Kurayami Monogatari

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NEXT YOU / Juice=Juice – Next is you!/Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai January 28, 2016

Filed under: Juice=Juice — solarblade @ 3:55 am

nextisyou

Track Listing

  1. Next is you!
  2. Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai
  3. Next is you! (Instrumental)
  4. Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai (Instrumental)

1. Next is you!

As the leading song and currently being used for the group’s TV drama, Budokan.  Next is you! seems to be like the theme song.  It does seem like Tsunku was involved in the song which is pretty familiar to my ears and seems typical.  As per usual, Karin, Tomoko, and Sayuki seem to lead the song which is pretty much the norm for the group.  Though I can’t help but think it’s a bit weak for the group coming after their last single and the promotional tracks from their album.

2. Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai

As the other song credited to Juice=Juice, I definitely was enjoying this song despite that it almost sounds a LOT like “Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru” with the brass and guitars.  Unlike the other A-side, this has some interesting levels of vocals and we see a lot more of Aarii in the song.  I think it’s one of the weaker A-sides, but it’s definitely got some magic in it.

 

 

So to explain, NEXT YOU is basically Juice=Juice as they are portrayed on their show Budokan (funny though that Erina Mano is playing the 6th member that leaves shortly after formation).  Moving on, after having almost a year without a single released by the group (though did release their first album), their first single in 2016 is kind of average at best.  Neither song really stuck out to me in anyway, except the possibility of Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai being somewhat catchy in arrangement.  Not sure what the year will have for the group, but here’s hoping for them to be a little more active.

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Mami Kawada – Contrail ~Kiseki~

Filed under: Mami Kawada — solarblade @ 3:35 am

contrail

Track Listing

  1. Contrail ~Kiseki~
  2. Halfway
  3. Contrail ~Kiseki~ (Instrumental)
  4. Halfway (Instrumental)

1. Contrail ~Kiseki~

I have to say I’m surprised with Mami’s recent switch of styles and I’m not sure if I quite like it a whole ton.  Unlike the past where she’d put out something electronic or something rockin’ and dark, Contrail seems to follow the path that her last A-side, “Gardens” by having a more standard anison which bores me quite a lot in these days.  I do like that it has more synths and beats over said song, but I still don’t feel like it really stands out amongst her past endeavors.

2. Halfway

I was a little more curious to see what would come out of Halfway, but it’s really more of the same if not a little slower than the leading track.  I’m not sure what was going on with this song, but I feel like it was just a clone and there’s nothing much to really catch on with it.

 

 

I wonder what’s going on with Mami and her recent slump in A-sides because this is the single A-side that I didn’t care for at all (yet, her album between these two singles was her best so far???).  Yeah, while “Gardens” survived through its B-side, neither tracks from Contrail did much of anything for me.  How unfortunate!  Though, one of my readers mentioned that she’s retiring in with a last performance in May, if this is her final single, then this was a pretty mediocre way to say goodbye IMO.

 

 

4TE – Leave A Message January 26, 2016

Filed under: 4TE — solarblade @ 6:27 am

leaveamessage

Track Listing

  1. Leave A Message

1. Leave A Message

Wow, what a shift of style when it comes to their 3rd song, Leave a Message.  It’s definitely taking a different ride by having a mix of this funky 80’s vibe with its bass and the flow has a certain K-pop meets J-pop meets club banger!  I think the mix is pretty damn classy and just shines a new light to the group.  I have to say though Jenny’s rap is just bangin’ and is a VERY edgy and sassy rap at that (which is not something that’s done as well as this in other J-pop groups).  I also liked Chii’s addition too (she’s kind of reminding me of Rika Ishikawa of former Morning Musume fame, from the cute, innocent, but sharp attitude, though she has a much better tone overall).  I did notice Mei in the bridge and Micchi towards the end which is great as they show some nice line distribution as well!  Great song and a nice departure from the last single.

 

 

As the groups 2nd single, Leave A Message like I said is a total departure from their debut, by being edgier, sassier, and just taking names!  I was surprised of the switch of sound, but I think it shows variety in a group and this means 4TE can really handle a good portion of styles.  The tune is just a true club-banger and their producer,  PromWolf is probably someone I should follow as this song is just really good musically!

 

4TE – M O R E/Ippo Zutsu

Filed under: 4TE — solarblade @ 5:59 am

more

Track Listing

  1. M O R E
  2. Ippo Zutsu
  3. M O R E (Instrumental)
  4. Ippo Zutsu (Instrumental)

1. M O R E

Opening quietly with a lovely solo from Mei, I wasn’t expecting the track to move from a slow start to a nicely paced electropop sound in amongst the veins of D-topia (well was D-topia) and a little bit of Perfume, FEMM and even FAKY.  I really found myself mesmerized by the arrangement and even the quartet managed to pull me into their world with a cool, but sensual sound too.  Could I say that Chii’s little sung monologue was just awesome and fits the tune like a glove!  I do find that Mei, Micchi, and Jenny also brought a nice overall sound.  Overall, it’s a pretty catchy song and I was surprised at how together they feel as a group at debut!

2. Ippo Zutsu

With the other A-side, Ippo Zutsu has more of a floaty arrangement that definitely sounds a bit more familiar towards like Yun*chi and some of the indies acts that I follow, but that’s alright with me!  Vocally, it’s a bit safe including those auto-tune/filters which usually only fit these electropop songs, but I think it gives the song a more cuter vibe as oppose to “M O R E’s” more dance style.  I do notice there’s a lot of Mei in the song and Jenny/Micchi having secondary here, but the auto-tune makes it slightly difficult, but at least they’re doing melodies to seperate the two so it really makes a lot of sense otherwise.  Fun and dreamy tune here!

 

 

As the group’s debut, I was surprised to see that the group while 4-members strong are actually far apart as Mei lives in California while the other 3 live in Texas.  I wouldn’t have known that if it wasn’t for the PVs for these songs (especially M O R E).  The single itself is actually really pleasant, while treading on the current sounds of technopop, it’s still something I always welcome!  I can definitely see myself just tapping my toes or nodding my head listening to both.  Can’t wait to see what’s next for the group!

 

SAWA – Odore Balcony January 25, 2016

Filed under: SAWA — solarblade @ 6:23 am

odorebalcony

Track Listing

  1. Tatakae Balcony
  2. Odore Balcony
  3. Juliet no Paradox (SAWA Sakushi ver.)
  4. Oishikute Kyoumi Motteru by Idol Renaissance
  5. Chinese wa Totsuzen ni
  6. LastSnowFlakes -Album ver.-
  7. Gizagiza na KOTO to Sasaki Kissa
  8. Gizagiza no Lonely Night
  9. Tamashii

1. Tatakae Balcony

Interesting way to open the mini-album with some computer clicking and then some cybernetic melody to kind of introduce us to the album.  After a little bit the song adds some clapping beats and SAWA doing some ad-libbing?  I’m not entirely sure, but the song is quite a shift after stuff from her last mini.

2. Odore Balcony

Though I wasn’t exactly liking the fade-away at the end of the introduction because Odore Balcony felt a little weird that it shifted from the intro to this tune.  I do like the addition of guitars (mixed with the electronics) and the song is much more progressive than previous lead-in songs of recent times.  SAWA still does sound nasal here and there, but I think it won’t be fixed anytime soon.  I think I’m enjoying this the most since her departure from DefSTAR.

3. Juliet no Paradox (SAWA Sakushi ver.)

I found it amusing that SAWA would actually cover a Yufu Terashima song of recent times (if the name looks familiar, Yufu was a member of BiS a couple years back before their disbandment).  With this song being a really recent song to cover (early 2015), SAWA’s vocals versus Yufu’s is a BIG difference and that’s kind of why I wasn’t too much into this take.  What I will say, I do like the pop/rock feel of the tune, but SAWA’s vocals blocked the enjoyment.  Time to move on!

4. Oishikute Kyoumi Motteru by Idol Renaissance

Now like previous mini-albums it seems SAWA has gotten into throwing in some odd interludes and I feel like this one takes the cake currently.  Another 50 second track, all we have is the idol group, Idol Renaissance introducing themselves and just having an MC.  I’m not sure of the importance of this on the mini-album (did SAWA do the music?)…

5. Chinese wa Totsuzen ni

Weird it’d take so long for this mini-album to release because this song was released back in May of last year!  I thought it was going to be full of Chinese sounds and such, but the tone is a poppy, funky, and somewhat goofy track (like “Ai ni Iku yo”).  It’s a nice reminder of things of the past for sure and the happy-go-lucky arrangement is just pleasant to the ears.  Very interesting song!

6. LastSnowFlakes -Album ver.-

I suppose this is the oldest track off the mini as it was released back in February ’15.  While I’m not entirely sure of the differences between the two versions.  Personally, I think the arrangement is smoothed out more and some new synths added, but really I feel like those are nice changes.  The song was quite memorable back then and now it’s just even sweeter, I think it’s still the best song she’s done in quite a while (and surprise, surprise, still the best on the mini-album!).

7. Gizagiza na KOTO to Sasaki Kissa

Another interlude?!?  With this being another 50 second ordeal, I feel like this one is more interesting because it has a certain DDR vibe in the arrangement with KOTO (I think?) speaking with who I think is SAWA?  I don’t know, but it was a catchy interlude.

8. Gizagiza no Lonely Night

Now I wouldn’t have known this, but the song is actually another cover from up and coming artist, KOTO who released this song in 2015.  Starting with an upbeat piano melody that quickly becomes a lot like the interlude before this, Gizagiza no Lonely Night is definitely one of the most upbeat tracks the mini-album has to offer, but I enjoyed that as we haven’t had an edgier dance track from SAWA in a long while.  After hearing the original, SAWA’s take is a lot like her “Juilet no Paradox” cover where her vocals are the weakest part of the song…regardless though, it’s my 2nd favorite here…just so heavy!

9. Tamashii

Then we enter to our final track and it’s a dropoff from the rest of the album by taking a quieter route.  It begins quietly and slowly builds its arrangement a little more.  It also has a lot of natural instrumentation which is also a nice, but being almost 7 minutes, that means this song is going to draaag and boy it does.  Despite being a mid-tempo ballad and appropriate to close things off, I can’t help but feel bored by it especially coming after “Gizagiza no Lonely Night”.  Feels like a “Soprano Rain” leftover to be quite honest.

 

 

It feels like it’s been quite a while since her last mini, “RingaRinga”, but I feel like Odore Balcony is a bit weaker as there’s some unecessary interludes and SAWA’s vocals kind of blocked my enjoyment of songs (as the originals are much better).  I feel like if she just sticks to her own stuff, it’d end up better (like with LastSnowFlakes and Chinese wa Totsuzen ni).  Essentially, it’s OK at best, but not her best effort.

 

Momoiro Clover Z – Koyoi, Live no Moto de January 15, 2016

Filed under: Momoiro Clover Z — solarblade @ 5:04 am

koyoilivenomotode

Track Listing

  1. Koyoi, Live no Moto de
  2. Koyoi, Live no Moto de (off vocal ver.)

1. Koyoi, Live no Moto de

Of course, Momoclo would have to pull out their Winter card for the year and here we have Koyoi, Live no Moto de.  It actually reminds me of past songs, but the acoustic guitar is a nice touch!  I know this isn’t a song the group is going to put out too much effort for (unlike their main singles), but this sounded a bit dated and kind of lame in some places.

 

 

I was wondering why this single was so bare when compared to all of their previous Winter limited singles, but this one was lacking!  I wasn’t really feeling this song and the typical sounds of the season just pulled it down further than it should.  I’m kind of happy it won’t be on any album any time soon.

 

Momoiro Clover Z – “Z” no Chikai

Filed under: Momoiro Clover Z — solarblade @ 4:57 am

znochikai

Track Listing

  1. “Z” no Chikai
  2. Romantic Kongaragatteru
  3. CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA (Limited only)
  4. “Z” no Chikai (off vocal ver.)
  5. Romantic Kongaragatteru (off vocal ver.)
  6. CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA (off vocal ver.)

1. “Z” no Chikai

I was wondering where the crazy Momoclo went and “Z” no Chikai brings it back at full force.  Being a harder hitting rock song (even more than their mix-up with KISS).  The arrangement just has a powerful arrangement with hard guitars and later on, some shakuhachis thrown into the arrangement.  To some it could be a little messy and the overabundance of the cute vocals might throw a wedge into listening to the entire thing, but I thought it was a great track and the fact it was a love letter to the Dragonball series makes it that much better!

2. Romantic Kongaragatteru

Keeping with the theme of the single, I was a bit confused with the intro being a mix of Japanese sounds and R&B.  As it turns out though, the song kind of becomes this kind of cutesy, but catchy song and the arrangement sounds like it could be used in DBZ (for the more slower moments and where drama isn’t happening).  The R&B elements though are a bit strange, but it does give the group a better time to show off some nicer vocals beyond the squeaks.  Fun song and is definitely one of the more weirder songs out there.

3. CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA

Seems like whenever an artist does a theme for the DBZ series, it ends up that at least ONE song is for this one OR “Romantic Ageru yo”.  Now, I love the original and FLOW’s cover it was pretty awesome, but I wasn’t expecting Momoiro Clover Z to step up to the plate for their own version.  I was expecting to be worse, but honestly, they stayed faithful to it and while the chorus isn’t the strong point, it’s still pretty neat.

 

 

Closing out their 3rd & 4th (Yes, their next releases is a dual album “AMARANTHUS” and “Hakkin no Yoake”), “Z” no Chikai closed the era off in a pretty heavy way!  The leading track was not what I was expecting for a DBZ track, but I thought it was edgy and good comeback after “Seishunfu”.  Romantic Kongaragatteru and CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA weren’t bad either…if I had to say…this was probably my favorite of the 5 singles representing the upcoming albums!