Kurayami Monogatari

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Up Up Girls – Upper Disco/FOREVER YOUNG June 24, 2017

Filed under: Up Up Girls — solarblade @ 5:11 pm

upperdisco

Track Listing

  1. Upper Disco
  2. YOUNG FOREVER
  3. FLASH (Reg A only)
  4. Show Time (Reg B only)
  5. FOREVER YOUNG (Up Up Girls (2) Ver.) (Reg C only)
  6. Upper Disco (Instrumental)
  7. FOREVER YOUNG (Instrumental)

1. Upper Disco

I feel like the group could get tired of calling everything Upper ____ eventually right?  Anyways, Upper Disco is definitely set in its upbeat style and I think after their last couple of singles, this straightforward song is pretty nice and the girls aren’t quite as bombastic and loud as something like “Party People Alien” and “!!!!!!!!” were.  The song does remind me of a couple H!P songs, but I’m not terribly complaining as I really like this fun and catchy songs.  Decent A-side overall!

2. FOREVER YOUNG

The other A-side, FOREVER YOUNG takes the group in a somewhat ska direction and I also liked the energy behind it and it goes back to some of their previous efforts from their first album.  The solo lines are nice and it really showed the girls are improving and they come together for the chorus and it’s just great to listen to.  Definitely an idol song to its core!

3. FLASH

Of course it isn’t a UUG single without edition specific songs!  FLASH was funny enough the first song the group performed before the single’s announcement so many thought it was going to be an A-side (didn’t we learn from “YOLO” that it wasn’t the case?).  Unlike the previous two tracks, FLASH has more of a electronic vibe in comparison and it’s quite heavy and honestly would’ve suited on their last single more than here, but it’s a cool track still.

4. Show Time

I think the one that stuck out to me is Show Time because once again, I hear only one girl singing throughout the track and I wonder who could it be.  Well, I’m not surprised that I was correct on the assumption because it’s another Akari Saho solo.  Her voice has gotten quite nice (versus her Shugo Chara Egg! days) and she can handle this nicely.  The beat is a lot lighter and spaced out, but it has this sort of R&B groove going.  Decent song overall.

5. FOREVER YOUNG (Up Up Girls (2) Ver.)

Though I think most UUG fans were curious about this track in particular.  Though it’s FOREVER YOUNG again, it’s sung by 5 new girls that were introduced earlier in the year; Riko Hashimura, Aya Kajishima, Mayu Yoshikawa, Chinatsu Takahagi, and Rin Nakaoki to become a secondary group to UUG.  I don’t have much to say on their appearance other than it’s apparent the voices are a smidge younger sounding in comparison.  Though I do have to say, Aya’s deep voice is a nice change of pace with the other 4 having more higher idol-like voices.

 

 

I’m starting to think T-Palette is just slowing down on releases to get more songs out in one package (good idea).  Either way, I thought Upper Disco/FOREVER YOUNG was a pretty good single for the most part.  No complaints on either of the leading tracks, FLASH was a little more of what we saw off their previous single and Show Time was another decent offering from Akari!  We also got a nice sample of what’s to come with this new UUG (2) group as well.

Though I’m not sure yet if this is the case but Minami Sengoku & Ayano Sato are graduating in the summer, so I can’t tell if this is their final single or if there’ll be one more by then…but I’m curious to see what 5-nin UUG will be like.

 

ANGERME – Ai Sae Areba Nanni mo Iranai/Namida Iro no Ketsui/Majokko Megu-chan June 16, 2017

Filed under: S/mileage — solarblade @ 8:48 pm

aisaearebanannimoiranai

Track Listing

  1. Ai Sae Areba Nanni mo Iranai
  2. Namida Iro no Ketsui
  3. Majokko Megu-chan
  4. Ai Sae Areba Nanni mo Iranai (Instrumental)
  5. Namida Iro no Ketsui (Instrumental)
  6. Majokko Megu-chan (Instrumental)

1. Ai Sae Areba Nanni mo Iranai

As the first A-side of the single, I was curious to what the group would put out.  This does feel like a song that could’ve been released when they first changed their name to ANGERME.  The song itself seems to focus solely on Ayacho, Rinapuu, Kanana, and Takechan and they all sound pretty awesome to be fair and I’m kind of liking the slight neo-classical feel about it, but it does sound like a 2013 H!P track where it feels like 3 separate songs stapled together to try to make a full one.  I do like majority of it (the verses & chorus) but when it comes to its prechorus, the shift to a waltz-like style is a bit sudden and out of place.  It’s a good track, but not quite at the level of any of the previous A-sides of their last single.

2. Namida Iro no Ketsui

Has there ever been a ballad released as an A-side for ANGERME (or S/mileage for that matter?) that’s this slow paced?  Either way, like the previous track, it seems like this one focuses solely on Rikako, Murotan, and Kamiko (I’m sure Maho would be here, but since she’s absent in the single, it had to be this way).  As a ballad, it’s a bit to the book, but I do enjoy the effort in making some nice chords to make things pop more.  I will say Moe and Mizuki sound great and while Rikako has a squeaky tone, she still manages to sound decent.  Interesting as an A-side

3. Majokko Megu-chan

Like with their previous A-side, “Mahou Tsukai Sally”, Majokko Megu-chan is a cover of a well-known anime theme.  Though it does have equal line distribution, it does seem to focus a lot on Kassa which makes sense.  Somehow this song reminds me of tracks W used to cover and how the covers has a lot of brass and energy put into it.  It’s a decent cover, I’m not sure if it’ll last long in my memory though.

 

 

Another single that features a member missing in action?  Seems like UFP needs to take care of their girls more it seems like.  Anyway, ANGERME’s newest single is definitely not where I thought it’d be after the glorious “Umaku Ienai / Ai no Tame… / Wasurete Ageru”.  None of the songs really seem to go places for me.  I do like the ballad, Namida Iro no Ketsui the most from the single as it’s something different from the group and there was some efforts compared to previous ballads of theirs.  Ai Sae Areba is decent, but I thought we had left the “Brainstorming”, “Help me!!”, “Aitte Motto Zanshin” mistakes behind.  I’m sure it’ll grow on me in due time though.  Majokko Megu-chan is nice, but it seems a bit standard for me…With all the H!P changes, I kind of wonder what’s going to happen with ANGERME (will Maho leave, will we get new members? etc.).

 

Kobushi Factory – Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa/Eejanaika Ninjanaika June 14, 2017

Filed under: Kobushi Factory — solarblade @ 3:59 pm

shalala

Track Listing

  1. Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa
  2. Eejanaika Ninjanaika
  3. Yami ni Nukegake (SP Edition only)
  4. Picchi Pichi Tomodacchi (SP Edition only)
  5. Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa (Instrumental)
  6. Eejanaika Ninjanaika (Instrumental)
  7. Yami ni Nukegake (Instrumental)
  8. Picchi Pichi Tomodacchi (Instrumental)

1. Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa

Kicking the single off, I was happy to hear that Shalala! gives me a mix of pop/punk with a little bit of ska in the tune.  Considering that it fits with Kobushi’s overall style, it was pretty decent and has a nice positive sound to it all.  I have to say though that I love the chorus and the energy the girls put in.  Surprising though that it’s the only song on the single not tied to something!

2. Eejanaika Ninjanaika

That said the rest of the single is tied to the JK Ninja Girls staeplay & movie.  Though I was wondering why they made the other A-side sound like a showgirls-like track mix with some light ondo.   It’s cute as things go but like with “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro” it’s one of the oddball A-sides they’ve had.  I will say that it’s catchy as hell though and everyone gets a solo line which is always decent to hear too!

3. Yami ni Nukegake

The last two tracks were insert songs for the stageplay (“Eejanaika Ninjanaika” was the theme for the movie).  Starting with Yami ni Nukegake, a song that outside of the play, Kobushi has been performing a lot of, it’s a pretty interesting song.  You can hear the ninja-esque elements, but it does stem closer to Kobushi’s style but has a lot of funky bass lines and horn lines.  Strange as it seems, it works a lot better than “Eejanaika Ninjanaika” as it’s a bit more edgy and the girls have a lot more solos to handle, but came out sounding amazing here!  Curious to why this wasn’t an A-side because it sounds awesome!

4. Picchi Pichi Tomodacchi

The same can’t be said for the last track though.  I instantly felt the stageplay feel immediately from the arrangement and the weird instrumentation.  On top of the male quips that were thrown in.  A lot of the girls sound higher than I thought and that in itself was odd.  Though it’s not as strange as the interlude of the guys singing against this EDM-ish cutesy arrangement for a little while.  What a strange choice to put on the single, couldn’t this have been on the “JK Ninja Girls” OST?

 

 

As the group’s first single after their first album, “Kobushi Sono Ichi”, I feel like they hit a weird point with this one.  I think Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa was appropriate enough to be the leading track because it sounds like a lot of their stuff prior.  Though having the other 75% being tied to their JK Ninja Girls stuff might have led them astray since none of the songs really fit Kobushi’s style.  That said though, I did really love Yami ni Nukegake and in some parts Eejanaika Ninjanaika as there’s some experimentation that works for them moreso than “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro” did.  Picchi Pichi Tomodacchi is just an odd song for them and to throw random male parts in didn’t help much in the end.

I guess it should be mentioned that this is also Rio Fujii’s final single with the group as she’s graduating and I don’t think she was well-represented here as a send-off single.  Shalala!’s PV helped, but Rio chose to announce this a bit after the single’s announcement sadly.  Still, I’ll miss her energy and quirkiness…hopefully she won’t leave too much of a hole behind.

 

Kaya – Yumeji

Filed under: Kaya — solarblade @ 6:52 am

yumeji

Track Listing

  1. Yumeji
  2. Frosty Rain
  3. Yumeji -Trance Remix-

1. Yumeji

Oh wow, is this tribal drums and percussion I hear that opens up Yumeji?  Wow, I’m actually impressed by it even after piano & strings are added to the mix.  I feel like it does sound a bit jazzy when Kaya starts to sing and I quite enjoy the soft atmosphere that he’s not really totally known for.  I will say I’m surprised too by the abundance of reverb here giving Kaya an echo-y sound to add to the whispyness of the track overall.  Decent song here and was not expecting a track like this.

2. Frosty Rain

Are we really seeing this song again?  Yup, not even one single after (it was a B-side from “Perfana”), we have a new version of Frosty Rain that makes the ballad even MORE ballad-like with a softer performance from Kaya.  Actually there’s another voice in the song singing lines too, Yume Suzuki (who I never heard of) and they both did a pretty good job.  Strange, but I think I prefer this cut over the original take.

3. Yumeji -Trance Remix-

Since the single so far has been a quiet ride, knowing that we’d get to a trance remix of the leading song perked my interest especially the genre shift from jazz to trance is quite the stretch.  Honestly though, the arrangement with blazing synths and cool melodies are neat to listen to, but I was expecting the song to just fizzle out and quiet down for Kaya.  Though once the chorus kicks in, everything feels right in the world and it just works SO well together. I have to say for just a remix, this was pretty damn good!

 

 

Kaya’s 2nd single for the era is quite a nice single from him I’d say!  Yumeji was a nice change of pace for an A-side being quiet and jazzy and somewhat cool for him to tackle and it even makes a better trance track on top of that!  I am curious to why Frosty Rain was chosen to be redone, but it definitely made the track more memorable than before!  Awesome single!

 

You Kikkawa – Sayonara, Standard

Filed under: You Kikkawa — solarblade @ 6:34 am

sayonarastand

Track Listing

  1. Sayonara, Standard
  2. Unbalance Unbalance
  3. Sayonara, Standard (Instrumental)
  4. Unbalance Unbalance (Instrumental)

1. Sayonara, Standard

I was wondering what Yuu would bring us for her next A-side after the odd “Ha wo Kuishibare!” and considering the same person wrote her next A-side, I was expecting the tune to be more strange, but Sayonara, Standard is a bit more normal, but I wasn’t expecting Yuu to sound so different than she has before.  Almost squeakier and nasally than before which is unusual.  Plus the arrangement is a bit kooky and cutesy too.  It’s definitely a Seiko Oomori song and it’s different enough to stick out, but I’m not quite sure if it reaches levels of Kikka’s older works.

2. Unbalance Unbalance

As the lone B-side, Unbalance Unbalance follows behind “Charming Shoubu Sedai” by having more of a pop/rock vibe, but like “Sayonara, Standard”, it comes off a bit cuter due to Kikka’s cutesy vocals and some of the arrangement choices made here.  It’s pretty simple and it works as a B-side I feel like.

 

 

Not sure why Kikka keeps moving away from her EDM works because I keep thinking that’s her bread and butter so once again I feel a bit bummed from this single.  Sayonara, Standard is strange, not as much as the previous Oomori produced song, but absurd from making Kikka not sound like herself.  Unbalance Unbalance is OK, nothing special…I feel this single could’ve used another B-side, but this single is just kind of meh for me.

 

 

Namie Amuro – Just You and I June 12, 2017

Filed under: Namie Amuro — solarblade @ 4:20 pm

justyouandi

Track Listing

  1. Just You and I
  2. Strike A Pose
  3. Just You and I -Instrumental-
  4. Strike A Pose -Instrumental-

1. Just You and I

It didn’t take too much for me to guess that Just You and I would be more of a softer effort from Namie this time around.  Of course she wouldn’t abandon her R&B beats here and I feel like the beat is a little distracting, but the song otherwise has a romantic & sentimental feel to it and it’s nice that she releases these tracks once in a while to keep her grounded.  Nice track, not exactly the best this era has seen, but it’s nice enough to last a while.

2. Strike A Pose

The B-side of the single actually has been known for quite a while (being around when her last single, “Dear Diary / Fighter” dropped almost).  When people were saying it was a bop, I was expecting something like “Show Me What You’ve Got”, but I get a mix of Katy Perry & poppy Nicki Minaj in this song.  I do get that the song makes for a good summer track, but I feel like she’s done better tracks that holds the summer jam down.

 

 

I feel like Namie is holding back an album because let’s be honest, she’s due for one at this point.  I do think this single is kind of the weakest of the 5 singles she’s released in the era (not counting some of the singles prior to her “_genic” album.  Either way, Just You and I is nice and all but she’s done this before alongside Strike A Pose which does cater to more of a Western pop song (seriously, it reminds me of Nicki’s “Starships”).  I hope there’s an album on the way, if not a best album to chronicle the singles.

 

PINK CRES. – crescendo May 30, 2017

Filed under: PINK CRES. — solarblade @ 4:59 am

crescendo

Track Listing

  1. fun fun fun
  2. LOVE CANDY
  3. Uwa na Sora
  4. Kirei Kawai Mirai
  5. Last Love
  6. Katasumi
  7. Warning ~Mirei Keihou~
  8. Tell me why
  9. Summer wonderland

1. fun fun fun

The sound of clock ticking opens the album up and then we have the return of Miyabi’s heavenly voice!  I knew that the group did start off with some EDM-like substance, but I wasn’t expecting the first unheard track to be more pop with horns and a heavy beat.  I kind of like the summer atmosphere I get from the track.  While I wasn’t too sure to differentiate from the other two members; Yuuka and Hikaru, I feel like they still had some training to go through and it was apparent that Miyabi had the spotlight here.  Still, I kind of dug the track overall and it’s a great start to the album!

2. LOVE CANDY

Now this was what I was expecting when I came to listen to the album.  Unlike the bright, beachy vibe of “fun fun fun”, we get the electro-heavy LOVE CANDY.  What caught me off guard was the abuse of auto-tune in the trio’s vocals and it’s something I’m not too into unless the rest of the track was catching on.  The robotic performance is rather surprising, but there’s someone with a deep voice that actually surprised in how well it sounded in auto-tune, possibly Yuuka?  The rest of the song was pretty good too, it did feel a bit long, but at 4 minutes is it really???

3. Uwa na Sora

Changing things up again, Uwa na Sora seems to take the trio into a much cuter vibe, but mixed in some light dubstep and hip-hop?  I don’t know, but I feel a bit conflicted with this track as it feels like it would be a ballad, but it’s given this super glossy sound that works against it except in the chorus where it does slightly work.  Yeah, it was never a song that I could really get into…

4. Kirei Kawai Mirai

I don’t know why, but when I listen to this song, it feels like a Buono! song that was sorely missed by the trio and yet here I am imagining Airi & Momoko somewhere in this song or hoping.  Granted, the song does somewhat stick out from being a Buono! track by including synths and mixing the three girls vocals together, but I’m feeling as if the mixing is rather overdone here.  It’s still rather somewhat catchy and brings back the summer tones like “fun fun fun” did.

5. Last Love

Yeah, what is this intro though?  Like “Uwa na Sora”, I feel like this track has a little problem with identity and trying to find a melody in its arrangement versus the girls’ vocals.  The verses are sparse and just kind of all over the place, but it does come together better when it enters the chorus and feels a smidge like an anison theme.  I do like some of the surprising quips that come off as video-gamey sounds, but the song altogether is just somewhat chaotic.

6. Katasumi

Next song up, Katasumi was another song I had never heard prior to the album’s release and no surprise Miyabi is ALL over this song quite a bit.  Though I feel like the newer members are somewhat struggling here, especially since they’re singing in a higher register.  The song itself is pretty tame and kind of relaxed and the natural instrumentation mixed with the synths is pleasant to listen too.  Not bad, but could’ve been better.

7. Warning ~Mirai Keihou~

Oh!  I wasn’t expecting alarms sounding to kick the track off, but we’re back to the upbeat and powerful dance tracks and Warning has got a lot of punch and lot of dynamic sounds going throughout and I have to say even the new members sound a LOT more better and cooler in comparison to the previous track.  Take out the auto-tune from “LOVE CANDY” and you get this track and I really dug it!  Cool cool track overall!

8. Tell me why

Oh my, another edgy track?  I have to say I think PINK CRES. is making a lot more waves when they do upbeat tracks like this and I have to say, even if the chorus is somewhat mechanical, it really works with the members vocals and just has this oomph and sass that I wasn’t expecting from them.  I actually think Yuuka is the one with the deep vocals and I’m really loving it when it goes against Miyabi’s voice and Hikaru’s slightly higher tone.  I think it’s definitely the best track off the album hands down!

9. Summer wonderland

Rounding out the album is actually the group’s first song they performed back in 2016 (y’know after that long audition), Summer wonderland kind of fits in the middle between the edgy tracks and the experimental, poppy tracks.  It has a slight Katy Perry-ala “California Girls” sound to it, but it does lean more towards the heavier beat.  I do think the chorus is a bit strange to me because of some extra beats going on and my mind trying to process one thing when its another (yeah, odd).  It’s OK, but it kind of is in the middle for me

Tracks Recommended

  • Tell me why
  • Warning ~Mirai Keihou~
  • LOVE CANDY
  • fun fun fun

Song of Avoidance

  • Uwa na Sora

Yeah, it might be odd that I never was interested in Lovendor (though at their time of formation, I was kind of tired of hearing Reina), but when Miyabi announced auditions for a group, I was pretty excited and quite impatient since it took forever.  Though once the winners were announced (Yuuka Nihei & Hikaru Kobayashi), I was more curious to see what these girls brought and initially it was rather meh…though after listening to crescendo, I see the potential, they’re pretty different and give off this strong sense of power…I hope they follow songs like Tell me why and less Uwa na Sora…but keep going it’s pretty good so far!