Kurayami Monogatari

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Ayaka Hirahara – Smile Smile July 9, 2012

Filed under: Ayaka Hirahara — solarblade @ 6:13 am

Track Listing

  1. Smile Smile
  2. Boy, I Wish You Were Here ~Koko ni Itekuretara~
  3. Smile Smile (Voice-less Track)
  4. Boy, I Wish You Were Here ~Koko ni Itekuretara~ (Voice-less Track)

1. Smile Smile

It just seems lately that Ayaka has gotten into this bright atmosphere with the last couple of releases from her.  Smile Smile from her is peaceful and charming but it’s a bit mundane because I wouldn’t be able to remember it by melody.  Once again though her vocals really stand out and the guitar solo is a nice touch, but it’s not as great as “NOT A LOVE SONG” was.

2. Boy, I Wish You Were Here ~Koko ni Itekuretara~

The B-side of the single is actually a bit more down to earth and has more of a serious light than “Smile Smile”.  I’m surprised the song’s style is more R&B but still Hirahara’s style.  Her vocals are spot on and they sound heavenly with the piano melody and the beats.  Fitting!

 

 

I guess Ayaka wants to be more hip and modern these days (especially after Doki!).  For her first single after that album, Smile Smile isn’t totally her best but it’s not boring either…it’s kind of in the middle of average.  I will say that I do prefer Boy. I Wish You Were Here, but both are acceptable by me lol

 

Ayaka Hirahara – Doki! March 5, 2012

Filed under: Ayaka Hirahara — solarblade @ 7:00 pm

Track Listing

  1. Namida Oto
  2. HUSH HUSH
  3. NOT A LOVE SONG
  4. My Road
  5. Aitakute
  6. Where Magic Goes ~Ai no Yukue~
  7. Night in Tunisia
  8. Ato Sukoshi Ato Sukoshi
  9. Kono Omoi Todoke
  10. Kesshou
  11. Itsumo Itsumo
  12. Vocalise
  13. Ohisama ~ Taisetsu na Kimi e

1. Namida Oto

I was liking the fact that Ayaka began her album with Namida Oto since it does show what a good portion of what it’ll sound like.  I also liked that I was getting similar vibes from this song paralleling to “NOT A LONG SONG” since they’re both upbeat and quite bright and refreshing to listen to.  A great choice to kick things off on the album.

2. HUSH HUSH

Carrying the album on an upbeat level still, HUSH HUSH is cute and it kind of reminds me of something Sara Barelles (or however her last name is spelled).  It’s kind of cute and I thought the chorus was pretty catchy after hearing it a lot.  It does feel short even though it is a little under the four minute mark but still, this song was pretty sweet and nice to listen to!

3. NOT A LOVE SONG

It doesn’t feel like it was that long ago since I reviewed the single for this.  As the 3rd A-side representing the album, NOT A LOVE SONG surprised me since it wasn’t like anything I heard before.  I mean I take that back here because the previous two songs are kind of like this song too.  However, I still enjoy the song because it’s such a positive song and the fact that it’s a bit out of her ballad zone was already a reason to love it.  Add in the unusual rapping section and you get this track.  Definitely my favorite of the era and happy it’s early on the album ^_^

4. My Road

Then again, moving into the 2nd A-side, My Road moves into Ayaka’s comfort zone but it’s also a little daring because instead of the usual stuff she uses, she incorporates electric guitar and percussion alongside the piano and strings to create a rather powerful ballad.  I actually still enjoy it more than “Ohisama ~ Taisetsu no Anata e” but that’s because she actually worked her voice in this one and it sounds amazing!

5. Aitakute

Going into the big batch of new songs on the album, Aitakute in my eyes seems to be merely an interlude or a short song since it is 2:50 in length.  When I hear this song I get this lullaby feeling from it because it really is only light keyboard and acoustic guitar alongside Ayaka’s light vocals.  It’s simple and to the point and I like that about this…but it does move at a snail’s pace.

6. Where Magic Goes ~Ai no Yukue~

I guess “Aitakute” wanted to bridge from the bright and upbeat songs (sans “My Road”) and move deeper into ballads since Where Magic Goes is a much simpler affair with just piano as the backing instrument in this song for a while before more stuff is added along like acoustic guitar and strings.  Actually it kind of sounds just as simple as the previous song but longer and has a couple more instruments than it.  I kind of just zoned out for this song.

7. Night in Tunisia

At least things turn pretty quickly when we get into Night in Tunisia which features Ayaka beatboxing and scatting…OH HEY it sounds like we’ve got another “Spain” going on here!  I’ve really enjoyed whenever Ayaka really goes outside of the box and instead or impressing me with her grand vocals, she impresses me by trying new vocal styles like this and she’s hitting some notes that I never thought she could.  If you like her weird stuff as of recent, this’ll fill that void up!

8. Ato Sukoshi Ato Sukoshi

After that goodness, we get into another one of those upbeat and positive sounding songs.  I was surprised that how funky and surprisingly catchy this song was for sure.  It’s pretty breezy and Ayaka’s vocals are so bright and fits with this poppy atmosphere almost perfectly.  I wouldn’t say it’s out of character for her but it’s definitely different but I like it!

9. Kono Omoi Todoke

As the 4th ballad, Kono Omoi Todoke reminds me of “Where Magic Goes” because it’s kind using the same instruments and has a similar mood here.  I actually felt like this was the better song though because Ayaka was singing a lot stronger and the arrangement did grow more (even threw in an electric guitar solo for kicks).  I mean I thought there’d be more going on other than that but I’m pretty content iwth this ballad at the least.

10. Kesshou

So it seems all of the B-sides did make the cut (“NOT A LOVE SONG” didn’t have an original B-side just a live version of a different song).  So the first one that came up was Kesshou from “My Road” and I’m happy they seperated the two because they were similar to one another.  Though Ayaka had some backup vocals which is the biggest difference I can make between the two songs, plus it’s a smidge more upbeat as well.  This one has grown on me though and I’m liking the overall feel of the song and hearing Ayaka’s voice power through the song was impressive ^_^

11. Itsumo Itsumo

As the album’s shortest song, Itsumo Itsumo kind of felt like I was listening to “Aitakute” since the simplicity of the song was just bleh for me.  However, there’s an interesting thing in the song and it’s the form of a male counterpart singing (weird that she didn’t exactly credit him on the tracklist).  Still, it’s just a tad boring and kind of didn’t leave in impact on me.

12. Vocalise

When I saw the tracklist there was one song that seriously left me bewildered and confused.  If you didn’t remember or don’t know about this, Vocalise is the B-side from “Ohisama ~ Taisetsu na Anata e” but it’s unusual because all it is is just Ayaka ad-libbing to “Ohisama’s” vocal melody.  I would’ve like that if she had made it shorter (like an album version) but nope it’s hear in all its boring glory.  I thought this was the album’s worst song because it just wasn’t necessary!

13. Ohisama ~ Taisetsu na Anata e

Which the only reason “Vocalise” could fit the album is to be a rather LONG introduction to the actual song.  So I learned from one of my commenters that Ohisama is actually fitting along with ALL of the “my Classis!” eras because it is a melody cover of a classical tune which I was totally oblivious to (and thank god it didn’t mean a 4th oe of that mess).  I thought it was appropriate to end the album with this song for sure but of the A-sides this was the weakest and I barely remember the melody either way.  I will say it’s exciting to hear Ayaka so strong in this song and worked with the dramatics.

Tracks Recommended

  • Ato Sukoshi Ato Sukoshi
  • NOT A LOVE SONG
  • HUSH HUSH
  • Night in Tunisia
  • Kesshou

Song of Avoidance

  • Vocalise

Ayaka’s 6th studio album (my Classics era don’t really count in my eyes) is surprisingly a lot more approachable and a big identity shift especially after “Path of Independence”.  I wasn’t expecting Ayaka to put out such a positive album with fun pop songs and yet pull of grand ballads (even though there’s no ballad that reaches the amazingness of either “Jupiter” or “Campanula no Koi”.  Still, I enjoyed this album quite a bit and while there were a few misses (the two short songs and useless Vocalise), this was solid but Hirahara fans will more than likely be surprised LOL.

 

Ayaka Hirahara – NOT A LOVE SONG February 2, 2012

Filed under: Ayaka Hirahara — solarblade @ 10:04 pm

Track Listing

  1. NOT A LOVE SONG
  2. Kumanbachi no Hikou (Live on Oct. 2nd 2011)
  3. NOT A LOVE SONG (Vocal-less Track)

1. NOT A LOVE SONG

Who knew Ayaka was going to pull a wtf on her fans with NOT A LOVE SONG.  First off unlike the previous songs, this is actually upbeat and set in an R&B kind of tone but still containing a lot of piano and strings as well.  Of course it’s great to see Ayaka singing since her beautiful vocals really work with the song.  Though I will say, I wasn’t expecting her rapping in the song hahaha…it was kind of random but short so it’s not terrible.  I thought it was a pretty nice song, different but nice!

2. Kumanbachi no Hikou (Live on Oct. 2nd 2011)

The B-side is actually a live version of Kumanbachi no Hikou (which was the oddest song she’s done in the “my Classics” era.  I mean it’s a very abstract and DIFFERENT kind of song from her.  She’s doing many vocally difficult things like buzzing like a bee, ad-libbing, singing…and beat-boxing.  It’s such a wild song and while it might not be everyone’s thing, I’m just impressed she pulled off this song EPICLY live.  Very impressed here.

 

 

Closing the “Doki!” era with such a wtf single (not had one of those since “Keropak”).  NOT A LOVE SONG is quite mainstream of her to do but she sounds really nice and the song has a good positive message besides letting us know that it’s NOT A LOVE SONG…XD.  The live version of Kumanbachi no Hikou was impressive as all hell and showed her skills to the front and she’s a great singer who I think should be a little more popular! *RECOMMENDED*

 

Ayaka Hirahara – My Road November 4, 2011

Filed under: Ayaka Hirahara — solarblade @ 5:38 am

Track Listing

  1. My Road
  2. Kesshou
  3. My Road (Vocal-less Track)
  4. Kesshou (Vocal-less Track)

1. My Road

I was curious to what Ayaka would release next in the era and why I tried to be surprised is beyond me, but it’s of course a ballad!  I like the fact that it’s a bit different from her past ballads since it includes more focus with the acoustic guitar and strings and even having a little bit of electric guitar as well.  I’d say it does a much better job at leaving an impression since there’s a lot of effort in this song and it fits Ayaka’s powerful vocals.  Much better than “Ohisama”.

2. Kesshou

Wow, an actual B-side this time around?  To me, Kesshou kind of features the same instruments used in “My Road” but of course in a different arrangement and melody.  I like to say there’s more emphasis on the acoustic guitar this time around and there’s bells being hit in the song which makes it cool.  I’m not sure if I would consider it better than the A-side but…

Ayaka’s second of the era is a bit refreshing since I’m still kind of healing after those 3 era’s of nothing but melody covers.  I’d say if they were non-existant and this and the previous single was after “Path of Independence”, I’d say she’s continuing to show that she owns ballads and this single shows a much brighter side to her ballads and I really enjoyed it.

 

Ayaka Hirahara – Ohisama ~ Taisetsu na Anata e June 30, 2011

Filed under: Ayaka Hirahara — solarblade @ 1:37 am

Track Listing

  1. Ohisama ~ Taisetsu na Anata e
  2. Vocalise
  3. Ohisama ~ Taisetsu na Anata e (Vocal-less Track)

1. Ohisama ~ Taisetsu na Anata e

After the three melody cover eras, it’s nice to see that Ayaka is returning to original music and with Ohisama, she might not have struck gold, but it’s a great song after all this time.  I like the addition of the acoustic guitar though and it gives it a pretty touch with the piano, bass, and strings.  Might not be the best ballad she has but it’s still good.

2. Vocalise

The B-side Vocalise starts with Ayaka doing some ad-libbing with a harp acting as a back-up.  Then all of a sudden I instantly notice the melody of Ayaka’s ab-libs and it’s just her doing her thing to the melody of “Ohisama”.  I do think it’s pretty since it’s quieter and comes off as a lullaby to me, but c’mon really?  I would’ve liked a true B-side and not just Ayaka going ~whoooooo~ for 3 and a half minutes.

 

 

Ayaka’s first entry in a new era is an OK start but nothing to really get excited over.  Ohisama kind of reminds me of “Kodoku no Mukou” in that it’s one of the more quieter songs she released but in a way, this seems better.  I didn’t think Vocalise was much better since it was just ad-libbing the A-side when we had the instrumental to do that on….ehhhh next single plz.

 

Ayaka Hirahara – Path of Independence May 24, 2011

Filed under: Ayaka Hirahara — solarblade @ 4:41 am

Track Listing

  1. Path of Independence
  2. Nocturne
  3. Hoshi Tsumugi no Uta
  4. Kodoku no Mukou
  5. Sora ni Namida wo Kaeshitara
  6. Sayonara Watashi no Natsu
  7. Ima・Koko・Watashi
  8. Akane
  9. Tenshi no Hashigo
  10. Ichibanboshi
  11. Ima, Kaze no Naka de
  12. Ame no Sasayaki
  13. Campanula no Koi ~Acoustic Version~
  14. To be free

1. Path of Independence

I knew coming into the album this was going to be a nice light album and the first song which is the title track added to that mindset.  I love the slow, but grand build for the song and when she gets to the chorus it goes from a piano melody to more of an orchestral feel.  I also liked that line of ~I have nothing, nothing left to feel~ near the end of the chorus before it adds more instruments like electric guitars and more percussion.  Pretty song for sure and grows into a powerful tune in the end.

2. Nocturne

As part of the double A-side that closed before the album, Nocturne is of course the Japanese version of “Campanula no Koi”.  However, it is in its own distinct identity because it’s also different in the arrangement.  To me the added bass and background vocals added more color to the song and of course Ayaka herself sounds great here.  I seriously ended up enjoying this more than it’s sister so that says something.

3. Hoshi Tsumugi no Uta

As the second A-side of the era, Hoshi Tsumugi no Uta does make things a little bit more of a happier ballad and it really does sound like a great song to listen to at night simply just by going by the single’s cover.  While it doesn’t have a powerful climax like the previous two tracks, I’m still happy with what we got with this song…simple acoustic ballad…me likey!

4. Kodoku no Mukou

As it was the A-side released after our last track, I’m still kind of unimpressed with this track because of the rather blah arrangement and Ayaka’s voice sounds off for some reason like she had a cold during the production of the song.  Nothing against or anything, but she has way better ballads than this (especially on this album).

5. Sora ni Namida wo Kaeshitara

Then after that we get her 4th single’s tracklist but backwards next starting with the B-side.  After that borefest from “Kodoku no Mukou”, it was nice to finally get into some upbeat songs and this song was such a great choice to add on the album.  It really fits the summer vibes the single was showing off and I love the bouncy rhythms and Ayaka lightened up and gave a fun performance with this tune.  Just what I needed!!!

6. Sayonara Watashi no Natsu

While I do think this song is a bit slower than “Sora ni Namida wo Kaeshitara”, this also has summer vibes too but it’s not as lighthearted since I feel like there’s a bit of slight more serious vibe going on in the lyrics.  I guess I liked the B-side a bit more than this, but it’s ok because this song is also quite good.

7. Ima・Koko・Watashi

Going to the B-side from “Hoshi Tsumugi no Uta”, this song is also upbeat like the previous two tracks, but unlike them this doesn’t feel like a summer song and actually sounds good if Ayaka ever wants to try a pop/rock sound again one day.  Ayaka sounds great and the song’s breezy vibes work for me this time around.  Definitely one of the better B-sides of the era.

8. Akane

When the album was released this was a new song, but afterwards was relegated also to be a recut single so it doesn’t get bolded in the review.  After the last three songs, it’s good to go back to something a bit more Ayaka-like with ballads and I felt this song had a more dramatic vibe that fits with “Path of Independence”.  Oddly enough, I wouldn’t have minded just an instrumental and well it came true as the single was released.  I loved this song!

9. Tenshi no Hashigo

I will say that I’m surprised with the lack of new songs on the album for sure.  Getting into our 3rd new song out of 4, Tenshi no Hashigo was really weird because I felt it would’ve been better in between “Ima・Koko・Watashi” and “Akane” because it has a lot of things that remind me of both tracks.  I like the fact that it’s upbeat and yet uses a lot of strings throughout as well.  Not as good as other songs, but I like it for being a new track.

10. Ichibanboshi

Back into some old songs with the B-side from “Kodoku no Mukou”, Ichibanboshi is quite nice of a song when it’s placed far away from it’s A-side.  I’m not sure how to classify it because there’s this shuffling sound throughout mixed with piano/strings and it feels like a ballad all over.  It’s a nice song, a bit lengthy, but nice overall.

11. Ima, Kaze no Naka de

Moving into the first A-side of the era, it’s been a long time since I’ve listened to this track.  After such a lengthy era, Ima, Kaze no Naka de doesn’t seem like much anymore since most of everything released after it has been more eventful and longer lasting.  It feels like the buildup from “Path of Independence” is here, but not there at the same time…it’s kind of odd.  It’s nice of a song, but there’s better A-sides on the album IMO.

12. Ame no Sasayaki

Our final new song off the album appears next and I’m not fully impressed with this because it feels like “Ima, Kaze no Naka de” but a little more on the sad side.  I mean with the mood switch it kind of does stand out on the album, but I still feel rather unmoved by the arrangement so it kind of comes off as forgettable in the long run.

13. Campanula no Koi ~Acoustic Version~

I still find it strange than Campanula no Koi had to be added in the album even though “Nocturne” was there.  Of course I like this song since it’s the English version and all, but being a new version made me wonder what this was going to be like and it’s a lot more emptier than I thought it’d be.  The piano arrangement is nice and all, but it just feels lonely and not as good as “Nocturne” was…

14. To be free

Closing the album up is one of the B-sides from “Ima, Kaze no Naka de”.  It does make a good closer because it’s one of the slower songs with a nice orchestral feel to it.  Ayaka also does a great job singing as well giving it life and power in the right places.  Definitely a nice piece to end a nice lengthy album, at least to me it is.

Tracks Recommended

  • Sora ni Namida wo Kaeshitara
  • Path of Independence
  • Akane
  • Ima・Koko・Watashi
  • Nocturne

Song of Avoidance

  • Kodoku no Mukou

As it is Ayaka’s 5th studio album, it’s kind of sad this album only really had four new songs plus an edited track and added so many older songs on it.  Otherwise, it’s not a bad album and it shows a nice amount of versatility within her music.  Now what sucks was that after Akane’s release, Ayaka decided to go on this “my Classics” business…I hope she returns to original music soon!

 

Ayaka Hirahara – my Classics3 March 2, 2011

Filed under: Ayaka Hirahara — solarblade @ 10:57 pm

Track Listing

  1. Watashi to Iu na no Kodoku
  2. Haru ~La Primavera!
  3. What will be will be
  4. Ooki na Ki no Shita
  5. Danny Boy
  6. LOVE STORY Koukyoukyoku Dai-9-ban Dai-3-gakushou
  7. Wakare no Kyoku
  8. Kumanbachi no Hikou
  9. Someone to watch over me
  10. Brahms no Koi
  11. Greensleeves
  12. Love Rhapsody
  13. Aranjuez Kyousoukyoku ~ Spain (Live Version)
  14. Danny Boy (English Version)

1. Watashi to Iu na no Kodoku

We begin Ayaka’s 3rd in the my Classics era, Watashi to Iu na no Kodoku sounds quite sultry and quite jazzy in a way, but I think it’s because of how laidback it really is.  The song does feel great and since it’s more of an upbeat ballad, it works for me.  Good start to the album ^_^

2. Haru ~La Primavera!~

I guess we get into a more breezy and spring-like song with Haru, at first I thought the song was pretty boring and non-eventful until I started to hear what the melody of the song was based off of and it’s definitely classical music right there.  Still it kind of continues to go over my head when the main melody isn’t playing so I don’t know…

3. What will be will be

Besides the weird title of the song and Ayaka’s saying it, the song isn’t like the previous tracks simply because it has a more acoustic touch and Western style when compared back.  I guess it’s alright but it doesn’t really do much for me.

4. Ooki na Ki no Shita

Oh Ayaka…talking in the song with kids giggling in the background is a bit strange yes?  Ooki na Ki no Shita sounds actually interesting this time around with marching passages and a more simplistic sound overall.  I also love the amounts of English that’s present as well since it sounds nice.  Overall a pretty, pretty tune here.

5. Danny Boy

~Oh Danny Boy~ opens up our next track was is unsurprisingly a ballad once again, but the biggest thing is the song has mostly piano, acoustic guitar and very light percussion.  Once again, I get bored of the song afterwards and just kind of tune it out…but it’s pretty simple of a song so that should tell you something.

6. LOVE STORY Koukyoukyoku Dai-9-ban Dai-3-gakushou

Despite the rather absurd looking title, LOVE STORY does sound a bit like the simplicity in arrangement like “Danny Boy”, but Ayaka’s vocals actually move around the scale a whole lot more.  It does make me think of her a lot better as a singer since the high notes she hits are really pretty and she hits them quite nicely.  Sadly, at the point where I am in the album…the ballads are starting to really bore the hell outta me.

7. Wakare no Kyoku

Which hits the boiling point with the primary A-side of the second single released in the era.  Granted, the song sounds a lot more depressing than the last few songs, Wakare no Kyoku still does nothing and I feel it actually does much worse being on the album to be quite honest.  Sorry, it’s just a very bland track for me.

8. Kumanbachi no Hikou

If you remember “Spain” off the last “my Classics” then you remember that that song was very strange and off the wall.  Well, Kumanbachi no Hikou is even more bizarre because she fucking sounds like a damn mosquito buzzing through most of the song which so made me roar with laughter.  I will say that this song gets better after “The Flight of the Bees” and then Ayaka starts beat-boxing as well before coming back to ad-lib and then the song slows down and she sings ACTUAL lyrics…but it’s shortlived and she goes back to ad-libbing and buzzing like a mosquito…it’s so weird of a song!!!

9. Someone to watch over me

For the secondary A-side to make the album’s cut makes me happy since this song is still the best the album has to offer.  It still gives me a happy kind of feeling especially since the song features more ad-libbing, but otherwise all English.  The music is dramatic and it fits Ayaka’s voice quite nicely.  Think 50’s ballads and you get this song and I thought it was a great song overall.

10. Brahms no Koi

Electric guitar and latin guitar in the same song?  Talk about changing up the mood quite strangely.  Brahms no Koi sounds so mysterious with the ethereal synths and lone violin with the woodblocks that kind of come in and out of the song.  I’m still kind of frowning that it’s still a ballad, but this song was pretty and had direction.

11. Greensleeves

I love the pan flute that opens up Greensleeves for some reason.  Anyways, I also know the melody of this song and it’s always tied to folk music since well it has the flow of it.  I mean once again we get some ad-libbing which is kind of the same stuff we’ve heard in the other two songs that has it.  Even the extra vocalists and the growth of the song in time makes it sound a lot stronger than it should hahaha.  Good A-side actually ^_^

12. Love Rhapsody

Closing the main focus of the album, Love Rhapsody tries to finish the album on a good note and while it would normally sound good…to me, the fact that it’s another ballad just really killed me and I was just ready to click next and just get over it since it sounds like the beginning few off this album.  I will say her vocals were great though.

13. Aranjuez Kyousoukyoku ~ Spain (Live Version)

I guess as little treats we get a live version of Aranjuez Kyousoukyou ~ Spain which like I said are two seperate tracks but spliced together to sound connected.  I haven’t come across anything of hers live yet and she’s still sounding beautiful on the first part.  Her ad-lib freak out in the second part sound pretty epic as well.  Still one of my favorite tracks off the last album.

14. Danny Boy (English Version)

Yeah, Danny Boy gets the English lyrics and while I like the idea of English lyrics to it, the song doesn’t really change much so I feel the same way as I did for the original take.  Sorry.

Tracks Recommended

  • Someone to watch over me
  • Greensleeves
  • Watashi to Iu na no Kodoku
  • Ooki na Ki no Shita
  • Kumanbachi no Hikou

Song of Avoidance

  • Wakare no Kyoku

Please Ayaka?  Can we go back to original pieces of music and not overbearing the album with ballads?  my Classics3 tried to pull the same weight of the first two, but the songs were just not there and I actually only recognized two melodies out of it…  I hope she’s done with this classical melody cover thing because it’s old….(at least do more random WTF songs) those seem to work xD