Kurayami Monogatari

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JERO – Yakusoku February 27, 2009

Filed under: JERO — solarblade @ 10:37 pm
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yakusokujero

Track Listing

  1. Eisa
  2. Tokyo Hyoryuu
  3. Argentine Touhikou
  4. Shiren
  5. Hare Butai
  6. Kyoko to Takashi
  7. Rurou no Machi
  8. Osaka Jewel
  9. Na no Hana Hata Detsukamaete
  10. Umiyuki

1. Eisa

Eisa begins the album and even though it was the last A-side of the era, It does seem a little weird to start off like that.  It just seems to have a more ending kind of feel to it.  Still, one of the more traditional tracks on the album, since most of the new tracks are loving the electric guitar. 

2. Tokyo Hyoryuu

It’s definitly a nice surprise that Tokyo Hyoryuu is pretty much an acoustic ballad.  I didn’t expect such a track to happen, but JERO made it so that we’d connect with the song.  His voice definitly has gotten so much better since the debut and it really shows a more emotional side to him.  Good job here.

3. Argentine Touhikou

Funny to hear female BKGD singers and castanets fill up this next track.  Right now it is his most upbeat song and even though JERO’s vocals come off being too soft at least until the chorus where he does show off a little more.  I do love how he ends the chorus being loud and powerful.  Exciting track.

4. Shiren

Shiren instantly reminded me of “Umiyuki” because of the dramatic electric guitar and strings combination.  Even though it’s shortlived, Shiren still failed to really surprise me.  I do like the harmonica moments, it just melded in with the strings so fine.  It just seems to be a more dramatic “Umiyuki” for me.

5. Hare Butai

I still enjoy Hare Butai, being a B-side.  Initially I thought it was going to be one of those really boring ballads, but he threw a twist into the plans and made a very cool jazzy song, maybe borderline pop song.  It’s sweet to see how JERO can manage a different style, other than enka.

6. Kyoko to Takashi

And then we have this track…It’s possibly the most random track because of “off” it sounds.  First off the arrangement is like something you’d hear in a 70’s cop drama…so right from the start it’s so strange.  2nd is that there’s synths and brass included.  It’s not bad, but it does throw the mood out of the door since “Hare Butai” was such an easy song and then to have peppy and strange Kyoko to Takashi just pop up seems off.  Good song though.

7. Rurou no Machi

Rurou no Machi did get a tie-in which is nice because this is another one of those dramatic Enka songs.  You hear distant sounds from the shakuhacki during the verses and the brass plays a role here again but it isn’t in your face like the previous track.  It shows off some of JERO’s best vocals here so this is easily one of my memorable tracks.

8. Osaka Jewel

Forget it, this is one exciting track.  It’s a cross between something Enka and Latin music so it’s a fusion for me.  There’s some explosive sounds from the brass and the mood seems really happy.  The chorus is fast in sound, but JERO keeps it on a lower tempo.  I already think this is my favorite track off the album.  It’s just so frantic and just full of life. 

9. Na no Hana Hata Detsukamaete

He’s churning out some super songs closer to the end of the album.  It’s funny that I can imagine the music to be like from some Final Fantasy because it has a great piano arrangement and the strings make it pop out some more.  It’s nice that it breaks the mold for Enka and JERO feels right in this song.

10. Umiyuki

Actually hearing this on the album really makes this song feel rather weak against the new tracks.  It is his debut song and still the song has some awkward spots on his vocals and the electric guitar seems to be one instrument that I probably could’ve live without.  It’s OK, but there’s better tracks.

Tracks Recommended

  •  Osaka Jewel
  • Rurou no Machi
  • Na no Hana Hata Detsukamaete
  • Argentine Tohikou
  • Hare Butai

Song of Avoidance

  • Umiyuki

Would you be really surprised that this album could be one of the standout albums so far this year.  JERO doesn’t follow the rest because he twisted Enka around and made seem mainstream at points.  Even the two A-sides failed to be on the recommended because they both felt like minor drawbacks to the new stuff.  If you like Enka, then you’ll get a kick out of this one.

 

misono – Kyuukon/? cm February 26, 2009

Filed under: misono — solarblade @ 9:49 am
Tags: , ,

kyuukon

Track Listing

  1. Kyuukon ~Yaruki・Genki・Sonoki no Nekko~
  2. ? cm
  3. Kyuukon ~Yaruki・Genki・Sonoki no Nekko~ (Instrumental)
  4. ? cm (Instrumental)

1. Kyuukon ~Yaruki・Genki・Sonoki no Nekko~

I’m actually quite excited that misono brings out her guns for this A-side.  It’s one of those tracks that you just wanna rock along with.  I really love the fact that the chorus is quite catchy and misono’s energy is beyond awesome here.  It isn’t as powerful as let’s say “Zasetsu Chiten”, but it’s got a cool charm.

2. ? cm

? cm at first listen was a surprise for me because I expected it to be a slower track, but it actually reminds me of “Ninin Sankyaku” but once again isn’t super powerful.  It’s quite funny hearing the synth usage in the chorus as well.  misono gave a better performance in this track rather than “Kyuukon” so I’m quite happy bout this track.  I swear during the chorus it’s like she’s saying ~Fuckin~ instead of ~Rockin’…it’s bad I know…

 

 

I’ll say it right now. this beats the last single altogether.  Kyuukon is a fun rock track that you can dance along with while ? cm was the more cooler track and brought out the needed sounds I wanted misono to use since the last album.

 

ARTISTS BLOWOUT, and what a wild bunch of em

Filed under: ~Artists Blowouts~ — solarblade @ 2:59 am

Yeah I was going to originally hold off till the end, but I couldn’t help myself.

Kylee

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Yeah, the first is Kylee and seriously?  She’s quite cool for a young gal from Arizona!!!  I really love the songs she’s released so far.  So I’m going to begin with her debut single “VACANCY”

Karen Girl’s

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Well, I have to say….I think MilkyWay is coming to end so what’s a guy to do? Well, I’m came crashing into them via Perfume City, so I was like hmmm what’s this? I know they have single, whether or not they are available is a huge question, but i have the album, Fly To The Future….so unless i quit looking for the singles, then I’m just heading into the album.

W

20041030

Anyway one of the defunct groups of today, W was a 2-nin group, consisting of used-to MoMosu member, Nozomi Tsuji and Ai Kago.  They did spawn two albums which I’ll definitly do.

Angela Aki

angelapromoshot

Hai, I’m finally unleashing the fierce, soft-spoken lady.  Angela Aki definitly surprised me with this week’s release of “ANSWER” so I’ll begin with the single preceding it next week.

Sweet Vacation

pow_key_big

Another J-tek duo to pop up recently, Sweet Vacation has been around for awhile doing a lot of covers. Most people would know them from their Beautiful Techno track, “Goonies “r” Good Enough”…Well, now they finally hit a major label and debuted with “Sayonara My Days” back on 2/18 so I will begin there.

Meisa Kuroki

kuroki-meisa

Following the same footsteps as Leah Dizon, Meisa Kuroki is originally a model, but she’s giving a try in music as well.  She has nothing out yet, but I’m definitly going to review her debut mini-album, “hellcat”

POLYSICS

polysics_photo

Originality really steps forward with this group.  POLYSICS are a new wave band stating DEVO being their initial reason to sound like how they are today.  I’ll begin with their upcoming single

 

Ami Suzuki – Reincarnation February 25, 2009

Filed under: Ami Suzuki — solarblade @ 7:20 pm
Tags: , , ,

s320x240

Track Listing

  1. Reincarnation
  2. Dub-I-Dub
  3. Reincarnation -Extended Version-
  4. Reincarnation -Instrumental-

1. Reincarnation

Ami keeps rolling out the hits and Reincarnation is definitly something different.  She’s not with Nakata anymore which is a little sad to see, but she also ended up with Taku.  Even more interesting is that Emi Hinouchi wrote the lyrics.  Ami really sound good during the quiet vocal parts, but when the chorus comes out, she is yelling.  Luckily, this isn’t the yelling from “climb up to the top” so it’s not that bsd.  Still, I love the dance beats to this one.

2. Dub-I-Dub

Yea, it’s a cover of a Me & My track, even fueled by DDR.  Now it’s a fully English tune so I was so worried about it and well, Ami being under heavy vocoder doesn’t exactly help it either.  Ami doesn’t have a good grasp at the language and adding the vocoder was a bad idea.  The music isn’t too bad, but Ami is really bad singing English here.

3. Reincarnation -Extended Version-

Of course what do you expect?  It’s a longer version of the A-side.  The opening of the track is different and the instrumental parts are more focused this time around.  Adding about 2 more minutes to the song it’s still the cool A-side we’ve come to known, so it’s basically there for those ravers.

 

 

Ami’s 1st single for a new era brings a change to her Nakata stuff for sure.  Reincarnation is a great way deviate away from him because it still has a great dance beat and it’s catchy.  Dub-I-Dub, however was just a little meh and for being a cover of a DDR song, I wasn’t expecting much from it, especially if it’s in English.  “ONE” and “can’t stop the DISCO” were better singles IMO

 

abingdon boys school – STRENGTH.

Filed under: abingdon boys school — solarblade @ 11:18 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

escl-3171

Track Listing

  1. STRENGTH.
  2. Freedom

1. STRENGTH.

It’s finally becoming true fact that anything abingdon boys school rips out is gold and STRENGTH. is definitly representing that theory very well.  STRENGTH. has that dark feeling that their first two single A-sides had and included piano which made it more epic.  Takanori as usual has continued to surprise me in this group because of how his voice fits in the rock mode.  Amazing.

2. Freedom

I’m surprised “JAP” didn’t take its place on the single, so we got a new track instead.  Just like previous B-sides, Freedom is sung entirely in English, but I’m having a harder time understanding his accent because of how fast and up and down Takanori is going through the notes.  Luckily, this beats out “Desert Rose” by a long shot.

 

 

I knew why they took a small hiatus after “BLADE CHORD” and that was primarily because Takanori wanted to release a single under the T.M.Revolution moniker and the wait for this single was very unbearable.  They didn’t disappoint with this release for sure.  It’s up there next to “Nephilim” right now.

 

Sowelu – MATERIAL WORLD

Filed under: Sowelu — solarblade @ 4:48 am
Tags: ,

materialworld

Track Listing

  1. MATERIAL WORLD
  2. Time After Time
  3. MATERIAL WORLD <WTF EDIT>
  4. MATERIAL WORLD -instrumental-

1. MATERIAL WORLD

I cannot stress how much this song rawks!  Not only is it a step out of her zone, it’s a Taku produced single which automatically makes it well worth the listen.  Anyways the single version is a bit longer than the one found on the PV, practically almost 2 minutes longer and thank god.  The extra verse and chorus just made it so much better, but the transition to the slow piano part is worse here in my opinion because it just happens.  It’s hard to believe she did have to go to Taku to get such a powerful and rockin’ track.

2. Time After Time

It’s surprising, because Cyndi Lauper has some really good songs and Time After Time is one of her biggest songs in her career and having Sowelu cover it is a big thing.  Unlike the original which was a heartfelt ballad song, Sowelu’s is a more dance-friendly version.  I do think Cyndi’s version is still better because it was an emotional song and Sowelu’s lack of emotional connection does hinder it a bit, but it’s alright.

3. MATERIAL WORLD <WTF EDIT>

Anyways the remix of MATERIAL WORLD is more hardcore as a rock song.  It switches the importance between synths and rock band stuff and honestly this is definitly something I wouldn’t imagine encountering in her discography.  It does sound complete and cool, but it doesn’t come close to touching the original.

 

 

I think this is definitly a single that could make her stand out.  MATERIAL WORLD is just trance heaven and makes me happy.  The edit was a cool change of sounds and even though it’s not perfect it makes a good counterpart.  Time After Time was known beforehand and actually did fit on the single, who knew?  Still I’m shocked at this.

 

Ayumi Hamasaki – Rule/Sparkle February 24, 2009

Filed under: Ayumi Hamasaki — solarblade @ 6:16 pm
Tags: , , ,

rulesparkle

Track Listing

Version A

  1. Rule
  2. Sparkle
  3. GREEN (CMJK Spring Storm Mix)
  4. GREEN (Acoustic Orchestra version)
  5. Rule (80kid’z “No More Rule” mix)
  6. Rule (Remo-con “tech dance” remix)
  7. Rule -instrumental-
  8. Sparkle -instrumental-

Version B

  1. Rule
  2. Sparkle
  3. Days (8-bits of tears YMCK remix)
  4. Days (Acoustic Orchestra version)
  5. Rule (80kid’z “No More Rule” mix)
  6. Rule (Remo-con “tech dance” remix)
  7. Rule -instrumental-
  8. Sparkle -instrumental-

1. Rule

It’s been a while since we’ve actually had a hardcore rock track.  Rule definitly does not disappoint.  As a major tie-in to the upcoming movie, Dragonball it had to really energetic and full of life and Rule does it right in my opinion.  The sweet guitar riffs and Ayu’s strong performance made it a great listen.  It doesn’t hurt that there’s shirtless ninjas in the PV either.

2. Sparkle

Then again we haven’t a full trance track in a long while.  It’s got a more darker view that we usually don’t have with Ayu, so hearing this really excited me.  Ayu is taking a more quiet, mysterious singing route for the verses and gets loud and the music pulsates with great stuff.  I’m very surprised there’s no PV, but maybe it’ll have one when “NEXT LEVEL” comes out.

3a. GREEN (CMJK Spring Storm Mix)

Things start to get confusing when the next tracks pop up.  Versions A & C get the GREEN remixes.  Now the first remix of GREEN is definitly strange and took out the epic Chinese sounds and replaced it by robotic synths and a dance beat, it really does seem off the wall and unusual.  I think I’ll stick with the Original please.

3b. Days (8-bits of tears YMCK remix)

Oh hai, another on of my artists make an appearance.  If you don’t know already, YMCK is well-known for their chiptune/VG music which is popular with me.  This is definitly an original remix from in Ayu’s long list of remixes and it’s actually quite good.  Ayu does get her voice messed with, but that’s to fit the theme, but mostly it’s in the original state.  I love this remix.

4a. GREEN (Acoustic Orchestra version)

I really did miss the Acoustic Orchestra tracks.  She did it so well with “My Story” so this was a huge upgrade.  There’s traces of the Chinese sound without and hearing harp and other instruments just brought this song to a new level.  I still think the chorus is a bit weird, but still a good version to a good song.

4b. Days (Acoustic Orchestra version)

Nice to see Acousic Orchestra versions of both past A-sides.  I didn’t think she really needed one for this song, because Days was just pretty as it was and didn’t need it, but the thought was nice and it isn’t as bad, but I really liked GREEN’s a lot more.

5. Rule (80kid’z “No More Rule” mix)

We finally get back to normal.  All versions of the single of Rule remixes and the first one has a real hardcore trance style to it.  Unlike the GREEN remix, this one doesn’t sound terrible and there’s vocals all over it.  I do wish that it was a bit faster, but this’ll def do for me.  I like it.

6. Rule (Remo-con “tech-dance” remix)

Wow, this remix is almost 7 minutes long…The other Rule remix is definitly not interesting me.  Just like what Remo-con did for Ami’s “Delightful”, there was just too many repeated moment and it was more focused on the music rather than Ayu’s presence which is not a good thing.  It takes about 2:30 to get Ayu even singing.  So unless you like these kind of aimless tracks this one is def for you.

 

 

The ending of “Next Level’s” era was great.  It seems Ayu wanted to go back to the format of having a buttload of remixes and for the most part they were really good.  As for the main attraction, Rule was pretty hardcore of her while Sparkle brought electronica back in full force.  Best single this era overall.

 

OK, so here’s the plan…

Filed under: ~Announcements~ — solarblade @ 7:23 am

So here’s what’s happening…this week is filled with releases, actually 10 I have to review, so I’m dedicating the rest of the week on these releases and will not delve into the past stuff until Sunday….If I don’t get the 10 reviews done, it wont matter.  About the Ayu review, I waiting on Version B to pop up, so it might be the first review of this wild date 2/25 xD

 

Mika Nakashima – VOICE

Filed under: Mika Nakashima — solarblade @ 4:13 am
Tags: , ,

voice

Track Listing

  1. LIFE
  2. SAKURA ~Hanagasumi~ (DAISHI DANCE)
  3. FOCUS
  4. Eien no Uta
  5. ORION
  6. Anata ga Iru Kara
  7. MY GENTLEMAN
  8. TRUST YOUR VOICE
  9. IT’S TOO LATE
  10. I DON’T KNOW
  11. SHUT UP
  12. conFusiOn
  13. FLOWER OF TIME
  14. Koe

1. LIFE

It was appropriate to begin the album with what started this entire era.  LIFE did start out like one of her many ballads, but soon enough, dance beats pop in and take over.  I really love the fact that Mika’s vocals seemed perfect with this kind of upbeat sound.

2. SAKURA ~Hanagasumi~ (DAISHI DANCE)

I definitly agree with the majority of the people when they said, they wanted this version more than the original.  In case you didn’t know, the original was merely another ballad in her collection and it’s nice and all, but the DAISHI DANCE version includes dance beats and the arrangement seeems a lot more lively.  It does come out to sound a little similar to “LIFE” because they are next to each other, but Mika gave a better vocal performance here.

3. FOCUS

Oh god, this is my favorite track off the album and maybe all together in her discography.  There’s a minor change and that’s the fact it actually doesn’t start up by fading into the track.  Synths start it up and it just melds into this hybrid of a disco/jazz/dance song that just oozes fun and sexyness.  I still felt it was too short for me.  You know what’s worse?  The PV that accompanied it…

4. Eien no Uta

Mika gets unusual tracks right and Eien no Uta is one of them.  Its light reggae background and the male intro pops out to me.  It really makes me wanna go to ~Purrradise~  I’ve said before that JPN artists should never delve into reggae ever, Mika would be that lone exception.  Her voice just is nice here.

5. ORION

ORION comes up next and being the A-side to finish up the era, I really enjoyed this track a lot.  I mean it is the first ballad on the album and is obviously still a strong song.  There’s not much to be said that I haven’t already, but it’s a nice ballad.

6. Anata ga Iru Kara

Reason this track is bolded is because it was released as a digital single.  Honestly, she could’ve left it off the album, but more the better right?  It is the second true ballad on the album and even though it is the basic fare: acoustics, piano, and strings.  It’s simple, but she’s got a lot of these “simple” tracks and this one just falls short.  Even made worse by being after “ORION” 

 7. MY GENTLEMAN

MY GENTLEMAN kind of reminds me of the stuff her last album, “YES” had.  It’s an acoustically arranged track and Mika doesn’t seem comfortable to sing without other things going on, but I really like that she tried such a track like this.  I’m surprised she’s hitting them high notes though.  They aren’t bad at all.

8. TRUST YOUR VOICE

I’m not sure if I’m correct about it, but I could swear she named the track as so because of one of her tattoos.  We also leave the ballad area of the album and we get a pretty good upbeat track fronted by piano.  It sounds like if you take the synths out of “FOCUS” add more BKGD vocals, you kind of land near this track.  I do like it alot though.

9. IT’S TOO LATE

I’m surprised she did put this track on the album given the fact that it’s a B-side.  I felt that it did lack something in its presentation, but the music is really fun and bouncy.  I really like the bridge though, it was just awesome and made so much more sense.  Ok song

10. I DON’T KNOW

Why did they have to put the next two tracks on this album.  Anyway I DON’T KNOW is very angry and returns Mika to her hardcore rock self.  Except she’s doing it not under NANA but under MICA 3 CHU.  You can really chant along to the song and just let loose and be angry.  Mika’s vocals for these kind of songs really don’t seem to meld well together, but it’s worse that it breaks the mood on this album.

11. SHUT UP

I guess it was good that she put the two songs close together because if they were put in different places, then the album would be in a lot more trouble.  I’m still trying to figure which of the two rock tracks that I really like a lot.  SHUT UP is more in your face and has a stronger meaning.  There’s a cost to it and it’s even more noticeable here and it’s how uncomfortable she is under this genre.  Maybe she should stray away from this style altogether.

12. conFusiOn

Then again hearing the ska sound that conFusiOn brings does slowly bring the mood down for just a little bit and sounds so much better being after the loud tracks before it.  I still can’t help but enjoy this song more than when it was on “SAKURA ~Hanagasumi~. 

13. FLOWER OF TIME

Is it surprising that this is her longest track?  It begins with some jazz sounds and BKGD vocals before Mika comes in for the verses.  FLOWER OF TIME really has a light jazzy pop sound to it and the brass moments are really nice to listen to, but for how long this song is, it can become pretty boring. 

14. Koe

We finally end the album with the title track, Koe which means “Voice” in Japanese.  It’s very simplistic in arrangement and is mostly plucked strings and played strings before the piano sets itself into place.  I just love how Mika is resonating in this song and gave one hell of a good performance.  Definitly fitting for the final track to VOICE.

Tracks Recommended

  • FOCUS
  • Koe
  • Eien no Uta
  • conFusiOn
  • TRUST YOUR VOICE

Song of Avoidance

  • Anata ga Iru Kara

Wow, this was sooo much better than “YES” was by a long shot.  Mika returns back to a more comfortablt style of music and even though the album was fractured pretty badly from I DON’T KNOW and SHUT UP, this was definitly one of her better albums she released.  I can’t wait for her next releases because she’s doing very well for herself.

 

Utada Hikaru – HEART STATION/Stay Gold February 23, 2009

Filed under: Utada Hikaru — solarblade @ 9:30 pm
Tags: , ,

Track Listing

  1. HEART STATION
  2. Stay Gold
  3. HEART STATION -Original Karaoke-
  4. Stay Gold -Original Karaoke-

1. HEART STATION

Damn, Hikki’s hitting all the right spots this era.  HEART STATION is once again a very ethereal A-side pops up and it’s sadly more evident that Hikki’s vocals are very weak and not supported when it’s just her singing alot.  Even with that problem lurking about, it’s very smooth and her English lines are just sexii.  She even goes far enough to mention God of all things.  The PV for HS though was just a bit weird and left us with questions about what the hell it meant.  It’s a great song though.

2. Stay Gold

Before the release, Stay Gold was well-known, practically when “Beautiful World/Kiss & Cry” came out.  It starts with a sad piano melody that resonates for most of the song.  Stay Gold brought back the R&B sound Hikki was well-known early in her career, but given a little bit of that new sound.  When the single first came out, I wasn’t liking this track much, but by the time the album was released it became very catchy and stood out for me.

 

 

Even though it was released like a few weeks before the album, we get a single and both songs are powerful in their lyrical content and brought the best of Hikki’s sounds together.  I’m a little surprised that Stay Gold didn’t get a PV, but it’s prolly for the better because all of the PV’s in this era were pretty bad.