Kurayami Monogatari

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Nana Mizuki – NEVER SURRENDER January 13, 2019

Filed under: Nana Mizuki — solarblade @ 2:42 am

neversurrender

Track Listing

  1. NEVER SURRENDER
  2. GET BACK
  3. Searchlight
  4. Nageki no Hana

1. NEVER SURRENDER

Opening the single up, NEVER SURRENDER wasn’t going to surprise me as an anime theme and hearing it, it does sound very typical from Nana here with the dramatic piano & strings with an underlying rock sound to kind of push it up.  It definitely gives me vibes of “SCARLET KNIGHT” and “Silent Bible” and while that’s normally a good thing, this also means it’s also kind of slightly straight to the point and not all that memorable to me.  At least the rock elements tend to feel a bit more powerful so it may grow on me.

2. GET BACK

Though I think GET BACK did a better job with the anison sound that “NEVER SURRENDER” had.  They had a lot of similarities, but GET BACK felt heavier and the important things were pushed forward and Nana had a better vocal performance (although that could be argued one way another).  I just think the piano-work was memorable here.  Though honestly, the two tracks could be switched and it would’ve made no difference I suppose?

3. Searchlight

Of the four songs, Searchlight might be the lightest of them, but it’s not saying much because it also rides behind the tail of the songs here on the single.  It’s nice that it’s a brighter song but like it really doesn’t strike me much otherwise, felt a little forgetful, but the chorus is decent to say the least.  I guess it’s a filler song to me, but eh.

4. Nageki no Hana

Opening the song with pan flutes was a nice idea right up until it turned into another anison track.  I think if it wasn’t for the aforementioned pan flute, I think it would’ve been another mix of “NEVER SURRENDER” and “GET BACK”.  Though this song definitely calls back from previous effort in a big way and it felt like a dime in a dozen, but with a small deviation from being fully generic.

 

 

After “WONDER QUEST EP” with a month to spare until this had came out, I was wondering why she spaced these two singles so closely.  NEVER SURRENDER though felt like one whole song the entire way with little differences between the tracks (Searchlight having a brighter mood & Nageki no Hana with the pan flutes) otherwise this was just lacking variety and I feel like it’s been like that for a while with some exceptions…but yeesh.  Not a memorable single for me.

 

Up Up Girls – Ai Ai Fire!!/Watashitachi (with friend)

Filed under: Up Up Girls — solarblade @ 2:01 am

aiaifire

Track Listing

  1. Ai Ai Fire!!
  2. Watashitachi (with friend)
  3. Ai Ai Fire!! (Instrumental)
  4. Watashitachi (with friend) (Instrumental)

1. Ai Ai Fire!!

As the leading A-side, Ai Ai Fire!! I thought would be edgy and rockin’ and while it’s got electric guitars in its arrangement, the song is upbeat and has a strong party atmosphere.  It’s bouncy and has a pretty nice chant-line to it which is nice for lives that’s for sure!  Considering this is the 3rd A-side to have the group at 5-nin, I was pretty sure that the loss of Sengoku & Satou didn’t leave a big mark because it gave the remaining four (that weren’t Saho) a LOT more presence in the song and they’ve grown to be great performers!  A fun song for the group!

2. Watashitachi (with friend)

Now if you don’t remember, Watashitachi was actually the final track off their latest album “5th Album (Kakko Kari)”.  Likewise, when I reviewed that earlier in 2018, that song was probably the one that flew over my head real easily because it was the only non-EDM track off that album and it kind of was an odd way to finish it out (even if it was otherwise appropriate).  I was surprised that it was brought back as an A-side, but it was slightly edited more of a natural sound with band instruments and harmonica as the recognizable changes on top of their backing band providing group vocals too.  The song still kind does nothing for me, but it’s nice they do have a track like this among that multitude of crazy dance tracks.

 

 

UUG kicks off their 6th era with an alright single, a little small considering the last couple of singles they’ve dropped but simple regardless.  Ai Ai Fire!! is another song of theirs that’ll definitely be played a lot from me as it’s exciting and fun to listen to while the updated version of Watashitachi is cute and sentimental for them so its fair that it got a nice touch up.  Interesting to see where this era goes!

 

Country Girls – Seasons

Filed under: Country Girls — solarblade @ 1:27 am

seasons

Track Listing

  1. Yowaki Joshi Taibu Todoke
  2. Konamaiki Girl
  3. Kaite wa Keshite no “I Love You”
  4. Matenai After Five
  5. Kasa wo Sasu Senpai
  6. Itooshikutte Gomen ne (’19 five girls version)

1. Yowaki Joshi Taibu Todoke

As the only new track for the mini-album technically, Yowaki Joshi Taibu Todoke was kind spoken as the track for Yanamin who is graduating from this group AND Juice=Juice (huh, she’s getting to send-off songs?).  This song is kind of cutesy and upbeat, sounding a lot like something from the first couple of singles (ironically the singles that didn’t have Nanami involved).  I do like that she does have a LOT solos in the song and it sounds cute and upbeat.  Not bad, but there’s been better from them!

2. Konamaiki Girl

So the majority of the rest of the mini contains the digital songs they’ve released in the last two years (basically since Momoko graduated).  That said, I wasn’t sure what the group was going to sound like without Momochi backing them up and Konamaiki Girl showed off a much more cutesy side to them after having such a boogie-woogie and rockabilly vibes out of the last couple of releases.  It’s cute like the previous track, but I’ve always felt like it was a weak song for them since it’s kind of minimal, but eh?  Just wasn’t that strong of a track for me.

3. Kaite wa Keshite no “I Love You”

Which carried over to the 2nd of the digital songs, Kaite wa Keshite no “I Love You” but of the four digital songs, this one actually ended up with a PV.  The tune definitely reminds me of a mi of “Koi Dorobo” & “Wakatte Iru no ni Gomen ne”.  Still, the tune is pretty nice and while super girly, I found my self tapping my feet to the beat.  Also, Funakki just sounds so cute here!  Still even Yamakki and Ozeki sound better than before.  Nice track!

4. Matenai After Five

Then last year, they came back surprisingly with a double A-side digital single and I was surprised with Matenai After Five being upbeat kind of big band-like.  It’s got a nice groove to it and the members seem to gel even more than before especially since everyone is getting a lot of solos here!  I’m just surprised the girls sound pleasant and not shaky.  Risa’s deeper vocals are enticing, but we have Musubu, Mai, Chisaki, and Nanami really giving strong performances as well.  Maybe not as great as the previous track, but it sticks out!

5. Kasa wo Sasu Senpai

Of the four, Kasa wo Sasu Senpai is probably the most serious track of the digital songs and I was hoping they’d release another song in a similar vein to “Koi wa Magnet”.  Though I wasn’t expecting the song to be similar to it.  I mean it doesn’t quite have to cool 80s throwback gloss upon it, but the track is really calm and the strings are beautiful (kind of reminds me of Platinum era Momusu).  Really nice track overall!

6. Itooshikutte Gomen ne (’19 five girls version)

It is what it is, a self-cover of their debut A-side, Itooshikutte Gomen ne.  Obviously the biggest and lone difference in the song is that there’s no Uta, Manaka, or Momoko here and instead got the current girls (Chisaki, Mai, Risa, Musubu, and Nanami).  I mean I’ve always loved the song and I was curious to see what an updated take would sound like, but it does sound off to me without the aforementioned girls despite Yanamin and Funakki adding a lot more oomph to it.  I suppose it’s nice, but it feels like a hint or something…

 

 

As the first H!P release of 2019, I wasn’t expecting to kick off with a Country Girls mini-album.  To be fair it does feel like a mini-best what with 5 old songs (granted 1 of them is updated) and only one new track which was more of a song for Nanami’s impending graduation from the group.  Seasons is nice overall as most of the songs (except Konamaiki Girl) were pretty decent tracks all-around, I just hope it isn’t the final release for the group as Country Girls becomes a quartet (and that Risa, Chisaki, and Musubu are in other groups).