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Tsubaki Factory – first bloom November 15, 2018

Filed under: Tsubaki Factory — solarblade @ 6:52 am

firstbloom

Track Listing

  1. Hatsukoi Sunrise
  2. Hyoumen Chouryoku ~Surface Tension~
  3. Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta
  4. Shuukatsu Sensation
  5. I Need You ~Yozora no Kanransha~
  6. Kanousei no Concerto
  7. Shunrenka
  8. Date no Hi wa Nido Kurai Shower Shite Dekaketai
  9. Kaerou Let’s Go!
  10. Just Try!
  11. Junjou cm
  12. Waratte
  13. Yuki no Planetarium
  14. Uruwashi no Camellia
  15. Hana Moyou
  16. Teion Yakedo
  17. Happy Cracker
  18. Furisake Mireba…

CD2

  1. Hitorijime
  2. Kedakaku Sakihokore!
  3. Seishun Manmannaka!
  4. Watashi ga Obasan ni Nattemo
  5. 17sai
  6. Cabbage Hakusho ~Haru-hen~
  7. LET’S LIVE!
  8. Jiriri Kiteru
  9. Tokai no Hitorigurashi
  10. Tsukiatteru no ni Kataomoi
  11. ENDLESS YOUTH

1. Hatsukoi Sunrise

Fitting that the group’s first album would open up with their major label debut and known for being the debut for Mao, Saori, and Mizuho!  To be fair, the song was pretty awesome as the 9-nin’s debut because it just smacked hard and the tune is pretty damn catchy!  Plus, hearing all the members getting some kind of solo was pretty impressive and did a great job to alleviate the fears a lot of fans were having during their indies days!

2. Hyoumen Chouryoku ~Surface Tension~

So the album contains 6 new tracks (though 5 of those 6 were heard in concerts throughout the year so we’ve had some time with a couple of those.  Hyoumen Chouryoku was one of the more recent ones and from information, the song was kind of a freebie song that was used in a contest (lost, but was given to Tsubaki Factory down the line).  I already can tell that this one might stand out because of the funkier vibes I get here (almost feels like it belongs to Juice=Juice).  I will say the energy here is nice and the group sounds exciting too!  Not bad, if there’s anything the high note in the chorus is a bit abrasive, but the song is catchy too!

3. Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta

As part of the group’s 4th and final single for the album, I felt like most of that single just kind of flew by my head.  Coming back to this song, Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta was purely a favorite off that single (probably the best of the 2018 A-sides).  There’s just something so bright and cute about this song that just worked, maybe it’s those filtered vocals at the beginning and the beat of the track overall.  I just thought that it was a pretty awesome song and was a good tune to remember.

4. Shuukatsu Sensation

Moving back to their 2nd single, Shuukatsu Sensation was the primary A-side off the single and just like “Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta”, it was an instant favorite of mine off that single because it seemed a bit more funkier than their songs before.  I’m really liking a lot of the song because of the hooks and hearing Kishimon just belting it out always impressed me and then having Mizuho also having the other solo line just showed how much she was being pushed as a main singer.  Another awesome song!

5. I Need You ~Yozora no Kanransha~

Part of their 3rd single, I Need You was kind of a hot n’ cold kind of track for me.  I do like that it did slow things for the group and focused on solos and the sentimentality of the mood, but it’s kind of ruined by the weird passages of dubstep in the music bridges.  If they had taken that out altogether, I would’ve deemed the song higher because the rest is cute and poppy and just sweetness.  Still, did not need those parts ugh!

6. Kanousei no Concerto

Our next new track comes up next and like “Hyoumen Chouryoku”, was performed a bit more recently compared to other tracks and this one felt like an anison track from the beginning, but I’m not complaining at all!  Though the problem is with how memorable of a song it is on this album and while it does give a different sound in comparison to other tracks, I don’t think it quite sticks out over other songs (most of the A-sides).

7. Shunrenka

Like I said, most of the A-sides the group released this year have ben rather mediocre and forgettable to me and Shunrenka is one of those tracks.  I will say it does kind of feel slightly nostalgic with the guitar-heavy arrangement mixed in with that Springtime goodness, but it just doesn’t quite resonate with me much.  Yeah, this song was meh for me.

8. Date no Hi wa Nido Kurai Shower Shite Dekaketai

Same thing with the primary A-side of their 4th single, I’m not sure why Tsubaki’s lead tracks this year haven’t quite caught my attention versus other Hello! Project releases.  I mean, I do like the guitar flickering and the more serious side to the group, but there’s just something missing for me here.  It just felt like the verses were building to something pretty awesome, but the chorus just felt like a letdown.  At least listen to the verses because they are the best part of the track.

9. Kaerou Let’s Go!

The only track that wasn’t performed in any concerts as of the review, Kaerou Let’s Go! is technically the only brand spankin’ new track and they really amped up the cute factor for this one!  It does remind me of those songs we’d find in the anime era of H!P (ala Guardians 4 and Buono!).  I kind of like the brightness of the song here and the girls sound a LOT more younger than what I’m used to.  I wonder if it’s because they’re using Kisora, Ami, & Saori more here?  Does feel like it works in tandem with “Kanousei no Concerto” due to both songs having an anison kind of feel to them.  I kind of liked this one a lot!

10. Just Try!

Odd that they place Just Try! (their cool song) after the previous track as it kind of brings us back to familiar levels with the group.  After having so much time with this song and watching the group grow with more songs under their belt, this song actually kind of got worse as time went on.  I mean, I still dig some parts like the intro and the prechorus, but the rest of the song felt so flat and mechanical almost to the point of kind of being annoying to me.  This felt like something that belonged in the indies era of songs (and even then it’s not as strong as their original trio of indies songs).

11. Junjou cm

I don’t know why, but whenever I listen to this, I get reminded me of “Hatsukoi Sunrise” & “Hana Moyou” but with a touch of seriousness and better vocal strength all-around.  The arrangement is familiar using strings as well giving me a bit of S/mileage and Morning Musume vibes as well which doesn’t quite lift the song to a high enough platform for me to remember it by.  Though, I guess it’s the bridge between the good and poor A-sides of this year.

12. Waratte

I’m happy that the album picks up again with this A-side from their 2nd single, Waratte.  It definitely gives me a mix of 80s and funk vibes and that really solidified that whole single for me in a nice way.  It’s the group being outside of the box and being cute, yet coy about the whole song.  It’s just peppy and it works for me, great song and good choice to pick up the slack after the previous two tracks.

13. Yuki no Planetarium

As the oldest of the “new” tracks, I instantly fell in love with this song when I took a quick live listen to it.  I mean it does have a LOT of synthwork put into it more than the rest of the new tracks and it has Spanish guitar in it as well which really sounds cool!  I mean considering it did get first performed right after the release of their 2nd single, this track just sounds awesome and it’s definitely my favorite of the 6 new tracks here!  Really great job here!

14. Uruwashi no Camellia

On our final stretch of old songs, we get to Uruwashi no Camellia which kind of plays up the ragtime sound by putting filters on the girls for the first verse!  While I still think “Hatsukoi Sunrise” is the best from the single, I definitely appreciated the originality of this song and the choice to make the song sound old-timey for the verse (if it’s kind of odd without the video to give reason).  It’s a cute song and very playful for the group and definitely sticks out on the album (funny enough, I feel like a song like this would work for the newly unveiled group, Ame no Mori Kawa Umi).

15. Hana Moyou

I guess I can see why “Junjou cm” wasn’t placed here with the next two tracks as they all would kind of blend into each other too much.  With a sound that I could compare to something that C-ute would easily tackle if they were still together, Hana Moyou is a nice try at the more serious side to their group dynamic.  I still do think the chorus is a bit strange to my ears, but the song is still decent to me.

16. Teion Yakedo

Which brings us to the other serious song, Teion Yakedo and I still feel like it’s a great track, fixing the problems I had with “Hana Moyou”.  The chorus definitely gives me an anison sound, but it’s a strong and powerful chorus which I appreciate the most here.  While it was technically released digitally in 2017, it was the primary A-side of the first single they released this year and it still beat out most of the other songs (maybe except “Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta”).  It’s still a pretty damn good track overall!

17. Happy Cracker

As the last two tracks are new, I was kind of wondering why they placed this one back here as it’s pretty hyper and loud (especially coming after the cool “Teion Yakedo” and the ballad-like “Furisake Mireba…”.  Though the song does feel like an encore song for concerts because it’s happy-go-lucky and just fast-paced…think of a sugary take on C-ute’s “Iron Heart” or even their “JUMP”.  For me, it’s a bit too wild for me, but I do appreciate they have a song like this to really get the crowd excited!

18. Furisake Mireba…

The first disc closes out with Furisake Mireba… and unsurprisingly it’d be a softer song sung by the group here.  I mean, I do love the piano opening things up which is a totally different mood versus the rest of the album.  I do like the bouncy rhythm it gives me and after a third of the way, the song adds more odd things like beats/snaps and some flute-like thing.  It’s strange because it goes in and out of the arrangement, making it sound more kiddy than I thought it would.  It’s a decent closer, thought it was going to stay piano-only, but the added extras kind of made it cute and youthful.

CD2

1. Hitorijime

CD 2 begins with Hitorijime (which was the leading A-side off their 3rd indies single), now if you were coming into this hoping that the 6 indie tracks were resung to fit in Mao, Mizuho, and Saori, then you’ll be disappointed.  None of the tracks were edited so we still have the original recordings with the 6 members.  I’ve always thought Hitorijime was so oddly timed because the 2nd Gen members were added shortly after this single released (and it had a PV to go with it too).  Granted, this song was a bop and it really showcased Kishimon’s vocals up-front next to Risamaru and Kiki’s vocals as well (as originally those 3 were kind of used as the main vocalists).  The tune does kind of remind me of Platinum era Morning Musume but in a good way.  Definitely a nice track for them!

2. Kedakaku Sakihokore!

Though if I had to choose, their 2nd indies single was my favorite of them as it was straight EDM and they had vocal filters, a rap line between Kishimon & Risamaru and just a powerful sound that was sorely missing in their debut.  I also kind of wonder what a 9-nin version of this song would sound like…  Either way, this track was a great song to really push them forward and I’m happy they brought all of their indies work to the album.

3. Seishun Manmannaka!

God, it feels like it’s been forever since I’ve actually listened to this track and it feels so foreign to me because it was their debut!  I really wanna hear what current Tsubaki would sound like redoing this track.  It doesn’t quite have as much punch as “Kedakaku Sakihokore!” does being a little more technopop than a club bopper and considering that the vocals aren’t quite as stable as they are now…it was an interesting song to debut with.  I’ll take it though because it’s still can be an earworm.

4. Watashi ga Obasan ni Nattemo

The next two tracks were released in their indies days too, but these two are different because they’re covers of classic Chisato Moritaka tracks!  The first of them was found as the secondary A-side to “Hitorijime” and it is a little rough coming into these because they’ve been electro’d HEAVILY versus the originals.  I think this one felt more strongly messed with, but I do like how it’s toned down more than “17sai” was.  I still like it and hearing the girls sound happy in this track is just nice too.  Very fitting as an A-side!

5. 17sai

While “Seishun Manmannaka!” was their first official release as a group, this Moritaka cover was the first song they performed as a group!  Like I said with the track previous, 17sai was also heavily altered to more of an electro song (not quite like the DDR version) but it’s more upbeat and the synths are more grittier although the only qualm I have is that weird synth splash in the 2nd verse right after Risa’s line.  It’s a simpler song too and it gave all the members the same time to shine.  It’s still a good cover, but likewise…how did they switch it up after adding 3 members since they still perform this!

6. Cabbage Hakusho ~Haru-hen~

Of course they couldn’t leave out this track which was the only new track off the “SOUND + VISION Vol.1” mini-album they did.  This cover of the SATOYAMA group, Peaberry’s song is pretty basic I’d say as things go…a LOT more interesting than the original two-takes from Peaberry, but I still have issues with it.  I mean it’s nothing of Tsubaki’s fault luckily, but I still hate they shoved “Furusato” up in it after the first chorus and kind of throwing off everything (I know why it’s there, but it’s still distracting nonetheless).  Without that glaring mess, I’d say it’s a nice cover and it felt better having more members involved than just Riho and Ayaka.

7. LET’S LIVE!

So the rest of Disc 2 has new covers (a thing that Hello! Project has been seeming to do a LOT with albums recently ala Juice=Juice & Kobushi Factory).  Kicking things off is probably one of two surprises and this is a cover of a B-side from v-u-den’s 2007 single, “Koisuru♡Angel♡Heart”.  I mean considering we tripled the amount of members to fit here, I was curious to see what it’s like and it definitely has the Hello! Project of yore with the synth horns and nostalgic H!P vibes.  It’s a peppy track and hearing the girls in a higher range is interesting.  I dug it!

8. Jiriri Kiteru

Of course it was initially shown that the Factory groups were kind of like Berryz & C-ute so it’s not surprise that Tsubaki would cover a track from both groups!  Since none of the arrangements were touched, I was happy to see Jiriri Kiteru covered since the original Berryz cut had more of younger vocals.  Then again I can argue that Tsubaki sounds just as young as them.  I don’t think it sounds as raw as the original, but they handled it pretty well vocally.  It’s just that I expect Momoko, Miyabi, and Risako and they aren’t here LOL.

9. Tokai no Hitorigurashi

Interesting they decided to cover this song as it was one of the more recent C-ute songs.  I mean, I don’t think it’s the group’s signature song, but it’s nice they were given more of a peppy song to cover like “LET’S LIVE!”.  Tsubaki’s take on Tokai no Hitorigurashi isn’t going to sound quite as womanly like the original (remember C-ute was like hitting their 20’s at this point).  It’s decent, but I think I’ll stick to the original cut this time.

10. Tsukiatteru no ni Kataomoi

Another Berryz cover?  Another song I wasn’t expecting to be covered, this one was only 5 singles after “Jiriri Kiteru”.  While it wasn’t one of my favorites when Berryz was active, I did like how upbeat they were and it’s kind of a silly song almost.  Tsubaki sounds fitting for a song like this, almost a bit cuter than the original, but it was almost because Berryz was going through their vocal changes (puberty).  It’s a good cover overall and I’d maybe rank it as the best cover (not including the previous released covers).

11. ENDLESS YOUTH

Ending off the 2nd disc, we close things out with a Melon Kinenbi track (an album song from their first album, “1st Anniversary”).  An odd choice indeed because of the arrangement, but I dug they chose it for the lyrics here.  I also like how it showcased the group vocally too!  Like “LET’S LIVE!”, it just brings nostalgia to me for older H!P songs and closes this album off in a nice bow.  Everyone sounds nice and the feeling is still there after the original quartet of the Melon’s sung it.

Tracks Recommended

  • Shuukatsu Sensation
  • Hatsukoi Sunrise
  • Yuki no Planetarium
  • Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta
  • Waratte

 

  • Kedakaku Sakihokore!
  • Watashi ga Obasan ni Nattemo
  • Hitorijime
  • Tsukiatteru no ni Kataomoi
  • 17sai

Song of Avoidance

  • Just Try!
  • Cabbage Hakusho ~Haru-hen~

Wow!  We’re finally here at Tsubaki’s first album!  This was definitely crammed with a lot of material (like Juice=Juice’s sophomore album earlier in the year) and it seems like I ended up really enjoying a LOT of this album despite only having 6 new tracks and 5 covers on top of the already released stuff.  A lot of their releases have kept me excited for this album (maybe not so much the 2 singles they released this year).  first bloom has a lot of interesting things going for it and it’s worth a listen!

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NCT 127 – Up Next Session: NCT 127 November 14, 2018

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 3:18 am

Up Next Session_ NCT 127

Track Listing

  1. Cherry Bomb (English Version)
  2. Regular (Domdada Remix)
  3. What We Talkin’ About (feat. Marteen)
  4. Fire Truck (Kago Pengchi Remix)

1. Cherry Bomb (English Version)

Opening up this digital release, we have NCT 127 doing an English take on Cherry Bomb which was the group’s 3rd comeback song!  It’s a little weird with the group making and English track (despite that “Regular” was just that and it turned out well enough).  Cherry Bomb on the other hand sounds weird in English and it’s mostly from Taeyong here.  His lines feel strange to me and I don’t know why he specifically sticks out this way.  Also Jungwoo (who was added, despite not being in the original) has a singular line and he sticks out too.  On the other hand kudos to Mark, Jaehyun, and Doyoung…they definitely won me over in their English lines.  Otherwise, it’s Cherry Bomb so more or less you know what you’re getting and if you were a fan of the original this might be worth checking out.

2. Regular (Domdada Remix)

Seems like the release is more like a special release.  With remixes involved, I wasn’t surprised one of them was going to be with their recent hit (the one they’ve been promoting here in America).  This remix does retain some of the original’s melody, but feels a bit more Western with heavier bass and some emphasis with the ~domdada~ sound.  I think it loses some of the vibes that I loved in the original so the remix kind of is OK, but doesn’t quite shine like the original take.

3. What We Talkin’ About (feat. Marteen)

Then we get into the only new song on this release!  Starting with some interesting tinkering sounds that goes into this cool R&B sound that’s fitting to the group’s “Limitless” album’s sound.  I do like everyone being involved here and even Marteen sounds decent through his lines.  Might not be the strongest track to fit in NCT 127’s discography but it’s a decent incentive to get this release.

4. Fire Truck (Kago Pengchi Remix)

Closing things out, we get another remix, this time of the group’s debut song, Fire Truck.  While this remix breaks off from the more grittier sound and giving a heavier bass groove is such an interesting switch of sound.  I do think it gives the song a smidge more air to breathe and the hits are a lot more built up.  I can definitely appreciate this remix changing things a little in the arrangement instead of changing the vocal line.  Though, it is surprising it’s just 3 minutes…just the same length as the original >.<

 

 

As a special release on iTunes, Up Next Session kind of came out of nowhere and so soon after their “regular-irregular” album as well!  I will say that this was a nice little surprise if not maybe a bit random.  Cherry Bomb in English was cool and the fact they put effort by adding Jungwoo to it is nice.  The new song was decent, but felt like an album track of theres so it’s mostly fluff to me.  Of the remixes, I definitely prefer the Fire Truck one over Regular, but overall it was OK of a release.

 

Let’s talk about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 3! November 5, 2018

Filed under: ~Video Game Writing~ — solarblade @ 4:37 am

Super-Smash-Bros-Ultimate-logo

And here we are, one month out from the game’s release and we had our final Smash Bros. Direct where Sakurai finalized the base roster and went over things like the Spirits mode, Online, a lot of the menu items, some leftover Assist Trophies and a peek into the single player mode, World of Light.  Let’s focus though on what I usually like talking about the remaining characters and ATs.

Ken Masters

Ken

The last of the Echo fighters, this was a given that Ken would be a Ryu Echo just because of the characters’ history together being clones initially to something more separate these days.  Ken focuses a lot with his kicks and it shows with majority of his moves.  Like Ryu though, he does have two supers and probably like Ryu, in 1-on-1 battles will face the character they are going against.  Add on some flame effects and you have Ken.  Personally, this was the most easiest to guess to join and he did get leaked a couple months back too…still way easy…been more interesting if it was Akuma, but he’s too busy in Tekken 7.

Incineroar

Incineroar

Honestly, I was pulling my mind trying to decide if I wanted to talk about the Grinch Leak (you know, the banner leak that said Ken, Shadow, Isaac, Chorus Kids, Mach Rider, Geno, and Banjo & Kazooie were going to be our last characters), well it was pretty much debunked in a quick way when they revealed the last character for the main roster, Incineroar (which was leaked with Ken as the “box theory”).  Honestly, I was hoping it was Decidueye, but Incineroar does bring in a new grappler motif and from what we saw of it, Incineroar is pretty unique with his grapples!

Piranha Plant

Piranha Plant

Though I think no one had predicted this happening, as a kind of bonus DLC, Sakurai and his craziness announced one more character in the direct which is the Piranha Plant.  I actually wasn’t expecting him to break his rule of generic baddies making the cut until now.  From what we’ve seem, he seems to be pretty technical and brings an interesting moveset to the game.  Still, a Piranha Plant???  Yeah, I’m ready for this.

DLC

So before the reveal of Piranha Plant, Sakurai talked about DLC and how it’ll be released which is 5 packs (includes 1 new character, a new stage, and music!).  They will be released in a span of about a year so that’s interesting and no, Piranha Plant doesn’t count so in the end we’ll have 6 DLC characters!  Also some interesting tidbits

  • None of the DLC characters will be Echo Fighters (which begs the question of if there is any, will it be a part of these packs or just separate).
  • Unfortunately characters from newer games like ARMS & Xenoblade Chronicles 2 are out because the former Springman is an Assist Trophy and the latter with Rex being a Mii Costume so the DLC may be more 3rd Parties/Ballot Frontrunners.
  • Stages will officially top off at 108 stages with 80 playable characters…GET IT!

Assist Trophies, Pokeball, and Items

So we have some last minute additions to ATs so let’s talk about them!

  • Yuri Kosukata – Hailing from the Fatal Frame series, Yuri comes out and takes pictures which freezes opponents (and maybe poisons them?).
  • Isaac – While he was an AT back in Smash Bros. Brawl, he went missing in Smash 4 but makes his return here having a bit more flexibility in using his Push psynergy by adding grabs and fist slams.
  • Black Knight – This Fire Emblem antagonist, comes out and walks around swinging his sword at opponents close enough to him.  Also ignores strikes to him as well.
  • Thwomp – One of the many baddies in the Super Mario series, he does what he always does, falls on the opponent when they’re underneath its shadow.
  • Springman – From the ARMS series, Springman jumps out and throws out some punches before ending with a super move (a flurry of punches).
  • Wily Capsule – The main antagonist from the legendary Mega Man games, Dr. Wily rides in a capsule that attacks by orbs with different effects and teleports around as well.  If you destroy it, he falls and starts to bow in defeat.  (Also sad that Elec-Man is gone).
  • Flies & Hand – Originally from Mario Paint and as recently as Super Mario Maker, the Flies and Hand make an appearance in the same fashion it always has in its games.  The hand goes around trying to kill off the flies but will attack characters too.
  • Tiki – Another FE character, she transforms into a dragon and breathes fire (though I have a feeling she does more than that).
  • Vince – This character from the Art Academy series draws pictures on top of the opponents to kind of hide away their attacks?  It’s like the nintendog Assist Trophy but not full-screen.
  • Guile – From the Street Fighter series, Guile comes out and kneels (and turtles) and releases a Flash Kick. I do wonder if he does Sonic Boom if no one is nearby.
  • Akira Yuki – Probably the closest to a fighter, Akira comes out and starts to attack characters with his fists and elbows and kicks.  He also is donning his original blocky look.

Pokémon

  • Tapu Koko – For the first time, the Assist Trophies actually outweigh the Pokémon this time and the last of them to be revealed, Tapu Koku just kind of tackles with electricity.

Items

  • Healing Sprout – Initially everyone was going crazy because they thought this item came from Golden Sun as the Growth Psynergy, but as it turns out it’s nothing like that being a healing item that works similarly to the Gooey Bomb, but it heals instead lol.
  • Beastball – The last item to be announced, the Beastball when you pick it up and throw it will disappear and reappear hitting an opponent.

 

Honestly, we’ll see how the game plays when it releases in early December!

 

 

Morning Musume ’18 – Furari Ginza/Jiyuu na Kuni Dakara October 26, 2018

Filed under: Morning Musume — solarblade @ 4:09 pm

furariginza

Track Listing

  1. Furari Ginza
  2. Jiyuu na Kuni Dakara
  3. Y Jiro no Tochuu
  4. Furari Ginza (Instrumental)
  5. Jiyuu na Kuni Dakara (Instrumental)
  6. Y Jiro no Tochuu (Instrumental)

1. Furari Ginza

As the leading A-side, Furari Ginza is kind of a cuter song for the group and it kind of reminds of a bit of Country Girls’ “Ranrarun ~Anata ni Muchuu~” from its kind of sensual and playful style.  Though, I feel like there’s no chorus really as a LOT of the song is kind of the same rhythm, vocally so a lot of it seems to zone me out somewhat.  No surprise though that there’s no solos here either (mostly groupings and duo lines).  It’s an OK song and it’s another break from the EDM…but it’s just OK, I guess?

2. Jiyuu na Kuni Dakara

Which is where the other A-side fits in as the edgy EDM track the group decided to release.  Though there’s a lot of solos so I’m pretty happy about that.  The song’s style is a lot more harder and maybe has as much punch as “Mukidashi de Mukiatte” which is pretty good to hear.  At first, I thought the song felt pretty standard for Momusu, but which more listens, I’ve become more used to it and I like the build-ups and Sakura, Fukuchan, Maachan, and Miki really stepped it up (though I think, I would’ve loved to hear everyone else).  Still, a pretty decent track!

3. Y Jiro no Tochuu

Yeah, the single actually has a B-side, but it’s more used because it’s kind of a send-off song for Harunan (who is graduating).  Unlike the upbeat A-sides, Y Jiro no Tochuu is more of a mid-tempo ballad and it feels like old H!P songs which I’m very surprised yet intrigued by it.  It’s pretty nice and really brings back some nostalgic feels (even if that bridge was unusual) but it does follow-up with a lengthy Harunan solo).  It’s a nice track and a decent goodbye to Iikubo.

 

 

Another single goes by and it’s another graduation single, this time for the elder Haruna.  While the main A-sides didn’t touch on this fact, I’d say this single was pretty good otherwise.  Furari Ginza seems a bit too straightforward and doesn’t quite have enough changes to make me love it, but at least there was Jiyuu na Kuni Dakara which was actually a good EDM track.  Then we have the softer Y Jiro no Tochuu which was sweet for Harunan’s goodbye.  Overall, a good single, better than the last one!~

 

NCT 127 – regular-irregular October 13, 2018

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 11:56 pm

regular-irregular

Track Listing

  1. City 127
  2. Regular
  3. Replay (PM 01:27)
  4. Welcome To My Plaground (Regulate only)
  5. Knock On
  6. No Longer
  7. Interlude: Regular to Irregular
  8. Simon Says (Regulate only)
  9. My Van
  10. Come Back
  11. Fly Away With Me
  12. Chain (Korean Ver.) (Regulate only)
  13. Regular (English Ver.)
  14. Run Back 2 U (bonus track)

1. City 127

Opening the album up, City 127 kicks things off on a bit of a laidback and calm setting with its light R&B.  After the introduction (which is the chorus), Taeyong does his rapping and singing in the verses before the chorus with Taeil, Doyoung, Jaehyun, Haechan, and Yuta filling that out then following with Mark in the second verse.  Yeah it seems it’s just these 7 members that are featured here so the remaining 3 are just missing.  For the opening track, it’s light and soft and sweet, but I don’t know if I would’ve had it open the album up IMO.

2. Regular

Which is made more apparent because Regular was chosen to promote the album as a whole.  Of course NCT 127’s comeback songs have mostly been hard songs (with the exception of “Touch”).  Unlike previous efforts though, Regular has more of a Latin sound to it and I find it refreshing for the group.  Now this song features all the members here (which includes Johnny, Winwin and new member Jungwoo).  I thought the song’s more meaningful lyrics were easier to like than the English version, but it’s still a great listen.  While it still has Taeyong & Mark leading most of the song, just about everyone has a singular solo here and I found myself loving the arrangement.  Groovy song, might not stand out like “Limitless” or “Fire Truck” did, but this is a good comeback!

3. Replay (PM 01:27)

I had wondered if there was any connection to one of their past songs, “Back 2 U (AM 01:27)” and it just seems it’s kind of a vague connection as it’s more of like something you would listen to in the afternoon versus the other track in the morning.  Replay is quite slow at first and I like the opening sections with Jaehyun & Doyoung.  Then after the prechorus with Yuta & Haechan, the song gets a cool beat and turns upbeat and club-centric and I just ended up loving the track!  Hell even hearing Jungwoo, Taeil, and Johnny in the 2nd verse was awesome!  Little surprised with no Taeyong and Mark, but this song is quite a strong song for them!

4. Welcome To My Playground

Of course the album was rereleased with some extra tracks (a common thing to do with K-pop albums, albeit “EMPATHY” seemed to not do it).  The first of the new tracks on the repackaged album, “Regulate”, Welcome To My Playground is more for the fans who enjoyed “Touch”.  It harbors some of that cute playfulness about it in its arrangement, but of the three is probably the weakest.  I’m surprised to see how much Jungwoo there is here (probably the most through the entire album).  Though I guess there was less of Johnny, Winwin, Yuta, and less Taeyong…I guess I was pretty much OK with it.  I suppose it has its place, but I’m not remembering much of it.

5. Knock On

I feel like the album’s overall sound so far seems more relaxed than previous releases and it shows with the last track and now this song!  The tune just feels dream-like, but I’m very happy to hear everyone get a decent line in this track.  Though beyond that, the song kind of floats through my mind and dissipates pretty quickly.  I don’t know, this one doesn’t really stand out to me very much.

6. No Longer

This one only features 6 of the 10 members (Taeil, Yuta, Jaehyun, Haechan, Doyoung, and Jungwoo).  Yeah, it’s even lighter than “Knock On” being more of a ballad than anything else this album provided so far.  With a simple piano arrangement with light high-hat, the song is here for the 6 to show off their vocal prowess.  I mean I already know how powerful they all can be, but I’m happy to see Yuta and Jungwoo as we don’t quite get to see their vocals much and both can handle themselves just fine.  While it’s not my type of song, it’s nice they threw a ballad on here.

7. Interlude: Regular to Irregular

A 3-minute interlude to give us a break from the music?  I mean, I do like the classical sounds I get from it with the piano & strings and the fact this is the same track that played on their Yearbook video (a vid showing all 18 NCT members), but the fact this track exists to kind of bridge from the slower stuff to the more hip-hop stuff as a little past halfway, the arrangement shifts into a darker motif with some chaotic chords and some trap high-hats, though when played backwards it’s actually kind of a chaotic take on “Fire Truck”.  Interesting interlude and I feel like it did its job here.

8. Simon Says

Chosen to promote the repackaged cut of the album, Simon Says is such a strange song but yet fitting for NCT 127’s more hip-hopish sound.  The sound is mysterious and kind of harboring a darker vibe like “Limitless” and “Chain” but more the latter.  Of course the song is pretty much littered with a lot of Taeyong and Mark, but there seems to be a bit more of a nicer line distribution.  For a promo song, it’s odd, but I dig it in a weird way.

9. My Van

Moving into the irregular side of the album, My Van only features Taeyong, Mark, Jaehyun, and Jungwoo.  Honestly, I feel like the track is more for the rappers as a LOT of the song is back and forth between Taeyong & Mark and as usual, they sound great and bounce off each other so nicely.  I don’t know why, but this song makes me think of like weed or something was involved here as the lyrics seem so…off?  I don’t know Jaehyun and Jungwoo both could’ve been left out and it wouldn’t change much honestly.  This was kind of a weak song.

10. Come Back

At least the pace is picked up again with Come Back which does sound like an album track from something previous of theres (maybe “Cherry Bomb”?).  While I feel like a lot of the members are once again left out of solos and a lot of the focus is between Taeil, Doyoung, Haechan, Taeyong, and Mark, there are some smaller parts are there for some of the other members.  The rapping part is odd in the song, but the rest of the song is funky and cool!  After a while it dawned on me…this is a Korean take of Come Back that was originally found on their Japanese mini-album, “Chain”.  No wonder why it sounded so familiar to me!

11. Fly Away With Me

Hearing Taeil & Doyoung lead so much is rather nice, but I’m happier to hear a longer solos for both Jungwoo & Winwin alongside in the first verse of our next track.  It does feel like this song suits being closer to “Replay” and “Knock On” more than back towards the end of the album.  The chorus is nice and the beat is relaxing and not in your face.  Once again surprised that Taeyong and Mark aren’t here, but this song is a decent jam I’d say.  What I will say, is this song sounds almost 1 to 1 with a Jordin Fisher song, “All About Us”…is it a cover?

12. Chain (Korean Ver.)

Of course I say the repackaged album came with 3 new tracks, but this technically doesn’t count since it’s just a Korean take on their Japanese lead-in track off their mini-album of the same name.  Right from the beginning besides the language change, the song feels like it had some arrangement editing like adding in an echo filter to make the tune feel a bit more rounded.  Though not surprised that I didn’t hear Jungwoo here since he wasn’t present in the original release (ironic, since Jungwoo was added to “Cherry Bomb”).  Hmmm…

13. Regular (English Ver.)

The timing couldn’t have been more predicted that NCT 127 would opt for an English cut of Regular (even to the point where the lyrics are different).  Granted, the line distribution stays the same which is great to show off all the members in some fashion (Winwin getting shafted again).  Either way, the English cut sounds quite good and the members mostly sound good speaking in English (Taeyong has some questionable mumbles) but otherwise it’s still Regular and it just sounds very American-friendly!

14. Run Back 2 U

So we have “Running 2 U” and “Back 2 U” as well…is there some other connection that I need to know about?  Either way, when I saw this was the bonus track, it made curious as to why it was so and as it turns out the chorus is actually taken from a track called “BASSBOT” which was used to showcase 6 of the SM ROOKIES (Taeyong, Jaehyun, Johnny, Yuta, Ten, and former SM ROOKIE Hansol) back in 2015 before NCT was formed.  I thought it was an awesome track and seeing that idea extended and given to NCT 127 (would’ve been great if Ten was involved) was an awesome idea.  The new parts are great and seeing the other 127 members (minus Haechan for some reason) is a good way to turn this track into one of theirs.  I still love the heavy chorus and its speedy and catchy as hell too!  What a surprise to see making the album!

Tracks Recommended

  • Replay (PM 01:27)
  • Regular (both versions)
  • Run Back 2 U
  • Simon Says
  • Fly Away With Me

Song of Avoidance

  • My Van

So finally here we are with NCT 127’s first full length album and all I can say is…it’s OK?  Maybe it’s just from being blessed by “EMPATHY” or something, but I feel like regular-irregular was kind of a bit dull in places.  Stuff like Regular, Replay, and Run Back 2 U showcased their harder style, but I feel like majority of the rest was just sleeper songs for me.  It’s not bad, but at this point I think they could do better.  Also, hey Jungwoo joined the group and he was pushed pretty moderately here, but his voice is enough to really pop alongside Doyoung (as to me, they both have similar power and sound).  Interesting to see where they go next after their adventure in America…though if rumors are correct, a new Chinese NCT unit?  I’m kind of excited to see Kun, Winwin, Lucas, Chenle, and Renjun possibly get something cool (especially since the recent SM ROOKIES; Hendery, Yangyang, and Xiaojun were just added to SM ROOKIES earlier in the year).

As for Regulate, the 3 added tracks were kind of these and didn’t harm the rest of the album in anyway, nice to see NCT go back to more of their edgier sound for Simon Says and added a cuter song in Welcome To My Playground while Chain was kind of a bonus to say the least.  Overall altogether, I’d say this album era was pretty good!

 

U-KISS – SCANDAL

Filed under: U-KISS — solarblade @ 8:00 pm

scandal

Track Listing

  1. SCANDAL
  2. Chair
  3. SCANDAL (Instrumental)
  4. Chair (Instrumental)

1. SCANDAL

After all the happenings with the last era, losing Kevin and Soohyun going into military service / hiatus, I was more than interested to see where U-KISS was going to head towards.  What I wasn’t expecting was to see Jun & Kiseop leading their first song as a quartet!  I really like the classy sound of the track, giving me a little bit of a 90s groove.  Of course Hoon has a bit of spotlight too and Eli takes the rap section so there’s a lot of equality to be found here.  I was pleasantly happy with this A-side and one of the better songs in recent times!

2. Chair

As for the B-side, I was quite liking the soundscapey intro and feels more like I was expecting to see Hoon first singing and with Jun with the rapping as well.  Instead of “SCANDAL’s” more upbeat nature, Chair is more of a sexy and sensual track with some light trap instrumentation to mix with the R&B setting.  A bit lowkey, but I love the feel of this track!

 

 

After the rather disappointment that was their last album, “LINK”, I feel like U-KISS’ first single as a quartet was a rather decent one!  SCANDAL just sounds cool and refreshing and it’s nice to finally see Jun utilized as a singer and Kiseop getting a lot of spotlight moreso than before!  Even Chair was a nice laidback track for them and fits their sound.  I don’t know if they’ll release an album as just the 4, but I could only hope so!

 

 

ANGERME – Tade Kuu Mushi mo Like it!/46-Okunen LOVE

Filed under: S/mileage — solarblade @ 3:30 am

tadekuumushi

Track Listing

  1. Tade Kuu Mushi mo Like it!
  2. 46-Okunen LOVE
  3. Tade Kuu Mushi mo Like it! (Instrumental)
  4. 46-Okunen LOVE (Instrumental)

1. Tade Kuu Mushi mo Like it!

Something about the leading track instantly reminded me of a bit of a mix of “Taikibansei” and “Umaku Ienai” for some reason, but I think I dig the poppy and funky sound of the track.  Though I’m not sure how I feel with the lack of solos for the girls because I only remember Funakki getting a solo in the track lol.  I think maybe the song is a bit of a slow grower, but honestly the best part is the bridge as the arrangement gets a bit more heavier and the beat is more electro.  Otherwise, it’s middle-of-the-road for me as an A-side.

2. 46-Okunen LOVE

As for Yonjuuroku-Okunen LOVE (how the title is pronounced), I was definitely given a serious vibe to stuff from Berryz Kobo & even more specifically Momusu’s “Utakata Saturday Night!” because of the disco-pop vibes from this one.  I was more impressed with this A-side because it’s got a lot of spotlight on the members here and the energy is bright and fantastic!  I’m just so happy to see Rina and Rikako getting a lot of lines here, though not surprised I barely got to see Ayano & Kana here.  Still, this is a pretty awesome song for them.

 

 

As Ayacho’s graduation grows closer, this single kind of feels a bit odd at a time like this.  It’s an OK single and definitely worth it alone to listen to 46-Okunen LOVE as it’s bright, sassy and just full of the excitement that ANGERME seems to have in spades of showing and there’s no slowing them down it feels like.  Tade Kuu Mushi mo Like it! feels like some of their older songs, but it’s OK, but nothing compared to its sister A-side.  Just makes me wish the group would release their 3rd album already (albeit, their first as ANGERME).