Kurayami Monogatari

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YuiKaori – Kimi no YELL March 15, 2012

Filed under: YuiKaori — solarblade @ 9:03 pm

Track Listing

  1. Kimi no YELL
  2. Attouteki na GO!!
  3. Kimi no YELL (off vocal ver.)
  4. Attouteki na GO!! (off vocal ver.)

1. Kimi no YELL

Kimi no YELL doesn’t seem to push the duo into new directions but I do like hearing electric guitars in the song giving the song a pretty good anison feel.  It’s still pretty cute overall so it’s not a giant departure for the girls.  Once again, I’m finding myself loving the crap out of Kaori’s vocals in the song since she’s so strong singing the track.  I actually consider Kimi no YELL their best A-side yet!

2. Attouteki na GO!!

The B-side though is kind of the side of the group I’m not so fond of.  It’s a bit faster than “Kimi no YELL” but strikes a bigger cutesy chord than normal.  I will say that the energy is through the roof so I’m good with that but meh otherwise I don’t find it that memorable!

 

 

Starting their sophomore era, Kimi no YELL by YuiKaori is surprisingly nice and a much stronger release than any of their previous singles.  Kimi no YELL is a pretty good A-side and I’m happy they’re doing a little more with their music instead of just going with the flow.  Attouteki na GO!! is alright but nothing too memorable but it’s not bad…good single overall.

 

DOES – Ima wo Ikiru

Filed under: DOES — solarblade @ 8:27 pm

Track Listing

  1. Ima wo Ikiru

1. Ima wo Ikiru

Only one song on the single…no instrumental even?  Pretty ballsy to pull a single release like this.  I will say though that I kind of enjoyed Ima wo Ikiru even though it’s not a hardcore like some of their other songs I’ve heard from them.  I do think Ujihara’s vocals stand out for me despite still having such a gritty and lazy feel to it but the chorus is pretty explosive since he sings out a lot more.  However he does kind of get’s scratchy…actually he’s more of this in this song alone…kind of annoying in various places.  It isn’t bad…but could’ve been better.

 

 

As the only single to represent the “Katharsivilization” album, Ima wo Ikiru is a powerful track from the band that’s for sure but Ujihara’s scratchy vocals are taking its toll on the song since he’s got so much vocal hiccups in the song…it’s like he’s slowly sounding worse than he did two eras ago.  Hopefully the album will have stronger songs!

 

AFTERSCHOOL – PLAYGIRLZ

Filed under: AFTERSCHOOL — solarblade @ 7:52 pm

Track Listing

  1. Rip off
  2. Rambling girls
  3. BROKEN HEART feat. Jung-A, Raina, Nana, E-Young
  4. Diva [Japan Ver.]
  5. Just in time
  6. Shampoo [Japan Ver.]
  7. Because of you [Japan Ver.]
  8. Gimme Love
  9. Miss Futuristic feat. Kahi, Juyeon, U-ie, Lizzy
  10. Bang! [Japan Ver.]
  11. Tell me
  12. Shanghai Romance [Japan Ver.] (CD only)

1. Rip off

I love the pinball machine shtick that starts the album.  Rip off is kind of aggressive but so different from what I know of the group and it just kind of took me to a different place.  Though I will say how they say ~rip off~ is kind of funny to hear.  I’m surprised that at only three minutes, it felt longer hahaha.  Still a good way to open the album up!

2. Rambling girls

Third A-side and the primary one, Rambling girls is some hot shit right here.  I love the deeper synth beats and the mysterious flow of the girls…but also comes off in a good way because they sound more sexy than they did back in “Diva” and “Bang!”.  I still do have my problems with the song like the chorus being full of ~la la la~ and nothing really more.  The verses though…god it’s orgasmic!

3. BROKEN HEART feat. Jung-A, Raina, Nana, E-Young

So two of the album songs are split between the 8 members!  BROKEN HEART is kind of a little more pop-based than the previous two tracks but I’m good because the tune sounds really nice and the chorus is aggressive but not at the levels of the previous two tracks.  The four girls sound really good together oddly enough.  I liked it a lot!

4. Diva [Japan Ver.]

Damn, this album has impressed me so far!  Diva comes next and like I said in the single review, this was actually the only song that was given a new arrangement in lieu of the original’s.  I hate to say it but they slammed the original into the ground but you can’t deny the new aggressive nature and electro-ish feel gave it new light and the girls sound better!  I think it’s my favorite of the 4 A-sides on the album!

5. Just in time

After those energetic songs, we start to calm down a little bit with Just in time which kind of has this cute SNSD sound to it which isn’t a surprise to me but I do like the kind of laidback feel to it.  Though I do question that buzzing synth here in the verses because it’s kind of annoying.  It’s different but I know AFTERSCHOOL for their energetic tracks not stuff like this lol.

6. Shampoo [Japan Ver.]

So the album gets two more new Korean to Japanese songs.  One is Shampoo and while I never heard the original yet, Shampoo here sounds a lot more impressive than “Just in time” though the rapping sequence is a tad bit weird for me.  Still I thought this was a better cute song for the group than the previous song oddly enough.

7. Because of you [Japan Ver.]

As I reviewed the single, I still think the Korean version still sounds better overall than the Japanese to be honest because it didn’t feel as strong IMHO.  I mean it does catch up in the chorus but I’m still feeling for the original version just a whole lot more but not a bad try tbh.

8. Gimme Love

Moving out of the cute songs of the album, we swerve back into their energetic dance tracks with Gimme Love.  I will admit that I love the vibe I got out of this song because it has a certain K-pop glow but mixed in with their Japanese feel which really worked.  All the girls sound great and while the auto-tune is there, it’s not utilized all over the song so that’s good news.  Probably my favorite of the new songs.

9. Futuristic Love feat. Kahi, Juyeon, U-ie, Lizzy

We get to our other split song in Futuristic Love and then I start to worry because of the intro with the auto-tune abuse.  I do approve of the arrangement having a lighter but still danceable feel to it but OMG why did these four need to have the auto-tune going on…I mean you have Kahi who’s a great singer and I’m sure the other three sing well too >.>  I mean, it’s catchy and all but I felt these four got the short end of the stick here…

10. Bang! [Japan Ver.]

So the group’s debut A-side is found near the end of the album huh.  To be honest, I felt that of the upbeat songs on the album, Bang! just didn’t cut it for me even though it was the optimal choice to debut with since it was big in Korea.  I did love the PV since it was a marching band kind of motif, but since the PV isn’t what I’m talking about it’s hard to form an opinion.  It’s different and the girls are yelling the chorus which is new to me…but “Diva” and “Rambling girls” outrank it in the A-sides.

11. Tell me

The final song on the album does make sense closing the album but it’s weird coming off from the previous three songs to this song which could’ve fit somewhere around “Shampoo” and “Because of you” since it’s cute but it’s also a ballad.  I do like the very light arrangement and the ladies’ vocals are just pretty to listen to.  A very fitting way to close the album!

12. Shanghai Romance [Japan Ver.]

As a little extra incentive, the CD only version comes with Shanghai Romance which is a song from Orange Caramel (one of the sub-groups from AFTERSCHOOL).  Featuring only Raina, Nana, and Lizzy in this song you could say it’s the third split song.  Honestly, I’m surprised by this because I love the whole Chinese feel mixed with their K-pop touch.  To be fair it kind of rubs off as parapara for some reason because it just sounds perfect for it.  I kind of love this song for it…it’s cute but fun at the same time…Interesting choice as an extra song but a smart choice too!

Tracks Recommended

  • Diva [Japan Ver.]
  • Shanghai Romance [Japan Ver.]
  • Gimme Love
  • Rambling girls
  • Rip off

Song of Avoidance

  • Just in time

Ahhhh, AFTERSCHOOL’s debut album in Japan is a whole lot better than the last J-pop debut for a K-pop group (U-KISS).  PLAYGIRLZ is definitely an albut that brings some nice color and interesting things for the group.  I will say there was like maybe 2 or 3 songs that I didn’t totally care for but the rest was pretty awesome.  A lot of energy and cute altogether.  I hope they continue to release in Japan because they just know how to do this.

 

Ayumi Hamasaki – Party Queen

Filed under: Ayumi Hamasaki — solarblade @ 6:39 am

Track Listing

  1. Party queen
  2. NaNaNa
  3. Shake It♥
  4. taskebab
  5. call
  6. Letter
  7. reminds me
  8. Return Road
  9. Tell me why
  10. a cup of tea
  11. the next LOVE
  12. Eyes, Smoke, Magic
  13. Serenade in A minor
  14. how beautiful you are

1. Party queen

Like her last album, “Love songs”, we begin a new album with the title track first.  Already I’m surprised by the fact she’d start with something upbeat (something she needed so badly in recent times).  Also she ditched Komuro which is good.  I do like the electro arrangement which is good and the weird glass clicking is odd but cool.  Another thing that I’ve noticed since “Love songs” is that she does sound different like her tone quality has changed since “Rock’n’Roll Circus”.  It’s odd and I have to get used to it but this isn’t a bad start.

2. NaNaNa

The first of the four promotional songs for the album, NaNaNa is another electro song but this is a little different from how “Party queen” stood.  Now the producer of this song, Timmy is also present in the vocals (he’s been the recent go-to-guy it seems for her since “BRILLANTE” so I was curious to how this was gonna end up.  At first I was like oh this is a nice follow-up from “Sparkle”.  The dirty electronic feel with Ayu under auto-tune was interesting but then we hear Timmy kind of speak lines in the song which surprised me a lot.  Sadly, it felt like it was more of his song and Ayu was the guest.  Weird right?  It’s a good song but I would’ve loved less of Timmy >.<

3. Shake It♥

Third aggressive song huh?  I do like that the song focuses on the guitars than the synth barrages of the previous two tracks.  I do think it brings back the old Ayu tone which is great because I’m used to this from her.  While I don’t think the song is anything remarkable, it’s pretty good and she powers through the song pretty nicely.  Though why are you hear Timmy? and why is there dubstep in the song?  WEIRD!

4. taskebab

Wow it’s been a long time since we’ve seen a tasuku interlude on an Ayu album…not since 2006’s “taskinst”.  Well the interlude is really simple with just electric guitar and some dance beats.  At the halfway point, it gets into this electric riff that totally reminds me of Daft Punk’s “Aerodynamic”.  It just blew my mind hahaha after that though it just kind of lays off the energy but ends with the 8-bit-ness and electric guitar stuff.

5. call

How “taskebab” leads into our next song left me confused and just wondering what was the use.  Now she’s done these kind of plain pop/rock songs in the past (a lot of “Secret” and “Last Links” to be exact).  Kind of basic and run-of-the-mill so I kind just forget about it.

6. Letter

Ok I take that back, Letter sounds like “Last Links”.  It’s the whole pop/rock mixed with strings arrangement that just gets to me and I’m finding myself just not being impressed here either.  I feel that it’s just so plain and white for me…but some people might like this because it sounds like old Ayu…but there’s other old facets of Ayu that were better IMHO.

7. reminds me

After those two boring songs, reminds me actually is standing up amongst the song by being a little more dramatic.  Kind of like an acoustic version of “criminal” almost.  However, unlike the mentioned song, the melody has a little more life to it and it does grow the longer it plays so it doesn’t drift on boring.  This is the Ayu I missed and she came back in a powerful way with this song!

8. Return Road

The third song promoting the album, (second was “Shake It♥”, mind you), Return Road begins with pipe organ (“Microphone” much?).  However it doesn’t follow that epic direction since Return Road is a powerful ballad for Ayu.  Kind of harkens back to olden days and a little of “BRILLANTE” with the dramatic chanting and such.  I will say that the male chant was freaking random as hell…why were they put in?!?  Get em’ out!

9. Tell me why

If there was one song that I couldn’t forge the melody out for no reason to not to, Tell me why would be that song.  It is a ballad for sure and the music is simple enough to listen to…but I honestly couldn’t remember the song on the album for some reason.  I remember “call” and “Letter” as the two boring pop/rock tracks but Tell me why isn’t a bad song…it just comes up short in my memory.  I will say it sounds like it could’ve been a good “Love songs” song…but I’m not even sure of that either.

10. a cup of tea

Another interlude pops up in a cup of tea which kind of starts with the strings playing a bouncy melody and transforms into this electronic amalgation of dubstep, the string’s bouncy melody and filtered vocals.  It’s just somehow not working with me and kind of is just all kinds of messy.  It’s probably her worst interlude yet.

11. the next LOVE

I love that Ayu decided to tackle new styles on the next two tracks on the album, unfortunately one of them didn’t work.  the next LOVE though actually did because it sounds so classy and jazzy.  I was kind of like, she can pull this style with flying colors since it sounds so gooood!  It worked and is the album’s true gem on here oddly enough.

12. Eyes, Smoke, Magic

Sadly, the album really hits a very odd bump in the road in the shape of Smoke, Eyes, Magic which sounds like some nod to something like Moulin Rouge though but I kind of hate this song.  It just didn’t work for her because it felt so out of character for her and I just couldn’t handle her vocals for the song.  I will admit that I do think her experimentation was in good mind…but ewwww I just don’t like this song.

13. Serenade in A minor

The final interlude, Serenade in A minor seems like it could’ve fit elsewhere on the album like somewhere before or after “Return Road” would be a better place actually.  All it really is is just a strings solo so it doesn’t really impress me even if it leads into the final track on the album.

14. how beautiful you are

The final song on the album is oddly enough the only song to be released prior to the album as a digital single.  I felt that it was nice that she closed the album with a ballad…but honestly what stands out from “Curtain call” and “meaning of Love” to be honest.  I will say that hearing Ayu saying the title was a nice touch but it doesn’t stand out for me…

Tracks Recommended

  • the next LOVE
  • reminds me
  • Return Road
  • NaNaNa
  • Party queen

Song of Avoidance

  • Eyes, Smoke, Magic

Let’s get this out of the way first, Party Queen is better than both “Love songs” and “FIVE” so that’s a good start right?  Now getting that out of the way…while it might be better than her last two releases, she still hasn’t fully captured the magic that I loved in “NEXT LEVEL” and “Rock’n’Roll Circus” for some unknown reasons.  Maybe it’ll be the next album, but I’m not holding my breath for that…While it did have songs that stood out and worked…overall I felt just more bored than excited for this release.

 

miwa – guitarium

Filed under: miwa — solarblade @ 2:53 am

Track Listing

  1. Ikutsu ni Nattemo
  2. 441
  3. Futari no Saturday
  4. Kataomoi
  5. again×again
  6. Jexxxa
  7. Mata ne
  8. Cotton no Kisetsu
  9. Chasing hearts
  10. Merry Go Round
  11. Clair de Lune
  12. Take@chance
  13. FRiDAY-MA-MAGiC
  14. Hajimari wa Owari ja Nai <endless version>

1. Ikutsu ni Nattemo

miwa opens the album up by saying ~Let’s keep our heads up~ before getting into this very fun and energetic first song.  Ikutsu ni Nattemo kind of seems to follow along miwa’s more recent happier vibes when compared to most of the “guitarissimo” which is pretty impressive since I’ve warmed up immensely to miwa’s music.  I love her eccentric style for the song and it makes me hope the rest of the album will continue to impress me.

2. 441

Though it’ll be hard since six of the songs I’ve heard already before (well five since the final song is a new version and all).  441 was the A-side that began the era and it was a confusing song for me to decide if I liked it or not because while it’s upbeat and straightforward, it was hard to tell if the song was actually sad or not.  Overall this was a pretty good song from her but the A-sides that were released after it, were a bit better IMO.

3. Futari no Saturday

We actually knew of this song a while before the album was announced oddly enough but at least we finally did get this song.  Futari no Saturday is a little more laidback than the previous two tracks and definitely carries her “guitarissimo” style over very nicely.  It sounds like a song from her debut album but touched up a little bit with her happier feel.  Not as good as “Ikutsu ni Nattemo” but simply nice.

4. Kataomoi

We move into the era’s 3rd and final A-side with Kataomoi which was also the leading ballad.  I still do think the 6 minute length is a bit much but I’m always like that with ballads.  Also up to this point there was a lot of guitars in the previous tracks and coming to a piano/strings (mixed with a little acoustic guitar) was a needed change haha.  I really enjoyed miwa’s vocals oddly enough because it sounds so heartfelt.  Pleasant song overall.

5. again×again

After “Kataomoi” it was time to energize the album again with a little more oomph like this song which has electric guitar as the main focus.  I will say that I like the bigger bite of this song and makes it a little more energetic than “441” or “Futari no Saturday”.  If anything, it kind of reminds me of “chAngE”.  I enjoyed this song quite a bit ^_^

6. Jexxxa

I actually would’ve though this would be pretty much the hardest song on the album, but it isn’t and kind of is laidback like “Chasing hearts” and “441” for that matter.  Unfortunately, the song isn’t very memorable for me and just phases on by for me.  I kind of wish I could remember the tune’s melody but I just can’t.

7. Mata ne

As we get to the half-way point of the album we’re treated to Mata ne which begins with a beautiful strings line before it goes away and leaves us with miwa and acoustic guitar playing for a little bit before other instruments (and the strings) are added in.  A lot memorable of a song than the last ballad lol.

8. Cotton no Kisetsu

Cotton no Kisetsu was another song that was known before the album’s released but it was a CM song.  Unlike the previous tracks, this one feels a little straightforward of a song and kind of just passes by…hmm…like “Futari no Saturday”.  It’s not that it’s bad or anything it just lacks the memorability card that most of the other tracks have so it’s kind of forgotten here.

9. Chasing hearts

So like the A-sides, all of the B-sides made the cut as well (whoohoo!).  The first one was obviously going to make the cut because of the fact that the track had a tie-in to the FMA series.  I still really enjoy the song from the single so I was elated to see this on the album…moreso in the middle lol.  It’s happy but not like a couple songs and it has a nice identity to it.  It’s my favorite B-side of the era.

10. Merry Go Round

Funny that our last song leads into this little ditz in Merry Go Round which is totally absurd but doesn’t make sense since it doesn’t come before “FRiDAY-MA-MAGiC”.  What I meant, was this song is the cutest and oddest song of the album since it has filters on miwa’s vocals plus the synth-dependent atmosphere.  So darn cute though but I don’t think it ranks amongst the best.

11. Clair de Lune

Another breezy song?  This is a bit like the other songs the only thing that set them apart is the fact that this was the B-side from “Kataomoi”.  I mean it was nice to listen to on the single…but somehow at this point on the album, it’s quite forgettable.  I kind of wish there was a little more to it.  *sigh*

12. Take@chance

The last new song on the album of course gets that “@” in it huh…she had to be a little weird.  This song does sound alright but nothing that really speaks much out loud unlike songs previous (repeating myself I know).  Not really a good idea being after “Clair de Lune” since they both are rather similar and I’m already disappointed with both as it is…Biggest difference is that there’s banjo involved here so it’s more Western Country.

13. FRiDAY-MA-MAGiC

Hey if being exciting is making the second A-side near the end then count me in because I was loving this song back in 2011 and to see it on here is making me a happy person.  It’s just happy and so very energetic.  I mean it’s easily comparable to “Ikutsu ni Nattemo” but this was here first so I like it a lot more xD.

14. Hajimari wa Owari ja Nai <endless version>

Finally putting the album to a close, we get a new version of Hajimari wa Owari ja Nai from the “FRiDAY-MA-MAGiC” single.  Adding about a minute to the song, it’s changed from it’s original flow-y sound to a more strings-based atmosphere but retaining the acoustic guitar and miwa’s nice vocals (which were resung…I think).  Overall it was a fitting choice to close the album and a nice version and upgraded the B-side up!

Tracks Recommended

  • FRiDAY-MA-MAGiC
  • Ikutsu ni Nattemo
  • again×again
  • Chasing hearts
  • Mata ne

Song of Avoidance

  • Jexxxa

If you were a fan of miwa’s debut album you be kind of surprised but not surprised by guitarium.  Which is more or less a contination from “guitarissimo”.  The biggest obvious change between the albums is that she’s lightened up and started to have fun with her songs as seen in songs like FRiDAY-MA-MAGiC, Ikutsu ni Nattemo, and even Merry Go Round and had less depressing songs (which kind of escapes my mind currently if there were sad songs).  Still…I wouldn’t say it’s better than her debut but it sits exactly next to it…both albums have the same amount of good n’ bad.

 

Kie Kitano – Can you hear me?

Filed under: Kie Kitano — solarblade @ 12:22 am

Track Listing

  1. Can you hear me?
  2. Darl:orz
  3. Kimi ga…
  4. Just Friends
  5. Keep
  6. Hazakura
  7. Beautiful World

1. Can you hear me?

Starting the mini off, the title track comes first with its acoustic atmosphere.  I already can tell I’m gonna like hearing Kie’s vocals once again because I actually like her tone…it sounds familiar like Van from Do As Infinity.  Kind of has this power to it and she sounds so good.  While it isn’t the best the mini has to offer, it’s pretty damn good otherwise.

2. Darl:orz

As the only single that came out for the era, Darl:orz is interesting from when I heard it the first time because this time around I felt her vocals were a little higher than in pitch than in “Can you hear me?”.  I really do love the synths mingling with this pop/rock style…like it gives it an IMALU-like feel.  It’s pretty fun and just a great song to listen too…though off-topic…I wish “It’s All Right” had made the cut x.x

3. Kimi ga…

Starting off with a melody from a music box, Kimi ga… was interesting because at first I thought it was going to be the mini’s first ballad but it turns into this kind mid-tempo pop song with a nice dance beat to along for the ride.  It’s kind of simple but it shows off Kie’s vocals in a much brighter setting though I felt like there was something different about her vocals like light filters being used…it could just be me though but this was a nice, floaty track from her.

4. Just Friends

Moving back into something a little more aggressive natured, Just Friends kind of reminds me of various Kylee songs with a lot more focus on guitars and the synths playing a more minor role.  This has fun written all over the song (like “Darl:orz”).  It’s still a great tune overall and just fun to listen to on a happy day.

5. Keep

Another music box opening (even though it’s slightly different than the one that started “Kimi ga…”.  Oddly enough, talking about that song, I get the same vibes with Keep for some reason.  Like it’s pretty floaty and has a nice beat to it.  Actually this might be a tad more poppy but still similar in many ways though the breakdown in the song…was very unusual to me…seemed like there were ideas to get lyrics in there but failed.  Not bad overall.

6. Hazakura

I love that Hazakura begins with piano only before it grows into the song with the most amount of synth usage.  I guess I should be happy with the piano/synth mixture but being at a little over 5 minutes it took a little while for me to enjoy…but I think it’s from the long intro.  After a while the song kind of just fades into the background for me since it doesn’t have climax points for me…just kind of sails on a straight line after the synths come in.

7. Beautiful World

Closing things off, Beautiful World is the longest track hitting 6 minutes straight.  I do like how it starts in the studio like behind the scenes with Kie and someone else singing alongside.  After that the song opens with the chorus and there’s a lot of people singing behind Kie.  It’s nice they chose this as the last track since it kind of gives this hopeful feel…(is it a song based from the earthquakes maybe?).  Kind of cute and has a positive message in it.

 

 

After “Shin”, I was hoping she’d drop Komuro for something better and for the most part I felt this mini-album was 10x stronger than her full debut album tbh.  Minus Hazakura, all the songs were pretty damn good and left a much stronger impression of her as an artist than before which is great.  While I do think “It’s All Right” should’ve been somewhere here because it fits with all the great stuff found her this short era was more than needed…*RECOMMENDED*