Kurayami Monogatari

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Akiko Hasegawa – Simply Lovely July 25, 2012

Filed under: Akiko Hasegawa — solarblade @ 9:17 am

Track Listing

  1. Simply Lovely
  2. LEVEL∞ (Hard Rock ver.)
  3. Sunrise!
  4. I Can Fly
  5. Sourin no Pendulum
  6. Fateful Actor
  7. LEVEL∞ (Famison 8BIT ver.)
  8. XXX
  9. 2100nen no Tokyo Tower
  10. Stay Tuned!
  11. On Our Way
  12. Iya da yo Suki da yo
  13. Fateful Actor (Relieve ver.)
  14. LEVEL∞ (Disillusion Special ver.)
  15. Onigiri March

1. Simply Lovely

One of the two new tracks of the album, we start things off with the title track, Simply Lovely.  I like that it’s a bit more cuter and has a bit more cute synths going around which fits with her high-pitched voice style.  It actually sounds more like an idol song that longer I listen to it.  It’s a fun song to listen to and a nice opening song for the album.

2. LEVEL∞ (Hard Rock ver.)

I’m surprised at how many versions of Akiko’s debut single there are on this album.  However, this is the only new version of the song which took the song and gave it more of a rockin’ touch up which is pretty nifty but it doesn’t seem to really fit with her voice which isn’t shocking.  It’s a nice try to give the song a different flavor and it might impress someone out there.

3. Sunrise!

From this point on, majority of the album is filled with old songs!  Starting with her second A-side (first under 5pb. Records), Sunrise! was a huge change of sound from her first single by trading 8bit/Trance to this song which is bright pop (with a lot of anison styles behind it).  It’s a lot like “Simply Lovely” but with more emphasis over the strings which what made the song great because they sound beautiful in the song.  It’s overall a good A-side!

4. I Can Fly

I noticed that the A-sides go in order which is pretty cool in a way but a makes things a little boring.  Coming next was the third A-side and unfortunately my least favorite of the A-sides.  I like that it does come off as a little more rockin’ but at the same time it lacked something for me and it just didn’t work out.  I do like the verses a lot more than the chorus for sure.  I guess it’s not terrible but it’s not all that great either.

5. Sourin no Pendulum

Moving onto the final A-side released prior to the album, Sourin no Pendulum was definitely my favorite of the four and it still is!  I mean it’s anime-esque for sure and sounds like an intro which is cool but Akiko sounds surprisingly strong in the song and the arrangement is jsut on spot to fully enjoy. 

6. Fateful Actor

I wonder if they seperated the original track and the Relieve ver. because they were of the same song so that’s why it’s after “Sourin no Pendulum”.  As the B-side of said single, Fateful Actor really impressed me a lot.  I never expected Akiko to pull off a big band tune and I was definitely impressed with what we got here.  I loved her vocals as well, she sung a little more deeper here as well…I just loved this song…one of the best B-sides she’s released yet!

7. LEVEL∞ (Famison 8BIT ver.)

Interestingly enough, we get into the 8BIT version of LEVEL∞ and I was kind of surprised she debuted with this song (well this wasn’t the version that was promoted but still).  Her higher vocals did fit the 8bit style and it wasn’t filtered and auto-tuned which kind of is a surprise for this track.  It’s a cute song and fun to listen to and a little absurd to see on the album.

8. XXX

Tracks 8-13 are all the B-sides that were released in chronological order it seems starting with “LEVEL∞’s” B-side.  I have such a love/hate relationship with the song.  I seriously love the electro arrangement of the song and the lyrics are seriously one of the catchiest of the album but what holds the song back in a big way is Akiko’s way of singing the song.  It’s at its highest peak and she’s being extremely pitchy and cutesy and hitting these high ass notes so abrasively that it kind of does hurt.  I really like some parts of the song but the vocals are just terrible here.

9. 2100nen no Tokyo Tower

I couldn’t remember much of the B-sides from “Sunrise!” but 2100nen no Tokyo Tower was one of the better ones from memory.  I like it today since the song is a little bit of techno-pop but also anison which is no shock to me.  The song is rather adorable and sounds like a song you’d hear in the afternoon at the park.  It just sails by nicely and has a pretty good flow overall.

10. Stay Tuned!

Moving to the other B-side from that single, Stay Tuned! is a bit more chilled out and adds this fashionable kind of feel to it which is something I didn’t pick-up on the first time I heard the song.  It’s relaxing and has a cool vibe to it that I somehow started to really enjoy fully.  It does kind of start to become too chill and flatlined towards the end, but the song has a numbing feel to it lol.

11. On Our Way

It seems to work though as we move into the B-sides from “I Can Fly” because On Our Way is actually the lone ballad of this album.  Now I’m not sure how to take Akiko’s vocals for this song because while it’s nice she toned it down to this, her vocals really aren’t suited for these kind of tracks and she is pretty pitchy in the song…not as bad as “XXX” but enough to ward people off.  At least she tried…

12. Iya da yo Suki da yo

I’ve always wondered why the B-sides from “I Can Fly” were both ballads…Well Iya da yo Suki da yo is different from “On Our Way” simply because this is more of a cute and brighter ballad which isn’t to everyone’s tastes and it kind of pushed me away from it because it was just a little too risky.  I just didn’t like this song either.

13. Fateful Actor (Relieve ver.)

I’m surprised they added this onto the album.  This is actually a jazz version of the song and I was equally impressed with this version and oddly enough it seemed to fit the lyrics a little better than the original version.  Also, Akiko actually resung the song and I loved every little bit of it.  I actually prefer this version over the original overall.  It’s just that good!

14. LEVEL∞ (Disillusion Special ver.)

I’m happy they put this version of the song which is more Trance/Happycore version of LEVEL∞!  Now I’m also happy that they basically cut it down two minutes because the original off the single did feel a little too long-winded.  I really love the energy of the song and I honestly think this version suits Akiko the best of the three versions of the song on here.  Though it seems to be out of nowhere from the last few songs which were quiet…this’ll wake your ass up for sure!

15. Onigiri March

Ending the album finally, we get another new track in Onigiri March and it’s kind of cheesy and cutesy all rolled up in one ball.  It also seems to utilize Akiko’s cutesy vocals which is a little meh for me but as she is a seiyuu it’s not a complete shock.  This goes on for about 3 minutes then Akiko gets the angry shout out and the song switches to a heavy rock sound and Akiko starts to sing in a deeper tone which is really good (like wow).  Sadly the ends a but too quickly (only a minute) and the loud guitars disappear to the ballad section of the song.  It’s a pretty song which goes on for just as long and the song ends.  The remaining 2-ish minutes is silence followed by Akiko talking about the album (I think)…Odd song but did do a good job closing things.

Tracks Recommended

  • Fateful Actor (Relieve ver.)
  • Sourin no Pendulum
  • LEVEL∞ (Disillusion Special ver.)
  • 2100nen no Tokyo Tower
  • Sunrise!

Song of Avoidance

  • Iya da yo Suki da yo

Finally this album found its way out!!!  Akiko’s debut album might just simply be a collection of everything she’s released so far plus two new songs but this had a LOT of variety from cute anison songs to big band to happycore and even ballads.  It was a really random album with an assortment of styles and I think the gives Akiko an enigma-like feel since she can tackle tons of styles!  Her voice does have some work to do but when she puts in a strong effort, she’s got a LOT of potential!  Not bad for a debut!

 

U-KISS – The Special to KISSME

Filed under: U-KISS — solarblade @ 5:28 am

Track Listing

  1. Believe
  2. Te Amo
  3. Inyeoninga Bwa
  4. Let’s Get
  5. Believe (Inst.)
  6. Te Amo (Inst.)

1. Believe

I’m surprised with Believe because this is a really cool song and just a lot stronger of a lead song than “DORADORA” was.  I have to say that I love everyone in the song from Kevin and Soohyun’s lines to AJ’s rapping and everything else in between.  It’s not a hard song but it’s got crazy hooks and I like the message of the song.  It’s just an overall strong track from the group.

2. Te Amo

The other song that was promoted, Te Amo shows a little more spice with saxes and before the song gets into a heavier synth style which is pretty awesome.  Though how they say ~te amo~ is kind of lulzy but this song continues to show a lot of stuff that the group lacked in their last mini.  Impressive tune.

3 Inyeoninga Bwa

My least favorite song on the mini, Inyeoninga Bwa isn’t bad persay but it lacks the movitation to move which is surprising.  I like that I hear a lot of Kevin in the song and some other guys.  I just felt bored with this song and kind of lacked what the other three tracks had.

 4. Let’s Get

The hardest track, Let’s Get is quite hard and very K-pop heavy which is always awesome but then again here comes the auto-tune.  It’s still pretty awesome and great to hear everyone get lines for this song and they all have pretty momentous moments.  This is the U-KISS I know and love!

 

 

I’m surprised that this was released as a tribute to their fanclub…but honestly, KISSME is 10x more stronger of a mini-album than “DORADORA” since all but one song were pretty amazing tracks which is something I would have never expected from U-KISS!  This is pretty much *RECOMMENDED*

 

U-KISS – Dear My Friend

Filed under: U-KISS — solarblade @ 3:21 am

Track Listing

  1. Dear My Friend
  2. Beautiful
  3. Believe -Live ver.- 1st JAPAN LIVE TOUR 2012 3,25@Zepp Tokyo (CD only First Press)
  4. Dear My Friend (Instrumental)
  5. Beautiful (Instrumental)

1. Dear My Friend

We all know it’s the summer season and all that and U-KISS I guess wanted to put our a song to fit the season.  It’s a bit slower than their last A-side in “Forbidden Love” which might not impress fans of theirs and it kind of sound like a couple of their songs from “A Shared Dream” which also could push people away but I think it’s a nice summer song.  It’s a good song for the guys to show off their pretty strong haromonizations and the rapping was on point as well.  It’s to say it is their worst A-side yet but being compared to both “Tick Tack” and “Forbidden Love” it doesn’t reach it.

2. Beautiful

Wait, didn’t 2PM just release a song called “Beautiful”?  No, it’s not a cover track either.  I actually prefer this song to the A-side because it’s a little more like what I’m used to by the group.  It’s got a cool dance beat going and the raps are a bit more effective this time around.  Also the guys are hitting high notes like crazy and just sounding sweet ^_^.

3. Believe -Live ver.- 1st JAPAN LIVE TOUR 2012 3,25@Zepp Tokyo

So on the single we get an added little bonus with a live version of Believe (the one from “A Shared Dream”, not the recent Korean one).  For being a ballad it really gives a sense of closeness here and I really like the attention to detail with the guys’ vocals.  Doesn’t quell the weird stuff with the song like Eli and AJ but still it’s a really strong ballad sung live. 

 

 

So U-KISS starts up their sophomore era with perhaps their worst single, but it’s not a terrible single either it’s just that Dear My Friend isn’t as strong as their previous two singles.  Beautiful is a bit more to my liking and aggressive and stood out more than the A-side lol.  The live version of Believe is vocally good but still not a strong ballad on its own.  With another single, “One of You”, and rereleasing “DORADORA” and the “The Special to KISSME” as one whole package in Japan…it seems like the group is getting super busy!

 

Mayu Watanabe – Otona Jelly Beans

Filed under: Mayu Watanabe — solarblade @ 1:01 am

Track Listing

  1. Otona Jelly Beans
  2. Saisho no Jack
  3. Koyubi no Hohoemi (Regular edition only)
  4. Itsudemo Soba ni Ite Ageru (Limited A only)
  5. Twin Tail wa Mou Shinai (Limited B only)
  6. Zannen Shoujo (Limited C only)
  7. Otona Jelly Beans (instrumental)
  8. Saisho no Jack (instrumental)
  9. Koyubi no Hohoemi (instrumental)
  10. Itsudemo Soba ni Ite Ageru (instrumental)
  11. Twin Tail wa Mou Shinai (instrumental)
  12. Zannen Shoujo (instrumental)

1. Otona Jelly Beans

Well, it’s no surprise that Mayuyu’s second A-side would’ve been a cutesy song with a title that includes jelly beans XD.  I do like it sounds relatively different from “Synchro Tokimeki” and while Mayu’s vocals are still kind of hard to take in their cute tones, it’s a little more catchy so I guess that’s a good thing right?

2. Saisho no Jack

The B-side found on all editions, Saisho no Jack is a bit like her last A-side actually but it’s a little more nicer to listen to than “Synchro Tokimeki”.  Most of the things I’ve said about her in the previous song actually fits here as well.  I still like “Otona Jelly Beans” a tad bit more though.

3. Koyubi no Hohoemi

If you want something a little more exciting from Mayuyu, then we have Koyubi no Hohoemi for the listeners which has more of a idol-pop sound with synth horns and synths.  Kind of typical but it has a little more going on in its arrangement so that it avoids being to bland.

4. Itsudemo Soba ni Ite Ageru

I guess our next track seems to be the ballad on the single which is cool and all but Mayu shouldn’t be using her cute vocals for ballads.  I mean she should’ve used her “Saba no Kanzume” voice since I felt it would’ve been more appropriate here.  Otherwise, the song is pretty and I guess Mayu does sound OK in the song but once again the other ballad still stands out more than this one.

5. Twin Tail wa Mou Shinai

I noticed that when I saw this, it was credited as Mayuzuka46…yeah…it sounds like a parody of Nogizaka46 but with Mayuyu leading the troupe I guess.  Twin Tail does kind of sound like a Nogizaka song which is a bit absurd for me but it’s kind of cute and the style is fun to listen to.  Not much else to say about the song, but it’s nice.

6. Zannen Shoujo

The final track on the single is actually a solo version of a Team B song ^_^.  Funny enough the song has the strongest arrangement because it sounds like an anime intro song with its heavy use of electric guitars.  I don’t think a solo version is suitable because Mayu’s vocals aren’t totally selling the song but the arrangement is a plus. 

 

 

To be honest, I think Otona Jelly Beans didn’t take as many risks overall than what “Synchro Tokimeki” did which to me was disappointing.  I do think the songs were alright but nothing that really stood out this time around.  I guess it’s a suitable second single but I hope she does something random for her next single.

 

D – Danzai no Gunner

Filed under: D — solarblade @ 12:02 am

Track Listing

  1. Danzai no Gunner
  2. Luminous flame
  3. Koori no Bohyou (Type-B only)
  4. Solitude ~Saigo no Tegami~ (Type-C only)
  5. Danzai no Gunner (Voiceless)

1. Danzai no Gunner

For Danzai no Gunner, D has once again put out a really strong song with furious guitar strikes and a really awesome chorus as well!  It’s a little more spastic of a song but the song doesn’t really mess up anywhere and I liked ASAGI’s performance in the song a well.  Add in RUIZA’s guitar solos and you get a really cool song that stood out better than “Dying message”!  Good A-side.

2. Luminous flame

The B-side found on all editions, Luminous flame at first came off like a ballad, but in a moment of quick change, it becomes an edgier song with a lot more riffs and overall a heavier sound which is pretty cool.  At first, I did enjoy it but after a while the drumming just became to much for me and the pounding started to overtake the song (metal-heads will LOVE this).  I’m just not into these kind of songs. 

3. Koori no Bohyou

Onto the edition-only tracks, the first is Koori no Bohyou and it has the same power behind it like “Luminous flame” but the drums aren’t as annoying plus ASAGI sounds a bit more powerful in this track which is good.  I love when the arrangement opens up into a lighter section…it was pretty awesome!  Definitely my favorite song off the single lol.

4. Solitude ~Saigo no Tegami~

Well, I’m happy that one of the songs is a bit more tamer and slower than the rest of the songs.  Solitude does remind me of their older tracks that I’ve reviewed.  It’s nothing fantastic, but it’s a nice track to deviate from the other three hard tracks on the single so it’s a recognizable trait for the single.

 

 

I’d have to say that Danzai no Gunner was actually a much stronger single than “Dying message” oddly enough.  I found the lead track to be a stronger and more powerful song overall and brought out the band’s colors a lot more!  Koori no Bohyou though was the best this single had to offer with just as much power and style like the lead A-side.  Solitude was after those two but it’s a bit familiar to their other mid-tempo songs, but it’s respectable and stands out on the single for that reason.  However, Luminous flame was OK if it wasn’t for the drummers annoying need to machine-gun through the percussion…that’s not cool…