Yeah I took a vacation which is why I took a week break so posts will happen but slowly as im also dealing with strep throat…so keep watchin!
Namie Amuro – NAKED/Fight Together/Tempest July 23, 2011
NAKED (Extended Instrumental)
Fight Together (Instrumental)
I can already tell that Shinichi Osawa had something to this because the opening melody sounds relatively similar to his friggin work on Angelababy’s “Beauty Survivor”. I will say that Namie has been continuing kicking ass with her main A-sides (“Break It” has become another of my favorites once I started to listen to it again). Anyway, this song has attitude and is very catchy once you get past the directions of the song…even the dance break in the middle can be a little odd at times.
2. Fight Together
Our next track really did come as a surprise and wasn’t even because it was the first known track off the single either. It’s the pure fact that it’s tie-in was to One Piece! (wait, that anime is still going?!?). Namie is no stranger to anime themes (“Come” is the first thing that comes to mind). Fight Together sounds actually pretty good for some reason since it’s also another dance number and has random parts as well…like the brassy bridge. I actually like this the best out of the three songs…not sure why, but Namie sounds really good and it does sound like a song played on the seas so it’s fitting for sure!
I wasn’t surprised to find out that the 3rd A-side of the single was going to be a ballad but after two dance tracks, it’s nice to get something soft and something to show off Namie’s vocals in a better light. I don’t think I’ve ever heard something quite grand and dramatic from Namie in a long time and Tempest definitely overpowers “Get Myself Back” by tenfold. Must say, I’m impressed!
There is also an extended instrumental of NAKED on the single as well which is for Shinichi fans! Anyways, Namie really picked up with this single. I love all three songs that she put out and showed off multiple sides of her musicality. The epic dancing queen with NAKED, the more fun-loving freebird with Fight Together and ballads with Tempest. It couldn’t get any better than this single. *RECOMMENDED*
Pop step trip!
Eureka Baby (Instrumental)
Pop step trip! (Instrumental)
1. Eureka Baby
I seriously wished Natsuko would escape the grasp of sugary genki music, but I guess it seems she’s forever stuck in this direction. I just don’t know why, but I seriously couldn’t get into Eureka Baby just for the reasoning. I mean she’s singing alright, but the background randomness and the music is just too sugary for me. It just isn’t my cup of tea.
2. Pop step trip!
I’m also on the fence with this one as well since it’s just as cute and genki all rolled in one song. However, I do feel that Natsuko is trying to add the cuteness to her vocals and I will admit isn’t so bad and at least this song doesn’t come off as a bit kiddy which is good, but it comes off as a summer track which I’ll take. At least it’s better than “Eureka Baby”.
Since this is Natsuko’s 4th single (probably the last) of the era, Eureka Baby is just like the other releases she’s done. Poor A-side and better B-side it seems to be her work release nowadays. I don’t know…Why can’t she ditch the sugary stuff and go back to the stuff when she first debuted….ugh
Like & Peace!
Koi no Daiyogen
Like & Peace! Anime Ver.
Like & Peace! (Instrumental)
Koi no Daiyogen (Instrumental)
Open Sesame (Instrumental)
1. Like & Peace!
I like the fact that Dream5 knows how to be genki and turn a song’s instrumental into their own. Like & Peace! has a pretty groovy and funky arrangement and since it feature mostly the girls (of course) it’s not very band and find it kind of fun and actually good from an avex idol group eh?
2. Koi no Daiyogen
Jeeze, is the group trying to follow misono’s covering? I mean their last single was a cover of “Koi no Dial 6700” from Finger 5 and now their covering the same band but a different song with Koi no Daiyogen. Of course this is the shortest tune off the single, not even making three minutes in length. Dream5’s cover does keep the genki sound going, but I’m hearing more than the two main singers actually have parts and I like the vibe of this cover. I still prefer their last cover though sadly.
3. Open Sesame
As the other new track on the single, Open Sesame does change the arrangement around slightly by making it include sitar (is that what it is?) and I hear a lot more synths being used which makes this a bit more danceable. It’s a bit more stable as a single since it doesn’t have a whole lot of random sounds going so I’d say this is pretty good.
After their mini-album, Dream5 begins a new era with quite a nice and fun tune with Like & Peace!. The main track is like I said energetic and full of life and they brought life into the song. Open Sesame was pretty good as well, taking it a bit more in stride than in the A-side, but still pretty good. Their Finger 5 cover was alright, but like I said….doesn’t beat “Koi no Dial 6700”.
I Don’t Know
Superstar -Summer Heat Remix- (CD only)
Superstar -Less Vocal-
I Don’t Know -Less Vocal-
I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to make Superstar feel like a “BREAK OUT!” copycat to be honest. I mean it’s three less members but it doesn’t mean that I get the same feelings. YUNHO and CHANGMIN sounds pretty good in the song, but I don’t understand the need for auto-tune for CHANGMIN really since he’s a good enough singer. It’s alright but it doesn’t surpass “Why? (Keep Your Head Down)”.
2. I Don’t Know
I’m starting to find myself not interested in the duo THSK because so far in their Japanese discography, there hasn’t been a slow song and I Don’t Know feels kind of lifeless for some reason. I mean I do get a mysterious vibe from the song, but I find myself not remembering any of the song except YUNHO’s rapping. I’m just feeling at this point that there’s no need to continue.
3. Superstar -Summer Heat Remix-
Like many of their singles, we get a remix on one of the editions and this one for Superstar is kind of weak here. I do like that the remix is a little more louder than the original, but the song still kind of feels unimpressive and it’s shorter than the original too…odd.
Tohoshinki’s second single as a duo really failed to leave a mark on me unlike how “Why? (Keep Your Head Down)” did. I don’t know why but releasing another single with two dance tracks (though not Korean originals) was a poor plan…maybe a ballad perhaps? The remix by the way, isn’t too different from the original but ehh…Then again I’ve heard these two aren’t exactly ballad-strong vocals…who knows but I’m not liking this single at all.
NEVER GIVE UP!
My Best Friend
NEVER GIVE UP! [Less Vocal]
1. NEVER GIVE UP!
Kylee in recent times has been opting for a more positive outlook for her music and sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t. It’s really because of her singing and in this song it’s still pretty harsh and does feel like she’s yelling the lyrics which is a no-no in singing. I do enjoy the arrangement quite a bit and does act like a fun summer song, but damn she needs to tone her vocals down a couple notches.
2. My Best Friend
I’m surprised that the B-side is also a summer song but unlike the previous track, this one feels a lot more stronger and the synths have more prominence as well. She still does sound kind of harsh against the music but the fact that it’s catchy and a lot of it is in English makes me happy.
Kylee’s 4th single and I still think she hasn’t really worked on powering down on the vocal chops. She does have a powerful voice, no doubt, but there’s songs that she has down where it just wasn’t needed like in the case of NEVER GIVE UP!. If she didn’t yell, I’m sure the song would’ve struck me a lot better. My Best Friend is slightly better, but only because of the arrangement. Is it album time?
MAA – OKay July 21, 2011
Tomorrow @ Your Kingdom -THE LOWBROWS Remix-
Ahhhh, so I guess it seems MAA decided to take things to a different route with OKay which feels like a mix of her last album and a new direction since the track is lighter than her two previous singles. It’s nice that it’s different from them but at the same time I feel slightly uninterested in the song for some reason. It might be from the slower tempo or from expecting that she’d be epic. I must say I could see immi singing this instead but this is alright.
F.B falls into the same category as “OKay” since it’s also pretty light compared to some of the stuff she released on “Monkey Kingdom” but I actually fell for this one. I’m liking MAA and the amount of vocal layering that helps her out and the arrangement is a bit more synthetic and stuffs. Not much else to say, but this was great.
3. Tomorrow @ Your Kingdom -THE LOWBROWS Remix-
Closing the single out is a remix of one of MAA’s B-side from her debut single, “Ghost Enemy”. THE LOWBROWS isn’t a new name for me seeing as I reviewed some of the other remixes they did for various artists. I also will say that they don’t really stand out for me and most of their remixes ruin the song for me. Sadly, I stand by that rule since this felt awkward and unusually slow and the synths just were messy…I’m sorry but the original or GTFO!
I’m not surprised that MAA starts off an era with a slightly weak release but that’s alright since I didn’t think “Ghost Enemy” was all that great either. Also, it is her first physical single so it kind of surprises me a little bit that only F.B left an impression. OKay sounds way like an immi-kind of song while the remix for Tomorrow @ Your Kingdom just sucked…hope she can slide back on her next single.
Sayuri Sugawara – Forever… July 20, 2011
My Sweet Home
Futari no Kage
Thinking Of You (CD only bonus track)
“Suki” to Iu Kotoba -Album Version 2011- (CD only bonus track)
Ahhh, Sayuri starts the mini-album off with something that would be expected from her with a mid-tempo R&B tune with Forever….I do kind of like it but it’s really for the fact that the chorus has punch to it by adding electric guitars and louder percussion and the whole ~never ever~ thing that’s going on. It’s a sweet song and I must say it’s a good start so far.
Things take a small turn going into Kaze which moves away from Sayuri’s original style to a more pop/rock style which I don’t mind at all since her vocals are light and very sweet to listen to. It might be a slow track and moves at the same pace, but I really like the depressing vibes and Sayuri was singing quite nicely.
I never thought she’d pull it off, but our next song can be described as an electro-rock track. I’m actually seriously enjoying this song not because of my uber enjoyment of the genre, but this song is quite good and Sayuri sounds great in the song (though I do think the filters are meh) but this song is probably one of the best tracks off the mini-album.
After such an exciting song, I was surprised that Sayuri would take it light again, but tears is a good song as well. It doesn’t sound like your typical R&B track since there’s so many things that sound really good together in the arrangement and the chorus and the parts without Sayuri singing makes it sound like an older Hitomi Shimatani song. Good song!
5. My Sweet Home
Can’t believe our next song really makes me think of ayaka for some reason. My Sweet Home also does sound like another “Kaze” but more of a ballad than said song. I like the acoustic and electric guitars together and it makes the song a bit more emotional. Sadly, otherwise I don’t remember this song and it fits more with the last few singles she’s done.
6. Futari no Kage
Closing the CD+DVD out, Futari no Kage is another ballad track from Sayuri but it’s pretty to listen to. Sayuri sounds very pretty in the song and while things are more of a slow burner-kind of style, but it does sound good after more instruments enter the song. It’s nice and it make a nice closing to one of the versions of the mini XD
7. Thinking Of You
Oddly enough the CD only version includes two more tracks. Thinking Of You does surprise me quite a bit since the song is upbeat and has a dance beat going on which is a nice move. It doesn’t have an edge like “Fly” does, but it’s steady, light, and full of life so I must say it was a great song and wonder why it was only on one version of this release.
8. “Suki” to Iu Kotoba -Album Version 2011-
It seriously hasn’t been a year and we’re already getting a new version of Sayuri’s last A-side. The changes that were made for the song are pretty noticeable when the tune has more of an acoustic feel to it and it’s softer than the original as well. It also took out the R&B style as well and replaced those with piano and strings. It’s a nice take, but I still much prefer the original oddly enough.
Third mini-album…really? I must say that I liked Forever… a whole lot more than her last one, “Close To You”. I do think the mini was split between, ballads, R&B, dance tracks, and pop/rock tracks so it was a good even distribution of areas to Sayuri’s style. Strong and definitely more memorable…good good release!
Rock, Scissors, Paper
I really must say that after the last A-side being quite serious and more melodic, I wasn’t expecting the band to unleash Re:make on the fans which is such a powerful and energetic rock song from the band. Taka really took his vocals to new levels and his screaming really fits the song’s atmosphere and just was a great listen. This song might be a little on the short side, but it left a big impression on more, more than “Answer is Near”.
2. NO SCARED
The other A-side is just as vicious and all out powerful if not more than friggin “Re:make”. Taka is really screaming his lungs out in the song’s verses and Toru makes his appearance in the chorus. It’s nothing I would’ve expected from the band since it’s furious and the English is making a powerful response. I do like it quite a bit, but I remember “Re:make” a lot more. SWEET SONG!
3. Rock, Scissors, Paper
As the single’s B-side, Rock, Scissors, Paper is kind of in between the A-sides in power and memorability which is a great mixture if you ask me. Taka’s vocals sound slightly scratchy, but he sounds great once the songs opens up and the filters on his vocals disappear. It’s a good track and a good combination of what’s so good about the A-sides!
It seriously feels like ONE OK ROCK really did a 180 with the release of this single. I mean the last one compared to this single felt mellow and more straightforward while Re:make/NO SCARED unleashed a whole new side of the band to me. I love all three songs and I’ll say it’s one of the better singles released in 2011 *RECOMMENDED*
ikimono-gakari – Warattetainda/NEW WORLD MUSIC July 19, 2011
NEW WORLD MUSIC
NEW WORLD MUSIC -instrumental-
While it hasn’t been that long since we’ve had an upbeat song ikimono-gakari, Warattetainda sounds so refreshing for some reason even though “Kimi ga Iru” was nearly the same way. Kiyoe sounds like her normal self and doesn’t really go and stress her vocals which is a plus. I do wish there was something a bit louder about the track, but this isn’t bad at all and is a great song for ikimono to return to.
2. NEW WORLD MUSIC
Two upbeat songs?!? This is something foreign for the trio! NEW WORLD MUSIC did a much better job at catching my attention, especially with the whole latin vibe I get from it (partially because of the brass that’s included). Kiyoe also sounds great and more lively as well. Definitley the preferred song off this single!
After ikimono-gakari took a rather short hiatus after the release of the best-of, they return to the music scene with a great single in Warattetainda/NEW WORLD MUSIC. It beats the past two singles simply by actually having more than one song and BOTH tracks are upbeat tunes in which the trio excels a lot in. Great single and a good beginning of an era.