Kurayami Monogatari

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LEO Imai – FIX NEON April 18, 2009

Filed under: LEO Imai — solarblade @ 2:33 pm
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fixneon

Track Listing

  1. Fix Neon (feat. James Iha)
  2. Tokyo Lights 2 (feat. Kenji Jammer)
  3. Rush
  4. Blue Technique
  5. Emergency
  6. Roppongi Chills
  7. Metro
  8. Karaoke
  9. Venom (feat. Kenji Jammer)
  10. I Will Know Your Name
  11. Pulse
  12. Wild Strawberries (feat. James Iha)

1. Fix Neon (feat. James Iha)

LEO begins his debut major album with a pretty mid-tempo track.  LEO’s singing in English for a good portion of the song with some guitar from James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins).  There’s some interesting feelings coming from the song and it still sounds good though.  It’s a goodway to start things off.

2. Tokyo Lights 2 (feat. Kenji Jammer)

The main track to promote the album, Tokyo Lights 2 is pretty calm and nice to listen to.  I swear at the beginning he’s saying ~lights don’t store~  Strange…Anyways his singing has changed around where he’s using more of a deeper baritone sound.  It’s also the first song that we here him sing Japanese on the album.  I sometimes feel he’s lacking in the singing department because his vocals sound very flat and odd. 

3. Rush

Rush is the first song the really focuses on the synths more than the band-like sound.  Though it leaves us as the song actually gets a band sound again, but the synths keep popping up.  He’s also back into English again and he’s showing a little more enthusiasm into his singing.  It’s outlandish, but in a good way.  I like this song alot.

4. Blue Technique

His major label debut, Blue Technique is such an amazing song.  At first the song starts off with a lone guitar riff until the drums kick the song off.  LEO’s vocals are also pretty well executed showing a sense of mystery in all of the right places.  The chorus is a little shaky as he goes for some high notes, but it’s nothing to degrade the song totally off of.  Definitly an awesome song.

5. Emergency

Emergency is a lot more upbeat and lively than “Blue Technique” and seeing the explosion and excitement of the song’s start up was wow.  Though the song doesn’t seem to be too memorable as it’s very mechanical and LEO is annunciating harshly in the chorus.  I do like how he sounds so good in English and his Japanese is a little off xD  Maybe it’s just me.

6. Roppongi Chills

Right now, Roppongi Chills is the abstract song of the album.  Instead of the normal rock sound that accompanies him, LEO took the song into a space-like ballad.  I mean there’s synths abound here that come in and out of the song pretty frequently with LEO and his piano playing.  It’s a nice change of pace from the album so far and his singing is so good here.  After a while the band finally comes in and the guitarist gets the solo before ending with just LEO and the piano.  Nice!

7. Metro

Metro, being the 2nd and final single of the era.  It’s more rock than anything I’ve heard so far from the album.  I love how hectic everything is and fast-paced LEO is singing with the crazy atmosphere.  Sadly he’s using the baritone voice again for a good portion and it sounds just a little messy.  Needless to say it was a disappointing song and A-side.

8. Karaoke

Maybe it’s me, but I’m not liking this track much either because it jsut doesn’t seem right on this album.  Yes it’s rock,but there’s a synth melody here as well.  At least the chorus is a bit better this time around because it’s got a lot of good moments.  I still think the synths are a little outta place, but it’s an alright track.

9. Venom (feat. Kenji Jammer)

I love the piano opening to Venom.  It’s funny how this sounds like a very hardcore rock track, but it really isn’t.  LEO’s cold singing adds more to the meaning of the song out, sadly the chorus this time was the failure as it sounds a little too upbeat and not right the right mood.  I just love how he says ~venom~ It’s totally shexii.

10. I Will Know Your Name

The title just doesn’t fit on this album for some reason.  Starts out with a melancholic arrangement of LEO playing on the piano.  It’s funny that the song sounds depressing, but LEO is singing it like he’s some kind of stalker, which is mildly disturbing, yet at the same time refreshing.  He’s singing IMO at his best calibur and singing out which is downright amazing. 

11. Pulse

Pulse was actually a B-side off of the “Blue Technique”.  Also getting a PV of its own which was a nice treat.  Sadly this continues to pale even worse off the album than a good portion of the album.  It’s got a steady and forceful beat and LEO’s baritone vocals sound OK here, but it’s nothing too special. 

12. Wild Strawberries (feat. James Iha)

Finishing this album off is a ballad, but like I don’t know.  LEO’s vocals is are in the deepest pitches I’ve heard throughout.  I like James Iha’s guitar playing here as it’s distant, but not to the point where they are forgettable.  LEO though doesn’t sound right again and his deep vocals kind of destroyed any mood I had for the song.

Tracks Recommended

  •  Blue Technique
  • I Will Know Your Name
  • Rush
  • Roppongi Chills

Song of Avoidance

  • Venom

LEO Imai’s debut is what I usually expect in debut on a major album.  He knows what’s going and can make decisions and do some nifty tracks, however what drove the album to be a little mediocre is his usage of his baritone voice.  Sometimes it sounds like it would’ve been better in a V-kei band or something, other times it works, but given the situation at hand.  I still enjoyed a good portion of the tracks.  I hope “Laser Rain” is better.

 

Phantasmagoria – Gensoukyoku ~Eternal Silence~

Filed under: Phantasmagoria — solarblade @ 12:55 pm
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cd4

Track Listing

  1. Gensoukyoku ~Eternal Silence~
  2. Gensoukyoku ~Eternal Silence~ (Instrumental)

1. Gensoukyoku ~Eternal Silence~

Unlike the the last two, the final of the trilogy is surprisingly a bit slower than they were.  Not to the point where it’s consider a ballad, but it has the most interesting effects.  Like there’s synths and Riku is under some machine…auto-tune?  vocoder?  Anyway for being a bit more mainstream sounding, it sounds pretty nice as well. 

 

 

Eternal Silence took things even further down the clean route and made the song into a pretty mid-tempo rock track.  I really did enjoy the trilogy, but which was the best is kind of hard to decide since all of them were pretty good.  “Variant Jihad” was probably my least liked of the three.  I don’t know…we’ll just see with the album

 

Phantasmagoria – Kyousoukyoku ~Cruel Crucible~

Filed under: Phantasmagoria — solarblade @ 12:48 pm
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cd3

Track Listing

  1. Kyousoukyoku ~Cruel Crucible~
  2. Kyousoukyoku ~Cruel Crucible~ (Instrumental)

1. Kyousoukyoku ~Cruel Crucible~

Then again….Cruel Crucible is just as hardcore as “Variant Jihad” was if not more.  Luckily it’s more melodically correct than said track which is great.  Riku’s vocals are also on a higher register which is the Phantasmagoria I’m used to.  I love the guitarists having a lot of great moments.  Another good thing is that the strings are used more here and they sounds creepy, but cool.

 

 

The 2nd of the era, Cruel Crucible was a lot cleaner and sounded tons more better than Variant Jihad.  I don’t know why, but so far this era is showing some hope.  I now consider Variant Jihad as crap to this song!

 

Phantasmagoria – Kousoukyoku ~Variant Jihad~

Filed under: Phantasmagoria — solarblade @ 12:26 pm
Tags: ,

variantjihad

Track Listing

  1. Kousoukyoku ~Variant Jihad~
  2. Kousoukyoku ~Variant Jihad~ (instrumental)

1. Kousoukyoku ~Variant Jihad~

Beginning the three single era of “Synthesis Songs”  Variant Jihad is the hardest sounding of the three.  I do live the harpischord and organ playing along with the group.  Riku sounds really into the song as he’s doing everything a V-kei group is supposed to because there’s a lot of screaming and fast playing from the rest of the band.  It’s definitly one of the more interesting tracks from them.

 

 

The first of the singles.  I actually thought this was taken on different levels because of all the various moments in the song.  Variant Jihad definitly was one of the cooler moments of the bands short time together.

 

Masami Mitsuoka – Todokanai Omoi…~ROAD another story~

Filed under: Masami Mitsuoka — solarblade @ 11:56 am

cd2

Track Listing

  1. Todokanai Omoi…~ROAD another story~
  2. lost angel
  3. Wishing road

1. Todokanai Omoi…~ROAD another story~

Todokanai gets Masami back into the ballad songs and it’s probably the most interesting song so far in her collection because even though it’s a ballad, most of it has a pretty steady beat.  It’s a little strange, but with the harmonica inclusion is also something special.  Supposedly it’s an answer track…but to what beats me…About Masami, she sounds good in the song except for the chorus which she sounds terribly nasally.  Other than that this was an alright track.

2. lost angel

lost angel is a lot like “OVER THERE” from the last single and it shows profusely with it’s harder guitar sound.  I’m also hearing Masami struggling a lot with this song since it asks her to hold notes for a long time and vocals are really nasally, even moreso than in “Todokanai Omoi”.  Pretty sad…

3. Wishing road

Once again we had to have a track that seems to be ripping from Ayu.  It starts out in a loud and grand way before getting to the verse quietly.  She’s sounding pretty lifeless through the verses, but the bridge saved the fate of the song pretty quickly which is great.  There really isn’t that much more to the song sadly to make it a preferable B-side.

 

 

Masami’s 3rd in the “Black Diary” era wasn’t as good as last single, “Distance Love/I am”.  It seemed everything that was going for her on it was just jumbled around.  Masami’s vocals were on the verge of just failing on her.  Todokanai Omoi was a nice try at a ballad again, but those vocals were horrid.  lost angel and Wishing road suffered the same fate and was ultimately forgettable…Hopefully she does get better by the final single of the era.

 

marino – lollipop+

Filed under: marino — solarblade @ 7:07 am
Tags: , ,

lollipop1

Track Listing

  1. clear beats
  2. Flavor
  3. tic tac
  4. strawberry
  5. Lalalilu
  6. lollipop
  7. Pot marjorem
  8. Pan・da marinopp
  9. Tentou Mushi to Tulip

1. clear beats

clear beats begins the mini-album with a pretty cool opening track.  Now I’m pretty sure the synths are pretty sweet.  It’s got a lounge style, but the added synths make the song seem pretty soothing and does well transitioning into out first vocal track.

2. Flavor

Sadly…when Flavor starts up we get the most horrendous vocals I’ve heard in a Nakata production.  She’s got a very flat sounding voice and add in the fact it pierces the ears doesn’t help either.  Nakata though made the song a bit memorable, but with marino singing along, I was like hell no…this song just doesn’t do her justice in any aspects.

3. tic tac

tic tac sounds a lot more cuter with the various cute bleeps going on.  Luckily marino sounds a lot better than her craptacular “Flavor” track and the song reminds me of when capsule was in their Shibuya-kei moment.  There’s just a lot of random in the song and with the catchy guitar melody…the song just melded together.  Cute and silly song.

4. strawberry

Interestingly, strawberry is more of a pop/rock track with it’s loud guitar riffs.  The verses take that away and replaces it with marino using a singing/whiper tone that MEG would easily be proud of.  It’s very loose all-around and pretty much wacky as a whole. 

5. Lalalilu

The other track Nakata works on appears next and well…once again puts the song into a Shibuya-kei kind of sound which is pretty interesting.  It reminds me a little bit of “idol fancy” but without Toshiko singing along.  Her voice is once again pretty saddening to hear as it’s all cute and flat at the same time…This is just another bad track…Nakata what happened?

6. lollipop

Our title track appears next and it’s just as hectic as the previous non-Nakata tracks.  It continues this phase of the Shibuya-kei sound and I once again found myself not liking it because it was just too hectic and marino’s vocals are pretty sad.  The instrumental parts were pretty sweet with the lower synth taking over, other than that, this song was another failed track.

7. Pot marjorem

The next final three tracks are actually brand spanking new.  Sadly two of the three are interludes.  Pot marjorem had potential to be a pretty good vocal track with a fantasy-like melody and it’s fits right with her outlook of her website.  Sadly it’s too short and sounds like VGM music…what a failure.

8. Pan・da marinopp

The only new vocal track happens to stand out from the mini-album because it’s the only one to feature A. 8-bit sounds and B. another singer.  Now I’m not sure who’s the male vocals are, but giving the fact that marino isn’t singing the verses was shocking nonetheless.  I do like the guys vocals and marino’s parts were pretty good because she doesn’t sound like crap and her fast lyrical section was awesome…Wish she had more tracks like this.  OH it doesn’t help though that it’s a cover of “Panda” from The Aprils….(yeah the group that did the “Stainless Girl” joke, and yet it was a good sounding joke).

9. Tentou Mushi no Tulip

I don’t get the ending…The sound is muffled, but marino is singing against a very cute arrangement, but cause of the muffledness about it…the song just kind of felt too short to really make it stand out.  Though the ending is like the cutest thing ever as she says ~Thank you~ to finish this mini-album up.  hmmm

 

 

So before this release she released, “lollipop” the original and well it was pretty bad as it did only have tracks 2 through 6 on it.  Now the re-release didn’t change anything around other than adding 3 interludes with one having lyrics and one actual new song.  Talk about disappointing on many factors.  Now the tracks themselves fits the mood of the album which is cute and sugary, but the Nakata songs and lollipop were terrible on so many levels.  The other tracks actually were pretty good…hopefully she won’t pull this stunt again…