Kurayami Monogatari

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TOKYO GIRLS’ STYLE – Killing Me Softly June 16, 2014

Filed under: TOKYO GIRLS' STYLE — solarblade @ 7:01 am

killingmesoftly

Track Listing

  1. Intro
  2. Killing Me Softly
  3. pain
  4. Unmei
  5. Partition Love
  6. Chiisana Kiseki
  7. Ren’ai Etude
  8. Zutto Wasurenai.
  9. Juujika
  10. Mine
  11. Outro
  12. Last Forever -Royal Mirrorball Mix-
  13. Get The Star -Royal Mirrorball Mix-
  14. Tsuki no Kimagure (Type-A & C only)
  15. Partition Love -Chinese ver.- (Type-B only)
  16. Chim Chim Cheree (Type-C only)

1. Intro

The album begins with an introduction as they’ve always done!  This one sounds a bit cool and futuristic to me and then the beat goes away and a lone piano plays in the background and then fades away to…

2. Killing Me Softly

Acoustic guitar that starts our first track from the album.  If you don’t know, Killing Me Softly actually pre-dates their debut single, “Kirari☆”.  I was surprised they would use that to promote this album and after listening to it, also left me wondering why’d they hide it for so long before making it exist.  It does remind of the aforementioned song with those certain sounds they share.  I also LOVE the vocals in the song…especially from Ayano…she hits those low notes like a boss!  It’s a slow jam for the girls and they really pulled off the song as a smooth but dark track…I was impressed (and the PV was eye candy!).  Good first song!

3. pain

Why does the guitar chords that open this song sound exactly like “Discord”?  I honestly thought it was going to go there!  However, the song went a different direction and focused more on the guitarwork (and their typical funk-based style).  The musical interludes did go on too long (as a typical issue with them xD).  The song once again showed how much the girls have grown vocally and how melodic they can get and I liked it, but the song otherwise didn’t do much for me.

4. Unmei

Ahhh the A-side that begun the album’s era!  Unmei to me was kind of where I started to feel the group had started to fade out for me.  I mean Unmei is great by itself and the funky vibes are at all new high with the vocals as well too.  However, I was getting real fed up with their sound being SO stagnant that I wrote this song off.  Coming back to it after the group walked outside of their comfort zone got me to appreciate it more but I still dislike the long amounts of interludes their producer gave this song…just poor on his part.

5. Partition Love

Doesn’t help that we move into Partition Love which is more of the same issues here but less in the way.  As the group’s 4th A-side for this album, Partition Love actually warmed on me pretty quickly and I wasn’t complaining as much as I was when “Unmei” was released.  I really love the whispery vocals and the funky beats just gives a mysterious tone that the previous track wasn’t able to provide.  I enjoyed this tune a LOT!

6. Chiisana Kiseki

Then we get into the group’s 3rd A-side and boy does this song stick out like a SORE THUMB on this album.  Unlike the previous 4 funk songs, Chiisana Kiseki is a straight up idol song (like someone else produced this) and the only way you can tell it’s related is the guitar flicker.  I don’t know, but this belongs on “Kodou no Himitsu”…even the vocals to me seem subpar all-around…just ick XD.

7. Ren’ai Etude

That guitar lick reminds me of “W.M.A.D” or “Himawari to Hoshikuzu”…ironic I think I said this about another song before.  Ren’ai Etude is like what if “Chiisana Kiseki” was mixed with the album’s overall tone!  It’s just as upbeat and happy-go-lucky as songs go but it actually fits the album.  I just find myself being happy with this song, the vocals could have a little more life in them as I’m finding myself kind of thinking it’s just a bit one-dimensional of a track.  Still, it’s a step-up from the previous track.

8. Zutto Wasurenai.

Man, this album is really feeling like “Limited addiction” where everything is meshing into one LOOOOONG song.  This is giving me a lot of “Kirari☆” moments especially with those goddamn guitar flicks…I’m really getting tired of hearing those.  Honestly, they sound similar too…ugh…what happened…

9. Juujika

Brett, why isn’t this bolded?  Well, it’s because this is the ALBUM version of the single that came out a couple weeks before and I HATE this version.  It took out all the amazing things from the single version and sloshed on their typical TGS sound and just threw it to us and I loathe it.  Even the transition to the chorus is a trainwreck to listen to.  Even then, if the single version didn’t exist IT SOUNDS SO BLAND AND A CLONE TO EVERYTHING ELSE ON THIS ALBUM.

10. Mine

Trying to wash that taste out of my mouth, we move to the B-side from “Chiisana Kiseki” and Mine being back here is odd, but works because I remember liking the track and loving the electric guitar in the song mixing it with the brass.  I mean, in the big picture, Mine isn’t anything special to the group but honestly, it’s one of the better songs to appear.

11. Outro

The eleventh track is the outro already? Especially when we have 3 songs left (4 depending on the version).  Weird placement and it’s an instrumental of course but of what song is kind of beyond me at the moment because I’m still shaking off the last couple of songs.  Add that it ends rather abruptly at about 2:30 so it’s really one of those times I rather wished the girls made a real final track and not an outro in between songs >.< what?

12. Last Forever -Royal Mirrorball Mix-

What couldn’t be anymore disappointing is the fact that the songs I loved got fucked over on this album (including “Juujika”).  Last Forever and “Get The Star” were part of the 2nd single released and both had a distinctly different sound (because they were produced by someone else) and now we’re here with friggin’ Royal Mirrorball mixes….FML.  Last Forever’s is first up and ugh I already knew I was going to hate it.  Turned a mid-tempo rock ballad into a generic disco abomination.  What I can say is that the vocals suited and the strings were nice…otherwise crap remix…

13. Get The Star -Royal Mirrorball Mix-

Same thing applies with Get The Star…turned a great rock track into a generic remix.  I mean it actually sounds like a normal TGS song and I am just not impressed period.  Though I can tell RM put a little more effort with this remix than in “Last Forever” but both are shit so in the end it wouldn’t matter.

14. Tsuki no Kimagure

I found it weird that they made Tsuki no Kimagure a edition track.  As the B-side from “Partition Love” it actually tried to stand out in its own right.  I still think it’s an out-of-character song, but I kind of happy that it’s that right.  The pipe organ and shuffling bossa nova sound is really warming on me and the gals are singing in more of a higher pitch.  It’s different and has grown on me steadily since the single review so I’m content with it appearing (and really I like that it breaks from the damn monotany this album is plagued with).

15. Partition Love -Chinese ver.-

So on another version, we get a Chinese version of Partition Love (hmmm, we haven’t had a Chinese take since “Onnaji Kimochi” if memory serves me right).  The vocals aren’t as whispery and mysterious as they are in the original JPN, but they seem to have tackled the language as smoothly as they can get which is nice.  Overall not a bad job…it’s still Partition Love so it’s a good song!

16. Chim Chim Cheree

The final track is actually not a new one.  Of course it’s their take on the Disney classic and it was featured on the “Disney Rocks!!! Girls Power” compilation album.  I’m happy to hear some actual instruments like guitars and bass and drums.  So seeing this on KMS is bizarre since musically doesn’t fit anywhere.  Though with the amount of disappointment I have in this album, this was actually one of the better songs…lord…

Tracks Recommended

  • Partition Love
  • Chim Chim Cheree
  • Unmei
  • Killing Me Softly

Song of Avoidance

  • Juujika

Honestly, I didn’t expect Killing Me Softly to be as horrid as I thought it would’ve especially from the singles WHICH WERE GREAT (cept Chiisana Kiseki).  I don’t know where avex went wrong but this album failed in a lot of places and I’m starting to question their producer because he’s getting REAL lazy as of lately.  Most of the songs were generic copies of one another (even admitting some of the recommended tracks are guilty of it) and the Royal Mirrorball remixes just needs to stop…he has overstayed his welcome WAY TOO LONG and he needs to go…this album was just shit…

 

Sayaka Sasaki – Daybreaker

Filed under: Sayaka Sasaki — solarblade @ 5:00 am

daybreaker

Track Listing

  1. Break your world
  2. BLAZE MOMENT ~Guren Jouka~
  3. Tsuioku no Scarlet
  4. My Dignity
  5. RESETLUCK
  6. Ordinary Day…
  7. Ryuusei Voice
  8. Eternal Wish
  9. World End
  10. Reason why XXX
  11. Starting Again
  12. Daybreaker

1. Break your world

It’s great that Sayaka opens up the album with the 3rd A-side released for this era because it’s a favorite mine and really just blows down the doors.  I love her vocals floying around the anison rock arrangement and she just has a lot of power and identity here.  What an awesome song!!!

2. BLAZE MOMENT ~Guren Jouka~

The first new track, BLAZE MOMENT continues off from the power of the previous track and gives us another hard-hitting track.  This one seems to slightly break away from the anison feel but not too much.  I’m loving the extra synths found in this song and while it doesn’t hit quite as hard as “Break your world” it’s definitely fitting that it came right after!

3. Tsuioku no Scarlet

As a song I didn’t review because it was a joint single with Miyuki Hashimoto, Tsuioku no Scarlet was a great choice to include because I LOVED the sound of this track.  Almost like a fripSide song but not generic lol.  The anilectro sound just felt right and “BLAZE MOMENT” did a great job bridging to this song because it’s a solid song for Sayaka!  Definitely an early favorite!

4. My Dignity

After 3 epic songs, My Dignity switches moods by taking more a cuter route.  I’m not against when anison artists have genre shifts but damn Sayaka was this a kick in the stomach.  After that realization, I started to pay attention more to the song and like how Maon deals with these kind of songs, Sayaka does poppy songs nicely too.  Her voice is slightly squeakier which is meh, but the music is a nice groovy sound mixing technopop, dubstep, and 8bit all in one hit which didn’t override my system.  Good song overall.

5. RESETLUCK

For such a title, I thought it was going to be like “Tsuioku no Scarlet” but it’s actually a mid-tempo rock ballad.  I was happily surprised because I didn’t think she’d tackle such a style.  Sayaka though won me over with her vocals and the arrangement just felt right for her. I just love Sayaka having such a Western styled feel here and is another gem on this album!

6. Ordinary Day…

The next two tracks were B-sides starting with the one from “Reason why XXX”.  Ordinary Day… was such a shock that it was chosen over “Super Shiny Sensation!!!” because this song was just so forgetful and bland for me.  I mean the pipe organ was the only thing I remotely remembered about the tune.  Though I will say that it worked coming after “RESETLUCK” because this has a similar Western feel and the ending was nice, but otherwise…I don’t remember much else.

7. Ryuusei Voice

Then we get the B-side from “Starting Again” and it was just a good choice to have!  I mean compared to the other songs, this does come off a bit generic in almost all respects, but there’s something about it that I kind of enjoy?  The chorus sounds like a generic mess because of the easy to predict chords.  It could’ve been a lot faster and it would’ve been amazing!…oh well.  I guess I take my opinion back XD.

8. Eternal Wish

Back to new songs, Eternal Wish marks as the album’s ballad and has the works with mostly strings as a part of the arrangement with piano, bass, and other things.  I mean I guess it’s alright, but honestly it didn’t do anything for me, but Sayaka’s voice is just radiant here so that’s a great thing this song has going for.

9. World End

With how slow the album had got, it was time for a wake-up call and we got World End which is something that would’ve suited her debut album as it has a bright and flowing arrangement mixed with them anison chords which means I would be easily impressed!  It’s a really grand song for an album like this but honestly I’ve been wanting one of these and she did not disappoint!

10. Reason why XXX

Returning to some A-sides, we have Reason why XXX (her 2nd A-side released in the era and I remembered the anilectro from this one being so edgy and showed us that Sayaka had more power than what we had known prior.  It’s a busy song to get into, but it’s exciting and has a lot to it which is a good thing to have!  Great as an A-side and great to have here.

11. Starting Again

I was surprised when this single was passed over when “sympathetic world” was released, but it managed to join this album to make up for that.  After “Reason why XXX”, this A-side really seemed to be rather weak and honestly it’s true as the other two singles in this era have been super awesome.  It’s like “Ordinary Day…” where the song is nice to listen to but I can’t remotely remember much of it after I listen to it.

12. Daybreaker

Sayaka closes out the album with the title track and I kind of thought it was going to be an epic ending, but Daybreaker kind of takes a lighter route, almost a ballad.  I mean the song is ok and the unsettling chords in the verses are interesting, but there’s something that doesn’t quite click with me…but once Sayaka uses her chest voice and chorus kicks in, things are GOOD…interesting way to end the album, but like I said thought it’d be something a bit more powerful as the closing track.

Tracks Recommended

  • Tsuioku no Scarlet
  • RESETLUCK
  • Break your world
  • World End
  • Reason why XXX

Song of Avoidance

  • Ryuusei Voice

Coming into Sayaka’s sophomore album, Daybreaker is a bit more of the same of what we got from “sympathetic world”, her debut album.  She’s got a lot of great potential, but how her company is handling it is questionable.  The tracks recommended is the best of the best and the rest is a lot of miss and kind of bland settings (granted the B-sides were the worst offenders).  She’s growing some, but I hope she can avoid the bland settings.

 

AKB48 – Labrador Retriever

Filed under: AKB48 — solarblade @ 3:39 am

labradorretriever

Track Listing

  1. Labrador Retriever
  2. Kyou Made no Melody
  3. Kimi wa Kimagure (Team A) (Type A only)
  4. Itoshiki Rival (Team K) (Type K only)
  5. B Garden (Team B) (Type B only)
  6. Heart no Dasshutsu Game (Team 4) (Type 4 only)
  7. Futari wa Dekiteru (Theater edition only)
  8. Labrador Retriever off vocal ver.
  9. Kyou Made no Melody off vocal ver.
  10. Kimi wa Kimagure off vocal ver.
  11. Itoshiki Rival off vocal ver.
  12. B Garden off vocal ver.
  13. Heart no Dasshutsu Game off vocal ver.
  14. Futari wa Dekiteru off vocal ver.

1. Labrador Retriever

As the group’s next A-side, Labrador Retriever seemed so weird to me because the tune sounds like something made in the 70s (especially with the way the arrangement sounded).  I don’t know why but I don’t find this song increasingly terrible like the previous ones they released.  I actually find this one pleasant to listen to and it could be from the nod to those oldies and nostalgic days which made it work.  Plus the melody is nice to listen to.  Prolly my favorite one since “UZA” to be honest.  BTW, a song titled after a dog breed and it’s a summer single?  Interesting…

2. Kyou Made no Melody

The main B-side was set for Yuko Oshima who was graduating from the group so she got her song.  I wasn’t surprised that the song was more toned down and set in a more graduation-ish feel.  Yuko’s voice sounds cute and soothing and as she is the main vocalist here, she gave a nice performance while the other girls are background support.  I think I like this a lot too, simplistic but not boring.

3. Kimi wa Kimagure

So the split songs are by Teams again starting with Team A of course!  Kimi wa Kimagure starts off nicely with a beat and dance style but still in the AKB-sound.  I am a little surprised by the male background vocals, but the song is kind of cute but a little basic in a way.  At least it’s passable and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it with more listens!

4. Itoshiki Rival

Team K gets the cool song huh?  The dramatic strings and the cool guitar melody already shows that they got some effort here.  Also, the song exudes a darker goth feel more than other songs and I really love the tone and the way girls share lines here with Jurina and Sayaka leading this one.  Despite the chorus being a little emotionless, I think it was meant to be that way this time around.  It’s definitely my favorite amongst the Team songs in recent times.

5. B Garden

Finally, we get to Team B’s song, B Garden and like I’ve said before, they get the cuter songs between the Teams.  After all the previous songs of the last 4-5 singles, B Garden here just kind of killed it’s interest on me.  At least the effort seems to be higher because there’s some interest from the ladies and there’s fun quips here and there.  If I had to say, it is better than those messes from before, but it’s still a weak track amongst the other songs on the single.

6. Heart no Dasshutsu Game

Even Team 4 gets a song and a single edition too.  However, it’s the worst of the single.  Of what I talked about above with “B Garden” is in reality here.  The arrangement is tired and bland and while the chanting is something that keeps the song from being downright terrible, it just doesn’t stand out to me besides being a repear of MANY other AKB songs.

7. Futari wa Dekiteru

Wow, no Kenkyuusei song this time around?  Nope, the theater editions get a solo track from Kojiharu and Kenji Kitagawa (yeah the ___48 fans should know who this is at the least).  The sexy saxophone opening just swayed me in a good way here and I was enjoying where this song was heading.  Haruna just sounds pretty as well as Kenji’s deep vocals…it was a great duet between the two.

 

 

Is it surprising that I actually like this single a lot?  Labrador Retriever is one of their nicest A-sides they’ve had in a while!  Something about it’s nostalgic 70’s sound just kind of wooed me.  Then we have Yuko’s Kyou Made no Melody which sounded great for her and a good sendoff song and honestly Itoshiki Rival and Futari wa Dekiteru were also awesome songs to have around too.  Kimi wa Kimagure is close but it somewhat has a stale sound….however B Garden was kind of sacchrine for me and Heart no Dasshutsu Game was just generic as hell.  Still 4/7 were great! and it’s been a while since that has happened!

 

YUKI – STARMANN

Filed under: YUKI — solarblade @ 2:51 am

starmann

Track Listing

  1. STARMANN
  2. Kimi wo Sokubako Shitai no Desu

1. STARMANN

I was wondering what YUKI would pull with STARMANN and looking at the cover art, I was kind of expecting a serious track.  What we got is somewhat right?  It’s still a bit upbeat, but the marching drums and some of the chords do give a sad glow.  I’m liking the chorus where she sings a bit in English and she sounds less nasal than normal which is a nice change of pace.  Overall, it’s a nice rock ballad from YUKI one I would listen to more.

2. Kimi wo Sokubako Shitai no Desu

The B-side of the single actually wakes me up and gives us an upbeat rock song and YUKI is doing a little more talk-singing in the verses but really comes out within the chorus.  However, the chorus brings back the nasal notes and it’s a little lagging in places but honestly the verses are the best thing next to the arrangement.  Not bad, but not my favorite of the bunch.

 

 

With YUKI announcing an album soon, “FLY”, I guess it was time to finally get to this single.  STARMANN overall isn’t a bad single and much better than “Watashi no Negaigoto”.  The leading track is a nice dramatic rock ballad and YUKI gave a nice vocal performance whereas Kimi wo Sokubako Shitai no Desu was more energetic but had some issues…I wonder if the last two singles before this one will be included on “FLY” but at the least we’ll be seeing STARMANN and I’m happy about that.

 

Tohoshinki – Sweat/Answer

Filed under: Tohoshinki — solarblade @ 2:40 am

sweatanswer

Track Listing

  1. Sweat
  2. Answer
  3. Sweat -Boogie-Woogie Version- (CD only)
  4. Sweat -Less Vocal-
  5. Answer -Less Vocal-

1. Sweat

I was happy the duo kind of followed their recent sound from Korea, you know that sound from “Something”.  Their kind of jazzy and groovy sound has been impressing me and Sweat kind of mixes it with their more sexual side and I was impressed with all of what’s going on.  Yunho’s rapping and Changmin’s vocals overall gave me such a solid impression that their are going to try to change their K-pop sound to something more unique to them.  While “Something” and “Spellbound” still are better, this was a good way to kick a new era off.

2. Answer

If you were looking for more of that sound that Tohoshinki has been aceing at recently then Answer is definitely where it is.  The tune has a darker flow and Changmin’s vocals has got that edgier feel.  I am starting to feel like he’s taking more of a lead vocal role than Yunho or that Yunho just comes second in the duo which I suppose has been working.  It does remind me of a couple songs from “TREE” but this song is cool nonetheless.

3. Sweat -Boogie-Woogie Version-

Of course we have our remix on CD only and like the title suggests, the tune has more of a Boogie-Woogie feel and also a Big Band style as well and I liked the slickness of the arrangement here more than the original surprisingly…almost mirroring how I felt about “Something”.  Even throwing a drum solo during Yunho’s rap section…such classiness.  I’m liking this remix a LOT!

 

 

Their first single after “TREE”, Sweat/Answer is overall a nice follow-up and start on their 4th era as a duo.  Sweat calls forth a style the guys have been utilizing in Korea recently and it works just fine, though its remix does sound more suitable funny enough.  Answer takes the more Japanese sound approach and it’s nice and dark and easily danceable, still could’ve done without the rap drum kit but still good single overall!

 

Kyarypamyupamyu – Kira Kira Killer

Filed under: Kyarypamyupamyu — solarblade @ 2:19 am

kirakirakiller

Track Listing

  1. Kira Kira Killer
  2. Kira Kira Killer -extended mix-

1. Kira Kira Killer

Wow the song didn’t fail to just kick things off right from the start with a solid beat and some chanting.  I do love the piano amongst Nakata’s arranging but Kyary’s had this for a long time too lol.  I do love some of the backing harmonies during the chorus of this track and then there’s Kyary having this energetic performance and it’s cute yet fast-paced.  At first being a purely tie-in song bothered me, but the whole l-u-c-k chanting is actually working me over…Nakata did well with this…great A-side!

2. Kira Kira Killer -extended mix-

Finding it surprising there’s no B-side, but we get an extension of the A-side (also surprising since I would’ve expected “Family Party” or “Yume no Hajima-rin-rin”).  The extended mix of the A-side has added about a minute extra and well I am happy with that.  The opening is more pronounced which is something I loved.  Would it be surprising I actually am more with having the extensions over the original??

 

 

As Kyary’s 4th and final single before her 3rd album, “Pikapika Fantajin” drops, Kira Kira Killer was a limited release and well the single is based around luck hence the chanting of l-u-c-k and the whole 7777 copies made…this single was an odd one.  Kira Kira Killer is a great song and its extended mix made it even better so this a great single.  Could’ve bothered with a B-side but it’s alright…my favorite A-side next to “Mottai Night Land”!

 

FLOWER – Nettaigyo no Namida

Filed under: FLOWER — solarblade @ 1:51 am

nettaigyononamida

Track Listing

  1. Nettaigyo no Namida
  2. Dolphin Beach
  3. Nando Demo (Regular only)
  4. Nettaigyo no Namida (Instrumental)
  5. Dolphin Beach (Instrumental)
  6. Nando Demo (Instrumental)

1. Nettaigyo no Namida

Dang, the sound of rain and oriental strings open up Nettaigyo no Namida and I’m already loving the atmosphere of the tune.  It does seem strange for me because without these small things, I feel like it would’ve been a typical effort from FLOWER.  I really do love the vocalists as usual as they bring a nice feel and sensuality to the song.  A good start after their debut album!

2. Dolphin Beach

I almost had thought this song would’ve been a goofy tune for the group with the title and such, but honestly…this is a GOOD song to listen to.  I mean the arrangement has such a laidback beach sound mixed with flowing synths, piano, and a cool beat arrangement.  Also the vocalists are just really smooth here.  I do not know why, but this song really pulls me in with the arrangement.  What a beautiful song from them!

3. Nando Demo

The regular edition comes with an extra track which is also a cover of a DREAMS COME TRUE tune (seems like people are covering them a lot recently huh).  Of the 3 songs, this has the most simplistic approach which I’m ok with and the inclusion of some guitar alongside the beats is a nice inclusion, but it feels like it’s missing something in the overall presentation…like something that would just tie everything together.  The chorus is the issue that makes this reasoning stick out…I feel like it’s missing a big punch to it…it just sounds like a louder verse to me.  It’s OK, but it’s missing something about it.

 

 

After being disappointed with their debut album, FLOWER came back with Nettaigyo no Namida and honestly this is their best single yet!  The A-side is very pretty and the mood of the song is just fitting yet familiar that it works!  Dolphin Beach though is just an amazing song in its own right and really should’ve been the main star while Nando Demo is an alright cover, but not the best it could’ve been.  I’m looking forward to how SONY will handle the group moving forward!