Kurayami Monogatari

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AAA – WAY OF GLORY February 24, 2017

Filed under: AAA — solarblade @ 6:26 am

wayofglory

Track Listing

  1. WAY OF GLORY
  2. NEW
  3. S.O.L.
  4. Jewel
  5. OVER
  6. Interlude
  7. LEAP of FAITH
  8. Dangerous Gamble
  9. MAGIC
  10. Namida no nai Sekai
  11. Cocoa
  12. Yell
  13. Calling

1. WAY OF GLORY

Kicking the album off is the title track and boy it starts off in a pleasant and lifting kind of way with some strings and light various other instruments.  The song grows into a more upbeat track, but still containing the same motifs as the verses do which is nice and I’m liking the choruses a bit as its lively and just in a happy place for the group.  Like MANY of their other songs, Hidaka’s solo part is a bit out of place here since his rapping section sounds like a totally different piece of music.  I enjoyed it for the most part and sets up for the next track.

2. NEW

As the first single released for the album, NEW definitely picked my interest up a LOT after their disappointing last album, but it wasn’t without some disappointing factors.  Like “WAY OF GLORY” it’s upbeat and positive sounding and feels like a nice summer song.  What I hated most though was that most of the song is filtered so it sounds so much like it’s being played like how it would on a portable radio.  I wished they had omitted it and made an (album version) out of it, but sadly it never came.

3. S.O.L.

Moving to our next new song (that isn’t titled “NEW”), S.O.L., definitely is a throwback to some of their more carefree pop track from their first 3 albums and I appreciate the nostalgic vibes.  It has a vibe that really reminds me of “Friday Party!” and “Kirei na Sora” fused together.  It’s poppy and just has quite a fun vibe that made up for the mistake in “NEW”.  I also noticed a lot of Chiaki in the track as well!  Groovy track and one of the better ones the album had to offer.

4. Jewel

I’m surprised they included the B-sides on the album (even if there was only 3 singles and one didn’t even have a true B-side anyways).  Anywho, Jewel was the B-side from “Namida no nai Sekai” and was a duet track between Chiaki & Misako.  Unlike most of the album, Jewel is a bit more EDM-ish, but also a smidge like bubblegum pop.  Like I said back in the single review, I like the ladies singing in their lower range for the verses and then grow in the chorus.  I still have this pulling feeling that the song is missing something to make it great, but I did enjoy this!

5. OVER

Sung by Urata, Hidaka, and Shuta, OVER, I was kind of expecting a harder track between the trio, but OVER is poppy with some hip-hop elements.  I do think Hidaka works his magic in this song and he did a pretty good job at it and Shuta also has a LOT of presence here and it’s great to see how much he’s grown.  The tune itself feels messy in places, but the choruses and bridge have a solid melody and the beat is faster and up-front versus the rest of the track.  Not bad, but could’ve been better.

6. Interlude

I was wondering if this was going to be the same interlude that was somehow a thing back on the “NEW” single since that also came before our next track.  Luckily, despite having the same length, it is a different interlude here.  This interlude is very ethereal and flowing and had a beat to it before it drops to some quietness and then returning with a bigger glow.  Short track at a minute, but between the two, this kind of suits “LEAP of FAITH” better in the long run.

7. LEAP of FAITH

The B-side from “NEW” comes next and I was happy to be getting another dance track returning since the last good one was “PARTY IT UP” and that was a while ago.  It does begin quietly and slowly before it builds to its powerful chorus, but LEAP of FAITH showed that AAA wasn’t quite done with EDM tracks and I LOVED IT!  Add on that the track has a LOT of English here (a good portion at that!).  I also really liked that Shinji and Shuta took leads here.  Definitely a great track to have been included and funny enough my favorite on the album!

8. Dangerous Gamble

Maybe it’s me, but I wasn’t like the LQ sounding feel of Dangerous Gamble (a duet between Nissy and Shinji).  It has similar veins as “MAGIC” by including brass and a bit more of a classy Vegas-y vibe to it.  Throw in some weird surfer pop vibes and you get this track.  I’m not sure why, but this song doesn’t quite catch me as other songs on the album had.  Like “Jewel”, there’s just something missing…

9. MAGIC

Interesting that “Dangerous Gamble” came right before this track because the similarities are just so striking (though this features all 7 members).  As the last single released for the album, I haven’t had too much time with MAGIC, but it’s still my favorite of the A-sides released as it brought back that energy and fun side that AAA was somewhat lacking in their last album.  It’s a groovy and jazzy song and just was a nice addition to the album.

10. Namida no nai Sekai

Then we move back to the 2nd A-side of the album and it’s the ballad, Namida no nai Sekai.  Coming back to this, I was surprised to hear that the song was sung mostly by the guys of the group (with the ladies joining in the bridge).  The song itself had potential to be quite nice, but I feel like it was ruined a bit by the lack of the ladies and Hidaka’s odd rap.  Though being the only ballad of the album, I suppose it’s does its job.

11. Cocoa

Interestingly chosen as the promotional song for the album, Cocoa is another Chiaki/Misako duet.  Unlike “Jewel”, Cocoa has a bit more of a natural sounding arrangement, but still feels like something us Westerners would have heard in the 2000s.  That said, this song also felt like it could’ve been so much more, but I ended up feeling a bit bored by it mostly because of the duo not sounding like they weren’t really interested in singing it.  Kind of meh overall…

12. Yell

The other B-side from “Namida no nai Sekai” made the cut and it was a pretty OK choice, but I was kind of almost right in the way that it’s more towards the end of the album.  I do like how this album just feels like many of the songs have this upbeat, hopeful kind of feel going for it.  Yell reminds me of like a synthier sounding “WAY OF GLORY” actually and it’s interesting that they are at separate points in the album.  I like it though and it has grown a little since the single review.

13. Calling

Finally, we have the final track which is also the last new album track here.  I swear when I saw the title that the group already had a song called this, but I found out I mixed “CALL” and “SAILING” together…  Anyways, about Calling, the song is another track that’s just in the same vein like “WAY OF GLORY” and “Yell” in the kind of poppy upbeat arrangement and positive lyrics.  I’m a bit surprised 3 similar sounding songs ended up on the album together and it just made Calling very bland and uneventful for a closing track, making me wish “Yell” was the final track.  At least the chorus is decent, but otherwise…something I’ve heard already earlier.

Tracks Recommended

  • LEAP of FAITH
  • S.O.L.
  • MAGIC
  • NEW
  • Yell

Song of Avoidance

  • Dangerous Gamble

Knowing that anything was going to top their last album, (the 3rd disc from their best album which was yes, credited as an original album) WAY OF GLORY didn’t have to do too much to at least make me notice it.  The album felt like an AAA album and the group sounded more together and interesting this time around even if there were some mediocre songs.  Sadly, this is Chiaki Ito’s last album with the group before her graduation (and pregnancy).  Curious to see what 6-nin AAA are going to do…but this is the last from a GREAT iteration of AAA.

 

AAA – MAGIC February 9, 2017

Filed under: AAA — solarblade @ 6:40 am

magicaaa

Track Listing

  1. MAGIC
  2. MAGIC (Instrumental)
  3. Hurricane Riri, Boston Mari -TOKYO DOME ver.- (Physical ver. only)

1. MAGIC

It feels like it’s been so long that an A-side from AAA has caught my attention.  MAGIC has a pretty jazzy and upbeat and has a lot of what makes me fall in love with the group.  Though even though it isn’t as high speed as various songs of theres, it’s nice to find a song that brings back a fun and sassy vibe like “Kuchibiru Kara Romantica”.  Definitely the A-side that really was the best of the “WAY OF GLORY” era.

2. Hurricane Riri, Boston Mari -TOKYO DOME ver.-

Not sure why the single’s only other song is ANOTHER live version of their (arguably, most memorable A-side).  Doesn’t really intrigue me whenever I hear this, but it does give me a sense of openness and the group sounds like they were having a ball in this rendition.  Still, I think I would’ve preferred another B-side than a live cut.

Closing the “WAY OF GLORY” era out, MAGIC is a pretty cool and funky song for the group to have release (especially of recent times where I feel like the flame in the group is starting to die out).  On top of that, it was announced that after this upcoming album releases, Chiaki will graduate from the group leaving a 6-nin with one female lead.  I will say that this long iteration of AAA has been amazing and all, but I’m curious to see where the group will go after the album is out and promotions are finished.  MAGIC as a single is OK, but I think I could’ve used something else than a live cut of Hurrican Riri.

 

AAA – Namida no Nai Sekai October 7, 2016

Filed under: AAA — solarblade @ 5:52 am

namidanonaisekai

Track Listing

  1. Namida no Nai Sekai
  2. Yell
  3. Jewel
  4. Namida no Nai Sekai (Instrumental)
  5. Yell (Instrumental)
  6. Jewel (Instrumental)

1. Namida no Nai Sekai

The single opens with the leading song and no surprise that it’s a ballad.  After the last couple of A-sides that were ballads, Namida no Nai Sekai had some shoes to fill which wasn’t too much to bargain for as a lot of them didn’t really stand out.  At first, I was surprised that I heard very little of Misako and Chiaki (only appearing during the bridge of the song) so the rest is mostly from Nissy, Urata, Shinji, and Shuta (with a little rap section for Hidaka).  Honestly, it’s nothing to exciting and curious to why a mostly guy-led song was an A-side.

2. Yell

Initially released back in July as a digital single, I was surprised to see this appearing on their single.  It’s hard to say where this song falls, but it moves lot nicer and has a poppier feel than “Namida no Nai Sekai”.  It does feel like an album song though because while it has everyone involved, the tune has a ending quality to it and it doesn’t feel quite strong to hold itself as a leading song (good as a B-side though).  It feels like a song that could’ve been on one of their later albums, but still it’s a decent song.

3. Jewel

If “Namida no Nai Sekai” was the boys-only song, then Jewel is the all-female track (makes sense because this song also got a PV).  It does carry some of their more EDM-ish sound but it’s also like bubblegum in a way.  I really like that the verses are sung in a lower range and then they get higher.  Definitely the best track of the single, but there’s still something missing to it that really seals the deal for me and usually Misako/Chiaki songs are on point!

 

 

AAA releases their 2nd single of the era with Namida no Nai Sekai and I’m just kind of shrugging a little bit.  The leading song is a bit boring and with just having the guys on it was a bit of a letdown but was made even with Jewel which was the best of the single.  Yell falls into the middle, but considering its been out for 2 months just doesn’t make up for the other two tracks.

 

 

AAA – NEW June 18, 2016

Filed under: AAA — solarblade @ 4:39 am

new

Track Listing

  1. NEW
  2. ~Interlude~
  3. LEAP of FAITH
  4. NEW (2BEDROOM REMIX) (Fanclub Edition only)
  5. NEW (Instrumental)
  6. LEAP of FAITH (Instrumental)

1. NEW

I felt it weir that AAA would have a tie-in for the soft drink, Sprite, but here we are with NEW and it actually has a decent hook to it.  I wasn’t exactly the biggest fan of the verses being under heavy muffled filters (though I could tell who is who).  While the chorus does open the vocals up all the way and I found the track to be catchy and stuff.  Still, I think the song needs to be resung without the filters and it would make things all better!

2. ~Interlude~

I thought only V-kei bands include random interlude in their singles (and Kuu at that).  Well, I suppose AAA is jumping on that track here and it’s a little random to see such a thing here.  After the summer tinted “NEW”, I wasn’t expecting a futuristic sound coming from just a minute-long track.  I like the creepy undertones that grown into this heavy-paced dance track, but it feels like a teaser for something.  Though once it gets to its peak, the song just immediately cuts out to the next track.

3. LEAP of FAITH

As the interlude cuts out, we enter the B-side, LEAP of FAITH which does sound like it’s quiet and haunting almost.  I was more surprised that the group decided to make this song mostly in English (though the accent is pretty heavy).  Then the chorus hits and the track turns into a beat-driven dance track (not like the previous track, mind you).  I like the track actually, though it’s funny that Misako and Chiaki get the only Japanese lines in the track.  Really interesting track that turned out better than expected.

4. NEW (2BEDROOM REMIX)

So on fanclub editions on the single it comes with a bonus remix of the leading track and I’m hoping that it’s a little better.  Already it’s impressing me more because those filters are thrown out the window and the summery arrangement turns into more of a tropical setting, but has a simpler arrangement…at first.  After the first round of the chorus, the track turns into this weird trap/dance sound and later brings in dubstep and more synths and it just sounds a bit two-faced of a remix.  It’s decent, but there’s better in their catalog.

 

 

After their slightly disappointing 10th anniversary album, I felt like AAA were either burned out or just phoning it in because not a lot of songs impressed me.  After taking a hiatus and doing solo releases, the group returned with NEW and for the most part, it turned out decent.  NEW is a pretty good summer song, though it could’ve worked better without the heavy filters all over.  LEAP of FAITH though is the better track and that’s coming from it being mostly an English track!  The remix is ok and the random interlude felt more like a teaser of a future thing…weird single, but it’s nice there’s more to the single than the last 8 singles >.>

 

AAA – AAA 10th ANNIVERSARY BEST September 16, 2015

Filed under: AAA — solarblade @ 1:56 am

aaa10th

Track Listing (DISC 3)

  1. I’ll be there
  2. Lil’ Infinity
  3. Boku no Yuutsuu to Fukigen na Kanojo
  4. GAME OVER?
  5. Ashita no Hikari
  6. Flavor of kiss
  7. LOVER
  8. Distance
  9. STORY
  10. Aishiteru no ni, Aisenai

1. I’ll be there

Well, before things start yes the album is basically set up mostly chronologically from when they begun this anniversary of having a single every month.  Coming back to this track in particular, I was loving the beat and the classyness of the arrangement here.  The use of piano adds this rather pleasant tone to it which really makes me happy!  One of the few A-sides released that caught my attention!

2. Lil’ Infinity

At first the next track here sounded like it was going to be a ballad, but after Chiaki’s intro, the tune turns into a kind of fusion of one and a beat-heavy light dance track.  I think I tend to forget this one because of its almost generic sounds and how not into it the group sounds.  I mean the instrumental is rather pleasant (especially when piano takes the melody).  It’s otherwise kind of forgetful for me.

3. Boku no Yuutsuu to Fukigen na Kanojo

Things slow down further with this tongue-twister of a title.  There are some parts where I think it was trying to go the anison route with certain chords.  I also noticed how nice Shuta’s voice is in this track as he takes the first lines.  The song altogether doesn’t strike me fancy as well and reminds me of some songs from “Eighth Wonder” unfortunately…

4. GAME OVER?

I feel like this is the only exciting track the album has to offer to be honest.  I mean it’s got a HEAVY amount of electronics going on and the fact that Hidaka finally fits his raps in smoothly says a lot for the rest of the album coming up.  I’m not sure why, but Chiaki and Misako are rather sacrificed for this cool dance track from the boys and they tackled this song quite strongly (well, the girls have a short part in the bridge)…still this was a pretty exciting song and more than likely my favorite from the release.

5. Ashita no Hikari

Being the A-side to tie-in to an anime, Ashita no Hikari definitely sounds like an ending theme which is a nice pleasant touch.  I will say that I did enjoy the acoustic guitar thrown in to splash some color in the tune, but once the chorus hits…it’s definitely an anison track with the chords the group hits.  Decent song overall and really stuck out on this album moreso than as a single.

6. Flavor of kiss

Next up is a song that’s a little similar to “I’ll be there” with the light dance beats and bright arrangement.  I’m loving Shinji and Shuta’s vocals in this song as they suited this kind of style so smoothly.  The kind of classy and glossy sound this track has stuck me a little better than the aforementioned track and all so it’s a decent track otherwise!

7. LOVER

As the last of this 7-month escapade, LOVER closed things off with this kind of summery-reggaeton-ish love song which is pretty weird, but at least it was something different.  Listening to it, LOVER’s beats and synths are a little headache-inducing and the song itself comes off as a little chintzy.  Not my favorite song of the album, but at least it provided something different in comparison to other songs.

8. Distance

So the album actually does come with two new songs (odd, but makes sense as this is mostly a best album).  With Distance, I was feeling that jazzy introduction before into another song that kind of slides in the same vein as “I’ll be there” and “Flavor of kiss”.  For being a similar sounding song, Distance once agains somehow does manage to stick to me as well…I think the ladies taking the chorus is pretty awesome while the remaining members have the verses and such.  I kind of liked it, pretty good song!

9. STORY

Our other new track, STORY, begins a bit slow but then well…yeah more of the same but with a little more piano and ballad-like touches.  Being 6 minutes long, I was expecting maybe something more and it sort of came close.  I especially love the after-chorus where the strings really open the tune wide open…though I wasn’t a big fan of the verses sadly.  For as long of a song this is, it’s merely OK, nothing totally new from the group.

10. Aishiteru no ni, Aisenai

Closing the album, we have Aishiteru no ni, Aisenai which was also a single that was simultaneously released with the album.  Despite that fact I just reviewed a little while back, the song is an odd song to choose to close the album (a thing I could say that “STORY” excelled at).  It’s an OK song as well and the dramatic strings really adds a nice touch to it…

Tracks Recommended

  • GAME OVER?
  • Flavor of kiss
  • I’ll be there
  • Distance

Song of Avoidance

  • Lil’ Infinity

I hate to say, but this 3rd disc from their best album (this is credited as their original album disc), this is probably the most laidback the group has been and sadly due to that, it’s also their weakest effort.  I figure with the group getting older, the dance tracks are starting to slow down and for that I wasn’t interested in many of the songs we got during this 7-month anniversary release schedule they pulled off (with the exception of GAME OVER?).  There was just a lack of integrity here and sorry to say, not even GAME OVER? is going to save this one…

 

AAA – Aishiteru no ni, Aisenai August 27, 2015

Filed under: AAA — solarblade @ 4:24 am

aishiterunoni

Track Listing

  1. Aishiteru no ni, Aisenai
  2. Aishiteru no ni, Aisenai (Instrumental)

1. Aishiteru no ni, Aisenai

Seems like the group popped back up for Aishiteru no ni, Aisenai with it’s mid-tempo feel (but a little tinge of dance included).  The added strings and piano do kind of wear it down a little due to other similar songs from the era, but it still shows the group’s soothing vocals and overall feel of the song nicely, it’s a lot like their past singles, it’s OK…nothing terribly special.

AAA and their 50th single and they wasted it on another one track single? (technically two, but STILL).  Being as the single to release simultaneously with their best album (and next studio too)…I was continuing to be slightly let down because of how unmemorable this single is.  The song isn’t bad, but this could be compared to a lot of their past tunes.  I hope after the best album they get back to a regular release schedule (with B-sides!).

 

AAA – LOVER July 26, 2015

Filed under: AAA — solarblade @ 6:55 pm

LOVER

Track Listing

  1. LOVER
  2. LOVER (Instrumental)

1. LOVER

To me, it seems like the group is a little late on the reggaeton summer song phase that most Westerners dealt with years ago XD.  Really there’s not a lot to say about this one either, but I do like how it portrays the group in a more fun light than other songs during this anniversary release wave.  The group sounds nice (though Shuta does sound a little more rough than usual).  Not bad, but once again nothing totally amazing.

As the 7th and FINAL single in this 7-month string of singles, LOVER closes things out with a harmless summer tune which is nice and I do enjoy that it is reggaeton for the simple fact it’s something I haven’t heard in a while from Japan.  Though looking at recent news we have an album AND another single in September, so I will bet that all 7 singles I reviewed will be a part of the album…I’m not exactly excited for it, but who knows.