Kurayami Monogatari

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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. Knock On
  5. No Longer
  6. Interlude: Regular to Irregular
  7. My Van
  8. Come Back
  9. Fly Away With Me
  10. Regular (English Ver.)
  11. 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, Winwin, and Mark, but this song is quite a strong song for them!

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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, 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.  Interesting interlude and I feel like it did its job here.

7. 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.

8. 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!

9. 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.

10. 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!

11. 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
  • 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).

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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).

 

Takanori Nishikawa – Bright Burning Shout

Filed under: T.M.Revolution — solarblade @ 2:53 am

brightburning

Track Listing

  1. Bright Burning Shout
  2. awakening
  3. Bright Burning Shout (Instrumental)
  4. awakening (Instrumental)

1. Bright Burning Shout

Oh hey, this song sounds like a slightly touch like someone told Nishikawa to bring back abingdon boys school, doesn’t it?  Yeah, I’m not sure what’s going on with this decision to not use his T.M.Revolution moniker, but right from the start, I feel like Bright Burning Shout is more or less a combination of both his units.  The song is quite loud and in your face like many of the abs discography, but it also carries an obvious anison tone to it as well.  It’s a pretty good song though and Nishikawa brings a great performance as usual with his crazy vocal ability!

2. awakening

As the B-side of the single, I instantly found myself liking the intro with the piano and overall slow feel as a rock ballad.  Takanori’s voice in the verses are so much better heard and he sounds a lot cleaner with less vibrato.  Then he hits the chorus and it hits hard and it’s so dramatic with the piano/strings behind the heavy rock instrumentation.  I kind of preferred this track over the leading track just because it has a bigger dynamic to me.

 

 

So I guess Takanori is going solo?  I still don’t quite understand why this is a thing because this single sounds heavily like something abingdon boys school would release due to the heavy rock influences featured in both Bright Burning Shout & awakening and makes me miss them even more because these songs were good!  I’m curious to see where he takes this move and if it’ll be a good choice!

 

Nana Mizuki – WONDER QUEST EP

Filed under: Nana Mizuki — solarblade @ 2:33 am

wonderquest

Track Listing

  1. WHAT YOU WANT
  2. Kekkai (Nana Mizuki feat. Miyano Mamoru)
  3. Birth of Legend
  4. Hungry Hungry

1. WHAT YOU WANT

As the leading track off the single, WHAT YOU WANT is such an odd departure for Nana as the song is VERY rockin’ and even the opening has English lines!  I don’t think she’s ever had a powerful rock track leading and it’s a surprising change of pace after the multitudes of anison tracks!  There’s still a bit of anison in the chord progression, but I definitely enjoyed the arrangement and the power behind Nana’s performance as well.  What a memorable song for her!

2. Kekkai (Nana Mizuki feat. Miyano Mamoru)

The next track is something I wasn’t expecting to see and that’s a featuring song with fellow Miyano Mamoru and truth be told, I’ve heard of him, but never really followed his music.  I have to say, he sounds really nice and works well alongside Nana’s more soaring vocals.  The song itself is more anison, but I approve of the continuation of rockin’ guitars mixed in with dramatic piano & strings to really give a powerful feel throughout.

3. Birth of Legend

Oh? So we’re going down Celtic lane for Birth of Legend?  It seems to be the slight theme for this track which is actually really unique and I love the flute addition in this track and it’s a lighter romp when compared to “WHAT YOU WANT” & “Kekkai”.  I do like its more cute side though and Nana once again sounds great, but after two loud tracks, Birth of Legend seems a bit out of place on the single perhaps?

4. Hungry Hungry

Rounding out the single, Hungry Hungry brings Nana more towards the dancier stuff in her collection, but I’m not sure if I should take it seriously from the title alone XD.  I do like the futuristic arrangement and the louder parts are catchy and fist pumping.  I think it’s supposed to be more of the cutesy track more than “Birth of Legend”, but it’s kind of decent.

 

 

I wonder if because she announced another single at the same time, “NEVER SURRENDER”, I wonder if Nana is trying to push for a new album before the end of the year perhaps?  Anyways, WONDER QUEST EP is quite different from what I came to expect from Nana with the first two tracks being heavy rock songs while her typical works were the last two tracks.  I feel like all the songs brought something to the table and I wasn’t disappointed once!

 

Ai Otsuka – Dracaena October 5, 2018

Filed under: Ai Otsuka — solarblade @ 12:38 am

dracaena

Track Listing

  1. Dracaena
  2. Akkanbe
  3. RounD
  4. Dracaena (Instrumental)
  5. Akkanbe (Instrumental)
  6. RounD (Instrumental)

1. Dracaena

After waiting for quite sometime after it’s short version was digitally released, Dracaena finally has a physical release and what I have known about the song was that it was more of a ballad for Ai-chin.  It’s been a while since I’ve heard Ai’s voice sound so heavenly against such a simple arrangement.  The song though is still a bit of a slow burner for me as it doesn’t quite heave the feelings like previous efforts had.

2. Akkanbe

Another song that was released digitally before finding its place here on the single, Akkanbe is a bit more upbeat than “Dracaena” but it definitely reminds me of songs in her first 3 albums with being poppy and just cute and bouncy.  It’s simple, but I feel like this could’ve been more effective as an album song?

3. RounD

That leaves us with the actual new track for this single and it definitely sticks out amongst the other two having a bit more synth effects used in the arrangement.  It’s definitely an ethereal track for Ai, maybe a little bit like something from her “LOVE TRiCKY” album.  It sounds spacious and Ai just sounds heavenly throughout the song…a lot more memorable than the other two tracks!

 

 

As the single preceding her best album, “Ai am BEST, too”, Dracaena just kind of came out of nowhere especially since 2/3rds of the single were digital singles to begin with.  Both the A-side and Akkanbe were OK songs, but they weren’t quite as memorable as RounD ended up being.  Definitely 3 sides of Ai-chan that she excels at at least so the single is good.

 

Hitomi Shimatani – Golden Lady

Filed under: Hitomi Shimatani — solarblade @ 12:10 am

goldenlady

Track Listing

  1. Golden Lady
  2. sabão
  3. Golden Lady (Instrumental)
  4. sabão (Instrumental)

1. Golden Lady

It’s been quite a while hasn’t it?  Well, Hitomi’s back with a new single and a new A-side!  Golden Lady surprised me with it’s more jazzier/funk sound and I’m quite enjoying the energy of the track and of course Hitomi sounds as lovely as ever here.  There’s just something about this song that kind of gives me a night city-life feel about it and it just suits her sensual vocals nicely here.  Definitely something I wasn’t expecting, but happy to see!

2. sabão

As the B-side of the single, sabão carries on a similar sound found in “Golden Lady, but a bit more mellow and relaxed in comparison.  Really though, there isn’t too much to say about this song because of the similarities, but I do enjoy the lower energy and once again in love with the nightlife bossa-novaish feel I get from the track.

 

 

Wow, it’s been a while since Hitomi released a single huh (not since 2014’s “Yaburekabure”).  As this is the leading single before her next album, “misty” releases, Golden Lady is a pretty nice single, taking Hitomi into more of a jazzier sound than what she’s been known for.  I think both this and sabão just gave me an interest to the album and can’t wait to see what the album will offer!