Kurayami Monogatari

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Ayumi Hamasaki – (miss)understood June 19, 2022

Filed under: Ayumi Hamasaki — solarblade @ 8:37 pm

missunderstood_CDOnly

Track Listing

  1. Bold & Delicious
  2. STEP you
  3. Ladies Night
  4. is this LOVE?
  5. (miss)understood
  6. alterna
  7. In the Corner
  8. tasking
  9. criminal
  10. Pride
  11. Will
  12. HEAVEN
  13. Are You Wake Up?
  14. fairyland
  15. Beautiful Day
  16. rainy day

1. Bold & Delicious

~ya, ya, ya, ya, ga, ga, ga, ga, da, da, da, da, wo, wo, wo, wo~ Will always be one of the most absurd ways to open a song up more or less an entire album with and Bold & Delicious will always have the be remembered by.  Yeah, part of the last single that came out before the album dropped, Bold & Delicious is kind of a big step out for Ayu primarily because some of the album was mostly notably known for having some songs being samples (or covers) of Sweetbox songs because GEO, the guy who produced those songs is a part of Sweetbox XD.  Even now, it still is a standout song since it really doesn’t sound like anything Ayu has done quite yet.  It’s poppy, anthemic, fun, and just a whole lot of fun so I’m happy it kicked the album off!

2. STEP you

Which is funny that we jump back to the first single released for the album with STEP you and the difference in styles is very much different though still a pop song at the end of the day.  It doesn’t have the anthemic punch that the previous song had, but it still does have punch to it.  I still find myself liking the chorus and verses a lot more than I expected and Ayu sounds really good…kind of in ways reminds me of “evolution” but still it’s own thing and I liked it!

3. Ladies Night

As one of the two promotional tracks for the album, Ladies Night was also another Sweetbox song that Ayu made into her own and this was a bizarre song for her IMO.  It’s kind of like the groove of “Real me” but more darker and aggressive.  I heard the original from Sweetbox and Ayu’s version is so much cooler sounding with the added guitars and such.  Throw in Ayu doing some speedy-ass vocalwork through the verses and it’s just an uncomfortable but thought-provoking of a song and one of the more obtuse, yet cool songs she’s done!  Add on that PV…jfc…what are journey that was.  One of my favorites off this album for sure!

4. is this LOVE?

Back to the other A-side that started the era off, is this LOVE? is a much heavier and rockin’ sound for Ayu that’s kind of akin to both “Because of You” and “alterna” (though the latter came after this song).  I have a soft spot for Ayu when she pulls off rock songs and this is not different for this one! To me, it doesn’t pull at the heartstrings like the mentioned songs do, but this is still a pretty solid A-side from Ayu and paired nicely with “STEP you”.

5. (miss)understood

As one of the few non-GEO new tracks for the album and also the title track, (miss)understood is another rock track here, though feels a little less angsty than both “is this LOVE?” and “alterna” which makes sense as it’s placed in between them lol.  That said, I do really like those songs, but this one kind of finds itself struggling to really find its identity because it’s just in-between two great songs.  I will give that the guitar solo is friggin’ amazing and the almost Michelle Branch-like style of pop/rock to be cool.  Not bad overall.

6. alterna

Ahhh yes, alterna…one of my all time favorite Ayumi songs out there!  I really love the foreboding opening of the song and the fact it’s another powerful rock track that’s a bit more hard-hitting and mysterious than the previous two tracks.  It’s hard to really talk about it since this is the 3rd in a row, but I feel like alterna is just the best of the 3 hands down.  Very loud and Ayu’s vocals really do a lot for the song here.  Like I said, it’s one of my favorite tracks…wonderfuls~!

7. In the Corner

Another GEO song, In the Corner does tend to stray from the norm by having a little Arabian flair (at least that’s what the opening kind of reminds me of).  Though the sound of the song is more poppy though and there’s just something early 2000s pop about this one (kind of like a Britney Spears track), but that said it feels kind of lower-end after the last couple tracks here.  To be honest, this one is the first misstep on the album for me.

8. tasking

Of course!  What would an Ayu album be without a Tasuku interlude somewhere thrown in the mix.  It’s hard to tell what Tasuku does for each of their interludes, but this one is nice as it starts with some quick-paced strings before dance beats get added into the mix.  Honestly, the fusion is rather interesting and when the electric guitar melody comes in, I’m pretty much here for it.  I do like the arrangement and wished it could’ve been a full-length track to be honest!

9. criminal

The other new track not done by GEO, criminal takes the album to a more emotional side by starting off as a ballad to me, but I did find that it was growing somewhere and when that chorus hits, it’s a bigger switch-off than “alterna” was.  Ayu’s emotionally heavy vocals were what brought the song out for me and she sounds really well here for sure.  I think I could see why “tasking” was put in place because this kind of is like a more dramatic “alterna”.  Still, the piano, strings, and percussion is really nice here.  Not bad of a song, though I still prefer the other one by a big margin.

10. Pride

Then we have a string of A-sides (and a B-side) starting with Pride.  The dramatics continue with Pride and it’s still for me a passable track, but not one I would see myself going back to.  Taking out the rock elements of “criminal”, Pride is basically what’s leftover, though also GEO track so there’s some pop elements and different chords used to make it a little more haunting.  The addition of background vocals and slight R&B beats makes this one stand out.  I enjoyed this for being different, but maybe in the middle for me in likeability.

11. Will

Surprised to see the B-side make the album’s cut (coming from “HEAVEN”) and honestly, it still one of the more weaker offerings from the album.  Not sure why it’s so, but I think the acoustic-led track just doesn’t really speak to me much.  It’s kind of like a stripped down “is this LOVE?” to me.  Ayu’s voice is nice and tight in this one and fits the melancholic tone of the track.  Still, I don’t tend to remember this one much, maybe it fits more on either “MY STORY” or “Secret” than this album tbh.

12. HEAVEN

About that, we get the A-side from the single next and HEAVEN is still one of the better ballads that Ayu has done in her career.  I mean arrangement-wise it’s pretty much what you expect out of Ayu music-wise, but the song itself is kind of nice and a lot more deeper than expected (which is bolstered more by the PV it received).  Still a pretty amazing ballad here and Ayu made it feel full of heart and emotion…it is a nice track still to this day!

13. Are You Wake Up?

What is with this broken English here?  Other than the title making me forehead slap myself, Are You Wake Up? is another interlude to give us a break before the final 3 tracks set in.  I was surprised to hear the guitars come back for this one (kind of reminds me of Nirvana xD).  There are some filtered electronic vocals throughout, but the arrangement is more poppy and upbeat (especially in the 2nd half where the synths take over the guitars).  Little odd interlude to change moods from sad “HEAVEN” to summer song “fairyland”.

14. fairyland

Like I said, if it wasn’t for the interlude, the transition from “HEAVEN” to fairyland would be so weird haha.  Anyways, this is Ayu’s summer A-side and it still is a mystical and fun pop song for Ayu.  I really like the soundscape of the track and it just sounds lovely and fun and Ayu sounds like she’s having a good time singing this one.  This is a fan favorite and I can see why, the tropical glow of the song just oozes out of this one and Ayu sounds great.  One of the better A-sides she’s released.

15. Beautiful Day

The last two tracks are of course both done by GEO so eh.  Anyways, Beautiful Day is kind of a mid-tempo track that is kind of poppy, but suits coming after “fairyland”.  It does sound a bit like an ending song for sure with the sentimental sound it has and the guitar riffs and chords too.  I find myself kind of being bored by this one for some reason.  Just kind of something I feel like Ayu has done before but with a little Western touch.

16. rainy day

Closing the album, rainy day was the other track given a PV to promote the album with and it’s a slower song too (makes sense since it’s the album’s closer).  While it’s not as emotional as “HEAVEN” or dramatic as “Pride”, rainy day is kind of that typical Ayu ballad to me.  I don’t know after those ballads, this one comes up short on me as well.  Simple, but not all that memorable.

Tracks Recommended

  • alterna
  • Ladies Night
  • STEP you
  • HEAVEN
  • fairyland

Song of Avoidance

  • Beautiful Day

With (miss)understood, it feels like Ayu was trying something new especially with the leaning on GEO for sampling/covering Sweetbox songs for this album, but I feel like because of that…the album doesn’t flow as good as you might think.  I think as a whole though I do like majority of the songs, the only ones i wasn’t too thrilled were just Will, Beautiful Day, and rainy day, but otherwise this was a stronger album for Ayu for sure.

 

AAA – AROUND

Filed under: AAA — solarblade @ 4:44 pm

around

Track Listing

  1. Get Chu!
  2. SUNSHINE
  3. SHE no Jijitsu
  4. Deai no Chikara II
  5. Kuchibiru Kara Romantica
  6. Red Soul
  7. Paradise Paradise
  8. Hanabi
  9. No End Summer
  10. Body Talker
  11. That’s Right
  12. Saigo no Kotoba

1. Get Chu!

Opening the album up, we have the first single to release for the album, Get Chu! and after hearing the singles of the era, I find Get Chu! to be more forgettable since it’s supposed to be like a fun, upbeat summer-themed song but with “No End Summer” and “SUNSHINE” around on top of previous Summer-themed songs like “Kirei na Sora” and “Hurricane Riri, Boston Mari”…this just doesn’t stand out for me.  The horns and laidback sound of the track does sound cute and the atmosphere is bright and just happy-go-lucky for me.  I mean it’s not the worst they’ve done, but they’ve done this style better in other songs…which by the way…

2. SUNSHINE

Yeah, I’m curious why they put these two back to back since SUNSHINE is the stronger song here.  It’s even more Summer-like and has a lot more interesting things going on especially with the arrangement which sounds a bit more danceable and disco-y, but retains those horns and fun atmosphere that makes it fit the season.  Add on that it’s so nice to hear Hidaka, Shuta, Chiaki, and Shinji be a part of the group here and the solos it’s just catchy AF.  Yeah, this was an easy favorite for me.

3. SHE no Jijitsu

A new side to the group that I wasn’t expecting to hear AAA is them carrying a more rock-oriented tone like they did here and with “That’s Right”.  I will say that I remember a LOT of Naoya and Misako in the song which is a little interesting to me, but it’s been like the for a while now.  Anyways, SHE no Jijitsu has a pretty cool riff going in the song and the chorus is a bit of an earworm to me as well.  Though, I still do think it ranks lower than “That’s Right” because it still feels wholly AAA to a T (as in I feel like these sounds have been heard in other songs in their past).

4. Deai no Chikara II

Oh finally some new tracks!  The first of 4 (or 5 depending), Deai no Chikara II seems to be a sequel song to the first one from “ATTACK”.  Since none of the A-sides (except “Hanabi”) had shown a slower side to the group thus far in the era, Deai no Chikara II is a nice, little reprieve.  I mean the slower tempo is nice and the acoustic guitar addition is really nice to hear.  Of course, Nissy, Naoya, and Misako are at the forefront as usual so I’m just a little bummed here.  Gives us a little break from the dance-energy of the previous 3 songs.

5. Kuchibiru Kara Romantica

Jumping back to single to last feature member, Yukari Goto, Kuchibiru Kara Romantica still to me stands out for it’s unique genre style, tackling more of a bigband and swing-styled track here and just feeling totally new to my ears.  I just loved the energy and style the group brought here.  I was surprised to hear Misako kick things off in the song as its usually the guys that really do it.  Of course, it’s the usual 3 suspects singing so it’s kind of a bummer in that aspect.  Still, the song is pretty cool and stuck out from the A-sides.

6. Red Soul

Depending, you could call this a new song for the album since the single I reviewed, dropped the same day the album did, kind of weird business angle if you ask me.  Anyways, Red Soul is this album’s “BLOOD ON FIRE” or “Let it beat!” with the more aggressive dance/pop kick that it has.  It’s just VERY in your face and something fans of AAA would love is a hype song.  Especially with Hidaka opening with some punchy quips.  Yeah, I mean it is just the trio of vocalists + Hidaka, but this is such a badass song and I just don’t know why but whenever they do something that’s a bit darker, it always lands with me.  One of my favorites!

7. Paradise Paradise

Back to actual new songs, Paradise Paradise is next and by god…another Summer song?  At least this one sounds like it deviates a little bit with its arrangement being a bit more of like a mix of Spaghetti Western and a little latin pop.  The song to me feels VERY busy in the arrangement, especially with volume control because I could barely hear the singing underneath all the sounds (guitar, synths, sitar at certain areas).  It’s like the verses are quietly sung and then the chorus and beatdrop are clear.  I do know there’s a LOT of Misako in the song that’s for certain.  If it was the music, this would be up there, but as a whole package…feels a bit drowned.

8. Hanabi

Then we move into the split groupings from “Natsumono” starting with the girls-only (Misako & Chiaki) track, Hanabi.  I would say between this and “Deai no Chikara II” they’re the slowest tunes off the album.  I mean for me, any reason to hear Chiaki more is always a good time and since it’s a mid-tempo ballad, the vocals from both are really pleasant to hear.  Once again a nice break from the upbeat songs!

9. No End Summer

Yeah, another “SUNSHINE” is here with No End Summer but the difference is that it’s only the guys featured here and I don’t know what to feel now that the songs are together on the album.  Maybe it’s a little less beat-driven than the aforementioned track to me, but it’s decent, slightly less on the album, but like it’s just more “SUNSHINE” with less ladies in it >.>

10. Body Talker

Ohhhh, the saxophone that opens up Body Talker is just smooth and awesome to hear.  Anyways after that lovely intro, Body Talker kicks into gear and it’s more of a sexy and groovy dance track that kind of is welcome though funny it’s late into the album that it shows up.  I’m loving the energy and the brass/sax being a part of the song makes the song even better.  It is the trio singing again, but I can get past that since the arrangement is really exciting and probably my favorite of the new songs (not counting “Red Soul”).

11. That’s Right

As the last of the A-sides (and the last Yukari was seen in), That’s Right is if “SHE no Jijitsu” was amped up more and had a lot more badassery going on.  I really love the sass that Nissy brings to the song and how rough Naoya’s vocals are here…It’s just cool and gritty and really suits the alt-rock sound of the track here.  Granted I feel even more bummed that the other 5 members didn’t do much in the song.  It’s such a powerful song and even more bizarre that it’s located near the end of the album as well.  Still, this was an surprising track to be an A-side and I’m glad it was!

12. Saigo no Kotoba

How do we end up going from hard rock to a straight-up ballad here.  What a weird wall to crash into, but this is the closing song for the album, so it’s not surprising it HAD to be a ballad (on top of the last of the new tracks).  After the entire album passed by, ending on Saigo no Kotoba does make sense and the cute slower atmosphere is nice and the group sounds decent together.  All 7 members do make solo appearances which is great to hear though.  Not a bad closer, just wasn’t expecting it after “That’s Right”.

Tracks Recommended

  • SUNSHINE
  • Red Soul
  • That’s Right
  • Body Talker
  • Kuchibiru Kara Romantica

Song of Avoidance

  • Paradise Paradise

Getting to AROUND, I feel like I’ve finally gotten used to the members vocals and I’m surprised it took me so long since AROUND to me felt like avex was opening up to letting Chiaki, Shinji, and Shuta have solo lines from this album moving forward.  Shame it didn’t come sooner to include Yukari before she left the group.  To me, AROUND is a pretty decent album, mostly carried by its A-sides though since only 4 (5 if you include Red Soul) were new, it felt a little lacking in the new department.  Still, a decent album overall!

 

Tsubaki Factory – Adrenaline Dame/Yowasa ja nai yo, Koi wa/Idol Tenshoku Ondo June 17, 2022

Filed under: Tsubaki Factory — solarblade @ 2:45 pm

adrenalinedame

Track Listing

  1. Adrenaline Dame
  2. Yowasa ja nai yo, Koi wa
  3. Idol Tenshoku Ondo
  4. Adrenaline Dame (Instrumental)
  5. Yowasa ja nai yo, Koi wa (Instrumental)
  6. Idol Tenshoku Ondo (Instrumental)

1. Adrenaline Dame

As the leading track, Adrenaline Dame kicks the single off into a fun, disco-funk setting with some fire behind its arrangement!  I really love the energy in the song and the fact that all 12 members get some decent lines is pretty amazing in such a track like this one.  I definitely really enjoyed the bridge section as a lot of the members get a sense of a powerful solo line and just the punch and gravitas of them all really did well for them here.  I’m not sure if it’s the best song of their collection, but it’s pretty solid and I really am starting to get used to Runo, Yuumi, Shiori, and Marine being around now!

2. Yowasa ja nai yo, Koi wa

The next track up kind of continues their more softer motifs like they were doing during the “2nd STEP” era of singles.  It’s not quite as intriguing as those songs because there’s no real hook for me to grasp onto and it’s more of a slightly upbeat mid-tempo track for them.  It is nice to hear more from the new members as their softer vocals are kind of a first for them.  I do think once again that the bridge to the ending was the best parts of the song though.  Quite beautiful and vocals are just on point.  I just wish I was more into the song itself.

3. Idol Tenshoku Ondo

Ondo-styled tracks from H!P have always seem to be ridiculously random and silly and I was definitely hoping for that since it feels like forever since Tsubaki Factory has been loose and silly in a song (Tsubaki has mostly been known for being the more serious, lady-like group so it’s pretty big when they can let themselves be silly.  The song itself is very synth-heavy but has that traditional Japanese feel to it that tries to make it sound interesting…I honestly feel like this could be a BEYOOOOONDS song at points too because it can come off as random but like in their randomness XD.  Tsubaki Factory going for this feels a little out of character for the group, but I don’t mind the song.

2nd single with the newbies and this single is kind of a bust for me?  I don’t know why it feels that way, but it just doesn’t quite hook onto me like the last single did, but I do appreciate the equality throughout the members in all 3 songs for sure.  Adrenaline Dame is probably my favorite off the single, energetic, lots of power in the song and just is a good side to them to see!  Yowasa ja nai yo…Koi wa is OK, but nothing memorable to me and Idol Tenshoku Ondo feels like a song that should’ve been given to BEYOOOOONDS in my honest opinion.  Yeah, middle of the field single here.

 

Kus Kus – Uso Dake Hitorijime June 8, 2022

Filed under: Kus Kus — solarblade @ 4:17 am

usodake

Track Listing

  1. Uso Dake Hitorijime
  2. KARIKURI People
  3. Paradi Paradizo
  4. No Spice

1. Uso Dake Hitorijime

As the leading A-side, Uso Dake Hitorijime is a bit more relaxed and chilled out (almost lo-fi?), but it still features the duo under heavy filters so the voices sound a bit more robotic and cold.  While I do like the softer glow and Mai & Yui sound really dreamy.  Though the chorus does introduce more of a EDM-beat and a ends up being a bit more punchy.  I will say the bridge is my favorite part with that 16-bit sounding synth solo!  Yeah, this was interesting for a leading track!

2. KARAKURI People

With the 1st of the B-sides, KARAKURI People is a bit more of a spacey-like feel of a song here and it just has some interesting synth melodies found throughout and the chorus is upbeat and speedy.  Though I feel like both members meshed into one voice in this track as I don’t feel the different tones Mai and Yui have so I feel like the roboticness of their vocals are just too synthesized for me to keep trudging on for in this song.

3. Paradi Paradizo

Though the next B-side is more like “KARAKURI People” but I can actually tell the differences between vocals!  Though a new trick I see their producer pulling is slightly muffling the vocals on top of the already processed vocalwork of the two members.  It gives the song a curious fluffiness to it all, kind of old-timey record sounding.  Mix that with the once-again space-like motif and you get this track…it’s a little more interesting than the previous track that’s for sure.

4. No Spice

As the last track of the single, No Spice sound-wise has a similar feeling to once again “KARAKURI People” with the synth arrangements which I was kind of disappointed that most of this single is with this sound, though I think I notice the piano the most here.  Otherwise, the song doesn’t really stick out for me and just feels like filler.

As the 3rd single for this era for Kus Kus, Uso Dake Hitorijime to me feels almost one-note all the way through.  I mean Uso Dake Hitorijime was a nice change of pace for the duo, taking more of a quieter route and doing something like chillwave/lo-fi for their A-side.  As for the remainder of the single though it feels like Kus Kus running on auto-pilot as all 3 tracks just feel like the same song with some slight differences.  If there’s an album coming up, I am curious to see how it’ll turn out since so far nothing has popped out to me like stuff from the “matrikus” era.

 

Let’s Talk About Pokemon Scarlet & Violet, Trailer 2! June 1, 2022

Filed under: ~Video Game Writing~ — solarblade @ 2:32 pm

pokemonscarvio

We finally got our 2nd trailer for the upcoming Pokemon Scarlet & Violet (now announced to be releasing on November 18th which seems pretty normal for mainline games now to be released then).  We got confimation on the professors, Sada & Turo and a rival in Nemona.  Some interesting things like character creation, multiplayer and some interesting places for sure (Pokemon Centers being outside cities?) and returning Pokemon of course!  Though we’re here for the NEW POKEMON!  Let’s check them out!

Pawmi

pawmi

The first to be revealed, Pawmi is our Electric-type and while I’m not 100% sure what it’s based off of, it’s obviously the Pika-clone (seems pretty early to get too since your rival, Nemona battles you with one at the beginning of the game, so I assume it’ll be one that evolves.  Though it does have the abilities Static or Natural Cure…so this may be interesting.  Cute though, pudgy one ^^

Lechonk

lechonk

Next up is Lechonk (this name is so goood), and it may be one that’s going to have to grow on me.  I mean it’s a pure Normal so that doesn’t really give me high hopes, but it could evolve into something a bit more promising?  Though, I’m curious with the Aroma Veil / Gluttony abilities on it.  Will wait and see lol.

Smoliv

smoliv

Then we have Smoliv (also quite clever name) and I actually first thought this was a regional variant of Budew for a second because of similar proportions.  Though if I remember right, this is our 2nd Grass/Normal type (after the Sawsbuck line).  This is interesting and I’m curious to see where it goes since it is based off of olives.  Interesting it gets Early Bird as an ability.

Koraidon & Miraidon

koraidonmiraidon

Then we get the cover legendaries, Koraidon & Miraidon!  Obviously just from looks and some rumors floating around, Dragon/Fighting & Dragon/Electric…It’s interesting that the motif of the games is the past and the future.  Honestly, I’m also seeing tires in the designs, hell Miraidon has engines that keep it floating which is pretty interesting.  Not much else is known though, even the types haven’t been revealed in full.  Though it has pulled me to think of which Pokemon game I want since I actually like both designs a lot!

Hmm, game is shaping up to be something interesting…shame it’s 5 months away XD

 

Koda Kumi – anytime May 26, 2022

Filed under: Koda Kumi — solarblade @ 6:24 am

anytime

Track Listing

  1. anytime
  2. Bounce
  3. anytime FreeTEMPO Remix
  4. anytime (Instrumental)
  5. Bounce (Instrumental)

1. anytime

I remember hearing that this was originally going to be on “FREAKY” but was pulled out of it and honestly it makes sense and probably did well doing that, but to make it its own A-side is more on the questionable side.  anytime is a pretty sparkly and cute song (ala “WIND”).  It’s interesting to hear Kuu singing on the higher register and she makes it sound way too cute for my ears.  As the 5th A-side single…like I was getting tired and this felt slightly throwaway (maybe should’ve save this for “Kingdom” to be honest).

2. Bounce

A cover of a Rosette song that’s been redone lyrically.  I totally forget about this track for sure and now returning back to reviewing it, the song sounds interesting despite being more of a sound she’s been having.  I found the song to be kind of catchy, maybe a smidge basic at times but still gots a pretty sweet groove and beat to it on top of Kuu singing in her middle range.  Solid B-side!

3. anytime FreeTEMPO Remix

I was surprised the remix for anytime begins with piano and sped up vocals on Kuu.  Though it’s a slow burner of a remix as it slowly get the strings and dance beats over the 7 minute time length so it’s a bit of a crawl for me and the sped up vocals were just not the way to go IMO.  I’m not sure what FreeTEMPO were doing, but this just was way too slow to get going with the fun stuff.

As the 5th and final single for the “Kingdom” era, anytime has always felt like a throwaway single since the leading track was initially going to be a B-side for the “FREAKY” single before being shoved at the end of the singles as an A-side.  That said anytime does nothing for me that previous songs have and Bounce is a good track, kind of hard to wonder why here.  The remix is just too slow and too long for me so overall it’s prolly the 2nd worst single within the era.

 

Koda Kumi – LAST ANGEL feat. Tohoshinki

Filed under: Koda Kumi — solarblade @ 6:06 am

lastangel

Track Listing

  1. LAST ANGEL feat. Tohoshinki
  2. Dear Family
  3. LAST ANGEL (Instrumental)
  4. Dear Family (Instrumental)

1. LAST ANGEL feat. Tohoshinki

I remember when this was a HUGE deal for Kuu to work with Tohoshinki (who were pretty much at their prime at this point, well as 5 members still).  Though I wasn’t surprised they were given a dance track together and I was happy since I wanted upbeat more than ballads out of Kuu at this point.  I really enjoyed the energy of the song and Kuu sounded really good here and while she did get covered up by TVXQ quite a bit it was the guys by themselves that bothered me here.  Jejung and Junsu did a lot in the song and I barely recall Yunho or Yuchun.  As for Changmin…well he had a huge line and yeah no, that was a terrible take…not needed.  Though I think the chemistry between the two artists were good though.  It’s a song that splits fans, but as a Kuu and TVXQ fan…it was decent…could’ve been better but dealable.

2. Dear Family

Then we have the B-side which is more of a downtempo R&B track that’s more towards the cutesy side of things here.  Like with “Come Over”, this one is kind of just floats on by despite the nice lyrics towards her family.  The mood is soft and the light steel drums in the background kind of gives the song some character, though I’m not sure if it’s enough to really have for too long.

Shorter single which is nice, 2 songs and LAST ANGEL was a really nice treat for fans of both artists in this time period for sure.  It’s a cool dance track that showcases both of them in a decent way.  Dear Family is a nice and sweet sentimental track, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.  Overall, I’d say this is kind of in the middle for me.

 

Koda Kumi – Ai no Uta

Filed under: Koda Kumi — solarblade @ 5:51 am

ainoutakoda

Track Listing

  1. Ai no Uta
  2. Come Over
  3. Ai no Uta (URBAN KISS Version) (First Press only)
  4. Ai no Uta (Instrumental)
  5. Come Over (Instrumental)

1. Ai no Uta

I mean it’s no Kuu album without one of the A-sides being a ballad!  At this point in her career, I was starting to kind of morph all her ballads into one song and it literally doesn’t stand out to me really.  It’s just one of those sappy piano/strings ballads.  There’s some bass/acoustics which is fine, but I don’t think it really saves the song, though the chorus did well for Kuu’s vocals.  Mmmmm, I mean there’s some small places where it’s nice, but I don’t think it ranks too high for me.

2. Come Over

Then there’s the B-side and it’s back to the cutesy pop vibes here.  Yeah, the song kind of comes off forgettable for me as if it’s trying for that early 2000’s pop sound.  For that reason, to me it sounds slightly generic and boring to me and it feels like she’s trying to make “Run For Your Life” better for some reason.  Plus the hook is kind of eh Engrish to me.  Yeah, this one was a pass for me.

3. Ai no Uta (URBAN KISS Version)

Then we get the first press bonus in this sultry and jazzier take on Ai no Uta that sounds a LOT more fresh and unique versus the original cut.  Though I do get that the song doesn’t quite work with the melody of Kuu’s vocals and sounds a little strange with the jazzier vibes going on.  Though I do think it does much better by me than the original just on basis of style.

Honestly, I expected the ballad single to be the flop of the 5 singles for “Kingdom” just because I never was into Ai no Uta and I found Come Over to be super generic and lacking as well.  The only redeeming quality for me is the alternate version for Ai no Uta that turns it into a slow jam.  Yeah it’s as bad as it gets here…just kind of bleh….

 

Koda Kumi – FREAKY

Filed under: Koda Kumi — solarblade @ 5:25 am

freaky

Track Listing

  1. FREAKY
  2. Sora
  3. Run For Your Life
  4. girls
  5. FREAKY / Surtek Collective’s Action Remix (featuring Peter Rap)
  6. Sora / Yukihiro Fukutomi Remix
  7. Run For Your Life / Kaskade Remix
  8. girls / CUBISMO GRAFICO Beach Girls Mix
  9. FREAKY / Instrumental
  10. Sora / Instrumental
  11. Run For Your Life / Instrumental
  12. girls / Instrumental

1. FREAKY

After “BUT”, I wasn’t sure what Kuu would bring out next and FREAKY well is more of that sexyness here, but this is a bit more sassy and aggressive of a song this time around.  I’m kind of liking the grittier vibe here and Kuu is showcasing more some vocal tricks like high notes, but still manages to sound like a badass!  Though I will say that chorus is just too repetitive and is the weakest part of the song, but I still had a good time with this one for sure.

2. Sora

As the rest of the main tracks are B-sides, Sora is kind of the normal, breezy pop song you’d expect from earlier albums of hers like “WIND”.  Hmmm, odd.  Anyways, Sora is kind of boring to me as it just doesn’t really make much of an impression like older poppy songs have.  I will say that I do appreciate Kuu’s vocals being on the lower range versus what was on “FREAKY”.  Not bad, but not memorable.

3. Run For Your Life

Interesting that since it is a B-side, it somehow got a PV as well.  Unlike “Sora” with the breezy pop feels, Run For Your Life is a bit more sassy and full of smooth vibes throughout.  There’s something that gives me a Gwen Stefani ala “Hollaback Girl” mood for some reason.  It’s just has this Western Pop sound that’s kind of catchy in ways, but I feel like the energy could’ve been more there to be honest…it’s just too flat-feeling for me.

4. girls

As the final song of the main songs from the single, we get girls and I was immediately thinking it sounded a LOT like “With your smile” from her last album!  Like it has this dance/pop sound that also feels upbeat and just girly and cute.  I don’t want to call it a generic song like “Sora” is since this is catchy and fun…but beyond that it’s not one that truly stands out for me.

5. FREAKY / Surtek Collective’s Action Remix (featuring Peter Rap)

Like, I guess you could just throw remixes for each track on here >.>  So FREAKY obviously comes first and instead of the beatdown of the original, we’re given more of a reggaeton style here and it’s a little odd to see FREAKY this way to be honest.  I guess the beat is OK, but it doesn’t fully work and Peter Rap towards the end kind of got in the way too, though that Spanish is nice.

6. Sora / Yukihiro Fukutomi Remix

Ahhhh, this remix for Sora is a much nicer reprieve than the one “FREAKY” got.  It’s a lot more smoother and just kind of has this light dance club vibe to it.  It’s kind of got this Britpop/Synthpop kind of groove which I found myself loving and vibing to quite quickly.  Add on Kuu’s softer vocals for the song really suited this remix quite nicely :3  Probably my favorite of the 4 remixes on the single.

7. Run For Your Life / Kaskade Remix

Same kind of can be said of the remix Run For Your Life got too.  Maybe a little bit less smooth than the remix that “Sora” got it but it’s still got a quite relaxing vibe to it when Kuu’s vocals having a little more bite here.  It does sound a little tinny at times and the remix does ebb or flow like the previous track does, so I would say this is less liked, but still not too bad.

8. girls / CUBISMO GRAFICO Beach Girls Mix

As the last track, girls got switched up from a summer ditty to more of a synthpop track that’s loosely summery and it’s a rather long one this time around (6 minutes) and while I do appreciate this move too, it’s kind of repetitive with the strings and the buzzing synths don’t really add more to the song that was fine enough in the original.

Kuu’s 2nd single and good lord was this jam-packed with songs.  Kind of hilarious that only FREAKY makes the album cut over the other 3 tracks.  FREAKY is a good song overall one of the more edgier tracks that DO work.  Sora, Run For Your Life, and girls are all kind of staples in Kuu’s sound so none of them really popped out at me or struck me as unique….hell girls is basically “With your smile” like I don’t even know anymore.  The remixes were mostly meh with the exception to Sora’s which was surprisingly great!  Yeah, this one kind of fell back for me to be honest.

 

Koda Kumi – BUT/Aishou

Filed under: Koda Kumi — solarblade @ 3:28 am

but

Track Listing

  1. BUT
  2. Aishou
  3. BUT ~The Ghettobots Remix~ (First Press only)
  4. BUT (instrumental)
  5. Aishou (instrumental)

1. BUT

Now, while “real Emotion” and “1000 no Kotoba” were my first Kuu songs, BUT was the first song I came into after becoming a fan and WHAT A GOOD TIME TO JOIN!  Another ass poppin’ song to show up especially after “Cherry Girl”, BUT is just such an amazing bop and Kuu just sounds like she’s having so much fun with this one.  There’s just so many good hooks and Kuu’s vocals are while not the deep ones I love, she still sounds totally into it!  It just seems crazy it’s over a decade old now!  Like this was a hot jam for sure!

2. Aishou

What could do with such a banger as an A-side, I suppose a ballad could be the other A-side?  Yeah, Aishou kind of got the short end of the stick on the single, but I was curious to see what “BUT” was paired with.  I like the acoustic guitar being the basis and then kind of grows into the mid-tempo slow pop/rock track here.  I will give props that it did well to give Kuu more things to do vocally and it sounds good, not as good as the leading but we’ll let this pass for now.

3. BUT ~The Ghettobots Remix~

First press editions came with a BUT remix and I actually dig it despite the more simplistic arrangement of just beats, bass synth, and synth strings.  There’s just something that doesn’t quite scream sexy for this remix, but there’s just something that works with the song’s tone.  Maybe it’s the way the bass synth/synth string melody that just kind of works with me.  Might not be the most strongest remix out there, but I think I enjoyed this as much as the original!

Starting the “Kingdom” era, BUT / Aishou was actually a decent single overall.  I had no complaints here, BUT is an amazing and timeless track and brings me back to the earlier days of my blog while Aishou is a decent mid-tempo ballad that has substance to what its offering and the remix was surprisingly catchy to me.  Hope this trend continues!