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Maon Kurosaki – Butterfly Effect December 9, 2011

Filed under: Maon Kurosaki — solarblade @ 9:17 pm

Track Listing

  1. Ichihiki no Chou ga Habataku Shunkan
  2. VANISHING POINT
  3. Magic∞world
  4. Emergence!
  5. LOVE 〇 JETCOASTER
  6. SCARS
  7. Glanz -Chinmoku no Yuki-
  8. Lisianthus.
  9. Baby☆maybe
  10. ANSWER
  11. screaming!shouting loudly!
  12. Memories Last
  13. hear..

1. Ichihiki no Chou ga Habataku Shunkan

For a title that’s pretty lengthy, I didn’t expect Maon to make it an introduction basically.  It’s cute and light and has some small electronic buzz/clipping going on but for an intro it’s simple and pretty for me to listen to. 

2. VANISHING POINT

Funny enough that such a cute introduction leads into the leading song off the album.  What makes it more absurd is the fact that VANISHING POINT is more like the Maon I’m used to and that’s hard rockin’ anison songs.  As the first vocal track, I was pretty impressed with this tune since it brought out the strong notes of Maon’s music and with the guitar blaring, it just stood out and kicked the album with a bang!

3. Magic∞world

It’s been a while since I’ve listened to Maon’s first A-side so it’s quite unusual getting into it again.  It’s also a bit surprising to see it appear right after “VANISHING POINT” seeing as they are totally different from one another.  Magic∞world has more of a synth/rock styled feel to it and for being her first A-side, it sounds refined (but that’s because she debuted with an album, so she passed the whole awkward debut phase).  To be honest, the arrangement sounds like something from ALTIMA (her project with motsu from m.o.v.e and sat from fripSide).  I actually like it better here nowadays actually.

4. Emergence!

A nice lengthy list of new songs are next on the album starting with Emergence! which at first sounded like a synth-based take of “Memories Last” with a good riff and an awesome arrangement to back it up.  Maon’s vocals are a little tighter but they sound good still, but the winner is the arrangement, it’s different enough from “Magic∞world” to stand out on its own.  Great song and is another early favorite.

5. LOVE 〇 JETCOASTER

It seems it gets more synthy with our next track which is surprising how slow it goes (synths are fast, but the main beat is slow).  Actually as the song continues to move on, it’s like she tried to take the song into more of a dubstep kind of direction which is a very unusual and odd moving way to take it.  At least the song turns into an nice electro song once it reaches the chorus.  A very daring move for Maon and it turned out nice but fans of Maon’s rock themes will prolly be wary of this tune to a major degree.

6. SCARS

After the shocking revelation, SCARS rushes in back with a hard rock style like “VANISHING POING” but a little more ruthless and evil sounding.  I love the angry arrangement and Maon brings it quite nicely.  It might not stand out like the previous songs though since it’s a style we see a lot from her but this great if you’re looking for that angsty kind of tune.

7. Glanz -Chinmoku no Yuki-

After “SCARS”, it was nice to calm down for Glanz but not much since we still have an electric guitar based kind of tune.  I mean it’s lighter than the last song so that’s good.  The riff of the song is quite daunting and has a little sinister glow to it but also has some light parts that features some piano as well.  It’s a little plain to me but it might have some fans I say…

8. Lisianthus.

The intro for our next song sounded like it was goign to be electronic-based like some of the earlier songs but this sounds more like stuff that would’ve been good on “Memories Last”.  I’m saying the song is sounding quite light and surprisingly I’m not into this song very much.  It just seems to be missing that magic that’s found in the previous songs on the album. 

9. Baby☆maybe

The same thing can be applied for Baby☆maybe since I don’t think it’s very memorable in the sense.  I will say it’s her poppiest song yet and there’s some things that are nice like Maon’s performance, but everything felt immensely plain and lifeless (even the chorus was pretty damn boring to me).

10. ANSWER

I’m happy that of the two B-sides she has, she added the better one to the album!  I definitely forgot how this song went but I’m happy that I’m reacquainted with it for sure.  It does remind me of “Magic∞world” with it’s arrangement being similar with it’s guitars and synths.  I’m actually pulled back into loving this song once again!!

11. screaming!shouting loudly!

In the same veins as “VANISHING POINT” and “SCARS”, s!sl! is a rockin’ song but unlike the those being dark tracks, this one is a bit a little more lighter and has some pretty good guitar lines.  Maon is also giving a pretty epic vocal performance singing loud and proud!  There’s still other good songs here though on the album.

12. Memories Last

The second A-side she released is found towards the end of the album and I still think it’s her best song she’s released right up until this album (where I start to think “Emergence!” is better).  I will say the guitar riff in this one is one of my favorites and loving the mix of strings/guitars/and piano.  It’s an anison song done just right I say! 

13. hear..

The final song on the album is not surprisingly a ballad (a six minute one at that).  It does stand out on the album because it simply as the album’s lone ballad as well.  I will say it showcased Maon’s vocals quite nicely and since we’ve seen Maon tackle ballads on “Goshiki Uta -Immortal Lovers-” this wasn’t as good as some of those ballads but this works as the finale. 

Tracks Recommended

  • Emergence!
  • Memories Last
  • VANISHING POINT
  • ANSWER
  • LOVE 〇 JETCOASTER

Song of Avoidance

  • Baby☆maybe

As this is literally Maon first official studio album, (“H.O.T.D.” to me felt more like a best-of since it was essentially all the ending themes to the anime but I can work with Butterfly Effect being her second album as well) Butterfly Effect was actually a pretty good album from her.  Minus three blah songs, the rest of the album was pretty awesome and I can’t wait for more material from her but I think she’s taking a small break from her solo stuff to work with ALTIMA.  Much better than some other anison albums I heard this year!

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Tsuki Amano – Bara to Shinjuu

Filed under: Tsukiko Amano — solarblade @ 11:13 am

Track Listing

  1. Bara no You ni
  2. BLACK BEE
  3. CORE -rose ver.-
  4. Ringo no Ki -rose ver.-
  5. LUCKY DOG
  6. HOWEVER
  7. Shinjuu

1. Bara no You ni

Starting off Tsuki’s mini-album, we have Bara no You ni which kind of follows in after “CHELSEA” with the whole lighter vibe and such.  I mean it’s kind of lighthearted and has this kind of happy mood.  It’s great though when we enter the chorus because we see some synths and Tsuki’s vocals are quite powerful.  Just from the louder guitars, I can tell this is going to be way better than her last mini.  Even the guitar solo sounded awesome…Awesome way to open the mini!

2. BLACK BEE

Adding a little speed and experimentation in one song, we have BLACK BEE which is so charming at the beginning with the synth melody (or is it a guitar-base but under filters…hmmm).  I kind of like Tsuki’s direction for the song and once again, I hear this synth but I think it makes a good bridge into “CORE”.  Another great tune!

3. CORE -rose ver.-

The mini includes new versions of both A-sides she released this year.  I was curious to what was new about CORE since it’s one of my favorite A-sides released this year (better this was released on New Year’s).  To me, it feels like nothing totally changed but listening closely, the song got clearer and the percussion stands out a little brighter than before…less processed and more like a studio version.  The changes while small, made it pop out better for me…still loving CORE altogether though!

2. Ringo no Ki -rose ver.-

The same applies for Ringo no Ki which has a bit more natural feel to it which is super nice.  This song is special since it was written for the Touhoku Earthquake and all that so it was really nice to see it here along with “CORE”.  It’s a pleasant ballad from Tsuki and she sung to a sweet and soft degree that it’s surprising of the difference between her powerful vocals in the previous track against this one. 

5. LUCKY DOG

After such a quiet song, it’s an interesting move that LUCKY DOG is a lot more aggressive of a song with its thumping beat and rockin’ style.  Tsuki doesn’t sound too into the song until she starts hitting the higher notes (but those are a little pitchy).  Another guitar solo ensues as well, but this one sounds better than the one on “Bara no You ni” so that’s good…very cool song though once Tsuki gets things going.

6. HOWEVER

A little more synth-based, HOWEVER comes in and reminds me of something that would’ve been nice to hear on “ZERO” since it’s got a lighter vibe.  I still can’t really get into Tsuki’s Engrish since her accent is pretty heavy and all that.  At least the song is charming and kind of is the cute, lovey-dovey song here.

7. Shinjuu

I thought Shinjuu was fitting for a closing since it’s part of the title of the mini-album (and “Bara no You ni” at the beginning).  It is the longest as well being a little over 5 1/2 minutes.  Talking about the first song, Shinjuu kind of reminds me of it but a little more quieter overall.  It’s a pretty uplifting ballad and it grows on you the longer it plays so in the end it turned out to be a rather good closing tune.

 

 

I’m so happy that Tsuki released this after that horrid “CHELSEA” mini-album for sure.  None of the songs sounded like one another and most of them actually were catchy (also having CORE and Ringo no Ki helped a lot).  There’s not a lot of bad that can be said here but this is her best work yet since rejoining OTAKURA.

 

Kanako Ito – VECTOR

Filed under: Kanako Ito — solarblade @ 10:13 am

Track Listing

  1. Hacking to the Gate
  2. Fetishism Ark
  3. Kono Sora no Kanata ni
  4. A.R.
  5. Star-Crossed
  6. Kizuna no Mirai
  7. Hateshinai Soukyuu e
  8. Eien no Vector
  9. Uchuu Engineer
  10. Reliance
  11. Fly to the sky
  12. Sky Clad no Kansokusha -Remix-
  13. Amaranthine
  14. Sugao no Mama de

1. Hacking to the Gate

Kanako’s album begins with the 4th A-side, Hacking to the Gate which didn’t really stand out to me when it was first released.  Even though it’s once again the first track, it somehow suits the placing quite nicely.  To me, the song is alright but it’s kind of awkward in the chorus at first and it seems pretty basic to me when compared to most of the other A-sides in the era.

2. Fetishism Ark

Moving on to the first single representing the era, I haven’t listened to Fetishism Ark in a long time and coming back around to it was a new experience.  I love that it starts out quietly with piano and then opens to a more mid-tempo kind of song.  It isn’t as epic as I once thought it was but Kanako sounds much better and the song has a cool vibe throughout.

3. Kono Sora no Kanata ni

Fitting that the next track was actually the B-side to “Fetishism Ark”.  I still do think the song is weaker than a couple of songs in the era but I just think it’s from the rather lackluster arrangement with acoustic guitar and strings (with a mix of anison).  At least Kanako’s vocals sound great in the context of the song so that’s a plus.  It does strike me as a ballad but with a little more spark…iono but this wasn’t my kind of song.

4. A.R.

The next two songs were both A-sides on her second single released in the era starting with A.R. which is actually the first great song on the album in my opinion.  Like “Hacking to the Gate”, it has a lot of synths and has a pretty quick-paced style to it that worked a lot better here than in said other song.  It’s just powerful in a good way.

5. Star-Crossed

The other A-side, Star-Crossed is the album’s first ballad and to be honest I don’t like this song very much because of the fact that Kanako sung this song entirely in English and most of the time I’m not sure what she’s exactly saying.  I actually wished she stuck on the “Ryuusei no Tameiki wo” version of the song since she sounded more comfortable in her natural language.  The melody and arrangement though was pretty solid though, but perhaps a bit more could’ve been done here as well.

6. Kizuna no Mirai

Now I’m sure the non-bolded tracks aren’t brand spankin’ new, but they are un-bolded because they weren’t represented on singles.  It’s a little surprising that the first of them, Kizuna no Mirai sounds bright and not like anything like the singles.  Kanako’s vocals are quite nasally not gonna lie here and it just doesn’t seem like this song really fits her much.  At least she tried and it’s something different.

7. Hateshinai Soukyuu e

Which is weird that our next song is just the same song but a different melody.  What I mean it’s the same ole strings-based anison tune.  It’s a little unusual to see them two one after another but it’s whatever.  I guess I like the strings and Kanako’s vocals are a little better here…but this might be the song that I should’ve heard before “Kizuna no Mirai”.

8. Eien no Vector

Seeing that the B-side from “Uchuu Engineer” was before the lead the A-side in the album is interesting but it makes a nice bridge from the happier anison songs to well more serious stuff.  The mood is quite different from the last two tracks so that’s good, but there’s just something about the song that still hasn’t pleased me.  It’s like “Kono Sora no Kanata ni” but less guitar-based.

9. Uchuu Engineer

Like I said, “Eien no Vector” does a nice job moving away from the bright stuff to Uchuu Engineer which was pretty dark (at least in the intro).  It does move into a faster arrangement which is a good move for the song since it’s a lot more stronger of a song.  It’s definitely my favorite amongst the A-sides for such a fast arrangement yet strong vocals from Kanako.

10. Reliance

“Hacking to the Gate’s” B-side comes up next and I feel that for the most part I enjoy this more than both “Star-Crossed” and “Amaranthine” which are both A-side funny enough.  I like the dark movement with the song and Kanako is singing this pretty smoothly.  Luckily the chorus really made the song listenable since it’s loud and powerful!  Good song overall and unlike the other two ballads, this one is sung in Japanese.

11. Fly to the sky

I will say that of the four new tracks, I think I was the most impressed with Fly to the sky which sounds nothing like any of the other songs of the album and didn’t feel jarring coming after “Reliance”.  It does seem to follow a similar route with quiet verses and the bridge/chorus being powerful.  I hear a synths being used as well which is such a plus as well.  Yeah my favorite of the new ones though strange as I’ve been told it was the B-side from “F.D.D”…random seeing this song here. >.<

12. Sky Clad no Kansokusha -Remix-

Moving from the best new song to the best song on the damn album, it’s the remix of Sky Clad no Kansokusha (which was the A-side before “Fetishism Ark”).  It’s just took the already awesome song and just added another layer of it.  The beats are heavy, the tempo is pretty fast and Kanako’s vocals/melody fits with the new arrangement.  Yeah, it’s definitely a song that’ll leave mark on you (especially with this album is turning out).

13. Amaranthine

While this is the 3rd A-side released, it was really hard listening to Amaranthine simply because it shares the same problem with “Star-Crossed” in being all English.  However, it gets another problem with it’s 6 minute length which might kill some listeners.  The good thing about the song though is that the arrangement is really pretty and has this ending theme style that would seriously capture my attention.  Now if only we shortened it and have Kanako resing it in Japanese, then we’re set. 

14. Sugao no Mama de

Closing the album up, Sugao no Mama de kind of places itself like both “Kizuna no Mirai” and “Hateshinai Soukyuu e” in the fact that it’s a brighter tune but this one has acoustic guitar and strings.  That being said, I kind of just shrugged this one off since it didn’t leave a mark (kind of like the mentioned tracks above).  “Amaranthine” would’ve made for a better closing.

Tracks Recommended

  • Sky Clad no Kansokusha -Remix-
  • Fly to the sky
  • A.R.
  • Uchuu Engineer
  • Reliance

Song of Avoidance

  • Kizuna no Mirai

It’s hard to call this album mostly a best-of because all the songs have tie-ins and 11/14 were songs previously found on the era’s singles so it’s kind of bummer that there wasn’t more new songs.  For the most part the album is kind of average at best.  There were good songs and there were some stinkers.  Fact is, is that she doesn’t need to do English (especially in ballads) it just sounds icky.

 

NICO Touches the Walls – HUMANIA

Filed under: NICO Touches the Walls — solarblade @ 7:33 am

Track Listing

  1. Heim
  2. Shoutotsu
  3. Bicycle
  4. Carousel
  5. Kyokutou ID
  6. Koi wo Shiyou
  7. Endless roll
  8. Gyogyou
  9. demon (is there?)
  10. Te wo Tatake
  11. Te wo Tatake (NICO edition) (bonus track)

1. Heim

A short minute and a half intro opens up HUMANIA which is basically Tatsuya and Daisuke’s acoustic guitar playing.  Seriously that’s just what it is!  At least Tatsuya’s vocals are pretty solid as he’s singing through the tune.  Still I wonder why this is found at the beginning because this sounds more appropriate as the album’s final song rather than the opening.

2. Shoutatsu

Pretty curious that the first full track is pretty explosive when compared to “Heim” that’s for sure.  I’m totally digging this song right from the start since it has a whole lot of what I love about NICO and it’s just a powerful song and in your face.  There’s a whole lot to be enjoyed here and while Tatsuya has some weak points (in the chorus), this song is already a favorite on this album.

3. Bicycle

Coming off as a little darker than “Shoutatsu”, Bicycle still kind of has this slight upbeat sound to it even though the arrangement has a bit more guitars in it.  Does sound like something that I would’ve heard on “PASSENGER” but this is quite nice but not as great as the last track to be honest.

4. Carousel

For a title like Carousel, I was thinking it was going to be a light and/or silly song for the group but I was proven wrong when the song comes in as a lighter pop/rock tune than “Shoutatsu” and “Bicycle”.  The thing that caught my ears was the fact they added a little bit of a synth line and that right there was one of the reasons I actually remember the song.  It’s pretty good but without the synths I’m sure I’d forget it in the long run.

5. Kyokutou ID

I’m surprised that Kyokutou ID takes the band further into more of a experimentive state because the track is unique on the album and has this big band kind of movement going.  I honestly enjoyed the fact that the brass play a big role in the song and it gives a different side to NICO’s music…I mean there’s a friggin trumpet solo!  This might surprise fans of theirs but it’s a good kind of surprise to be honest.

6. Koi wo Shiyou

Our next track tones things down a bit to more of a mid-tempo pop/rock song.  It has a good enough melody, but I seem to be put in a daze when this song plays since it’s just that kind of light and fluffy song to do just that.  I will say though that the synth interlude in the middle of the song caught my attention but as soon as Tatsuya sings again, I”m back to being dazed.  It’s an alright song but nothing very spectacular.

7. Endless roll

Endless roll is definitely a song that has to warm up to you (at least in the case of me).  The verses are kind of light and has a steady beat and some guitars but it feels like it takes a while before the song literally gets better.  To be honest, I get some Sakanaction vibes from this song but it’s weird because there’s no synth shenanigans in the song.  I like it, but I’m still warming up to it lol.

8. Gyogyou

The shortest full track on the album is also the hardest hitting of the album which was a total surprise to me.  It almost felt like NICO was trying to pull metal off at first.  Tatsuya’s enthusiasm in the song is quite blatant and really adds a whole new level of awesomeness.  The small thing that bothers me is the filter that’s put on Tatsuya’s vocals.  Otherwise, this was a great kicker on the album.

9. demon (is there?)

When I see this title, it makes me feel like their somehow mentioning some of their old releases but I know that isn’t the case.  As the last new song on the album, demon sounds like something I would expect Oasis to do but this is actually meaning good signs already.  It’s kind of like “Carousel” but has a little more going for it. 

10. Te wo Tatake

The end of the album is funny since we get the original version of the only A-side released and another version.  The original is up first and like many fans, they were surprised by how poppy and upbeat this was compared to anything from “PASSENGER”.  I thought the change of atmosphere’s was jarring but shows that they aren’t a normal rock band.  It also has brass in it (not at the levels of “Kyokutou ID” though).

11. Te wo Tatake (NICO Edition)

As a bonus treat, the other version of Te wo Tatake is a little more of what NICO should’ve done originally with this song despite it being as brightly colored as it is.  Mostly the changes are really in the arrangement where it took out the brass and squeezed in more guitars.  It’s not a bizarre change which is good and more fans will probably catch this version a little better than the original.

Tracks Recommended

  • Shoutatsu
  • Kyokutou ID
  • demon (is there?)
  • Te wo Tatake
  • Endless roll

Song of Avoidance

  • Koi wo Shiyou

It’s a feat when your band is able to release two albums in one year and in the case of NICO Touches the Walls, it feels like it was opposite to “PASSENGER” in direction and overall mood.  I felt like this album was a little under the other album since there were a couple of plain/forgettable tunes but otherwise it’s a good follow-up here.