Kurayami Monogatari

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Juice=Juice – Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS/Arekore Shitai! March 20, 2014

Filed under: Juice=Juice — solarblade @ 1:46 am

hadakanohadakanohadakanokiss

Track Listing

  1. Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS
  2. Arekore Shitai!
  3. Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS (Instrumental)
  4. Arekore Shitai! (Instrumental)

1. Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS

When I heard that Tsunku was going to make Ju=Ju’s next A-side be latin-inspired, I was quite excited as it brings back great songs like “Iroppoi Jirettai” and “Namida no Iro” to my mind.  I wasn’t surprised it’s not fully latin as it has Tsunku’s love of the EDM beats still here.  The line distribution is more or less the same as it has been which is OK, means we get Karin, Sayuki, and Tomoko in big amounts with the other two in the back.  Overall the song did take a bit to grow on me, but this song is pretty good for the group.

2. Arekore Shitai!

The other A-side takes a lot from “Hajimete wo Keikenchuu” by having Yuka and Aarii taking more of a leading role.  Sadly, this song is pretty weak for an A-side and honestly sounds something like the 4-nin S/mileage would’ve done…it just has that sugary anime sound that was more known.  There’s not a lot going for it that leaves an impression on me, so I just feel like it’s a generic H!P song here.

 

 

As Juice=Juice’s 3rd major single, I’m kind of torn with the single.  Hadaka no x3 KISS is good and once again suits the cool factor the group has.  Arekore Shitai! though is probably the first Ju=Ju song that I just couldn’t deal with as it just didn’t sound all that well.  I wonder if there’s an album on the horizon with 3 indies and 3 major singles out now…

 

Tohoshinki – TREE March 18, 2014

Filed under: Tohoshinki — solarblade @ 7:33 am

tree

Track Listing

  1. I love you -Introduction-
  2. Champion
  3. Breeding Poison
  4. Ai wo Motto
  5. Cheering
  6. Something
  7. Good Days
  8. Hide & Seek
  9. Shinjiru Mama
  10. SCREAM
  11. Crazy Crazy Crazy
  12. OCEAN
  13. TREE OF LIFE
  14. Good-bye for Now
  15. I love you -Full Version- (CD only bonus track)
  16. Very Merry Xmas (CD only bonus track)

1. I love you -Introduction-

Opening the album is of course a simple introduction.  I like that it begins with a lone piano and it sounds pretty enough too.  Yunho is the first to sing and he sounds so pleasant to listen to here.  It’s like a very heartfelt ballad.  Changmin though is more in the back as a melodic boost.  I felt as if the tune should’ve been longer because it was sung so beautifully.  Though luckily for us, we’re gifted with a full version later on in the album.

2. Champion

It just seems so strange to move from an intro like we have and move into a hard-hitting track like Champion.  At least we get a song that seems to give us a bit of a Western / Korean sound to it and I’m not sure where I stand with the song.  With Changmin taking the reins while Yunho lays back a bit, the tune eerily reminds me of a song from their last album, “Y3K” with a MESSY mid-8 section for sure.  Nah, I’m just not into this track at all!

3. Breeding Poison

Moving on from the atrocity, Breeding Poison seemed to try to repeat history again with the same tin beat, but has a more underground hip-hop arrangement.  I do like that it doesn’t turn into a tragic mess and the slower parts sound really nice and the duo has a pretty cool chorus because it starts slow and then grows in speed to the bridge.  Still, I hate that this song shares that hip-hop drum beat…cheap move guys.  Otherwise this is pretty good and pretty short in comparison to most songs on the album.

4. Ai wo Motto

From their last album, my biggest complaint was that their mid-tempo songs were mostly generic and annoying.  It seems they fixed that up as Ai wo Motto comes up.  The duo sound great together and the mix of piano and R&B beats gave the song a nice touch.  With a lack of ballads this era threw out, this was nice to see!  Though I don’t know if it’ll rank high with the group’s best ballads.

5. Cheering

I instantly liked the flow of Cheering when it begun because it has a little guitar riff and a nice pounding beat.  I actually quite enjoyed the tune as a straight up dance/pop track from the duo.  There were times where I felt they were going to make the song hard-hitting, but turns out that it just stayed on a nice medium.  Though, I think I hear Changmin a lot more than I heard Yunho…to be honest, this might’ve just been a solo but Yunho is in the back of Changmin’s singing.  Either way, this song is pretty awesome and one of my early favorites!

6. Something

We finally hit out first old track, which was the secondary A-side of their 4th single released for this album.  Also to note is that Something is Japanese re-edit of the same titled song from “TENSE”.  Like I said in the single review, this track surprised the hell out of me by being something different and as a big band song, I just fell in love with it because it’s fun and it shows with the guys as well.  It’s definitely my favorite amongst the A-sides all-around.  Just a great song for them, even that freeform jazz section was cool!

7. Good Days

Moving on, another change of pace happens and leaving the big band sound to Yunho and acoustic guitar for Good Days.  Of course Changmin is here too, I think…hard to tell.  The song does grow into a sort of mid-tempo rock track but the guitars sound so computerized that it kind of ruins this big moment the chorus is trying to put out.  It’s also a bit long at over 6 minutes as well…Yeah, wasn’t too keen on this one.

8. Hide & Seek

Seemed so random to have thrown “Good Days” in between the A-sides doesn’t it?  When it came out, Hide & Seek was just energy all over and I was kind of surprised but at the same time relieved because it did come out after the mediocre “Very Merry Xmas”.  It’s a pretty cool song on its own merits and definitely stands out on the album.

9. Shinjiru Mama

Oh man, Yunho and Changmin opening our next new track is just sexy and I like how it builds itself starting with a clapping beat and then adding more.  It’s definitely like another “Breeding Poison” with the beats and grittier flow but I’m loving the melodies and the mysterious flow as well…mmph this is a cool song from the group and the duo is just chilling.  Great song!

10. SCREAM

Moving to the 2nd A-side released, SCREAM like the previous track is also a gritty song to its core, but I don’t think it was handled as smoothly as it could have.  I initially liked the song, but the song didn’t feel like much of a song since there was a lot of shouting and not really much singing here.  I don’t know…this was a mess too.

11. Crazy Crazy Crazy

Oh hey a cool funky EDM song next!  It’s got that same funky and cool glow like “Something” had but has more of today’s instrumentation which is pretty cool.  Though my problem is that the pre-chorus to chorus is more than jagged because the tempo instantly changes into a much quicker pace.  I still like the song regardless and the chorus is fun to listen too even if its repetitive lol.  Still an interesting song from the duo.

12. OCEAN

For a song that I definitely didn’t think was going to be as EDM as it was (honestly I was thinking it’d be more like “We Are!” or “Box in the ship”).  Though the song does bring summer vibes but has a more electro-vibe to it and I like the sound of it.  It’s a little basic, but I really did end up loving the song and is great for the season!

13. TREE OF LIFE

As the promotional track for the album, TREE OF LIFE was screaming ballad before the PV came out.  It starts off with a fade-in of orchestral instrumentals and some other sounds before piano and a cello join in the fray.  With me being already impressed by “I love you” I was curious to how this could work itself up and this song is another great track for Yunho lol.  Changmin and ballads don’t seem to gel well, but you can tell he’s trying to impress.  I really liked how this ballad turned out and definitely didn’t feel lacking at all.  Great choice as a lead-in!

14. Good-bye for Now

As the final track for most editions, Good-bye for Now closes things up in a rather happy-go-lucky way.  It does come off as a tad bit cheesy as the mood is poppy and the ad-libbing is just wrong to listen to XD.  I kind of figured they’d close it out, but after “TREE OF LIFE” it is a little too silly to be plugging this at the end of the album (maybe after “OCEAN”).

15. I love you -Full Version-

As bonuses we get two extra songs.  The first is just an extended version of the introduction and thank god they were smart enough to throw this on because that was a pretty sweet intro.  Of course it’s the same but with Changmin on the second verse…so now it feels complete and a total winner.  Not as extravagant as “TREE OF LIFE” but it’s another strong ballad!

16. Very Merry Xmas

Just like how “TIME” made “Winter Rose” a bonus track, TREE makes the ubiquitous Winter single the bonus track once again.  Sadly, unlike the aforementioned tune, Very Merry Xmas was so boring and generic, the sheer fact it made the album cut baffles me.  I mean it’s a mid-tempo so it’s not as heart-warming nor it did leave much emotional value towards it…phoned it in almost lol.

Track Listing

  • OCEAN
  • TREE OF LIFE
  • Cheering
  • Something
  • Shinjiru Mama

Song of Avoidance

  • Champion

After being slighlty disappointed in TIME, I wasn’t exactly the most enthusiastic getting into TREE (and 3rd album with a 4-lettered T-word….what’s next TAKE….TACO….TUNA???  Yeah, I don’t know but TREE was a pretty damn good album and fixed a lot of the problems I had dealing with their previous album.  Though there are some stinkers here…overall I was pleased with this album!

 

JASMINE – Welcome to Jas Vegas

Filed under: JASMINE — solarblade @ 5:30 am

welcometojasvegas

Track Listing

  1. Welcome to Jas Vegas ~Opening~
  2. Where U @
  3. Handz Up!
  4. #AGARU
  5. R!de On
  6. Dearest
  7. Panic ~Interlude~
  8. HIKARI
  9. Hallelujah
  10. High Flying (T.O.M Remix for Jas Vegas) (Limited edition bonus track)

1. Welcome to Jas Vegas ~Opening~

JASMINE opens up the album with an introductory piece with the quote on quote title track XD.  It begins with the sound of a helicopter flying in and this low bass and a crowd chanting as well and of course some fireworks.  I’m not entirely sure what JASMINE is doing with this intro but that heavy breathing and sudden call from her welcoming to Jas Vegas…what a strange intro!

2. Where U @

Moving to our first full track, Where U @ is pretty much what we’re walking into with JASMINE’s album.  It’s following the more recent sound we got from “Complexxx” with the leaning towards an EDM feel.  It reminds me of the current sound America has started to enjoy so it was an easy song for me to get into.  Great song to kick things off!

3. Handz Up!

Funny enough, the intro of Handz Up! sounds like a continuation for the intro of the album…strange that happen with JASMINE once again introducing Jas Vegas to the listeners.  The tune has a bit more focus with synths and doesn’t have the piano melody like the previous track did.  I am not sure why the tracklist placed it here, but I feel like this would’ve made a better song to open the album up (take the intro out from here and just connect it to the opening).

4. #AGARU

Released as a digital single prior to the album, #AGARU was a taste of what the album was going to be like and it was a GREAT song to choose.  It’s got a fun disco/dance vibe to it and JASMINE has a nice sense attitude to make the tune sound fun and exciting!  It’s definitely the best the album has to offer and I just love listening to this song!

5. R!de On

Our next track initially surpassed “#AGARU” from the introduction, but the song seemed to take a ride down a more dubstep groove featuring some bass wubs and a slower tempo.  Though I do like the parts with the piano, those were some pretty cool parts, but the whole ~breakdown~ sections seem to throw the song off.  It’s not a terrible song luckily and I feel like it’ll grow on me in due time, but right now it’s not clicking for me.

6. Dearest

Now this is the kind of sound that quite got me going from “R!de On” but it actually is a song that throws itself to JASMINE’s past works from “GOLD”.  Being an R&B jam, Dearest is chill and shows JASMINE’s classy vocals.  Though some of the melodies clash with one another so it does make me wince, but if it isn’t the chorus, everything else is fine with me.  Ok, song…but amongst the numerous dance tracks, this stands out for nostalgic reasons.

7. Panic ~Interlude~

For as such a short album that it is, was it necessary to have an interlude?  Panic is a strange interlude starting with some weird synths and then some typing that sets off an alarm and a repetition of ~attention please~.  Then it moves into a dubstep instrumental…what?  This is just so random and I don’t think it suited the album IMHO.

8. HIKARI

Back into another dance track, HIKARI kind of reminds me of “R!de On” but not as aggressive on the wubs here.  I like that the arrangement has a more gritter feel using deeper synths as the melody.  JASMINE sounds so good in this song!  Definitely another winner on the album!

9. Hallelujah

On the regular editions, the album ends with Hallelujah and it’s a solid way to close ends as it kind of suits with the other EDM songs (almost reminds me of “HERO”) but a little more straightforward.  As I’m listening to the song though it does remind me heavily of something MiChi would’ve loved to have (T.O.M produces for her as well).  Hallelujah is a pretty cool ending to this album for sure and it has such a feelgood atmosphere to it that it can resonate as the best track here too.

10. High Flying (T.O.M Remix for Jas Vegas)

On limited editions, the album ends with a remix for High Flying.  I’m not a fan of the song to begin with so I had my worries cut out with a T.O.M remix.  It’s a bit more energetic and the arrangement has a little more life in it which is pretty nice.  However, the song is still not doing much for me regardless and I just kind of zone out from the tune despite being a bit better handled.

Tracks Recommended

  • #AGARU
  • Hallelujah
  • HIKARI
  • Where U @
  • Handz Up!

Song of Avoidance

  • High Flying (T.O.M Remix for Jas Vegas)

Seems pretty random that JASMINE would release a conceptual album so shortly after “Complexxx” and on top of that leaving off “Countdown” from the album.  Welcome to Jas Vegas though was another hit for her.  I mean, a new album with entirely new material was great and her work with T.O.M was surprisingly good and one of the first great releases of the year!

 

°C-ute – Kokoro no Sakebi wo Uta ni Shitemita/Love take it all March 6, 2014

Filed under: C-ute — solarblade @ 10:40 pm

kokoronosakebi

Track Listing

  1. Kokoro no Sakebi wo Uta ni Shitemita
  2. Love take it all
  3. Kokoro no Sakebi wo Uta ni Shitemita (Instrumental)
  4. Love take it all (Instrumental)

1. Kokoro no Sakebi wo Uta ni Shitemita

There’s something so 80’s pop about °C-ute’s first A-side with those synths playing.  Listening to the song, I kind of felt that they kind of fixed the jarring verse to chorus wrecks that happened with their last single so it’s a nice thing to see, but the song kind of just comes off slightly generic and forgetful to me.  It might grow on me, but right now it simply does nothing for me.

2. Love take it all

The other A-side would be the one to show more of the group’s upbeat dance style and like “Kokoro no Sakebi wo Uta ni Shitemita” it seems underneath the weather as well.  The group sounds great of course and while Nakky and Maimai kind of bring out some meh vocals, the song just kind of stays on the same feel the entire time.  There could be more to this, but overall I kind of feel meh about this as well.

 

 

To me, this single feels like a more boring reprise of “Tokai no Hitorigurashi/Aitte Motto Zanshin” with how it sounds.  Kokoro no Sakebi wo Uta ni Shitemita might be the better of the two by kind of having a more 80’s sound to it that I could get behind, but Love take it all felt lifeless to me especially with the string of songs they’ve released last year.  With Tsunku dealing with cancer, I wonder if this is going to be a short period of not so memorable songs as he’s gonna be focused on healing and feeling better.

 

BoA – Shout It Out March 5, 2014

Filed under: BoA — solarblade @ 7:00 am

shoutitout

Track Listing

  1. Shout It Out
  2. close to me
  3. Shout It Out (INST)
  4. close to me (INST)

1. Shout It Out

I know BoA has been on this streak of mid-tempos with her last couple of singles so it was great to see that Shout It Out was something more upbeat and exciting.  I had a lot of fun listening to this song as it’s just bright and funky and kind of is a better take of “WOO WEEKEND” with less bass slaps lol.  Definitely a great track for BoA but she’s been on a roll so I’m happy this stretches that further!

2. close to me

The B-side for the single is a bit more toned down having a nice guitar-ladened ballad.  BoA’s voice is very smooth and I like she’s throwing English in the song and she sounds pretty good and she flows nicely between that and Japanese.  I do get that Americanized feel about it and I would love a fully English version one day as it sounds a bit more personal but still good stuff!

 

 

I’m wondering when BoA will put out an album because we can only get soooo many good singles XD.  Being the 4th (or 6th?) single, I enjoyed Shout It Out quite a bit as a while, but I still think “Message/Call my name” is still the better single though.  I’ve missed BoA being upbeat and showing her dance skills and this was for sure a good track for that while close to me was a bit more sentimental and sweet.  Yeah…an album of all the songs she’s released since “IDENTITY” would just be quite perfect!

 

ayaka – number one

Filed under: ayaka — solarblade @ 6:39 am

numberone

Track Listing

  1. number one
  2. Through the ages (Self-Cover Version)
  3. Hajimari no Toki (2013/11/19 Nippon Budokan Live ver.)

1. number one

It does feel like it’s been a while since we’ve heard ayaka hasn’t it?  I was happy to know that she didn’t pull another ballad out and proceeded to give us an upbeat track.  I love her smoky vocals just adding this brightness to the song.  It’s just a pretty strong song and the arrangement also adds to this powerful feel…definitely a strong tune!

2. Through the ages (Self-Cover Version)

To some of you, it might be confusing because she doesn’t have a song titled as such.  Well it’s a song that she penned for Gabrielle Aplin that was sung for Mizushima Hiro’s film Kuroshitsugi. (thx Efanz).  Here we have ayaka’s take and unlike its upbeat A-side, Through the ages is dramatic and sad as it has a lot of strings involved here.  Once ayaka comes in the song becomes more of a piano/strings ballad but the song is so focused on ayaka that I kind of enjoyed the barebones look of the song and when it grows it’s just so great!  I liked it!

3. Hajimari no Toki (2013/11/19 Nippon Budokan Live ver.)

Last, but not least we come to a live version of Hajmari no Toki which was the lead-in track from ayaka’s comeback album, “The beginning”.  Listening to her live again just brings back all the good sighs because she sounds amazing live still!  She pulled this song off so well and the crowd agreed.

 

 

Is it really the 2nd single she’s released since going indies?  Damn…ayaka scored a lot better on this single than her previous one by a pretty big margin.  number one is bright and upbeat and ayaka has so much fun with it and her self-cover of Through the ages is just beautiful!  Also, the live version of Hajimari no Toki was flawless.  Though isn’t time to let that song go now since it’s the 3rd time in a row we’ve been hearing this.

 

AAA – Love

Filed under: AAA — solarblade @ 5:36 am

loveaaa

Track Listing

  1. Love
  2. Koi Oto to Amazora (Orchestra Version)
  3. AAA 2013 Single Medley (Miss you – PARTY IT UP – Love Is In The Air – Koi Oto to Amazora)
  4. Love (Instrumental)

1. Love

AAA kicks their 2014 with a new song with Love!  Though riding on the coattails of “Koi Oto to Amazora”, the group decided to pull another ballad of their hat with this song.  I mean it’s not as bad as previous ballads of theirs, but it doesn’t do too much besides give us a random guitar solo in the mid8.  The song kind of just left me bored yet bewildered at the same time…is that even logical?

2. Koi Oto to Amazora (Orchestra Version)

Mentioning their previous A-side we get ANOTHER version of this song (makes up to 4 with the single, album, and acoustic versions coming before it).  I know it was such a big song for the group but this is caking it on a bit too much.  Though being resung and having a better laid out arrangement, Koi Oto to Amazora sounds a bit more majestic (though sometimes silly, like with Hidaka’s raps) and I actually would prefer over the other versions available but otherwise the song isn’t their best ballad lol.

3. AAA 2013 Single Medley (Miss you – PARTY IT UP – Love Is In The Air – Koi Oto to Amazora)

Like with last year’s medley from the “Miss you/Hohoemi no Saku Basho”, we get a new one to represent the singles from the passing year.  None of the songs were changed in this medley which is pretty good but all makes for some strange transitions (consisting of a sudden fade-out and fade-in).  Though I love the songs chosen here since they were pretty good A-sides from the group!

 

 

As AAA open their 2014, we’re greeted with Love and well I’m kind of here and there.  Love to me isn’t all that great nor that memorable (except for that out of place guitar solo).  At least they redeemed themselves with their best version of Koi Oto to Amazora and honestly, they should’ve just stuck with this the whole time and of course the medley was a nice treat and a great way to represent the year that was 2013 for them.  I hope they “SHOW TIME” will be a stronger offering.