Kurayami Monogatari

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AAA – Aishiteru no ni, Aisenai August 27, 2015

Filed under: AAA — solarblade @ 4:24 am

aishiterunoni

Track Listing

  1. Aishiteru no ni, Aisenai
  2. Aishiteru no ni, Aisenai (Instrumental)

1. Aishiteru no ni, Aisenai

Seems like the group popped back up for Aishiteru no ni, Aisenai with it’s mid-tempo feel (but a little tinge of dance included).  The added strings and piano do kind of wear it down a little due to other similar songs from the era, but it still shows the group’s soothing vocals and overall feel of the song nicely, it’s a lot like their past singles, it’s OK…nothing terribly special.

AAA and their 50th single and they wasted it on another one track single? (technically two, but STILL).  Being as the single to release simultaneously with their best album (and next studio too)…I was continuing to be slightly let down because of how unmemorable this single is.  The song isn’t bad, but this could be compared to a lot of their past tunes.  I hope after the best album they get back to a regular release schedule (with B-sides!).

 

moumoon – It’s Our Time August 21, 2015

Filed under: moumoon — solarblade @ 5:26 am

itsourtime

Track Listing

  1. It’s Our Time
  2. Never look back
  3. IROIRO
  4. I’m Scarlet
  5. Eclipse
  6. Fight Back
  7. cocoon
  8. ICE CANDY
  9. WATASHINOSUBETE
  10. BF
  11. Hello, shooting-star
  12. It’s Our Time (English version) (CD only)

1. It’s Our Time

~We’re all set to have fun~ yeah that’s a really nice and straightforward way to open the album.  The tune is a bit strange because it starts with a lack of bass before YUKA comes in for the first verse and that’s when we finally get it.  I just think it’s a quirky little tune and has its moments, but there’s some better songs from the duo out there.

2. Never look back

Onto the next track, Never look back focuses a little more on Masaki’s acoustic sound and I do tend to like this kind of track.  The chorus does open up to a more synth-centric sound (ala “It’s Our Time”), but I do like the bright sound and YUKA once again sounds chirpy and effervescent altogether and I always enjoy that from her.

3. IROIRO

I feel like moumoon is just trying to be happy-go-lucky (like “SPARK”) with this album so far.  IROIRO is kind of like the previous track but taking a more piano-laced direction (alongside the acoustic guitar).  Add the sparkling sounds from “DREAMER DREAMER” and you basically get this laidback track.  Not bad, but YUKA is in her higher register for majority of it.

4. I’m Scarlet

As the 1st single represented from the album, I’m Scarle was an actual decent track when I first reviewed it.  I’m slightly still melting from this song because it was such a good, relaxing track.  After “IROIRO” though, the light atmosphere is slightly stretching, but I do love the song’s chorus because it just kind of wakes me up and YUKA sings in a stronger tone (and that kind of call and response direction)…still a great song!

5. Eclipse

Then things come to a slow pace with our next track, Eclipse.  This track starts off with some light piano (and other instrumentation) to YUKA’s ethereal voice adding in the spacing between the piano.  It’s a slightly haunting ballad, but the chorus kind of shakes off the dust and adds drums which kind of took out the feeling I got from the verses.  Basically, the verses are amazing while the chorus is somewhat disappointing.

6. Fight Back

With such an aggressive title, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, but the song is actually an EDM track and strangely I hear both YUKA and Masaki singing together with this really interesting synth melody (and beat).  It’s a simple sounding track, but it’s mesmerizing…just a dreamy vocal melody mixed with electro…is interesting (plus that bridge) that was pretty cool and something I haven’t heard moumoon do.  Cool song overall!

7. cocoon

Seems the EDM continues onto cocoon which is set up to be a stronger club-friendly song and I’m enjoying that moumoon are finally trying new ideas for their songs.  It’s a really cool setting and hearing YUKA do some interesting things (like a speak/rap section and singing in a stronger tone through some parts).  I just found this track epic and sticks out on the album in a REALLY good way.

8. ICE CANDY

This seems really weird that the duo decided to include ICE CANDY (the only new song from their best album…of the same name).  It’s a lot like the stuff featured on that album (mostly takes ideas from “LOVE before we DIE”) with the kind of pop/rock mixed with synths and such.  I wasn’t a big fan of this song mostly because it kind of faded into the album which had some many similar songs.  On this album though, it seems strange to put it after “cocoon” but for some reason I’m able to recall it better here.  It’s a filler track though.

9. WATASHINOSUBETE

As the last new track, I was expecting a little more from a song titled in all caps and no spaces xD.  What we did end up with an acoustic ballad that made “Eclipse” sound stronger and more fulfilled.  YUKA’s voice is nice and the light backing instrumentation tries to lift the song from boredom, but I was just snoozing here.

10. BF

Interesting that they’d only include one B-side here and it’s from the A-side that closes the album.  I find its placement just a tad weird, especially after “WATASHINOSUBETE”, but I could’ve seen it towards the album or even more after “ICE CANDY”.  Sadly, while I did enjoy it on the single, I think it’s just forgetful here because there’s other good happy songs.

11. Hello, shooting-star

The album closes out with Hello, shooting-star and it’s lullaby-esque arrangement is really sweet and relaxing to listen to, but at this point I kind of lost interest in the album and this song had trouble picking me up as the final song.

12. It’s Our Time (English version)

I’m not sure why this was necessary when the song was 80% in English.  It’s the same arrangement and same lyrics except for those small parts where YUKA was singing in Japanese.  Though, I suppose it could be nice to have around for completionists.

Tracks Recommended

  • cocoon
  • Fight Back
  • I’m Scarlet
  • Never look back

Song of Avoidance

  • WATASHINOSUBETE

Ahhh, moumoon’s 6th album just turned out a lot like how I felt with “LOVE before we DIE”.  What I mean the great songs were basically the ones recommended, but the rest was kind of plain and just normal moumoon fare.  I was expecting a little better, but meh overall.

 

GACKT – Akatsuki Tsukiyo -DAY BREAKERS- August 18, 2015

Filed under: GACKT — solarblade @ 6:58 am

daybreakers

Track Listing

  1. Akatsuki Tsukiyo – DAY BREAKERS-
  2. Akatsuki Tsukiyo -DAY BREAKERS- (Orchestra Ver.)
  3. Akatsuki Tsukiyo -DAY BREAKERS- (-Instruments-)
  4. Akatsuki Tsukiyo -DAY BREAKERS- (Orchestra Ver. -Instruments-)

1. Akatsuki Tsukiyo -DAY BREAKERS-

Man GACKT sure knows how to do ballads huh?  Yup, DAY BREAKERS is a rather haunting ballad with a powerful rock chorus and GACKT sounds just so good here.  While there’s a lot of songs that he’s been pulling off in a similar light, this one stuck out for me in the best ways.  There’s a lot of things that are similar to “Setsugekka” and “ZAN”.  I think it actually might tie-in with the songs due to how similar the art covers are in some ways too.  Very cool song and very dramatic too!

2. Akatsuki Tsukiyo -DAY BREAKERS- (Orchestra Ver.)

Well if you can observe then yes, the song’s arrangement changed dramatically and instead of the powerful rock elements of the original, it has a STRONG orchestral backing and it made the song even more dramatic and powerful (especially the way the song ebbs and flows between verses and chorus).  Even GACKT sounds a lot more powerful too…wow!

So GACKT managed to release another single in 2014 (where’s that album?) and DAY BREAKERS is a pretty strong single despite being the lone track with no actual B-side.  The main version is powerful and sits with some of the more grand ballads he’s done.  I still thin the orchestral version is much better though.  Can’t wait to see what’s next.

 

Shoko Nakagawa – Dori Dori

Filed under: Shoko Nakagawa — solarblade @ 6:41 am

doridori

Track Listing

  1. Dori Dori
  2. Candy Girl (Regular & Limited only)
  3. KISEKI (Pokémon Edition only)
  4. Dori Dori -Instrumental-
  5. Candy Girl -Instrumental-
  6. KISEKI -Instrumental-

1. Dori Dori

Well, it’s been a while since we’ve got a strong upbeat song from Shokotan and Dori Dori is a pretty good tune to show off Shoko’s energetic pop/rock side.  It does have a cuter spark to it and Shoko’s voice is up in the squeakier range.  It’s a catchy tune and I kind of enjoy this side of her music a lot more than past singles.

2. Candy Girl

The main versions of the single comes with Candy Girl which unsurprisingly caked on the cuteness by a good 50%.  It’s kind of hokey and somewhat bouncy and very poppy.  I do like how refreshing it sounds though and Shokotan sounds a bit better here as she isn’t trying as hard on her vocals.  I kind of liked it more than “Dori Dori”.

3. KISEKI

At first I didn’t recognize the melody, but after listening to it a bit over and over, KISEKI is actually the ending theme for Pokémon X/Y!  Though if you didn’t know it’s a kind of happy ballad for Shokotan and she does ballads quite well (especially in recent times).  Not a bad song overall and is probably my favorite here.

Shokotan has slowed down a bit it seems in releases and Dori Dori was the kind of last thing she released (well she does have a collaboration single, but I’m more than likely now reviewing that).  This single is actually quite nice altogether.  Dori Dori is cute and upbeat and rockin’ while Candy Girl was sugary goodness and then there’s the nice ballad in KISEKI to close things off…good single, but I do miss her!

 

KARA – Girl’s Story

Filed under: KARA — solarblade @ 5:06 am

girlsstory

Track Listing

  1. Mamma Mia!
  2. Summer☆gic
  3. Sunshine Miracle
  4. Love Click
  5. N.E.V.E.R.L.A.N.D.
  6. So Good
  7. Kiss Kiss Kiss
  8. Last Summer
  9. SUNNY DAYS
  10. Fanfare
  11. Forever Love

1. Mamma Mia!

I am definitely not surprised that the album would open with the first A-side released for the album (which was also the first single with their new member Young Ji after Nicole and Ji Young had left).  Honestly, with their string of awesome dance tracks, Mamma Mia! really suited their sound and I personally prefer the JPN version of the KOR just because the lyrics have a LOT more snap to it!  It’s just a happy and dance-friendly song and just kept me dancing all year!  Awesome song!

2. Summer☆gic

Then came the other single after “Mamma Mia!” and I wasn’t sure what to think because KARA and summer singles are just a given at this point.  I still think of all of them, it is the weak link of them, but it’s mostly because the chorus is kind of forgettable and cute KARA isn’t a style I’m too into so it just kind of fell to the wayside.

3. Sunshine Miracle

I just wished the summer songs would have split apart more because we get Sunshine Miracle once again after “Summer☆gic” and it still kind of falls flat too. On the single, this song was pretty decent and has a cute beach vibe going for it, but maybe it’s a little too formulaic for me so it just kind of goes by with not much of a strong opinion.

4. Love Click

At least we get a new song right?  Love Click moves the group away from the summer vibes and gives us another dance track to jam to.  I actually was surprised it didn’t come after “Mamma Mia!” because it would’ve just made sense.  Funny enough, I can get behind the cuteness here and the arrangement has just a cool vibe to it (especially the verses).  Fun song!

5. N.E.V.E.R.L.A.N.D.

As the album’s shortest song (not even making 3 minutes), this one begins with an interesting string/piano intro, but turns quickly into another quirky pop track from the group and they included a catchy phrase with ~let’s go to neverland~ and keeps up this girly and flirty vibe which is pretty awesome!  I still am a little confused by the classical motif in the beginning and end, but for how short it is, it’s quite good!

6. So Good

I had totally forgot this was the B-side for “Mamma Mia!” (and also a self-cover).  I think things were changing up for the group because this had more of a jazzy vibe to it with the brass and throwback kind of vibe which slightly reminded me of Girls’ Generation’s music half the time.  It’s a decent song and sticks out because of it’s heavy jazz style.

7. Kiss Kiss Kiss

I guess it makes sense that :So Good” came before because this song elans more towards funk music with the guitar licks and smokier vocals coming from the quartet.  Actually it really has this cool throwback style that a lot of K-pop groups are delving in.  It’s pretty catchy, maybe not quite as much as “So Good, but it’s rather decent for a funk tune.

8. Last Summer

Then we get Last Summer and I’m rather cringing that we have 4 summer-themed songs involved on the album.  Though like “SUNNY DAYS” it sets itself on this mid-tempo sot song which really bums me because Last Summer is just a carbon copy of it.  The vocals are still quite pleasant though, but the tune just really doesn’t go anywhere (actually it makes the aforementioned track stand out better because of how stripped yet similar of a song this is).  Meh song.

9. SUNNY DAYS

That being said this song coming right after just made it that more obvious that this was the better song and ironically was the best A-side of the single it came from.  It still is a pretty decent summer song though and it has a lot of interesting elements to it.  I only compare it to “Last Summer” because it does have lighter moments, but it has a bit more oomph to it (plus that descending sparkly sound is cool~).  Decent song!

10. Fanfare

Seems like the album was supposed to end with Fanfare so I was just expecting something grand.  I suppose it does feel like an ending track, but the tune kind of just seems weird to close the album because there’s guitars and some piano too.  As time moves on I’m just plain bored of the song and nothing really stands out, not even the girls can keep this song afloat.

11. Forever Love

Though what actually ends the album is a cover of an older K-pop group’s track.  While I never heard of Fin.K.L, I was curious to see how KARA was doing this song justice.  With a timpani opening the song, this definitely felt more like a fanfare-like ending.  Then it becomes a heavily-synthed up dance track.  Forever Love is quite nice and sounds like something from their debut album (in Japan).  Overall, good song and a better track to end the album with.

Tracks Recommended

  • Mamma Mia!
  • Forever Love
  • N.E.V.E.R.L.A.N.D.
  • Love Click
  • So Good

Song of Avoidance

  • Fanfare

Boy has KARA had a difficult year.  I mean it’s hard to lose 2 members after such a long run together and then having to deal with a new member who won through an audition.  Girl’s Story is the first with this 4-nin and it was decent.  I kind of wish they had an album where it was nothing but hard dance songs, but that’s just me.  There were a couple disappointing songs but for the most part it’s a solid release!

 

FLOW – Niji no Sora

Filed under: FLOW — solarblade @ 3:45 am

nijinosora

Track Listing

  1. Niji no Sora
  2. Hikari Oikakete
  3. connection
  4. Hikari Oikakete feat. Koudai Matsuoka (Reg & Lim only)
  5. FLOW NARUTO OP・ED SIZE Special Collection (Anime edition only)
  6. Niji no Sora -Instrumental-
  7. Niji no Sora -TV SIZE-

1. Niji no Sora

Hm?  A piano that opens with KOHSHI…couldn’t have expected that at all.  As another song that’s tied to the NARUTO series, Niji no Sora actually is another knock out of the park with it’s solid sound and both members really brought their A-game with this one.  For some reason, it does remind me of other songs they’ve done, but that’s always a good thing and the addition of synths really packed nice punch to an already cool track!  Great A-side!

2. Hikari Oikakete

As the first B-side (and the one that has the most attention on the single for some reason), Hikari Oikakete might not be as memorable to me as “Niji no Sora” was, it definitely is a good B-side for the band as it’s a little more like an anime theme (strange :0).  Not bad, but fulfilling as a track.

3. connection

Are we going back to something from “MICROCOSM” because the intro really had me getting strong vibes of that album here and to be honest, I’m ALL FOR IT!  Of the three songs, connection is the hardest hitting track of the single, but looking at how long it is and listening to it…it’s an instrumental track from them and that slightly disappoints me because this would’ve been an EPIC song had it had KOHSHI and KEIGO involved here.

4. Hikari Oikakete feat. Koudai Matsuoka

So the voice of Naruto Uzumaki makes his appearance in the B-side of the single?  OK.  I was surprised though the track itself is actually a minute shorter than the main version.  The tune is still mostly the same thing at least so it’s passable.  To be honest I have no idea where Koudai is in the song (maybe in the final run of the chorus) but this was seriously unneeded…

5. FLOW NARUTO OP・EP SIZE Special Collection

Basically it’s a medley of the short versions of all the songs tied to NARUTO, which would’ve been nice if we hadn’t gotten a thing like this already a couple other times “Sign” and “FLOW ANIME BEST” being that however it does include Niji no Sora so I suppose it’s up to current times at least…strange though

As the first single of a new era, Niji no Sora is OK.  I mean the leading song is pretty awesome for sure and ranks up there with their other epic songs.  It’s just that the rest of the single came slightly short to its A-side.  Hikari Oikakete is pretty OK of a song, but definitely nothing that FLOW hasn’t done already, but the featuring was so unneeded.  connection would’ve been great if it had vocals in it and I can’t say much for a medley of FLOW’s songs for the NARUTO franchise.  It’s nice overall, but could’ve been better.

 

Mami Kawada – Gardens

Filed under: Mami Kawada — solarblade @ 3:15 am

gardens

Track Listing

  1. Gardens
  2. ∃UTOPIA?
  3. Gardens (instrumental)
  4. ∃UTOPIA? (instrumental)

1. Gardens

For a title as such, Gardens is a lighter song for Mami which we haven’t heard in quite a while actually maybe a bit too long (Not sure when the last upbeat bright song she released was hahaha).  Add the bright and breezy anison synths flourishing through the song and you have this safe, but pleasant A-side!

2. ∃UTOPIA?

Which is the opposite of what we got with the B-side which Mami fans would connect with a little more easier because it sounds like a “SEED” and “SAVIA” trac with the dark electrorock arrangement.  I love the grittier sound and for some reason, Mami’s vocals sound more clear-cut and badass when the filtering is added on too!  It’s a pretty edgy song though and I enjoyed it!

With an album on the horizon, “PARABLEPSIA”, I was expecting to see this be the focus single for the album, but it turns out Gardens will not be on it and yet “Borderland” will is pretty strange (also “FIXED STAR” isn’t on the album too.  The single itself isn’t bad persay, but I think it ∃UTOPIA? had been the A-side, things would’ve been much better because Gardens is an odd song choice for an A-side for her.  Not bad, but a lil meh considering she’s been quiet for over a year.