Kurayami Monogatari

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Perfume – STAR TRAIN October 28, 2015

Filed under: Perfume — solarblade @ 1:14 am

startrain

Track Listing

  1. STAR TRAIN
  2. TOKIMEKI LIGHTS
  3. Imitation World (Limited only)
  4. STAR TRAIN -Original Instrumental-
  5. TOKIMEKI LIGHTS -Original Instrumental-
  6. Imitation World -Original Instrumental-

1. STAR TRAIN

With the leading song, I was expecting a slower song just from the title alone, and STAR TRAIN is a lot more natural sounding than I was expecting.  I mean acoustic guitar and piano being the front sounding instruments while the Nakata electronics take a bit of a step back.  Actually, I’m not sure why, but this reminds me of a fun. song (the band).  While I don’t think it’s a powerful A-side like “Cling Cling” and “Pick Me Up” were, it’s a nice sentimental track from the group and much needed.

2. TOKIMEKI LIGHTS

The main B-side, TOKIMEKI LIGHTS was the first song previewed from the single and some thought it was going to be used as the leading song of the tracklist.  On the first couple listens, TOKIMEKI LIGHTS has a VERY similar sound to various Kyarypamyupamyu songs due to the kind of cutesy beats and synth choices with a lot of piano lines.  While I’m not sure that the kind of familiarity to “Family Party” was necessary for Perfume to have, the song itself has a nice wondrous sound alongside an odd dubstep section too.  I think I might slightly prefer this over “STAR TRAIN” but it’s by a very small margin.

3. Imitation World

A small bit of history, Imitation World was a song that’s been known for a long time for Perfume fans, being performed as early around “Computer City’s” release though for some reason was forgotten (alongside “Counter Attraction”) due to some licensing issues.  Now it seems that this song is being revived from the dead!  Almost everything was redone to kind of keep it fresh and up-to-date.  Also the tempo was turned down a bit, but it seems like things are cute and feels like something from “Complete Best” or “GAME”.  Though the latter was due to the song having changed up the arrangement a bit.  It’s nice to see this song reemerge and all, but I think the energy of the original should have stayed the same.

 

 

As the 4th single for this era, I’m hoping Perfume is going to release an album next!  When it comes to STAR TRAIN, it’s OK, but nothing too amazing to drool over.  The leading song has a nice sentimental feel to it and while it does stand out better than other A-sides, it’s still not of the same energy from Perfume.  TOKIMEKI LIGHTS is better though, but it sounds like a rejected Kyary song but given that Perfume touch.  Imitation World is a nice idea to bring back, but I think the original arrangement suits it more.  Man, this era has been really ehhhh for me…I just hope they have something in store next.

 

°C-ute – Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~/Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight! October 26, 2015

Filed under: C-ute — solarblade @ 6:18 pm

arashiwookosunda

Track Listing

  1. Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~
  2. Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight!
  3. GamushaLIFE (Acoustic Ver.) (Vinyl only)
  4. Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~ (Instrumental)
  5. Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight! (Instrumental)
  6. GamushaLIFE (Acoustic Ver.) (Instrumental)

1. Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~

As the leading song of the single, Arigatou was used as Japan’s Wrestling Hymn and so it’s no surprise to me that it’s the ballad of the single as well.  Unfortunately, due to that, I already find myself thinking it’s a little much like “Kono Machi” with it’s plain melody and simple instrumentation.  I do like the solos from the girls (especially from our three usual suspects) but this isn’t new to anyone hah.  I will say, it’s been a little while since we’ve gotten a ballad, but this one kind of fell to the wayside for me.

2. Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight!

The other tune is the fight song for the sport and it’s a definite 180 from “Arigatou ~Mugen no Yell~” which is great!  The track is pretty much a rock song for the group and honestly, I’m enjoying this change of pace and genres for the group and this is another example of powerful vocals with an equally powerful arrangement.  They just seemed to match up together and the members sound more exciting (cue the puns).  Great song!

3. GamushaLIFE (Acoustic ver.)

So on the vinyl versions of the single (which came out a month after the single’s initial release), it came with a bonus track in the form of an acoustic take of one of their A-sides of the previous single.  That being said, the original wasn’t really the favorite of the single, but I knew how important the song was for the group.  This new take does give a lighter arrangement, but I was hoping for the song to be resung which it wasn’t so ultimately it came off a bit lazy and unnecessary to purchase just for this.

°C-ute to me seems to have been on the backburner once again this year when it comes to Hello! Project, but they finally release their 2nd single of the year.  Arigatou is kind of forgetful in the long run and it’s hard to remember the melody (even “Kono Machi” had a recognizable melody, though it was a cover).  Arashi wo Okosunda Exciting Fight! was the better song by a long shot because of its hard rock sound and powerful vocals and the bonus track was only for completionists and huge fans as the song didn’t really impress or transform it much.  With their 9th studio album set to release in December, I really wonder what singles will be on it (15 A-sides that have released since “⑧ Queen of J-POP”, I wonder if it’ll be like Juice=Juice’s first album if that’s the case.

 

Tommy february6 / Tommy heavenly6 – Tommy’s Halloween Fairy tale October 24, 2015

Filed under: Tommy february6,Tommy heavenly6 — solarblade @ 1:45 am

tommyhallowen

Track Listing

  1. Tommy’s Halloween Fairy tale (OPENING)
  2. LIVING DEAD DINER GIRLS
  3. The Sparkling Candy Man†
  4. Follow the White Rabbit! (INSTRUMENTAL)
  5. LITTLE RED FOREST
  6. Frozen Raspberry Snow

1. Tommy’s Halloween Fairy tale (OPENING)

Ahhh, of course being Tomoko’s next holiday themed release (once again tackling Halloween), the introduction to this mini-album is pretty dark and sinister and quite fitting to certain past songs that Tomoko has done.  With a loud orchestral blast alongside some darker settings and a storm at the ending.  It does lead into our next track quite smoothly so this worked as an introduction.

2. LIVING DEAD DINER GIRLS

What’s different on this release is that february & heavenly have one solo to themselves and two songs where they’re technically together (considering it’s the same singer, it’s a bit strange right?).  Tackling heavenly’s solo track, it sounds like what we’ve come to known from Tomoko’s more punk rock-oriented side.  It’s a strong track and it reminds me of her songs of recent (a bit like “I’M YOUR DEVIL” actually) but it’s a solid track and Tomoko still sounds good even hitting these really cool areas.

3. The Sparkling Candy Man†

The first of the “duet” songs, The Sparkling Candy Man† actually takes up the holiday feel quite literally and it reminds me of something Willy Wonka with the whole setting and it doesn’t help that there’s a guy speaking behind Tomoko’s singing here so it’s really suiting the situation.  About Tomoko, her voice does sound a little more upbeat and girly like something february, which begs the question of where’s heavenly in this song because it’s credited to both.  When the guy takes up the front, he sounds like he’s having fun and sounds crazy and evil too lol!  It’s a totally bizarre song, but I’m quite invested in this and plays up Tomoko’s fascination of Halloween WAY better than the last time!, sorry “NEVER ENDING PARTY NIGHT”…

4. Follow the White Rabbit! (INSTRUMENTAL)

Following up the last track, the Willy Wonka-ish guy takes up the interlude by offering some candy while walking to a tea party, but things take a trippy road as the voice starts getting warped and strange while a clock ticking continues until it abruptly stops and our next track plays.

5. LITTLE RED FOREST

We enter february’s solo song and it definitely takes me back to that 80s vibe but has a cooler scary vibe which is an awesome change of pace.  Actually listening to this song, REALLY reminds me of stuff from her first two albums and I’ve missed this so much so I immediately started to love this song.  Even with the new tricks with the arrangement, it doesn’t make the song forgetful to me.  Where has she been hiding this because this is sooooo good!

6. Frozen Raspberry Snow

Ending the mini, it sounds like we’ve wrapped to Christmas for some reason and while this is another song credited to both monikers, this ballad is really interesting, but really pleasant for some reason.  Tomoko’s voice is actually under some heavy echo filters and sounds really old-fashioned while the arrangement keeps this nice joyful tone that kind of relaxes me.  It’s an interesting song in Tomoko’s arsenal and I kind of dug it!  Really cool!

Wow!  I was wondering if Tomoko just gave up after the whole mess that was “HALLOWEEN ADDICTION”, but with the albums she released after that, it gave me hope that she could still release quality songs and she did with flying colors with this Halloween mini-album (though Frozen Raspberry Kiss, is moreso a Christmas song than anything else).  Disregarding the intro and interlude, this is 4 awesome songs that Tomoko pulled off and really made me fall in love again…definitely *RECOMMENDED*

 

TEMPURA KIDZ – Tenkomori October 20, 2015

Filed under: TEMPURA KIDZ — solarblade @ 8:15 pm

tenkomori

Track Listing

  1. CIDER CIDER
  2. Happy Natsu Matsuri
  3. LOLLiPOP
  4. Suki da Suki da Daisuki da
  5. Donna Toki mo.
  6. Tabecha Itai no
  7. Suki Suki! TEMPURA KIDZ
  8. Miira Killer
  9. ONE STEP
  10. Mask Mask
  11. Acchi, Kocchi, Socchi.

1. CIDER CIDER

Finally!  While “ONE STEP” might be their debut A-side, CIDER CIDER was the first song done by the group (even had a PV to go along with it).  Opening up with opening a cider can and pouring it in a glass (seems like that’s a thing whenever a song has the word cider in it).  I love the arrangement though as it’s bouncy and fun to rock your head, but the distracting vocals which were HEAVILY computerized and were really robotic and sort of difficult to tell what they were saying (think Alvin & the Chipmunks but more gritty).  It’s grown on me and having a good clear version helps too!

2. Happy Natsu Matsuri

Moving to their 2nd single, Happy Natsu Matsuri definitely sounded like a hyperactive matsuri song which fits the group.  Like “CIDER CIDER”, the arrangement pulled me in quite nicely!  It does definitely make me think of Kyarypamyupamyu (the group and Kyary have worked together before).  The chorus is a bit safe, but it’s quite cute and catchy.  Also you can really tell the difference on the work done to their vocals versus the previous track, that’s for sure!

3. LOLLiPOP

Then moving to their 3rd single, LOLLiPOP was quite recent and hearing this is actually nice and ironically shows the least amount of auto-tune/filters on their vocals and they sound pretty decent as a group and can handle a tune naturally.  A lot of this song is based around repetition around the title (especially the chorus where it’s incessant).  They even throw a pseudo-rap/dubstep section which threw me off ahaha.  It’s definitely grown on me like “Happy Natsu Matsuri” but it still does overstay its welcome after repeated listens.

4. Suki da Suki da Daisuki da!

I thought they were going to slow down for the next track (our first new song!).  It does slow things down after “LOLLiPOP”, but it’s still upbeat and poppy.  I’m liking the group singing together here along with some electronic influences on their vocals.  I actually love this sound of this track and the bright vocals and innocent feel it has just caught my attention…definitely a good song early on!

5. Donna Toki mo.

I’m surprised they didn’t include the other B-side, “Strobe” on this album hmmm.  As the B-side from “Happy Natsu Matsuri” we were given something that was more familiar in their early times.  Like “Suki da Suki da Daisuki da!”, it’s upbeat and bright, but this was treated a little more EDM-like due to the group’s vocals being under filters and such.  I do like the song though, despite not having a strong hook to it.

6. Tabecha Itai no

Funny enough, this song was the group’s lone digital single so it was my first time listening to this one.  Starting off with drums, Tabecha Itai no ends up turning into this kind of electronic and cartoonish kind of track.  It’s really difficult to really tell what’s going on vocally, I kind of dug it and fits nicely after “Donna Toki mo.” with a kind of airy-ish arrangement.  Though the there’s some interesting dubsteppish parts too…kind of distracting but humorous in its own right.  Weird song!

7. Suki Suki! TEMPURA KIDZ

The opening of our next new track is pretty unique and I thought it was cool!  Actually the song in its entirely is quite unlike what they’ve released because the tune sounds shuffled and all the members get solo lines which is unheard of yet from the group.  It’s rather catchy and silly for sure, but suits the group almost perfectly…wow!

8. Miira Killer

Next up is the B-side from “LOLLiPOP” and was the group’s collaboration with Charisma.com, Miira Killer was an unusual song but it definitely fits this album with all the other bunches of randomness that’s happening.  I love the arrangement mixing with the EDM and punk vibes to give this cool song.  While I don’t think the group is featured as much as the duo were, it’s still a decent track and one of the standouts.

9. ONE STEP

As the group’s debut A-side, ONE STEP on this album does seem a bit weird because of its straightforwardness and overly synthed vocals like “CIDER CIDER”, but I still think this was a pretty awesome song (the choreography in the PV was extremely impressive for youngsters).  It’s still a good sparkly dance track and has a bit of character within it…plus it was the first TK song I heard sooooo.

10. Mask Mask

Then we jump to one of the two promotional songs (the other was “Suki Suki! TEMPURA KIDZ”).  Instantly, the chord progression reminded me a LOT of “ONE STEP” but the synths are a bit more gritty.  There’s nothing wrong though, but this song is pretty cool too and it flips from filters and natural voices.  I do think the main girl singing in this song has a thin voice, but I kind of enjoyed here.

11. Acchi, Kocchi, Socchi.

The album closes off with Acchi, Kocchi, Socchi. and it begins with marching drums and a regal opening.  Though once the group starts singing, the tune becomes rather young sounding and the synths and EDM kicks things into a cutesy gear.  Once again it seems solos are handed out, but after a while the song’s overly sugary sound kind of turns me off lol.  Meh song!

Tracks Recommended

  • ONE STEP
  • Suki da Suki da Daisuki da!
  • LOLLiPOP
  • Miira Killer
  • Mask Mask

Song of Avoidance

  • Acchi, Kocchi, Socchi.

Getting into the group’s first album, I was wondering if they were going to do good and for the most part, Tenkomori was a pretty good album!  A lot of fun songs to be had and while the group aren’t amazing singers, they did just fine and was surprised that they let up on the filtering and auto-tuning when compared with their early releases.  I’d say I hope they continue strong because this album was decent!

 

You Kikkawa – YOU the 3rd. ~WILDFLOWER~

Filed under: You Kikkawa — solarblade @ 6:42 pm

youthe3rd

Track Listing

  1. URAHARA Temptation
  2. Akane Disco
  3. “Suki” no Kazoekata
  4. Amai Melody
  5. Planetarium
  6. Ii jan
  7. Konna Aishicha
  8. Hana
  9. WILDSTRAWBERRY
  10. Stairways

1. URAHARA Temptation

Dang, what a way to open up Yuu’s 3rd album!  I’ve already boasted enough on how much I love this song because it really shows off a stronger sound for Kikka as well as giving us hard-hitting dance track.  I guess the things that I didn’t care for too much are the opening (with footsteps and a door shutting, but that’s more fitting to the PV) and the weird rapping section (Yuu’s vocals seem a bit too girly to tackle that lol).  Beyond that, the song is a club-banger and might be my favorite song (even topping “Konna Watashi de Yokattara”).  Great way to kick things off!

2. Akane Disco

Our next track is the first of the new songs and with the opening I was curious to what it’d be like because of its light opening but it seems like Akane Disco is a quick-paced funk/disco-ish song which is something she hasn’t pulled off quite yet.  I like the speed and Yuu’s vocals are pretty solid and she kept up with the pace of the tempo.  I will say it’s a lot more cuter than I expected, but it’s rather catchy!

3. “Suki” no Kazoekata

Moving to the 2nd single she released prior to the album, this was the secondary A-side and while I wasn’t surprised this was placed as such (as both leading A-side of the doubles were of her more electronic side.  “Suki” no Kazoekata is rather cute just like the previous song, but lacks the punch of the latter.  I do like the dance beats mixing up with acoustic guitar for sure and Yuu’s bright energy gives a lot to the song, still better than the next track albeit not by a whole lot.

4. Amai Melody

Seeing as this was our electro song given to us for her second single, Amai Melody starts off slowly with piano and Yuu’s light vocals before it starts to gradually pick the pace up and gets a lot more forceful.  There’s some really good parts though and it really makes the song pop out from the other dance tracks, though I do still think it’s lacking something about it but I can’t put a finger on it.

5. Planetarium

Things slow down even further when our next album track pops up.  I was surprised how bareboned of a song it is to kind of thrown in the middle of the album.  What I mean is that the song is an acoustic guitar-led ballad which might come to a surprise to many as she’s been just releasing busy arranged songs.  The simplicity of the song might not be for many, but it’s a nice and laidback tune with no tricks up its sleeves.

6. Ii jan

“Planetarium” makes it even stranger because Ii jan comes right after with its pop/rock cuteness.  Like I’ve said on the single review, this song feels like a leftover from “Two YOU” with the emphasis on the guitarwork.  I’m still not too keen on this song due to Yuu’s choice of singing here and I’m thrown off with how weird it is on the album.  My least favorite amongst the A-side (if we aren’t counting “Hana’s” movements separately).

7. Konna Aishicha

The next new track, Konna Aishicha is another ballad (the flow of this album right now…) sounds a bit more up to date with the sound by having a mixture of guitar and piano and some underlying synths.  I also feel like Yuu sung this track a little better which stuck to me a little more but I get this feeling it reminds me of something from “One for YOU!”.  Not bad overall!

8. Hana

I’m still surprised that Hana wasn’t split into three songs for the album (because honestly I would’ve loved a separate version of Cosmos e no Inori).  I do love the opening for the track before it leads into Hinegeshi no You ni but this section (or first song) is really in your face and leads to really random sections.  I mean the upbeat, percussion-heavy start is fun and sounds like Kikka is having fun and all.  Then the whole “Bohemian Rhapsody” area was humorous and I thought Kikka had fun there, but it’s shortlived because we move back into the upbeat stuff.  To really know when the song changes it’s preceded by spoken dialogue from Kikka (and it really ties the whole ~flower~ thing here).  I still think Anemone no ne is the weakest part of this song because it focuses on a ballad and technically is a Xmas song lyrically.  I don’t think it really suited things in the big picture and while Kikka sung this pretty well, I wasn’t into this one (it’s like the piano take of “Planetarium”).  After that bit of boredom, we get more exposition and we’re led to Cosmos e no Inori and of the three tracks featured, I was loving this one due to the familiar electronic beats, good voice, and strong chorus.  Throwing in acoustic guitar also made it stick out amongst the other dance track and like “URAHARA Temptation”, it’s a banger totally!  Overall, this 17 and a half minute journey was OK overall, like I said, it’d be better if Yuu had just split the song into three because I can never sit through that ballad middle.

9. WILDSTRAWBERRY

Moving to the promotional track on the album, with a title like that I was expecting something cute, but damn I was wrong.  With a marching drum intro, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but hearing Yuu building the song up until the beat kicks in, I was an IMMEDIATE fan of this song.  Fitting smoothly next to “URAHARA Temptation” and “Cosmos e no Inori” with its heavier EDM sound, it just kicked ass and Yuu knew this was a good trump card!  Definitely my favorite amongst the new tracks and might fight with “URAHARA Temptation” as favorite Kikka song!!!

10. Stairways

Ending the album, Stairways sounds like something H!P would’ve done for some reason with it’s upbeat, bright nature.  It’s basically “Ii jan” with piano included which might be good for fans that enjoyed that song.  I could see this as a last track because of certain chords in the chorus and I kind of liked it a lot.  Though I think one of the ballads would’ve worked too lol.

Tracks Recommended

  • WILDSTRAWBERRY
  • URAHARA Temptation
  • Cosmos e no Inori (from Hana)
  • Akane Disco
  • Konna Aishicha

Song of Avoidance

  • Planetarium

It’s been a while since Kikka released an album and her 3rd album is definitely her best yet!  I don’t know what happened when “Two YOU” released but a lot of that EDM back then didn’t work for me and the album had some boring songs.  Luckily with YOU the 3rd. ~WILDFLOWER~ the EDM is amazing and really suits her perfectly!  The new songs on this one were good for the most part, but Planetarium didn’t fit at all and Hana should’ve been split (12 songs wouldn’t hurt would it?).  Still a surprisingly well done album!

 

GACKT – ARROW October 16, 2015

Filed under: GACKT — solarblade @ 3:24 am

arrow

Track Listing

  1. ARROW
  2. ARROW (Orchestra ver.)
  3. ARROW -Instrumental-
  4. ARROW (Orchestra ver.) -Insrtrumental-

1. ARROW

While it hasn’t been too long since we’ve heard a rock mid-tempo track from GACKT, I feel like ARROW did a pretty good job at standing out amongst his collection of songs of the same calibur.  I do like the heavier metal sound though with more emphasis from the percussionist this time around.  I do feel like the song could’ve been released back in the mid-2000s but that’s alright because it changes from the overly dramatic songs he’s been putting out.  Very good song overall and might be my favorite of the A-sides he’s released since “RE:BORN”.

2. ARROW (Orchestra ver.)

For the fans that do enjoy the more recent dramatic takings GACKT has been pulling off, the orchestrated version of ARROW might be just for you!  I really like the atmosphere and arrangement out of this version as it’s so grandiose and well, sounds very Kingdom Hearts-like that it caught my attention quickly.  GACKT’s voice though sounds good and has a lot of character in it for sure!

A year after his last single, “Akatsuki Tsukiyo -DAY BREAKERS-“, ARROW comes in and surprisingly impresses me both ways.  ARROW itself is a good rock track and really shows a more darker side to GACKT’s music while its orchestrated version shows a more dramatic battle-like side (which songs like “ZAN” and the aforementioned single share).  With album on the way in 2016 (FINALLY), I think ARROW closed this era off nicely even if it took 12 singles to get there and Koda Kumi did this in a MUCH shorter time range….damnit GACKT!