Kurayami Monogatari

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Crystal Kay – Lovin’ You October 6, 2016

Filed under: Crystal Kay — solarblade @ 3:18 pm

lovinyou

Track Listing

  1. Lovin’ You
  2. Silent Goodbye
  3. Suki

1. Lovin’ You

Whenever I see this title, I don’t know why I immediately think it’s going to be a Minnie Riperton cover, luckily it isn’t!  It opens up with a lone piano melody and Crystal’s soothing voice which always impresses me.  Then the chorus hits and I’m just a tad bit annoyed at how much she repeats ~lovin’ you~ and yet everything else is just so pristine.  Also it’s weird because it’s really the only part that feels slightly R&B.  It’s OK, a bit better than “Sakura” but not really a strong A-side either.

2. Silent Goodbye

A 5 minute ballad?  Well here goes nothing!  The first B-side, Silent Goodbye actually to me should’ve been the leading track as there’s more movement and the song isn’t quite as grating in annoyance either.  I really like Kuri’s soft-sung vocals and the push to the chorus is really pretty that leads to this kind of strong chorus (with a touch of electric guitar).  Yeah, why wasn’t this the A-side?

3. Suki

The last B-side is actually a bit surprise to me.  Right from the start of the lyrics, I instantly recognized this as the DREAMS COME TRUE song…though she already covered it once back in 2008 (on her “ONE” single).  While the first time she covered was upbeat and danceable, she returned to this song and made more of a ballad (a little closer to the original).  Nice vocals overall, but the song is a bit forgetful, so I’ll stick with the dance version please and thank you!

 

 

Yikes, I feel like Kuri is going through this soft ballad phase and I’m just not into it really.  Lovin’ You could’ve been better if it hadn’t been as repetitive as it is making Silent Goodbye the actual interesting song of the single.  Her second time covering Suki is OK, but nothing that catches my eye personally.  Another single though that kind of falls flat overall…

 

 

Crystal Kay – Sakura April 13, 2016

Filed under: Crystal Kay — solarblade @ 3:29 pm

sakurakuri

Track Listing

  1. Sakura
  2. Waiting For You
  3. Forever Young
  4. Sakura (Instrumental)

1. Sakura

Being around the time of the season, it isn’t surprising that Kuri would release a song about it and such.  I’m not surprised that it’s really more of the usual sound and feel that Kuri has been under since debut being a R&B ballad.  I mean Crystal sounds wonderful as usual, but the song itself is just kind of there and doesn’t really sway me in any direction.

2. Waiting For You

Moving to the B-sides, I feel like Waiting For You is a much better fare despite being more like the better songs she released through “VIVID” and “Shine”.  The beat is a lot more fulfilling and Kuri sounds a lot more powerful and confident than she does in “Sakura” ironically.  It’s a solid song for sure and my favorite of the single.

3. Forever Young

The single closes with Forever Young and boy it’s a sleepy song.  Being a piano-led ballad, Kuri sounds has a much stronger presence because of the fact that echo filters were placed on her voice so it radiates more through the rather basic arrangement.  I feel like it’s a cover of something but I can’t place it…still towards the end drums and a little more sound pops up, but the song just doesn’t resonate with me either.

 

 

Being released 3 months after “Shine”, Sakura comes out and it kind of falls flat for me.  While Kuri is a great singer and suits ballads nicely a lot of the time, Sakura and Forever Young were just kind of white and static for me in comparison to her past works.  At least Waiting For You was decent enough to stand out with a better sound and melody.  Kind of a blah single altogether though…

 

Crystal Kay – Shine January 6, 2016

Filed under: Crystal Kay — solarblade @ 5:27 am

shine

Track Listing

  1. Nando Demo
  2. I’m Beautiful
  3. Very Special feat. Ryuuji Imaichi
  4. Kimi ga Ita Kara
  5. REVOLUTION feat. Namie Amuro
  6. THE LIGHT
  7. Shooting Star
  8. #HEARTMELT feat. AK-69
  9. Kimi to Futari Nara
  10. Everlasting
  11. Someday
  12. Present
  13. REVOLUTION (PKCZ(r) Remix feat. SWAY)

1. Nando Demo

Opening the album, we have Nando Demo which was actually released as a digital single a month before the album released.  I shouldn’t be surprised that it sounds like a Winter song with the opening having jingle bells and the kind of cheesy mid-tempo beat.  Sounds like something from the mini-album, “Shining” xD.  I like that it’s more upbeat than I thought it as going to be at least.  Decent song, but seems weird to be the album opener.

2. I’m Beautiful

I suppose the cheesyness follows with the next track (our first new song).  It’s still quite upbeat and Kuri sounds pretty in this song, but there’s not much that I haven’t heard her do before in her discography.  I will say, the song has a nice message and it’s a decent tune by arrangement too.  I don’t know why though, but it kind of just flies on by.

3. Very Special feat. Ryuuji Imaichi

The first of 4 collaborations for the album, Very Special lands our singer alongside one of the many members from Sandaime J Soul Brothers from EXILE TRIBE and also the song itself is a cover too!  Sadly, I don’t think I’ve heard the original.  Keeping with her R&B style that we’ve gotten used to, the song is quite safe, but a nice listen overall, but I don’t think Ryuuji’s overly dramatic vocals rub me the wrong way.  If he wasn’t in the track, this would be an amazing song for Kuri, but otherwise it’s just decent.

4. Kimi ga Ita Kara

Of the two A-sides released for the album, I didn’t think much of Kimi ga Ita Kara because it was her first ballad in quite a while.  Like “I’m Beautiful”, this song kind of just flows by, but I can’t help but fall in love with Kuri’s vocals here!  I think after the single review, I kind of just forgot about it…Nice song though!

5. REVOLUTION feat. Namie Amuro

I think a lot of attention went for the big collaboration with the queen of Hip-Pop XD.  To be honest, I was looking forward to this song because for ladies are so good in their respective styles of music.  I actually wasn’t expecting the song to be kind of an uplifting track (especially the beat-driven chorus).  I think I was expecting more R&B than a dance track, but I’m not arguing it.  It’s one of the stronger songs from this album for sure!

6. THE LIGHT

Being one of the 3 B-sides from “Kimi ga Ita Kara” (surprised the other two didn’t make the cut), THE LIGHT does make sense since it was promotion material for cellphones.  I was kind of surprised with this inclusion, but it sounds nice after “REVOLUTION” at least.  The more synth-based arrangement is kind of different for Kuri (though “VIVID” was starting to head in that direction as it was).  It does seem a bit flat sometimes (the lyrics repeat a bit much).  I like the overall feel though.

7. Shooting Star

As the lone B-side from “REVOLUTION”, I was elated to see Shooting Star make the cut because it literally is the best song of the album!  I was hoping to see more aggressive songs come from Kuri as she aced them on her last album.  The beats are cool and the synthwork was handled so much cooler than before.  Pretty awesome song!

8. #HEARTMELT feat. AK-69

As the rest of the album (sans the final track) are new songs, it made me curious to what was going to come up.  #HEARTMELT actually might be the favorite of the new songs because it’s got a sensual kind of sound to it.  Plus it still carries the dance style quite well, though I can’t help but feel like it reminds me of Demi Lovato’s “Cool for the Summer” minus the rap section from AK-69 who sounds good.  Still, it’s a cool song and gives us the sexy Kuri!

9. Kimi to Futari Nara

Going back to Kuri’s safe zone of R&B, Kimi to Futari Nara I thought was going to feel like “Very Special”, but then the deep bass synths kick in and the song turns into this pretty smooth track for the long run.  I kind of like how Kuri shows more finesse in her songs than before and the arrangements are really suiting this change as with this song!

10. Everlasting

Then things slow down for the last stretch of songs starting with Everlasting.  There’s not much to really say beyond that she’s definitely versed in these styles.  The verses are quite minimal and focuses on Kuri’s singing.  Though on the other hand, it sounds like a 90s ballad too.  It doesn’t get more cheesier though than the chorus.  Hate to say it, while it is contrite, it’s pleasant at the same time…though there are far better ballads in her discography.

11. Someday

Well, I suppose I thought it was going to be a slow rush towards the end, but Someday is peppy and cute for Kuri.  I like the funky vibes out of this song and really lets Kuri let down her hair and just have a good time.  I love her lively voice going along the arrangement and she brought this nice brightness.  Yeah, cool song and a total surprise near the end of the album.

12. Present

As the final new song, Present wraps things up the same kind of way that “Nando Demo” opened the album…as in they’re both Winter songs which once again while fitting for the timing of the album, seems a bit cheesy to do.  I’m just not really into this song either…just a bit trite.

13. REVOLUTION (PKCZ(R) Remix feat. SWAY)

Though I’m not sure why the album had to end with this remix (which was already found on the “REVOLUTION” single).  I wasn’t the biggest fan of this one and continues to not really stick with me, though I suppose it’s a different take of the track, but I feel like we could’ve got a new remix instead of rehashing, just saying!

Tracks Recommended

  • Shooting Star
  • Kimi to Futari Nara
  • Someday
  • #HEARTMELT feat. AK-69
  • REVOLUTION feat. Namie Amuro

Song of Avoidance

  • Present

Given there was quite a while between this album and her last, “VIVID”, Shine is kind of a weaker album altogether.  I’m not sure why I feel like this is a weaker album since Kuri definitely showed a lot more finesse on this album.  Though it’s got a lot of forgetful songs on it sadly and the opening and ending song couldn’t be anymore cheesier >.>  I think I might enjoy some of the songs better, but overall, it’s an average album.

 

Crystal Kay – REVOLUTION feat. Namie Amuro September 20, 2015

Filed under: Crystal Kay — solarblade @ 4:11 am

revolution

Track Listing

  1. REVOLUTION feat. Namie Amuro
  2. Shooting Star
  3. hard to say (MSG version)
  4. REVOLUTION (PKCZ Remix feat. SWAY)
  5. REVOLUTION (Instrumental)

1. REVOLUTION feat. Namie Amuro

Oh damn!  We have our two queens finally collaborating for a song!  I was surprised to learn this was credited as a Kuri A-side, but that makes this a lot more cooler.  The track starts quite strongly with piano and some dance beats and Kuri singing her verse before Namie joins in the pre-chorus and then joining together for the chorus.  I’m really loving the fusion of the vocals and they both have almost similar sounding vocals which is pretty epic too.  The tune itself is quite positive sounding and with the lyrical content sharing the feels as well.  Decent track overall and really good for Crystal

2. Shooting Star

So the rest of the single is only Kuri which is fine by me starting with Shooting Star!  I wasn’t expecting the B-side to strike harder than “REVOLUTION” did, but I’m quite interested in this one because Crystal sounds electric and cool alongside the club beats and strong kick.  I almost had a feeling it was something from “FLASH”, but this is a song of its own power and I’m loving tons!  I’m also loving the English from Kuri too, adds a lot more attitude in an already awesome track!

3. hard to say (MSG version)

I was surprised she’d bring back remixes into the fray, more or less of her 8th single, hard to say.  That was over 10 years ago!  Honestly, I’ve never heard the original so this is just a raw take on this remix.  I do like the cooler electronic vibe with the lighter sound of EDM.  Kuri also sounded very smooth alongside the instrumental and while the tune doesn’t gain or lose interest for me, it’s a solid track and one of the nicer songs.

4. REVOLUTION (PKCZ Remix feat. SWAY)

So the single ends with a remix for REVOLUTION which takes the song into a heavier and grittier EDM arrangement and I do think it is a little bit random especially since the song itself was cut up in seperate parts so things like verses aren’t there, but the chorus is still there.  Add that the new section with SWAY is pretty messy too and includes the messy new arrangement too.  Sorry, just not into this one.

As Kuri releases her 2nd and oddly enough final single before her next album, REVOLUTION was a pretty cool single overall.  The collaborative effort between Crystal and Namie has been a thing many fans wanted to see come to fruition and in 2015, it has finally happened!  The song is pretty cool and the message was just as uplifting and sweet.  Shooting Star though was pretty amazing for a B-side though and I hope it makes the album!  The remix for hard to say was pretty cool but the remix for REVOLUTION was pretty unforgiving…Interesting single!

 

Crystal Kay – Kimi ga Ita Kara June 4, 2015

Filed under: Crystal Kay — solarblade @ 9:55 pm

kimigaitakara

Track Listing

  1. Kimi ga Ita Kara
  2. THE LIGHT
  3. My Heart Beat
  4. Monologue
  5. Kimi ga Ita Kara (Instrumental)
  6. THE LIGHT (English Version)

1. Kimi ga Ita Kara

Opening the single up is Kimi ga Ita Kara and I was not surprised at all when it turned out to be a ballad.  Being her first ballad A-side since transferring over to UNIVERSAL, this song is pretty to listen to and Kuri’s vocals are still very pleasant to listen to.  I do get a feeling that it would’ve suited an anime (kind of like “Motherland” did).  It’s not a bad song and worth the near 3 year wait.

2. THE LIGHT

Released as a digital single in April, THE LIGHT was used to promote a cell phone and I hate to say, the song is a bit messy.  I think it might be the beat, but if we took that out, I REALLY enjoy the ethereal glow of the song and Kuri’s vocals is pretty damn heavenly too which really sounds nice.  I know after a while, the beats will make more sense because it’s not a terrible song and suits against something like “Forever” was.

3. My Heart Beat

Another digital single prior to this release (though this came out in 2013), My Heart Beat does feel like a leftover song left off from “VIVID” and it’s a shame because this is a pretty cool song too!  It matches with the dance-pop style Kuri adopted during that era and I also get a fun party vibe here too!  Definitely the favorite from the single for sure, I don’t know why but this song is just a night after a clubbing experience!

4. Monologue

I suppose it makes Monologue the only legitimate new song on the single (“Kimi ga Ita Kara” was released a couple weeks before the physical release).  I was expecting a short passage just by going for the title, but Monologue is a lighter R&B track with a nice punching beat on top of a lighter 90’s R&B style too.  It’s a solid track as well and Kuri just sounds great here.  Damnit!

5. THE LIGHT (English Version)

The single ends with an English take on THE LIGHT and I feel like the song was made originally in English and was later translated to Japanese before the single release.  I never thought Kuri couldn’t handle it because she owns it both ways and that’s that…the arrangement is still pretty much the same, but I feel like I connected to this take more.

Jesus, 3 more days and it would’ve been a complete 3 years since we’ve had a Crystal Kay single.  She definitely didn’t lose her touch in the hiatus and this single is a pretty good collection overall.  Despite 3/4 aren’t exactly new songs, all of them seemingly worked together and continued to have to bright and wide sound that “VIVID” had which I totally adore!  I hope she doesn’t keep us waiting for her next release though.

 

Crystal Kay – VIVID July 18, 2012

Filed under: Crystal Kay — solarblade @ 5:20 am

Track Listing

  1. Forever
  2. Be Mine
  3. Take It Outside
  4. Yo Yo
  5. Come Back To Me
  6. What We Do
  7. Superman
  8. Memory Box
  9. Haru Arashi
  10. Fly High
  11. Delicious na Kinyoubi
  12. Rising Sun
  13. Haru Arashi (Kazuhiko Maeda Remix)
  14. Forever (Kazuhiko Maeda Remix)
  15. Forever (Max K Remix) (iTunes only)
  16. Yo Yo (English Version) (iTunes only)

1. Forever

I love that Kuri opens up with the single she released not even a month prior to the album’s release.  I REALLY love this song for some reason because Kuri sounds so good and the song is just my league of good stuffs.  I definitely think it’s one of the surprising yet amazing A-sides of the year!

2. Be Mine

After hearing the singles, I was wondering what she going to have as the main course for VIVID and it seems starting with Be Mine, it’s similar in styles here.  The track is kind of more 80’s style but I like the atmosphere here and Kuri continues to sound gracious here.  It’s a fun spirited song and kind of have this flirty sound with its lyrics.  Good track overall.

3. Take It Outside

However our next track makes our previous one sound like a mess because Take It Outside is just all-around amazing.  I was surprised she pulled this one out of her hat and I must say.  I just love the dance beats and the hook revolving around ~take it outside, just you and I~ is just incredibly catchy.  Up there alongside “Forever”.

4. Yo Yo

Moving onto Yo Yo, it backs away from using too much synths by giving this party tune.  I really liked it for it’s unusual melody and using more of a minor style for the song (especially that chorus, where it sounds totally different from the verses).  It’s a really cool tune to listen to.

5. Come Back To Me

Our fifth track in and we finally somewhat cooled down from her dance style and enter Come Back To Me which has more of a serious tone to it.  I found it somewhat cool that the beat is heavy still and the strings play an angry way.  It does have a certain Americanized sound that excites me however and overall worked quite nicely.

6. What We Do

Mmph. the basslines in What We Do really spark my fancy here and was the first song that stood out just with that.  I also loved the chilled out feel of the song and the lyrics also really made it seem like it’s a party song.  I can totally imagine hearing this in a rollerskating rink for some reason…ahhh the mind pictures.

7. Superman

Moving onto Kuri’s debut under UNI-J, Superman is definitely a surprise since before that she was releasing such boring songs and this kind of dragged her back up into a better style for her.  I mean it’s still quite R&B but it sounds really pleasant and flows smoothly.  I will say it’s like a hookless “Forever” in arrangement but I liked it despite that.

8. Memory Box

If there was one song that I would say would be my least favorite track, it might be Memory Box because it’s just like her SONY works just on rolled into this song.  Definitely R&B and has a bit of a softer side to it, I didn’t find the song to be really exciting but Kuri’s voice is still very good here.  Just not my cup of tea.

9. Haru Arashi

I don’t know why but I really love Haru Arashi as well!  I mean this song was synthy and clubby and just a really cool and breezy song to listen to.  I did feel like as if it ended a bit too quickly, but this is still a pretty good song and A-side (probably my 2nd favorite after “Forever”).

10. Fly High

Seeing that the album is kind of switching from old tracks and new tracks in the second half of the album is kind of cool.  Fly High is another song that I don’t feel too much of because it kind or reminds me of a bunch of other Kuri songs out there but on this album it sounds good just a bit forgettable for me.  I think it’s a good track to put in between “Haru Arashi” and our next track.

11. Delicious na Kinyoubi

Good lord were all the A-sides just amazing stuff.  The final A-side representing VIVID, Delicious na Kinyoubi is like most of the tracks on the album and a lot like the previous as well which might make me feel a little bit less about it but it’s still a solid track overall even though I still find the synth breakdown to be rather random and unneeded.  Still a good tune.

12. Rising Sun

The last of the tracks before the remixes, Rising Sun has an interesting arrangement behind it.  Kind of following a little with “Come Back To Me” with the emphasizing of the beats but this is a lot more brighter of a song.  After a while it kind of just drags along with not much of  a change to the beat.  I was a little disappointed with this song.

13. Haru Arashi (Kazuhiko Maeda Remix)

So the album comes with two extra remixes, both remixed by Kazuhiko Maeda.  The first of them, Haru Arashi feels more like a stripped down version of the original which is a nice switch to things but it does sound really empty at first until we get into the chorus.  It’s alright but I like the original a bit more since it doesn’t have empty moments like this remix.

14. Forever (Kazuhiko Maeda Remix)

At least it seems the Forever remix seemed to be a bit better than the “Haru Arashi” remix.  I do like that it opens with the ~forever, ever, ever~ hook of the song and then adds a lot more color to it for some reason.  I do like the synthed up arrangement and how it opens into the chorus with less stuff going on.  I’d say it’s a lot better than the previous remix but I love the original a lot more!

15. Forever (Max K Remix)

If you got the album via iTunes, you get two bonus tracks…this first one is ANOTHER Forever remix.  This one is definitely more catered to the club goers out there since it begins like one with the chanting being repeated behind a heavy beat.  I have to say that I really love the arrangement once it comes in and the lyrics are really cool since it seems like the verses, bridge, and chorus are just moved around so it gets this interesting way of how things turned out.  Her voice does seem to be covered by the music but that’s OK since she has times where her voice goes over it…yeah this is a pretty awesome remix!

16. Yo Yo (English Version)

I’m happy to see that Yo Yo get an English version and as an added incentive and such.  I really like the song a bit more and since the song worked with the lyrics.  Thank god Kuri is a native speaker because I’m sure if she released here, I think it’d be a hit.

Tracks Recommended

  • Forever
  • Take It Outside
  • Yo Yo (English Version)
  • Haru Arashi
  • What We Do

Song of Avoidance

  • Rising Sun

Holy crap, I was rather amazed at how much of a difference changing labels will do to your music.  After being disappointed with “Spin The Music” and seeing those best-ofs being released, I was ready for new Kuri and moving from SONY to UNI-J has done great for her musically.  VIVID might not be what this album was (because let’s be honest it was really one true style with a couple of exceptions) but definitely a strong album with a few faults (which were a remix and two other songs) but the rest is so worth it…Definitely working to be one of the bests of 2012 *RECOMMENDED*

 

Crystal Kay – Forever June 8, 2012

Filed under: Crystal Kay — solarblade @ 5:30 am

Track Listing

  1. Forever
  2. Forever (SKY HIGH REMIX)
  3. Haru Arashi (BONEBOX REMIX)
  4. Forever (Instrumental)

1. Forever

I’m really enjoying Kuri’s recent enjoyment of the synths mixed into her R&B style because it works with her smoky vocals.  I was actually surprised at how progressive the song is and the synths just blossom all over the song.  The background stuff is a bit questionable but I’m it’s a small discrepincy.  I love the amount of English in the song and her repeating certain things is kind of catchy hahaha.  It doesn’t surpass “Haru Arashi” but this is definitely up there and ranks as another great A-side from the awesome Kuri!

2. Forever (SKY HIGH REMIX)

Then I hear the remix for the track and I’m liking Forever even more than I should haha.  I mean they took out they odd background stuff and the arrangement is more of a electro/eurobeat kind of sound which works with the song!  I mean the buzzing sounds and then hearing Kuri under some filters except in other parts is quite something.  It’s a really solid remix of Forever but after a while I’m kind of liking the obscure stuff from the original more hahaha.

3. Haru Arashi (BONEBOX REMIX)

We get another remix but this time it’s for Haru Arashi which I thought I’d enjoy quite a bit and I did at first in the first half since it was more laidback and kind of enjoyed the synths and guitarwork.  After a while it kind of shifts gears and then slams into this dubstep area…which totally killed the song for what its worth.  It’s like a BAD Skrillex move…very jagged and unneeded.  If they had left it off, I think this would’ve been a good remix.

 

 

As the third and final single before her 1st, UNI-J album, “VIVID” drops, Forever leaves us with the hope that this album will be pretty awesome!  Her last couple of albums from SONY were OK but nothing like her earlier days and hopefully the label change will do her good because these singles: “Superman”, “Delicious na Kinyoubi/Haru Arashi” and this one have done nothing but impressed me!  While I do wish there was another track instead of the remixes, Forever wasn’t bad and neither was its remix.  Haru Arashi’s though was a trainwreck and should be avoided at all costs!