Kurayami Monogatari

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U-KISS – Inside øf Me November 23, 2013

Filed under: U-KISS — solarblade @ 9:37 am

insideofme

Track Listing

  1. Intro ~Something Special~
  2. ALONE -with the appearance of AJ-
  3. Real Love
  4. The Only One
  5. PASSAGE
  6. Interlude I ~Possession~
  7. Play Back
  8. Distance… -with the appearance of AJ-
  9. Thousand Miles Away
  10. Dear My Friend
  11. One of You
  12. Interlude II ~Now and Forever~
  13. Inside of Me
  14. A Shared Dream ~Orchestra ver.~ (CD only First Press)

1. Intro ~Something Special~

U-KISS opens their sophomore JPN album with a chilly introduction with some ambient chants before someone types on a keyboard and the arrangement gets a bit more alive and you hear some singing and some fast synthwork alongside AJ talking a bit!  Which is pretty nifty for a 2 minute intro.  I kind of wish they turned this into a full track to be honest!

2. ALONE -with the appearance of AJ-

Moving onto the 4th and final single they released prior to the album, ALONE was a pretty awesome song at release and was something I was missing so much in this era because of the other 3 singles that came before it.  I also LOVE hearing Soohyun in this song because his smoky vocals just suit such a dark atmosphere (like it did in “Tick Tack”).  Now you maybe wondering what’s with the title, well if you remember, AJ was on hiatus for quite some time in 2012, so for the album he was placed in the songs he missed out on and here he took over some rap lines originally sung by Eli.  Necessary? No, but I suppose it works.  It’s still an amazing song, though I still loathe that overly auto-tuned line from Soohyun near the end of the song.  Freaky right?

3. Real Love

Moving to the first new track on the album, it keeps up with their dance tracks, but isn’t as awesome as “ALONE” was but I’m loving the mechanical feel with the horn lines.  It actually kind of reminds me of a less aggressive mixture of “Shut Up!” and “Man Man Ha Ni”.  I’m really impressed at how much Soohyun, Keseop, and Kevin sang in this track…it’s just a very cool song from the group and was a nice surprise overall!

4. The Only One

Oh well another song to really cater to their K-pop fans.  This one has some pretty cool guitar riffs and finally Kevin decided to lead the track alongside Hoon and Soohyun.  It’s got a gritty sound, but the chorus is surprisingly poppy in comparison and that might turn some people off, but the song works and everyone does get solos so it’s quite nice to listen to.  I just found this song to be good, but “Real Love” and “ALONE” was stronger as songs!

5. PASSAGE

Kind of strange to have 3 straight up dance tracks and then suddenly stop for PASSAGE which is the first ballad to appear on the album and it’s a Hoon and Soohyun fest up in here.  Actually it’s really only these two and AJ present in the song so it’s a split song in the group.  As a whole the song kind of wasn’t the best track for them and the rap from AJ wasn’t benefitting to them either.  The first misstep on the album it seems and tbh, sounds like a rejected song from their first album, “A Shared Dream”.

6. Interlude I ~Possession~

We come to our first interlude and it’s actually a rap from Dongho and AJ and I was kind of surprised at how nice they sound in English (more Dongho because AJ was in America for a year basically >.>).  Soohyun also does some ad-libbing behind AJ’s rap but it’s a nicely done interlude and love that it was in English.  Another 2-minute but let’s see if this works out for our next track.

7. Play Back

Makes sense since our next song is sung by the remaining members: Kevin, Keseop, Dongho, and AJ.  They also seem to get the dance track which already is more impressive than “PASSAGE” was.  I’m actually happy to hear AJ sing here since I’ve missed his singing voice rather than his rapping voice and it’s also amazing to hear more Keseop as well.  Though Kevin was at the front of the pack, it’s a rather catchy tune from the four of them and it stuck out well!

8. Distance… -with the appearance of AJ-

Moving to the 3rd single and was the first time AJ went on hiatus, Distance… was probably my least favorite of the A-sides released.  Slow jams are not my thing with boybands and with Distance… it kind of just bored the hell out of me.  The inclusion of AJ is also tacked on what was originally AJ’s lines and sadly it goes over my head so it’s not like the change was THAT noticeable.  So yeah this song was just meh and nothing changed on the positive sign.

9. Thousand Miles Away

Moving on, we get into another slow jam from the group and we’re brought to the normal setting with Kevin, Soohyun, Hoon, and Keseop singing it up while AJ, Eli, and Dongho are rapping!  It’s a good song to get used to the vocals and the nuances of the group.  The song itself is rather unmemorable because once again this is a song that I know U-KISS has done many times before so it comes off bland and pale for me (though for new listeners, it might be a treat to hear a ballad that isn’t sung by only three members before).

10. Dear My Friend

As the first single that begun this era, Dear My Friend was a rather disappointing single because it did come after “Tick Tack” and “Forbidden Love”.  After going through a timely era with all their releases (both in Korea and Japan), Dear My Friend did slightly grow on me as that happy-go-lucky pop track from them.  I really like the feel of the song and that Kevin led a lot of it was pretty nice as well.  Not bad I guess!

11. One of You

I kind of forgot about One of You almost before coming to this album.  It’s like another “Dear My Friend” but leaning towards more the dancier side of their music.  It’s quite catch though and Soohyun sounded good in this song but so did Kevin.  It’s slightly grown less on me over time strangely enough in comparison to the previous track, but I can totally see how fans would love it so I haven’t pushed this song away fully.  Though the dubstep-y parts when the Eli, AJ, and Dongho have their parts kind of ruin the flow of the song for me.  It’s alright, my 3rd favorite of the A-sides.

12. Interlude II ~Now and Forever~

Then comes the second interlude before the finale and it’s a short monologue with Kevin, Soohyun, and Eli.  Though Kevin sings his part and I thought that was dreamy <3!  I’m more surprised that of all the members, Eli has no accent on his English…LOVE IT!  Overall, not a bad interlude.

13. Inside of Me

The final track on the album is also the title AND promotional song for the album.  I’m also surprised it’s the longest track off the album being a little over 5 minutes in length.  I wasn’t too enthusiastic to hear auto-tune on Kevin in the beginning but it gets better afterwards!  The song is mid-tempo ditty and I quite like it because while it’s not a meh ballad, it’s ending the album off on a good note.  It’s really the same U-KISS formula on line distribution, but it was a great solid promo song for the album!

14. A Shared Dream ~Orchestra ver.~

On first press editions of the CD only, it comes with a bonus track which is of the title track of their last album, A Shared Dream.  In a way, I was kind of surprised that the song needed to have a new version but in a way made the song a lot more personal!  I still do think the rapping kind of takes away from the song, but the lines sung were great and the added orchestration definitely helped out the song.

Tracks Recommended

  • ALONE -with the appearance of AJ-
  • Real Love
  • Play Back
  • Inside of Me
  • Dear My Friend

Song of Avoidance

  • Distance… -with the appearance of AJ-

Usually with 2nd albums, most of the time, they’re quite the flops…however with U-KISS’ Inside øf Me, it was 10x better than their debut!  They didn’t fall into the obscure boredom of songs they pulled off with “A Shared Dream” and almost everything fell into a good place here. Sadly with all good things, there is an unfortunate thing.  This is actually the final album with Dongho as he left the business to go back to a normal life and with rumors that AJ is going on hiatus again due to schoolwork, it’ll be really something to see what’ll happen for the group.  Still, Inside øf Me was a great sophomore effort!

 

Super Junior – Hero

Filed under: Super Junior — solarblade @ 7:35 am

herosuju

Track Listing

  1. INTRO -SUPERMAN PRELUDE-
  2. ★BAMBINA★
  3. Sexy, Free, and Single
  4. Mr. Simple
  5. Opera
  6. Wonder Boy
  7. Our Love
  8. A-CHA
  9. Bijin (BONAMANA)
  10. TUXEDO
  11. Way
  12. Hero
  13. Hero -Performance ver.- (CD only)

1. INTRO -SUPERMAN PRELUDE-

Of course their album opens with an intruduction the brings us the ~9 shupaheroes~ (which at the time of release, was 9 members).  The SUPERMAN PRELUDE sounds pretty cool and it’s like leading to something big, but its cut short as it ends into our next track.

2. ★BAMBINA★

The first vocal track is surprisingly the first in Japan without their leader Leeteuk as he went off on mandatory military leave so it really is the remaining 9 members to take up that spot (and for the majority of the new songs / self-covers).  ★BAMBINA★ starts off on a different foot than the introduction had led us to believe, but it goes into this groovy track with Ryeowook and Kyuhyun leading the first verse which is great enough to sit and listen!  It’s pretty good most of the other members and the chorus is catchy enough, if not somewhat cheesy.  It’s quite a good song to listen to and has high hopes for the rest of the album.  Though they say ~super show~ a lot, must be a tour-friendly song XD.

3. Sexy, Free, and Single

Then comes most of the leading A-side that preceded the album starting with the 4th and last before the album.  As it was used as their main promotion for their Korean album of the same name, Sexy, Free, and Simple had a lot to go for in its Japanese version and while I rather listen to the original, it’s not a bad self-cover.  Also to mention that this was when Kangin returned to the group and while the song doesn’t show it, he was prominent in the PV (he must’ve been a pretty popular member).  The song was also pretty damn good (though the lyrics are a bit out there), still it was nice to see that Siwon didn’t have as much of an appearance and instead Donghae, Kangin, and Eunhyuk seem to have more presence.  Pretty tight track overall!

4. Mr. Simple

Moving back a bit to the second A-side the group released, Mr. Simple actually had no Kangin in this release and was the final release to have Heechul before he himself had to leave for mandatory military leave.  I was a bit surprised that as much as they went with “9 members from the intro track” there was really 11 members on this album XD.  I will admit that I prefer the Japanese version of Mr. Simple more than the original Korean, but I can’t explain why…it just sounds more fitting to the language perhaps?  I mean when the first verse consists of Kyuhyun, Siwon, Heechul, Donghae, Yesung, and Ryeowook, you know you’re in pretty good hands with this track.  This was the song that got me into the group so it’s pretty high on my list.  Very memorable song overall!

5. Opera

So the single that came after the great “Mr. Simple”, Opera continued to impress me a lot even with Heechul absent.  I will say that it’s definitely not as formulaic as many K-pop songs are because there’s no bridge to lead into the chorus so due to that, the song is quite short, actually 3 minutes long >.>.  I do like the darker vibe it has when compared to MANY of their songs so that’s something positive to say.  Leads seem to really be comprised of Siwon, Kyuhyun, Donghae, and Ryeowook, which seems to be the standard in the group (at least for their A-sides).  Also, I just LOVE Sungmin’s part in the second chorus where he does that yelp really stood out in a badass way (give this man, more credit!).  Overall, if it wasn’t for the previous track being my first song, this would be my favorite A-side and a pretty well done self-cover.

6. Wonder Boy

It seems like we get more self-covers to (y’know, count as new tracks).  This is a pretty old song to be re-doing (especially something that was released back in 2007 so most members then have either left, or on hiatus, plus their vocals are more mature and strong.  A bit on the strange side to self-cover but this song actually is also weird because it’s a pop/rock track and nothing like the previous K-pop heavy songs.  It’s a nice change of pace and all the members sound really good though Eunhyuk is pretty much left behind in this track.  Overall not bad and is quite fun to listen to when I’m not fangasming over “Opera” and the like.

7. Our Love

So we get two of the B-sides on their album, this one coming from “Sexy, Free, and Single”.  It’s also another self-cover and another old song coming from their 2007 album, “Don’t Don!”.  Sadly, like all the B-sides they’ve released, SuJu does not really perform strongly with ballads and rehashing such an old one has mixed reactions.  I will say the guys sound very chill and nice, but the arrangement sounds so done before that it just kind of escapes me everytime…but damn Yesung ❤

8. A-CHA

Oh damn how I wanted a Japanese version of A-CHA because this was one of my favorite songs…it’s just was an awesome song and did so well for being a repackaged tune for “Mr. Simple”.  Though I have to remember, this song doesn’t have Leeteuk or Heechul who were I think were vocally important to this song and of course the Japanese >.<.  Though I hear Leeteuk, but no Kangin?  Was this perhaps done before the addition???  As much as I like Sungmin taking over Heechul’s lines, the song doesn’t sound as smooth nor as strong as its original.  Honestly, the only member that really impressed me is Yesung (damn he is a good singer!).  Overall, maybe if they were to have redid it…should’ve waiting for the original members who sung this in the same way (and if they’re singing in Japanese…maybe teach em better).

9. Bijin (BONOMANA)

Which is even more the reason because we get the era’s first single, Bijin which wasn’t touched with so it includes Heechul and Leeteuk and no Kangin.  Once again, I adore the original Korean version so listening to this version kind of pushes me away XD.  I guess it seems OK, but the auto-tune is quite annoying in this one and would’ve loved a clearer version.  Though as it is their breakout hit in Japan, Bijin I suppose did well for itself and it’s not a terrible song…just the Korean version is WAY better.

10. TUXEDO

Is this an actual new track?  Why yes it is!  TUXEDO finally breaks from the old stuff with a good mellow dance track doesn’t try to force beats onto the listeners.  It’s actually a solid tune though it seems like Eunhyuk and Shindong are once again left behind which is a bit unfortunate because I think both vocals could’ve been great.  It’s a solid tune and kind of has this romanctic side but also smooth and womanizing…it’s an actual surprise for the album to have!

11. Way

Then we come to another B-side, this one from “Opera” and like I said about “Our Love”, ballads aren’t their strong points.  I actually didn’t enjoy this even moreso and this is an original Japanese song!  I guess it has a good wintry theme to it, but this kind of song has been done time and time again, so this way flies over my head in the long run and I totally forgot who sung what in the song XDDD

12. Hero

Then we come to the title and final track and on the album.  It’s like they added horns to “Way” and just said here ya go!  I guess it has a better reception with the included R&B beats to overlap the lonely piano.  It’s OK, but when compared to majority of the songs on the album, it’s quite forgetful.

13. Hero -Performance ver.-

On the CD version we get a bonus track and I initially thought it was a live version of Hero (which in itself, wouldn’t be totally memorable as how much I enjoyed that on the studio version)…but it’s the same track as above?  Same time, same everything.  I wonder if the downloader messed up or something, but this was rather uneventful for right now.

Tracks Recommended

  • Mr. Simple
  • Opera
  • TUXEDO
  • Wonder Boy
  • Sexy, Free, and Single

Song of Avoidance

  • Way

Getting into Suju’s actual first studio album in Japan, I was quite unturned by Hero.  With majority of the album being self-covers (cept the intro and 3 songs), I felt like this album took too long to come out with not enough actual NEW material to suffice through the 4 A-sides released.  Though I guess they needed something to fill it up, but to me the group really exceeds at the dance songs more than the ballads which all 3 were mediocre at best.  Maybe they’ll fix it up with their sophomore era which should give them time to put out more original songs, here’s hoping!

 

girl next door – Life of Sound

Filed under: GIRL NEXT DOOR — solarblade @ 5:11 am

lifeofsound

Track Listing

  1. Egao no Kiseki
  2. Koi no Yokan
  3. signal
  4. Namida no Yuugure
  5. my little wish
  6. all my life
  7. Hatsuyuki
  8. kotodama
  9. standing for you
  10. My pace
  11. mother

1. Egao no Kiseki

Opening gnd’s 5th album…it something that should be ultimately familiar to the fans of the group because it has their signature sound written all over it.  It’s got a lot of that 90’s synthwork and to me, for beginning their 5th with something that’s been overdone at this point, it kind of just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  It sounds like something that would belong on their debut album the most which is definitely not a good sign.  Oh well.

2. Koi no Yokan

Maybe they should’ve begun the album with Koi no Yokan because while this song suffers a lot of the same that “Egao no Kiseki” did, the energy has a bit more punch and there’s more of a punch from Yuji on his guitar which is pretty awesome!  Even though like I said it’s very much under the gnd-syndrome, Koi no Yokan is probably one of the better songs from this album which is sort of makes up for the unevolved arrangement.

3. signal

Beginning the Life of Sound era, I was surprised that they decided to let someone else tackle the production for their singles, though the producer they chose was rather a bit mundane as they chose Mitsuru Igurashi (old producer for every little thing) and he delves in more of the same style Daisuke does.  It does slightly sound different than anything prior to the single which is nice and CHISA sounds a lot more comfortable singing than in a lot of the more *yelling* songs.  On the album, signal stands out in a nice way and breaks the monotony that is easily found on the album!  Let’s just say it definitely made me appreciate this song.

4. Namida no Yuugure

I like this rhythm of old songs and new on this album, going into Namida no Yuugure, I actually think it wasn’t produced by Daisuke either because it sounds like Igurashi and there’s just something really catchy about the song!  Add that CHISA is also giving a pretty solid performance and I felt this was the album’s gem…it just sounds so 90s and yet so cool!

5. my little wish

After the energy of the first 4 songs, my little wish comes in as the album’s first ballad and unfortunately, my little wish is just a bit bland and boring overall.  I did enjoy listening to CHISA, but the song just lacks overall and while the chorus tries to alleviate the problems, it just comes off even more plain…if you want a ballad just go for “Orion”.  Oh yeah, the random synth inserts…how unfitting XD.

6. all my life

It doesn’t help that its led to another unfortunate song, the second A-side released, all my life.  Actually, you might have just called these two tracks (this and “my little wish”) clones because they tried to incorporate the same elements (except this track has a nice chorus) so I suppose that’s one way to say it works better.  It’s still rather bland and Igurashi has overstayed his welcome when this single was released.

7. Hatsuyuki

Getting back to 2 more new songs, Hatsuyuki seems to be the album’s winter song and luckily unlike the previous two tracks, this song doesn’t seem to go overboard with the synth appearance and left this one with more natural instrumentation.  I actually appreciated this because CHISA sounds so nice and pleasant and the chorus worked this time around with Yuji behind.  If there was a choice of ballad to listen to, please this is the best one the album has to offer.

8. kotodama

I actually hate to say it, but I kind of miss Daisuke, but it seems like he returns to produce our next track and fortunately it’s not another ballad, but one of the more mid-tempo jams like “Be your wings” or “Jounetsu no Daishou” which might appease to more of the fans that like that sound.  Also, screamy CHISA return as well, so be prepared for that!  I moderately enjoyed the song, but not as good as “Namida no Yuugure” was.

9. standing for you

As the final A-side released for the album (and final A-side period), standing for you came in and while it’s another Igurashi-produced single, standing for you is kind of in the middle of the three released.  I like how bright and poppy the tune is, but that being said, there’s just something missing here after I had some time to listen to it.  It’s OK, but not really as amazing as I initially took it.

10. My pace

The we come into our final stretch of new songs.  First up is My pace and I’m quite unsure how to take it at first because it started off slow but starts to gain pace (OHHH) the deeper the song you get to and it comes at a head right in the chorus.  That’s when I started to find myself really enjoying the song.  It’s still in its gnd-ways but at least it’s quite nice and surprised that it’s found towards the end of the album 0.o

11. mother

Of course the album would end off with another ballad (hey, 4 out of 11 is not bad).  Sadly, it just can’t be a natural ballad like “Hatsuyuki” but more like the other two ballads where the synths really have no place being there!  Fitting as the last track but by itself, it’s pretty much meh…

Tracks Recommended

  • Namida no Yuugure
  • kotodama
  • signal
  • Koi no Yokan
  • Hatsuyuki

Song of Avoidance

  • my little wish

As the trio’s 5th (and sadly final studio album before their disbandment), Life of Sound was kind of showed that they were pretty much half-assing it at this point.  I mean even Namida no Yuugure isn’t as good as stuff from their previous album which is saying a lot for this one.  Even though they did bring in a different producer, it really wasn’t a big enough change to really give gnd something new sadly.  It just wasn’t a good album overall…