Kurayami Monogatari

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(10th Anniversary) Nami Tamaki – greeting May 19, 2018

Filed under: ~10th Anniversary Reviews~ — solarblade @ 3:14 am

greetingnami

Track Listing

  1. Eternal Voice
  2. Believe
  3. day by day
  4. Complete
  5. Be Positive <Hikari no Naka de Kagayaite>
  6. NEVER STOP MY HEART -Kimi to Iu Kiseki ni-
  7. Shining Star Wasurenaikara
  8. Realize
  9. Naked
  10. Destiny
  11. Ashita no Kimi
  12. Prayer
  13. Believe -Evidence01 Mix-

1. Eternal Voice

Wow, the 1st song from the 1st album…It starts off in the chorus with little background noises, but when she starts the 2nd half synths and percussion blares in. Now, this song right here is a slower dance song *oxymoron* but my favorite part was the bridge, it just sounded too friggin awesome!. Great way to start Nami’s album

Wow, boy was I a noob back then reviewing my first song for this blog huh?  Yeah, the album opens up with Eternal Voice and back then I was really getting into J-pop and Nami Tamaki was the first artist I clung to heavily because of the GUNDAM themes she had in her repertoire.  Eternal Voice was the first taste of album songs and I was completely fine with her songs sounding similar to her anime themes and I easily fell in love with it.  Compared though, it was a bit slower but it had an epic kind of tone as it opened the track.  I also mislabeled, but my favorite parts were the pre-chorus actually…it just hit something cool in my mind and I really dug that.  Still a nice way to open the album up I’d say.

2. Believe

Uh-oh 1st single alert!!!!  Anyways, this song was played in the Gundam series and is very well known amongst the fans. Opening sequence = best ever. A very trance-like aura is emanating from the song as well. Seeing as how Nami’s voice matured now, she can really hit or miss that high note, and you guys know where I’m talking about.  Either way, this song put Nami on the map for sure.

Yeah, it seems because of the sheer popularity this song gave Nami, it wasn’t too surprising to see her debut come next on the album.  It’s been 10 years and I’ve still got a HUGE soft spot for this song despite that the numerous tries (self-covers) she does don’t quite do the justice the original did.  I still do love the grittiness of the synths and cool, dark vibes it gives off on top of Nami’s striking vocals.  It’s a song that definitely molded my love for J-pop and I can’t deny that I have a huge bias for this one!

3. day by day

Oddly enough, this is an R&B like track. Now, to me when I think J-pop R&B, I instantly think of Utada Hikaru’s song “Automatic” and it actually almost sounded like it too like in beats and rhythm. I love the final chorus of the song the best ~I can fly to your love, because I say “I love you!~ it just got stuck in my head and made me love this song even further

Before I started getting critical to album’s flow, I was just a nut that liked songs.  Coming back to this album now, I’m starting to notice that this album was kind of all over the place, (especially knowing the singles that came prior to this album).  day by day was a stark contrast to “Believe” & “Eternal Voice” that nowadays, it made me wonder why SONY was trying to make her more poppy.  I do like the 90s R&B/Pop vibes I get here and the tune while slightly hokey, definitely suited Nami’s vocals for some reason.  It has a certain kind of flow that just made you tap your foot and yesh, I still do like the run in the chorus with the surprise English!  Still, it’s a bit of a shock of a shift of moods.

4. Complete

Well, is it rock? Is it pop? w/e….This song has Nami giving an atittude…Which is always nice but it’s like her voice is different through the verses, maybe giving it a further explanation on her attitude throughout the song…Background voices we’re pretty nice to hear too…though the guy…was just not needed.  Even through that this song was catchy.

Moving into one of the B-sides that made the album’s cut, Complete (from “Believe”) also cemented the feeling that SONY wasn’t sure what to do with Nami.  The overall groove is a bit more aggressive which shows equally with Nami’s vocals which sound more deeper and has a lot more oomph to it than in previous tracks.  I also like the similar 90’s Hip/Pop vibes and it suits coming after “day by day”.  A song that I’ve come to grow to like despite that the fade-out was a bad choice to close this out.

5. Be Positive <Hikari no Naka de Kagayaite>

So it’s slow pop time, I like this song, even though it’s slower. Her voice was nice throughout the song and it was enjoyable, if Nami had made this a single, I would’ve bought it!. This song is just nice. Great to know Nami wrote this song, a trait she starts using on each album.

So yeah, this was one of the few songs Nami wrote and likewise, it’s also the first slow song off the album, but it’s not entirely a ballad.  It’s kind of like a Britney Spears-ish way to have a ballad (at least something from her “…Baby One More Time” era).  Thinking about why I didn’t say too much about, I actually think now its one of the more boring tracks on the album, lol.  I think I was more excited that Nami was doing more than powerful anison tracks.  I do think it has a smidge of an ending theme kind of feel, but otherwise despite Nami’s decent vocals, this one just doesn’t stick out in my mind as much as it did back then.

6. NEVER STOP MY HEART -Kimi to Iu Kiseki ni-

Now it’s ballad time!  Really, I’m not a huge ballad fan…So I’m not too fond of this song.  The chorus sounded like she was straining her voice for them high notes.  Another one of those songs that she’ll prolly never perform live.  Either way, at least she has a ballad on the album.

I do like the way the album does slow down to this point of the album to stick in this B-side from “Prayer” and like I said in the above track, it definitely has a 90s bubblegum pop kind of tone to it that I wasn’t really here for.  I definitely didn’t realize the after-chorus has some like odd harpsichord (and maybe harp?) either way, as grandiose it tries to be, the song just feels cheap and Nami shows off her vocal weaknesses especially in the chorus where she seems to be struggling with higher notes.  It never was a high-hitting song for me so I’m surprised my opinion hasn’t changed entirely.

7. Shining Star Wasurenaikara

Sampling “Twinkle, Twinkle, Litte Star” for its entrance, you’d think it’s a ballad also. THINK AGAIN!  You are totally in for a surprise, it’s a catchy little dance tune.  She’s singin her heart out throughout this song.  Backup singers that sing the important English parts kinda disappoint me because you’d think Nami would do that. Beautiful song overall.

I’ll never understand why Nami chose this to be the 4th single, because of the 4, this one seems the corniest in reality with the song sampling “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” in its melody.  I mean it only comes up occasionally, but its such an odd decision here.  At least the verses make up for that up until the chorus where it feels like Nami takes the backseat while the backup vocalist get the hooks and longer lines.  I think nowadays, this song is more like a guilty pleasure than anything else.

8. Realize

Another of them awesome Gundam songs, Realize is a lot more lighter on the synth this time around.  Guitar is pretty prominent in the song which is a plus. The bridge, like Eternal Voice is the best part of the whole song.  I heard this song many times live, and before Speciality/Don’t Stay she was pretty bad at it live but when her Graduation DVD came out she sang this song to awesomeness.  One of her best’s of this album

Used as the 2nd ending theme to GUNDAM SEED Destiny after “Believe” (and her follow-up single), Realize fit the bill no doubt, but it was a much ligher affair in comparison, giving it a more hopeful sounding atmosphere on top of the happier guitar & synth riff that was blaring in the arrangement.  Yeah, the pre-chorus of this song still is one of my favorite parts, but I LOVE this song a lot more than I used to…it even rivals Believe as best on this album unironically!

9. Naked

*cough* what? A song called Naked? WTF!  Anyways the beginning starts with the guitar playing 4 notes and stopping abruptly repeatedly.  Then she comes in with the chorus like a bunch of her earlier songs. Sadly, this song didn’t keep my interest up for too long. Prolly least favorite from this point

Yeah, I’m not sure why I made that lewd comment, but here we are I suppose.  Seems we jumped back to the 90s bubblegum pop sound for Naked which made me think of both “day by day” and “Be Positive” and it kind of threw me off that the album we hop back to that style.  I’m not sure what she was going for her, but the song seems rather uncharacteristic for this album and breaks the album’s flow.  Sometimes I seem to forget that this is indeed a track Nami did.

10. Destiny

Starts with the chorus *sighs* I’m shocked that this song was put here because Naked was at a medium tempo and the next song is a ballad…Ok, it’s got that Gundam speed like in Believe and Realize, but then again. it was used on Gundam DUH!.  Good thing about this song is that it has equal synth and guitar unlike Believe = synth in the forefront and Realize = guitar in the forefront. Real good song. BTW that note she hits in the chorus…yea It’s strained to no end.

As the last of the new tracks from greeting, Destiny kind of immediately kicks off with its chorus which is an interesting startup to say the least.  Yeah, I still agree that the high note she goes on every once or twice in the choruses is a bit too high for her, but I mean it’s not too detrimental to the song.  The tune does remind me a LOT of “Eternal Voice” in just sound which is odd, but I think its a cool song nonetheless.

11. Ashita no Kimi

Ballad, and it starts in the chorus! Her voice does have an angelic feel to it, which is nice. It sound like a wintry song. It kinda picks up speed, but barely in the bridge, but goes back to slow in the chorus. In other words this song was subpar against the whole album making it, a filler

Moving to the B-side from “Realize”, Ashita no Kimi wasn’t the first choice to have chosen to be on the album, but I suppose they had to somehow slow the album down once again after “Destiny”.  Like “Be Positive”, the song is a bit cheesy for me, but I don’t seem to like this one much either.  I think its the chorus that just makes me want to press next because it’s just kind of boring of a song sadly.  I mean, Nami sounds good, but yeah not a good song.

12. Prayer

A single as the last song? *shrugs* As usual it starts off with the chorus. Prayer, like Realize also is driven mostly by guitar, which is pretty cool, because it’s also has a wintry feel, if the PV didn’t already show that XD.  I liked the whole chorus, it just made me wanna get up and start doing the moves from the PV itself!

Still interesting she chose Prayer to close the album out instead of “Ashita no Kimi”, but it is what it is.  As the 3rd A-side she released, Prayer was the first that didn’t have a tie-in to the GUNDAM series, but that’s quite alright because regardless, she did keep the anison synth/rock feel but made it more mellow and less like a repeat to other tracks.  I still do find myself loving the song today and its just a cool bop of a song…still odd way to finish the album…

13. Believe -Evidence01 Mix-

As much as I love trance/dance music, Believe couldn’t have been a better choice to be put in ballad form, I really enjoyed this remix. Even though I wanted to hear Realize as a ballad….oh wait, they did do that!  Either way great way to end the song and album itself

Though the album actually comes with a bonus track, a ballad version of her debut, Believe.  Though it’s funny because it was already released as part of that “Believe Reproduction” single.  I think cutting out the energetic and aggressive arrangement was a good choice, but I’m not impressed from the lack of actually resinging the tune.  They just added some echo filters to make it more well-rounded.  Plus, the chorus just sounds odd as a ballad-centric chorus too.

Tracks Recommended

  • Realize
  • Believe
  • Eternal Voice
  • day by day
  • Prayer

Song of Avoidance

  • Ashita no Kimi

Greeting was a real awesome debut for Nami, and I praise it…but majority of the songs started off in the chorus…which was totally unusual. I guess it can get better from here. A nice variation of songs too.  Though the album did feature too many poor choiced B-sides, it turned out all right.

Wow, my first ever album review on this blog and boy not much has totally changed on my feelings on greeting initially.  Some songs have stood the test of time for me luckily and they’re still listened to frequently on my end.  Though when it comes to the album as a whole, greeting does feel ike a bit of an identity crisis.  I’m not sure whether SONY wanted to make her an anison singer or just an idol singer because half the album is epic GUNDAM-like songs and the other half is 90s cheesy pop songs.  Yeah, this album isn’t quite as amazing as I initially made it out to be, but it’s one way to start a career right?

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NCT DREAM – The First May 17, 2018

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 6:11 am

thefirst

Track Listing

  1. My First and Last
  2. Zuìhòu de Chūliàn
  3. Dunk Shot
  4. Chewing Gum
  5. Pàopaotáng

1. My First and Last

After their rather startlingly, sugary debut, I was hoping NCT DREAM would maybe move a little away and ironically they actually did with their 2nd song.  Already, the group sounds somewhat more deeper (with the exception of Haechan, who just has a higher register) and we have Mark singing too!  Renjun & Chenle seemed to have stepped up vocally while Jisung is somehow rapping and has somewhat silkier vocals than most of the group?  There’s a line for Jeno too, but he’s not quite up in the front…OH YEAH…due to an injury, Jaemin wasn’t a part of this comeback sadly.  Still, the song is cute done right and definitely pulled me into them better than “Chewing Gun” did.

2. Zuìhòu de Chūliàn

What’s there to say, it’s My First and Last in Chinese…no changes to the arrangement, its just a simple language switchover and once again reminds me how young they are and yet how quickly they suited a different language (I mean Renjun & Chenle aside), its impressive!

3. Dunk Shot

Is this considered a B-side then?  Either way, Mark once again actually sings first and its strange how good he sings outside of rapping!  I would say this song kind of reminds me of “We Young” (their next comeback), but the song after the verses turns into this interesting pop/rockfish track that’s kind of very bubblegum, but somewhat sticks to a similar style like “My First and Last”.  Though the gibberish in that chorus is bizarre to me xD…wth.  Jeno and Jisung don’t even get lines which is surprising…but this song is ehhh…

4. Chewing Gum

I know it hasn’t been too long since I’ve reviewed this, but it is on the single, so I suppose I have to tackle it right?  Nothings changed at all since the digital single review of their debut other than it’s the only place where Jaemin is heard so I guess that’s a thing.  While I do think the comeback is better, Chewing Gum can become an earworm if you let it due to its crazy upbeat nature and catchy hooks.

5. Pàopaotáng

Yup and its Chinese version which I suppose makes sense since “My First and Last had its Chinese cut included, but likewise, nothing special was done besides lyrical shifts.

 

 

So we get to NCT DREAM’s first single but also first comeback with My First and Last and overall its an alright release if you just focus on the 3 main tracks.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear the group handle cute a lot better than their debut and also included that here.  Dunk Shot is kind of a misnomer for me…it’s there but I’m not quite sure why.  Sad to see Jaemin injured and missing out after debut, but here’s hoping he gets better.  Curious to see what’s next for the group…

 

 

NCT 127 – LIMITLESS

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 5:44 am

limitless

Track Listing

  1. Limitless
  2. Good Thing
  3. Back 2 U (AM 01:27)
  4. Roller Coaster (Heartbreaker)
  5. Baby Don’t Like It
  6. Angel

1. Limitless

You know that the group would 1-up their debut immediately after “Fire Truck” by releasing Limitless next.  It does certainly continue their mostly hip-hop vibe, but this has a LOT more depth than what their debut contained.  From the cool, croaky sound that Taeyong produces in the verses to the more aggressive & light sounding places on the track, its great to see the group evolve.  Plus, we have two new members added to NCT 127 (Doyoung & Johnny), we already knew what the former was capable of due to NCT U but Johnny has a deeper voice and adds some roughness to the group.  Granted, the front members got their lines, but Winwin, Yuta, Johnny, and even Haechan kind of were hidden behind them this time.  Still, a much better song for their first comeback.

2. Good Thing

Next track in and we have a smooth groove of a song in Good Thing!  After the anthemic, “Limitless”, I was curious to what else NCT 127 had to offer and this track is pretty decent if not slightly repetitive due to the chorus.  I love the beat and arrangement as it gave the group something to work with.  Though Winwin & Yuta are pretty much invisible in the song and a lot of it was sung by Taeil surprisingly…it’s decent.

3. Back 2 U (AM 01:27)

From the opening, I thought Back 2 U was going to be the mini’s ballad track, but it seems to fit more of the more laidback tracks that were from their first mini.  Y’know, I’m noticing a lot of love given to Taeil just from the last track to this one and I’m liking it!  Though I am seeing a lot more Haechan & Yuta and even a line for Winwin here.  Honestly this feels a bit more even line-wise and the song is a cool jam, maybe the chorus if not repetitive once again.  It’s not bad, but there’s better songs from them.

4. Roller Coaster (Heartbreaker)

Our next track is a little more interesting arrangement-wise and I was caught immediately by Haechan & Doyoung having the first lines.  Actually the first verse/chorus is just Haechan, Doyoung, Jaehyun, and Taeil.  Even better that even the rappers (Mark & Taeyong) are singing so it feels unique to the group!  Sad that Winwin & Johnny didn’t get a line, but this is poppy track that stuck to me!

5. Baby Don’t Like It

Interesting to see Mark open a song this time with Baby Don’t Like It and boy does he have a lengthy solo to kick things off!  Though the song also has Doyoung & Taeil singing the chorus and the Taeyong get the 2nd verse (rap line).  I think of the songs on the mini-album, this has the least amount of arrangement and it doesn’t really help that its just those 4 (well Haechan gets one tiny part) and the song is only 2:40 in length.  Kind of my least favorite here.

6. Angel

Ending LIMITLESS, Angel comes in with a nice acoustic-like sound and it opens with a rap from Taeyong and it turns into this light R&B affair that seems to conclude the mini on a lighter note and I appreciate that.  Though the song doesn’t quite do much and we’re left with no Johnny or Winwin here once again.  It’s a good song, but a total 180 compared to what they opened the mini-album with.

 

 

For the group’s first comeback, LIMITLESS definitely upgraded the group to a better position after “Fire Truck”.  I also think as a whole, this mini-album, while shorter, had a bit more staying power as well.  Like I said, the group did add two members and they seemed to fit their roles well (though could’ve used more Yuta, Johhny, and Winwin in their songs).  Still, not bad…hopefully their next release will be even better!

 

Hello! Pro Kenshuusei – Rainbow×2 May 16, 2018

Filed under: Hello! Pro Kenshuusei — solarblade @ 5:31 am

rainbow2

Track Listing

  1. Rainbow
  2. Yacchae! GO! GO!
  3. 43do
  4. Tadashii Seishun tte Nan Darou
  5. Medatte Do Dance
  6. Arigata-Meiwaku Monogatari
  7. Hello! Massara no Jibun
  8. Gobaku ~We Can’t Go Back~
  9. Isshakudama de Buppanase!
  10. Mirai e Tsunagu Yakusoku
  11. RealLittleGirl

1. Rainbow

Opening the album, we get a lot of new tracks to listen to.  Well, technically not really because a couple of them were performed live.  Anyways, Rainbow kicks things off in a nice pleasant way that feels like an intro song with some fluttery synths and a dance beat.  Considering it is only 5 of the Kenshuusei singing, it feels really nice to hear how well they sound together.  At points some of the song sounds like an anison theme, but the song is bright and pleasant as a whole!

2. Yacchae! GO! GO!

One of those songs that were performed prior to the album, Yacchae! GO! GO! takes the more cutesy pop/rock feel this time!  It’s an energetic song and it features many of the members (most from the recent generations), but it feels so concrete and well done.  Especially for how the tune weaves its lyrics in and around each other.  It reminds me of an early S/mileage song for some reason like “Suki-chan” or “Ganbaranakutemo Eenende!!”.

3. 43do

I’m really loving that the song opens with an acoustic guitar before adding synths and synth horns to add spice.  Choosing in 6 members, I was also pretty surprised at how energetic and cool they sounded together.  Then again they’re decent singers (some of them being the favored members).  It’s definitely the “Onna no Sono” of the album and really kicked ass here…very cool track!

4. Tadashii Seishun tte Nan Darou

Another song performed prior to the album, Tadashii Seishun tte Nan Darou definitely reminds me of another song that’s on this album actually, “Real☆Little☆Girl” because of the similar instrumentations and energy behind it.  Not quite sure if that’s a good sign or not, but there’s quite a number of members involved here, but it’s OK.  It’s cute and whatnot but it’s like “Table Seki Aitetemo Counter Seki”…it’s just kind of here.

5. Medatte Do Dance

I had thought last year that this would’ve been released digitally (like the next couple of tracks were) but for some reason it was held back until now.  It was something I was looking forward to because the tune has such a cool intro and heavy sound that felt right with most of the other digital songs that were released.  The chorus is catchy and the tune is cute but not hardcore genki.  Hell, I think I hear Rin Hachisako a LOT (even a solo!).  Fun song!

6. Arigata-Meiwaku Monogatari

So we get into digital singles and this one was so awesome because it was darker and rockin’ and it’s a sucker for me because it’s just as catchy as it was last year.  It’s also like “Onna no Sono” but this is more for the energetic performance and beats.  Surprised that only 5 of the Kenshuusei took part in it.  Great to see it make the cut honestly.

7. Hello! Massara no Jibun

On the flipside of the coin, I wasn’t as much interested in seeing this make the cut besides the fact that it’s the oldest on the album.  It even shows by including Mizuho Ono (who is currently in Tsubaki Factory, after this recording).  It’s her and 3 others here and I’m just surprised that its just them here.  The song itself is a bit chintzy and forgettable for me for some reason.  Yeah, probably my least favorite song off the album…maybe?

8. Gobaku ~We Can’t Go Back~

Now this was a total surprise because it felt like it wasn’t connected to the Kenshuusei in anyway by how it was represented.  Considering all 5 members are currently H!P members in some fashion (Ichioka, Takase, and Kiyono are still waiting for their groups while Dambara and Kawamura are in Juice=Juice & ANGERME respectively).  Gobaku itself though is such a bop and its got this glossy 80s vibe to it and the members sound SOOO good here.  Yeah, what a surprise, but an awesome one to have got!

9. Isshakudama de Buppanase!

The last of the digital songs that were released, Isshakudama de Buppanase! surprised me by having Kaede Kaga & Mizuho Ono here (both in H!P currently).  The song itself feels pretty in the middle for me on this album.  It’s like a toned down “Yacchae! GO! GO!” with deeper vocals which is always decent to hear.  Though I still kind of dug it, even if there’s better.

10. Mirai e Tsunagu Yakusoku

As the last of the new tracks, I had figured one of them was going to be a ballad and boy it’s a boring one at that.  Being a simple piano ballad (with strings that come in later), this song should’ve had all the Kenshuusei singing but it doesn’t.  Yeah and its all sung in unison so it really doesn’t move me in anyway.  Pretty disappointed here.

11. Real☆Little☆Girl

I’m pretty surprised they slipped in a Hokkaido KSS track at the end of the album (and somehow disappointed they omitted both “Hankouki!” and “Ice day Party”.  Anyways, Real☆Little☆Girl definitely still reminds me of a Country Girls song, but its an oddly catchy song at that and hearing the Hokkaido girls is always nice right?  Definitely a cute way to end the album.

Tracks Recommended

  • 43do
  • Arigata-Meiwaku Monogatari
  • Gobaku ~We Can’t Go Back~
  • Rainbow

Song of Avoidance

  • Mirai e Tsunagu Yakusoku

Wow, it’s just something when about 90% of the girls involved from the first Kenshuusei are gone when we get to their sophomore effort.  I have to say, Rainbow×2 is kind of on the same level, maybe a bit here because the songs were a lot stronger and left more of an impact here.  There are still some stinkers here, but I feel like the fact H!P kind of put the girls in groupings was interesting (but couldn’t we have one that had all the KSS in it?).  Also could’ve used more Hokkaido presence here to be honest besides their first A-side.  Otherwise, solid album!

 

SAWA – Kouki Aisare Stance May 15, 2018

Filed under: SAWA — solarblade @ 11:51 pm

koukiaisarestance

Track Listing

  1. Shabon Time Machine Interlude
  2. Shabon Time Machine
  3. Fantasy GoGo
  4. Kouki Aisare Stance
  5. Kimagure Sparkling
  6. YOU AND ME
  7. Hyper Aloha Oe
  8. Early Summer
  9. Tentai Kansoku Interlude
  10. Tentai Kansoku
  11. Nagareboshi

1. Shabon Time Machine Interlude

Opening up the mini-album is short introduction (not to the album, but for the first actual song).  Of course as it has been for the last couple mini’s, I feel like things are more peppy and cutesy than SAWA’s more electro-sounding of the past.  I do like how the opening builds up to this explosion of sound though, but it ends quite swiftly after…

2. Shabon Time Machine

Though the sound of the intro stays for the first song of the album, Shabon Time Machine and the song is just as sparkly and bubbly and kind of cutesy throughout.  There’s some interesting beats going around (especially in its lyrics) as for SAWA, she’s more or less suiting the style due to her unique vocals.  It’s a decent track and it’s a lot better than her previous efforts in tackling such a sugary sound.  Although that bridge where the songs lyrics are played backwards is odd…

3. Fantasy GoGo

Next track up and I was surprised that unlike the poppy, bubbly sound, Fantasy GoGo has guitars and drums, and bass as well!  The change of style is nice and despite SAWA sounding more like she’s yelling the lyrics rather than singing, she keeps up pretty well.  Maybe it’s me but the song feels like something from her first mini-album, “COLORS”.

4. Kouki Aisare Stance

As the mini’s title track, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect (kind of was hoping for a harder song than her more relaxed songs as of late).  I guess this song meets in the middle for me because it sounds like an upbeat discotheque kind of track with some funk behind it.  I actually quite like this song and it’s party-like atmosphere just puts me in a happy mood, wasn’t expecting something like this from SAWA but I’m glad she did so.

5. Kimagure Sparkling

I guess if there was a song that kind of harkens back to more of her electro style, Kimagure Sparkling has this kind of dance beat and upbeat nature about it that kind of sounds of stuff from “RingaRinga”.  Though I will say it is a little safe of a song considering her past works have been quite nice.  Maybe its the beat that’s just kind of blah.  Anyways, it’s OK…but the previous couple tracks have stood out better.

6. YOU AND ME

Something about the next track screams happy hardcore for some reason and it may be the quick-paced arrangement here.  I think the song is interesting and the beats and synthwork is also intriguing to me.  Though I can’t say for certain that I enjoyed the song, there’s just something off about it.  It may be the style, it could even be SAWA being drowned out by the busy arrangement too.  Slightly messy I guess.

7. Hyper Aloha Oe

Thinking of the previous track, the arrangement might have suited the title of this track to be quite honest.  Hyper Aloha Oe starts off slowly with some ukulele and a quiet set of lyrics from SAWA before it opens up to this upbeat, EDM track.  It’s a fun track overall and definitely has a slight Island-y touch to it, but overall a cool dance track.

8. Early Summer

What an interesting way to open up our next track, Early Summer, but it’s definitely the album’s glaring track from the bell opening to the oddball dance beats and arrangement to the vocals (which actually doesn’t sound AT ALL like SAWA).  Actually she is throughout, but there’s clearly others involved.  The song is a bit off the wall for me though and just is a strange listen overall.

9. Tentai Kansoku Interlude

As the other interlude of the album, this 40 second lead-in is pretty electro and the beat is aggressive and just punches you in the face right up until it ends and fizzles out.  Short but it did leave me hoping for more.

10. Tentai Kansoku

While it doesn’t leave off where the interlude did, Tentai Kansoku is still quite hardcore compared to the rest of the album and the arrangement keeps a solid bright side but the lower synths give a kind of throwback to when Japanese electro was at its peak and I am impressed by it!  It’s a ride of a song and I’m glad SAWA still has it to do these kind of songs.

11. Nagareboshi

Ending off the mini, we get Nagareboshi and I had assumed it would’ve been a ballad (every other time this title was used, it was a ballad it felt like).  Anyways, unlike the previous track, Nagareboshi is a bit more 80s-inspired with nice synth riffs and a hoppy beat added.  It’s a nice sparkly tune to kind of close things out and feels a lot like the good stuff she used to release.

 

 

SAWA it seems is reaching her 10th anniversary as an artist and decided to release Kouki Aisare Stance to kick celebrations off!  I actually do think that this mini trumps “Odore Balcony” and “Ijippari Mermaid” by a big margin with quite a number of decent tracks here.  Of course there was a couple missteps, (YOU AND ME, Early Summer), but as a whole, it felt like a great technopop album this time around!

 

U-KISS – LINK May 13, 2018

Filed under: U-KISS — solarblade @ 4:50 pm

link

Track Listing

  1. No Regret
  2. Compass
  3. FLY
  4. Beginning
  5. Prologue
  6. I’ll be there
  7. STORY feat. Jun
  8. WILD&TOUGH feat. Jun
  9. YOURS
  10. Anniversary
  11. Rain
  12. Only Ever Yours
  13. Try Everything (bonus track)

1. No Regret

Opening the album, we get this cool jungle beat for No Regret.  There’s just something about the song that’s mysterious and cool about it.  Doesn’t help that that this is only one of two songs that only feature the quartet due to Soohyun being in military leave.  It is really interesting to hear Kiseop get featured so heavily alongside Hoon here, hell I’m proud he got the first lines!.  Though of course Eli & Jun get a lot of lines as well.  It’s a pretty unique dance track (as is most of the time with U-KISS’ more upbeat track).  I quite liked it and promoted the album well.

2. Compass

The other new track of the album, Compass seems to follow trends in K-pop by having a little bit of a tropical house kind of groove behind it.  It’s a bit mellow though and it seems the rappers have a little more appearance.  Though they are interjected with Hoon & Kiseop’s more melodic lines.  It’s a safe album song so it’s not bad, but compared to “No Regret” this is the lesser liked track.

3. FLY

I’m pretty much disappointed that at this point the rest of the album are older songs that all were released prior to the album, luckily I haven’t heard most of these songs but seeing as they’re right down the tracklist from their singles, it’s just a little lazy from avex’s part to not have at least shuffled them a bit.  Onto FLY, this was the lone single to release for it and the last of Soohyun with the group before his enlistment.  It’s nice to see the 3 singers get a lot of push here with the rappers as support.  I thought it’d be a softer track, but that chorus is explosive and hits you hard.  It’s a really powerful track and one of my favorite A-sides from the group.

4. Beginning

Seeing as we’re going by tracklisting from the singles, it’s like reviewing the single all over again essentially.  Considering it hasn’t been too long since I reviewed this, the song more or less has the same thoughts I had from the single.  I like they went for a little more edge by adding electric guitar to the mix giving it a rockin’ vibe.  There’s also a lot of Soohyun here which is nice too!  Aggressive and cool, it’s still one of the more decent B-sides they’ve had in quite a long time.

5. Prologue

It still baffles me why they have two songs back to back that kind of mean the same on the same single lol.  Though unlike the aggressive nature of “Beginning”, Prologue is a much lighter affair taking more from their poppier side like the songs from “Action”.  I kind of like the 90s vibe I get out of this song and even though it’s not my kind of song being cutesy and whatnot…it’s not cringey and the vocals are pretty so I’d say they did a good job here!

6. I’ll be there

The next four tracks are solos from Soohyun, the first 3 from his solo single he released back in July of 2017.  I actually am not surprise Soohyun is more of a ballad singer after his previous singles.  Sad to say, but the song didn’t leave much of an impression on me despite his silky vocals filling the tune out.  Just was a sleeper song.

7. STORY feat. Jun

Which felt weird moving to the B-sides from the single which featured Jun.  STORY unlike “I’ll be there” is more acoustic but somehow retains that light, poppy nature about it which means I’m still not buying into it very much.  Jun surprised me because he’s actually singing the song instead of rapping…who knew he had a decent singing voice (does this mean Jun might be pushed as a singer?).  Still, the song is just as whitewashed as “I’ll be there” sadly.

8. WILD&TOUGH feat. Jun

At least there was some hope for the 2nd B-side from his single with WILD&TOUGH which has a faster tempo and pulsing beat.  You can still hear the poppy blemishes in the arrangement, but this already beats out both the previous songs.  I will say the dubstep breakdown in the afterchorus is bizarre and doesn’t suit the song much, but I still think it’s a decent track!

9. YOURS

Released as a digital single in December (prior to him leaving for military) YOURS is more or less an upbeat ballad and it sounds a LOT like “I’ll be there” which already put me off from the song.  I guess it has a bit more oomph behind the arrangement, but I already feel tired from the song and it just doesn’t work for me.

10. Anniversary

The next two tracks are solos from Hoon (his single that was released back in January).  I really don’t know why the Soohyun & Hoon want to do these lowbrow ballad tracks (a total departure from their songs while in U-KISS).  Don’t get me wrong, Hoon has an amazing voice, but I don’t know about these songs…they just aren’t memorable outside of the notice that yes, Hoon can do ballads lol.

11. Rain

Which is made worse by the B-side, Rain.  Unlike the piano ballad of the previous, this one features acoustic guitar making it a much harder listen for me to keep attention.  The tune while feels a little more fresh than the purely boring, “Anniversary”, it just doesn’t stand out to me sadly.

12. Only Ever Yours

Released digitally back in July of 2017, this was meant to be the song to send off Kevin as he was graduating from the group.  Though as the album’s closer, it was nice to include this kind officially say goodbye to Kevin and his 8 years of being in U-KISS.  That said, outside of the meaning of the song it’s your usual piano/strings ballad here and it is the ONLY song to feature Kevin so I guess that’s a thing too.  Appropriate way to conclude the album, but on its own, it kind of doesn’t grab me.

13. Try Everything

As a bonus track to the album, I guess they had to throw this song in.  Found on a Disney tribute album, this Shakira cover from Zootopia has somehow ended up in U-KISS’ hands.  I wasn’t sure what to think because I knew it was going to be peppy and upbeat and odd on this album (especially after “Only Ever Yours”).  It’s kind of basic it feels like and it could’ve used Kevin’s voice here because the Engrish is thick here as well.  It’s awkward and yeah…odd for a bonus track IMO.

Tracks Recommended

  • FLY
  • No Regret
  • Beginning
  • WILD&TOUGH feat. Jun
  • Prologue

Song of Avoidance

  • YOURS

Maybe it’s me but this album screamed straight up lazy this time around.  I mean all but two tracks were released prior to the album (even then most of that was from solo releases) just made this album feel super lazy.  I mean I guess you kind of had to especially with one member that left (Kevin) and another on military leave (Soohyun) I guess you had to use what you got.  The new songs were decent and the FLY single itself was good…but past that all but one were just hard to listen to because of boredom and cheesiness.  Yeah this was a bad mistake, but maybe this’ll give U-KISS a break (though they could continue as a quartet as shown by the new tracks here).

 

NCT DREAM – Chewing Gum May 11, 2018

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 7:11 am

chewinggum

Track Listing

  1. Chewing Gum
  2. Pàopaotáng

1. Chewing Gum

Boy was this song such a surprise for me.  It’s definitely got the youthful sound going for it, that’s for sure.  Though I guess I was more surprised to see Mark & Haechan involved in this, but they both kind of fit the group, I mean the members in this group that I didn’t know (Renjun, Jeno, Chenle, Jaemin, and Jisung) felt more appropriate here and the song, while kiddy, was super bubbly and just as catchy as I thought it’d be.  Other than Mark, I felt like all the other members sounded nice, and kept the cute side going.  Mark is the oddball here to me as his voice was too deep and his rapping was odd…still what an interesting concept here.

2. Pàopaotáng

Essentially, this is the Chinese version of the song but unlike “Without You” from NCT U, this didn’t change very much during the transition of languages.  Well, maybe there’s more auto-tune here than in the Korean take, but it’s just simply that…no line distribution changes to suit Renjun & Chenle more and the arrangement stays the same.

 

 

The 3rd NCT unit to debut, NCT DREAM is meant to be the young group (though it seems they’ll all eventually graduate the group,( with Mark soon to be the first to go).  Either way going back to Chewing Gum, this was a FAR, FAR CRY of what both NCT U & 127 debuted with and it caused a split in NCT’s fandom quite surely with such a bubblegum aesthetic and sound to them.  Chewing Gum though is an earworm however and can easily stay in your head for a long time…overall, good debut, but how long will they stay this cute?