Kurayami Monogatari

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AAA – Egao no Loop January 25, 2019

Filed under: AAA — solarblade @ 7:26 am

egaonoloop

Track Listing

  1. Egao no Loop
  2. Egao no Loop (Instrumental)
  3. Gasshou Egao no Loop [Suzukake Jidou Gasshoudan]
  4. Gasshou Egao no Loop [Suzukake Jidou Gasshoudan] (Instrumental)

1. Egao no Loop

As the group’s first single of the year, Egao no Loop seems to really pull back and gives us a ballad this time around.  I’m not sure where AAA has been going in these last couple of A-sides with being softies and less being powerhouses, but Egao no Loop is just kind of a background song for me.  Hidaka still sounds a bit brazen in his lines, but everyone else sounds soft and fluffy with this kind of wintry piano/strings ballad.  Still, the song just doesn’t do much for me.

2. Gasshou Egao no Loop [Suzukake Jidou Gasshoudan]

Adding a chorale does not help the situation here and the song is still rather unfortunately boring to me so this is a case of just making a mediocre song even worse in my honest opinion.  It is something new that AAA hasn’t tried, but not for a song like this.

 

 

I wonder if AAA is on its last heels here, especially since everyone is doing their own solo works during the last half of 2018, it feels like Egao no Loop was just kind of a throwaway song to string fans for a bit while they continue on their solo endeavors.  Not sure what the group will drop next, so I’ll be watching out.

 

AAA – COLOR A LIFE September 17, 2018

Filed under: AAA — solarblade @ 5:38 am

coloralife

Track Listing

  1. -prologue-
  2. DEJAVU
  3. No Way Back
  4. C.O.L
  5. Tomorrow
  6. First Name
  7. -Interlude-
  8. Kiss The Sky
  9. Gotta Love Me
  10. Beat Together
  11. LIFE
  12. -epilogue-

1. -prologue-

As the intro to the album, I was kind of curious with the arrangement I was listening with kind of an ominous sound that also has a little bit of an electronic side to it.  Despite it being a minute long intro, -prologue- is kind of an intriguing way to open the album up.

2. DEJAVU

As the promotional song for the album, it does kind of lead from the intro, but the mood of the track itself couldn’t be any different.  I like the opening and then the sudden dropout to Nissy’s opening line.  It is still a little bit odd with no Chiaki singing with the group and now with Hidaka singing it’s just odd.  Then the chorus hits and I’m given vibes to “Jamboree!!” with the bopping beat and bright sound.  It’s just interesting and they’re giving Shuta & Shinji more tougher lines for their unique vocals as well.  I quite liked this one!

3. No Way Back

As the first single released for the album (and first single without Chiaki) I was definitely curious to see how a 6-nin AAA would handle themselves here!  I just remembered that I enjoyed the song’s funky vibes and like “DEJAVU”, the group utilizing members is showing more and more.  It’s a pretty fun song and while Misako got the short end of the stick, she still had appearances and the song all-around was great!

4. C.O.L

What is it with AAA giving us decent songs on this album?  The next new track off the album, C.O.L continues to bring more of that funky guitar riff, but the song feels something more akin to their earlier hits that have somewhat of a Summer-y vibe.  There’s just a chill vibe here and I’m enjoying the kind of happy-go-lucky mood its giving me.  Really nice song here!

5. Tomorrow

I was wondering where was the AAA ballad in this era and it feels like they were delegated to the album.  Although at first I thought it was going to be a simple piano/strings ballad, after Nissy’s first line and Urata comes in, the track shifts to kind of of an acoustic ballad.  While I can say they don’t have many of these in their collection, it’s nice to just see them relaxed.  Hell, even the pseudo-rap from Hidaka isn’t coming off awkward here.  Simple, but effective here.

6. First Name

It seems we also get split groupings on the album and I’m happy to say it’s just two songs off the album.  First Name is just between Shuta & Shinji here and I was happy to hear Shinji singing first and in English (Shuta does as well).  The song feels like a ballad at first and I was alright with this, but then the chorus kicks in and we’re getting that Tropical House sound and I was a little disappointed, but the song’s lowkey groove works out in a way to show difference between the two arrangements.  Though I feel the latter part is riding on that K-pop wave with the tropical house style (which was more or less a ride on Justin Bieber’s popular sound then).

7. -Interlude-

An interlude to give a bit of breathing space, unlike the “-prologue-“, this is kind of nice and relaxing since it uses light synths to get by.  I do like when the low bass synth kicks into the song, but then once this rush of sound hits it tapers off and just fades out from there as well…kind of an odd 50 second track.

8. Kiss The Sky

Next track up and I thought it kind of reminded me of “C.O.L” but this one sticks to its dance beat feel and I’m loving the soundscapey feel to it due to the echoes but it slowly but surely builds itself into a full on dance track and I’ve kind of missed this side to AAA’s music (like “HEARTFUL” era).  It’s definitely my favorite from the album down-pat!!

9. Gotta Love Me

The other coupling song with the remaining members, (Misako, Nissy, Urata, and Hidaka).  The track is quite unique on the album as it feels more R&B-ish in comparison to the rest of the album and there’s a lot of Misako to be had here and I’ve definitely noticed a lack of her here on the album.  I think this track has a certain “depArture”” vibe that kind of resonates with me…kind of a sweet track!

10. Beat Together

Since “Gotta Love Me” is the last of the new tracks, we got two more tracks to deal with starting with the B-side from “No Way Back”!  I definitely remember loving the track when I first heard it and hearing it again on the album doesn’t really change much of my opinion on it.  It’s upbeat and the chanting just adds a lot of energy behind it!  Great song and I’m happy it made the cut.

11. LIFE

As the 2nd A-side released, LIFE was an interesting release since it was the song and just its instrumental and it still reminds me of older Summer song releases they’ve had.  I love the energy as well and it fits quite nicely coming after “Beat Together”.

12. -epilogue-

As the closing outro, epilogue starts with a kind of funky style, but the track is filtered and muted slightly and the melody isn’t something I’m familiar of (perhaps a preview?) I don’t know why but midway, it kind of statics out and we’re left with this ethereal synth arrangement that follows what the first half had but no lyrics and funky guitars/bass…and then it just ends.  Odd…I would think they’d use this as a full song but I guess not?

Tracks Recommended

  • Kiss The Sky
  • C.O.L
  • DEJAVU
  • Beat Together
  • Gotta Love Me

Song of Avoidance

  • Tomorrow

You know what, I think AAA will be perfectly fine without Chiaki as COLOR A LIFE is way damn good album even moreso than their last couple of albums at least not since “GOLD SYMPHONY”.  I think something must’ve changed between this and “WAY OF GLORY” because a lot of the songs here are quite nice and just one of their strongest albums to date.  I mean even the worst song, Tomorrow is not even bad, I just had to choose my least favorite here.  Yeah, definitely an album to check out *RECOMMENDED*

 

AAA – LIFE October 8, 2017

Filed under: AAA — solarblade @ 6:56 am

life

Track Listing

  1. LIFE
  2. LIFE (Instrumental)

1. LIFE

I like that the song opens up with marching drums (and jingle bells?).  OK?  Anyways it does seem like the song is a bit brighter and happier in moods which works after their last single.  It does seem like everyone in the group is managing to keep up vocally (even Hidaka who is singing and not rapping).  It does remind me of earlier AAA songs once again stuff like “Friday Party” and “Kirei na Sora”.  It’s just poppy and very breezy!

 

 

Ugh, we’re back to one song singles are we now?  Anyways, after “No Way Back” I feel like LIFE is a bit more of that, but I’m not quite sure why it was by itself with no B-side, just feels like it needs one there.  Not bad, the group is doing well enough and Misako found herself back in the main singers as well.

 

AAA – No Way Back July 7, 2017

Filed under: AAA — solarblade @ 2:59 pm

cd+dvd unlock

Track Listing

  1. No Way Back
  2. Beat Together
  3. No Way Back (Instrumental)
  4. Beat Together (Instrumental)

1. No Way Back

I kind of enjoy the funky vibes I get from hearing the track right from the start with the guitar licks and pulsating beat.  It’s great that AAA is back to upbeat tracks as I’ve been missing it greatly in recent times.  There’s just something refreshing about it.  The group is more or less at the same energetic vibe, but I did struggle to find Misako in the song (odd, since we just lost Chiaki and whatnot).  She’s in there but her biggest part is in the bridge.  Overall, this was a song they’ve needed for a while and I appreciated it!

2. Beat Together

The B-side sounds like something from their “HEARTFUL” album with a overarching dance beat and quiet verses.  There’s also something that reminds me of Ayumi Hamasaki’s summer songs because of the chanting and overall chords used for the song.  Still, the song is kind of OK, but I think it could’ve used a tempo boost because it does feel a bit too slow for me.

 

 

As the first single for a new era and first without Chiaki Ito, No Way Back is one of their better singles in the last couple of years.  Both songs are definitely screaming summer and fun and keeps things upbeat the entire time.  I think I was more impressed by the leading track rather than its B-side.  So far so good, keep it up AAA!

 

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.