Kurayami Monogatari

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NCT DREAM×HRVY – Don’t Need Your Love September 12, 2019

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 4:59 am

dontneedyourlove

Track Listing

  1. Don’t Need Your Love
  2. Don’t Need Your Love (Inst.)

1. Don’t Need Your Love

I wasn’t expecting a collaboration for the group’s 3rd SM Station song, but hey anything is possible these days eh?  This time, they’ve chosen HRVY who as far as I know is pretty popular out in the UK.  Though knowing previous efforts with collaborations in Kpop, I was expecting much, but for some reason HRVY really slid smoothly alongside the group and his singing REALLY worked!  The rest of the group handled it well too with Renjun, Chenle, and Jisung singing while Jeno & Jaemin doing the raps (Haechan was too busy promoting with NCT 127 to be a part of this).  Honestly, this song is amazing for the group and would love to see HRVY collaborate with them (hell, the fact that PV made him actually feel part of the group is so cool!).

 

 

NCT DREAM’s 3rd SM Station single was a complete winner here.  I mean it is the first release without Mark and shame that Haechan had to miss it, but this might be one of NCT DREAM’s best songs currently because of how smooth yet teen bop it is.  HRVY was also a great addition as his English lyrics just suited alongside the Korean ones too.  Could we have him join NCT?

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NCT DREAM – Candle Light

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 4:35 am

candlelight

Track Listing

  1. Candle Light
  2. Candle Light (Inst.)

1. Candle Light

Did NCT 127 give up one of their R&B ballads to NCT DREAM for their 2nd SM Station song?  I mean for some reason I kind of like the sincerity of the song a lot and when it opens with Mark, Jisung, and then Chenle singing, that’s got to mean something right?  It’s such a laidback and relaxing tune for the group and the line distribution was a bit more interesting than in “JOY”.  That being said, Mark has a rap in the bridge and its mostly because this was his final song with the group before he graduated out.  One of the more underrated songs from the group to be honest.

 

 

SM really did nicely by this song.  Being that this is Mark’s farewell song, Candle Light was soft and soothing which is a surprise after the hectic sounds of both “GO” and “We Go Up” so this was a nice breakaway for a bit.

 

NCT DREAM – JOY

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 4:23 am

joy

Track Listing

  1. JOY
  2. JOY (Inst.)

1. JOY

I kind of figured that NCT DREAM would be the unit from the NCT umbrella to be thrown SM Station songs and considering it was the Christmas season, JOY just makes a LOT of sense for them.  If it wasn’t apparent from the start and when Haechan starts the verses, JOY is essentially their cut of the classic, “Joy to the World” and later on, “Jingle Bells”.  Granted, it’s really only Haechan, Renjun, Chenle, and Mark as Jeno & Jisung gets like a small part towards the end.  It’s not bad, but rapping in Christmas-themed songs never work and Mark’s is pretty awkward here.

 

 

Released around the time after “My First and Last” happened, JOY was the first SM Station NCT DREAM was involved in and it’s kind of a throwaway song for me.  I will say that Haechan, Renjun, Chenle did a pretty good job singing, but everything else was just a mess.  Oh well.

 

Ai Otsuka – Chime September 7, 2019

Filed under: Ai Otsuka — solarblade @ 4:46 pm

chime

Track Listing

  1. Chime
  2. kit palette
  3. XOX
  4. Dame Dame da (iTunes edition only)
  5. Chime (Instrumental)
  6. kit palette (Instrumental)
  7. XOX (Instrumental)

1. Chime

As the leading track, Chime was used as an anime theme and I don’t think I’ve seen Ai-chin do this in quite a while so I’m already interested especially since it’d have to be upbeat and Ai pulls off another fun track with Chime.  It really reminds me of “Rocket Sneaker” for some reason and some of her earlier tunes too.  I just really like her vocals in the song and the energy just sticks to you.  Great A-side!

2. kit palette

I remembered this song because it was released earlier in the year as a digital single to promote Kit Kats xD.  Unlike the vibrant and upbeat “Chime”, kit palette is a little more toned down, but still has this bouncy and happy-go-lucky vibe.  I like the arrangement a lot and Ai’s vocals are a bit more hushed and maybe a bit playful too.  Another pretty good song on the single.

3. XOX

So the story goes that XOX is an English self-cover of “Dame Dame da”, a song she wrote for Shiori Tomita back in 2014.  I was curious because I didn’t even recall this song back then lol.  Of course being in English I was pretty curious how Ai would able to tackle this, but I think she did OK, but the accent is a little off here.  I really do like her vocals in the chorus as it’s more angsty and has a different tone to match the song’s more aggressive pop/rock sound.  I kind of dug it!

4. Dame Dame da

On the iTunes release of the single, we get the pure Japanese self-cover and since it’s more comfortable for Ai, she sounds like what I’d expect (which is surprising since her tone is so different in “XOX”).  Still, I really liked the energetic kick of the song and works well with “Chime” too!

 

 

While it hasn’t been too long since Ai-chin released something (this is her first single since her best album released), Chime is pretty decent overall.  It might not have the usual WTFness that her last couple of singles contained, going for more of a straightforward pop/rock release with all 3 tracks.  I think I liked Chime the best but both kit palette and XOX weren’t too far behind and throwing in Dame Dame da as a digital exclusive was nice too.  Yeah, great single overall!

 

Country Girls – One Summer Night ~Manatsu no Kesshin~/Natsuiro no Palette

Filed under: Country Girls — solarblade @ 4:07 pm

One Summer Night ~Manatsu no Kesshin~ _ Natsuiro no Palette

Track Listing

  1. One Summer Night ~Manatsu no Kesshin~
  2. Natsuiro no Palette

1. One Summer Night ~Manatsu no Kesshin~

As the leading song from the single (basically the one that got the PV), One Summer Night sounds old, but nothing like some of their older works here.  I kind of like the sound of the song and the inclusion of saxophones in and around the track.  I’m more surprised by sound of the quartet (especially with Funakki).  The chorus is a bit still, but it keeps with vibes of the track while the verses are quickly sung too.  I think the only thing that doesn’t seem fitting is the echo filters…maybe it’s there to make things sound more older, but it just doesn’t work for me.  Not bad!

2. Natsuiro no Palette

As for the other song, it’s definitely up my alley with being more modern and synth/dance which is great!  This really has that signature H!P feel to it and I’m loving hearing Risa, Musubu, Mai, and Chisaki here a lot more than I did in “One Summer Night”.  It may be slightly to the books when it comes to their songs, but it’s cute that’s for sure!

 

 

As the first single after Nanami Yanagawa’s graduation (which is sadly a digital single), this release wasn’t that bad actually.  Both songs had something to bring to the table, but nothing that would say I’ll remember this in the long run.  Does make me worried that with Country Girls being 4 members and UFP having no interest in adding members…I wonder how much longer this group has.

 

Up Up Girls – Da Dan Dance!/Heat Beat Island/5 to the 5th Power

Filed under: Up Up Girls — solarblade @ 6:48 am

dadandance

Track Listing

  1. Da Dan Dance!
  2. Heat Beat Island
  3. 5 to the 5th Power
  4. Da Dan Dance! (Instrumental)
  5. Heat Beat Island (Instrumental)
  6. 5 to the 5th Power (Instrumental)

1. Da Dan Dance!

As the leading A-side, Da Dan Dance! kicks the single off with a nice energetic arrangement with horns and some funk that gives the song a bit of a Summery vibe.  It’s no surprise that Akari and Konatsu get the leads here as they’re all over the track while the remaining three are secondaries to the tune.  Not a bad song and it’s another track that they don’t sound insanes lol.  Not bad!

2. Heat Beat Island

Seems the summery vibes continue with Heat Beat Island which has more of a latin-ish vibe to it in comparison to “Da Dan Dance!”.  I’m already liking that al 5 members have solos in the verses and choruses here and they all sound particularly great!  There was better connection with this song and the passionate fire with the tune really stuck out!

3. 5 to the 5th Power

As for the 3rd A-side, to me definitely comes off as more of an ENCORE song as it’s kind of upbeat and has a lot of chanting involved and the song is pretty much an info dump about all 5 members which is interesting in the way that each verse sounds different between the members.  Morisaki is dance while Azusa is slow and so on and so forth.  It’s a pretty bizarre song, but I think they needed something like this.

 

 

With the group showing no signs of slowing down, they’re 3rd single in this album era is interesting.  Da Dan Dance! and Heat Beat Island are surprisingly good strong songs from them an I’m really like how the quintet is growing vocally nowadays.  5 to the 5th Power is an oddball song since it is rather short and the topic only stays on each member for a short period of time so it sounds better like an intro theme to a live tour.  I wonder when the 6th album will be announced.

 

Hitomi Shimatani – brilliant

Filed under: Hitomi Shimatani — solarblade @ 4:18 am

brilliant

Track Listing

  1. Brilliant Ways
  2. SEASIDE ROMANCE
  3. gentle rain (new version)
  4. Amairo no Kami no Otome (new version)
  5. Blue mermaid
  6. CYCLE

1. Brilliant Ways

Opening the mini with acoustic guitar, Brilliant Ways is a surprising track for me as it really reminds me of BONNIE PINK’s music for some reason but it could just be the natural sound and mood of the tune that really gets to me.  Add on Hitomi’s awesome vocals and it really came together.  It’s a pretty good way to kick things off that’s for sure!

2. SEASIDE ROMANCE

Though mood instantly changes getting into SEASIDE ROMANCE which has more of an 80’s new wave feel to it and I can appreciate that as well and Hitomi suits the funky guitar and heavy bass groove throughout.  It almost makes me think of her last album, “misty” with its overall flow.  Yeah, this was another winner and probably my favorite from the mini-album.

3. gentle rain (new version)

I kind of wonder why this song was given a new cut considering it isn’t even that old of a song (a track from her last album “misty”), but I do remember it because it was a rather nostalgic sound of a tack that harkens back to the early 90s.  It still retains that feel mostly, but mostly the difference is light (I think the biggest difference is the lack of the thunderstorm in the intro).  Maybe some arrangement changes, but they don’t really make too much of a difference.  OK…?

4. Amairo no Kami no Otome (new version)

This one was a no guess as to why it got a new cut as it’s still Hitomi’s biggest hit (while I still don’t exactly agree that it’s her best song, since it’s a cover) at least this new cut feels a bit more interesting by being a little more dance-popish after the intro.  Like “gentle rain” it does have a nostalgic feel to it for some reason and Hitomi still sounds really good too!  Though I do think the only that really changes from the OLD original is that guitar melody stands out more.

5. Blue mermaid

OK, this one definitely has that vibe that I got from her last album and it’s more of this brassy City Pop vibe and I’m kind of digging the nice percussion with the loungey piano melody here.  I mean otherwise, there’s not much else to say about the song, it’s just lively and suits Hitomi’s great vocals!

6. CYCLE

As the ending of the mini, CYCLE wasn’t what I was expecting with its mix of acoustic guitar and saxophone mix here.  This is another song that gives me some BONNIE PINK vibes which is interesting but since it’s the ballad of the album, I wasn’t really all that interested in it and seems a little odd after “Blue mermaid”.  The chorus though does seem to drag a bit too with Hitomi saying the title…yeah, fitting but not interesting closing track.

 

 

I was surprised that after “misty” she’d just drop this mini-album despite not really promoting it from what I’ve seen.  I will say that it’s a pretty nice mini-album all things concerned with some of the lingering City Pop sound found here in the new tracks.  Not quite sure why gentle rain and Amairo no Kami no Otome got new versions that really didn’t amount to anything noteworthy.  Otherwise, nice mini overall!