Kurayami Monogatari

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U-KISS – Forbidden Love February 29, 2012

Filed under: U-KISS — solarblade @ 2:50 pm

Track Listing

  1. Forbidden Love
  2. Redial
  3. Every Day -Japanese Version- (First Press CD only)
  4. Forbidden Love (Instrumental)
  5. Redial (Instrumental)

1. Forbidden Love

Ahhh the second A-side from the up and coming K-pop group!  I knew this song wasn’t going to be as impressive or as awesome as “Tick Tack” was but this was a pretty good follow-up since it does carry their K-pop feel once again.  I’m happy to hear a little bit more from Kevin this time around which is good but there’s a lot of Soohyun as well.  Though I question their inclusion of a dubstep breakdown, I guess they’re just following the times and the dance was nice to it but without that…that part seemed rather dull.  Still a good track and a good second A-side.

2. Redial

Though the B-side sounds really cool in the beginning but then it kind of turns into this chilled out R&B song that really screams boy band!  I’m hearing a lot of other members taking a bigger approach and I love that.  It’s nice to hear but I also feel that it did well for them melodically because they do sound really nice together. 

3. Every Day -Japanese ver.-

Just like their last single, we get another Japanese version of one of their Korean tracks, this time from their mini-album, “Bran New KISS”.  It’s like they took “Forbidden Love” and toned everything down and made it a little more straightforward of a K-pop tune.  It’s pretty good and kind of lies in the middle between the previous two tracks.  

 

 

As U-KISS’ final single for the “A Shared Dream” era, I thought this single wasn’t up to snuff against “Tick Tack” but that’s ok since this single was still pretty good.  While I don’t know why they chose to release the single the same day their album drops, I’m pretty sure it won’t sell as much.  Forbidden Love is isn’t bad it continues to show how good they are as dancers/vocalists.  Redial was nice to and showed more of their vocal capabilities and Every Day is a solid retouch.  Once again, disappointed this single came out the same day as the album but they’ll miss out on Redial and Every Day so who knows lol

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ALTIMA – ONE

Filed under: ALTIMA — solarblade @ 11:45 am

Track Listing

  1. ONE
  2. WISH i WISH
  3. ONE (instrumental)
  4. WISH i WISH (instrumental)

1. ONE

Not gonna lie, when I first heard ONE, I got dejavu vibes from this song because it does remind me of “I’ll believe” in many ways like the quiet intro before turning into a eurodance track.  Though unlike their debut, ONE is actually a bit more brighter and has a bit more electric guitar involved.  I actually liked this track more funny enough since I thought Maon sung a lot better and motsu did his raps better.  My only thing is that there wasn’t a lot of power getting into that chorus and that made me a little sad bu this is still a good song!

2. WISH i WISH

The B-side for the single, WISH i WISH kind of suffers from the m.o.v.e disease of songs that are slow and lifeless for me.  I think it was meant to be a mid-tempo kind of song but I think it deserves to be a whole lot faster than it should be.  Meh, I think I’ll just pass this song up since the only thing that’s making this song work is Maon.

 

 

ALTIMA’s second single I guess could be even with their first, “I’ll believe”.  Though the songs themselves aren’t equal.  I say that ONE was a much better A-side for sure and stood out to me in sound.  However, I felt WISH i WISH was poor when compared to “-Indefinitely-” for sure, those kind of songs drive me insane because they would sound SOOOO much cooler at a faster tempo.

 

Mayu Watanabe – Synchro Tokimeki

Filed under: Mayu Watanabe — solarblade @ 11:29 am

Track Listing

  1. Synchro Tokimeki
  2. Mitsuami no Kimi e
  3. Shinjuku Yuutousei (Regular edition only)
  4. Lavender no Juutan (Limited A only)
  5. Mayuyuroid (Limited B only)
  6. Saba no Kanzume (Limited C only)
  7. Synchro Tokimeki (instrumenal)
  8. Mitsuami no Kimi e (instrumental)
  9. Shinjuku Yuutousei (instrumental)
  10. Lavender no Juutan (instrumental)
  11. Mayuyuroid (instrumental)
  12. Saba no Kanzume (instrumental)

1. Synchro Tokimeki

Mayuyu kicks her debut off with well…something that was totally expected for being one of the cuter and more recognizable members from AKB48.  The song kind of reminds me of tons of songs done by Aki.P so it’s no surprise that I found it to be a little disappointing.  I actually think this sounds like something I would hear from Watarirouka Hashiritai 7 actually…it’s cute and Mayu sounds alright for the most part but the music is uneventful for me.

2. Mitsuami no Kimi e

It’s sad that this song reminds me of the A-side minus love of synthed up horns haha.  It’s a bit more natural sounding of a song and showcases Mayuyu’s cute vocals a bit more but I still find myself thinking it’s bland and forgettable.  Maybe the light sitar was the only surprising aspect but I just can’t with this song.

3. Shinjuku Yuutousei

>.<  Really Aki.P?  There’s plenty of other instruments to use besides synth horns dude!  As the regular edition’s bonus track, Shinjuku Yuutousei is a little more serious sounding than the previous two tracks and I do like that about it and Mayuyu is singing quite nicely along with the meh arrangement.  So far it’s my favorite off the single but it’s not exactly saying much.

4. Lavender no Juutan

Yeesh at Mayuyu, she’s just really wanting this single to feel like one whole song doesn’t she?  Though I get very light ska vibes in this song while retaining her idol pop sound and I hear a little bit of auto-tune in various places in the song.  I’m not too big of a fan of this one but this will sure get some ears perking I think…

5. Mayuyuroid

At least Mayuyuroid tries to be something absurdly different than the previous songs by being the kind of song that I would actually find on a Katamari OST.  Especially that heavily auto-tuned/filtered introduction.  I’m also hearing some electric guitar as well which made me happy.  While it’s probably the most sugary thing Mayu has done…I kind of like it haha. 

6. Saba no Kanzume

Funny that after all of that, the Limited C version is a moving ballad which at first sounds like it was going into JERO-land and it kind of does and I’m VERY surprised at this song for sure.  I didn’t know Mayuyu can sound THIS good since she’s singing in a much deeper tone than I’m so used to.  The only thing I think is a little irksome is her note sweeping, it feels awkward to me and sounds just as much but still pretty good!

 

 

Mayuyu’s debut single didn’t really do much to impress me very well and chose weak songs to promote her IMO.  I didn’t really like Synchro Tokimeki, Mitsuami no Kimi e, and Lavender no Juutan.  They felt like so many previous efforts from various ___48 groups and Mayu’s own group WH7.  Things moved better with Mayuyuroid since it was unusual but somehow worked with her cute voice and Shinjuku Yuutousei took that and made the arrangement a little more serious sounding which is pretty good.  Though Saba no Kanzume is on its own league since it’s a totally different voice IMO haha.  Still pretty good though.  Hopefully her next one will be better >.>

 

Mix Speaker’s, Inc. – Shiny tale

Filed under: Mix Speaker's Inc. — solarblade @ 10:22 am

Track Listing

  1. Shiny tale
  2. Pirates of Emerald (Regular & Limited A only)
  3. Capsule (Limited C only)
  4. Shiny tale -TV Edit-
  5. Shiny tale -Instrumental-
  6. Capsule -Instrumental-

1. Shiny tale

I will be honest here, I wasn’t expecting Mix Speaker’s to actually pull a SID for their next single because the intro really sounds like something the other band would use.  I will say that I liked hearing YUKI & MIKI together in this one.  However, I felt like they were just riding the anison waves for this song (since it’s tie-in is an anime).  I kind of wished there was more to this song but to me it feels plain…though the piano and bass were nice.

2. Pirates of Emerald

On two versions of the single, we get Pirates of Emerald and it’s really loud and sounds pretty typical for the band but it’s not too bad of a song.  Some of the verses are a little messy, but the chorus actually makes up for that and both vocalists really sound awesome.  Plus with the theme of the single, it kind of fits with some of the string parts and chanting as well.  Not bad and funny enough the only good song on the single >.<

3. Capsule

Limited C gets an extra track in Capsule and I wasn’t prepared for this song to be rather light and slower than “Shiny tale” was.  I think MIKI is singing primarily while YUKI takes the backups for this song.  I’m also not really feeling this song very well because it felt underproduced and when the two guys sung it sounds like a JE song but with a band.  I don’t know, not impressed.

 

 

As their first single of the era, Shiny tale just disappointed me overall.  Shiny tale as a whole felt like any other J-rock anime theme there is so it felt unoriginal and basic and Capsule felt underproduced and cheesy.   The only thing keeping the single from being pure crap is Pirates of Emerald which suits the theme here in a good way… Wow I didn’t think the band would start this era on such a low note >.<

 

ikimono-gakari – NEWTRAL

Filed under: ikimono-gakari — solarblade @ 9:53 am

Track Listing

  1. Aruite Ikou
  2. Warattetainda
  3. Itsudatte Bokura wa
  4. KISS KISS BANG BANG
  5. Ai ni Iku yo
  6. Chikyuu
  7. Sentimental Boyfriend
  8. Shiroi Diary
  9. Renshi
  10. NEW WORLD MUSIC
  11. Ai Kotoba
  12. Oyasumi

1. Aruite Ikou

Gotta love the fact that ikimono really wanted to get through most of the A-sides first on the album!  As the second single releasedm Aruite Ikou kicks things off quite lightly and is their best selling single of the era if I’m correct but ikimono’s ballads usually have that effect so I’m happy with this.  A bit long, but I loved Kiyoe’s sincerity in her voice, it just worked in her favor!

2. Warattetainda

A couple seconds longer than “Aruite Ikou”, Warattetainda is good being as long as it is because unlike the first track, this is actually upbeat and a lot more bright and fun to listen to.  Of course Kiyoe still sounds as lively as ever and she pulls a great performance here even though it’s been a while since this has been out.

3. Itsudatte Bokura wa

Fitting that Itsudatte Bokura wa would follow behind “Warattetainda” since they are both quite similar to one another.  Though I felt Kiyoe was being a little more daring with this song by hitting stronger notes and going a bit high there.  It’s definitely a favorite of the era (though there were no misses to begin with).  Fun song and loving the brass parts as well…good job here!

4. KISS KISS BANG BANG

Then we get a long stretch of new material from the trio starting with the album’s promotional song, KISS KISS BANG BANG which is even filled with more brass instruments and funky sounds that make it so exciting and lively!  Reminds me of “Kimagure Romantic” from two albums ago!  It’s got a bit of synths and once again you can tell Kiyoe was enjoying singing the song!  An early favorite on the album!

5. Ai ni Iku yo

Then the album comes to a halt going into our next song which is definitely a ballad.  I’m happy that it moves along in the song so it’s not like it suffers from the usual ballad problems.  It’s kind of one of those songs that would get BIG sales had it been a single so being said Ai ni Iku yo is actually nice to listen to!  Impressed even more towards the end…LOVE it!

6. Chikyuu

I was wondering when ikimono would actually pull one of their songs with a harmonica to be an album song and Chikyuu is representing that nicely.  Another slow song, I didn’t feel much for this one very much since it is mostly acoustic guitar and some low-laying strings.  It’s just floats on by in my ears.

7. Sentimental Boyfriend

At this point, I really wish the trio would get out of the ballad zone since it’s kind of putting me to sleep here.  Oh wait!  This song is a bit of tease now with that introduction.  Sentimental Boyfriend kind of turns into this acoustic mid-tempo track that’s got a bit of charm for it.  Kiyoe just sounds good here once again…dang I like this song too!

8. Shiroi Diary

For a title that means “White Diary”, it was surprising that it turns out that the song was going to be a ballad.  I do like the dramatics about the song that’s for sure but there’s not much else I can remember it by for right now…it just seems like good old ikimono-gakari if you catch my drift.

9. Renshi

At least things start to pick up again with Renshi which is probably the biggest surprise to the album.  First off, I’m surprised that the arrangement is all big band and quite bright.  Next thing is hearing Kiyoe singing in a deeper tone and then hitting these notes that I didn’t think she could pull off.  It’s just so out of their comfort zone but I loved this move and if they ever decide to move into a more jazzier setting and it’s like this…I’m ALL for it!!!

10. NEW WORLD MUSIC

It’s good that NEW WORLD MUSIC follows after “Renshi” since both songs are so different…though I have to say that NEW WORLD MUSIC is interesting because instead of a jazzy feel, we get a latin feel and I thought it made the song rather cute and such.  Though I did think Kiyoe stress her vocals a little bit here.  Still it’s my favorite A-side of the era here lol and once again a great follow-up after “Renshi”.

11. Ai Kotoba

After all that excitement and since we’re getting near the end of the album it’s obvious we were going to get more ballads.  Once again this’ll be memorable to the fans of their ballads while for me it’s alright but nothing I’ll be going back to.  I know it should sound amazing but that’s why “Ai ni Iku yo” is there haha.  Oh and by the way, longest song on the album XD.

12. Oyasumi

As the album’s final song, Oyasumi has a little more movement than “Ai Kotoba” that’s for sure but I’m pretty much continuing to kind of glaze over the song because it’s still a ballad hahah.  Though it’s charming and I like the arrangement of strings and acoustic guitar with a little keyboard here and there.  Kind of like a Disney song but less dramatic hahah.

Tracks Recommended

  • Renshi
  • Ai ni Iku yo
  • NEW WORLD MUSIC
  • KISS KISS BANG BANG
  • Itsudatte Bokura wa

Song of Avoidance

  • Chikyuu

 

Wow, I was pleasantly surprised by ikimono’s 5th album.  While I did like “Hajimari no Uta” it was piled with so many ballads that I felt overly tired after listening to it.  With NEWTRAL, it seems they breathed new life to their music and I was impressed with majority of the songs even moreso with the A-sides and certain album tracks.  It also does come with a second disc…but it’s just merely a live CD of their older tracks,  This is definitely *RECOMMENDED*

 

Hitomi Shimatani – Sign Music February 28, 2012

Filed under: Hitomi Shimatani — solarblade @ 10:47 am

Track Listing

  1. Furusato
  2. Soshu Yakyoku
  3. Oborozukiyo
  4. Shabondama
  5. Soushunhu
  6. Natsu no Omoide
  7. Aka Tombo
  8. Pechika
  9. Okaasan
  10. Kono Michi
  11. Ondo no Funauta (CD only)

1. Furusato

I could have only hoped that it was going to be a cover of Morning Musume’s “Furusato” but nahhh it’s based off the children’s song of the same.  I really must say that I love the breezy and jazzy feel this song has and Hitomi’s vocals really sound nice amongst the arrangement as well (but then again who doubted that she would sound bad?).  Adding the flute solo and I was just happy with this song for sure!

2. Soshu Yakyoku

Next song in the album is just as jazzy but a little more soothing and has a nice deep bass involved as well.  I will say I’m surprised there was a much longer solo to be had from the violin but I guess it works for here.  It’s nice but I think the strings could’ve been less seen because I felt myself paying so much more attention to that than poor Hitomi.

3. Oborozukiyo

I guess the could be considered the album’s first ballad (maybe?).  Either way, I’m loving the fact that I hear saxophone opening this wintery tune.  This is where I start to see Hitomi’s real exceptional vocals since she’s soft and singing so peacefully and pleasantly.  It’s nice and the sax solo in the middle worked well as well…

4. Shabondama

I’m surprised that Shabondama is as short as it is because it would’ve made a great full song though once again, I kept thinking of Morning Musume here but once again, it’s the children’s song.  I like the deep string acting as the low beat and then hearing marimba in the background and having a solo as well.  It’s a nice song but I wish it was tad bit longer.

5. Soushunhu

One song I’m pretty sure I’m not going to listen after this review is probably Soushunhu which can be compared as lifeless and just plain boring.  Shimatani fans should know that she’s been on this major line of songs that really are plain jane and features not a whole of instruments.  Soushunhu has acoustic guitar only and Hitomi singing along.  It makes me feel like I’m listening to “Kantan ni Ietanara” or “Mayonaka no Guitar” which isn’t a very good thing here.  Just boring and not really fitting the album very well.

6. Natsu no Omoide

After that speed bump, Natsu no Omoide kind of brings us back into that jazzy/bossa nova side to this album and I’m so happy it did!  I like the fact that this time the sound is based upon the trumpet and even from the solo to the end was pretty awesome.  It’s pretty good but I think the music took over Hitomi who I felt didn’t have enough time to sing the song but it’s still nice otherwise.

7. Aka Tombo

I felt our next song started so oddly with those ~ahs~ going on there.  As another slow song on the album, I felt zoned out with this song but not at the same level I did with “Soushunhu”.  At first it felt so slow and quiet and essentially was a blur in my mind.  After a while, the song does grow louder and I start paying attention and she pulls it off at the end but just barely for me.

8. Pechika

Which sucks because it’s followed by another slow-moving song in Pechika.  I think by now you guys know that my weak points to music are ballads and seldom are seen repeated on my iTunes so this one definitely was testing my patience.  There were a few parts that did connect to me like the muted trumpet solos throughout.  Besides that, I couldn’t tell you how the melody of the song went hahaha.

9. Okaasan

Our next song is for all teh mothers out there XD.  Kind of a shame as it’s the only other song that’s under three minutes in length (the other was “Shabondama” by the way).  It’s kind of cute in a way because of the arrangement that has some interesting instruments playing along with Hitomi’s vocals which are a bit cutesy (I guess you can call it that).  Short but sweet I guess.

10. Kono Michi

Ending the album, Cono Michi is a soft way to end things (despite most if not all of the album is soft songs).  It seems to be paralelling “Soushunhu” because unlike acoustic guitar, there’s only piano in this song.  However, I felt this suited her quite a bit more to be honest.  Pleasant, but not the best the album offered.

11. Ondo no Funauta

Of course it was shocking to see that the CD only had a bonus track with Ondo no Funauta.  When I saw the title, I was thinking it was going to be actually an ondo-type song.  Which made me think of numerous songs from H!P…  What we got was an interesting song that features Hitomi singing in an enka style (something we haven’t seen or heard since her debut!).  I was surprised that like “Kono Michi”, the song only uses piano but that’s alright because Hitomi totally took over the arrangement with her powerful vocals.  I’m surprised she pulled this song off since she really didn’t do well on “Osaka no Onna” but those were different times for her.  Great song to finish up!

Tracks Recommended

  • Furusato
  • Shabondama
  • Ondo no Funauta
  • Okaasan
  • Natsu no Omoide

Song of Avoidance

  • Soushunhu

As this is Hitomi’s third cover album (first that isn’t based off of guy’s songs) Sign Music is nice but now I’m sure she’s trying to leave her dance/pop phase in the past because of everything since “Flare” was released.  I guess I’m alright with it but at the same time I feel she’s leaving what made her amazing for something that’s lowkey and not super popular as in the case of this album.  I don’t think jazz is VERY popular in Japan.  Otherwise this was her most interesting release since “Flare” so that should tell you guys something.  Though that enka song at the end was a nice little treat for people TBH.

 

FLOWER – Still February 27, 2012

Filed under: FLOWER — solarblade @ 3:06 pm

Track Listing

  1. Still
  2. Fadeless Love
  3. Are You Ready?
  4. Still (instrumental)

1. Still

When I first turned on Still, I kind of got Juliet vibes with the first singer of the group lol.  It grows on ya since it’s a nice sounding track with synths and a constant R&B-like beat.  I’m surprised that of a group with that many members only three of the sing…it’s kind of odd but at the same time doesn’t feel busy.  The three girls actually sound good all-around so there’s no complaints there and I keep remembering that hook of ~I’m still in love with yoooou~.  Nice A-side!

2. Fadeless Love

A little more of what I was expecting to hear from the group to debut with, Fadeless Love is a little more synthy and towards more of an R&B style than “Still” actually.  However, when I listen to this song, I get Dream vibes but since they are similar it’s excusable.  Song is alright overall, but I felt the A-side was much better TBH.

3. Are You Ready?

I think this is the third time I seen this title…you know mini and Meisa share those times and it’s like I’VE BEEN READY!  At least out of all the songs on the single, they’ve built up to this cool dance track.  The first thing I noticed was the use of auto-tune here which kind of bothered me since Chiharu, Reina, and Kyoka are valid singers in their own right.  Besides that, I thought this was the best song off the single since it has great flow and the three girls sound great! 

 

 

As 1/3 of E-Girls and they’re own group I felt that FLOWER does have the chance to be pretty popular.  I liked their debut single, Still since both the A-side and Are You Ready? were great songs to show off their vocals.  Fadeless Love is alright but a little meh at the same time.  I do want the other members to do something besides dancing…I mean 3 out of 9 are vocalists…that’s a bit absurd…the other girls should sing too IMO.