Kurayami Monogatari

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HIROKO – OPEN THE DOOR May 18, 2011

Filed under: HIROKO — solarblade @ 9:32 pm

Track Listing

  1. Intro ~Open the door~
  2. CARNIVAL
  3. GIRLZ UP ~stand up for yourself~
  4. Rock With You
  5. Saigo no Koi
  6. Promise You
  7. is this Luv?
  8. SLOW MOTION featuring TSUGUMI (from SOULHEAD)
  9. Baby
  10. Song for you

1. Intro ~Open the door~

The whole surround sound that opens the album sounds so cool.  It’s weird though that a child starts to talk about seeing dreams and talking about all this deep stuffs and ends with HIROKO joining the kid to say ~Now I open the door…~.  Very interesting intro.

2. CARNIVAL

Ever since her debut, I’ve been wanting something that was a bit like “GIRLZ UP ~stand up for yourself~”.  CARNIVAL isn’t there, but it has this kind of slick and sexy groove to it that I enjoyed.  Also any song that doesn’t have HIROKO yelling is a good thing.  For something called CARNIVAL I was expecting something vibrant and nothing that’s creepy but this actually turned out better than I hoped…not bad!

3. GIRLZ UP ~stand up for yourself~

Umph, I still love this song like hell for some reason.  I mean it’s nothing that I could’ve searched in mihimaru GT’s discography but this has staying power and HIROKO just had fun with this song.  I love the arrangement and it really gets you energetic.  Definitely one of the more memorable A-sides of the year and great to dance to!

4. Rock With You

Oh hey another heavy song to listen to ^_^.  It does seem like the same producer who worked on “GIRLZ UP” had a hand in this because there’s places where it feels like dejavu.  It doesn’t ask too much from HIROKO since her vocals aren’t as profound and loud like the last track but it’s a nice change.  I do think the minimal sounds in the verses against the full-on sound in the chorus is a bit odd but once again, not bad here.

5. Saigo no Koi

Then moving from the dance tracks to the more slower stuffs, Saigo no Koi still doesn’t do much for me for some reason.  I know I bashed it enough in the single review because Jeff Miyahara produced it, but it really does sound like a typical Miyahara R&B ballad but with HIROKO’s unique vocals.  I guess it’s alright, but it’s still such a downgrade as HIROKO’s 2nd A-side.

6. Promise You

Then we enter the album’s promotional song and this was much better than “Saigo no Koi” for sure even though I feel like he also did this song as well.  I kind of like the arrangement this time and HIROKO’s vocals sounded much more cleaner and the chorus was pretty powerful.  Still not as good as the booty poppin songs, but this is good for her.

7. is this Luv?

Wow, only two slow songs and then we’re back into some hot shit?  I must say, other than “GIRLZ UP” this is probably my next favorite since the beats are catchy and even though HIROKO has a bit of auto-tune going on, it’s really catchy for some reason.  I must say it’s a surprise of a song and the chorus kind of got nailed into my head so I’m humming it alot!  Great song!

8. SLOW MOTION featuring TSUGUMI (from SOULHEAD)

When I saw that HIROKO was collaborating with TSUGUMI, I knew this song was going to be a bit dirty for sure.  Now we all know in vocal capabilities, TSUGUMI outdoes HIROKO, but this song is actually quite sexy and they both did a great job.  I like the rap from TSUGUMI and fit the atmosphere of the song very well.  Awesome song and is a fun and interesting collaboration for sure.

9. Baby

HIROKO didn’t exactly have the best of choices for B-sides in the era (only really between this and “Love Rincho”) and both songs were similar to one another so it was like whatever choice is ok.  It’s not like the slow songs, but it’s not a song to really booty pop to either so it’s kind of placed in the middle and that’s a strange place for a song like Baby to be.  It’s not a bad song though and it sticks in my mind better than any of the album’s slow songs.

10. Song for you

Ending the album on a sweet note, Song for you is another ballad track, but it’s not as R&B-like like “Saigo no Koi” and “Promise You”.  This track is a bit more lighter on those sides utilizing some beats and some snapping/clapping.  It might be the simplest song off the album but it shut the door on a good place and that’s a great thing to do in my book…whatever that may be XD

Tracks Recommended

  • GIRLZ UP ~stand up for yourself~
  • is this Luv?
  • Baby

Song of Avoidance

  • Saigo no Koi

HIROKO’s debut album is alright for the most part but it felt like literally split into halves.  The sexy club-thumpers and the more slower and emotional side (ballads and light stuff).  I mean yeah it’s what we’ve known since mihimaru GT that she does both, but I would’ve had liked a little more variety if you get what I mean….I think I liked miyake’s album better IMHO.

 

Kou Shibasaki – CIRCLE CYCLE

Filed under: Kou Shibasaki — solarblade @ 8:52 pm

Track Listing

  1. wish
  2. Parallel World Reading
  3. Mukei Spirit
  4. Ai no Wa
  5. Graspin’ all of it
  6. EUPHORIA
  7. Tonari
  8. Genomi Chronicle
  9. Sayonalove
  10. Focus
  11. Eine Kleine
  12. Rouge no Dengon
  13. Philosophy

1. wish

Fitting that she begins her album with the last A-side released in the era and wish still surprises me in a good way.  I know she hasn’t had the best era in A-side land but this was a great track to return to her good stuff.  I’ve said before that this feels like a dream and Kou’s vocals really fit in this style almost perfectly.  Still one of my favorite songs from this album for sure.

2. Parallel World Reading

Our first new song to appear, Parallel World Reading is pretty much what most of the album is going to feel like and it’s a more electro-based album this time around.  I love the synths used in the song and in the quieter parts it feels like a mix of “wish” and “EUPHORIA” but it grows back into this awesome beat-driven song.  I’d actually love to know who produced this because it’s gold for sure.  I’d say right now it’s my favorite track!

3. Mukei Spirit

I kind of wished the added the studio live version off of “wish” instead of putting the original.  This still has problems for me getting used to it’s more funk-based atmosphere but it’s also due to because of how messy Kou’s lyrics match up to the arrangement.  I mean the whole ~the dance~ lines do make it easier to take it in, but it’s still kind of a brash song for Kou…not really something I’d go back to over and over again.  Though I will say I like the risk she took by doing a pop/rock track again…but still nothing like “lover soul”.

4. Ai no Wa

Talking about “lover soul” it seems because of the amazingness, she wanted to recapture it but in a much lighter feel and we ended up with Ai no Wa.  It’s actually quite catchy and since the guitars get replaced by beats and synths it’s more along the lines of something in between “lover soul” and “Parallel World Reading”.  It’s absurdly catchy and she gives a fun performance…but not a very strong one.  I still found myself bobbing my head to it ^_^

5. Graspin’ all of it

Yep, another rock track appears on the album and I took quick notice about Kou’s nasal vocals in this track and it oddly shocked me she took that for this song.  It does seem pretty basic against the previous songs but she needed a rock song since she pulled it off so well in her last album.  I can’t tell if the song is fully in English, but it sure sounds like it but Kou makes it tough to follow what she’s exactly saying.  It does have its merits, but nothing I’d totally return to.

6. EUPHORIA

To go from something like “Graspin’ all of it” to EUPHORIA is a bit jagged of a move, but seeing as this is really only one of two ballads on the album, it had to be placed somewhere right?  Anywho, EUPHORIA might be the first A-side released but it really made me happy to see such a powerful ballad, (especially after Honto da yo which confused to as why it didn’t make CIRCLE CYCLE’s cut).  The verses weren’t much to gawk at but the chorus is just too awesome to pass up.  Great A-side, but this and the next song seem like oddities on the album.

7. Tonari

So we finally get a studio version of Tonari eh?  If you remember Tonari was first seen as a live cut on the “EUPHORIA” single.  It’s not a surprise to see it appear on the album, but it seems not a lot has really been changed.  The same instruments are there (acoustic guitar, piano, bongos, strings) yeah.  It’s nice to hear it this way, but I think the live version made it a bit more homely and such.

8. Genomi Chronicle

While I don’t totally count “Tonari” as a B-side, the literal only B-side to make the album’s cut is from “Mukei Spirit”.  I actually didn’t mind the choice of B-sides since they were pretty good for the most part but I had an inkling that it would’ve been “u.”.  Genomi Chronicle isn’t bad either and actually sounds like it was the easiest choice since it’s like “Ai no Wa” with the mix of rock and synths.  The biggest difference though is that Kou is under some filters and I’ve gotten used hearing that quite a bit and so it has gotten better for me.  Fun song and great B-side.

9. Sayonalove

The reason this song was bolded because it was released as a digital single earlier in the year, but I have not heard it until now.  Why wasn’t this released as an A-side?  It sounds really good and Kou’s vocals mixes well with the club beats so well.  It’s different for me and while it doesn’t make itself stand out like “Parallel World Reading”, this is actually quite nice and fits her style to a T.

10. Focus

For a song that’s called Focus, there’s not a whole lot of it in this song.  To me it sounds like she’s trying to be all School Food Punishment here and it’s strange because the arrangement would fit them.  However, after the first verse it just goes downhill and the sound gets way too cluttered and starts losing its focus!  It’s definitely my least favorite song off the album…no more of this Kou XD

11. Eine Kleine

I love the heavier electro beat for our next song for some reason.  After “Focus”, this also feels like it broke the flow of the album just a little bit but I still enjoyed this song and I’m stuck in where it’s classified as…but I’m sure most people would call it an upbeat ballad….so I guess there’s three.  Kou really sung her heart out in this song and it’s one of the few that caught my attention at first listen.  Pretty cool track and something a bit more experimental for her.

12. Rouge no Dengon

Another cover of Rouge no Dengon?  If you don’t know it’s a pretty popular Ghibli song so I guess it makes sense, but Eri Takenaka just covered this song and this and that cover are two totally different entities.  Unlike Eri’s quick-paced version, Kou’s is more relaxed and feels quite relaxing and set in a more fantasy-like atmosphere.  It’s a nice cover no doubt…but it seriously feels strange on the album.

13. Philosophy

Closing the album, Philosophy keeps the beats going on a good roll and it does feel like an amazing ending song because it feels almost like an upbeat ballad if it wasn’t for the pounding beats.  It might get annoying after a while but it gives the song energy and it feels self-powering almost.  I must say, this was a weird way to end CIRCLE CYCLE but a great song overall.

Tracks Recommended

  • Parallel World Reading
  • wish
  • Ai no Wa
  • Philosophy
  • Sayonalove

Song of Avoidance

  • Focus

CIRCLE CYCLE had some shoes to fill after how amazing “Love Paranoia” turned out and it was inevitable that she wasn’t gonna surpass it with this album.  Not saying this album is bad because I actually liked most of it.  Her experimental side is showing up more and with electro imbued in at least a couple of songs she can pull that style off.  Her rockin’ style though was oddly bad this time around with Mukei Spirit being a poor choice of an A-side, Graspin’ all of it was it’s mehness and poor Engrish, and Focus…which purely sucked lol.  Otherwise, the other songs were pretty good…I guess it’s a pretty good album even coming after “Love Paranoia”.

 

Morning Musume, teh members!: Generation 5: Teh Gokkies!!!

Filed under: ~Morning Musume Special~ — solarblade @ 8:55 am

The Gokkies surely brought a lot of interesting vibes with the addition of what was originally supposed to be Ai Takahashi, Makoto Ogawa, and Risa Niigaki….However Tsunku basically admitted freely that there was one girl who just sucked poorly and he decided to take a risk and add Asami Konno along the ride.  As of writing this only all of the Gokkies graduated….  So let’s get down to it right?  Oh yeah, just like the last generation, their debut single “Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~” didn’t really star them.  However Risa has the opening lines and Makoto was featured a lot in the song’s PV….take that as you will.

Makoto Ogawa

  • Tenure: Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~ ————> Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii jan (18 Singles + 4 Albums + SEXY BOY ~Soyokaze ni Yorisotte~ and Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii jan on SEXY 8 BEAT)
  • Signature Song in Momosu: I don’t think she really did during her days in Momosu where she was main at least
  • Solo Career? None whatsoever
  • Sub-groups: Petitmoni, Happy♡7, SALT5 and participated in MM Otomegumi and DMM.
  • Overall opinion: Really, you had the biggest hopes when you debuted but Tsunku really sucked at lines for ya to be honest only letting you truly shine with the sub-groups.  One-liners don’t cut it.

I used to really love Makoto for some reason.  It could be from her humor or her ways of talking and her Utaban appearances but seriously was shafted when looked at as a whole against the other Gokkies.  I mean she was all over the PVs and she had one-liners that were great like AS FOR ONE DAY and her biggest work during Momosu herself was basically Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari 2 in which she sung a nice amount (then again everyone had the same amount of time in the song).  Very underappreciated and like I said, the sub-groups did a good job of pushing her out like SALT5 where she really man-handled that cookie LOL.  Nowadays, she’s come back from English lessons and has returned as a part of Dream Morning Musume.  She still isn’t the most important, but she’s gettin lines of normality.

Asami Konno

 

  • Tenure: Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~ ————> Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii jan (18 Singles + 4 Albums + SEXY BOY ~Soyokaze ni Yorisotte~ and Ambitious! Yashinteki de Ii jan on SEXY 8 BEAT)
  • Signature Song in Momosu: Namida ga Tomaranai Houkago (24th A-side)
  • Solo Career?: Nope!
  • Sub-groups: Tanpopo, Odoru♡11, Country Musume ni Konno to Fujimoto, 11WATER, and Ongaku Gatas and was in MM Sakuragumi
  • Overall opinion: Weird gal, but she had a personality to boast upon and she was adorable!!!

You really can’t go wrong with someone like Konkon who was the oddly chosen member of the Gokkies.  I mean she doesn’t have the vocals like Yossie, Gocchin, Takitty or even Mako and doesn’t dance the best either!  Remember how Konkon danced in Do it! Now alongside Gocchin?  It was pretty damn awkward.  However as time grew by (and her insatiable appetite) she became one of the more cuter personalities alongside Rika-chan and Aibon/Nono.  She still didn’t have the best vocals but was enough to garner basically a song where she was the front vocals with Namida ga Tomaranai Houkago.  That was impressive and showed that with a lot of dedication a crappy choice can become a force to be reckoned with.  Beyond that, she didn’t have much going for her like Risa or Ai and stuck with Makoto with the rather ignored bunch.  However, whenever Konkon sings, you can easily tell it’s her.  Also oddly enough she’s the only member of the 0G that isn’t doing Dream Morning Musume (Tsuji is participating, but just on baby leave).  Sad to see she isn’t doing it but props for her TV job now ^_^

Ai Takahashi

  • Tenure: Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~ —————>Kono Chikyuu no Heiwa wo Honki de Negatterun da yo! / Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai! (35 Singles + 10 Albums)
  • Signature Song in Momosu: Izakaya (album song on COVER YOU), Denwa de ne (album song from Fantasy! Juuichi), Yuki/Ai×Anata≧Suki (song from 7.5 Fuyu Fuyu Morning Musume Mini!), and Jishin Motte Yume Motte Tobitatsu Kara (B-side from Kono Chikyuu no Heiwa wo Honki de Negatterun da yo! / Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai!) and WAY TOO MANY A-SIDES TO ACCOUNT FOR!
  • Solo Career?: A couple of digital singles with only one original song, Yume Kara Samete
  • Sub-groups: Happy♡7, Minimoni, 7AIR, Elegies, and High-King with her also in MM Sakuragumi
  • Overall opinion: Ever since she debuted she was one of the most pushed of the Gokkies and well-deserved because she has the vocals to do it, but now it’s getting a little much.

Ahhhh, Takitty.  She was definitely the face of  Momosu and she has been for quite a while.  Ever since Nacchi (Natsumi) graduated it seemed like all but a few A-sides and various album songs had Ai as the lead vocals and that’s good and all until you’re doing it repeatedly (especially from Onna ni Sachi Are to Maji Desu ka Ska!).  Her vocals usually are pretty good though and she really has some glorious moments like her epic chorus in Shabondama to her extended epicness in Onna to Otoko no Lullaby Game.  She’s a very versatile gal since she also was in Minimoni and the R&B/Euro sounds of High-King.  I do think it she contributed the most to Morning Musume vocally but it was her time to leave and I’m fine with that.

Risa Niigaki

  • Tenure: Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~  ————-> Ren’ai Hunter (37 Singles + 10 Albums + Pyocopyoco Ultra & Ren’ai Hunter on “13 Colorful Character”)
  • Signature Song in Momosu: Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~ (13th A-side) and Yowamushi (Naichau Kamo’s B-side)
  • Solo Career?: Cover songs mostly (most of the current H!P gals are doing it sooooo it really doesn’t count but whatever floats.
  • Sub-groups: Tanpopo. Happy♡7, 7AIR, Athena & Robikerottsu, ZYX-α, and Reborn Eleven (while also doing MM Sakuragumi, 10nen Kinentai, and Mobekimasu)
  • Overall opinion: She stood out in tons of Momosu’s stuff but it’s because of both her unique vocals and her godawful hairstyles she’s had up until…well it changes too much XD

Risa has always been an interesting member.  I mean she started out kind of like Yossie being a bit tom-boyish and with her odd hairstyles she’s always kind of been awkward of a member for me when I watch their PVs.  She does have vocals, I mean the opening of Mr. Moonlight ~Ai no Big Band~ where she just opens the song up quite nicely and was literally the only Gokkie that really had a part to herself.  Since then she’s been like Konkon and Mako with one-liners and such but she has such an interesting voice that I’m surprised Tsunku didn’t utilize her better.  Nowadays she’s standing out a little bit more, but with the looming change of leaders…it does make me wonder if the departure of Takitty will make Gaki get A LOT MORE VOCAL TIME.  Sadly we don’t really get to see that because she would be leaving just two singles after Takitty’s graduation.

 

 

NEXT TIME, THE ROKKIES, MIKI, ERI, SAYUMI, and REINA!!!!!!!

 

Rina Sakurai – Angel

Filed under: Rina — solarblade @ 1:09 am

Track Listing

  1. Angel
  2. 3AM
  3. Yogoreta Tenshi
  4. Angel ~with MAZICK~

1. Angel

Rina’s debut single Angel sounds really nice from her since it feels a bit like a mid-tempo rock tune.  I actually also enjoyed Rina’s vocals as they aren’t pitchy and has this edgy feel to it as well giving the song a kind of desperate sound that I like.  The arrangement is a little under the weather as it doesn’t give the needed spark that Rina tries to do by singing.  The guitar solos were good though so that’s a plus.  It’s an alright lead track though.

2. 3AM

As the first B-side, 3AM seems to take things on a lower level by making it a bit more ethereal and relaxing than “Angel”.  Rina’s vocals seem like there’s a bit more going on and sounds like there’s a backup vocal singing along with her.  It’s alright for being more of a ballad (I think) but like with the previous song, the arrangement is lacking just a little bit and struggles to keep this song interesting.

3. Yogoreta Tenshi

However, Rina and her producers gets things right with the other B-side.  It is the slowest track, but it left a much bigger mark than its brethren.  It’s got an almost gothic style with depressing strings and piano playing and Rina’s vocals as well.  I will say I wish she chopped the backup singers and sung on her own.  It’s pretty smooth and she pulls the song off epicly.  Why wasn’t I shown this before???

4. Angel ~with MAZICK~

Closing the single and a sort-of an edited version of Angel and a bit stronger of an arrangement with more electric guitars present and some vocal differences…like no backups until the right parts.  It’s not enough to really make a big difference but the bigger emphasis on the guitars did remedy the blandness, if only slightly. 

So Rina’s debut single which I think was an indies release is alright but is nothing to really spaz over.  I mean Angel and 3AM were alright but had blah arrangements.  Yogoreta Tenshi was pretty damn good though and surprised me with it’s dark vibes and sad sound.  The edit of Angel did make things better but not that much.  Oddly enough she wouldn’t release again until two years later when she joined Victor Entertainment.