Kurayami Monogatari

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SCANDAL – Queens are trumps -Kirifuda wa Queen- September 28, 2012

Filed under: SCANDAL — solarblade @ 7:33 am

Track Listing

  1. Queens are trumps
  2. Taiyou Scandalous
  3. Pin Heel Surfer
  4. Rock’n Roll
  5. Bitter Chocolate
  6. Kill the virgin
  7. Koe
  8. Rising Star
  9. Bright
  10. Welcome home
  11. HARUKAZE
  12. Right Here

1. Queens are trumps

I didn’t think that SCANDAL was going to open the album up with such a badass song in the title track because I seriously am loving that epic intro from HARUNA and MAMI…I was just loving everything about the song from HARUNA’s ~oh shit!~ line to the TOMOMI’s verses and even the auto-tuned part.  I was just loving the energy and power of the song.  It’s definitely their most hard-hitting song in their discography and I LOVED IT!

2. Taiyou Scandalous

Moving to the second A-side released, Taiyou Scandalous does bring us down from the high from “Queens are trumps” but I think the tune is still pretty much high quality SCANDAL.  It’s not as good as their last summer song, “LOVE SURVIVE” but the song works for some reason.  I still do love hearing HARUNA and MAMI in the song and while TOMOMI is a lead as well, her voice is kind of grating in the song…I was wondering where RINA was but she was prolly busy drumming away.  Not a bad track though.

3. Pin Heel Surfer

SCANDAL decided to close out the era with the 3rd A-side Pin Heel Surfer and it hasn’t even been that long since the single came out so my thoughts haven’r really wavered much from the single review.  It’s definitely the lightest of the 3 A-sides, but it also just doesn’t work for me and would’ve worked better on “BABY ACTION” if anything.  Just a weak track IMO.

4. Rock’n Roll

I guess to break back into edgier songs, Rock’n Roll begins with glass breaking and the arrangement comes barreling through (not as powerful as “Queens are trumps” but this reminds me of “Shoujo S” with it’s progressive sound.  I love that HARUNA and MAMI take lead roles again and they sound so good together.  Definitely one of the catchier songs here!

5. Bitter Chocolate

Taking things slower again, Bitter Chocolate comes in and I definitely feel like it belongs on “BABY ACTION”.  I think I hear TOMOMI and MAMI take the song entirely (mostly TOMOMI though) and I kind of dislike her as a singer and hearing her take lead is just a little painful since it doesn’t really work.  MAMI (if that’s who it is or is it HARUNA?), sounds great though and I would’ve preferred her to carry the song honestly. 

6. Kill the virgin

If you remember “Koi no Hajimaru wa Diet”, that synthy track, then Kill the virgin might sound familiar but it at least the band is playing instruments this time which is really awesome.  I don’t know why but the main vocals don’t sound like TOMOMI but is that RINA?  If it is, then her voice is just as tragic in this tune.  The only thing I felt was cool was the guitar riffs and the whispering parts (and the repeating of ~kill the virgin~.  Beyond that, this song was a trainwreck.

7. Koe

To make up for that hot mess, Koe comes up and I’m loving the fact that I hear MAMI sing in the front (or I think so…).  She sounds a little bit winded for some reason singing Koe but she tries and I like that she fits the sound of the song.  There’s not much else to really say about the song because it’s straightforward and it’s SCANDAL’s typical rock track just predominantly sung by one of the members.

8. Rising Star

I was thinking the middle of the album was kind of used to show off the other girls.  Rising Star brought back the four of them and hearing HARUNA back in lead was pretty nice since I’ve come to really enjoy her voice the most.  TOMOMI/MAMI kind of have similar line distribution while RINA is kind of in the back.  The song is actually quite catchy and I dig this more than most of the other songs. 

9. Bright

Well, I kind of hear guitars and synths fused together for our next track Bright which is unique and has a bit of a different atmosphere than other tracks on the album.  I mean HARUNA is singing in such a breathy and light tone and then the chorus comes in and it just sounds sentimental but pleasant.  It’s surprisingly really good and is probably one my favorite slower songs from the band.

10. Welcome home

As the only B-side to make the cut (it was really either this or “OSAKA” and that song sucked).  I’m really happy they chose this because Welcome home was hard hitting and the vocals were just a whole lot of win!  While it might not be powerful as “Queens are trumps”, this followed behind with nice style.  It fits the album quite nicely and while it has the line distribution like a couple of the songs, this actually turned out better here than on the single.

11. HARUKAZE

It’s been a while since I’ve heard the BLEACH theme and HARUKAZE being placed towards the end is nice since it’s lighter and a bit brighter than most of the other songs on the album.  The chorus is catchy but that’s really about it that I remember about it since it kind of feels too safe and not really all that intriguing (plus the girls don’t emote very well here).  It might be just as blah as “Pin Heel Surfer”.

12. Right Here

Ending the album is probably the brightest song on the album and Right Here really makes up for the lack of emotion in “HARUKAZE”.  I love that all four ladies get the same time to sing but the higher pitched girls get some frown points.  It really sounds like an idol track, but Right Here is good to close things up!

Tracks Recommended

  • Queens are trumps
  • Welcome home
  • Bright
  • Rising Star
  • Rock’n Roll

Song of Avoidance

  • Kill the virgin

SCANDAL’s 4th album and sadly I don’t think it’s as good as “BABY ACTION” was.  I mean I did like a good portion of the album which means it’s up there behind it, but that album didn’t have any BIG misses.  Here, the problem came in the form of  2 of the 3 A-sides being weak and the songs that focused on TOMOMI, RINA, and to a lesser degree MAMI.  They just didn’t work and RINA’s track was just bad…WHY…Not bad, but it’s a step down from their last album.

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THE Possible – Nanja Korya?! September 27, 2012

Filed under: THE Possible — solarblade @ 10:56 am

Track Listing

  1. Nanja Korya?!
  2. Eien Fireball!
  3. Nanja Korya?! (Original Karaoke)
  4. Eien Fireball! (Original Karaoke)
  5. Nanja Korya?! (Robin no Vocal Nude Version)
  6. Nanja Korya?! (Hashimon no Vocal Nude Version)
  7. Nanja Korya?! (Akkyan no Vocal Nude Version)
  8. Nanja Korya?! (Mororin no Vocal Nude Version)
  9. Nanja Korya?! (Goto no Vocal Nude Version)

1. Nanja Korya?!

For a debut on a new label, it’s always interesting to see how it would turn out.  Nanja Korya?! is a hyperactive and feisty tune from the group who has really not a lot of great A-sides.  I really like the vocals during the sung parts and the group can sing some pretty quick lines.  I have to say that all the members impressed me (especially Akkyan and Mororin).  Such a feisty and fun song from the group and the hooks are just so awesome…great redebut!

2. Eien Fireball!

Moving into the B-side, it’s kind of the normal idol fare that I’m used to (even though Tsunku didn’t have a hand in this release at all).  It’s upbeat and it does showcase vocals quite nicely (even though Mororin got shafted in line distribution but the other 4 do split the lines between themselves.  Also noted, Masae Ohtani from Melon Kinenbi sings in the chorus which is pretty nifty.  The song isn’t really much for me and I don’t remember how it goes after a while.

 

 

Even though THE Possible is quite established idol group even with Tsunku’s “help”, I think the move to Victor might do them MUCH better than their days in NGP.  Nanja Korya?! is ridiculous and it’s just so catchy of song that I’m happy they did something really good as an A-side (something I haven’t seen since “Ijiwaru Crazy love”.  Eien Fireball! is just B-side material, nothing totally great about it.  As for the 5 bonus tracks…solo versions of the lead track might something awesome (and I personally would love to hear Akkyan’s and Mororin’s version the most!

 

Tohoshinki – Catch Me

Filed under: Tohoshinki — solarblade @ 10:07 am

Track Listing

  1. Catch Me
  2. Insaengeun Bitnatda (Viva)
  3. Destiny
  4. Binucheoreom (Like a Soap)
  5. I Don’t Know
  6. Kkum (Dream)
  7. How Are You
  8. Getaway
  9. I Swear
  10. Gorgeous
  11. Good Night

1. Catch Me

Interesting that THSK doesn’t start things off with an intro of any kind…Moving on, as the promo track for the album, Catch Me is pretty damn awesome if I say so myself.  I mean coming off from “Keep Your Head Down” and how hard that song was, Catch Me is a bit lighter but it’s still danceable and fierce in its own right.  However, like “ANDROID” it features dubstep breakdowns which I once again starting to loathe in songs because it’s just following the times.  I will say I’m impressed with Changmin….he’s just showing off these power vocals that came out of nowhere, such strong high notes (where was this in “LAST ANGEL”?).  Awesome way to kick things off!

2. Insaengeun Bitnatda (Viva)

Getting into the tracks I haven’t heard prior to the release, Viva kind of has this cool hip-hop thing going on with Yunho since he fits this style quite nicely.  Once the chorus and Changmin join the song, it kind of becomes this chant-worthy track which is awesome.  Though it breaks into ANOTHER dubstep breakdown which makes me frowns a lot.  Actually the dubstep might not be long, but it’s messy that’s for sure.  I just can’t get into this one.

3. Destiny

Well a simple beat opens up our next track and tones things down after the previous tracks.  Changmin’s vocals come first and while his tone is pretty unique and easy to catch, I liked it here…but Yunho sounds so much smoother and fitting for this R&B tune.  Even though it might not resonate much with the fans, I really enjoyed this song…very cool and I remember the chorus a LOT!

4. Binucheoreom (Like a Soap)

Knocking the tempo up slightly, Like a Soap is kind of charming in its own level on the album.  I like the acoustic arrangement and really let the duo use a better tone of vocals like “Destiny”.  I really love hearing Changmin and Yunho making harmonies the priorty here because it just sounds so perfect! 

5. I Don’t Know

Oh is this a Korean version of the B-side from their Japanese single, “Superstar”?  Yup, it most definitely is.  Back on the last two times I reviewed the Japanese version, I really did like the sexier glow of the song which is retained here.  I still have problems dealing with Changmin’s yelling in the chorus, but it sounds a little softer?  I don’t know but I’m not finding it as much of a bother than I used to.  I guess it’s growing on me since this isn’t bad but it’s a little sudden after the last two tracks.

6. Kkum (Dream)

I find it funny because Kkum is so ODD to me.  It really sounds like some anime theme with the way it’s handled.  I mean opening with the chorus that leads into a string-led instrumental…it just SCREAMS ANIMEEEEEE!  It’s just really strange to see this on a Korean album of all things because this is ridiculously cheesy and VERY much is the sore thumb. 

7. How Are You

After that rocky bit of the album, How Are You seems to things down again and we see the duo focusing on harmonizations again which is sounding SO very smooth here.  It’s a pretty solid song even though it’s another “Destiny”.  I don’t mind that though because it’s just so calming!

8. Getaway

When was the last time we’ve seen Tohoshinki doing a rock track like this…way back then when the 5 guys were sporting that ridiculous V-kei-ish look?  I’m a little surprised at how aggressive and pissy it sounds because you can tell Yunho and Changmin are just pissed off and it’s different from “Viva” where it felt a little fake in places.  I’m unsure if I really enjoy it, but it’s so different and it’s been so long since they’ve done something like this.

9. I Swear

After such a hardcore song, comes the quietest song on the album in I Swear.  I found this to be a little too sudden and random, but it’s whatever.  As a ballad, I Swear is your kind of typical Korean ballad, but with nice vocals from the guys.  Nothing really that stands out otherwise.

10. Gorgeous

I kind of assumed the song was going to be a ballad, but nope this is ranking with the other dance tracks on the album.  It’s kind of heavier and has a stronger pulse as well and I kind of liked the grittyness for some reason.  It’s a pretty hip song and the guys do a pretty awesome job here.  One of the better songs on the album!

11. Good Night

Finally, we end the album with Good Night which sounds like a very heavy, but slow R&B track which probably would’ve fit earlier on the album rather than as the final track.  If there was a song that actually kind of disappointed me, it would have to be this one because it just felt bland and a copout to make 11 tracks…plus I guess “Gorgeous” would’ve been weird as an ending track, cut out the R&B stuff and this would’ve been nice.

Tracks Recommended

  • Catch Me
  • Destiny
  • Binucheoreom (Like a Soap)
  • Getaway
  • Gorgeous

Song of Avoidance

  • Good Night

You know, I haven’t really been totally charmed by TVXQ ever since they became a duo, but with Catch Me, I’m totally sold.  Even though there are some meh songs, most of them were of high quality and really showcased both Yunho and Changmin in a positive light, moreso the latter…I’ve never heard him THIS good and I’m liking it a lot!  Minus the gross cover, this is an album you should check out *RECOMMENDED*

 

You Kikkawa – Darling to Madonna

Filed under: You Kikkawa — solarblade @ 4:44 am

Track Listing

  1. Darling to Madonna
  2. Watashi ga Obaasan ni Nattemo (Limited A & Regular only)
  3. Twinkle Days (Limited B only)
  4. Darling to Madonna (Instrumental)
  5. Watashi ga Obaasan ni Nattemo (Instrumental)
  6. Twinkle Days (Instrumental)

1. Darling to Madonna

Ugh, again with this whole VOCALOID shit Kikka has been doing lately?  I guess I’m happy that she hasn’t drowning in it and the fact that there’s more guitar presence in the song really makes it sound a bit more stronger than “Koko Kara Hajimarunda!” but I would’ve loved if she could’ve left the digital stuff out of the song.  Not bad and it’s a step in the right direction, but there’s still something holding it back.

2. Watashi ga Obaasan ni Nattemo

What is up with everyone recently covering Chisato Moritaka’s classic?  It’s just everywhere these days and I don’t know why.  Then again, this kind of works for Kikka, because her last single she covered another of her songs, “17-sai”.  In this cover, the song is a bit more dance-oriented (just kind of like the last single).  I do get this feeling of nostalgia listening to Kikka’s version and she gave a pretty solid performance but this time I think I like “Darling to Madonna” just a bit more.  Still not bad of a song actually.

3. Twinkle Days

Then the actual original B-side pops up on one edition of the single and it seriously is giving me dejavu to her last single.  Just like the A-side, Twinkle Days is pretty sparkly and cute and it’s nice to hear Kikka singing in a more higher range, but the arrangement doesn’t do much for me and in some parts, Kikka is under filters/auto-tune so this has more in common with “Koko Kara Hajimarunda!”. 

 

 

It’s just super odd that this single SO CLOSELY mirrors her last single.  I mean the leading track is a bit different than her last A-side with clean vocals and more guitarwork in the arrangement, but the rest of the single is just similar to her last one.  Call it what you will but while it might be better, it’s also kind of redundant….>.>

 

SPYAIR – Just Do It September 26, 2012

Filed under: SPYAIR — solarblade @ 7:42 am

Track Listing

  1. Just Do It
  2. Rock’n Roll
  3. 0 GAME
  4. My World
  5. Little Summer
  6. No where, Now here
  7. Stay Gold
  8. Break Myself
  9. Naked
  10. U&I
  11. I want a place
  12. Raise Your Hands

CD 2

  1. To
  2. I’ll be there
  3. Ai Yori Aishi
  4. Reset
  5. Come on
  6. MOVIN’ ON
  7. YOU 2
  8. Why [Acoustic ver.]

1. Just Do It

So SPYAIR begins the album with a short introductory piece which is also the title track (like their last one).  I found it funny because IKE was singing the track in English, but it’s funny to hear him say the title with such a twang lol.  Beyond that, there’s not much to really say beyond that it’s an opening track.

2. Rock’n Roll

As the only B-side to make the first disc, Rock’n Roll was a pretty solid choice to join and while I don’t think it surpasses the A-sides, it’s not a bad track.  I like the energy and power of the song for sure and IKE gave a really solid performance as well.  A fitting way to start the vocal tracks ^_^.

3. 0 GAME

Moving onto the 2nd A-side for the era, 0 GAME is probably the band’s most recognizable track as it was used in Spiderman.  It’s pretty awesome that they made “Rock’n Roll” go first since it’s perfect that it leads into this hard track from the band.  Just as edgy and powerful and stood out to me from all the songs released in the era…Great tune!

4. My World

Which is fine by me because “0 GAME” leads into My World just as awesomenly.  As the first A-side released for the album, My World might not be as heavy and powerful like the previous song, it is a song that fits SPYAIR quite snuggly.  Not bad of a song and I kind of think that this and “Naked” are a lot similar…

5. Little Summer

Finally we get to some new songs!  Little Summer tones things down after the powerhouse songs that came before it and I kind of like the direction even though I still despise “BEAUTIFUL DAYS” like crazy.  This song does a good job keeping me interested and IKE’s vocals are really nice to listen to (something I noticed since “My World” towards the end had IKE cracking like crazy).  Pretty good song for the most part!

6. No where, Now here

Interesting title aside, No where, Now here kind of has some interesting turntable effects from Enzel and I kind of got a headache from that first off.  If I decided to ignore that issue, the song actually sounds really good and has a good progressive sound to it.  I am a little surprised that it’s the album’s shortest track, but this is still pretty damn good for the most part. 

7. Stay Gold

No, not the Hikki tune people lol.  Though I am a little confused at first because it’s another acoustic leading track with electrics on the background and the song begun with some auto-tuned voice saying the title.  It’s a nice track, but the auto-tuned parts are a bit uncharacteristic and doesn’t fit the atmosphere of the song.

8. Break Myself

I guess the flow of the album kind of goes wayside when Break Myself enters the fray and it’s the hardest song off the album which is a pretty good thing IMO.  Break Myself has pounding riffs from the guitarists and Enzel’s keyboarding comes back and it just WORKS.  Definitely my highlight of the album is focused right here!

9. Naked

I still think the PV for our 3rd A-side was just downright ballsy to pull.  Listening to the song nowadays it really kind of does just sound like a clone of “My World” which is a little disappointing of the sorts but at least they’re seperated by a lot of tracks.  On the album, it’s not the most intriguing song, but it’s not bad either.

10. U&I

I kind of like the opening for U&I since it’s kind of dark but holding back in a cool way.  I was expecting something huge but it kind of builds up to it into the chorus.  The chorus is slower, but it hits heavy and has this dramatic sound plus it adds up with IKE’s strong voice.  Overall, it’s a pretty awesome song!

11. I want a place

It seems Enzel was experimenting with the group again because this song has a lot of synths and auto-tuning going on.  I kind of get this “No where, Now here” kind of feel from the song which is once again a bit underwhelming since they’re so similar.  I do like the fact that there is so much synths though, it kind of gives the song a bit of a nostalgic feel to me. 

12. Raise Your Hands

As we hit the end of the album, Raise Your Hands is a good way to close the album out in my opinion.  It kind of has this airy feel like the previous song which is good and IKE’s voice sounds good and then this hard section appears out of nowhere and I was kind of shocked and pleasantly so.  I definitely thought this was a cool track to close the album.

Tracks Recommended

  • Break Myself
  • 0 GAME
  • Raise Your Hands
  • U&I
  • Little Summer

Song of Avoidance

  • Stay Gold

As it’s the band’s sophomore major label album, Just Do It kind of builds on what “Rockin’ the World” did but cleans up some of the nuances it had but also kind of added some in place. First off, it seemed like the singles this time were the weaker tracks while the new ones took over which is surprising.  Another was the fact that some tracks did sound similar to one another but overall this album really was a step up (not a big one, but a nice step).  Oh and there’s a second disc but I won’t be reviewing it since it is mostly B-sides from the singles, the first two tracks are new versions of their old indie songs and the last track is brand new….hmmmm

 

FictionJunction – Parallel Hearts September 25, 2012

Filed under: FictionJunction — solarblade @ 9:05 pm

Track Listing

  1. Parallel Hearts
  2. Hitomi no Chikara
  3. Parallel Hearts ~Instrumental~
  4. Hitomi no Chikara ~Instrumental~

1. Parallel Hearts

Now, I know my Kalafina and I know KEIKO and WAKANA so this is kind of my elements here.  Going into Parallel Hearts, I was surprised that the group had started out with an anison rock track which shows Kajiura’s versatility.  I hear a lot of KEIKO though in this song which is awesome because she’s showing a lot of force in her voice.  The other three ladies, WAKANA, KAORI, and KAIDA do also have their moments, but it’s hard to tell them apart at the moment.  Still this song reminds me of “sprinter” and I like that about this song!

2. Hitomi no Chikara

The B-side isn’t a surprise for me, but the voice is….it’s a lot higher than I would’ve expect ANY of the four would have.  Then I researched a little and found out that it’s sung by Yuuka Nanri (who during their releases is FictionJunction YUUKA).  Unlike the leading track which is powerful, Hitomi no Chikara is quiet and only really features piano and YUUKA.  The four ladies I assume are the background vocals which are nice, but I’m just not a fan of YUUKA’s high vocals at the moment.  Just seems to remind me Hanako Oku for some odd reason.

 

 

Even though it’s not their debut, it is the first single as a collective group so it does stand out.  I really liked Parallel Hearts and gives me the same feelings I’ve had for Kalafina’s music which is already a good thing!  Hitomi no Chikara is just a little too simple and YUUKA is just a little too high-pitched but it’s whatever.  I’d get it for the awesome A-side!

 

SHOW – DANTE

Filed under: SHOW — solarblade @ 8:47 pm

Track Listing

  1. DANTE
  2. Hero
  3. DANTE (Instrumental)
  4. Hero (Instrumental)

1. DANTE

For someone who is quite popular in Taiwan/China, I didn’t expect SHOW to debut in Japan with a strong A-side in DANTE.  At first, the verses were a little weak, but the chorus jumps in and it’s so cool and smooth which also comes through SHOW’s vocals.  There are some notes that he sounds weak, but I’m ok with that for now.  This is just a cool sounding track and very cool for a debut.

2. Hero

Which is strange because the single’s B-side, Hero is kind of more of the same from SHOW which in this case is a good thing.  It doesn’t have as much of a cool feel like “DANTE” does, but Hero at least follows behind it quite closely.  I’d say that they’re quite equal as time goes by because I find myself moving to the song…yay!

 

 

Wow, this is actually a pretty good Japanese debut from SHOW.  Both DANTE and Hero sound good and just smooth as dance tracks and that oddly stands out to me.  This is definitely *RECOMMENDED* for people who enjoy them male vocalists.