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Tsubaki Factory – first bloom November 15, 2018

Filed under: Tsubaki Factory — solarblade @ 6:52 am

firstbloom

Track Listing

  1. Hatsukoi Sunrise
  2. Hyoumen Chouryoku ~Surface Tension~
  3. Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta
  4. Shuukatsu Sensation
  5. I Need You ~Yozora no Kanransha~
  6. Kanousei no Concerto
  7. Shunrenka
  8. Date no Hi wa Nido Kurai Shower Shite Dekaketai
  9. Kaerou Let’s Go!
  10. Just Try!
  11. Junjou cm
  12. Waratte
  13. Yuki no Planetarium
  14. Uruwashi no Camellia
  15. Hana Moyou
  16. Teion Yakedo
  17. Happy Cracker
  18. Furisake Mireba…

CD2

  1. Hitorijime
  2. Kedakaku Sakihokore!
  3. Seishun Manmannaka!
  4. Watashi ga Obasan ni Nattemo
  5. 17sai
  6. Cabbage Hakusho ~Haru-hen~
  7. LET’S LIVE!
  8. Jiriri Kiteru
  9. Tokai no Hitorigurashi
  10. Tsukiatteru no ni Kataomoi
  11. ENDLESS YOUTH

1. Hatsukoi Sunrise

Fitting that the group’s first album would open up with their major label debut and known for being the debut for Mao, Saori, and Mizuho!  To be fair, the song was pretty awesome as the 9-nin’s debut because it just smacked hard and the tune is pretty damn catchy!  Plus, hearing all the members getting some kind of solo was pretty impressive and did a great job to alleviate the fears a lot of fans were having during their indies days!

2. Hyoumen Chouryoku ~Surface Tension~

So the album contains 6 new tracks (though 5 of those 6 were heard in concerts throughout the year so we’ve had some time with a couple of those.  Hyoumen Chouryoku was one of the more recent ones and from information, the song was kind of a freebie song that was used in a contest (lost, but was given to Tsubaki Factory down the line).  I already can tell that this one might stand out because of the funkier vibes I get here (almost feels like it belongs to Juice=Juice).  I will say the energy here is nice and the group sounds exciting too!  Not bad, if there’s anything the high note in the chorus is a bit abrasive, but the song is catchy too!

3. Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta

As part of the group’s 4th and final single for the album, I felt like most of that single just kind of flew by my head.  Coming back to this song, Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta was purely a favorite off that single (probably the best of the 2018 A-sides).  There’s just something so bright and cute about this song that just worked, maybe it’s those filtered vocals at the beginning and the beat of the track overall.  I just thought that it was a pretty awesome song and was a good tune to remember.

4. Shuukatsu Sensation

Moving back to their 2nd single, Shuukatsu Sensation was the primary A-side off the single and just like “Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta”, it was an instant favorite of mine off that single because it seemed a bit more funkier than their songs before.  I’m really liking a lot of the song because of the hooks and hearing Kishimon just belting it out always impressed me and then having Mizuho also having the other solo line just showed how much she was being pushed as a main singer.  Another awesome song!

5. I Need You ~Yozora no Kanransha~

Part of their 3rd single, I Need You was kind of a hot n’ cold kind of track for me.  I do like that it did slow things for the group and focused on solos and the sentimentality of the mood, but it’s kind of ruined by the weird passages of dubstep in the music bridges.  If they had taken that out altogether, I would’ve deemed the song higher because the rest is cute and poppy and just sweetness.  Still, did not need those parts ugh!

6. Kanousei no Concerto

Our next new track comes up next and like “Hyoumen Chouryoku”, was performed a bit more recently compared to other tracks and this one felt like an anison track from the beginning, but I’m not complaining at all!  Though the problem is with how memorable of a song it is on this album and while it does give a different sound in comparison to other tracks, I don’t think it quite sticks out over other songs (most of the A-sides).

7. Shunrenka

Like I said, most of the A-sides the group released this year have ben rather mediocre and forgettable to me and Shunrenka is one of those tracks.  I will say it does kind of feel slightly nostalgic with the guitar-heavy arrangement mixed in with that Springtime goodness, but it just doesn’t quite resonate with me much.  Yeah, this song was meh for me.

8. Date no Hi wa Nido Kurai Shower Shite Dekaketai

Same thing with the primary A-side of their 4th single, I’m not sure why Tsubaki’s lead tracks this year haven’t quite caught my attention versus other Hello! Project releases.  I mean, I do like the guitar flickering and the more serious side to the group, but there’s just something missing for me here.  It just felt like the verses were building to something pretty awesome, but the chorus just felt like a letdown.  At least listen to the verses because they are the best part of the track.

9. Kaerou Let’s Go!

The only track that wasn’t performed in any concerts as of the review, Kaerou Let’s Go! is technically the only brand spankin’ new track and they really amped up the cute factor for this one!  It does remind me of those songs we’d find in the anime era of H!P (ala Guardians 4 and Buono!).  I kind of like the brightness of the song here and the girls sound a LOT more younger than what I’m used to.  I wonder if it’s because they’re using Kisora, Ami, & Saori more here?  Does feel like it works in tandem with “Kanousei no Concerto” due to both songs having an anison kind of feel to them.  I kind of liked this one a lot!

10. Just Try!

Odd that they place Just Try! (their cool song) after the previous track as it kind of brings us back to familiar levels with the group.  After having so much time with this song and watching the group grow with more songs under their belt, this song actually kind of got worse as time went on.  I mean, I still dig some parts like the intro and the prechorus, but the rest of the song felt so flat and mechanical almost to the point of kind of being annoying to me.  This felt like something that belonged in the indies era of songs (and even then it’s not as strong as their original trio of indies songs).

11. Junjou cm

I don’t know why, but whenever I listen to this, I get reminded me of “Hatsukoi Sunrise” & “Hana Moyou” but with a touch of seriousness and better vocal strength all-around.  The arrangement is familiar using strings as well giving me a bit of S/mileage and Morning Musume vibes as well which doesn’t quite lift the song to a high enough platform for me to remember it by.  Though, I guess it’s the bridge between the good and poor A-sides of this year.

12. Waratte

I’m happy that the album picks up again with this A-side from their 2nd single, Waratte.  It definitely gives me a mix of 80s and funk vibes and that really solidified that whole single for me in a nice way.  It’s the group being outside of the box and being cute, yet coy about the whole song.  It’s just peppy and it works for me, great song and good choice to pick up the slack after the previous two tracks.

13. Yuki no Planetarium

As the oldest of the “new” tracks, I instantly fell in love with this song when I took a quick live listen to it.  I mean it does have a LOT of synthwork put into it more than the rest of the new tracks and it has Spanish guitar in it as well which really sounds cool!  I mean considering it did get first performed right after the release of their 2nd single, this track just sounds awesome and it’s definitely my favorite of the 6 new tracks here!  Really great job here!

14. Uruwashi no Camellia

On our final stretch of old songs, we get to Uruwashi no Camellia which kind of plays up the ragtime sound by putting filters on the girls for the first verse!  While I still think “Hatsukoi Sunrise” is the best from the single, I definitely appreciated the originality of this song and the choice to make the song sound old-timey for the verse (if it’s kind of odd without the video to give reason).  It’s a cute song and very playful for the group and definitely sticks out on the album (funny enough, I feel like a song like this would work for the newly unveiled group, Ame no Mori Kawa Umi).

15. Hana Moyou

I guess I can see why “Junjou cm” wasn’t placed here with the next two tracks as they all would kind of blend into each other too much.  With a sound that I could compare to something that C-ute would easily tackle if they were still together, Hana Moyou is a nice try at the more serious side to their group dynamic.  I still do think the chorus is a bit strange to my ears, but the song is still decent to me.

16. Teion Yakedo

Which brings us to the other serious song, Teion Yakedo and I still feel like it’s a great track, fixing the problems I had with “Hana Moyou”.  The chorus definitely gives me an anison sound, but it’s a strong and powerful chorus which I appreciate the most here.  While it was technically released digitally in 2017, it was the primary A-side of the first single they released this year and it still beat out most of the other songs (maybe except “Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta”).  It’s still a pretty damn good track overall!

17. Happy Cracker

As the last two tracks are new, I was kind of wondering why they placed this one back here as it’s pretty hyper and loud (especially coming after the cool “Teion Yakedo” and the ballad-like “Furisake Mireba…”.  Though the song does feel like an encore song for concerts because it’s happy-go-lucky and just fast-paced…think of a sugary take on C-ute’s “Iron Heart” or even their “JUMP”.  For me, it’s a bit too wild for me, but I do appreciate they have a song like this to really get the crowd excited!

18. Furisake Mireba…

The first disc closes out with Furisake Mireba… and unsurprisingly it’d be a softer song sung by the group here.  I mean, I do love the piano opening things up which is a totally different mood versus the rest of the album.  I do like the bouncy rhythm it gives me and after a third of the way, the song adds more odd things like beats/snaps and some flute-like thing.  It’s strange because it goes in and out of the arrangement, making it sound more kiddy than I thought it would.  It’s a decent closer, thought it was going to stay piano-only, but the added extras kind of made it cute and youthful.

CD2

1. Hitorijime

CD 2 begins with Hitorijime (which was the leading A-side off their 3rd indies single), now if you were coming into this hoping that the 6 indie tracks were resung to fit in Mao, Mizuho, and Saori, then you’ll be disappointed.  None of the tracks were edited so we still have the original recordings with the 6 members.  I’ve always thought Hitorijime was so oddly timed because the 2nd Gen members were added shortly after this single released (and it had a PV to go with it too).  Granted, this song was a bop and it really showcased Kishimon’s vocals up-front next to Risamaru and Kiki’s vocals as well (as originally those 3 were kind of used as the main vocalists).  The tune does kind of remind me of Platinum era Morning Musume but in a good way.  Definitely a nice track for them!

2. Kedakaku Sakihokore!

Though if I had to choose, their 2nd indies single was my favorite of them as it was straight EDM and they had vocal filters, a rap line between Kishimon & Risamaru and just a powerful sound that was sorely missing in their debut.  I also kind of wonder what a 9-nin version of this song would sound like…  Either way, this track was a great song to really push them forward and I’m happy they brought all of their indies work to the album.

3. Seishun Manmannaka!

God, it feels like it’s been forever since I’ve actually listened to this track and it feels so foreign to me because it was their debut!  I really wanna hear what current Tsubaki would sound like redoing this track.  It doesn’t quite have as much punch as “Kedakaku Sakihokore!” does being a little more technopop than a club bopper and considering that the vocals aren’t quite as stable as they are now…it was an interesting song to debut with.  I’ll take it though because it’s still can be an earworm.

4. Watashi ga Obasan ni Nattemo

The next two tracks were released in their indies days too, but these two are different because they’re covers of classic Chisato Moritaka tracks!  The first of them was found as the secondary A-side to “Hitorijime” and it is a little rough coming into these because they’ve been electro’d HEAVILY versus the originals.  I think this one felt more strongly messed with, but I do like how it’s toned down more than “17sai” was.  I still like it and hearing the girls sound happy in this track is just nice too.  Very fitting as an A-side!

5. 17sai

While “Seishun Manmannaka!” was their first official release as a group, this Moritaka cover was the first song they performed as a group!  Like I said with the track previous, 17sai was also heavily altered to more of an electro song (not quite like the DDR version) but it’s more upbeat and the synths are more grittier although the only qualm I have is that weird synth splash in the 2nd verse right after Risa’s line.  It’s a simpler song too and it gave all the members the same time to shine.  It’s still a good cover, but likewise…how did they switch it up after adding 3 members since they still perform this!

6. Cabbage Hakusho ~Haru-hen~

Of course they couldn’t leave out this track which was the only new track off the “SOUND + VISION Vol.1” mini-album they did.  This cover of the SATOYAMA group, Peaberry’s song is pretty basic I’d say as things go…a LOT more interesting than the original two-takes from Peaberry, but I still have issues with it.  I mean it’s nothing of Tsubaki’s fault luckily, but I still hate they shoved “Furusato” up in it after the first chorus and kind of throwing off everything (I know why it’s there, but it’s still distracting nonetheless).  Without that glaring mess, I’d say it’s a nice cover and it felt better having more members involved than just Riho and Ayaka.

7. LET’S LIVE!

So the rest of Disc 2 has new covers (a thing that Hello! Project has been seeming to do a LOT with albums recently ala Juice=Juice & Kobushi Factory).  Kicking things off is probably one of two surprises and this is a cover of a B-side from v-u-den’s 2007 single, “Koisuru♡Angel♡Heart”.  I mean considering we tripled the amount of members to fit here, I was curious to see what it’s like and it definitely has the Hello! Project of yore with the synth horns and nostalgic H!P vibes.  It’s a peppy track and hearing the girls in a higher range is interesting.  I dug it!

8. Jiriri Kiteru

Of course it was initially shown that the Factory groups were kind of like Berryz & C-ute so it’s not surprise that Tsubaki would cover a track from both groups!  Since none of the arrangements were touched, I was happy to see Jiriri Kiteru covered since the original Berryz cut had more of younger vocals.  Then again I can argue that Tsubaki sounds just as young as them.  I don’t think it sounds as raw as the original, but they handled it pretty well vocally.  It’s just that I expect Momoko, Miyabi, and Risako and they aren’t here LOL.

9. Tokai no Hitorigurashi

Interesting they decided to cover this song as it was one of the more recent C-ute songs.  I mean, I don’t think it’s the group’s signature song, but it’s nice they were given more of a peppy song to cover like “LET’S LIVE!”.  Tsubaki’s take on Tokai no Hitorigurashi isn’t going to sound quite as womanly like the original (remember C-ute was like hitting their 20’s at this point).  It’s decent, but I think I’ll stick to the original cut this time.

10. Tsukiatteru no ni Kataomoi

Another Berryz cover?  Another song I wasn’t expecting to be covered, this one was only 5 singles after “Jiriri Kiteru”.  While it wasn’t one of my favorites when Berryz was active, I did like how upbeat they were and it’s kind of a silly song almost.  Tsubaki sounds fitting for a song like this, almost a bit cuter than the original, but it was almost because Berryz was going through their vocal changes (puberty).  It’s a good cover overall and I’d maybe rank it as the best cover (not including the previous released covers).

11. ENDLESS YOUTH

Ending off the 2nd disc, we close things out with a Melon Kinenbi track (an album song from their first album, “1st Anniversary”).  An odd choice indeed because of the arrangement, but I dug they chose it for the lyrics here.  I also like how it showcased the group vocally too!  Like “LET’S LIVE!”, it just brings nostalgia to me for older H!P songs and closes this album off in a nice bow.  Everyone sounds nice and the feeling is still there after the original quartet of the Melon’s sung it.

Tracks Recommended

  • Shuukatsu Sensation
  • Hatsukoi Sunrise
  • Yuki no Planetarium
  • Kon’ya Dake Ukaretakatta
  • Waratte

 

  • Kedakaku Sakihokore!
  • Watashi ga Obasan ni Nattemo
  • Hitorijime
  • Tsukiatteru no ni Kataomoi
  • 17sai

Song of Avoidance

  • Just Try!
  • Cabbage Hakusho ~Haru-hen~

Wow!  We’re finally here at Tsubaki’s first album!  This was definitely crammed with a lot of material (like Juice=Juice’s sophomore album earlier in the year) and it seems like I ended up really enjoying a LOT of this album despite only having 6 new tracks and 5 covers on top of the already released stuff.  A lot of their releases have kept me excited for this album (maybe not so much the 2 singles they released this year).  first bloom has a lot of interesting things going for it and it’s worth a listen!

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NCT 127 – Up Next Session: NCT 127 November 14, 2018

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 3:18 am

Up Next Session_ NCT 127

Track Listing

  1. Cherry Bomb (English Version)
  2. Regular (Domdada Remix)
  3. What We Talkin’ About (feat. Marteen)
  4. Fire Truck (Kago Pengchi Remix)

1. Cherry Bomb (English Version)

Opening up this digital release, we have NCT 127 doing an English take on Cherry Bomb which was the group’s 3rd comeback song!  It’s a little weird with the group making and English track (despite that “Regular” was just that and it turned out well enough).  Cherry Bomb on the other hand sounds weird in English and it’s mostly from Taeyong here.  His lines feel strange to me and I don’t know why he specifically sticks out this way.  Also Jungwoo (who was added, despite not being in the original) has a singular line and he sticks out too.  On the other hand kudos to Mark, Jaehyun, and Doyoung…they definitely won me over in their English lines.  Otherwise, it’s Cherry Bomb so more or less you know what you’re getting and if you were a fan of the original this might be worth checking out.

2. Regular (Domdada Remix)

Seems like the release is more like a special release.  With remixes involved, I wasn’t surprised one of them was going to be with their recent hit (the one they’ve been promoting here in America).  This remix does retain some of the original’s melody, but feels a bit more Western with heavier bass and some emphasis with the ~domdada~ sound.  I think it loses some of the vibes that I loved in the original so the remix kind of is OK, but doesn’t quite shine like the original take.

3. What We Talkin’ About (feat. Marteen)

Then we get into the only new song on this release!  Starting with some interesting tinkering sounds that goes into this cool R&B sound that’s fitting to the group’s “Limitless” album’s sound.  I do like everyone being involved here and even Marteen sounds decent through his lines.  Might not be the strongest track to fit in NCT 127’s discography but it’s a decent incentive to get this release.

4. Fire Truck (Kago Pengchi Remix)

Closing things out, we get another remix, this time of the group’s debut song, Fire Truck.  While this remix breaks off from the more grittier sound and giving a heavier bass groove is such an interesting switch of sound.  I do think it gives the song a smidge more air to breathe and the hits are a lot more built up.  I can definitely appreciate this remix changing things a little in the arrangement instead of changing the vocal line.  Though, it is surprising it’s just 3 minutes…just the same length as the original >.<

 

 

As a special release on iTunes, Up Next Session kind of came out of nowhere and so soon after their “regular-irregular” album as well!  I will say that this was a nice little surprise if not maybe a bit random.  Cherry Bomb in English was cool and the fact they put effort by adding Jungwoo to it is nice.  The new song was decent, but felt like an album track of theres so it’s mostly fluff to me.  Of the remixes, I definitely prefer the Fire Truck one over Regular, but overall it was OK of a release.

 

Let’s talk about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 3! November 5, 2018

Filed under: ~Video Game Writing~ — solarblade @ 4:37 am

Super-Smash-Bros-Ultimate-logo

And here we are, one month out from the game’s release and we had our final Smash Bros. Direct where Sakurai finalized the base roster and went over things like the Spirits mode, Online, a lot of the menu items, some leftover Assist Trophies and a peek into the single player mode, World of Light.  Let’s focus though on what I usually like talking about the remaining characters and ATs.

Ken Masters

Ken

The last of the Echo fighters, this was a given that Ken would be a Ryu Echo just because of the characters’ history together being clones initially to something more separate these days.  Ken focuses a lot with his kicks and it shows with majority of his moves.  Like Ryu though, he does have two supers and probably like Ryu, in 1-on-1 battles will face the character they are going against.  Add on some flame effects and you have Ken.  Personally, this was the most easiest to guess to join and he did get leaked a couple months back too…still way easy…been more interesting if it was Akuma, but he’s too busy in Tekken 7.

Incineroar

Incineroar

Honestly, I was pulling my mind trying to decide if I wanted to talk about the Grinch Leak (you know, the banner leak that said Ken, Shadow, Isaac, Chorus Kids, Mach Rider, Geno, and Banjo & Kazooie were going to be our last characters), well it was pretty much debunked in a quick way when they revealed the last character for the main roster, Incineroar (which was leaked with Ken as the “box theory”).  Honestly, I was hoping it was Decidueye, but Incineroar does bring in a new grappler motif and from what we saw of it, Incineroar is pretty unique with his grapples!

Piranha Plant

Piranha Plant

Though I think no one had predicted this happening, as a kind of bonus DLC, Sakurai and his craziness announced one more character in the direct which is the Piranha Plant.  I actually wasn’t expecting him to break his rule of generic baddies making the cut until now.  From what we’ve seem, he seems to be pretty technical and brings an interesting moveset to the game.  Still, a Piranha Plant???  Yeah, I’m ready for this.

DLC

So before the reveal of Piranha Plant, Sakurai talked about DLC and how it’ll be released which is 5 packs (includes 1 new character, a new stage, and music!).  They will be released in a span of about a year so that’s interesting and no, Piranha Plant doesn’t count so in the end we’ll have 6 DLC characters!  Also some interesting tidbits

  • None of the DLC characters will be Echo Fighters (which begs the question of if there is any, will it be a part of these packs or just separate).
  • Unfortunately characters from newer games like ARMS & Xenoblade Chronicles 2 are out because the former Springman is an Assist Trophy and the latter with Rex being a Mii Costume so the DLC may be more 3rd Parties/Ballot Frontrunners.
  • Stages will officially top off at 108 stages with 80 playable characters…GET IT!

Assist Trophies, Pokeball, and Items

So we have some last minute additions to ATs so let’s talk about them!

  • Yuri Kosukata – Hailing from the Fatal Frame series, Yuri comes out and takes pictures which freezes opponents (and maybe poisons them?).
  • Isaac – While he was an AT back in Smash Bros. Brawl, he went missing in Smash 4 but makes his return here having a bit more flexibility in using his Push psynergy by adding grabs and fist slams.
  • Black Knight – This Fire Emblem antagonist, comes out and walks around swinging his sword at opponents close enough to him.  Also ignores strikes to him as well.
  • Thwomp – One of the many baddies in the Super Mario series, he does what he always does, falls on the opponent when they’re underneath its shadow.
  • Springman – From the ARMS series, Springman jumps out and throws out some punches before ending with a super move (a flurry of punches).
  • Wily Capsule – The main antagonist from the legendary Mega Man games, Dr. Wily rides in a capsule that attacks by orbs with different effects and teleports around as well.  If you destroy it, he falls and starts to bow in defeat.  (Also sad that Elec-Man is gone).
  • Flies & Hand – Originally from Mario Paint and as recently as Super Mario Maker, the Flies and Hand make an appearance in the same fashion it always has in its games.  The hand goes around trying to kill off the flies but will attack characters too.
  • Tiki – Another FE character, she transforms into a dragon and breathes fire (though I have a feeling she does more than that).
  • Vince – This character from the Art Academy series draws pictures on top of the opponents to kind of hide away their attacks?  It’s like the nintendog Assist Trophy but not full-screen.
  • Guile – From the Street Fighter series, Guile comes out and kneels (and turtles) and releases a Flash Kick. I do wonder if he does Sonic Boom if no one is nearby.
  • Akira Yuki – Probably the closest to a fighter, Akira comes out and starts to attack characters with his fists and elbows and kicks.  He also is donning his original blocky look.

Pokémon

  • Tapu Koko – For the first time, the Assist Trophies actually outweigh the Pokémon this time and the last of them to be revealed, Tapu Koku just kind of tackles with electricity.

Items

  • Healing Sprout – Initially everyone was going crazy because they thought this item came from Golden Sun as the Growth Psynergy, but as it turns out it’s nothing like that being a healing item that works similarly to the Gooey Bomb, but it heals instead lol.
  • Beastball – The last item to be announced, the Beastball when you pick it up and throw it will disappear and reappear hitting an opponent.

 

Honestly, we’ll see how the game plays when it releases in early December!