Kurayami Monogatari

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NCT DREAM – Reload April 30, 2020

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 4:58 am

Reload 46

Track Listing

  1. Ridin’
  2. Quiet Down
  3. 7 Days
  4. Love Again
  5. Puzzle Piece

1. Ridin’

It feels like it’s been forever since “BOOM” so I was excited to see NCT DREAM return and it seems we’re back to something a bit more harder for the group, kind of feeling like “GO” without the pure aggression it had.  There’s some really neat parts especially with Jaemin kicking things off and hearing all the remaining members doing their thing that they’ve been pulling off since the last couple of releases.  Not bad at all and I was still pretty impressed overall that’s for sure!

2. Quiet Down

I actually was more interested in hearing Quiet Down, though it’s still pretty much in the same cool vein that “Ridin'” had which is neat.  Though this one has a bit more interesting dynamics and overall sound like Chenle singing low lines and Renjun rapping in the second verse.  I mean still, Jeno and Jaemin still own the raps, but I was just overall surprised in these switch-ups.  I’d even argue that it’s better than the leading track to be quite honest!

3. 7 Days

Though the remainder of the mini-album has the group take on more lighter arrangements starting with 7 Days which takes the group into an R&B sound (something that NCT 127 has done a lot of from their latest album).  Though I’m already more interested in the song because of the younger vocals and the harmonies are sweet to hear.  I do enjoy the arrangement of the song a lot, but I don’t think I’ll be able to remember the melody much except for its chorus which is pleasant!

4. Love Again

Oh do I like Haechan opening the next song Love Again a lot.  I mean the song screams like 90’s boy band style here with the vocals chops and the chanting alongside in the verses.  Yeah, once the chorus hits, it heavily starts to feel nostalgic to the kid in me back in the 90s and I kind of love the New Jack Swing groove from it.  Nice little tune here and did pretty well!

5. Puzzle Piece

Ending the mini, we have the ballad of the release in Puzzle Piece and it’s pretty much your cute love song from the group.  I do like the stripped down feel of the song mostly surrounded by acoustic guitar which is interesting for the group as they haven’t tackled something like this.  It’s pretty intimate and soft-spoken and that was nice to see from them.

 

 

I was wondering where NCT DREAM was after last year’s “We Boom” and they returned with another great mini-album here.  I think 4 out of the 5 songs were really good tracks and showed the group growing more.  I think 7 Days is the weakest to me because it feels like other NCT songs out there.  I think this group of 6 is continuing to be awesome…

would be the thing I’d say if they didn’t announce a couple days prior that NCT DREAM’s graduation concept is being dropped entirely, Mark is returning to the group, and from the sound of it will act like NCT U (which makes me wonder how active they’ll be moving forward because NCT U is barely kicking right now).

 

Kanon Wakeshima – odd sting & intrigue April 29, 2020

Filed under: Kanon Wakeshima — solarblade @ 2:42 pm

oddsting

Track Listing

  1. NEXT
  2. asteroid
  3. Akuma no Sasayaki
  4. altar
  5. REVERSE

1. NEXT

As the first track from the mini, NEXT was something I didn’t expect to come from Kanon as it’s a little more R&B and slightly soulful in its arrangement.  I feel like Kanon seems to have gotten better singing in these songs as her whispy vocals sound suitable for the style and she just comes off cool and sultry.  Not sure if I like the rapping in the 2nd verse but it is followed up nicely with a cello solo from her which is pretty awesomes.  Not a bad way to start the album off.

2. asteroid

I’m immediately liking the darker tones that asteroid brings that kind of harkens back to hear earlier days.  Kanon’s tone though is really interesting here as it’s even more quieter and mysterious up to the chorus where it comes out and while her English is a little spotty, I can dig the tone of the tune and just feels right!

3. Akuma no Sasayaki

Guess Kanon needed to throw something upbeat and cute as is the case with Akuma no Sasayaki.  It definitely gives me some slight “Princess Charleston” vibes, but I’m OK with it since this track is catchy and the jazzy / ragtime tones are pretty good as it should be.  It’s playful and the arrangement is exciting to me, probably my favorite from the mini!

4. altar

Things slow down a bit again for altar here.  I think of the tracks, altar kind of feels like more of the sound we’ve gotten used to from “Tsukinami” and “luminescene Q.E.D”.  Though not a whole lot of the cello conscience until the bridge, but the rest of the song is kind of performed by a band.  Not quite as anison, but it’s a simpler track for Kanon and for the most part, it’s OK but the previous 3 tracks stood out more.  I will say her last notes in the song were surprisingly strong for someone who I thought wasn’t too capable of it.

5. REVERSE

I feel like coming into the last track, REVERSE feels like a fusion of both “NEXT” and “altar” with the funkier vibes but the same band-like tone as well.  It’s slightly more upbeat than the latter track, but this might just be me.  REVERSE is OK, didn’t like the repetitive chorus much and it kind of feels like somewhat of a B-side would sound like to me.

 

 

I definitely remember seeing this just randomly pop up without prior knowledge when it released, so it was a nice surprise to see Kanon return, though bummed it was just a digital release.  odd sting & intrigue sees Kanon kind of gelling more to these jazzy routes and I’m OK with this as it brings a little more liveliness to her music (though I still miss her more goth, baroque pieces from her SONY days.  Not a bad release, did fizzle out towards the end, but I like this little sampler release.  I wonder if that’s where she’ll stay sound-wise going forward though.

 

SAWA – Bijin Hakumei Aegekai

Filed under: SAWA — solarblade @ 5:42 am

bijinhakumei

Track Listing

  1. HowToLove
  2. Dokin
  3. BIG
  4. Gyoumu Teikei
  5. PoisonGirl
  6. Bijin Hakumei Aegekai
  7. Irodore! Playground
  8. Zigzag Non Stop
  9. Chikutaku Teleport
  10. Haru ni

1. HowToLove

SAWA opens up the mini-album with HowToLove and I’m instantly pulled to the funkier vibes back then with the quick-based synth with the heavy lean on bass for the track.  I mean I like the arrangement of the song and while SAWA has never been the best vocalist, she’s kind of giving me this cutesy voice that’s almost anison in ways.  It’s a nice start at least and makes me curious to see where this mini goes.

2. Dokin

Then we get Dokin that turns the cutesy tone way up for this one and I’m not as much quite into this one.  I’m not sure where it falters where it’s between the strange arrangement or the vocals as per usual.  I do appreciate the kind of space-like atmosphere it’s giving but it’s nowhhere near as impressive as songs like “Stars” or even “Swimming Dancing” was back in the day.  Oh wells.

3. BIG

Third track in and I’m a little surprised she reused an asset heard back in the first track, but the song’s tone is a bit between cute and electronic mixed in with future bass in ways which kind of sounds messy when you also include SAWA actually doing some pseudo-rapping in the track.  Yeah, no this one way pretty messy and annoyed me to no end.

4. Gyoumu Teikei

At least with the next track, it sounds like things were going in a better direction (at least anything after “BIG” is considered better.  Gyoumu Teikei definitely is the album’s electro song at the moment and it feels progressive and not like something that sounds a little too outside of SAWA’s box.  I really do like SAWA’s vocals and it worked with the piano and warm-colored dance beats here.  Yah, this one stood out for me and might be the album’s gem!

5. PoisonGirl

I wasn’t sure where PoisonGirl was taking SAWA and why is she reusing that ~WAHOO~ asset so much on this album, it’s kind of making me dislike the repeated used.  Outside of that grievance, PoisonGirl is interesting because it’s like a bit cute, but somewhat darker but SAWA’s idol-like vocals are just kind of splitting the song.  This one may take a while for me to get used to.

6. Bijin Hakumei Aegekai

We get to the album’s title track (and promotional track as well) with Bijin Hakumei Aegekai!  It kind of follows the same tone that “HowToLove” did with the funky bass slaps , but this has a little more oomph in its arrangement that sounds like SAWA is having a fun time singing the song and it really comes off that way.  It’s a ridiculously cute and fun song that’s for sure!

7. Irodore! Playground

Getting into our next track, Irodore! Playground is giving me some unfortunate “BIG” vibes with the weird arrangement and melody on top of SAWA’s nasal vocals that kind of make the song a little more annoying and idol-like in ways and the chorus is a little frantic and pushy.  Just not working here…

8. Zigzag Non Stop

Moving on, Zigzag Non Stop starts off simple enough, but the cutesy voice is pretty much on high throughout the song and the verses made it sound worse than it truly should, but once she enters the chorus, the chorus adds more synths and beats to make things a bit more bearable.  I still don’t agree with her vocals in the verses, but she sounds decent in the chorus.  It’s OK I guess, but nothing I’d come back to.

9. Chikutaku Teleport

Ooooh, a jazzy song pops up with Chikutaku Teleport and it’s just more of the frantic upbeat arrangement that other songs had problems with throughout (sometimes less is better, basically).  I do enjoy the verses though because it focuses more on the instrumentation and less the beat.  I think I could grow into liking it, but it’s just a meh song at the moment.

10. Haru ni

As the album’s final song, I was surprised that it was SAWA and piano.  It actually surprised me a lot that SAWA was actually singing in the song, however she definitely could not really handle the song by herself and her tight and pinched vocals.  This was a nice treat, but it just solidified how weak she is as a singer.

 

 

As this is SAWA’s 11th mini-album, I was pretty disappointed in this one.  I felt like she was showing off more of an idol vibe and was pulling away from the electronic genre with this album, but not straying too far.  That said, not many of the songs really clicked with me and she had a LOT of stinkers on this one too.  Not sure what she was going for, but I want her back into EDM again and not head where she did in Haru ni.  Meh mini-album.

 

NCT DREAM – THE DREAM

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 4:21 am

thedream

Track Listing

  1. Chewing Gum
  2. My First and Last
  3. We Young
  4. GO
  5. We Go Up
  6. BOOM
  7. Candle Light

1. Chewing Gum

Of course we start this mini-album with their debut song and boy the group has come a LOOOONG way since this song especially in doing more mature songs.  Jumping back to Chewing Gum is a little jarring because it was so youthful and happy-go-lucky.  I just remember a LOT of Haechan & Mark in the song because they were at that time the popular members (thanks to NCT U & NCT 127).  The song is pretty cute still and hearing the new members (Renjun, Chenle, Jisung, Jeno, and Jaemin) was refreshing and held the song up too.  Still a fun song to come back to!

2. My First and Last

As it was the group’s first comeback, My First and Last kept the youthful sound up, but kind of took it in a more funkier route which was great!  Sad that Jaemin had to miss this and “We Young” due to an injury so the remaining 6 had to continue on.  I’m really liking the group’s dynamics for the most part (Haechan leads while Mark still has the main rap lines).  Though hearing the other new members is nice to hear too, a good sign that the group was just going to get better!

3. We Young

I still definitely am here and there with this song to this day, but I’ve warmed a bit more since reviewing it originally.  I think the move to it’s kind of genre was an odd choice and felt more like a step back to the kiddy nature of “Chewing Gum”.  I do like hearing Chenle and Renjun step up a bit more here and with Jeno and Jisung taking more rap lines is interesting too.  Like I said, it’s a bit divisive of a song, but it works and made sense as a leading track!

4. GO

So with “We Young” diving back to the child-like wonders, GO was a HELLA SHARP 180 in comparison.  Being as NCT DREAM’s contribution to the NCT collective album, “EMPATHY”, GO was a huge change for the group’s sound as it was more hip-hop and aggressive (as if they traded styles with NCT 127 here).  Though I love this song still and it remains one of the best NCT tracks out there.  Also, Jaemin returns and he shares a decent rap line with Jeno in the song actually everyone but Jisung had shine here.  It’s such a change of pace, but I love that they did it.

5. We Go Up

Which made sense they’d continue that streak with their next comeback which was also the last main song Mark did with the group before his graduation from said group due to age.  Though it’s great to see Jaemin and Jeno kickstart the song with Mark and Jisung following behind leaving the other 3 members to take the pre-chorus for once.  It’s a very energetic song with a booming chorus that’s really catchy in some ways (the chorus’ lyrics are a bit…monotonous though).  Great song though I will say!

6. BOOM

So the first post-Mark NCT DREAM song, BOOM was pretty cool too giving us a classier style for the group and showcased more of the members and it’s really interesting to listen to because of the beats and great energy the group has.  I was worried that Haechan wasn’t going to be involved because of his international trip with NCT 127, so I’m happy he was able to do it though making sparse visuals in the MV.  Still an awesome song!

7. Candle Light

Interesting choice that they closed this mini-album with Candle Light considering it wasn’t an official release from the band, but more like an SM Station release.  It is also slightly strange because it’s the ballad where the rest of the album was upbeat danceable songs.  Though I will say I still enjoyed this song because it’s just a happy song especially since this was the last PV Mark did as part of NCT DREAM.  It’s a nice track overall and closes the mini with a cute little bow.

 

 

I get that this mini-album was the group’s sort-of debut in Japan, but like was this truly needed?  I mean they didn’t even redo the songs in Japanese and purely left as the Korean takes.  I mean the group’s 6 main songs and an SM Station track was nice and is the best songs from the group, but like if you were going to include Candle Light, might as well included “JOY”, “Trigger the fever” and “Don’t Need Your Love” at that point.  Like I said this mini-album is 7 amazing songs, but the effort and lack of surprises or anything new hurts this release a LOT.

 

UVERworld – ROB THE FRONTIER

Filed under: UVERworld — solarblade @ 3:44 am

robthefrontier

Track Listing

  1. ROB THE FRONTIER
  2. Touch off (2019.6.6 Live at Okinawa MUSIC TOWN OTO-ICHIBA)
  3. Ø choir (2019.6.6 Live at Okinawa MUSIC TOWN OTO-ICHIBA)
  4. ConneQt (2019.6.6 Live at Okinawa MUSIC TOWN OTO-ICHIBA)
  5. ROB THE FRONTIER (short ver.)
  6. ROB THE FRONTIER (instrumental)

CD2

  1. EMPTY96 (2019.6.6 Live at Okinawa MUSIC TOWN OTO-ICHIBA)
  2. Arubeki Katachi (2019.6.6 Live at Okinawa MUSIC TOWN OTO-ICHIBA)
  3. ODD FUTURE (Remixed by R3HAB)
  4. EDEN e (Remixed by DJ White Shadow)

1. ROB THE FRONTIER

With ROB THE FRONTIER, I feel like UVERworld decided to at least make it pretty straightforward and kind of to-the-books like stuff in their first 3 albums by being more punk rock and loud about it.  Though it seems it’s like that up to the bridge where it kind of shifts into more of this synthy/heavy vocal filter section for its bridge.  Not bad, not great, just OK for the most part, but it’s still very much UVERworld.

 

 

*will review the remixes if they leak*  As the 5th A-side, they closed out the “UNSER” era with a rather safe song when compared to the rest.  I mean ROB THE FRONTIER is pretty much UVERworld without the eccentricities that the other 4 leading songs have.  Not their best single especially when it’s crammed with 5 lives and 2 remixes, but I suppose a single with no B-side would’ve been poor choice.

 

UVERworld – Touch off

Filed under: UVERworld — solarblade @ 3:07 am

touchoff

Track Listing

  1. Touch off
  2. ConneQt
  3. Touch off (short ver.)
  4. Touch off (instrumental)

1. Touch off

After 3 leading songs that was pretty unique, why not a 4th one to deal with?  Yeah, I will say that I’m enjoying that Touch off does sound quite different from songs before by utilizing the acoustic guitar much more in the front while the band plays behind it.  Though I can say for fact that I’m not quite into this song too much, I did appreciate SEIKA, but the thing I remember most is the whole ~sugoi ni fire~ line that pops in throughout the verses.  It’s OK, but definitely screams B-side to me.

2. ConneQt

As for the actual B-side, ConneQt tones things done white a bit for the band with it’s funky groove and slow jam tone which is nice to hear after all of the wild energy the band has put in for the last couple singles so this is essentially a breath of fresh air.  Surprised to hear the vocal filter, but it adds color to the song, but I feel like I’ve heard this kind of track before from them.

 

 

Yes, there is a second disc, but it’s just more live versions of past songs.  Anyways I felt like I didn’t hear about this song prior to release and not surprised I wasn’t too enthusiastic with its turnout as a whole either.  Kind of says something when both tracks actually do end up on “UNSER” ironically enough.  Touch off does fit the band’s current experimentation phase, but it doesn’t quite leave a mark like the previous 3 A-sides have and ConneQt is nice and needed in this era, as a whole, it’s nothing totally special sadly.

 

UVERworld – GOOD and EVIL/EDEN e

Filed under: UVERworld — solarblade @ 2:42 am

goodandevil

Track Listing

  1. GOOD and EVIL
  2. EDEN e
  3. KINJITO (Live at Yokohama Arena 2017.12.21)
  4. Halzion (Live at Yokohama Arena 2017.12.21)

1. GOOD and EVIL

As the leading track of the single, GOOD and EVIL continues with the band’s kind of experimentation since “ODD FUTURE” but this one is a little more in your face, but has a mix of synths, the band themselves, and some vocal filters to kind of gives us this frantic track that’s pretty nifty and impressive.  There’s a LOT of different feels throughout and it works once again.  I really do commend TAKUYA for his presence as his edgier vocals always seem to capture my focus pretty well!  Another strong A-side!

2. EDEN e

As for the other A-side, it begins with a little bit of Seika and follows through with a more darker sound in comparison to “GOOD and EVIL”, but also somewhat grounded in sound.  While I do love TAKUYA’s energetic vocals, his slower and more melancholic tone is just as unique and cool to listen to.  I’m pretty surprised EDEN e is more of the band stepping out and giving us an interesting sound (though there’s one point where I was reminded of INFINITE’s “The Eye” but that’s small). Double winner!

 

 

*Won’t be reviewing the lives*  Anyways, I was wondering where UVERworld was heading after the sheer popularity that came from “ODD FUTURE” and this single was really awesome and I’m pretty sure KINJITO & Halzion were good live performances since I enjoy those two tracks too!  This is pretty amazing and one of their better singles in recent times! *RECOMMENDED*