Kurayami Monogatari

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PINK CRES. – crescendo May 30, 2017

Filed under: PINK CRES. — solarblade @ 4:59 am

crescendo

Track Listing

  1. fun fun fun
  2. LOVE CANDY
  3. Uwa na Sora
  4. Kirei Kawai Mirai
  5. Last Love
  6. Katasumi
  7. Warning ~Mirei Keihou~
  8. Tell me why
  9. Summer wonderland

1. fun fun fun

The sound of clock ticking opens the album up and then we have the return of Miyabi’s heavenly voice!  I knew that the group did start off with some EDM-like substance, but I wasn’t expecting the first unheard track to be more pop with horns and a heavy beat.  I kind of like the summer atmosphere I get from the track.  While I wasn’t too sure to differentiate from the other two members; Yuuka and Hikaru, I feel like they still had some training to go through and it was apparent that Miyabi had the spotlight here.  Still, I kind of dug the track overall and it’s a great start to the album!

2. LOVE CANDY

Now this was what I was expecting when I came to listen to the album.  Unlike the bright, beachy vibe of “fun fun fun”, we get the electro-heavy LOVE CANDY.  What caught me off guard was the abuse of auto-tune in the trio’s vocals and it’s something I’m not too into unless the rest of the track was catching on.  The robotic performance is rather surprising, but there’s someone with a deep voice that actually surprised in how well it sounded in auto-tune, possibly Yuuka?  The rest of the song was pretty good too, it did feel a bit long, but at 4 minutes is it really???

3. Uwa na Sora

Changing things up again, Uwa na Sora seems to take the trio into a much cuter vibe, but mixed in some light dubstep and hip-hop?  I don’t know, but I feel a bit conflicted with this track as it feels like it would be a ballad, but it’s given this super glossy sound that works against it except in the chorus where it does slightly work.  Yeah, it was never a song that I could really get into…

4. Kirei Kawai Mirai

I don’t know why, but when I listen to this song, it feels like a Buono! song that was sorely missed by the trio and yet here I am imagining Airi & Momoko somewhere in this song or hoping.  Granted, the song does somewhat stick out from being a Buono! track by including synths and mixing the three girls vocals together, but I’m feeling as if the mixing is rather overdone here.  It’s still rather somewhat catchy and brings back the summer tones like “fun fun fun” did.

5. Last Love

Yeah, what is this intro though?  Like “Uwa na Sora”, I feel like this track has a little problem with identity and trying to find a melody in its arrangement versus the girls’ vocals.  The verses are sparse and just kind of all over the place, but it does come together better when it enters the chorus and feels a smidge like an anison theme.  I do like some of the surprising quips that come off as video-gamey sounds, but the song altogether is just somewhat chaotic.

6. Katasumi

Next song up, Katasumi was another song I had never heard prior to the album’s release and no surprise Miyabi is ALL over this song quite a bit.  Though I feel like the newer members are somewhat struggling here, especially since they’re singing in a higher register.  The song itself is pretty tame and kind of relaxed and the natural instrumentation mixed with the synths is pleasant to listen too.  Not bad, but could’ve been better.

7. Warning ~Mirai Keihou~

Oh!  I wasn’t expecting alarms sounding to kick the track off, but we’re back to the upbeat and powerful dance tracks and Warning has got a lot of punch and lot of dynamic sounds going throughout and I have to say even the new members sound a LOT more better and cooler in comparison to the previous track.  Take out the auto-tune from “LOVE CANDY” and you get this track and I really dug it!  Cool cool track overall!

8. Tell me why

Oh my, another edgy track?  I have to say I think PINK CRES. is making a lot more waves when they do upbeat tracks like this and I have to say, even if the chorus is somewhat mechanical, it really works with the members vocals and just has this oomph and sass that I wasn’t expecting from them.  I actually think Yuuka is the one with the deep vocals and I’m really loving it when it goes against Miyabi’s voice and Hikaru’s slightly higher tone.  I think it’s definitely the best track off the album hands down!

9. Summer wonderland

Rounding out the album is actually the group’s first song they performed back in 2016 (y’know after that long audition), Summer wonderland kind of fits in the middle between the edgy tracks and the experimental, poppy tracks.  It has a slight Katy Perry-ala “California Girls” sound to it, but it does lean more towards the heavier beat.  I do think the chorus is a bit strange to me because of some extra beats going on and my mind trying to process one thing when its another (yeah, odd).  It’s OK, but it kind of is in the middle for me

Tracks Recommended

  • Tell me why
  • Warning ~Mirai Keihou~
  • LOVE CANDY
  • fun fun fun

Song of Avoidance

  • Uwa na Sora

Yeah, it might be odd that I never was interested in Lovendor (though at their time of formation, I was kind of tired of hearing Reina), but when Miyabi announced auditions for a group, I was pretty excited and quite impatient since it took forever.  Though once the winners were announced (Yuuka Nihei & Hikaru Kobayashi), I was more curious to see what these girls brought and initially it was rather meh…though after listening to crescendo, I see the potential, they’re pretty different and give off this strong sense of power…I hope they follow songs like Tell me why and less Uwa na Sora…but keep going it’s pretty good so far!

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marino with Teapot Orchestra – Bathtub de Choushoku wo

Filed under: marino — solarblade @ 3:49 am

bathtubdechoushoku

Track Listing

  1. Teapot Orchestra no March
  2. Bathtub de Choushoku wo
  3. Ittekimasu
  4. Twinkle Star
  5. Oujisama to Watashi
  6. Christmas Wonder
  7. Curtain Call

1. Teapot Orchestra no March

I wasn’t expecting the mini-album to begin with a fanfare as such as the opening track.  I do feel like already from the start that Teapot Orchestra no March is rather just there for letting us get into the mini.  It has been a while since I’ve heard marino’s voice so getting back into it, I was shocked to hear how high-pitched it was.  After the march, it slows down into a ballad and marino’s voice starts to sound a smidge better, but it does a fake ending back into the upbeat march.  Interesting opening, curious to see what’s next.

2. Bathtub de Choushoku wo

Moving to the first full track (and title track), Bathtub de Choushoku wo takes things in a different direction by going more of a showgirl/burlesque kind of arrangement.  It’s quite cute and spazzy which is always something I like from marino’s music.  Her squeaky kiddy-like voice suits the jazzy arrangement and seemed to impress me more than the opening track…great track!

3. Ittekimasu

Oh, I’m a sucker for string bass intros and this one had that on top of some simple fingersnaps and marino’s adorable vocals to keep it simple and straightforward.  Actualy, that’s pretty much the first minute of the song before it turns into a sweet and light bossa nova track.  It’s wonderful and breezy and just overall nice!

4. Twinkle Star

I guess we needed a song to wake up a bit more and Twinkle Star kind of mixes that into its arrangement.  Keeping with the jazzy vibes, the track is a bit more latin-like and gives me a cool tropical setting with the saxes and rhythm and I just loved it a whole lot!  While I think a lower voice would’ve felt better to listen to, marino didn’t do too bad here…if there was an instrumental, I would easily love it!

5. Oujisama to Watashi

Next track in, Oujisama to Watashi from the start sounds a little like a Children’s track with it’s more loopy arrangement and jolly sound.  I was kind of surprised to hear a male voice in the song singing a different melody to marino’s.  Since the title does me Uncle and I, it’s no surprise and even features spoken dialogue between the two of them in the bridge.  It’s probably my least favorite on the mini-album, but there’s things to like about it.

6. Christmas Wonder

Seems random to be adding a Christmas song on a release in September…Either way, Christmas Wonder takes out some of the jazzy atmosphere and replaced it with jingle bells to make it more festive, at least for the intro.  After the introduction, the jazz ensemble join the fray to mix with marino’s cute vocals once again.  I liked it, maybe not as much as others, but still decent.

7. Curtain Call

Well, the mini is coming to an end as it shows with its outro.  I like the upbeat acoustic/jazzy feel of this even if the track itself is pretty short.  marino while doesn’t have a strong voice to really bring things to a close, she sure does try.  After her big end, the ensemble kind of just goes on its on til it fades out, closing this release.

 

 

Yeah, this may have released back in 2012, but I have to say that compared to her previous mini, “lollipop+”, this was WAY better and better handled.  I think it’s mostly due to her moving away from electropop to jazz and it’s a great move for marino.  I still think her voice is pretty tight in spots, but it’s a much better turnout than I expected, though way late on the review x.x

 

BTS – NO MORE DREAM

Filed under: BTS — solarblade @ 3:24 am

nomoredream

Track Listing

  1. NO MORE DREAM
  2. Shingeki no Boudan
  3. Ii ne! (CD only)

1. NO MORE DREAM

Oh boy, I love the string bass that opens up BTS’ Japanese debut.  Considering this was also the group’s debut in Korea as well, I was unsure what to say since I’ve been out of the Kpop game for quite a while.  Seems like the K-pop world has shifted just a little bit with their style taking on more of a hip-hop/trap-like genre and BTS kind of mixed it up.  The song is mostly led by Rap Monster, Suga, and Jungkook with the other members popping here and there.  It’s a cool song and quite an interesting listen, especially the chorus!

2. Shingeki no Boudan

As the first B-side, Shingeki no Boudan is surprisingly a little more energetic, but keeps that hip-hop feel going and the rappers in the song are just quite impressive all-around.  I’m enjoying the addition of horns and strings, but not sacrificing much in the flow.  I feel like the track is doing much more to hype the group moreso than in “NO MORE DREAM” could.  Fun track and surprising it wasn’t an A-side alongside the leading track.

3. Ii ne!

On CD only editions of the single, it comes with another B-side and it seems to be an original track unlike the previous two tracks.  I also feel like it’s a big shift in styles where this feels more soulful and smooth and showcases the singers more than the rappers and I enjoyed hearing Jungkook, Jimin, Jin, and even V here.  Though the rappers have their moments too so I approve that too.  It’s a pretty cool song overall!

I may be quite a bit late to the BTS party, but it’s never too late to get into the group who are reaching new heights internationally.  Going into their debut works, I have to be honest and say that I wasn’t into them as much as their more recent offerings, but I really like that they kicked off a new direction for K-pop.  NO MORE DREAM is pretty different (alongside Shingeki no Boudan) as they brought a lot more of this rap-like edginess that K-pop really needed to step out and stand out too.  Ii ne! though was cool and stylish and laidback and I’m impressed for their debut and can’t wait to dive deeper.

 

Hello! Pro Kenshuusei Hokkaido – Real☆Little☆Girl/Kanojo ni Naritai!!! (Hello! Pro Kenshuusei Hokkaido Ver.) May 26, 2017

Filed under: Hello! Pro Kenshuusei — solarblade @ 4:39 am

reallittlegirl

Track Listing

  1. Real☆Little☆Girl
  2. Kanojo ni Naritai!!! (Hello! Pro Kenshuusei Hokkaido Ver.)
  3. Real☆Little☆Girl (Instrumental)
  4. Kanojo ni Naritai!!! (Hello! Pro Kenshuusei Hokkaido Ver.) (Instrumental)

1. Real☆Little☆Girl

As the Hokkaido’s debut A-side, Real☆Little☆Girl was our actual first taste of the 7 members that make up the branch and its no surprise that they would get a very cutesy song as their first.  When I actually first heard it, I felt like this was an unused Country Girls song because it’s just got that feel from the intro sounding a smidge like “Dou Datte Ii no’s” intro to the rest feeling like “Koi Dorobo” & “Wakatte Iru no ni Gomen ne”.  Though it’s a catchy song to listen to and solos from all 7 members is pretty impressive too!  It’s got a lot of potential for these girls and they don’t sound bad really.

2. Kanojo ni Naritai!!! (Hello! Pro Kenshuusei Hokkaido Ver.)

The other A-side is of course known as the debut A-side for the actual Kenshuusei.  Well, originally it was 5 of the Kenshuusei back then in 2012.  Anyways, the Hokkaido version isn’t too different opting to keep the original’s arrangement but replacing vocals.  Considering the original barely had solos (3 lines), this cut actually has no solo lines so it’s just there to listen and not really focus on the members individually.

I wasn’t expecting the Hokkaido branch to actually receive its own single, but here we are with their first apparently.  I will actually say that Real☆Little☆Girl is a nice bout of fresh air to get away from the EDM-ness of H!P in recent times (granted other groups are starting to sway away as well).  It’s just a simple, cute and bright song to really showcase these newer girls.  Though I’m curious to why Kanojo ni Naritai!!! was chosen to be covered…I guess it makes sense that it was a first single for the main branch so it’s more like a signature song for the trainees.  Overall, it’s OK, but I wonder if we’ll get more.

 

U-KISS – PaNiC! May 2, 2017

Filed under: U-KISS — solarblade @ 5:00 am

panic

Track Listing

  1. PaNiC!
  2. Flying Around The World
  3. U-KISS 2016 One More Shot Mix (Physical only)
  4. PaNiC! (Instrumental)
  5. Flying Around The World (Instrumental)

1. PaNiC!

As the leading track, PaNiC! is quite a track that I was hoping to see more from and they delivered!  The track itself goes back to the group’s earlier efforts with its heavier dance style like in “Bingeul Bingeul” & “Tick Tack”.  The beat is just heavy and in your face and the group while focused on Kevin, Soohyun, and Hoon, the rest of the group manage to pop out left and right to gave a cool performance.  Pretty awesome A-side!

2. Flying Around The World

Though I wasn’t expecting the B-side to be more EDM in its arrangement, but the song itself is a lot more brighter and poppy in comparison.  While it does feel a smidge cheesy and much, the track is catchy too and hearing Kevin & Soohyun is quite nice even if this is repetitive like mad.  Interesting B-side, kind of surprised it won’t make an album…

3. U-KISS 2016 One More Shot Mix

Found only on physical editions of the single, this Mix is actually more like an album digest of “One Shot One Kill”…a 10-minute digest at that.  Though at the same time, none of the tracks sound like their actual album counterparts so there’s that.  It’s just there for some reason and not sure why since the actual album was before this single soooo…why???

 

 

Ending their 2016 and releasing a single before their best-of drops, we have PaNiC! and it’s probably their best single since at least their 2nd Japanese album.  I felt like PaNiC! brought back much needed excitement for the group and Flying Around The World while a bit hammy at times is a nice opposite to the A-side.  Granted, as this single is a promotional single for the best album, it’s curious to see what happens…

Although, figures that in 2017, we get news that Kevin has left the group, so this is his last single with the group…makes me wonder how the group dynamic will shift (maybe Keseop will get some time FINALLY).