Kurayami Monogatari

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S/mileage – ② Smile Sensation May 30, 2013

Filed under: S/mileage — solarblade @ 7:06 pm

2smilesensation

Track Listing

  1. Shin Nippon no Susume!
  2. Tabidachi no Haru ga Kita
  3. Otona no Tochuu
  4. Tenshinranman
  5. Suki yo, Junjou Hankouki.
  6. Watashi no Kokoro
  7. Yuugure Koi no Jikan
  8. Nee Senpai
  9. Sayonara Sayonara Sayonara
  10. Samui ne.

1. Shin Nippon no Susume!

Smart way to open the album with a bang with Shin Nippon no Susume!  I was pleasantly surprised to see that S/mileage were going to kick things off with something they’ve never really done.  Add in how wacky and all over the place the song is and it just screams S/mileage.  I loved hearing Kanon and Meimi using their deeper tones in the slower parts and then we’re led into this energetic splash of a song!  It’s ridiculous, yet it works surprisingly well!  I have to say, I was VERY impressed with this song and made me love Meimi a whole lot more (though she’s been steadily impressing me since last year).

2. Tabidachi no Haru ga Kita

As the era’s 3rd A-side represented, Tabidachi no Haru ga Kita still struggles to really stand out amongst S/mileage’s songs for me, because it sounds like it could be a Berikyuu song (because it kind of reminds me of “Chou HAPPY SONG” to me.  I do really like the intro and the choruses, but the verses don’t really resonate with me very well.  It’s not a bad track since it does have A-side written all over it, but compared to the other two, this one just wasn’t up to par.

3. Otona no Tochuu

There’s a bunch of songs on the album that we’ve heard last year (because Tsunku was really holding this album off for some reason), so technically there are 3 songs I’ve not heard prior to the album lol.  Getting into one of the tracks I heard last year, Otona no Tochuu.  When I first heard this, I was loving it immediately because it’s a very high energy track and it kind of reminds me of “Doushiyou” but with a little more kick!  It was an amazing song when I heard it live and couldn’t wait to hear a studio version and it’s pretty good!  Another great track!

4. Tenshinranman

Another track performed at lives last year, Tenshinranman eerily reminds me of “Tabidachi no Haru ga Kita” in the intro with those strings being used.  Though this song does slightly become its own thing with the slap bass being thrown in.  The only thing that really stands out in this song is how many lines Kanana ended up with…she I think got the most (if not next to Kanon and Ayaka).  Besides that, this song was quite forgettable.

5. Suki yo, Junjou Hankouki.

As the era’s first single released (sort of?), Suki yo, Junjou Hankouki.was the first taste of the heavy dance S/mileage which also kind of brought the cool factor up (even though Juice=Juice is going that direction currently LOL).  I loved this song no doubt! I loved that Rinapuu got a lot of the lines this time (though the other core members have more still, but Rina got a boost).  This track is just like 6-nin’s “Yumemiru 15sai” which is great to see again and I was wanting another cool track from S/mileage.  Definitely my favorite of the A-sides that made the cut.

6. Watashi no Kokoro

Oddly enough, the album hits a wall as we move from the previous track to Watashi no Kokoro, which is the first of two ballads on the album.  For me, H!P ballads from albums rarely interest me and it seems that’s the case with this song once again.  As much as I am happy to see them singing nicely, the song just doesn’t do much for me in the long run.  Just another ballad to me, but I feel that at least it’s better than the last album ballad they had, “Gakkyou Iinchou”.

7. Yuugure Koi no Jikan

Another song performed at lives, Yuugure Koi no Jikan was probably my least favorite of the songs previewed last year.  The good thing about the song is that it’s nothing but solo lines from all the members so it’s really good for differentiating the 6 ladies.  Plus I love that Kanana got to sing first lol.  I think actually Rina and Kana got the most lines lmao!  Still the song isn’t really all that memorable.

8. Nee Senpai

After all that downtime, we get back into something energetic with Nee Senpai and I don’t think it reaches the same level of awesomeness that “Otona no Tochuu” did, but it’s a nice solid track with good vocals, but I can’t say this is going to be one of the favorites of the album…it’s kind of how I feel about some about Berryz songs…it’s just missing something.

9. Sayonara Sayonara Sayonara

The final new song (and another that’s actually brand new to me), SSS at first to me sounded like it was going to be another hyperactive track, but the song feels more like a synthy, pop track with a heavy beat. It’s kind of an awkward mixture of music and vocals that just doesn’t seem to work.  I mean if the song was a high-energy synth track, I would’ve loved this so much more!

10. Samui ne.

Kind of an interesting choice to end the album with the 2nd A-side, Samui ne. which stands out in S/mileage’s discography for being a bit more deeper and light than stuff they released previous.  I’ve grown to really like this song a lot for some reason and I do not know why.  I mean I still loathe Dawa’s vocals for all its worth but, this song is quite catchy and pretty to listen to.  I would’ve had “Watashi no Kokoro” close the album, but this song does it well too!

Tracks Recommended

  • Otona no Tochuu
  • Suki yo, Junjou Hankouki.
  • Shin Nippon no Susume!
  • Samui ne.

Song of Avoidance

  • Sayonara Sayonara Sayonara

S/mileage’s sophomore took WAY TOO LONG to come out.  Between “Warugaki 1” and this album there has been 10 singles released.  Though most of the singles were cut because they included former members: Saki, Fuyuka, and Yuuka so that’s why they put out a best album to kind of give reason for no album.  2 Smile Sensation was better than their debut (though once again, it’s kind of hard to compare the two because of the different members and such).  I wished the album was bigger though because I would’ve loved to see “Choto Mate Kudasai!”, “Dot Bikini” and “Watashi, Choito Kawaii Urabanchou” (because the latter was supposed to be an album track for this one….wth….The album was really good in the first half, but fell apart quite harshly as I went through the second half…so in H!P terms it was good lol.

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Perfume – Magic of Love May 26, 2013

Filed under: Perfume — solarblade @ 5:38 pm

magicoflove

Track Listing

  1. Magic of Love
  2. Handy Man
  3. Magic of Love -Original Instrumental-
  4. Handy Man -Original Instrumental-

1. Magic of Love

Washing out that weird taste that was “Mirai no Museum”, Perfume came back pretty quickly with Magic of Love which feels kind of like a mix of both “Natural ni Koishite” and “Fushizen na Girl” which is a bit strange to say right?  This is the Perfume I’m more used to and enjoy so suffice to say, I actually really enjoyed the song even if it’s kind of resorting to some older ideas here and there.

2. Handy Man

Nakata since “WORLD OF FANTASY” has been recently trying some new areas of sound, mostly a tribal feel and Handy Man is another one of those songs for me where it’s just totally different from the normal.  I kind of like the more unique feel of the song and it doesn’t really bore me like the past couple B-sides have been.  I kind of liked this track and makes for a great addition to their discography!

As their 4th single in the era, Magic of Love when compared to the other singles could be considered the “safe” single because Magic of Love is pretty much the sound of Perfume with nothing new brought to the table (which after “Mirai no Museum” is a good thing).  Handy Man though is catchy and it’s just full of new sounds and quirks that I haven’t heard Perfume use yet so this is a pretty good song for that reason.  Good single, still doesn’t beat “Spending all my time” but it’s up there.

 

HAPPY 5TH ANNIVERSARY!!! May 16, 2013

Filed under: ~Announcements~ — solarblade @ 8:13 am

Wow, I never thought that I’d make it to 5 years, usually review blogs like mine never really last this long, so I feel like I’m really setting a milestone here and I couldn’t continue without the comments and support of my readers ^_^!

It’s really sad that this year, the J-pop review podcast, Gaijin Kanpai ended because they were the voice of what we do as reviewers and critics.

Hopefully there’ll be a surge of reviewers once again, I love reading reviews and while I don’t comment too much, it really gives me a fun look into what people love (and hate) about Japanese music.

I can’t promise another 5 years, but I’ll try to take this road a bit longer!!!

(if you readers have some interesting idea, let me know…I’ll think about it!!)

THANK YOU, READERS OF KURAYAMI MONOGATARI

(btw this post is two days before the 5 year, but I’m leaving for vacation tomorrow soooo… doing this early ^^)

 

Kyarypamyupamyu – Invader Invader May 13, 2013

Filed under: Kyarypamyupamyu — solarblade @ 7:06 pm

invaderinvader

Track Listing

  1. Invader Invader
  2. Point of view
  3. Fashion Monster -extended mix-

1. Invader Invader

At first, I really did think this was going to be the B-side for “Ninjari Ban Ban given that this song came out before that single released, but nope!  Invader Invader, is honestly the first time I personally think Kyary did something a bit more electro in her work and less technopop (but it still has its moments).  This song though is my favorite in the era because it’s just so ridiculously catchy and Kyary sounds like she’s having fun here.  Though Nakata…you fell into the dubstep love just a bit late and while the drop into it is a bit odd…it kind of works because it’s not too distracting in the song.  Yeah this is a pretty damn good song!

2. Point of view

I totally forgot there was a B-side XD.  Point of view brings the cute idolly technopop back and there’s toy piano (which I am starting to loathe, despite being in a lot of her songs of recent).  The song though takes repetition to a rather annoying level…but some of this song is quite adorable, but the chorus is annoying.  Even the woodwind solo (whatever that instrument was, was refreshing).  It’s ok…not as good as “Unite Unite” was, but what can you do?

3. Fashion Monster -extended mix-

Nakata needs to learn what extended means because 10 added seconds is not enough to be called that!  I still love Fashion Monster so this mix is kind of just reaffirming my love for the song.  There are a lot of new sounds in the song which is cool, but the only thing I hated was the slight dubstep thrown in because it just didn’t work in the area it was used honestly.  I liked the other extra beats thrown in so this wasn’t a bad mix, but this is definitely not much of an extension >.>

Kyary must be close to an album because this is her 4th single.  I will say this era has a lot of awesome A-sides so Invader Invader fits right in because it’s fast and edgy and catchy as all hell!  Point of view musically is charming, but the chorus just grates on me for some reason and the Fashion Monster extension is good, but definitely should’ve added a couple more minutes to it.  Wonder what she’ll bring next!

 

Pokemon X & Y, Catching Up!

Filed under: ~Video Game Writing~ — solarblade @ 7:24 am

Ever since the initial news of PKMN, X&Y there has been slow news coming but the first big news came in the form of Corocoro of May ^_^ so let’s talk about everything

  • The land of where X&Y is called “Kalos” and is based off of France!
  • Customization is possible now, there wasn’t much about what we can customize fully…but it seems like hairstyle and and face…and accessories is on it xD
  • Running in diagonal now and sitting on benches!!!
  • You can ride your Pokémon (though the extent of it, is still in question since we really only see Gogoat being used).

Since that’s all we really got, lets dive in the new Pokémon!

Sylveon

439px-Sylveon

So the first one to be shown after the legendaries English name is a new Eeveelution (because we haven’t had enough of those already >.<).  Sylveon is quite cute, but the strange thing is that there’s no official type yet for this new PKMN which is led to believe by many that we might get a new type for this generation (which would be interesting since we haven’t had any since Dark & Steel were introduced back in Gen 2).  If it’s the “Fairy” type…awesome!  If it’s something like Flying or something…then well…ehhh…

“Awakened Mewtwo”

untitled

After that there were rumors that there was going to be a Mewthree…but it turns out by information that it’s just a new form for Mewtwo (or as I and friends aptly call it, Majin Mew because of the similarities to Majin Buu from DBZ.  To me, this feels a little strange considering it’s Mewtwo and all and there really hasn’t been anything important tied to him since his inclusion in Smash Melee lol.  This new form does look interesting, but was it really necessary?

Pancham

yanchamu

Then came Corocoro’s release this week and we get 4 new Pokémon to talk about!  The first one is Pancham who is a pure Fighting type (which leads me to believe this will be like a Machop / Timburr line of PANDAAAAAA!  JFC Gamefreak, it took you long enough to get a Panda Pokémon in the game (and Spinda doesn’t count).  We do learn that it learns a new move called Parting Shot, which is like a better version of U-Turn since it lowers stats before force switching to another Pokémon.

Fletchling

yayakoma

Our next new Pokémon is Fletchling which is a Normal/Flying type and presumably the Early Bird selection like Pidgey and Taillow and etc. were to every generation.  So far this doesn’t seem to impress me too much since we all know it’s going to evolve into something better, but it does learn Flame Charge….(could it’s type switch to Fire/Flying perhaps?).

Helioptile

elikiteru

The next one is the strange looking Pokémon of the four and it’s Helioptile.  I’m not even sure what it’s supposed to be based off of because it seems like it can go anywhere (plus it doesn’t help that it shares the same color scheme with Mawile, which could make sense…but I highly doubt it because this guy has the unique dual type of Electric/Normal).  We’ll see where this turns out and see his evolutions (hopefully).  It also learns the new move Parabolic Charge which is like the Electric version of Giga / Mega Drain.  Cool…

Gogoat

gogoat

The last of the 4 new ones, Gogoat to me looks like it’s evolved from something and that’s pretty cool because I like the guys design atm.  Being a pure Grass type also seems to suit him.  He also learns Horn Leech (which if I remember correctly was only unique to Sawsbuck in Gen 5).  Though Black 2 / White 2 could’ve gave it out to more xD. Gogoat is pretty cool and would love to see how he works in game ^_^

Welp, I’ll do another post when we get another batch or I’ll reedit the post with the English names of the PKMN…since that could happen soon!

 

Kalafina – Consolation May 9, 2013

Filed under: Kalafina — solarblade @ 8:15 am

consolation

Track Listing

  1. al fine
  2. consolation
  3. moonfesta
  4. Door
  5. Mirai
  6. Hanataba
  7. Signal
  8. obbligato
  9. Kiichigo no Shigemi ni
  10. Manten
  11. to the beginning
  12. Hikari Furu
  13. Yume no Daichi

1. al fine

The album opens with a two minute intro with al fine which starts off very mystically with some ethereal and shadowy sounds with Kalafia singing far away.  Once this short passage is over, the vocals start to come out a bit more into the open and it’s just really beautiful alongside the added strings to give it some backbone.  Then it quietly ends…not bad for an intro!

2. consolation

Then we are thrown into the title track of the album and instantly the song pulls you into this really cool chanting intro, then the song opens up into this heavy rockin’ song like “Magia” was and I was blown away because of the awesomeness from HIKARU and KEIKO together but more of the former in the song in the song.  It’s just a really powerful and edgy song and I was quite surprised this is the first full track of the album!  I was blown away…what a great way to kick things off!

3. moonfesta

Which is a VERY strange contrast moving from the angry and powerful song into the Children’s song from Kalafina…moonfesta still amazes me with its light and playful nature, but when you put that after “consolation” you’re bound to get some very STRANGE looks from your fans.  This is definitely a very unique song that kind of is in the vein of like “Natsu no Ringo” and “Hikari no Senritsu”, but there’s something magical about this track.  I think WAKANA (or KEIKO) led this one and I liked that about it…one of the more interesting A-sides in Kalafina’s career!

4. Door

Our next new track on the album, Door kind of reminded me of “al fine” with that ethereal opening which stays in the song for most of it (makes me wonder if they were originally planning this song to be the first vocal track >.>).  WAKANA gave a pretty performance for most of the time she was singing.  It does remind of past ballads, but there’s something really sweet about it (especially the little electric guitar melodies in the solo).  Good song!

5. Mirai

When I reviewed this B-side back on “Hikari Furu”, I felt this song was a more progressive “Eden” and that still stands as I review the album.  It still kind of gives me that feeling of flight and the movement song just adds more to that ideal I had.  I will say that it’s one of the more weaker songs especially after the last couple of tracks, but I can’t really say why it’s forgettable…

6. Hanataba

Oh that accordion opening the song was just icky at first and you can hear the buttons being pressed too >.>.  Of course HIKARU leads this track and it’s really nice since her voice just sounds perfect.  I thought it was going to be a dead ballad, but the song grows into this mid-tempo affair with band instruments and accordion thrown here and there.  I quite like this track overall!

7. Signal

I just love that Kajiura always puts on at least one awesome dance track on the album and for Consolation, that song is Signal.  It opens with a very ominous intro with deep drums before whooshing into a electro beat with Kalafina singing along it.  I will say that I love that it sounds so tribal and mysterious all rolled up in a ball!  They were definitely going for an epic track and they really pulled it off (even if “consolation” still kicks its ass).  Though the random accordion/keyboard solo was a bit weird…but Signal is a great song nonetheless!

8. obbligato

Moving into the longest track off the album, obbligato is a really another one of the unsettling songs on the album that really catch your attention.  This song is technically another rock track but this has a bit more in common with “Mata Kaze ga Tsuyoku Natta” from their debut album.  I do like they stuck to the term of obbligato because there’s a lot of repeated melodies to be found here as well.  Though I will say that this song just goes on for too long and for a song that’s made the way it is…that’s not a good thing to do IMO.  Not bad, but too long for its own good.

9. Kiichigo no Shigemi ni

I’m happy that this album contains a bit less ballads from “After Eden” and with that being said, we’re on our next ballad.  It’s got this regal kind of feel about it and I love the orchestration about this song since it’s so dramatic and it flows so smoothly.  I found it surprising that it’s only a little over 3 minutes in length so you could see my shock come in (especially after “obbligato”).  The harmonizations though were great too…short but sweet, I like that.

10. Manten

Getting into the tracks from the singles, the first is Manten (B-side from “to the beginning”).  If I took the previous track and leveled it out more riggedly and added some drums and guitars, we’d get this track.  Back on the single review, I really enjoyed this song.  Here, it’s not the best track…but we get to hear KEIKO a lot more than before next to HIKARU who leads the track.  Kind of reminds of “Kizuato” from their debut single actually…not bad of a song though ^^

11. to the beginning

Yeah, moving to the single that started the era, to the beginning still has a hard time cementing its place on me.  I know Kajiura leads FictionJunction, but this song was more suited for them rather than Kalafina because like “obbligato” it kind of lacks something about it.  I will say that the high notes throughout are impressive and the ladies give a great performance, but iono…this song just didn’t do it for me.

12. Hikari Furu

Which is the same way I feel about the 3rd and final single released for the album.  Though it has slightly grown on me because it reminds me of “seventh heaven” with that empty spaced arrangement.  I love the vocals though, they’re probably at their best in this song (ballad-wise).  However, it does sound like a couple of previous ballads, so it’s definitely not a grand-slammer of a song…but it’s pretty strong!

13. Yume no Daichi

Ending the album, we get the song that actually promoted the album and while it’s not a dramatic ballad like “symphonia” was, Yume no Daichi kind of sounds like what if “Mirai” and “Natsu no Ringo” had babies.  It really does have closing theme in its style though and I appreciate that quite a bit…but it does become background fodder as the song kind of sounds one way throughout (as in like the melody is never changing really).

Tracks Recommended

  • consolation
  • Signal
  • Kiichigo no Shigemi ni
  • moonfesta
  • Hanataba

Song of Avoidance

  • Mirai

Kalafina’s 4th album did actually impress me more than what “After Eden” did.  The strangest thing is how the album songs stomped all over the singles (and respective B-sides).  Kajiura must’ve had a brainstorming session and came out with this and it really worked for the most part.  I really had worries because of how disappointing the singles were but Kajiura saved her ass with this one…another great album from Kalafina!

 

4minute – Name is 4minute May 7, 2013

Filed under: 4minute — solarblade @ 1:36 am

nameis4minute

Track Listing

  1. What’s my name?
  2. Ireumi Mwoyeyo?
  3. Whatever
  4. Gimme That
  5. Domino

1. What’s my name?

Opening the mini-album is a short minute and 30 second intro and it reminds of when they opened up “Hit My Heart” with something quite in your face and powerful.  I do love the vocals here because all the members have that attitude (most coming from HyunA)…still the short feel led into the promo track!

2. Ireumi Mwoyeyo?

Moving into the first track, I was kind of shocked that 4minute somehow became f(x) for this song because it seriously could be sung by them.  It does kind of is the opposite to the intro which is cool, but honestly, this song is could of the black sheep song from 4minute because of the weird shit happening.  I do think that whooping synth is annoying and the whole auto-tuning the title of the song was BAD, but the descending synth line is kind of cool in the bridges.  I don’t this just was weird…and didn’t have that good of an arrangement…

3. Whatever

Moving on, Whatever comes next in and it’s also another f(x)-like song with much of that kind of urban/K-pop feel which is a bit strange to listen to.  I do hear a lot of HyunA in this song so this is quite strange to listen to.  Then after the first chorus, the song stops and there’s like a cheerleading-like section with her as well.  It’s a bit strange of a song, but it’s not bad.

4. Gimme That

Remember saying something about urban?  Gimme That sounds a bit like the current hip-hop style that’s going on here which might interest some people, but this is a bit late to the party and I feel like they’re trying to recapture the fire from “HUH”, but this kind of falls flat.  It just felt a bit congested of a song and really nothing stood out.

5. Domino

The final track to worry about, Domino is probably the closest thing to actually sounding like something 4minute which is pretty sassy and sexy to listen to!  It just really has the flair and gusto that really brought me in the fandom.  To say that it’s the only song that really sounds like 4minute is strange…but this is really the only track I would listen to regularly.

This was definitely what I’d call an identity crisis here!  I mean 4minute has done songs that really are aggressive and sexy but nothing that makes them look like f(x) clones.  Name is 4minute, is just an awkward mini-album for me because it didn’t feel like a 4minute piece of work (cept for Domino).  I just didn’t like this…at least Volume Up was more of their style, this was a bit too try hard for me.