Kurayami Monogatari

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MISIA – Kioku May 24, 2011

Filed under: MISIA — solarblade @ 11:29 pm

Track Listing

  1. Kioku
  2. Kono Mama de Tonight (with JP)
  3. Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You
  4. Kioku (Instrumental)
  5. MAWARE MAWARE (Gomi’s Lair Club Remix) (Limited Edition only)

1. Kioku

Ahhhh, something that’s quite beautiful for MISIA of course you know it’s going to happen again.  I love the beautiful orchestral arrangement hear and it always suits MISIA’s vocals for sure.  It’s pretty quiet though, but I don’t mind it since it’s so grand and good for her.  I actually enjoy her vocals since their powerful and she hits notes like DAMN!  I love this as an A-side!

2. Kono Mama de Tonight (with JP)

As the main B-side of the single, Kono Mama de Tonight is a collaboration with JP, sadly I have no idea who he is beyond this but whatever that’s besides the point.  It’s funny that JP starts singing first and he’s got a nice voice on him to go along with MISIA’s vocals.  Of course MISIA does stand out a lot more because of her power vocals and she covers JP quite a bit.  It’s not bad, but it kind of seems like a typical R&B tune. 

3. Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You

Yep, you know this song, it’s a cover of Frankie Valli’s classic song and it’s been covered one too many times by different artists.  MISIA’s version is quite different since it starts with the chorus in a slow state before getting into its upbeat state.  MISIA really makes this cover her own because she sings it differently but keeps the melody close.  It’s an interesting cover for sure and shows her voice off quite awesomely.

4. MAWARE MAWARE (Gomi’s Lair Club Remix)

As a bonus track on the limited edition of the single we get a remix of MAWARE MAWARE (which was a track released on a compilation for FIFA).  I have not listened to the original, so I can’t say much on what’s new but guessing by the club remix, it’s longer and has more focus on the beats and synths used.  It’s interesting nonetheless and it’s nice to hear a MISIA song being remixed and this sounds fun to listen to over and over.

It has been quite a while since we’ve seen MISIA last (at least releasing physical music) so Kioku is a nice return to her music.  Even though I came in when “JUST BALLADE” was done being promoted she’s an impressive singer with an amazing voice to back it up.  Kioku is grand of a song and quite nice.  Her cover was also quite good since she spiced it up in her own way and the remix of MAWARE MAWARE is electro fun!  The only song that kind of didn’t stand out was Kono Mama de Tonight but it’s from the meh arrangement….Since there’s an album announced in July…I hope “EDGE OF THIS WORLD” makes the cut!

 

capsule – WORLD OF FANTASY

Filed under: capsule — solarblade @ 7:20 pm

Track Listing

  1. OPEN THE GATE
  2. WORLD OF FANTASY
  3. I JUST WANNA XXX YOU
  4. STRIKER
  5. KEEP HOPE ALIVE
  6. I WILL
  7. WHAT iS LOVE
  8. I CANT SAY I LIKE YOU
  9. PRIME TIME
  10. CLOSE THE GATE

CD2

  1. WORLD OF FANTASY (Extended-Mix)
  2. STRIKER (Extended-Mix)

1. OPEN THE GATE

Yay for intro track right?  OPEN THE GATE sounds kind of mysterious but cool at the same time with the amount of synths playing in the song.  Sounds like something from an RPG or something, it’s just that cool to listen to. 

2. WORLD OF FANTASY

As the album’s promotional track (odd the PV isn’t included to the album though).  Just like the opening, WORLD OF FANTASY has such a sweet vibe to it and it sounds like something I’d drive to at night since it has that kind of drive to it.  Toshiko also appears to sing the lyrics and they seem to be repetitive lyrics once again.  I definitely enjoyed this song and I’m pretty much in love with the PV.  Good choice to promote.

3. I JUST WANNA XXX YOU

You wanna do what with me?!!!!  I love the the kind of darker vibe of our next song because it’s so unusual and new from Nakata-san.  In a way it kind of sounds like Indian music, but pretty slight since the song is still more focused on the club beats.  The thing that makes me lulz is Toshiko saying the title and knowing she’s saying ~fuck~ but it’s censored out XDDDD.  Fun song here LOL

4. STRIKER

I’m not sure it’s Toshiko singing in STRIKER, but the fact there’s no auto-tune/vocoder stuck on her voice is pretty interesting and STRIKER is definitely reminding me of “e.d.i.t” from two album’s past with such an eargasm of an arrangement.  Unlike the past two tracks, this one is more focused on Nakata’s skills as a producer and he does a kickass job with this one.  It’s one of my favorites from the album to be honest.

5. KEEP HOPE ALIVE

LOL, are we really wanting to make this sound like some SNES adventure game?!?  I don’t know why, but the way KEEP HOPE ALIVE sounds reminds of those good ole days.  I am happy that the song isn’t lines repeated and an actual structured song for the duo and it’s kind of catchy for being one of the more lighter songs on the album. 

6. I WILL

If I thought “I JUST WANNA XXX YOU” had light Indian vibes, the opening for I WILL totally caught me with that freaky chant.  This track though really is something else.  What I mean is that it’s pretty dark and heavy and I like that quite a bit.  I like Toshiko here as well seeing as she isn’t in auto-tune again for the most part surprised me in such a song like this.  Loving this track!!!

7. WHAT iS LOVE

Why is the “i” in lower case here XD.  After the dark electro we got with “I WILL”, it’s a but of a weird change to get into something more lighter and happier with WHAT iS LOVE.  I will say that I love the fact Nakata introduced brass in the arrangement for sure.  Sadly, stock vocals finally make their appearance here and while I kind of go meh at them, Toshiko also coincides in the song so it’s not a big disappointment.  This song is nice though, but I don’t remember this as much the other songs on the album.

8. I CANT SAY I LIKE YOU

I don’t know why but this sounds like something Terukado would produce (at least in the opening before it cuts to the lone synth melody).  More stock vocals appear as well and once again, not bad because Toshiko’s there too, but this is kind of like a lighter version of “What do you want to do”.  It’s alright, but I kind of forget it after a while.

9. PRIME TIME

For the final main song, PRIME TIME also feels like “The Music” in the sound of synths, but this is a bit more interesting to listen to because Toshiko has a more active role going on here.  Funny that this song would be the one to capture my interest because of the fuller experience and Toshiko sounds great even though she’s definitely under some auto-tune.  Epic song to really end things up with!

10. CLOSE THE GATE

Finally, there’s the outro to the album which is also as mysterious as the intro.  It’s a tiny bit longer than the intro, but this kind of grows more as time goes by adding ad-libbing after a while but it kind of just ends after that.  Strange for an outro but I guess it does its job

CD2

1. WORLD OF FANTASY (Extended-Mix)

Adding almost 3 extra minutes to the song WORLD OF FANTASY begins the second disc on a long note.  Like previous extensions of Nakata’s capsule works, it starts with a pulsing beat and builds upon that before the main arrangement comes in.  Now the parts extended were mostly in the beginning and end but it’s usually that each time.  It’s really a nice extension of an already good song so it’s your choice for which to like.

2. STRIKER (Extended-Mix)

Unlike “WORLD OF FANTASY’s” extra three minutes, STRIKER only adds about a minute and that’s a little odd to me.  I mean it does have a different opening and I don’t really notice the changes made but it’s ok since the song is still quite awesome.  Definitely still an epic song.

Tracks Recommended

  • I WILL
  • STRIKER
  • PRIME TIME
  • WORLD OF FANTASY
  • I JUST WANNA XXX YOU

Song of Avoidance

  • I CANT SAY I LIKE YOU

Wow, I think this album is probably the hardest album capsule has done yet since there was no song that was slow and boring so this was easily meant to be album to dance to the ENTIRE time.  I wish this was out sooner under the “KILLER WAVE” title but y’know earthquake happens and sends it back a month.  Still, WORLD OF FANTASY is a pretty strong release from the duo and I seriously loved it!  Definitely an upgrade after “PLAYER”!

 

Yui Sakakibara (PHANTASM) – Tokitsukasadoru Juuni no Meiyaku

Filed under: Yui Sakakibara — solarblade @ 11:13 am

Track Listing

  1. Tokitsukasadoru Juuni no Meiyaku
  2. Uruwashiki Seduce
  3. Tokitsukasadoru Juuni no Meiyaku (off vocal)
  4. Uruwashiki Seduce (off vocal)

1. Tokitsukasadoru Juuni no Meiyaku

Dang, the opening to the main track is creepy as hell.  It’s not like “BLOODY TUNE” creepy but it’s close.  Since we’re back in Yui’s PHANTASM moniker, I must say this is quite an epic song once again.  I love how the verses are very unsettling and then the chorus rushes in on full blast and turns into this powerful and dark track.  It’s pretty awesome and I think this is prolly the best of the PHANTASM A-sides yet.

2. Uruwashiki Seduce

Even the B-side of this single is as rockin’.  I love Yui’s deep vocals in settings like this because she can hit notes a whole lot better and she gives us a nice creepy vibe.  Even when the chorus calls for her being in a higher tone, she doesn’t overdo it and it sounds quite cool.  It’s also a little cleaner in execution when compared with “Tokitsukasadoru Juuni no Meiyaku” as well…so it’s pretty much the better track.

By the looks of it, we’ll have another PHANTASM album after the next single’s release and I’m happy because I haven’t been totally disappointed with the era.  Yui should definitely strive to make her music more along the lines of this.  Both songs are pretty awesome in their own rights and makes me wonder how “Pregheria no Tsukiyo/EUPHORIA ~Tsugunai no Requiem~” will turn out.

 

Etsuko Yakushimaru – Lulu/Tokimeki Hacker

Filed under: Etsuko Yakushimaru — solarblade @ 10:38 am

Track Listing

  1. Lulu
  2. Tokimeki Hacker
  3. Lulu (off vocal ver.)
  4. Tokimeki Hacker (off vocal ver.)
  5. Lulu (tv-size)
  6. Tokimeki Hacker (EOG only)

1. Lulu

I’m not sure what to really think about Lulu.  I’m still new with Etsuko’s music, but I wasn’t really sure that a song like this was going to pop up as her fourth A-side.  It’s sickingly adorable, but it oddly fits Etsuko’s vocals.  It does grow into something that sounds silly, but cute at the same time.  It’s not bad and it’s kind of lulzy in a way.  A lot more memorable than “COSMOS vs ALIEN” at least.

2. Tokimeki Hacker

However, as an experimental artist she is, I leaned more towards the other A-side this time.  It’s got this odd dance style going and it’s a fun song to listen even though Etsuko isn’t really singing much, but whatever, the arrangement saved her ass in this case since it’s upbeat and filled the headphones better.  Though I do question the repetition of some lines since it gets a little much after a while.  Abstract song for sure!

3. Tokimeki Hacker (EOG only)

I seriously don’t understand the final track on the single because it’s not a “tv-size” version like “Lulu”.  It’s like really freaking taking various parts of the song and throw them in rapid succession to make a short version of it.  I can’t say it isn’t original in the least and there’s parts that I can hear vocals during the cutting and pasting.  Still, why was it done though???

I wonder if an album is next for Etsuko but either way Lulu/Tokimeki Hacker isn’t that bad of a single, but it definitely does throw away what I thought of her on the first single I reviewed from her.  Lulu is one of the more cuter songs and while I’m not fond of those uber cute songs, this one works with Etsuko’s rather quiet vocals so it wasn’t too off.  I will say that Tokimeki Hacker tickled my fancy just a lil more since it’s danceable and is fun.  The EOG only track was freaky and makes me wonder what’s going on there.  Good single though overall ^_^

 

Maaya Sakamoto – Kazeyomi

Filed under: Maaya Sakamoto — solarblade @ 7:10 am

Track Listing

  1. Vento
  2. Triangler
  3. Kazemachi Jet ~ kazeyomi edition
  4. Remedy
  5. Ame ga Furu
  6. Get No Satisfaction!
  7. Ao no Ether
  8. Shitsuren Cafe
  9. SONIC BOOM
  10. Peanuts
  11. Saigo no Kajitsu
  12. Colors
  13. Kazamidori
  14. Guitar Hiki ni Naritai na

1. Vento

Being the introduction track to Maaya’s album, Vento opens with an orchestral moment and it’s a really pretty melody to listen to.  I’m not sure what the melody of the song is (if there’s any) but it’s nice nonetheless.  After the midway point, Maaya starts to sing but there’s background vocals mixed in giving this strange ethereal feel through the mix of vocals.  Nice little intro.

2. Triangler

As the 3rd A-side, Triangler is a bit on the fence with me still for some reason.  The arrangement of the song is great and very nice to listen to, but Maaya’s vocals are just not together in this song as she hits these awkward notes in the chorus that it kind of turns me off.  Still, I love the pop/rock arrangement so it’s a bit of a love/hate kind of song for me.

3. Kazemachi Jet ~ kazeyomi edition

Being as Kazemachi Jet is an old ass song (released in 2006, Kazeyomi in 2009), it was kind of obvious it was going to be changed for the album.  The new version isn’t as cute and fluffy like the original replacing the keyboard in the original with violin.  I guess it makes better sense since it does sound like the music I’ve heard from Maaya prior to the album, but it feels like it lost it’s identity as the cute song.  Even Maaya resang the song and doesn’t sound as good as it once was…meh…I’ll take the original.

4. Remedy

After two old songs, we move into a new track and is the first rather slower songs on the album.  I find it weird that it does slightly remind me of “Magic Number” (even though that was released after).  It’s a nice mid-tempo track from Maaya has a lot of great things about it.

5. Ame ga Furu

As the 4th and last A-side of the era, Ame ga Furu was one of my favorites just a little under “Kazemachi Jet”.  It starts off mysterious and slow like it was going to be a ballad, but once you get into the track, it starts to change and explodes into a nice pop/rock track that sounds quite nice for Maaya.  Might not be powerful, but it does its job right.

6. Get No Satisfaction!

Getting into some new songs now starting with Get No Satisfaction! and it stands out for me since it’s pretty much pop/rock done so much better than her try with “Triangler”.  I love Maaya’s vocals and she clearly sounds like she’s having with the arrangement which does sound a bit anime-ish since it’s pop/rock with strings so you know what I mean right?!?  It’s pretty awesome overall, a quick favorite almost!

7. Ao no Ether

After that we needed a chill pill and Ao no Ether comes crawling in quite soothingly with a rather quiet atmosphere and arrangement which is only piano and the soft tones of Maaya’s pure and sweet vocals.  It’s a really pretty song as well giving many different emotions throughout and I like the parts where it seems sad but moves into a more content feeling.  I wouldn’t say I’d repeat on end, but it’s definitely a sweet and beautiful ballad from her.

8. Shitsuren Cafe

I love the jazzy sounds of Shitsuren Cafe going through my headphones after listening to something like “Ao no Ether” simply because this kind of makes things lively again without going overboard.  I guess it makes a nice thing being the jazzy tune and all, but it is weird that I feel this would’ve sound better if she had held it off until she released “You can’t catch me”?

9. SONIC BOOM

For a title like that being that big and stuff, I was expecting something along the lines of “Get No Satisfaction!”, but this is actually nice but not as amazing as said song.  It starts off like a mid-tempo acoustic song, but the chorus blares out (kind of like “Ame ga Furu”, but not as drastic).  It’s alright, but nothing too amazing and other songs surpass it.

10. Peanuts

With “Kazemachi Jet” losing it’s cute properties because of the new version of it, I guess Peanuts takes its place as the cute song and it’s friggin adorable of a song.  I love the plucked strings in the melody and after a while when the songs gets further in, it gets even more catchy by having a fun clapping rhythm added mixed with other things.  Ok, it’s one of my favorite songs on the album!

11. Saigo no Kajitsu

Second A-side comes up next and I must say, this was my favorite of the A-sides released because it has a nice buildup and good instruments mixed with a really nice performance from Maaya.  Later on with the jingle bells, it does feel like a winter song but still quite nice to listen to.  Still loving it despite how long I’ve had it on my iTunes XD

12. Colors

Getting into our last tracks which are all new, Colors is pretty when it opens.  It seriously feels totally different then all the other songs on the album.  I mean the whole ethereal sounding arrangement is beautiful as hell and the fact that Maaya is singing in English is a winner in my book and she sounds quite good.  Scratch “Peanuts”, this is the album’s best track for sure!!!

13. Kazamidori

After “Colors”, I was surprised that the next song was going to be slightly underwhelming, but not to this level because it’s like another “Saigo no Kajitsu” and “Remedy”.  That being said, it’s kind of unimpressive and doesn’t leave mark.  Though it does later when it was performed live and the track made it on “Magic Number”‘s tracklist.

14. Guitar Hiki ni Naritai na

As the album comes to a close, the final track is a three minute acoustic track.  Yeah, I could’ve guessed that well with a title like that but still.  It’s pretty basic of a song and it’s got a nice charm to it.  Pretty little tune and is a closing song.

Tracks Recommended

  • Colors
  • Peanuts
  • Get No Satisfaction!
  • Ao no Ether
  • Saigo no Kajitsu

Song of Avoidance

  • Kazemachi Jet ~ kazeyomi edition

Like I said in the “You can’t catch me” review, I said this was a nice album and it’s true and it’s still a little bit worse than her next release since a couple of the songs didn’t really interest me in the long run, but there’s quite a few songs that stood out which is so good.  I guess it was an alright single but her next album trumps this ^_^

 

Ayaka Hirahara – Path of Independence

Filed under: Ayaka Hirahara — solarblade @ 4:41 am

Track Listing

  1. Path of Independence
  2. Nocturne
  3. Hoshi Tsumugi no Uta
  4. Kodoku no Mukou
  5. Sora ni Namida wo Kaeshitara
  6. Sayonara Watashi no Natsu
  7. Ima・Koko・Watashi
  8. Akane
  9. Tenshi no Hashigo
  10. Ichibanboshi
  11. Ima, Kaze no Naka de
  12. Ame no Sasayaki
  13. Campanula no Koi ~Acoustic Version~
  14. To be free

1. Path of Independence

I knew coming into the album this was going to be a nice light album and the first song which is the title track added to that mindset.  I love the slow, but grand build for the song and when she gets to the chorus it goes from a piano melody to more of an orchestral feel.  I also liked that line of ~I have nothing, nothing left to feel~ near the end of the chorus before it adds more instruments like electric guitars and more percussion.  Pretty song for sure and grows into a powerful tune in the end.

2. Nocturne

As part of the double A-side that closed before the album, Nocturne is of course the Japanese version of “Campanula no Koi”.  However, it is in its own distinct identity because it’s also different in the arrangement.  To me the added bass and background vocals added more color to the song and of course Ayaka herself sounds great here.  I seriously ended up enjoying this more than it’s sister so that says something.

3. Hoshi Tsumugi no Uta

As the second A-side of the era, Hoshi Tsumugi no Uta does make things a little bit more of a happier ballad and it really does sound like a great song to listen to at night simply just by going by the single’s cover.  While it doesn’t have a powerful climax like the previous two tracks, I’m still happy with what we got with this song…simple acoustic ballad…me likey!

4. Kodoku no Mukou

As it was the A-side released after our last track, I’m still kind of unimpressed with this track because of the rather blah arrangement and Ayaka’s voice sounds off for some reason like she had a cold during the production of the song.  Nothing against or anything, but she has way better ballads than this (especially on this album).

5. Sora ni Namida wo Kaeshitara

Then after that we get her 4th single’s tracklist but backwards next starting with the B-side.  After that borefest from “Kodoku no Mukou”, it was nice to finally get into some upbeat songs and this song was such a great choice to add on the album.  It really fits the summer vibes the single was showing off and I love the bouncy rhythms and Ayaka lightened up and gave a fun performance with this tune.  Just what I needed!!!

6. Sayonara Watashi no Natsu

While I do think this song is a bit slower than “Sora ni Namida wo Kaeshitara”, this also has summer vibes too but it’s not as lighthearted since I feel like there’s a bit of slight more serious vibe going on in the lyrics.  I guess I liked the B-side a bit more than this, but it’s ok because this song is also quite good.

7. Ima・Koko・Watashi

Going to the B-side from “Hoshi Tsumugi no Uta”, this song is also upbeat like the previous two tracks, but unlike them this doesn’t feel like a summer song and actually sounds good if Ayaka ever wants to try a pop/rock sound again one day.  Ayaka sounds great and the song’s breezy vibes work for me this time around.  Definitely one of the better B-sides of the era.

8. Akane

When the album was released this was a new song, but afterwards was relegated also to be a recut single so it doesn’t get bolded in the review.  After the last three songs, it’s good to go back to something a bit more Ayaka-like with ballads and I felt this song had a more dramatic vibe that fits with “Path of Independence”.  Oddly enough, I wouldn’t have minded just an instrumental and well it came true as the single was released.  I loved this song!

9. Tenshi no Hashigo

I will say that I’m surprised with the lack of new songs on the album for sure.  Getting into our 3rd new song out of 4, Tenshi no Hashigo was really weird because I felt it would’ve been better in between “Ima・Koko・Watashi” and “Akane” because it has a lot of things that remind me of both tracks.  I like the fact that it’s upbeat and yet uses a lot of strings throughout as well.  Not as good as other songs, but I like it for being a new track.

10. Ichibanboshi

Back into some old songs with the B-side from “Kodoku no Mukou”, Ichibanboshi is quite nice of a song when it’s placed far away from it’s A-side.  I’m not sure how to classify it because there’s this shuffling sound throughout mixed with piano/strings and it feels like a ballad all over.  It’s a nice song, a bit lengthy, but nice overall.

11. Ima, Kaze no Naka de

Moving into the first A-side of the era, it’s been a long time since I’ve listened to this track.  After such a lengthy era, Ima, Kaze no Naka de doesn’t seem like much anymore since most of everything released after it has been more eventful and longer lasting.  It feels like the buildup from “Path of Independence” is here, but not there at the same time…it’s kind of odd.  It’s nice of a song, but there’s better A-sides on the album IMO.

12. Ame no Sasayaki

Our final new song off the album appears next and I’m not fully impressed with this because it feels like “Ima, Kaze no Naka de” but a little more on the sad side.  I mean with the mood switch it kind of does stand out on the album, but I still feel rather unmoved by the arrangement so it kind of comes off as forgettable in the long run.

13. Campanula no Koi ~Acoustic Version~

I still find it strange than Campanula no Koi had to be added in the album even though “Nocturne” was there.  Of course I like this song since it’s the English version and all, but being a new version made me wonder what this was going to be like and it’s a lot more emptier than I thought it’d be.  The piano arrangement is nice and all, but it just feels lonely and not as good as “Nocturne” was…

14. To be free

Closing the album up is one of the B-sides from “Ima, Kaze no Naka de”.  It does make a good closer because it’s one of the slower songs with a nice orchestral feel to it.  Ayaka also does a great job singing as well giving it life and power in the right places.  Definitely a nice piece to end a nice lengthy album, at least to me it is.

Tracks Recommended

  • Sora ni Namida wo Kaeshitara
  • Path of Independence
  • Akane
  • Ima・Koko・Watashi
  • Nocturne

Song of Avoidance

  • Kodoku no Mukou

As it is Ayaka’s 5th studio album, it’s kind of sad this album only really had four new songs plus an edited track and added so many older songs on it.  Otherwise, it’s not a bad album and it shows a nice amount of versatility within her music.  Now what sucks was that after Akane’s release, Ayaka decided to go on this “my Classics” business…I hope she returns to original music soon!