Kurayami Monogatari

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Juice=Juice – Black Butterfly/Kaze ni Fukarete July 31, 2014

Filed under: Juice=Juice — solarblade @ 11:24 am

blackbutterfly

Track Listing

  1. Black Butterfly
  2. Kaze ni Fukarete
  3. Black Butterfly (Instrumental)
  4. Kaze ni Fukarete (Instrumental)

1. Black Butterfly

I can only wonder what’s on Tsunku’s mind when he does music for Juice=Juice!  I mean their last A-side, “Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS” was a pretty latin-heavy track and now with Black Butterfly he’s dabbling in Tango.  I thought it was a pretty unique song and rare to see H!P cater to this style.  Though it’s not as heavy as I thought it would’ve been, it’s a more finessed track with light vocals and such a direct strike.  Though I will say this vocally impressed the crap out of me.  Especially Karin, she sounded perfect in this track to me.  The others gave a strong performance too ^^.  Different, but a pleasant listen.

2. Kaze ni Fukarete

The other A-side actually did a little more to impress me musically.  It’s in the veins of more of the current sound of H!P (dance beats, but something to make it unique).  Especially here with the pseudo Scottish feel that’s in the music bridges.  I noticed that I heard Akari and Yuka a little more than in “Black Butterfly” but they only have one significant like respectively.  It does remind me of Platinum Era Morning Musume which is interesting and yet eh?  It’s a good song though and even though the vocals weren’t as good as in the other A-side (though so much Sayubee), it’s another league of good.

 

 

Are we going to get our first album yet Juice=Juice?  4 singles in (and 3 indies) and still no sign of one.  Black Butterfly/Kaze ni Fukarete is definitely a much better single than their last one but that’s because both tracks here were pretty good.  Black Butterfly being the more pinprick sexy song while Kaze ni Fukarete is the normal H!P goodness that Tsunku keeps coming up on.  Like I said, I’m more than ready for an album by this impressive group!

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Momoiro Clover Z – MOON PRIDE

Filed under: Momoiro Clover Z — solarblade @ 12:33 am

moonpride

Track Listing

  1. MOON PRIDE
  2. Gekkou
  3. Moon Revenge (Momoclo Edition only)
  4. MOON PRIDE (off vocal ver.)
  5. Gekkou (off vocal ver.)
  6. Moon Revenge (off vocal ver.)

1. MOON PRIDE

Wow, what a surprise that MOON PRIDE would be produced by REVO (of Sound Horizon/Linked Horizon) fame.  Also, it’s the theme for the new Sailor Moon series which is pretty huge internationally.  I was quite excited to hear this so after hearing this, I was surprised with how energetic and nice it turned out.  Of course MomocloZ aren’t the best singers in the idol world but they bring a lot of energy to their songs so I was definitely more than bopping my head to this.  Also Marty Friedman is in the track too?  Jeeze, all-star cast huh? XD.  Overall it’s a pretty awesome song!

2. Gekkou

They also sung the closing theme as well.  Of course being an anime, the tune would be a much lighter affair but I was quite interested because it included some pipe organ in the arrangement.  It did somehow feel short even though it is over 4 minutes…hmmm.  I still do really like “MOON PRIDE” a lot more but I suppose it was an appropriate track for the anime.

3. Moon Revenge

The MomocloZ edition included an extra track with Moon Revenge which is a cover of the Sailor Moon R ending theme so it definitely fits the quota (although wouldn’t it have made more sense to put it on the Sailor Moon edition of the single???).  I definitely hear the anisonness here and definitely sounds fitting for the group as well.  I actually kind of enjoyed this song quite a bit as I love the arrangement and the group actually sounds good here.  Kind of reminds me of “Mugen no Ai” in some ways.

 

 

As the 3rd single in this era, I think Momoiro Clover Z got very lucky getting this pretty big tie-in with Sailor Moon with MOON PRIDE.  I really enjoyed the song and definitely made up for “Naitemo Iin da yo’s” more laidback feel.  Though I will say I enjoyed Moon Revenge just a little bit more because it was quite beat driven and a lot more impressive vocally.  Gekkou is OK, but doesn’t really come close to the other two songs in any category.  This is shaping up to be an interesting era for the group, that’s for sure.

 

KU-TYU-BUNKAI feat. Antenna Girl – Lumina Star July 29, 2014

Filed under: KU-TYU-BUNKAI — solarblade @ 1:40 pm

luminastar

Track Listing

  1. Antenna Girl
  2. Pittanko
  3. Lumina Star
  4. STEP BY STEP
  5. HIGH TOUCH ME
  6. Girigiri Music
  7. WARP
  8. MUSIC MONSTER
  9. YATTA!!
  10. Strobe
  11. Antenna Girl (Hachioji-P remix)

1. Antenna Girl

So the album opens up with the promotional song for this release.  I know looking at the title of the album this was a collaborative album (though I kind of expected to see POCO singing) but he’s the arranger.  Which means we’re left with Antenna Girl who I don’t know who she really is besides this moniker.  Anyways to the song, if you like POCO’s last mini-album the sound of it will easily make you feel right at home.  Also he”s been dabbling a bit in the VOCALOID world so it explains the cutesy technopop as well.  AG’s vocals are under auto-tune/vocoder so it’s a another thing that could pull or push people away.  It’s a pretty catchy technopop track for sure and the arrangement is great!

2. Pittanko

Our next track has a little more of a futuristic tone to it and I quite enjoy the sound of the song.  AG comes in and kind of goes like ~beep beep beep beep~.  That was a little long-winded.  At least she comes in and sings and her voice is pretty computerized sounding but I think it works with POCO’s arrangement.  It’s still another good arrangement but the vocals aren’t totally the most exciting.

3. Lumina Star

We move into the title track and Lumina Star and this one is a little more electro than the previous track which is pretty cool since we get to hear more of POCO’s skills and it sounds really strong.  Antenna Girl’s voice is still kind of monotone through this song and her voice has a slight nasal feel (like MEG).  It’s a nice track though and I think it’s one of the better songs despite the vocals not being the most memorable.

4. STEP BY STEP

So the next two tracks were actually digital single released by KU-TYU, but this was when POCO was dabbling in the VOCALOID side of music so those songs were sung by none other than Miku Hatsune.  On the album, the vocals were switched to Antenna Girl which brings a little more life at least.  You can tell it was meant for the VOCALOIDs because this song is pretty technopop and as much natural sound AG brings, she’s still heavily under auto-tune and such.  I am starting to feel like the songs are kind of meshing into one another so I’m starting to zone a bit here.

5. HIGH TOUCH ME

The other digital release to me has a more stronger presence through POCO’s arrangement so the deeper synths seem more interesting and electro.  Of course AG’s vocals remain the same as they did in “STEP BY STEP” so it’s not much of an upgrade.  It’s really more of the same to be honest, so this song kind of just flies by.

6. Girigiri Music

At least it seems like the album is moving in a different direction finally.  I mean it’s still pretty much glossy electronic music, but it seems that POCO has a more grittier sound for this song and honestly, I found it pretty catchy and almost something he carried over from “COCOLO COLOR” for sure.  To be honest, I wished this was a song sung only by him rather than having AG taking over.  Still I do pretty much enjoy this song and is one of the best here.

7. WARP

Seems we’re getting cool songs now, WARP is definitely a club track and has a rather quick arrangement but has a lot of interesting tricks behind it.  I really love the darker chords from this one and AG sounds pretty good in this song even though she doesn’t have as many lines as she should.  Unfortunately there’s a POCO version of this song on his main site and it’s loads better than this…but regardless a good song on the album.

8. MUSIC MONSTER

I wonder why we’re getting these cooler songs now…MUSIC MONSTER is more of the same from the previous two tracks which is pretty cool and funny enough I can totally hear AG under a lot of what made me like KU-TYU a lot!  It’s a good bopper for sure and there’s some good moments found here.

9. YATTA!!

So I wasn’t expecting for AG to open the track having a spell cheer to open the song.  It’s definitely a poppy song here and Antenna Girl sounds quite bubbly and full of happiness.  It’s an interesting song and manages to stick out from the album by having such a bright and cute atmosphere.  Though AG can be too cute for me here sadly.

10. Strobe

So we return to the glossy technopop for Strobe which is technically the last song here.  It’s a pretty straightforward electropop song which doesn’t do much for me and once again I feel like AG is too monotone here.  There really isn’t much said about this song because it just melts into the album a bit too much.

11. Antenna Girl (Hachioji-P remix)

So the album actually closes off with a remix of the leading track!  I’ve definitely heard of the remixer before so I was wondering what he’d do with this song.  I was kind of hoping it was redone to make it more different from the original.  I mean the flurry of synths is nice, but like “Strobe” it melts in the album a bit too much for me to make much of an impression.

Tracks Recommended

  • Girigiri Music
  • Antenna Girl
  • MUSIC MONSTER

Song of Avoidance

  • Strobe

Wow, I didn’t realize KU-TYU-BUNKAI (using kanji now, so it might be Kuchuu Bunkai now) released an album in 2012!  Though I wasn’t expecting this.  I know he tampered in the VOCALOID era for sure, but I kind of didn’t see this Antenna Girl to be his kind of gal singer (reminds me of supercell).  Lumina Star was an OK album, you can tell that POCO worked on this from the arrangements, but half the time, I wanted to hear him more than her.  She just doesn’t sound enthusiastic here and some of the arrangements sounded like one another.  This would be the last time we see of POCO until 2014 when returns with a new single which I’ll review when it comes out ^_^

 

Maon Kurosaki – REINCARNATION July 28, 2014

Filed under: Maon Kurosaki — solarblade @ 12:14 pm

reincarnationmaon

Track Listing

  1. X-encounter
  2. -Autonomy-
  3. ALGO ~Who Knows It?~
  4. …Because, in SHADOW
  5. fixxx and lie
  6. K・O・N ♡
  7. Dysomnia
  8. Trying! Trying!
  9. Himawari to Natsu
  10. REINCARNATION

1. X-encounter

So the album kicks off with the lone A-side to represent this album, X-encounter.  I really loved that this song really stepped up Maon’s game by introducing us to this anilectro sound to her music (courtesy from I’ve Sound).  This song is pretty similar to those from the label and it works since Maon’s vocals are really cool and adds a nice touch overall.  It does clock in a a hefty 6 minutes, but it was well worth it!  Great way to kick the album off!

2. -Autonomy-

So since the rest of the album are brand new tracks, I was more than curious to listen to them.  -Autonomy- is a little more heavier than “X-encounter” for sure and has a little more speed behind it, but I think her vocal prowess was more stronger in the former track.  It’s a pretty solid track though and there’s no complaints from me!

3. ALGO ~Who Knows It?~

Oh Maon with your spoken dialogue in the intro, I don’t even know what you said…  ALGO is a much darker song but takes the elements that were in “-Autonomy-” and made it a bit more complicated of a song.  I have to say the uncomfortable verses were cool, but the chorus kind of killed it for me.it definitely didn’t feel like it connected well with how messy the song is otherwise with its arrangement.  I’m not exactly sure how to feel about this track in particular right now.

4. …Because, in SHADOW

Then comes our next track and I’m immediately reminded of songs of I’ve’s past (mostly from MELL and KOTOKO).  What I mean it’s got that signature electro sound that made songs like “no vain” and “SCREW” so highly respected.  I’m LOVING this song for the arrangement primarily, but Maon really makes it her own too which adds to the experience.  It’s dark and mysterious and has a great drive to it.  Definitely the album’s strongest song IMO.

5. fixxx and lie

Then we get into the next track and it opens strong with a rockin’ style before the verses become an interesting synth style and then the chorus I think fuses the two ideas.  It’s a pretty wild song for Maon and she definitely managed to keep up and give a stellar performance here.  It’s a pretty great song on the album and works coming after the previous track.

6. K・O・N♡

Then comes this track which throws a HUGE wrench to the album’s flow.  It sounds so uncharacteristic to Maon as this sounds like some Disney song with the cutesy atmosphere with plucked strings and twinkly synths.  Even Maon is singing in a much higher pitch to imitate a cute voice which while fits…definitely scares me LOL.  I’m not sure what it’s doing on an album like this but it’s definitely the oddball of the album.

7. Dysnomia

After taking that wrong turn, we get back into Maon’s serious stuff with Dysomnia and I love the dramatic introduction with the orchestral instruments and then leads into another I’ve Sound specialty.  It’s a pretty standard song, but it’s just a really cool song to listen to and Maon gives the tune life which always impresses me.  Definitely another song I easily found myself loving!

8. Trying! Trying!

I’m starting to feel like Maon could really fit within I’ve’s ranks as the songs she’s been getting for the most part are quite impressive.  In the case of Trying! Trying! it’s like she’s pulling more of a Mami Kawada vibe with the rock mixed in with the anison/dance beats.  It’s vocally impressive and the acoustic guitar fronted arrangement is pretty interesting.  Definitely the most straightforward of the songs.

9. Himawari to Natsu

I guess this is supposed to be the ballad of the album as it is the slowest and it includes strings and piano (mixed with some ethereal synths).  It’s kind of a simple and plain song which I guess is a nice reprieval from all the exciting songs and all, but by itself, it’s kind of lacking for me.  It might just be the tempo that’s killing me, but I’m not too fond of this one.

10. REINCARNATION

The album ends off with the title track and I didn’t know what to expect out of it, knowing I’ve Sound.  Being the album’s 2nd longest track, I was hoping for something epic.  Luckily, REINCARNATION is pretty much trying for it.  It starts off with a bright feel that included acoustic guitar and a quiet dance beat as it steadily grows into a dance track!  Though it keeps with the bright pace.  It’s a nice track but there was way better songs that are found on this album.

Tracks Recommended

  • …Because, in SHADOW
  • Dysomnia
  • X-encounter
  • fixxx and lie

Song of Avoidance

  • K・O・N♡

Being as this is credited as Maon’s 3rd studio album (though I consider “H.O.T.D.” as her first, REINCARNATION isn’t bad, but doesn’t come at the same level as “VERTICAL HORIZON” did for me.  Though the difference being is that I’ve Sound (and their producers) produced the entire album so I guess it’s not fair really.  A lot of the songs on the album were great to hear and there were a couple slips…especially the SoA (really who was the dumb one to have conjured that icky song?).  Otherwise, this was a solid release (I don’t think I’ve been disappointed in Maon yet!)

 

Aimer – After Dark July 25, 2014

Filed under: Aimer — solarblade @ 3:27 am

afterdark

Track Listing

  1. After Dark -prologue-
  2. Polaris
  3. words
  4. AM02:00 (haruka nakamura La Nuit remix)
  5. After Dark
  6. Amazing Grace -Live in church ver.-
  7. Anata ni Deawa Nakareba ~Kasetsu Toka~ -Live in church ver.-
  8. Kyo Kara Omoide -Live in church ver.-
  9. Hoshikuzu Venus -Live in church ver.-
  10. Sabishikute Nemurenai Yoru wa -Live in church ver.-
  11. RE: I AM -Live in church ver.-
  12. Rokutousei no Yoru -Live at anywhere ver.-

1. After Dark -prologue-

So this mini-album begins with an introduction which has a pretty piano introduction and a spoken monologue from Aimer.  It’s quite light and pretty to listen to.  Albeit rather short still.

2. Polaris

The introduction slides quite smoothly into our first main track, Polaris.  I first noticed that this was actually 6 minutes long which quite worried me.  Aimer’s vocals are quite soft and pretty to hear against the arrangement especially when she builds herself up for the chorus.  Yeah, it’s a bit long, but it’s a soothing track to really get the mini moving.

3. words

The next track is quite as hard to listen to because it’s also 6 minutes long which at this point might not have been a good idea to place them back to back.  This one doesn’t have the same energetic feel to it, but it’s calm and the small things are really pretty to hear.  Sometimes she kind of slurs lyrics which kind of bothered me but it’s a nice track I suppose.

4. AM02:00 (haruka nakamura La Nuit remix)

So we get a remix of a song that was originally from her debut album, “Sleepless Nights”.  Makes sense this song continues to be light and minimal in arrangement.  Actually this song slowly grows in sound, but still retains that lightness.  Strings and acoustic guitar/bass adds more life to it and Aimer’s vocals does sound echoed and filtered in some areas.  It’s a nice pleasant song overall but I still prefer the original.

5. After Rain

Then comes the title track (and probably what was to be the final track) and it’s oddly enough the most alive song on the mini.  I’m meaning that After Rain has an upbeat mid-tempo feel and there’s some nice ideas.  Aimer’s vocals are also pushing some new boundaries by being more alive (sometimes it’s reminding me of YUI).  It’s definitely the best of the mini-album which doesn’t say too much because Aimer rarely goes out and does these type of songs.

6. Amazing Grace -Live in church ver.-

So the remainder of the mini-album consists of live versions of past songs of hers minus two exceptions.  This is a new cover of that GODDAMN song that I just despise with any artist covering it.  Aimer’s version is just the main verse that’s oh-so well known.  It’s stretched to a little over 2 minutes…yeah…she stretched the hell out of it.  Not even that good either…

7. Anata ni Deawa Nakereba ~Kasetsu Toka~ -Live in church ver.-
8. Kyo Kara Omoide -Live in church ver.-
9. Hoshikuzu Venus -Live in church ver.-
10. Sabishikute Nemurenai Yoru wa -Live in church ver.-
11. RE:I AM -Live in church ver.-

There really is no reason for me to even talk about these 5 songs seperately so I decided to group them up together.  So I guess talking about this, Aimer held a closed performance (at a church maybe?) and she performed “Amazing Grace” and these 5 other songs which most are leading songs.  Now why I’m pairing these 5 together is simply because their ALL PIANO ONLY songs that were performed live.  I’m not interested in just only piano but she does have a lot of talent to back it up.  She sounds ultimately stable throughout so I could form an opinion of the songs singularly.

12. Rokutousei no Yoru -Live at anywhere ver.-

From what I read this is actually an early performance from Aimer, which makes sense as it was her debut A-side.  Otherwise it sounds just like if she had performed this in the closed performance.  It’s really nothing special.

 

 

As this is a mini-album there is no favs/dislikes.  The main course for After Dark (which is the first 5 songs) is pretty decent.  Polaris and words are a bit too long for me but they’re pretty good tracks.  The title track though was the best thing and I wish she had more of these kind of songs and not so many ballads.  The remix is nice too.  To kind of apologize to her fans, they did decide to include all those live performances which to me killed me and I zoned out because piano-only ballads just don’t work with me and I was easily bored.  Plus Amazing Grace….can we bury that song?

 

exist†trace – Diamond

Filed under: exist†trace — solarblade @ 2:19 am

diamond

Track Listing

  1. Diamond
  2. Kuchibiru
  3. JUST ONE
  4. Diamond (Karaoke: Jyou Vocal Only) (Limited only)
  5. Diamond (Karaoke: miko Vocal Only) (Limited only)
  6. Kuchibiru (Karaoke: Jyou Vocal Only) (Limited only)
  7. Kuchibiru (Karaoke: miko Vocal Only) (Limited only)
  8. JUST ONE (Karaoke: Jyou Vocal Only) (Limited only)
  9. JUST ONE (Karaoke: miko Vocal Only) (Limited only)
  10. Diamond (Instrumental)
  11. Kuchibiru (Instrumental)
  12. JUST ONE (Instrumental)

1. Diamond

It’s been a while since I’ve heard from this lovely band and I returned to Diamond and this song was a lot of what I missed from them.  I’ve noticed the band has slowly started to have two vocalists with miko joining in with solo lines as much as Jyou does.  I’m surprised to hear synths backing the band up but it’s still a cool song (lighter than any of the leading songs on “virgin”).  Not bad though.

2. Kuchibiru

The first B-side to pop up is the edgier and gritter song Kuchibiru.  I’m loving how loose and free it sounds and Jyou also has a certain looseness in her vocals that really sound good though there wasn’t a lot of miko (though she has a miko-only version).  Now this song definitely reminds me of stuff from their debut in Tokuma.  It’s just a very cool song from them and is better than “Diamond” unsurprisingly.

3. JUST ONE

The final track, brings us back to something more straightforward with JUST ONE, it is the loudest hitting of the three which is great and Jyou and miko sounds surprisingly together and good in tandem.  I can’t see why this couldn’t be the leading track.  It’s pretty damn good and both vocalists sound amazing!

 

 

exist†trace kicks off this new era with a pretty decent single in Diamond.  I can tell their sound has slightly transitioned into a more mainstream kind of rock which might worry fans, but this wasn’t the case…well ok, Diamond is kind of a meh song but Kuchibiru and JUST ONE are both worthy songs in their discography.  I am curious to how the rest of the era plays out.

 

KOTOKO – TOUGH INTENTION

Filed under: KOTOKO — solarblade @ 1:52 am

toughintention

Track Listing

  1. TOUGH INTENTION
  2. ARCH
  3. TOUGH INTENTION (instrumental)
  4. ARCH (instrumental)

1. TOUGH INTENTION

Ahhh, KOTOKO is back!  The leading song, TOUGH INTENTION is quite heavy and has a strong rock atmosphere with a slight anison touch.  Think “Light My Fire” but slightly lighter in the arrangement.  KOTOKO’s voice sounds a little more straightforward and stable unlike some of her other tracks where she overdoes it.  I didn’t expect that the mid8 would include her male background singers to start chanting it up but it’s a nice addition.  Overall it’s plain, but a passable track from KOTOKO.

2. ARCH

As for the B-side, ARCH starts muffled and under filters to kind of sound mysterious but goes away when the actual verses kick in.  My first thought is this song is slightly more anison and less powerful than “TOUGH INTENTION”.  I mean this could’ve been a “SHORT CIRCUIT” song if she had hiked her vocals higher.  Eh not all that memorable.

 

 

KOTOKO begins a new era off with a rather unmemorable single with TOUGH INTENTION.  They both seemed to lack a sense of energy musically and while KOTOKO’s vocals were quite nice, it really didn’t do much for either the A-side or ARCH.  I was kind of expecting more out, but maybe she’ll get better as this era moves on.