Kurayami Monogatari

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Ayumi Hamasaki – Love songs December 18, 2010

Filed under: Ayumi Hamasaki — solarblade @ 5:15 pm

Track Listing

  1. Love song
  2. crossroad
  3. MOON
  4. sending mail
  5. Last angel
  6. insomnia
  7. Like a doll
  8. aria
  9. blossom
  10. Thank U
  11. Sweet Season
  12. overture
  13. do it again
  14. November
  15. Virgin Road
  16. SEVEN DAYS WAR (CD-only/CD+DVD only)
  17. SEVEN DAYS WAR (Live at Yoyogi on Oct. 11 2010) (CD+DVD/SD+USB only)

1. Love song

Starting Ayu’s new album with one of two songs promoted for the album, Love song is quite surprising that it’s actually not a ballad this time around, but more of pop/rock track with some strings.  I’ve also noticed for some reason Ayu sounds different…like she’s more nasally ala “I am…’s”‘ era.  I’m not sure why, but that reason kind of bothers me and the verses where it’s more evident just took me out of the song.

2. crossroad

Being the 2nd A-side released in the era, crossroad is the best released in the era, but that’s not saying much because while it’s the best it really didn’t have any competition nor was this song something special.  I will say I love her vocals a lot more than I did with “Love song” since it isn’t hoarse and she sounds really pretty with the orchestral arrangement.  Still pretty good.

3. MOON

It’s sad that for an era that hasn’t had many standout songs for me, MOON and “crossroad” would be the closest songs to have made a strong impact out of A-sides.  The biggest difference between the two is that this one has a more solemn background and includes rock instruments to try to make it stand out amongst the crowd.  It’s unfortunate that it kind of messes up because of how similar this is to “blossom” and that was it’s sister A-side as well.  Not bad, but it’s not on the list of jaw-dropping ballads.

4. sending mail

Getting out of the better A-sides of the album into a new track, sending mail sounds so nice to listen since the song has a pretty good beat mixed in with strings to make it sound almost regal in a way.  I do love Ayu singing deeper for stuff like the verses and such and let’s her vocals come out towards the chorus.  The chorus though is quite a puncher and I loved that about the song.  Still it kind of feels off amongst the rest of the song however.  Still pretty nifty of a song.

5. Last angel

I still admit that Last angel is surprisingly good for being single material, but likewise with “sending mail”, Last angel feels like there’s too many rifts in the song to call it comprehensable.  I still think it’s pretty catchy and it was the only song that borderlined dance which was a bright light in an era overloaded in ballads of sorts.  Still sounds like a song better suited for “LOVEppears”.

6. insomnia

Being the album’s first interlude, insomnia is dark and quite creepy for an interlude.  Having string bass and beats and some wacky ad-libbing from Ayu, it’s a very unsettling piece and it leaves an interesting mark for the album.  While I was kind of hoping it would lead somewhere, it didn’t and just kept at the same pace for the whole 2 minutes.

7. like a doll

I’m not sure why but like a doll didn’t really need to be put in between two interludes IMO because while the song starts out like a ballad, it kind of becomes more of light dance tune in good strings moments.  I do agree that she sounds like she’s saying ~like a door~ more than the title which is lulzy in itself but for a song like this it’s good to see some kind of lighter and happier song featured on the album.

8. aria

Yep, like I said this was another interlude and shorter than “insomnia” was as well.  The light mood was carried on from “like a doll” and the strings take it in until you hear a bang and you hear electric guitar join in to kind of say we’re getting into a different area on the album.  Not bad, but I liked the first interlude more.

9. blossom

Being the other A-side, blossom has never really popped out at me, especially since the idea of the song is way too similar to “MOON” and that was on of the faults on it.  They both share ballad-like ties in the verses while the chorus has more focus on the guitars and rockin’ move.  I guess the biggest thing was that Ayu didn’t push her vocals to the edge in this song and for that it was a good decision.  I just wish there was a better incentive for the song to make it a bit more amazing.

10. Thank U

I thought we were getting another ballad out of this song, but this seems to be the “Red Line ~for TA~” for the album.  It’s very positive sounding and lively and especially so when it starts with ~la-la-la-la’s~ from Ayu and a crowd.  Ayu’s voice is kind of like how it was in “Love song” and it sounded offkey at places.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, but I love the upbeat sound of the song no doubt…but it just felt so blah-ish to listen to.

11. Sweet Season

Being a part of the “L” single, Sweet Season feels wrong on the album and just doesn’t fit period because of it’s mid-tempo Western stylization.  It’s got a good pop/rock feel that kind of still reminds me of “Life”…but it just doesn’t really do much for me in the long run and just becomes white noise to me in the end.  I’m sorry but Ayu just didn’t do enough for this song…I mean country…ick

12. overture

As we enter our final interlude of the album, overture for me kind of continues from “aria” in the way it starts with piano before getting into a woodwind ensemble and it sounds like it’s from any JRPG with it’s grandiose arrangement and pretty sounds.  It’s a tad weird that it kind of does stand out from the album, but seeing as it’s the only one of its kind on here, it’s sad lol.

13. do it again

Well, then again the opening to the other promotional song of the album sounds like it would also be it.  I will say that do it again is very different from Ayu since it really depends on the repetition from Ayu at the beginning hahaha.  That was a very uncomfortable minute to sit through.  I think in my opinion, it would’ve worked better with the not-so-annoying repeats, but the rest of the song is pretty good to listen to.  The bridge though being the fastest on the song was so sad because it was the best parts of the song damnit!  Very grand of a song and in time I will ignore the whore ~dance, dance, dance do it again~ parts.

14. November

I thought the opening to the final new song was so darned cute with the xylophone and harmonica together.  Even better was whatever was playing behind Ayu in the first verse…that was pretty cool.  While it’s nothing totally new from her, November is probably the most solid song to listen to from the album and I ended up liking it quite a bit. 

15. Virgin Road

Since the rest of the album consists of previously known songs, Virgin Road (main song from “L”) comes next and really sounds bland when looking at the main album.  I mean once again piano and strings (the latter I’m highly getting annoyed with at this point) fill the song and while it gave us a more emotional performance from Ayu, the song falls when compared to “crossroad” and even “MOON” since I never connected with it. 

16. SEVEN DAYS WAR

Ending the regular editions of the album and the CD+DVD, the album closes with SEVEN DAYS WAR which we all knew was the B-side from “crossroad” and is a cover of a TM NETWORK song.  I still don’t think it should’ve been added to the album because the only thing that makes it stand out was the fact that Ayu had so much Engrish for the song that it kind of surprised me.  It still kind of sucks, but whatever beggers can’t be choosers.

17. SEVEN DAYS WAR (Live at Yoyogi on Oct. 11 2010)

On the other hand if you splurged into buying the SD/USB version of the album, you get a live version of SEVEN DAYS WAR instead.  As much as I have to say it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a live version of anything from Ayu so this was an interesting choice.  Ayu’s vocals are a bit in that offkey tone again, but at least she’s pulling the song off slightly better than the studio version.  Still not a great tune though >.>

Tracks Recommended

  • November
  • sending mail
  • crossroad
  • MOON
  • do it again

Song of Avoidance

  • SEVEN DAYS WAR

To me Ayu’s Love songs was totally rushed and ended up exactly like how alan’s “my life” turned out last year.  I’m not sure why, but this album lacked the flair her last albums had and to be honest it might be along the lines of blandness that struck her down in her avex debut album.  I might be harsh, but when all the songs have piano and strings in each song, it becomes painstakingly boring and I just start to tune out the album.  I’m sorry, but this album is prolly her lowest point IMHO.

 

BESPA☆KUMAMERO – spiral connector

Filed under: BESPA☆KUMAMERO — solarblade @ 6:54 am

Track Listing

  1. prologue
  2. like a moonlight
  3. BK’s “Je Suis Fou” (feat. ELECTRONIKBOY)
  4. TRICK STAR
  5. Totem Master
  6. paint to me
  7. spiral connector
  8. Takeda Takeshi
  9. D.P.Fighter
  10. Betty’s Mirror
  11. Kimi ga Inai Asa
  12. losing time (Toby&Bus Remix)

1. prologue

Starting the album, prologue gives off a more darker electro vibe than their last album “PLASTIC CONFUSION” started with and it sort of reminds me of some songs from their debut.  Monkichi’s arranging styles haven’t changed much, but it’s nice he’s taking a vocal role against the electro-rock atmosphere…hope it leads to something awesome.

2. like a moonlight

Into our first full track, like a moonlight has a pretty cool flow to it, but likewise they’re strong when there’s a repetitive melody going on.  Once Azumi joins in for the first time, her voice sounds rather soft and more suave and controlled which is good to see for sure.  I love the more airy feel the songs gives off when it does get full sound, but Azumi’s parts in the song are just good to listen…club music maybe?

3. BK’s “Je Suis Fou” (feat. ELECTRONIKBOY)

I’m guessing this is actually BESPA’s (sort-of) cover of a French song.  Not sure of the original version, but this is quite nice since there’s a lot more focus with Monkichi’s guitar-playing here.  After the French stops going on, there’s more music and Azumi joins to give her touch to the song and I’ve noticed her singing has gotten quite better since their debut.  I’m not totally sure what ELECTRONIKBOY does in the song, to be honest, but I’m sure he supplied the song with the synths and stuff.  Still this isn’t a bad song, but two languages that I’m not fluent in is pretty tough to follow along.

4. TRICK STAR

Going back to just the duo, TRICK STAR starts with a pretty interesting rhythm beat, maybe a slight bit too long…Oh I guess this is a Monkichi solo because there’s just no vocals in the song, a lot of synths and beats and other little picks around the song.  I will admit the later half of the song is actually quite better and does gain a melodic sound so that said…it’s just a long interlude XD

5. Totem Master

I was wondering if Totem Master had anything connections to “Totem Pole” from their debut album and sadly it kind of does in the wrongest of ways.  All in all, the song we have here is just a new version of that song put under new melodies and different synths, but not changing the lyrics around at all.  To me, I love the original’s darker sound than the more progressive sound for Totem Master.  I mean there’s some new lyrics…but…where was that in the original huh and I will admit that the vocals from Azumi are much clearer though XD

6. paint to me

Getting out of that trainwreck, paint to me brings us back into some new tracks and the beat and overall sound really does feel like electro-pop and it sounds nice to listen to.  Azumi’s vocals are about as tight-sounding and kind of shaky like they were in the last album, but she’s trying amongst the synths.  For the most part it sounds great and Monkichi’s skills have gotten better, liking this a bit.

7. spiral connector

Oh yay! We finally get a title track from the duo.  I’m surprised for being such one, it’s surprisingly lighter and happier than most of their works up to this point.  Unfortunately it’s another Monkichi solo and it brought down the likeness for the song quite immensely.  It doesn’t help that it’s 5+ minutes long which adds the salt to the wound.  Still for what we did get, the arrangement is great and shows much much improvement of his skills so he does get brownie points, but next add Azumi and we could have amazingness!

8. Takeda Takeshi

Uhm…a song that has a person’s name on the title of the song?  It’s a little absurd but whatever.  I’m not sure what to think of this song since it’s darker than a bit of the other songs but it brings out the worst in Azumi’s vocals because she sounds too flat and she’s singing quite mechanically…I mean it’s more obvious here than on older songs like “Snipe_001”.  It just took me outta the song for most of it.

9. D.P.Fighter

At least our next songs tries to pull me back into enjoying the album.  It’s nice that we have another song that features Monkichi on lyrics and he sounds edgy and it goes well with the arrangement sort of similar to “prologue”.  Even Azumi gets some quick words in there to give more spice and it’s a great song for the album.  One of the awesome ones.

10. Betty’s Mirror

Another odd title to go along with, Betty’s Mirror is sadly another instrumental piece and I have the exact same feelings like I did with “spiral connector”.  The fact that the song excels in the arrangement so much makes me wish there were vocals for it.  The good thing is perhaps they can take this and learn to use both music and vocals together in these amazing arrangements.

11. Kimi ga Inai Asa

Supposedly requested to be made full because the cellphone ringtone of this song was actually quite popular.  I love the fact there’s actual piano mixed in with the interesting synth melody which would sound great to hear on the phone.  I love the more innocent vibe I get from this track and Azumi adds it in quite nicely as well.  It’s one of the best of the album for sure and I wished “spiral connector” and “Betty’s Mirror” ended up together in harmony like this song had.

12. losing time (Toby&Bus Remix)

If you can remember, losing time was the final track off of “Romantic Waves” and its remix also is put at the end of this album.  It’s also the longest on the album being almost 7 minutes long.  I did enjoy the original because it was so different on the album and the remix does evoke the same thing since it’s more ethereal and Azumi has some echo filters going.  The same problem though is still present with the vocals being so monotone and one-noted.  At least the music kept things interesting and it ends the album on a good note.

Tracks Recommended

  • Kimi ga Inai Asa
  • D.P.Fighter
  • paint to me
  • like a moonlight
  • losing time (Toby&Bus Remix)

Song of Avoidance

  • Totem Master

Oh boy…BESPA’s 3rd album kind of faulted this time around for me.  While I do love that they’re broadening out and bringing both, synth-pop and electro-pop together, there was some mis-steps present.  I think Monkichi took too much time for himself since there were three solo songs with no lyrics and that could’ve been handled better (letting Azumi sing would be the biggest need).  Also the new version of “Totem Pole” was just poor…otherwise it was good, but “PLASTIC CONFUSION” still reigns over.

 

Juliet – Yuki Love

Filed under: Juliet — solarblade @ 12:50 am

Track Listing

  1. Yuki Love
  2. “Koe ga Kikitakute”

1. Yuki Love

I kind of wish Juliet started going back to original song titles and not abuse the whole ____ Love shtick that’s been going on since they debuted.  Anyways, the trio opted for another wintry ballad and I think it’s a bit more simpler than “Fuyu Love”, but this one has better vocals and is a bit more emotionally driven than said song.  Fitting for the season and makes up for the meh last single.

2. “Koe ga Kikitakute”

As for the B-side, it definitely does surprise since it’s a bit more danceable and has a lot of cute sounding synths that make it sound slightly futuristic.  To me it’s actually new for them and they sound just as melodic as they did in “Yuki Love”.  I will say this was more of the better song since it’s upbeat and catchy as all hell.

Of course coming after that oddness that was both “Aki Love” and the unneeded “Shiki Love”, Yuki Love is so far the best single released so far.  Yuki Love is a heart-warming ballad with a nice splash of R&B thrown in, but not enough to make it bland and lame like a few of their other A-sides they released.  “Koe ga Kikitakute” is a little more of a shock since it’s so upbeat and synthy…sweeeeet single.