamo) and, most successful of all, Babymetal (heavy metal).
However, the “anti-idol” group with the most interesting sound is likely Maison Book Girl. Instead of taking mainstream idol music and simply combining it with another genre, their music is much more original throughout. Written and produced by Kenta Sakurai, Maison Book Girl’s unique sound is characterized by acoustic and electronic instrumentation with minimalist phrasing, odd time signatures and heavily syncopated rhythms. It falls in the realm of dance pop—but compared to regular idol music that is cutesy and gleeful, Maison Book Girl’s music is mature, sophisticated and melancholic. Idol music is usually over-the-top with superficial lyrical content whereas this group’s music is refreshingly understated with intelligent lyrics. And although Kenta Sakurai’s music is the real star of the show, the four girls that make up Maison Book Girl take the performance up another level with their charm.
Next Music from Tokyo vol. 9 will feature performances by Maison Book Girl in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, along with four other Japanese bands:
jizue: An instrumental band from Kyoto combining a smooth yet exciting blend of jazz and post-rock.
Toranoko Rammy: Four girls who call themselves a “3D safari rock band” because they’re like wild beasts ready to playfully attack the audience at any time.
THIS IS JAPAN: Alt-rock overflowing with energy, great melodies and furiously chaotic guitars. Hitsuji Bungaku: A young, female-fronted band with soulful, passionate vocals set over intense and powerful shoegaze rock.
The Toronto shows will be held on Oct. 7 at Soy-bomb and Oct. 8 at Lee’s Palace. For further details please visit nextmusicfromtokyo.com.