Kurayami Monogatari

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Hello! Pro Kenshuusei Hokkaido – Real☆Little☆Girl/Kanojo ni Naritai!!! (Hello! Pro Kenshuusei Hokkaido Ver.) May 26, 2017

Filed under: Hello! Pro Kenshuusei — solarblade @ 4:39 am

reallittlegirl

Track Listing

  1. Real☆Little☆Girl
  2. Kanojo ni Naritai!!! (Hello! Pro Kenshuusei Hokkaido Ver.)
  3. Real☆Little☆Girl (Instrumental)
  4. Kanojo ni Naritai!!! (Hello! Pro Kenshuusei Hokkaido Ver.) (Instrumental)

1. Real☆Little☆Girl

As the Hokkaido’s debut A-side, Real☆Little☆Girl was our actual first taste of the 7 members that make up the branch and its no surprise that they would get a very cutesy song as their first.  When I actually first heard it, I felt like this was an unused Country Girls song because it’s just got that feel from the intro sounding a smidge like “Dou Datte Ii no’s” intro to the rest feeling like “Koi Dorobo” & “Wakatte Iru no ni Gomen ne”.  Though it’s a catchy song to listen to and solos from all 7 members is pretty impressive too!  It’s got a lot of potential for these girls and they don’t sound bad really.

2. Kanojo ni Naritai!!! (Hello! Pro Kenshuusei Hokkaido Ver.)

The other A-side is of course known as the debut A-side for the actual Kenshuusei.  Well, originally it was 5 of the Kenshuusei back then in 2012.  Anyways, the Hokkaido version isn’t too different opting to keep the original’s arrangement but replacing vocals.  Considering the original barely had solos (3 lines), this cut actually has no solo lines so it’s just there to listen and not really focus on the members individually.

I wasn’t expecting the Hokkaido branch to actually receive its own single, but here we are with their first apparently.  I will actually say that Real☆Little☆Girl is a nice bout of fresh air to get away from the EDM-ness of H!P in recent times (granted other groups are starting to sway away as well).  It’s just a simple, cute and bright song to really showcase these newer girls.  Though I’m curious to why Kanojo ni Naritai!!! was chosen to be covered…I guess it makes sense that it was a first single for the main branch so it’s more like a signature song for the trainees.  Overall, it’s OK, but I wonder if we’ll get more.

 

U-KISS – PaNiC! May 2, 2017

Filed under: U-KISS — solarblade @ 5:00 am

panic

Track Listing

  1. PaNiC!
  2. Flying Around The World
  3. U-KISS 2016 One More Shot Mix (Physical only)
  4. PaNiC! (Instrumental)
  5. Flying Around The World (Instrumental)

1. PaNiC!

As the leading track, PaNiC! is quite a track that I was hoping to see more from and they delivered!  The track itself goes back to the group’s earlier efforts with its heavier dance style like in “Bingeul Bingeul” & “Tick Tack”.  The beat is just heavy and in your face and the group while focused on Kevin, Soohyun, and Hoon, the rest of the group manage to pop out left and right to gave a cool performance.  Pretty awesome A-side!

2. Flying Around The World

Though I wasn’t expecting the B-side to be more EDM in its arrangement, but the song itself is a lot more brighter and poppy in comparison.  While it does feel a smidge cheesy and much, the track is catchy too and hearing Kevin & Soohyun is quite nice even if this is repetitive like mad.  Interesting B-side, kind of surprised it won’t make an album…

3. U-KISS 2016 One More Shot Mix

Found only on physical editions of the single, this Mix is actually more like an album digest of “One Shot One Kill”…a 10-minute digest at that.  Though at the same time, none of the tracks sound like their actual album counterparts so there’s that.  It’s just there for some reason and not sure why since the actual album was before this single soooo…why???

 

 

Ending their 2016 and releasing a single before their best-of drops, we have PaNiC! and it’s probably their best single since at least their 2nd Japanese album.  I felt like PaNiC! brought back much needed excitement for the group and Flying Around The World while a bit hammy at times is a nice opposite to the A-side.  Granted, as this single is a promotional single for the best album, it’s curious to see what happens…

Although, figures that in 2017, we get news that Kevin has left the group, so this is his last single with the group…makes me wonder how the group dynamic will shift (maybe Keseop will get some time FINALLY).

 

Kobushi Factory – Butai “JK Ninja Girls” Original Soundtrack April 27, 2017

Filed under: Kobushi Factory — solarblade @ 7:01 am

jkninjagirls

Track Listing

  1. I Love Ninja Girls -Tokyo vs. Osaka-
  2. Saru mo Odaterya Hitottobi
  3. Atama Warukute Kirigakurezu
  4. Erabu Mirai
  5. Kanashimi no Kakera
  6. Eiga “JK Ninja Girls” no Oshirase Special Talk!

1. I Love Ninja Girls -Tokyo vs. Osaka-

It’s been quite a while since an OST song brought me some smiles and I Love Ninja Girls is cute, very ninja-esque and vocally is quite nice going from strong lines from all the members to a bouncy unison section.  I find it compelling and strongly thought this was great as the theme for the play itself.

2. Saru mo Odaterya Hitottobi

It’s no surprise when it comes to valid vocal prowess, I’m not surprised that Saru mo Odaterya Hitottobi is a solo from Rei.  I really love the intro with just her singing with a VERY powerful presence.  She does tone it down once the music joins in which is bouncy and a bit cute.  I’m not exactly a fan of the synth horns, but OST songs tend to sound cheap so it’s not a thing that kills it, but it’s too noticeable.

3. Atama Warukute Kirigakurezu

Now Hamachan gets a solo as well and her track, Atama Warukute Kirigakurezu, is a simple song in comparison to all of the other tracks.  Despite being a song made by a CASIO (it feels like), I’m just not into this because Hamachan is using her squeaky voice to get by and I feel like I’m listening to some children’s song.  Just not my kind of song.

4. Erabu Mirai

Now we have a track that combines Rei and Ayano together.  Luckily, they both ditched the cutesy sound of their solo entirely for a simple piano/strings ballad.  Fortunately for them, they bring their A game and give a powerful, but short performance.  I kind of wish it wasn’t 2 minutes long, but what can you do?

5. Kanashimi no Kakera

The last track features all of the other Kobushi members that aren’t Hamachan & Reirei and I’m happy they at least focused a little on them with this track too.  It’s nice they also paired them like Ayaka/Sakurako/Minami & Rio/Natsumi/Rena for both verses and choruses and it worked alongside its acoustic guitar based arrangement.  Soft, but it definitely stood out.

 

 

Getting into this I guess preview OST, Kobushi Factory once again sounded decent for JK Ninja Girls.  Granted, 5 songs is not quite enough to satiate my interest in the play since it’s the group as Ninjas and all.  I would say most of the tracks were pretty decent with the only stinker being Hamachan’s solo track…that was a little too idol genki for me.  With their upcoming single featuring the theme for the JK Ninja Girls movie, it makes me wonder how Japanese they’ll make the song since the main theme for the play is kooky.

 

Ai Otsuka – LOVE HONEY April 21, 2017

Filed under: Ai Otsuka — solarblade @ 6:29 am

lovehoney

Track Listing

  1. HONEY
  2. Watashi
  3. QueeN
  4. TOKYO Sanpo
  5. Sakura Harahara
  6. HEART BREAK
  7. Monochrome
  8. make up
  9. FrogFlag
  10. HEY!BEAR
  11. Starting Pistol
  12. Hibi, Ikite Ireba

1. HONEY

Opening the album, we have the title track for the album and it starts lightly with Ai under a nice mellow tone.  Though I was mesmerized after the introductory lines as the tune turns into a smoother low-jazzy arrangement with some light sitar runs throughout.  If anything the song reminds me of some of her earlier works that took the listener to wondrous and flowing space.  It is the album’s shortest track though making above 3 minutes, but I felt that it was good enough so it didn’t feel like the track was going to start dragging.  Pretty nice for the opening track.

2. Watashi

As the lone A-side released, Watashi comes next and just having listen to it a couple weeks ago has still left a decent appreciation about it.  It still carries that dreamscape-y vibes that “HONEY” kicked the album off with, but it adds on a nice and light dance beat to carry the song in a happier motif.  Like I said on the review, it’s not her most extravagant song in her discography but it does no harm overall and feels right coming after the previous track.

3. QueeN

Back to new tracks, QueeN happens to focus more on the synth/dance elements that “Watashi” had started to move towards in flow on the album.  Listening to it, it does feel like a track that would’ve easily fit on her last album, “LOVE TRiCKY” just from the beat and overall EDM style.  Ai-chin also sounds pretty good here and she does some interesting things in general tone too!  Overall, it’s nice and a good track to just lose yourself to, or a great background song at a club…it kind of works both ways.

4. TOKYO Sanpo

I almost wanted to say just from the intro that TOKYO Sanpo was going to be going in an Ondo route, but it doesn’t and reverts back to more EDM.  I’m not quite sure what to think of this song entirely.  It feels like “QueeN” but a little more complex and cuter overall.  It’s not bad though but for some reason it’s making me realize how much I miss the fact that “Joshi Shelter” isn’t anywhere on this album.

5. Sakura Harahara

That bitterness is also there because Sakura Harahara made it (the other B-side from “Watashi”).  Though I can’t be too mad because this was quite amazing in its own right as well.  This mid-tempo number is quite groovy and the chilled vibes I get are just wonderful, on top of the instrumentation/arrangement.  It’s still a nice song to listen to even after the single release!

6. HEART BREAK

We finally slow down enough for a ballad!  At least I felt like it did initially from the opening bars of HEART BREAK, but it does gradually build up to more of a mid-tempo ballad but with acoustic guitars to fill out the stereo with.  Now with this one, it feels like a leftover track from “LOVE FANTASTIC” because of the guitar-heavy arrangement.  That said, a lot of those album tracks from that album kind of flew over my head and I’m getting the same feeling here…

7. Monochrome

At least we get into an actual ballad with Monochrome which is led by very light guitar and a jazzy piano.  It’s hard to place this song where it lies amongst her numerous other ballads, but I do really like the arrangement of the tune and the buildup with strings and light synths are fitting and not so much intruding the feeling of the track.  Sounds like a wintry song for some reasons, but I found myself by lulled by it.  A lot more interesting than “HEART BREAK” that’s for sure.

8. make up

After the break, we jump right back into upbeat songs with make up and moving from a winter-esque ballad to a darker EDM type of track, make up is kind of a surprising twist and in a way kind of cool!  There are some psychedelic undertones to the track, but it also gives me Halloween vibes too but that may be from the chords and the synths lower register.  Ai-chin is also sounding more whispy and mysterious too…quite the oddball track, but I dug it a LOT!

9. FrogFlag

Hey, there’s a strange titled track here!  I guess if anything, her jazz songs seem to be getting the more oddball titles (“Toilet Paper Blues” & “Shachihata” anyone??).  Either way, her jazz songs also seem to showcare Ai’s vocals in a MUCH stronger light and like those songs before, Ai hits it out of the part with FrogFlag and it just catches my attention so quickly at how she held back this awesome voice!  Awesome song!

10. HEY!BEAR

Another oddball title for a song?  I wasn’t sure what to expect from this song because the jazz song was already taken.  HEY!BEAR is more towards the cuter side of pop mixed in with a dance beat!  I do like the funky guitar tones that back the whole thing and Ai sounds adorable (even though coming after “FrogFlag”, it’s a bit of a surprise at how different her tone is between the two).  Catchy song, but I feel like it could’ve been somewhere around “TOKYO Sanpo”.

11. Starting Pistol

The light tapping that opens up Starting Pistol caught my attention and then hearing acoustic guitar and Ai repeating the title was goofy, but luckily it doesn’t last too long.  The groove is very Samba-esque (not the carnivale kind, at least).  The track might be less energetic than “HEY!BEAR” but its got a nice thing going for itself.  The only thing that left me confused was the hip-hop breakdown in the bridge (she didn’t even sing during it either…).  Otherwise, this song is a light hip rolling song and I kind of liked that about it.

12. Hibi, Ikite Ireba

Closing out the album is oddly enough a digital single that was released last July so it stands that it was the first song to represent the album lol.  As a song itself it feels like the parallel opposite to “FrogFlag” by being a big band ballad.  Right from the start, I LOVE the muted horns melody before adding the rest into the track.  Ai’s voice is light and cute, but for some reason the mixture together gives me Seseme Street vibes and I’m not sure if I was that into that.  Still, it’s a nice rainy day song to just relax with a hot chocolate with.

Tracks Recommended

  • FrogFlag
  • make up
  • Sakura Harahara
  • QueeN
  • Monochrome

Song of Avoidance

  • HEART BREAK

As this is Ai-chin’s 8th album, LOVE HONEY is actually quite decent all-around.  It feels like she kind of has a mix of stuff from her last two albums brought here and I kind of dug it and it felt cohesive too.  The only song that I wasn’t really into is HEART BREAK but that’s the only song that felt like it didn’t really add anything to the album.  Otherwise, I was pretty content with this one 😀

 

Juice=Juice – Jidanda Dance/Feel! Kanjiru yo April 19, 2017

Filed under: Juice=Juice — solarblade @ 2:35 pm

jidandadance

Track Listing

  1. Jidanda Dance
  2. Feel! Kanjiru yo
  3. Jidanda Dance (Instrumental)
  4. Feel! Kanjiru yo (Instrumental)

1. Jidanda Dance

It’s been a while since Juice=Juice has really done a goofy song so when I begun listening to Jidanda Dance, I was happily surprised at how funky and funny the song came off (especially the hooks it was passiong off).  I was also impressed with how much more Yuka and Akari have been pushed as vocalists.  Throw in a random section for Ondo-styled music and it’s a bit bizarre but it definitely stuck out to me a LOT!  Great A-side for the group!

2. Feel! Kanjiru yo

Though I can’t quite say the same for the other A-side for the single.  Unlike the bizarre upbeat and fun style of the previous track, Feel! Kanjiru yo is the opposite, a slow-paced ballad with a lot of synth horns *sigh*.  I don’t know, this just feels plain and slightly generic but considering that Juice=Juice hasn’t done a ballad since “Tsuzuiteiku STORY” and that was just a blah (even when there’s a sitar thrown in the arrangement).

Juice=Juice return with a new single and I’m half & half with it.  I really did enjoy Jidanda Dance a whole lot and seeing Juice=Juice with their hair down and having immense fun (like they did in “KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!!”) is always a treat to hear from the quintet.  Plus the music was off the wall and just left a smile on me.  Feel! Kanjiru yo though is just bland all over and really doesn’t do any favors for them as a ballad (couldn’t we have gotten “Giniro no Telepathy” instead?…or any of the other 4 unreleased songs they have…

 

Kyarypamyupamyu – Ii Suta

Filed under: Kyarypamyupamyu — solarblade @ 5:48 am

iisuta

Track Listing

  1. Ii Suta
  2. Todoke Punch
  3. Sai & Kou -extended mix-
  4. Ii Suta -instrumental-
  5. Todoke Punch -instrumental-

1. Ii Suta

Are we really doing an Irish jig intro for a song that’s roughly about Easter?  Yeah I feel like the title is supposed to be “Easter”…Anyways, it’s nice to see Kyary back to just her on the single and Ii Suta is a strong song but she’s always been about weird shenanigans.  I’m not sure if I’m down for the Irish jig to a March kind of style, but it’s definitely unique in her discography so I’m happy she’s back to that at the least.  Odd A-side, but something people can remember.

2. Todoke Punch

Ahh I’m happy for the return of a B-side here.  Actually, I really dug Todoke Punch for some reason.  It has the Kyary cuteness, but the arrangement is a lot heavier and reminds me something from her first album…it’s just a heavy synth sound mixed with Nakata’s 80’s-esque drive that really pulled me in.  It’s probably my favorite song she’s done since “Mondai Girl” and that was a while ago!

3. Sai & Kou -extended mix-

Of course we also return with more extended remixes, this time one for Sai & Kou which was two singles ago (plus “Harajuku Iyahoi” already got one xD).  I mean it’s a minute longer which is nice.  Sai & Kou is a song that I’m here nor there with, but the extended mix kind of helped it last longer in my conscience.

Kyary doesn’t seem to miss any holidays it feels like and now we have our Easter single.  Ii Suta is an oddball song fusing two unlikely genres and adding a dollop of cuteness to make a song.  For me, it’s a bit too out there for me, but I enjoy the creativity from Nakata.  For those looking for something normal, Todoke Punch may work better and I enjoyed it tons more!  The Sai & Kou extension was cool, but like most of the others…just kind of there for people who wanna completely listen to her discography.

 

Mai Kuraki – Togetsukyou ~Kimi Omofu~

Filed under: Mai Kuraki — solarblade @ 5:16 am

togetsukyou

Track Listing

  1. Togetsukyou ~Kimi Omofu~
  2. Togetsukyou ~Kimi Omofu~ (Instrumental)
  3. Time after time ~Hana Mau Machi de~ TIME TRAVEL PARADOX REMIX (Regular only)

1. Togetsukyou ~Kimi Omofu~

I was wondering what Mai would bring with another song tied to the Meitantei Conan series (as she ALWAYS has a tie-in with the series it feels like).  Anyway, Togetsukyou starts off interestingly enough with some oriental sounds and a light air about it.  After Mai starts to sing, the song feels like something I would normally expect from her with the chill R&B vibe and light vocals.  Seems like the typical thing to get from Mai-K, but it’s a pleasant song to zone out to.

2. Time after time ~Hana Mau Machi de~ TIME TRAVEL PARADOX REMIX

Didn’t expect for Mai to bring back an oldie to this single, but here we are with a remix of her 15th single.  Time after time being remixed is a good upgrade because it does feel dated listening to it nowadays and giving it a new spin is ideal.  It does feel like it took a little of the arrangement of “Togetsukyou” to itself.  Though it disappoints me that we don’t hear Mai-K until way past the half mark…It’s nice, but it could’ve been handled a lil better…

Even though Mai’s last actual single was 2014’s “Muteki na Heart/STAND BY YOU”, I still wasn’t expecting Mai to release a single SO SHORTLY after her last album “Smile” (back in February).  Togetsukyou is a good song for an A-side, still keeping up with good leading songs.  Though I think I would’ve preferred something more than a janky remix of Time after time to appear.  Still, I hope this is a beginning of her releasing more singles.