Kurayami Monogatari

Would love a comment every so often <<

AFTERSCHOOL – Dress to kill June 18, 2014

Filed under: AFTERSCHOOL — solarblade @ 4:45 am

dresstokill

Track Listing

  1. Dress code ~Theme of “Dress to kill”~
  2. Dress to kill
  3. Ms. Independent
  4. Triangle
  5. Crazy Driver
  6. Shh
  7. Yes No Yes
  8. Heaven
  9. in the moonlight
  10. rock it!
  11. Spotlight
  12. Killing eyes ~End of “Dress to kill”~
  13. FLASHBACK (JPN Ver.) (CD only bonus track)
  14. Lucky Girl (mu-mo bonus track)

1. Dress code ~Theme of “Dress to kill”~

Opening up the album is an introduction, to be more specific a 30 second intro XD.  Starts off with some footsteps alongside some ominous sounds with a voice saying the title of the track lol.  Yeah, it’s that simple…

2. Dress to kill

Funny it leads into the title track huh?  The ominous sound opens to something I would’ve expect f(x) would’ve released, but there’s that signature smoky feel that the group has been exuding since the beginning of the era.  I still can’t really tell who’s who in the group so I can’t really tell you who is impressing me.  This tune is actually a solid track though and made me groove the entire time.

3. Ms. Independent

Moving to our next track, Ms. Independent comes next and things are a bit more quick-paced and has such a beat going for it that I just can’t help but love.  I just love the hooks of the tune and the chorus is just one major banger.  Man I could just keep this song on repeat and not get tired of it once, it’s that good!

4. Triangle

Future Unison?, doesn’t JASMINE say that XD.  I guess it’s the producer’s shtick.  As I get into Triangle, the song takes a more club-friendly stance and since the album is revolved around this genre, Triangle would be a great fist pumping song lol.  The prechorus does throw me off, but the rest of the song has a lot of things going on from the various blips and bloops of the arrangement to the kind of pseudo-dubstep flow going on.  It’s an interesting song but “Ms. Independent” still stands out.

5. Crazy Driver

Then we move to the B-side from “Heaven” and Crazy Driver to me still is a pretty cool song, but I still would’ve loved if they had sung this without the auto-tune and vocal filters throughout.  It just sounds like the group would’ve powerbombed the song with their already established vocals.  I’m still trying to decide whether I enjoy the song, or just over it because of the choice on auto-tune.

6. Shh

Ahh, the 2nd A-side released in the era, Shh and it still captivates me everytime I listen to it.  I love it from the smoky atmosphere, slick style, and the sexy voices from the group.  Knowing Shinichi Osawa had a hand in this just impressed me to no end, because this song is just so sexy and smooth and the chorus just has great flow.  It’s definitely the group’s best song after debuting in Japan!

7. Yes No Yes

Onto the next new song, Yes No Yes I thought would’ve been another smoky song, but it takes a more R&B feel style and there’s just a lot of vocally pleasant areas of the song and the beat of the song is cool too.  After a while, it does kind of fade my interest because the song doesn’t fuly go anywhere for me and it’s kind of an odd track in an album full of dance tracks…hmm…

8. Heaven

As the A-side that started the era off (because for some reason they omitted the “Lady Luck/Dilly Dally” single on this album), Heaven raises the style up to a mixture of dance and disco with some funk thrown in for good measure and I enjoyed this tune too.  The voices do seem a bit thin sometimes and the chorus could’ve utilized stronger vocals for better effect too.  Still, it’s such a fun track to just jam alongside it, another favorite from the album (even it it’s pre-released) lol.

9. in the moonlight

I like how the intro for our next song kind of bridges from “Heaven” a little bit and then turns into a beat-driven mid-tempo tune but still retaining some synthfunk.  Though I will say the whole ~dancing in the moonlight~ section throws me off whenever it comes up and the ~round-oun-oun-ound~ does turn me off.  Still, the effort here is surprisingly chill and the mid8 with the solo was nice as hell.  A song I need to get used to, but somewhat nice.

10. rock it!

Man, does this album just keep throwing those upbeat songs here.  Though I’ve heard this one before since it was the B-side from “Shh” and keeps up with its album-centric style and I love the beat to this one.  I think it would’ve actually fared better if it was placed earlier on the album, but at least this gives us a cool and edgy tune to listen before we head to the finale.  Great song!

11. Spotlight

As the album’s final track (well not really) but for the main 12 songs, this is the final new track.  Spotlight also to me feels like a tune that would’ve worked towards the beginning of the album, but there’s a lot to this song.  I actually loved the sound of it and just shows the excitement the members have to their music.  A very loud way to end the album and for good reason…might be my favorite of the new songs all-around.

12. Killing eyes ~End of “Dress to kill”~

The album closes out with the outro and it’s kind of the reverse of “Dress code” where it starts with music going on and ending with the footsteps…I sense the idea was that the protaganist was walking into a club and the album was all just that lol.

13. FLASHBACK (JPN Ver.)

So we got two bonus tracks on the album depending on what version you bought.  The CD only comes with a Japanese version of FLASHBACK which was the first release in Korea without Kahi and first with Gaeun.  When I first heard the original, it was a great way to say that AFTERSCHOOL was able to keep things going without their leader…and after 2 years coming back to a Japanese take, the song is still fresh and the group sound sexy with this one.  Great inclusion here and would’ve fit amazingly in the main tracklist just perfectly.

14. Lucky Girl

So people who bought the album through mu-mo got Lucky Girl which was promoted as a song made before “Dress to girl” was started on and it shows clearly that before the album got an actual motif, this song wasn’t going to be a part of that and was dropped.  I can see why because this song is poppy and doesn’t suit the main songs more club sound.  It doesn’t help this song is nothing really special to write about (should’ve left it for a Korean release >.>).

Tracks Recommended

  • Shh
  • Spotlight
  • Heaven
  • rock it!
  • Ms. Independent

Song of Avoidance

  • Lucky Girl

So what did I think of AFTERSCHOOL’s sophomore Japanese album?  Boy did they produce a great album and “PLAYGIRLZ” was a decent album too so this was a great experience.  What makes Dress to kill a great album was that it had a solid direction and knew what it wanted to create for the album, sure there were some oddballs (mostly Yes No Yes and Lucky Girl) but the latter was just a bonus incentive so it kind of doesn’t count.  Also, even though I know they didn’t include the “Lady Luck/Dilly Dally” single because it included Kahi who graduated just after that, it feels weird that it’s kind of left out (though it wouldn’t have fit…well maybe “Dilly Dally”).  Still a really great album and a good “RECOMMENDED” here.

 

AFTERSCHOOL – Shh February 13, 2014

Filed under: AFTERSCHOOL — solarblade @ 4:08 pm

shh

Track Listing

  1. Shh
  2. rock it!
  3. Shh [Instrumental]
  4. rock it! [Instrumental]

1. Shh

Man, what is with AFTERSCHOOL and getting some bangers?  Working with Osawa once again for the leading track, Shh sounds kind of like what I would expect from him and giving it to the group just surprised me a lot!  It’s like they took “Rambling girls”, made it more smoky and it just added a lot of sexyness and I fell into its hands so quickly.  It’s just so different for the group and I think they should keep on this style as their vocals are just so sulky and smooth…great A-side!!

2. rock it!

The B-side of the single is rock it! and this reminds me of “FLASHBACK” for some strange reason, but it keeps on this more darker and smoky dance feel and it’s on par with “Shh” since it’s kind of different but at the same time familiar and keeps my interest for the entire way.  Definitely a fitting B-side!

 

 

Closing the “Dress to kill” era, Shh was just the single needed from the group to have me VERY excited for their upcoming album.  The leading track just oozes sexy and Osawa did an amazing job composing the tune since it really suits the group’s vocals just the right way.  The B-side is also really good even though the smokyness is a lot lighter…overall this is *RECOMMENDED* to listen to.

 

AFTERSCHOOL – Heaven February 4, 2014

Filed under: AFTERSCHOOL — solarblade @ 1:16 pm

heaven

Track Listing

  1. Heaven
  2. Crazy Driver
  3. First Love (CD only)
  4. Heaven (Instrumental)
  5. Crazy Driver (Instrumental)

1. Heaven

I see where Shinichi Osawa went and he went to a K-pop group!  Even though it doesn’t show at first, Heaven is quite groovy and set in a disco tone (actually some of it reminds me of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” with that same 70’s bass-heavy beat.  The group sounds really pleasant and new member Ga Eun fit pretty nicely after Kahi left though it doesn’t seem there’s any solo lines (mostly group or dual lines).  I really enjoyed the song and made me wanna boogie a bit!

2. Crazy Driver

I was kind of surprised with the auto-tune found in the B-side but it kind of suited the arrangement which is a bit more of electro than the discotheque variant.  I also loved that it built up in the arrangement as well.  I think if there was a little more vocal power and less of the auto-tune, this would’ve been an amazing song!  Not bad for a B-side though, I can easily get behind this.

3. First Love

On CD only editions of the single it comes with First Love which was a big hit in Korea.  Sad it wasn’t changed into Japanese (like they’ve done with songs in the last era).  The tune is totally different from the previous two tracks as it isn’t electro/disco but something a little more R&B and sexy.  Listening to it, the tune is sexy and very chill to listen to without going into bore land.  I enjoyed it then and I enjoy it now!

I was surprised that it took over a year before AFTERSCHOOL would be back.  After Kahi left and Ga Eun joined the group, they got themselves back in Japan with Heaven and it’s a pretty good single (a lot better than “Lady Luck/Dilly Dally”).  Both of the main songs are really good, but of course I’m a little biased there.  First Love though was a nice addition, but I would’ve LOVED a Japanese version of it.  Also since it seems like their leaving the previous mentioned off their sophomore album so I wonder what it’ll be about after I review their next single.

 

AFTERSCHOOL – Lady Luck/Dilly Dally June 18, 2012

Filed under: AFTERSCHOOL — solarblade @ 4:38 am

Track Listing

  1. Lady Luck
  2. Dilly Dally
  3. SLOW LOVE (CD only)
  4. Lady Luck [Instrumental]
  5. Dilly Dally [Instrumental]
  6. SLOW LOVE [Instrumental]

1. Lady Luck

Now I haven’t listened to AFTERSCHOOL for very long and such but I have heard all their Japanese releases and so far they haven’t had a cute song lead a single yet and that’s where Lady Luck comes in because it’s cutesy and kind of reminds me of some of SNSD’s more cuter stuff.  I’m not a big fan of the cute K-pop stuff bit since Lady Luck is an original tune, I can’t fault it on that.  It’s sparkly and full of girliness and cute plushies which is different for the group which I can respect, but it’s just not my thing.

2. Dilly Dally

If you were a fan of their album, “PLAYGIRLZ”, Dilly Dally would be more down your line because it’s more darker and sexy to listen to.  I really liked this tune because it took what was good from their previous releases and made the idea a lot easier.  I also think it’s like KARA’s “Speed Up” for some reason but it’s just me I guess.  I love hearing the ladies in a deeper tone than before.  Plus the song is just all kinds of catchy for some reason.  Definitely the better A-side of the release.

3. SLOW LOVE

Weird that the lone B-side is on one edition of the single!  Another side of AFTERSCHOOL I’m not totally used to quite yet, SLOW LOVE is set as an R&B track and lets the ladies have more room to sing and goodness it sounds quite pleasant despite this genre of music bores me.  It’s a bit cute since there’s some synths involved but it’s not bad and I really enjoyed the flow of the song as well.

 

 

As it is Kahi’s final single with the group and before Ga Eun’s debut with the group, Lady Luck/Dilly Dally isn’t a bad single but it might surprise their Japanese fans.  Why?  Well Lady Luck is cute and their A-sides before have all been these dance heavy tracks like “Diva” and “Rambling girls”.  I’m not a fan of Lady Luck since it isn’t my taste but might tickle someone’s fancy if they like the cute tracks.  Dilly Dally was more along my lines since it was darker, cool, and just all around stronger!  SLOW LOVE was a pretty good surprise since it was sultry and something they haven’t done a lot of.  Nice single…now I wonder how Ga Eun will fit in the group ^_^

 

AFTERSCHOOL – PLAYGIRLZ March 15, 2012

Filed under: AFTERSCHOOL — solarblade @ 7:52 pm

Track Listing

  1. Rip off
  2. Rambling girls
  3. BROKEN HEART feat. Jung-A, Raina, Nana, E-Young
  4. Diva [Japan Ver.]
  5. Just in time
  6. Shampoo [Japan Ver.]
  7. Because of you [Japan Ver.]
  8. Gimme Love
  9. Miss Futuristic feat. Kahi, Juyeon, U-ie, Lizzy
  10. Bang! [Japan Ver.]
  11. Tell me
  12. Shanghai Romance [Japan Ver.] (CD only)

1. Rip off

I love the pinball machine shtick that starts the album.  Rip off is kind of aggressive but so different from what I know of the group and it just kind of took me to a different place.  Though I will say how they say ~rip off~ is kind of funny to hear.  I’m surprised that at only three minutes, it felt longer hahaha.  Still a good way to open the album up!

2. Rambling girls

Third A-side and the primary one, Rambling girls is some hot shit right here.  I love the deeper synth beats and the mysterious flow of the girls…but also comes off in a good way because they sound more sexy than they did back in “Diva” and “Bang!”.  I still do have my problems with the song like the chorus being full of ~la la la~ and nothing really more.  The verses though…god it’s orgasmic!

3. BROKEN HEART feat. Jung-A, Raina, Nana, E-Young

So two of the album songs are split between the 8 members!  BROKEN HEART is kind of a little more pop-based than the previous two tracks but I’m good because the tune sounds really nice and the chorus is aggressive but not at the levels of the previous two tracks.  The four girls sound really good together oddly enough.  I liked it a lot!

4. Diva [Japan Ver.]

Damn, this album has impressed me so far!  Diva comes next and like I said in the single review, this was actually the only song that was given a new arrangement in lieu of the original’s.  I hate to say it but they slammed the original into the ground but you can’t deny the new aggressive nature and electro-ish feel gave it new light and the girls sound better!  I think it’s my favorite of the 4 A-sides on the album!

5. Just in time

After those energetic songs, we start to calm down a little bit with Just in time which kind of has this cute SNSD sound to it which isn’t a surprise to me but I do like the kind of laidback feel to it.  Though I do question that buzzing synth here in the verses because it’s kind of annoying.  It’s different but I know AFTERSCHOOL for their energetic tracks not stuff like this lol.

6. Shampoo [Japan Ver.]

So the album gets two more new Korean to Japanese songs.  One is Shampoo and while I never heard the original yet, Shampoo here sounds a lot more impressive than “Just in time” though the rapping sequence is a tad bit weird for me.  Still I thought this was a better cute song for the group than the previous song oddly enough.

7. Because of you [Japan Ver.]

As I reviewed the single, I still think the Korean version still sounds better overall than the Japanese to be honest because it didn’t feel as strong IMHO.  I mean it does catch up in the chorus but I’m still feeling for the original version just a whole lot more but not a bad try tbh.

8. Gimme Love

Moving out of the cute songs of the album, we swerve back into their energetic dance tracks with Gimme Love.  I will admit that I love the vibe I got out of this song because it has a certain K-pop glow but mixed in with their Japanese feel which really worked.  All the girls sound great and while the auto-tune is there, it’s not utilized all over the song so that’s good news.  Probably my favorite of the new songs.

9. Futuristic Love feat. Kahi, Juyeon, U-ie, Lizzy

We get to our other split song in Futuristic Love and then I start to worry because of the intro with the auto-tune abuse.  I do approve of the arrangement having a lighter but still danceable feel to it but OMG why did these four need to have the auto-tune going on…I mean you have Kahi who’s a great singer and I’m sure the other three sing well too >.>  I mean, it’s catchy and all but I felt these four got the short end of the stick here…

10. Bang! [Japan Ver.]

So the group’s debut A-side is found near the end of the album huh.  To be honest, I felt that of the upbeat songs on the album, Bang! just didn’t cut it for me even though it was the optimal choice to debut with since it was big in Korea.  I did love the PV since it was a marching band kind of motif, but since the PV isn’t what I’m talking about it’s hard to form an opinion.  It’s different and the girls are yelling the chorus which is new to me…but “Diva” and “Rambling girls” outrank it in the A-sides.

11. Tell me

The final song on the album does make sense closing the album but it’s weird coming off from the previous three songs to this song which could’ve fit somewhere around “Shampoo” and “Because of you” since it’s cute but it’s also a ballad.  I do like the very light arrangement and the ladies’ vocals are just pretty to listen to.  A very fitting way to close the album!

12. Shanghai Romance [Japan Ver.]

As a little extra incentive, the CD only version comes with Shanghai Romance which is a song from Orange Caramel (one of the sub-groups from AFTERSCHOOL).  Featuring only Raina, Nana, and Lizzy in this song you could say it’s the third split song.  Honestly, I’m surprised by this because I love the whole Chinese feel mixed with their K-pop touch.  To be fair it kind of rubs off as parapara for some reason because it just sounds perfect for it.  I kind of love this song for it…it’s cute but fun at the same time…Interesting choice as an extra song but a smart choice too!

Tracks Recommended

  • Diva [Japan Ver.]
  • Shanghai Romance [Japan Ver.]
  • Gimme Love
  • Rambling girls
  • Rip off

Song of Avoidance

  • Just in time

Ahhhh, AFTERSCHOOL’s debut album in Japan is a whole lot better than the last J-pop debut for a K-pop group (U-KISS).  PLAYGIRLZ is definitely an albut that brings some nice color and interesting things for the group.  I will say there was like maybe 2 or 3 songs that I didn’t totally care for but the rest was pretty awesome.  A lot of energy and cute altogether.  I hope they continue to release in Japan because they just know how to do this.

 

AFTERSCHOOL – Rambling girls/Because of you March 10, 2012

Filed under: AFTERSCHOOL — solarblade @ 10:14 pm

Track Listing

  1. Rambling girls
  2. Because of you [Japan Ver.]
  3. Because of you [Korea Ver.] (CD only)
  4. Rambling girls (Instrumental)
  5. Because of you [Japan Ver.] (Instrumental)

1. Rambling girls

Wait…is this AFTERSCHOOL I’m hearing?  I didn’t expect this for their first original Japanese song.  I mean the girls sound deeper and almost to the point where it’s sexually charged haha.  I have to say it’s pretty damn awesome to hear the girls this way because they sound good.  Though I do question if the lyricist got bored somewhere along the line because the chorus is really mostly ~la la la la~ and it does kind of get a little annoying after a while…but this is still a pretty awesome song nonetheless.

2. Because of you [Japan Ver.]

The other A-side of the single is actually a Japanese version of their Korean song, “Neo Ttaemune”.  Unlike the energetic vibes of “Rambling girls” this is a lot more lighter and has piano and strings in the arrangement before gaining a solid beat after Kahi’s rapping.  It does go back and forth between the slow side and the heavier beats.  It’s nice but “Diva” and “Rambling girls” is better XD

3. Because of you [Korea Ver.]

The original version also appears and it has the falling rain in the background which isn’t present in the Japanese take.  This one sounds a little more heartfelt since the vocalists are more emotional here.  Add in the growing power in Kahi’s rapping and I felt this was totally different compared.  I did think the auto-tune was a little ehhh and the addition of dance beats to be a little unnecessary (I was fine with this being a real ballad BTW). 

 

 

As the 3rd and last of the “PLAYGIRLZ” era, This double A-sided single wasn’t too bad actually…almost on par with “Diva”.  While I love the hell out of Rambling girls, I can tell it might test some people with that fail of a chorus.  The Japanese version of Because of you is nice but the Korean one still is on top.  Interesting how that turned out but overall a good single!

 

AFTERSCHOOL – Diva

Filed under: AFTERSCHOOL — solarblade @ 4:39 pm

Track Listing

  1. Diva [Japan Ver.]
  2. Ready to love
  3. Diva [2011 New Korea Ver.] (CD only)
  4. Diva [Japan Ver.] (Instrumental)
  5. Ready to love (Instrumental)

1. Diva [Japan Ver.]

I find it awesome that their 2nd single was Diva.  Though what I wasn’t expecting was the besides the lyrics being translated into Japanese, the song went under a gloss and came out a LOT MORE STRONGER than the original Korean version.  I couldn’t stand the original very much and felt weak as a promotional track, but this new arranged version is more heavy and synthy but not annoying.  Plus the ~diva-diva-di-di-diva~ parts aren’t sung by the girls but more like heavily filtered.  It’s really cool and made much more of an impression than “Bang!” did.

2. Ready to love

As their second original B-side, Ready to love does seem to chill out from the excitement coming from “Diva”.  It still does have synths but they don’t blaze the song out which is alright.  I will say that I do like the kind of sexual undertones of the song and the vocals, but it’s lacking oomph except in the chorus that was nice.  Hmmm…definitely think it’ll catch on I bet!

3. Diva [2011 New Korea Ver.]

See even the Korean version needed the upgrade it seems.  While I felt the Japanese version felt more fuller and complete with it’s new sound it made the Korean feel just a little unusual but it still works.  Not much else to really say otherwise but this is nice.

 

 

AFTERSCHOOL’s second single for the “PLAYGIRLZ” era is a LOT better of a release than “Bang!” was by far!  The leading song was great and I’m happy it got a new arrangement to avoid using the rather uneventful one of the original which didn’t work as well to the Korean advantage.  Ready to love was also a nice song as well…lighter but not letting up on the synths which was a good sign.  Overall strong single!