Kurayami Monogatari

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Hitomi Shimatani – brilliant September 7, 2019

Filed under: Hitomi Shimatani — solarblade @ 4:18 am

brilliant

Track Listing

  1. Brilliant Ways
  2. SEASIDE ROMANCE
  3. gentle rain (new version)
  4. Amairo no Kami no Otome (new version)
  5. Blue mermaid
  6. CYCLE

1. Brilliant Ways

Opening the mini with acoustic guitar, Brilliant Ways is a surprising track for me as it really reminds me of BONNIE PINK’s music for some reason but it could just be the natural sound and mood of the tune that really gets to me.  Add on Hitomi’s awesome vocals and it really came together.  It’s a pretty good way to kick things off that’s for sure!

2. SEASIDE ROMANCE

Though mood instantly changes getting into SEASIDE ROMANCE which has more of an 80’s new wave feel to it and I can appreciate that as well and Hitomi suits the funky guitar and heavy bass groove throughout.  It almost makes me think of her last album, “misty” with its overall flow.  Yeah, this was another winner and probably my favorite from the mini-album.

3. gentle rain (new version)

I kind of wonder why this song was given a new cut considering it isn’t even that old of a song (a track from her last album “misty”), but I do remember it because it was a rather nostalgic sound of a tack that harkens back to the early 90s.  It still retains that feel mostly, but mostly the difference is light (I think the biggest difference is the lack of the thunderstorm in the intro).  Maybe some arrangement changes, but they don’t really make too much of a difference.  OK…?

4. Amairo no Kami no Otome (new version)

This one was a no guess as to why it got a new cut as it’s still Hitomi’s biggest hit (while I still don’t exactly agree that it’s her best song, since it’s a cover) at least this new cut feels a bit more interesting by being a little more dance-popish after the intro.  Like “gentle rain” it does have a nostalgic feel to it for some reason and Hitomi still sounds really good too!  Though I do think the only that really changes from the OLD original is that guitar melody stands out more.

5. Blue mermaid

OK, this one definitely has that vibe that I got from her last album and it’s more of this brassy City Pop vibe and I’m kind of digging the nice percussion with the loungey piano melody here.  I mean otherwise, there’s not much else to say about the song, it’s just lively and suits Hitomi’s great vocals!

6. CYCLE

As the ending of the mini, CYCLE wasn’t what I was expecting with its mix of acoustic guitar and saxophone mix here.  This is another song that gives me some BONNIE PINK vibes which is interesting but since it’s the ballad of the album, I wasn’t really all that interested in it and seems a little odd after “Blue mermaid”.  The chorus though does seem to drag a bit too with Hitomi saying the title…yeah, fitting but not interesting closing track.

 

 

I was surprised that after “misty” she’d just drop this mini-album despite not really promoting it from what I’ve seen.  I will say that it’s a pretty nice mini-album all things concerned with some of the lingering City Pop sound found here in the new tracks.  Not quite sure why gentle rain and Amairo no Kami no Otome got new versions that really didn’t amount to anything noteworthy.  Otherwise, nice mini overall!

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Hitomi Shimatani – misty January 20, 2019

Filed under: Hitomi Shimatani — solarblade @ 5:42 am

misty

Track Listing

  1. misty
  2. Vivace!
  3. Golden Lady
  4. gentle rain
  5. LOVE
  6. Cinderella
  7. fragile
  8. The Bright Side
  9. sabão

1. misty

As the introduction to the album, misty is just that, a short opening for the rest of the album.  I really do like the sound of this intro mixing piano with some interesting vibes (considering she’s calling the sound of the album, City Pop) I can totally see this intro as like a cityscape-like feeling in the night hours downtown.  It’s cool and a bit jazzy, making me curious to how it would’ve sounded as a full track…

2. Vivace!

So the ideals continue with the first vocal track and it begins on a rather upbeat note with a bouncing piano melody and jazzy tones all over from the brass and the rest of the instrumentation.  Hitomi’s vocals of course are very impressive and her control is just always a breath of fresh air!  There’s just a lot of energy here and it left a mark on me and really kicks the album off.

3. Golden Lady

As the only A-side released for the album, it was a long time waiting for a new single and she decided to come back with a funky song that was totally a change of pace from the singles that she released prior to her last album, “Honjitsu, Tonai, Bousho”.  I do like the funky bass arrangement and the brass throughout, but after hearing “Vivace!”, this actually sounds a bit weaker of a song to me.  Regardless, this was a worth comeback for Hitomi and fits on the album snuggly.

4. gentle rain

The sound of a thunderstorm opens up our next track and boy do I get strong 90’s vibes out of this ballad.  It just does remind of Mariah Carey’s music in that period, light R&B with some happier undertones thrown throughout the track.  I always seem to appreciate Hitomi’s vocals because it’s where she shines the strongest vocally.  I like it sort of, the song feels slightly outdated, but it’s nostalgic.

5. LOVE

It slows down further with this acoustic ballad, LOVE.  At least at first, I felt like LOVE was a bit too empty initially, but then the chorus comes in and we’re back to a similar 90’s vibe that “gentle rain” was putting out.  I do like Hitomi’s vocals once again and she just has a sweet and gentle tone to her voice that lulls me into what I could say is similar to Rie fu’s music in the past.  It’s calm and nice.

6. Cinderella

First think I thought of from our next track is Winter because of the synths, but the tune kind of shifts over back to the funky, slap beats that were heard in “Vivace!” and “Golden Lady”.  Though I would argue to say the steady beat is giving this track more of a dance-pop kind of groove and I found myself enjoying it.  Best way I can describe it is that it’s like Mika Nakashima’s “FOCUS” and I LOVE that song so it’s easy to tell that I also ended up loving this track too!  A surprising track indeed!

7. fragile

I think the track that left me a little bit zoned out, fragile seems to be even more poppier than the rest of the album and for some reason there’s just not a lot for me here.  I mean, Hitomi sounds cute and nothing wrong on her end, it’s just the song itself just doesn’t lend itself much in the way of an impression.

8. The Bright Side

Interesting piano opening for The Bright Side, but this song is very odd to me since it’s poppy, but unlike “fragile”, there sounds like a lot more effort put here and the vocal layering in the verses is pretty cool and the synth pops are also just off the wall, but sounded pretty cool overall!  Another song that reminds me of another artist (this time BONNIE PINK), The Bright Side is another cool track on the album that luckily suits this album!

9. sabão

Ending the album, we have the B-side from “Golden Lady” and had me curious to why it was chosen as the ending, but then again if it was at the front it would sound way too similar to both its sister A-side and “Vivace!” as this song also has a jazzy/funk vibe to it.  Since the single, this song on misty is still an odd ending choice, but at least it ends on an upbeat note I suppose.

Tracks Recommended

  • Cinderella
  • Vivace!
  • The Bright Side
  • sabão

Song of Avoidance

  • fragile

Wow, wasn’t expecting a new Shimatani album to drop!  With the idea of City Pop as the theme for the album, I would say she accomplished it well, maybe not too perfectly, but I did feel like there wasn’t many bummer songs here versus her last album, but at the same time, this was a SHORT album.  8 songs (not counting the intro) is just a bit slim to me.  misty is OK, still miss her days as a dance-pop artist, but this’ll do!

 

Hitomi Shimatani – Golden Lady October 5, 2018

Filed under: Hitomi Shimatani — solarblade @ 12:10 am

goldenlady

Track Listing

  1. Golden Lady
  2. sabão
  3. Golden Lady (Instrumental)
  4. sabão (Instrumental)

1. Golden Lady

It’s been quite a while hasn’t it?  Well, Hitomi’s back with a new single and a new A-side!  Golden Lady surprised me with it’s more jazzier/funk sound and I’m quite enjoying the energy of the track and of course Hitomi sounds as lovely as ever here.  There’s just something about this song that kind of gives me a night city-life feel about it and it just suits her sensual vocals nicely here.  Definitely something I wasn’t expecting, but happy to see!

2. sabão

As the B-side of the single, sabão carries on a similar sound found in “Golden Lady, but a bit more mellow and relaxed in comparison.  Really though, there isn’t too much to say about this song because of the similarities, but I do enjoy the lower energy and once again in love with the nightlife bossa-novaish feel I get from the track.

 

 

Wow, it’s been a while since Hitomi released a single huh (not since 2014’s “Yaburekabure”).  As this is the leading single before her next album, “misty” releases, Golden Lady is a pretty nice single, taking Hitomi into more of a jazzier sound than what she’s been known for.  I think both this and sabão just gave me an interest to the album and can’t wait to see what the album will offer!

 

Hitomi Shimatani – Honjitsu, Tonai, Bousho July 17, 2014

Filed under: Hitomi Shimatani — solarblade @ 4:45 am

honjitsu

Track Listing

  1. Snapshot
  2. Yaburekabure
  3. Sasurai
  4. Ai no Katachi
  5. Home Sweet Home
  6. Oss Mess Kiss Killaly!!
  7. Ikki Mankai
  8. Tsuzure Ori
  9. Cali≒Cata≒Luca ~Cali Cata Luca Karisome no Jumon~
  10. Aoi Tsuki
  11. Soldier! Soldier!

1. Snapshot

Opening Hitomi’s long-awaited album, we kick things off with Snapshot and opening with an acoustic guitar was kind of setting worries because her music between her last up to now has been more or less interesting.  Snapshot though at least tries to make it interesting by being a little more upbeat in nature.  It is a bit long to me, but I enjoyed what we got and the violin solo in the mid8 section was pretty sweet.

2. Yaburekabure

I’m so happy it’s the only A-side to make the cut over the previous 4 singles.  Yaburekabure brought Hitomi back into my radar in a pretty sweet way!  It’s energetic and just has a lot of sass to it that really catches my attention a lot quicker than some of her last releases so I really approved of this song making the album (though was there any doubt?).

3. Sasurai

Oh hey there accordion! Is this a nod back to how “Flare” was?  Maybe, but it goes away pretty quickly and is replaced by Hitomi’s beautiful vocals and light piano melody.  Though the accordion comes back into play and mixes it up with the arrangement.  I really enjoyed Hitomi’s expressiveness in this song and even though it’s a ballad, it’s a REALLY well-made song actually.

4. Ai no Katachi

Another ballad comes next with Ai no Katachi and I was wondering what could make it stand out.  Though I wasn’t expecting a mix of strings and what sounds like a sitar…this is a little strange right?  This is a bit boring for me, though it does have male background singers…that’s just a tad weird still XD.  Yeah, it’s not really all that memorable to me.

5. Home Sweet Home

Moving on out of the ballads for now, we get Home Sweet Home and it’s funny that it mixes what was similar to “Snapshot” with some pop beats.  That being said, it throws me back to her early days which is nice and all, but it doesn’t really strike me in anyway either.  Meh overall!

6. Oss Mess Kiss Killaly!!

One of the songs I was looking forward to, Oss Mess Kiss Killaly!! picks things up with a pretty exciting arrangement and shows Hitomi’s prowess with her vocals.  It’s a pretty fun song to listen to and has a lot of brass and funky moments that really gives this song a strong identity.  There’s just something about this song that works.  It’s a pretty great song to listen to!

7. Ikki Mankai

Which is great because this dance style continues onto our next track Ikki Mankai.  I really love that this song opens up like a tune you would heavily hear at Matsuris (Ondo-styled).  Though after that it brings the beat into the front and because something that most fans would be comfortable with.  It’s a pretty exciting song and another top-hitting tune!

8. Tsuzure Ori

Things stop in an instant when Tsuzure Ori begins.  It’s actually another ballad from Hitomi but has a more sad glow to it when compared to the other ballads of the album.  I really enjoy the plucked strings (and the rest of the instrumentation at that) that really shaped the song overall and makes the chorus sound pretty.  It’s the dramatic song for the album but it worked overall!

9. Cali≒Cata≒Luca ~Cali Cata Luca Karisome no Jumon~

With a bizarre title like this, I really wondered what the hell she was coming up with and I still can’t place what she was going for XD.  It’s a very fast song to listen to and yet Hitomi sounds sexy and keeps up with this hyper arrangement.  I’m not sure what to even classify it…almost latin but at the same time not hahah.  It’s a pretty interesting song overall and just has a pretty adventurous feel (actually the end reminded me of something from Legend of Zelda XDDD).  Odd.

10. Aoi Tsuki

I was so happy to see that the B-side from “Yaburekabure” would also be on the album for sure as I enjoyed that a LOT.  Like I said on the single review, Aoi Tsuki just sounds pretty and Hitomi is just pretty in the tune that’s pop goodness.  I think it’s pretty simple of a song from Hitomi, but it’s just a good song that she pulled out, no weird moments and bizarre ideas.

11. Soldier! Soldier!

Finally, the album ends with actually was the promotional song.  When I heard this, I was shocked to see that she would pull back to a familiar style that we’ve heard before in “Prague no Onna” which is one of my favorite songs from Hitomi.  Letting lightning strike twice though was pretty risky but she surprised me with a pretty powerful song and almost one of the best songs that she’s done since “Flare”.  Definitely an awesome way to close the album out!

Tracks Recommended

  • Soldier! Soldier!
  • Aoi Tsuki
  • Ikki Mankai
  • Sasurai
  • Yaburekabure

Song of Avoidance

  • Ai no Katachi

Jesus Hitomi, 5 years for you to release a new studio album (almost as old as this blog >.>).  Honjitsu, Tonai, Bousho tried to make up for all the space in between this and her last studio album, “Flare” and it’s got spaz to it which is something I had feared coming into this because everything she had released mostly have been really soft and boring.  This album had a lot of spice and I liked most of it which is pretty good.  I’m still trying to decide if it’s ranked better than “Flare” though…but this was a good comeback album!

 

Hitomi Shimatani – Yaburekabure June 16, 2014

Filed under: Hitomi Shimatani — solarblade @ 1:19 am

yaburekabure

Track Listing

  1. Yaburekabure
  2. Aoi Tsuki
  3. Yaburekabure (Guide Melody Original Karaoke)
  4. Yaburekabure (Original Karaoke)
  5. Aoi Tsuki (Original Karaoke)

1. Yaburekabure

It’s been a while since Hitomi released something upbeat and catchy and Yaburekabure brings this really classy mix of sounds together and I’m impressed because she really showed how well of a singer she can be.  Some points remind me of stuff from her “PRIMA ROSA” era and I loved it since it brought a much engaging atmosphere to her music and with this one it’s the guitars and brass together.  After her last 4 singles, this was a nice track to hear from her and reminded me why I’m such a fan of hers.

2. Aoi Tsuki

As for the B-side, if you were into Hitomi’s slower songs of recent, Aoi Tsuki might be more of you turnout.  However, I didn’t expect the phone dialing nor the arrangement to get a little more interesting.  I’m liking the 90’s swerving R&B boops and the clapping beat as well.  Hitomi’s vocals are light and pretty and the song avoids going into a boring area.  What a pleasant B-side!

 

 

After having such a rocky and random ass 5 years, Hitomi settled back and released Yaburekabure as a single preceding her next studio album (FINALLY), “Honjitsu, Tonai, Bousho”.  The single was actually her best single since “Shinku/Ai no Uta”…which was so long ago, so I’m loving she released this.  Yaburekabure brings a more smoky sound and her voice always seems to work easily into different situations and styles.  Aoi Tsuki though I think won this single for me…it is a bit laidback, but the sound was so genuine and pop…it just worked!  It makes me wonder now if her album will include “SMILES”, “Kantan ni Ietanara”, “Mayonaka no Guitar” and “Shiawase Hakoberu You ni”….though I’m doubting it.

 

Hitomi Shimatani – Shiawase Hakoberu You ni March 7, 2012

Filed under: Hitomi Shimatani — solarblade @ 5:28 pm

Track Listing

  1. Shiawase Hakoberu You ni (Gasshou ver.)
  2. Shiawase Hakoberu You ni (Piano Gakushou ver.)
  3. Shiawase Hakoberu You ni (Karaoke)

1. Shiawase Hakoberu You ni (Gasshou ver.)

Well, the main version of Shiawase Hakoberu You ni is pretty simple with just piano as the only instrument playing while Hitomi is singing along it.  As it is tagged as such a children’s choir is also singing along and are singing at an equal volume to Hitomi’s simple vocals.  The melody is pleasant and the piano arrangement is sweet as well.  It’s not as boring as I thought and has a bit better of a meaning that a lot of charity songs out there XD. 

2. Shiawase Hakoberu You ni (Piano Gakushou ver.)

The other version of the song is essentially the song without the kids choir.  Just piano and Hitomi singing.  I think I like this version better because we get to hear her vocals a LOT more clearly and since she has the great vocals to pull off ballads like this, it ends up making the song a bit more prettier in that aspect.  Though after a while it does seem a little empty without the kids so it’s both good and kind of meh at points for me.

 

 

The first thing I noticed was that this single was a charity single which made me think *why would you wait THIS LONG to release this…it’s a bit late*.  After that went away and I took a listen to the song, Shiawase Hakoberu You ni isn’t bad persay but it sure doesn’t help the fact that if this is considered as a single for a potential album alongside “Mayonaka no Guitar” and “Kantan ni Ietanara” then this wasn’t anything special.  Besides the kids in the Gasshou ver. it’s kind of plain but the vocals were still great from Hitomi.  Overall, it’s alright as a charity single but in Hitomi’s discography not very good.

 

Hitomi Shimatani – Sign Music February 28, 2012

Filed under: Hitomi Shimatani — solarblade @ 10:47 am

Track Listing

  1. Furusato
  2. Soshu Yakyoku
  3. Oborozukiyo
  4. Shabondama
  5. Soushunhu
  6. Natsu no Omoide
  7. Aka Tombo
  8. Pechika
  9. Okaasan
  10. Kono Michi
  11. Ondo no Funauta (CD only)

1. Furusato

I could have only hoped that it was going to be a cover of Morning Musume’s “Furusato” but nahhh it’s based off the children’s song of the same.  I really must say that I love the breezy and jazzy feel this song has and Hitomi’s vocals really sound nice amongst the arrangement as well (but then again who doubted that she would sound bad?).  Adding the flute solo and I was just happy with this song for sure!

2. Soshu Yakyoku

Next song in the album is just as jazzy but a little more soothing and has a nice deep bass involved as well.  I will say I’m surprised there was a much longer solo to be had from the violin but I guess it works for here.  It’s nice but I think the strings could’ve been less seen because I felt myself paying so much more attention to that than poor Hitomi.

3. Oborozukiyo

I guess the could be considered the album’s first ballad (maybe?).  Either way, I’m loving the fact that I hear saxophone opening this wintery tune.  This is where I start to see Hitomi’s real exceptional vocals since she’s soft and singing so peacefully and pleasantly.  It’s nice and the sax solo in the middle worked well as well…

4. Shabondama

I’m surprised that Shabondama is as short as it is because it would’ve made a great full song though once again, I kept thinking of Morning Musume here but once again, it’s the children’s song.  I like the deep string acting as the low beat and then hearing marimba in the background and having a solo as well.  It’s a nice song but I wish it was tad bit longer.

5. Soushunhu

One song I’m pretty sure I’m not going to listen after this review is probably Soushunhu which can be compared as lifeless and just plain boring.  Shimatani fans should know that she’s been on this major line of songs that really are plain jane and features not a whole of instruments.  Soushunhu has acoustic guitar only and Hitomi singing along.  It makes me feel like I’m listening to “Kantan ni Ietanara” or “Mayonaka no Guitar” which isn’t a very good thing here.  Just boring and not really fitting the album very well.

6. Natsu no Omoide

After that speed bump, Natsu no Omoide kind of brings us back into that jazzy/bossa nova side to this album and I’m so happy it did!  I like the fact that this time the sound is based upon the trumpet and even from the solo to the end was pretty awesome.  It’s pretty good but I think the music took over Hitomi who I felt didn’t have enough time to sing the song but it’s still nice otherwise.

7. Aka Tombo

I felt our next song started so oddly with those ~ahs~ going on there.  As another slow song on the album, I felt zoned out with this song but not at the same level I did with “Soushunhu”.  At first it felt so slow and quiet and essentially was a blur in my mind.  After a while, the song does grow louder and I start paying attention and she pulls it off at the end but just barely for me.

8. Pechika

Which sucks because it’s followed by another slow-moving song in Pechika.  I think by now you guys know that my weak points to music are ballads and seldom are seen repeated on my iTunes so this one definitely was testing my patience.  There were a few parts that did connect to me like the muted trumpet solos throughout.  Besides that, I couldn’t tell you how the melody of the song went hahaha.

9. Okaasan

Our next song is for all teh mothers out there XD.  Kind of a shame as it’s the only other song that’s under three minutes in length (the other was “Shabondama” by the way).  It’s kind of cute in a way because of the arrangement that has some interesting instruments playing along with Hitomi’s vocals which are a bit cutesy (I guess you can call it that).  Short but sweet I guess.

10. Kono Michi

Ending the album, Cono Michi is a soft way to end things (despite most if not all of the album is soft songs).  It seems to be paralelling “Soushunhu” because unlike acoustic guitar, there’s only piano in this song.  However, I felt this suited her quite a bit more to be honest.  Pleasant, but not the best the album offered.

11. Ondo no Funauta

Of course it was shocking to see that the CD only had a bonus track with Ondo no Funauta.  When I saw the title, I was thinking it was going to be actually an ondo-type song.  Which made me think of numerous songs from H!P…  What we got was an interesting song that features Hitomi singing in an enka style (something we haven’t seen or heard since her debut!).  I was surprised that like “Kono Michi”, the song only uses piano but that’s alright because Hitomi totally took over the arrangement with her powerful vocals.  I’m surprised she pulled this song off since she really didn’t do well on “Osaka no Onna” but those were different times for her.  Great song to finish up!

Tracks Recommended

  • Furusato
  • Shabondama
  • Ondo no Funauta
  • Okaasan
  • Natsu no Omoide

Song of Avoidance

  • Soushunhu

As this is Hitomi’s third cover album (first that isn’t based off of guy’s songs) Sign Music is nice but now I’m sure she’s trying to leave her dance/pop phase in the past because of everything since “Flare” was released.  I guess I’m alright with it but at the same time I feel she’s leaving what made her amazing for something that’s lowkey and not super popular as in the case of this album.  I don’t think jazz is VERY popular in Japan.  Otherwise this was her most interesting release since “Flare” so that should tell you guys something.  Though that enka song at the end was a nice little treat for people TBH.