Kurayami Monogatari

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Angela Aki – BLUE August 9, 2012

Filed under: Angela Aki — solarblade @ 9:07 am

Track Listing

  1. Aiueo
  2. Kokuhaku
  3. Foolish Love
  4. Koi no Kakehiki
  5. Cry
  6. In My Blood
  7. You and I
  8. Monster
  9. Kokoro no Tenkyohou
  10. factory
  11. Yoake Mae no Inori
  12. BLUE
  13. One Family ~Uchuu no Nagisa~

1. Aiueo

A short introductory piece to open the album with, Aiueo sounds like it’d be weird but the simplicity of the track with Angela singing is quite pleasant to listen to actually.  Though I’m not sure what the word means in this context but it’s like ~Ai Ue wo~…maybe that makes sense.  Short but sweet.

2. Kokuhaku

Our first full track is unsurprisingly the only A-side she released for BLUE and I still think it’s a unique and refreshing song to move away from her typical piano ballads.  It’s a flowing track and Angela’s vocals simply suited the atmosphere which is nice for sure!  Such a great song from her!

3. Foolish Love

Since the rest of the album is new tracks, I was wondering if she was going to keep up the momentum with “Kokuhaku” but it seems like she stepped back into “ANSWER” with the first song Foolish Love which is basically her playing the piano, some synth, and percussion/guitar/bass.  I found this song to be a little too simple for me so I just ended up passing it up.

4. Koi no Kakehiki

The plucked strings that open the song kind of reminded me of “Call Me Maybe” DAMNIT!  Anyways, if you really liked “Mad Scientist” than this song will be to your liking because it has that same style going for it but this song is in Japanese.  It’s an OK song but I prefer the former song by a bigger margin to be honest.

5. Cry

As we move on to Cry, I was hoping for heartwrenching ballad but I don’t really get that with this song sadly.  I mean it is heartfelt and really simple since it’s Angela and piano so it’s more intimate but the song doesn’t really come off as sad to me.  It grows a bit more but I don’t know the guitar solo wasn’t necessary to me…this is not Pink Floyd…Add the chorus where she hits this note really oddly, I’m not used to that note reaching.

6. In My Blood

Going into a little experiment for In My Blood, Angela sings under a filter and the song is sung in English which is a pretty awesome way to get my attention.  In My Blood is kind of a poetic kind of song to me since it has that lowkey and cool vibe to it.  After the first verse it seems things get a bit more fun.  I will say when the song suddenly slows down, it took me a little to get used to it.  It’s got a some transitioning problems but this is probably the best new song I’ve encountered since “Kokuhaku”.

7. You and I

We had the dark “In My Blood” and now we get lively and cute with You and I which starts off with Angela and ukelele.  I noticed Angela’s tone is also kind of higher but a little bit.  It’s laidback and has a cute feel to it’s arrangement except when all of a sudden there’s a random placement of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” that throws the song off its heels.  Was it just for the song’s humor or what…Minus that random interjection, this song actually is relaxing and feelgood.  Not bad overall. 

8. Monster

I love that Angela went with jazz for our next song to be honest because Angela fits this style perfectly.  Singing in a lower resgister, she sounds sultry and full of soul on this one and I’m just loving every moment out of this song for sure!  One of my favorites from the album just because it’s so new for her and she struck gold on this one.  Though, ~monshtah?~

9. Kokoro no Tenkyohou

Back to some good ole, piano-fronted Angela songs, Kokoro no Tenkyohou in fact might not be such a good return because I don’t find anything remarkable about this song.  It just sounds like a good “LIFE” leftover and just landed here.  It’s not really an exciting song and just flies by over my head.

10. factory

I really like how the sonstarts up with pipes clanking and such giving this ominous feeling and then WHOOSH, it’s thrown out the window as the song goes peppy and upbeat which is a bit of a downer lol.  I will say that I like the energy from this song and Angela’s relaxed voice might have bore some people but this is good, still not as amazing as a couple of other songs but it’s alright. 

11. Yoake Mae no Inori

Another ballad, Yoake Mae no Inori isn’t really exciting for me but it does act as the “Tegami” of the album with it’s positive vibes and powerful moments.  Not really an original move, but it’s alright, nothing special here either.

12. BLUE

Then we get into the title track and I’m loving the steel drums and island-y vibes out of this one.  It kind of makes me think of “You and I” but without the Beethoven reference.  It’s got charm and I like that about the song a lot!  I think it’s one of the more impressive title tracks she’s had ^_^

13. One Family ~Uchuu no Nagisa~

Remember One Family from “WHITE”?  Well, it’s once again the final song on this album but it got some touch-ups from the original.  Most the changes is from the fact that the song is entirely revolved around the strings instead of the piano and drums.  Add in that Angela resung the song (I’m guessing to commemerate her becoming a mother) and it hits a bit better and makes for an appropriate end to the album ^_^

Tracks Recommended

  • Monster
  • In My Blood
  • BLUE
  • Kokuhaku
  • One Family ~Uchuu no Nagisa~

Song of Avoidance

  • Cry

After having her baby, she returned with BLUE and honestly it’s a lot better than “WHITE” but doesn’t have the longevity that “ANSWER” and “LIFE” actually had which is surprising because she took some risks on this album, though it was half/half on how well it worked.  I think some of the album was boring as hell, but there were some nice surprisies.  So overall I’d say it was a moderately good album.

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Angela Aki – Kokuhaku July 16, 2012

Filed under: Angela Aki — solarblade @ 9:52 am

Track Listing

  1. Kokuhaku
  2. Kokuhaku -Takkyu Ishino Remix-
  3. Uchuu -80KIDZ Remix-
  4. Kokuhaku -Anime Version- (Limited Edition only)

1. Kokuhaku

For the time I’ve been listening to Angela, I didn’t expect Kokuhaku to be something a bit out of the ordinary.  I mean the signature piano is actually absent in the song and instead brought back the acoustic guitar and added synths to make it even more zesty and unique.  I’m kind of happy that Angela got to do a song because her vocals seem to blend with the arrangement without much effort.  It’s definitely a rare thing to see Angela do for an A-side and I like it a lot!

2. Kokuhaku -Takkyu Ishino Remix-

What’s even more surprising is that Angela actually has a remix of Kokuhaku.  I mean she’s never had a full-on remix ever on her singles so this is kind of a landmark for her XD.  Angela and a focus on electronic music is really bizarre and with Takkyu Ishino working at the reins, I’m just not feeling the song really because it really is mostly there for the beats and music.  Add in the Angela’s voice sounds really quiet here…but it’s alright, just not amazing.

3. Uchuu -80KIDZ Remix-

Seems really random to see that Uchuu (originally an album track from her first major label album, “Home”) being remixed by 80KIDZ.  I’m not sure what to really think because it’s got things that I’m not so used to from Angela likes beats and an electric guitar riff.  I mean the guitars aren’t new to the song, but the beats are and they don’t seem to work for the song…ehhh stick to the original.

 

 

With only a couple days before “BLUE” is released, she released Kokuhaku, a first for her.  I mean the main track doesn’t sound like any of the singles which makes it unique and fresh for her (something I’ve been hoping for since her boring “WHITE” album).  Even better is that she finally has remixes on her single…though neither of them are that great to begin with but it’s new!  A new direction perhaps?  I’m quite excited for the album now lol.

 

Angela Aki – WHITE October 3, 2011

Filed under: Angela Aki — solarblade @ 7:50 am

Track Listing

  1. Hajimari no Ballad
  2. Tsugaru Kaikyou Fuyu Keshiki
  3. I Have a Dream
  4. Julio
  5. My Grandfather’s Clock
  6. Moral no Soushiki -revival-
  7. Furusato~HOME
  8. Mokugekisha
  9. Honesty
  10. One Family

1. Hajimari no Ballad

Starting the album off is the primary A-side of the only single released in the era.  It’s not a strange idea to begin things off with such an uplifting song, but c’mon Hajimari no Ballad is just basically “Tegami” pt. 2 and I really felt like this was just a little too mundane for me since she’s done better clearly.  I mean if you like those kind of songs then this is a great way to kick things off, but to me it’s just a little disappointing (even as an A-side).

2. Tsugaru Kaikyou Fuyu Keshiki

The promotional song comes next and it’s an interesting twist to things that I wouldn’t think she’d do.  It’s a Sayuri Ishikawa cover and if you’ve heard of her than you know that she does enka music so this is an interesting move on Angela’s part.  As powerful of a singer Angela is she does have a small issue with singing in that enka style…except when she says the title…that was awesome!  Given the fact that it is piano only in the arrangement, it feels a little bare…but it picked me up after “Hajimari no Ballad”.

3. I Have a Dream

To think that I dislike I Have a Dream more than it’s other A-side is a bit strange but this really was much more boring than I thought it’d be.  I mean it’s not as blatantly obvious that it’s an uplifting track (well the title might give that away haha).  It really is a slow burner until the final chorus where drums kick in…but by then the damage is done lol.  Forgetful song IMO.

4. Julio

After three heavily piano-fronted songs, Julio comes in next with acoustic guitar in place of the piano (but there’s keyboard used here).  I have to say that it’s just humorous to listen to the song just for how much emphasis Angela says for ~julio~…it’s just…wow…  Otherwise, this is quite catchy and Angela does a good job here.

5. My Grandfather’s Clock

So as the first English tune off the album, My Grandfather’s Clock is once again just her and the piano which can easily turn people off that was expecting something more.  Funnily enough, even though it’s a pure piano ballad, I remember this song better and it sounds really pretty coming from Angela.  Maybe I’m being strange but, Angela sounds better doing ballads in English IMHO.

6. Moral no Soushiki -revival-

Hehehe, Native Americans howling to open up Moral no Soushiki which was an album song on her second major label album, “TODAY”.  The original was dark and aggressive (being only piano though) but still damn good.  The self-cover though is quite awesome and just fed into the already epic song by just adding the Native American/tribal sound.  It still is predominantly piano though and I liked it altogether.  I’d say this was a pretty great version ^_^

7. Furusato~HOME

The new version of HOME (which is her debut A-side) is definitely a big switch, especially considering that it has an extended opening with a chorale singing (what I thought was part of the song).  Once they finish, Angela comes in finally with the main part and nothing has really changed except that I think she resung it and the chorale is added to certain places along the song.  It’s not as good as the new version of “Moral no Soushiki” but I guess if you’re a fan of HOME, this might be something to listen to.

8. Mokugekisha

~beep beeeeep~ WTF was that Angela?!?  I have to say after that oddball opening, Mokugekisha is definitely the so-called funny song of the album since it’s light…upbeat and seems like it would be funny lyrically as well.  To me, it kind of feels like it belongs more on “LIFE” than on this album so it makes me think if this song was written in that era and just wasn’t added just because.  Either way, I kind of enjoyed this song. 

9. Honesty

Yay!  Another English song to listen to.  Honesty, is probably more of a melancholic tune since the lyrics are just kind of mean sort of because she’s all like ~honesty, is hardly ever heard…mostly what I need from you~  I mean it’s a pretty direct kind of song so I can totally agree with this song’s lyrical content.  Musically, it’s among the basic tunes since it’s just piano (once again).  Funny enough though that I connected to the song the quickest off this album.

10. One Family

Closing the album, One Family is probably the closest song to Angela off of WHITE.  To me, it kind of just seems a bit more like “Kagayaku Hito” and a little cheesy just to fit the theme of the song.  She does slide through the two languages in this song so that’s pretty nice but like “Hajimari no Ballad”, I’ve heard this all before and it seriously doesn’t do much for me, especially since it’s the final song.

Tracks Recommended

  • Honesty
  • Moral no Soushiki -revival-
  • My Grandfather’s Clock

Song of Avoidance

  • I Have a Dream

Compared to “ANSWER” and “LIFE”, WHITE feels really empty and kind of just dragging her style in a rut.  Besides the three that I recommended, the other songs are styles she’s done for the longest time and since her voice doesn’t need work (persay) it just feels very one-way and not enough to make it stand out from her previous works…she needs to change things up or she’s gonna be stuck and we’ll get more clones of older songs x.x;

 

Angela Aki – Hajimari no Ballad/I Have a Dream June 9, 2011

Filed under: Angela Aki — solarblade @ 7:49 am

Track Listing

  1. Hajimari no Ballad
  2. I Have a Dream
  3. CREEP

1. Hajimari no Ballad

It’s no surprise that Angela went back to her piano roots after her last single, “Kagayaku Hito” was an acoustic guitar ballad.  Luckily, this song has a bit more color than her previous piano ballads and it’s not really that depressing to listen to.  It’s got that uplifting feel like “Tegami ~Haikei Juugo no Kimi e~” had but a little more slower.  Of course there’s not much else to really complain since Angela sounds radiant in this song and gives the extra push for the song.  Beautiful for the first half of the A-sides.

2. I Have a Dream

I was wondering why the shift from one A-side to two happened, but with I Have a Dream, it’s a bit more slower paced than “Hajimari no Ballad” and it actually has this kind of strange glow to it that I oddly enjoyed.  A few things were interesting like strings, and a backup voice as well…it was a little strange but she pulled it off.  Not as strong as the first A-side, but enough to be considered A-side material I guess.

3. CREEP

Of course we can’t have an Angela Aki single without a cover song of some sort.  This time it’s an Angela-ized take on Radiohead’s biggest song, Creep.  Instead of the mysterious guitars and angst from the male perspective, we get a lighter piano-based version of the song.  I will be honest, this isn’t really that great of a cover despite Angela’s vocals are pretty epic to listen to and she pulled vocals so much stronger than Thom Yorke’s vocals.  Sadly, her emotions seems so artificial aganist Thom’s and it causes the song to be confusing and unfaithful to the original…just a weird cover….

 

 

Angela begins a new era off with an alright single…nothing jaw-dropping or special, but it’s kind of typical Angela.  I will say that Hajimari no Ballad is the best of the single and it reminded me alot of “Tegami” but not that much.  I Have a Dream is gonna take some time, but it’s not that bad either.  However, her Radiohead cover kind of slipped up because of the odd emotional rifts that Angela couldn’t really get into.  Ok start, but let’s see what she’ll do next.

 

Angela Aki – LIFE September 8, 2010

Filed under: Angela Aki — solarblade @ 4:54 am

Track Listing

  1. Ai no Kisetsu
  2. Kagayaku Hito
  3. Every Woman’s Song
  4. Sign
  5. Remember Me
  6. Unbreakable
  7. What Are The Roses For?
  8. Ai to Bansoukou
  9. Mad Scientist
  10. The Truth Is Like A Lie
  11. Bop Bop Bop (Colors Of Your Soul)
  12. Haha Naru Daichi
  13. LIFE

1. Ai no Kisetsu

I’m not all the surprised that Angela would begin her album with her two A-sides that were released in the era.  I still don’t think it surpasses anything I’ve heard previous from her and it still comes off as a little plain kicking off the album, but I still love how she sings the song with such emotion. 

2. Kagayaku Hito

As the second A-side, I was happy she changed up her sound a bit.  Ditching the piano, Angela goes and sings Kagayaku Hito with an acoustic guitar backing her up instead.  I mean it’s a bit shortlived when piano does come in, but it’s not at the forefront which is good.  Of course I’ll still loving Angela here and it’s just sweet to listen to.

3. Every Woman’s Song

At least the rest of the album is chockful of new songs.  Starting with Every Woman’s Song, part of the few full-on English songs, I was kind of like bored with the whole woman empowerment deal we got from this.  It could also be because I can’t connect to that kind of setting.  It’s definitely a song for women, not guys XD.  I guess the female-based choir near the end was nice, but c’mon oi ve!

4. Sign

At least we get out of the more cheesy sound and into something that I think she should do more of and that’s upbeat pop songs and not the piano variety either.  Sign a good amount of electric guitar mixed with the traditional piano.  It’s a bit like “The Chase” from her last single and I actually enjoyed that song a bit so hearing another is great to hear.  I’m happy that there’s at least one of these kind of tracks on here.

5. Remember Me

Going back to some ballads, Remember Me unfortunately just doesn’t work for me.  I mean it does kind of grow into something more mid-tempo, but I just feel like I’ve heard this song somewhere before and first thing that comes up is “Ai no Kisetsu”.  Still just a bit too plain for me.

6. Unbreakable

Dang, I was expecting this to be a harder hitting song like “Sign” was.  Unbreakable (another English song) is at least so much better in the lyrical sense.  In a way, if she went Country music on us, I wouldn’t mind and this song is the nearest thing to that genre.  It’s a good and sappy song so that’s good.

7. What Are The Roses For?

Two English songs?  While “Unbreakable” was more of a inner strength kind of song, What Are The Roses For? sounds like it’d be one of those kiddie songs because it’s repeats the idea like ~what are these diamonds for~ and etc.  It’s a simple song and since it’s piano and cello together it kind of stands out on the album. 

8. Ai to Bansoukou

After some soft songs, we return to some louder songs starting with Ai to Bansoukou.  However, I think this song for me is more of the kind where the chorus really owns the verses because if it wasn’t for the chorus, the song could be thrown away easily.  Well, then again the chorus is just golden.  Still the arrangement just fills out the speakers in a good way.  I think the after-chorus is the best part since her voice comes out so much better.

9. Mad Scientist

I know Angela hides an experiment or two on her albums and Mad Scientist would be that song.  This song really has this feel that makes me wonder if she knows of Regina Spektor because that’s what it reminds me of.  We also hear Angela sing kind of differently than her full voice, but more of a lighter and fun-sounding kind.  A line that makes me agree with it fully is the whole ~jealousy turned you into a mad scientist~.  Still what’s with the random ending…it was like, just out of nowhere with the screaming…Bizarre, almost silly, but together.  It’s my favorite of the new songs.

10. The Truth Is Like A Lie

I guess we didn’t get enough of the sadder side of Angela Aki’s music and with the help that it’s in English it paints a whole other picture.  I must commend Angela’s vocals to this song because she sounded just write with the melancholic arrangement and with the even harder lyrics.  Definitely a song for the newly broken-hearted.

11. Bop Bop Bop (Colors Of Your Soul)

I don’t know why but I’d place Bop Bop Bop in the experimentation sound that Angela does.  Out of the songs, I’d call it an actual pop song since that’s what it is.  Sadly, it feels rather short and sometimes those ~bop, bop, bop~ parts just kind of rub me the wrong way, but it pulls us out of the whole emo side of the album.

12. Haha Naru Daichi

Since we don’t have a “Requiem” on the album, the longest song on this album is near 7 minutes.  Haha Naru Daichi has the most amount of originality this album has come by.  I mean the opening is just fantastically done and just pretty.  I wish they kept it, but we all know, this is Angela Aki and she likes her piano.  It fits nicely with the strings that are playing and since the song title is “Mother Earth”, this song fit the mood nicely.  A bit long and boring in places but still not bad.

13. LIFE

Ending the album with it’s idealistic title track, LIFE is once again what Angela Aki does and that’s piano ballads with a positive message.  Throw in strings and you basically get the same thing as she’s done in the past multiple times.  Sorry just doesn’t cut it for me and doesn’t leave much of a mark on me.

Tracks Recommended

  • Mad Scientist
  • Unbreakable
  • The Truth Is Like A Lie
  • Sign
  • Kagayaku Hito

Song of Avoidance

  • Bop Bop Bop (Colors Of Your Soul)

In a way, LIFE does give us something different (or tried to) but for me, I don’t think I enjoy this as much as I did with “ANSWER”.  I think the problem was that there just wasn’t enough experimentation going on, but with the songs that she did she pulled it off and add in the amount of English songs and I was happy with that, but this felt more like a sleeper album.  It’s gonna need some time to catch on!

 

Angela Aki – Kagayaku Hito April 14, 2010

Filed under: Angela Aki — solarblade @ 4:49 am

Track Listing

  1. Kagayaku Hito
  2. The Chase
  3. Without You
  4. Tegami ~Haikei Juugo no Kimi e~ (Chorus Version) (bonus track)

1. Kagayaku Hito

Finally, a song that isn’t based off of a piano arrangement.  Taking the acoustic guitar route Angela’s A-side of the single was a refreshing one after so many piano-ballads.  Angela as usual sounds really heavenly and fits quite nicely with the arrangement.  After a while, some piano enters in, but light and while the song doesn’t add anymore beyond that, this song is quite relaxing.  and the more serious parts were nice as well.  Good ballad from her!

2. The Chase

As the B-side, The Chase returns to the piano stuff, but this was pretty upbeat and full of spunk.  I love the fact there was more punch to the entire thing that seemed to counter “Kagayaku Hito’s” more serious drive.  It’s comes to me as Angela just having fun with the song and it actually turned out better than the A-side.  Good job!

3. Without You

Oh I remembered this when that one chick royally failed singing the song.  Without You, Angela’s cut is just like all her other cover songs.  Basically she redone the song in Japanese and she sounds pretty awesome, especially when she hits the chorus and hit the English words perfectly!  It’s not as good as “Still Fighting It” but it’s pretty damn close. Still…Ken Lee people…Ken Lee…

4. Tegami ~Haikei Juugo no Kimi e~ (Chorus Version)

I’m sorry, but throwing a chorus to try to make Tegami somewhat better does not work for me.  To me the chorus is annoying and kind of takes out the sincerity the original and piano version carried.  I’m not sure why, but it just doesn’t feel so beautiful anymore and just comes off as a icky try to make Tegami into a gospel song. 

 

 

Angela’s 2nd single of the era actually was definitely a step-up after “Ai no Kisetsu”.  I think it’s just the fact that the songs were more memorable and stronger overall.  Kagayaku Hito finally breaks the chain of piano songs and came off nicely.  The Chase and Without You though both were better than the A-side…not sure why since they’re both under pianos…but the Tegami here just wasn’t needed and was unnecessary.

 

Angela Aki – Ai no Kisetsu September 15, 2009

Filed under: Angela Aki — solarblade @ 3:42 am

ainokisetsu

Track Listing

  1. Ai no Kisetsu
  2. Emily
  3. It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday

1. Ai no Kisetsu

It’s been a while since we had a new single from Angela and she returns with a pretty nice sounding single.  It might not carry itself like “Tegami ~Haikei Juugo no Kimi e~, but Ai no Kisetsu is another song that’s strong from her.  Though she does say the English translation of the song as well ~season of love~.  I thought that was pretty cool.  Not as strong, but still good otherwise.

2. Emily

Though the first B-side is such a good feeling.  It’s quite upbeat and has a certain Ben Folds sound which is pleasant to hear since they collaborated on her last album, “ANSWER”.  I just love the bouncy piano melody and Angela sounded really nice singing along with happiness and giddyness.  I’m more impressed with this song more than “Ai no Kisetsu”.

3. It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday

As usual, Angela features another cover, this time from the R&B boyband Boyz II Men.  She does begin with the chorus which is in English and she sounds good, even though the original sounded strong because of the 5 guys singing together.  Angela doesn’t do too bad and she’s rather sings strongly even during her JPN parts of the song. 

 

 

Angela returns to singing after a nice break after “ANSWER” and continues to release consistently strong singles.  Ai no Kisetsu might not be better than her last single, but it’s a nice little tune.  Emily however was the stronger track as it’s light and just happy to hear.  The cover track was nice, but I think the original still beats this…