Kurayami Monogatari

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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!

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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!

 

Nana Mizuki – METANOIA

Filed under: Nana Mizuki — solarblade @ 3:23 am

metanoia

Track Listing

  1. METANOIA
  2. Born Free
  3. SUMMER PIRATES

1. METANOIA

I was wondering since METANOIA was another tie-in song for the Symphogear series, I was wondering what direction she’d take this A-side in and it seems a bit more like what “Vitalization” was but a little more edgier with the rock instrumentation, but fuses with the electro groove until the chorus where the tune turns into a heavy metal track which is fair since Nana’s soaring vocals reach out.  Not sure what I think of the male vocals in the after-chorus, but the song itself is pretty badass!  Another winner here!

2. Born Free

One of the B-sides come up and it does have another anime tie-in, but unlike the energy from “METANOIA”, Bore Free is more of a straight-laced rock track that eerily reminds of songs that were under BLEACH.  Unfortunately being right after such a good track, Born Free doesn’t quite stick out to me and just kind of goes and passes over me with a blah kind of impression.

3. SUMMER PIRATES

Of course the other B-side to the single is actually quite different from the rest of the single by having more of a discotheque/funky groove to it and I’m loving Nana’s spicy energy in the tune and it has been a while since we’ve had an upbeat kind of track from Nana and it really sticks out in a great way!

 

 

Yeah, I know this is a late review but hey, not terrible right?  METANOIA though is a pretty decent single all-around.  The leading track is another grand slam of a song for her and fits with the other great Symphogear songs!  SUMMER PIRATES though I think beats it out by a small margin as it’s exciting and just full of life!  The only track that I didn’t really care for was Born Free but mostly because it was pretty straightforward with not a lot to remember it by.  Curious when her next album will be announced, but decent single!

 

NCT DREAM – We Boom

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 1:09 am

weboom

Track Listing

  1. BOOM
  2. STRONGER
  3. 119
  4. Bye My First…
  5. Best Friend
  6. Dream Run

1. BOOM

As the lead-in track, BOOM kind of continues the same kind of hip-hop feel NCT DREAM had started following with from “GO” and “We Go Up”.  It’s a bit more slick and cool though which makes it quite nice.  Adding that this time that Jeno, Jaemin, and Jisung starts things off quite nicely and I’m really loving Jisung’s more lower tones more than ever.  Does seem like those three really have their time to shine in this one and I’m quite happy with that.  Chenle, Haechan, and Renjun (and a bit of Jisung) gets actually singing lines and they perfectly work well too!  Hell, Renjun gets the big climatic note in the last run through the chorus which is usually saved for Haechan.  Honestl,y this is probably their strongest comeback yet if I had to be frank about it.

2. STRONGER

Next song in and we’re continuing with a bit more R&B here with STRONGER.  It seems like the line distribution here is pretty much similar with Jeno & Jaemin as the first two for the rapping verses and then Renjun & Haechan for the pre-chorus here too.  I’ll have to say the chorus is a bit strange to listen to and the aggressive nature is unique especially since Jisung gets to have this punch (Jeno does this in the 2nd chorus).  Odd song here, but seems to suit it after “BOOM”.

3. 119

I’m pretty surprised the mini-album has a darker tone to it and 119 is probably the darkest of the 3 on here.  I’m enjoying the uncomfortable air about and with Haechan, Jisung, Jeno, and then Jaemin was building it up so nicely and then it mellows our to Chenle & Renjun in the prechorus and it all worked.  Surprised to hear Haechan & Chenle sing together for its chorus.  It’s actually really cool and may surpass “BOOM” with some extra listens.  This was definitely a song for the rappers and I really dug it!

4. Bye My First…

Toning things down into more of a lighter setting, Bye My First… is still kind of poppy for the group, but it doesn’t really fall into the last 3 tracks.  Plus, it’s interesting hearing all 6 members actually singing here and not a lot of rapping here (maybe a little for Jaemin & Jeno).  Though what sticks out are the nice vocals (especially those high notes sung by Chenle & Renjun throughout).  I could’ve saw this back on “We Go Up” but I’m pretty impressed by this tune too and also enjoyed that lyrical nod to “My First and Last”!

5. Best Friend

Probably the slowest of the songs, Best Friend seems to be a song from “We Young” with the kind of the Summer-like groove and this laidback, chanting ditty.  I think also of the 6 songs, this is probably the weakest for some reason.  The 3 rappers are nice of course but they don’t seem to fit with the kind of campfire like chorus it has too.  I could live without it.

6. Dream Run

Ending the mini, I was thinking maybe this was going to be the group’s ballad song, but Dream Run is exciting, funky, and pretty unique to NCT DREAM all-around. I’m liking all the directions it took and the chorus is just lit and really lets the group have a good time.  I’m loving all the members here and their stylings really work here!

 

 

As the first release after Mark’s graduation from the group, We Boom is probably NCT DREAM’s best release yet with most of the songs coming out pretty damn well!  I will say that I’m happier that all 6 members are gelling a LOT better here than ever with Jeno and Jaemin becoming the group’s de-facto rappers where Jisung is kind of sliding between both rapping and singing (especially since his voice is getting super deep and silkier too). Even the other 3 are getting better at singing, my curiosity lies in what’s next because many are due to graduate soon…hmmm…Still best release yet! *RECOMMENDED*