Kurayami Monogatari

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Rina Aiuchi – I believe you ~Ai no Hana~ June 1, 2019

Filed under: Rina Aiuchi — solarblade @ 8:45 pm

ibelieveyou

Track Listing

  1. I believe you ~Ai no Hana~
  2. HEY!
  3. Harmony -DTS MIX- Performed by INTER-D (Limited only)
  4. I believe you ~Ai no Hana~ -Bouquet of Love version- (Limited only)
  5. I believe you ~Ai no Hana~ -instrumental-
  6. HEY! -instrumental-

1. I believe you ~Ai no Hana~

It seems like with “Nemurenu You ni”, I believe you comes in as a similar ballad but with more piano and some sparkly feelings throughout.  Unlike the aforementioned song, this song feels a bit like a typical ballad to me, but it does have some interesting parts, mostly the chorus which is pretty loud and pretty good in comparison to the rest of the track!

2. HEY!

As the B-side of the single, HEY! to me definitely screams summer song with how upbeat and pop/rock it is and Rina just has this bright style that also adds to the feeling.  For a B-side, I thought this turned out pretty well with how free-spirited it came off and Rina has another worthy coupling in her collection!

3. Harmony -DTS MIX- (Performed by INTER-D)

Then we get into the limited exclusives starting with this which started this line of INTER-D collaborations (which I still don’t know what that was all about).  I just wasn’t exactly expecting Rina to step off from the previous tracks in the era and give us this funky disco track.  Though I was pretty happy with how Rina sounded (not as squeaky as normal).  Definitely the strongest of the 3 songs on the single that’s for sure.

4. I believe you ~Ai no Hana~ -Bouquet of Love version-

The single rounds out with a different version of the A-side and this one feels a bit more simplistic with the added orchestration and overall lighter feel of this take, but I’m still not the biggest fan of the vocal melody and because of how much lighter it is, it kind of bores me a bit!

 

 

Rounding out the “TRIP” era, I believe you ~Ai no Hana~ ended up being my least favorite between the 4 singles that were released.  The leading song doesn’t quite capture my interests like the previous ones had, but HEY! and Harmony saved it from being too mediocre.  Can only wonder what the album will bring!

 

Rina Aiuchi – Nemurenu You ni/PARTY TIME PARTY UP

Filed under: Rina Aiuchi — solarblade @ 8:13 pm

nemurenuyouni

Track Listing

  1. Nemurenu You ni
  2. PARTY TIME PARTY UP
  3. Nemurenu You ni -lifeblood mix- (Nemurenu You ni edition only)
  4. PARTY TIME PARTY UP -command+s mix- (PARTY TIME PARTY UP edition only)
  5. Nemurenu You ni -instrumental-
  6. PARTY TIME PARTY UP -instrumental-

1. Nemurenu You ni

As the leading A-side, Nemurenu You ni was of course the quieter of the two tracks being a slow ballad with some nice acoustic guitar and light synths.  Rina’s vocals are really light and delicate and just kind of gives this song a lullaby-like setting.  I have to say that of the many ballads in her discography, this one was nice and I enjoyed listening to the atmosphere of the song!

2. PARTY TIME PARTY UP

So it makes sense that the other A-side of the single is more of an upbeat offering, but it doesn’t quite strike the previous A-sides, “Bara ga Saku Bara ga Chiru” and “Mint” in the same way.  I do like the verses, but the chorus is quite weak to me and doesn’t hit punch me in a way.  I don’t know, but the song is alright, just nothing special to me.

3. Nemurenu You ni -lifeblood mix-

So the single was released in separate editions depending on which A-side is placed first but they do come with an exclusive remix.  Changing the ballad into a chilled out remix was an interesting move.  Sadly, the arrangement really doesn’t grow or add much, but I suppose it works with the melody and Rina still makes it sound nice.  I suppose this is an OK remix, but it could’ve been better.

4. PARTY TIME PARTY UP -command+s mix-

As for the remix for PARTY TIME PARTY UP it was given a bit more of a dancing beat rather than the original’s cut.  Like with the previous remix, I was happier that it suited the new arrangement, but is it funny that I think it has a little bit more oomph and it really works better since it didn’t feel quite as lifeless and the beats and synths sound much better.  Maybe this should’ve been the one used and the original mix be the remix xD.

 

 

As the 3rd single for the “TRIP” era, this single is pretty good to say the least, but also not quite the best Rina has done.  Nemurenu You ni was pretty light, yet delicate and pretty to listen to though PARTY TIME PARTY UP wasn’t too memorable for an upbeat track.  Though the reverse effect happened with the remixes.  I guess it’s a half & half situation.

 

Ayumi Hamasaki – Memorial address

Filed under: Ayumi Hamasaki — solarblade @ 4:57 am

memorialaddress

Track Listing

  1. ANGEL’S SONG
  2. Greatful days
  3. Because of You
  4. ourselves
  5. HANABI ~episode II~
  6. No way to say
  7. forgiveness
  8. Memorial address (take 2 version) (bonus track)

1. ANGEL’S SONG

Opening the mini-album is our first of 3 new songs here with ANGEL’S SONG!  Right from the start, I loved the grand intro that turns into an upbeat song that has a bit of that avex flair and catchiness.  The dance beats mixed with the guitarwork is pretty neat and Ayu’s staccato-like singing is quick yet cool.  Though I think what I remember the most is the PV with the werewolf/superhero angle and it just was such a bizarre juxtaposition with the song itself LOL.  What a way to kick this mini-album off!

2. Greatful days

It seems that all the leading songs did make the cut here so the first is Greatful days which was the 2nd lead track off of “&” and like I’ve said on the review, the poppy upbeat nature of the song just feels really nice and works after “ANGEL’S SONG” too!  It’s just a fun lively song and has it place here!

3. Because of You

The other main new song (the two that got PVs), I was curious to see this song because it was the other new song but boy was I not ready for this blowout of a song to come through my headphones back then.  I’m not sure what it is, but Ayu somehow always get dark songs right and Because of You is the hardest hitting song off the mini-album with its rockin’ arrangement and badass performance from her as well.  There’s just something about this dark atmosphere that gets me and this is the best of the mini-album hands down!!!

4. ourselves

I guess this song could be the first song from “&” and I guess giving it another shot, I do think the PV helped it slightly.  It’s like a toned down and slightly dark take of “ANGEL’S SONG”, but I don’t know, the song felt kind of generic to me with the arrangement, but the only thing that keeps it slightly above is Ayu’s vocals.  Still, just kind of eh to me.

5. HANABI ~episode II~

HANABI comes next and likewise, I wasn’t too into the song when I first listened to it because it really doesn’t quite live it to the first one at all.  Though after watching the PV, I think HANABI has a dark undertone to it that may help it out (though the original did too >.>).  I think it works a little better hearing it again, but I’m still not entirely into the song.

6. No way to say

Interesting, but obvious to me that they’d switch this and “forgiveness” so the ballad could end the album, sorta.  No way to say here still feels very in the middle for me since it’s not a bad song, but I feel like it has a hard time standing out compared to the other tracks as well.  Like I said, maybe a less memorable “Greatful days” is the best I can come up with.

7. forgiveness

Of course they had to end it off with forgiveness which is the ballad A-side of the era!   I thought it was wonderful that Ayu had this close the album out since it’s really beautiful and gorgeous of a ballad which I mean to be fair at this point, Ayu has a chockful of really good ballads!  Plus it got that PV it did and it’s just worked all-around!

8. Memorial address (take 2 version)

Though the album comes with a bonus track which is the title song for the mini-album (odd).  Though what’s interesting is that the melody comes from another song, the producer’s own band.  Though I was surprised the song started with some studio recording and then Ayu and piano enter in.  At first, I thought it was just going to be a piano ballad but it does grow into a rock track that has that same grit that “Because of You” had.   Total surprise for te bonus track and I think I dug this too!

 

 

Wow, jumping back to Memorial address was a nice trip, it’s no wonder why a LOT of people tend to like this one because while it was only 8 songs long, each song did bring something different to the table and the 3 new tracks were amazing in their own right too!  I kind of miss Ayu in these days and would love to see this effort return!

 

Ayumi Hamasaki – No way to say

Filed under: Ayumi Hamasaki — solarblade @ 3:26 am

nowaytosay

Track Listing

  1. No way to say
  2. No way to say “Acoustic Version”
  3. SEASONS “Acoustic Version”
  4. Dearest “Acoustic Orchestra Version”
  5. Voyage “Acoustic Orchestra Version”
  6. No way to say “Vandalize/Realize Mix”
  7. No way to say -Instrumental-

1. No way to say

I’m guessing from the cover art that No way to say is going to be a winter song just because it very much so looks the part, though I wasn’t expecting No way to say to kind of have that 00’s avex sound to it and not a ballad like what “forgiveness” turned out to be.  If anything it kind of gives me a sound that was from “LOVEppears” or even “RAINBOW”.  Not bad though, but I think of the era’s songs, No way to say is smack dab in the middle.

2. No way to say “Acoustic Version”

Though I’m not sure if giving the song just an acoustic guitar was a good idea, but I do think Ayu’s vocals manage to stand out moreso which is a plus.  It’s just that this stripped down version is what it is and that really doesn’t help much.  At least the chorus sounds a bit more fuller?

3. SEASONS “Acoustic Version”

I do like the harmonica (maybe?) that was added to the acoustic cut of SEASONS, but that’s rather shortlived once Ayu starts to sing and the tune strips to acoustic guitar & piano, but I don’t know why but I feel like SEASONS sounds much better in this setting than “No way to say” could pull off.

4. Dearest “Acoustic Orchestra Version”

Adding one more word to what version is sounds strange to me, but here we are with Dearest which begins with a nice piano intro and then Ayu’s light vocals starting in the verses.  I suppose the orchestra makes sense because strings are present and there isn’t any acoustic guitar.  Dearest though sounds prettier though and more meaningful so I definitely enjoyed this version!

5. Voyage “Acoustic Orchestra Version”

As for Voyage, the song is more dramatic with its movement and I really enjoyed the focus on a stronger arrangement and Ayu once again sounds really nice.  I mean there really isn’t much need to be said here, basically the same thoughts I shared with “Dearest”.

6. No way to say “Vandalize/Realize Mix”

Ending the single off, I was a bit surprised there’d be an upbeat remix on here considering the previous 4 tracks were definitely not that!  The remix though does feel like it takes its time to get to the singing but even then I think the track feels somewhat stale because the remix doesn’t really go anywhere and keeps to the same sound.

 

 

As the final single for the “Memorial address” era, No way to say is kind of a middle-of-the-boat for me.  No way to say is fine, but after the last couple of single, it just doesn’t really stick out and the track feels like something 2 albums ago.  The remainder of the single was mostly light, giving us stripped down versions of older songs which is fine, but nothing too mind-blowing (maybe cept Dearest & Voyage).  That last remix though was just odd here, had no place here.  Yeah, lets get to that mini shall we?

 

Ayumi Hamasaki – forgiveness

Filed under: Ayumi Hamasaki — solarblade @ 2:49 am

forgiveness

Track Listing

  1. forgiveness
  2. ourselves “Kentaro Takizawa Remix”
  3. HANABI ~episode II~ “HAL’S MIX 2003”
  4. forgiveness (Instrumental)

1. forgiveness

I have to say, I have said many times that Ayu’s ballads are usually kind of bland and rather forgetful in the grand scheme of things, forgiveness is one of those rare exceptions to the rule, but I think you could already assume that this wasn’t a normal piano/strings ballad just from its cover art (or the PV).  Not sure how she ended up here, but forgiveness is rather majestic and Ayu’s light and pinchy vocals actually sound good here which normally isn’t for ballads (though I do think this was her peak).  What a beautiful song and just surprised me overall with its grandiose sound…definitely one of her bests!

2. ourselves “Kentaro Takizawa Remix”

Back to remixes huh?  Yeah, we get some remixes of songs off her previous single, “&” and ourselves is the first one up!  This remix right from the start sounds a bit more bass-heavy and funky in comparison to the original, but after a bit, the weird percussion timings get to me and the repetition is a little more than annoying to me.  I do like how chilled out it is, but yeah no…

3. HANABI ~episode II~ “HAL’S MIX 2003”

Of course we have HAL coming back to remix HANABI II and instead of the pop/rock angst of the original mix, HAL takes the song into a more relaxed, jungle-like setting and I’m finding myself happier with this track than I did with the original since it gave Ayu a bit more room for her vocals to flourish in the arrangement…pretty neat remix here…much better than the one for “ourselves”.

 

 

2nd single of the “Memorial address” era and I’m pretty happy with the single, a bit more than I was with “&” since forgiveness was a really great ballad for Ayu to get and really shows that she’s just on top of the world in 2003!  As for the remixes, I would listen to the HANABI one more than the ourselves one because the former just changes the song in a way that sounds different than the original.  The latter just seems like many of her previous remixes, a bit too repetitive for my tastes.

 

Ayumi Hamasaki – &

Filed under: Ayumi Hamasaki — solarblade @ 2:22 am

andayumi

Track Listing

  1. ourselves
  2. Greatful days
  3. HANABI ~episode II~
  4. theme of a-nation ’03
  5. ourselves (Instrumental)
  6. Greatful days (Instrumental)
  7. HANABI ~episode II~ (Instrumental)

1. ourselves

Opening the single off in a mysterious and foreboding way is ourselves and the low bass and just overall low chaotic tone of the intro is interesting, but I wasn’t expecting the tune to go 180 and turn into an R&B track that does sound like early 2000’s pop.  Honestly, the verses are kind of deadpan to me and Ayu’s performance just doesn’t quite stick out to me.  The chorus almost fails in the same way, but she does some good high notes on occasion too.  Interesting song overall, but maybe not one of her bests.  Let’s be honest though, we remember the PV better right?

2. Greatful days

The next track also kind of opens in a mysterious to a poppy way (but not quite as drawn out in “ourselves”), but it seems this is considered a Summer song from Ayu.  I think the song is a bit more memorable to me with a more bright and active performance from her and the chorus is just hopeful and upbeat too!  I think I remember this the most from this single honestly!

3. HANABI ~episode II~

Seeing the title, it definitely made me think it was supposed to be a continuation from “HANABI” from her “RAINBOW” album.  It might just be tied to it by lyrics, but episode II is definitely its own beast by being a bit more rock-centric and has background singers to add a bit more triumph and power.  There’s something about it that doesn’t quite work in this song to me, but I suppose she needed that cold, pop/rock emotional track I guess.

4. theme of a-nation ’03

Considering that a-nation was pretty huge back then and giving Ayu the song used as the main theme for the concert, I was surprised more that it was given a studio version as well!  Unlike the previous 3 tracks, theme of a-nation ’03 starts off with a really nice Japanese-like intro with shakuhachis and taiko drums before cooling out and leaving and ethereal arrangement with Ayu’s light vocals.  It’s a nice track overall and I think it manages to make good on what it was supposed to do!

 

 

Kicking off the “Memorial address” era, & was an interesting single since it didn’t have a specific main song (I think it was the first 3 tracks while theme of a-nation ’03 was the B-side since it’s the only song that doesn’t make the cut to the mini-album).  I would say it’s a little bit of a sleeper single for me because I tend to forget these songs happened (although Greatful days was the best of the 4).  Curious to what’s next!

 

Takanori Nishikawa – His/Story/Roll The Dice

Filed under: T.M.Revolution — solarblade @ 1:44 am

hisstory

Track Listing

  1. His/Story
  2. Roll The Dice
  3. His/Story (Thunderbolt Fantasy Touriken Yuuki 2 OP ver.) (Limited Anime only)
  4. Roll The Dice (Thunderbold Fantasy Touriken Yuuki 2 ED ver.) (Limited Anime only)
  5. His/Story (Instrumental)
  6. Roll The Dice (Instrumental)

1. His/Story

As the main A-side, His/Story has an interesting opening with a bit more rough guitars and drums at the forefront, but the song gets a bit synthy once Takanori starts the verse.  I definitely can see this song as a mixture of Takanori’s groups he’s been a front of and I quite dig the mix as it’s both rockin’ but futuristic at the same time.  Not bad at all here and it’s much stronger than his previous effort, “Bright Burning Shout”.

2. Roll The Dice

As for the other A-side (used as the ending theme for the same anime), Roll The Dice focuses more on the heavy rockin’ side of things which sounds a bit more natural and powerful as well.  While not as fast, I think Takanori’s vocals were much more controlled and emotional too.  I have to say, this one stood out to me more and makes me miss abingdon boys school in the worst way lol.

 

 

As the 2nd and last single before his solo? album “SINGularity” releases, I have to say His/Story & Roll The Dice was a pretty good offering.  I guess I’m sort of seeing the split away from Daisuke Asakura (hence why this isn’t T.M.Revolution) but I’m liking that the decision to do his own thing hasn’t strayed too far from what he’s done prior so good on him!  Interested in his album now!