Kurayami Monogatari

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Juice=Juice – Fiesta! Fiesta! August 24, 2017

Filed under: Juice=Juice — solarblade @ 4:04 am

fiestafiesta

Track Listing

  1. Fiesta! Fiesta!
  2. Wonderful World (English Ver.)
  3. Fiesta! Fiesta! (Instrumental)

1. Fiesta! Fiesta!

Huh, I wasn’t expecting Juice=Juice to explode onto the single with a latin-esque party song!  If anything after “KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!!”, I was ready for the group to bring more energy to their songs and have good a time.  Though what’s bigger is that the group grew two members further in Ruru Danbara and Country Girls’ Nanami Yanagawa!  Right from the start it seems Ruru is gonna charge in headfirst with powerful vocals!  Yanamin does have her score as well and she sounds more or less the same as she does in CG…I’m also quite surprised that Aarii had so many lines too!  Honestly, this song is really catchy and stands out!

2. Wonderful World (English Ver.)

Though I was dreading seeing the coupling song was going to be an English take on one of my least favorite Juice=Juice songs.  It doesn’t help that their accents are a LOT more heavier than Momusu doing “One and Only”, but I feel like I can understand some of what they’re saying.  Actually I don’t think I hear Yanamin or Ruru here so it might just be the original 5 singing this again.  Still not a fan and the whole last half is a bit of a vocal trainwreck to my ears, but it is what it is.

 

 

With H!P going through some big changes, some of the releases have been relegated to digital releases as is the case for Juice=Juice’s Fiesta! Fiesta! (“Goal” and “Jouro” did release, but I skipped them up as they were just the track).  As the first single with new members Ruru and Nanami, they did pretty well and the group gave us a fun song to cherish while the Summer season starts to close shop.  I only think Wonderful World got its new version because they’re set to go on a World Tour soon, so it makes sense, but I still don’t like the song much.  Either way, not bad…makes me wonder how the 7-nin will do for future releases!

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Juice=Juice – Jidanda Dance/Feel! Kanjiru yo April 19, 2017

Filed under: Juice=Juice — solarblade @ 2:35 pm

jidandadance

Track Listing

  1. Jidanda Dance
  2. Feel! Kanjiru yo
  3. Jidanda Dance (Instrumental)
  4. Feel! Kanjiru yo (Instrumental)

1. Jidanda Dance

It’s been a while since Juice=Juice has really done a goofy song so when I begun listening to Jidanda Dance, I was happily surprised at how funky and funny the song came off (especially the hooks it was passiong off).  I was also impressed with how much more Yuka and Akari have been pushed as vocalists.  Throw in a random section for Ondo-styled music and it’s a bit bizarre but it definitely stuck out to me a LOT!  Great A-side for the group!

2. Feel! Kanjiru yo

Though I can’t quite say the same for the other A-side for the single.  Unlike the bizarre upbeat and fun style of the previous track, Feel! Kanjiru yo is the opposite, a slow-paced ballad with a lot of synth horns *sigh*.  I don’t know, this just feels plain and slightly generic but considering that Juice=Juice hasn’t done a ballad since “Tsuzuiteiku STORY” and that was just a blah (even when there’s a sitar thrown in the arrangement).

Juice=Juice return with a new single and I’m half & half with it.  I really did enjoy Jidanda Dance a whole lot and seeing Juice=Juice with their hair down and having immense fun (like they did in “KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!!”) is always a treat to hear from the quintet.  Plus the music was off the wall and just left a smile on me.  Feel! Kanjiru yo though is just bland all over and really doesn’t do any favors for them as a ballad (couldn’t we have gotten “Giniro no Telepathy” instead?…or any of the other 4 unreleased songs they have…

 

Juice=Juice – Dream Road ~Kokoro ga Odoridashiteru~/KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!!/Ashita Yarou ga Bakayarou October 17, 2016

Filed under: Juice=Juice — solarblade @ 4:06 pm

dreamroad

Track Listing

  1. Dream Road ~Kokoro ga Odoridashiteru~
  2. KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!!
  3. Ashita Yarou ga Bakayarou
  4. Dream Road ~Kokoro ga Odoridashiteru~ (Instrumental)
  5. KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!! (Instrumental)
  6. Ashita Yarou ga Bakayarou (Instrumental)

1. Dream Road ~Kokoro ga Odoridashiteru~

Opening the single, Dream Road brings us back to some EDM sounds that Juice=Juice usually worked well with.  Though the tune is far from being just a straight up dance track as it feels like a ballad when you take out the synths.  Add on the saxophones lines and it sticks out to me quite a bit!  Though the problems are far more noticeable to me from the out of place bridge section and the choice to use a fade-out was just not a good idea.  Beyond those problems, I really enjoyed the song!

2. KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!!

So the 2nd A-side was a nice surprise as they said it was a bit of a nod to Michael Jackson’s music back in the 80s.  It also helped that it was produced by both Hyadain & DANCEMAN!  I really do like the vibe of the track and each of the members sound lively and alive (albeit a little flat in places like Karin and Tomoko).  There’s just a lot of excitement in this song and I have to say I approve of this a lot!

3. Ashita Yarou ga Bakayarou

Looks like ex-ANGERME’s Kanon Fukuda strikes again as the lyricist of J=J’s 3rd A-side on this single and honestly I guess I might’ve been spoiled by the two previous tracks, but I thought this was the weakest of the three.  Unlike the songs before, Ashita Yarou ga Bakayarou is a bit more rockin’ and a little more on the edge (like something Buono! would get).  Still, the song feels lacking and I myself felt like it was just an extra album song that got saved for a single (to me that is).

 

 

As Juice=Juice’s 2nd single of the year, I felt this one trumped over their last one “Next is you!/Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai” by a huge margin (include “Otona no Jijou” as well).  I do think the star of the show is by far KEEP ON Joshou Shikou!! with its disco vibes and overall fun atmosphere.  Dream Road was 2nd due to my love for EDM, though it had some weird things that didn’t make sense to me and Ashita Yarou ga Bakayarou rounds out the back…just something about it doesn’t work with me either.  Overall a decent single and not sure why it took so long between the singles…

 

NEXT YOU – Otona no Jijou April 13, 2016

Filed under: Juice=Juice — solarblade @ 4:51 am

otonanojijou

Track Listing

  1. Otona no Jijou

1. Otona no Jijou

I was happy to see that Tsunku got involved with Otona no Jijou and yet unexpectedly sounds like something he’d do with the EDM arrangement.  I do feel like it reminds me of something that would’ve came out back in 2014 as it reminds me of Berryz’ “Sayonara Usotsuki na Watashi” with the beats and sawblade synths found throughout.  There’s also seem to be a lot of Karin and Sayuki here despite that Akari is the lead in the track.  Still it’s a solid track.

 

 

I’m wondering why this was only a digital single and not part of a single itself (or a part of “Next is you!/Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja Nai” because I feel like by itself, it feels like it needed something to pair with.  Otona no Jijou though is a pretty good song and carries the Juice=Juice sound nicely!

 

NEXT YOU / Juice=Juice – Next is you!/Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai January 28, 2016

Filed under: Juice=Juice — solarblade @ 3:55 am

nextisyou

Track Listing

  1. Next is you!
  2. Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai
  3. Next is you! (Instrumental)
  4. Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai (Instrumental)

1. Next is you!

As the leading song and currently being used for the group’s TV drama, Budokan.  Next is you! seems to be like the theme song.  It does seem like Tsunku was involved in the song which is pretty familiar to my ears and seems typical.  As per usual, Karin, Tomoko, and Sayuki seem to lead the song which is pretty much the norm for the group.  Though I can’t help but think it’s a bit weak for the group coming after their last single and the promotional tracks from their album.

2. Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai

As the other song credited to Juice=Juice, I definitely was enjoying this song despite that it almost sounds a LOT like “Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru” with the brass and guitars.  Unlike the other A-side, this has some interesting levels of vocals and we see a lot more of Aarii in the song.  I think it’s one of the weaker A-sides, but it’s definitely got some magic in it.

 

 

So to explain, NEXT YOU is basically Juice=Juice as they are portrayed on their show Budokan (funny though that Erina Mano is playing the 6th member that leaves shortly after formation).  Moving on, after having almost a year without a single released by the group (though did release their first album), their first single in 2016 is kind of average at best.  Neither song really stuck out to me in anyway, except the possibility of Karada Dake ga Otona ni Nattan ja nai being somewhat catchy in arrangement.  Not sure what the year will have for the group, but here’s hoping for them to be a little more active.

 

Juice=Juice – Engeki Joshi-bu Musical “Koisuru Hello Kitty” Original Soundtrack November 2, 2015

Filed under: Juice=Juice — solarblade @ 8:41 pm

koisuruhellokitty

Track Listing

  1. HELLO!
  2. Ningen no Sekai e!
  3. Diary
  4. Mittsu no Lulu (Omocha no Kuni ver.)
  5. Shooting Star
  6. Itsumo no Asa
  7. Nakayoki Koto wa Utsukushii Kana
  8. Todoke Todoke Todoke!
  9. Mittsu no Lulu (Ningen ver.)
  10. Ningen no Sekai
  11. Anata ga Wakaranai
  12. Tsubasa Ochiteku
  13. & YOU
  14. Only choice
  15. Todoke Todoke Todoke! (Reprise)
  16. Honto no Kimochi
  17. Good bye Kitty
  18. Ano no Ko Okage
  19. HELLO! (Reprise)

1. HELLO!

Opening the album up, we get HELLO! and yes I bolded 5 of the songs because I’ve reviewed the mini-album.  It opens up nice enough with Karin before the fanfare and cuteness overload takes over the song.  Now unlike the other stageplay albums, there’s a lot exposition and general spoken dialogue which does take me out of the loop with certain songs.  HELLO! though is nice and the slower section with Karin is actually really nice for some reason.  As such, it’s a good opening song, but I’m not sure I’ll remember it after the review (again).

2. Ningen no Sekai e!

Like the bumbling and goofy songs from “LILIUM”, it seems to follow on Koisuru Hello Kitty.  I do like Karin’s intro lines as she has the best cutesy voice.  I think I also hear Yuka singing as well which is pretty cool, but that upbeat section is cut short before spoken dialogue happens.  Though I was thinking it was more of a short song, but in reality, it’s about 5 minutes long :/.  The tune even changes directions throughout and gets more upbeat and poppy but then slows down again.  It’s a little too busy and changes way too frequently to generate a good impression…

3. Diary

At least the next track is short!  Being a Karin solo with some light instrumentation that incorporates harp.  As lullaby-like the song is and the pleasant fact that some of the other girls act as back-up is sweet, I still don’t find the song very much interesting.

4. Mittsu no Lulu (Omacha no Kuni ver.)

After more dialogue, the next track, Mittsu no Lulu begins with some more Sayubee and she gets a song that’s a bit similar with “Ningen no Sekai e!” and once again the kind of bumbling arrangement is just bothersome.  However, I do enjoy Sayuki’s vocals here but I’m not sure if she’s trying to purposely be mature.  I think the fact that Akari, Yuka, and I think Karin doesn’t add much to the song either.  Making the ending be a short dialogue with light acoustic guitar didn’t much help either.  Yeah no thanks.

5. Shooting Star

The second song from the mini-album, I actually liked Shooting Star and for me worked as the promotional tune too.  It’s definitely not the cutest song on the release and I think that’s what worked best for me.  Being a mid-tempo tune with some acoustic guitars at the forefront, I actually enjoyed it.  Yeah, it’s a catchy song too (could’ve been a decent album song).  Honestly, it sounds like an ending theme though haha.

6. Itsumo no Asa

Next up, Itsumo no Asa comes in continuing with some happy-go-lucky acoustics and piano and fortunately Tomoko is singing most of it and of course she sounds great and the upbeat feelings is actually nice to hear (almost giving a nice summer breeze kind of feeling).  It’s definitely an early favorite from the stageplay for sure.  Though I could do without dialogue thrown in.

7. Nakayoki Koto wa Utsukushii Kana

More of that kiddy bounce returns for our next track and funny enough Tomoko is once again at the front and she starts of really strong.  Unlike the breezy sound of “Itsumo no Asa”, this song more off shown Tomoko in a brighter and happier mood and she’s got a voice to have some brightness.  Fun song!

8. Todoke Todoke Todoke!

Another returning song, Todoke Todoke Todoke! is a stark difference from the previous two tracks as it has a more dramatic sound and once again Tomoko has such a powerful voice, but it contrasts with Karin’s girlier voice.  Though it is plagued with a lot of dialogue so it throws emotional value out the window for me.  It’s a good duet song between the two for sure and has a lot of oomph where most of the stageplay lacks it.

9. Mittsu no Lulu (Ningen ver.)

Seems we get a repeat song here with Mittsu no Lulu.  It feels like the stageplay went more of a serious tone after the previous songs so it makes sense this song sounds deeper.  While I’m not entirely sure who’s singing beyond Sayubee…I thnk Aarii and Yukanyan are present too.  Likewise, Sayuki’s vocals are crisp and strong to listen and the groove is pretty solid!

10. Ningen no Sekai

Opening with a lone piano and Karin singing, I thought it was going to be a cuter ballad, but it’s thrown out the window when Tomoko enters the picture and the arrangement goes back to that bouncy poppy sound that’s prevalent here.  It does slow down again, but that’s when it begins to just drag towards the end unfortuantely.

11. Anata ga Wakaranai

Now this song was my favorite from the mini-album due to its more serious sound and it definitely worked because it was such a tune to include Karin, Tomoko, and Sayuki.  To be quite fair, disregarding the dialogue, this would’ve been great on “LILIUM” for sure.  Even Akari and Yuka get a solo here which adds to how powerful the song is.  I definitely enjoyed this a lot!

12. Tsubasa Ochiteku

Following it up with another ballad, Sayuki’s character sounds heartbroken and the emotion is oozing in this song.  While I do like how it turns into this really cool ballad with acoustic guitar and strings/piano and just adds to the emotions all over this song.  It’s a good song if you wanna hear how talented Sayuki is.

13. & YOU

While I am starting to get bored with ballads being stacked next to each other, I do like that we finally get something with Akari and Yuka and while in the main songs they aren’t the most promoted members, this shows more potential for both of them even if this song is really vanilla and plain just being piano & strings.  It is a light song though so it just flies over by my head.

14. Only choice

Yup, ballads aplenty it seems and Karin starts up with some dialogue and then gets into the song.  While I do think the sweeping strings and piano melody is a lot more intriguing than in “& YOU” for sure, I still don’t think it rides high for me beyond some good dramatics from Karin herself.  It’s just once again nothing I’d fully invest coming back to.

15. Todoke Todoke Todoke! (Reprise)

Seems like we get another ballad but it is between Tomoko and Karin and uses Todoke Todoke Todoke! as its basis.  I do like violas here and it has a hopeful kind of arrangement and hearing certain parts of the melody of TTT! is pleasant.  I will say that first time rolling through this, I was about to pass out from boredom…

16. Honto no Kimochi

Which didn’t help that this song was next.  As it was my least favorite from the mini-album, it’s another goddamn ballad.  While it has a little more push than the last couple of tracks, this song still doesn’t do much for me.  I will say that Karin gave a good performance, but I just couldn’t really get myself into it after the buttload of similar songs.

17. Good bye Kitty

Seems like Karin gets another ballad solo but this has some harp and acoustic guitar together.  I have to say, I just wasn’t here at this point and unfortunately Karin doesn’t really make the song any better as her voice takes on a lighter sound.  At least it is a shorter piece at nearly 2 minutes.  Probably the most forgettable of the bunch.

18. Ano no Ko Okage

*sigh* Does this ever get better?  While I do think it is about saying goodbye to Hello Kitty (or something like that), Ano no Ko Okage has mostly a piano arrangement which gives a somber but bright feel.  However, the song doesn’t even begin until midway.  We also seem to get all 5 members involved which is great, but yeah meh…

19. HELLO! (Reprise)

Then it all comes to a close with a reprisal of HELLO! (which opened the stageplay), but it sounds like it’s repeating the same thing since they’re at the same time length so really it might just be a repeat with little changes overall.  I actually think maybe it’s different vocalists and lyrics.  It did try to wake me up, but I was like oh, I’ve heard this already…

Tracks Recommended

  • Anata ga Wakaranai
  • Shooting Star
  • Nakayoki Koto wa Utsukushii Kana
  • Itsumo no Asa
  • Mittsu no Lulu (Ningen ver.)

Song of Avoidance

  • Good bye Kitty

Not even gonna lie, I figured I wasn’t going to like the songs from Koisuru Hello Kitty for the most part after reviewing the mini-album (even though the mini had probably the best choices).  I think the big problem was was that second half of the release being entirely ballads which killed my interest.  Though the rest had its issues like too much spoken dialogue in songs, it actually took me out of numerous songs (weird that it is the only one of the stageplays of recent to do this).  Yeah, I’m definitely not gonna listen to this in full again >.<

 

Juice=Juice – First Squeeze! July 27, 2015

Filed under: Juice=Juice — solarblade @ 2:05 am

firstqueeze

Track Listing

CD1

  1. Ten Made Nobore!
  2. Romance no Tochuu
  3. Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne (MEMORIAL EDIT)
  4. Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru (MEMORIAL EDIT)
  5. Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo
  6. Hajimete wo Keikenchuu
  7. Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS
  8. Arekore Shitai!
  9. Black Butterfly
  10. Kaze ni Fukarete
  11. Senobi
  12. Date ja nai yo Uchi no Jinsei wa

CD2

  1. Wonderful World
  2. CHOICE & CHANCE
  3. Ai・Ai・Gasa
  4. Umaretete no Baby Love
  5. Erabareshi Watashitachi
  6. Ça va? Ça va?
  7. GIRLS BE AMBITIOUS
  8. Ai no Diving
  9. Tick-Tock Watashi no Shun
  10. Mirai e, Saa Hashiridase!
  11. Tsuzuiteiku STORY

CD3

  1. Magic of Love (J=J 2015 Ver.)
  2. Kousui (J=J 2015 Ver,)
  3. Narihajimeta Koi no BELL
  4. Scramble
  5. BABY! Koi ni KNOCK OUT!
  6. Last Kiss

1. Ten Made Nobore!

I find it strange that Juice=Juice would open their first album with their 3rd indies single (a collaboration with the trainees of Hello! Project at that).  To be honest, the song was never one of my favorites and seemed a bit strange for Juice=Juice to be a part of.  Though, hearing it with the 6 members (yes, the album features all 6 members on this one song, Aina Otsuka’s final song with the group ironically enough).  It’s alright, not the worst song of the first disc, but quite reaching that point.

2. Romance no Tochuu

Then we move into the group’s major debut, also from this point on it’s just the 5 members that we currently have.  I had curiosity about how the group would be handled after their indies era had ended.  Romance no Tochuu safely quelled my worries because this song is literally one of my favorites from the group!  It’s very disco and old H!P sounding which had quickly caught on.  Though with the short notice of Aina’s departure, it was clear that Karin was going to have a butt-ton of lines while Sayubee and Kanatomo would take the mid approach leaving Yuka and Aarii with barely any moments in the song.  Regardless, the song is pretty amazing and an epic major debut!

3. Watashi ga Iu Mae ni Dakishimenakya ne (MEMORIAL EDIT)

I mean, if you had Aina in “Ten Made Nobore!” why wouldn’t you just simply put the original version of their first two indie songs at the beginning?  It just baffles me.  The MEMORIAL EDITs of the two indie songs added some new parts on top of the fact the lines had to be redistributed.  What we ended up was something familiar but not quite as good as the original sadly.  The bridge was what took me out of this version and just simply felt REALLY out of place in the entirety of the song.  To be honest, I’ll probably just remove this and make this tracklist right on iTunes XD.

4. Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru (MEMORIAL EDIT)

At least the revisioned Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru ended up being slightly better than the original (not counting the lack of Aina of course).  Like the previous track, lines were redistributed and the song added some new parts which actually FIT the song we’re talking about.  Samidare Bijo ga Samidareru was a more rockin’ affair in comparison to “Watashi ga Iu…’s” more dance-centric style which still showed off a pretty cool side to their music.  Despite the fact that these changes were going to happen even if Aina hadn’t left, I felt this revision was handled better overall and the energy was still pretty much on fire!  Pretty cool overall.

5. Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo

After leaving the messy major debut, we finally starting calming down with the next track and that’s Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo and to be honest, it’s a bit like “Romance no Tochuu” with a little less brass power.  It’s still a pretty solid song with a pretty cool groove and sound to it.  It’s really more like the aforementioned song due to the line distribution and all, but it’s a good song still.

6. Hajimete wo Keikenchuu

Wondering what we’d get for our first 2nd A-side (I don’t count the memorial edits as new songs), Hajimete wo Keikenchuu was a bit of a switch-up for the group as we have only known them to really be a cool and stylish group (not counting “Ten Made Nobore!” because that’s more of a Kenshuusei song).  I do like the guitars that are playing in the background to give a more full sound, but the bigger surprise is that Akari and Yuka have the focus here while the remaining members tend to be more of the 2nd most which is awesome since neither of the first two have made strides in vocal appearances since their debut.  For their first cutesy love song, I pretty much enjoyed it a lot!!!

7. Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS

Then came 2014 and the group really went through some experimentation in their songs.  Starting with Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS, I wasn’t expecting a full Latin charge (ala to Momusu’s “Iroppoi Jirettai”).  For such a strong and quick song we got, I thought the group managed to pull it off well and it exudes quite a lot of sexiness (which might be strange for such a young group) but they were good with this one.

8. Arekore Shitai!

So just like the last single, the secondary A-side was leaning towards more of a cuter side to the group and we find ourselves with a much even line distribution for the group.  Though I can’t say that I was too big of a fan of this song unfortunately.  I’m not entirely sure why I don’t care about this song, but there’s something that didn’t work for it unlike in “Hajimete wo Keikenchuu” and there’s some similarities between the two too…damn…

9. Black Butterfly

So two Spanish music style in two A-sides?  Yeah, Black Butterfly took a tango route this time and when it came out, I was a little confused on how to feel.  I do love the arrangement (cept for the eh chorus), Tomoko and Karin sound REALLY good in such a minimal arrangement and it’s just such a mysterious sounding song all in itself.  Though like I mentioned above, the chorus is kind of where the song falls flat for me because it’s loud and most of it consists of the title being sung so it’s really blah.  Still overall, it’s a decent song and a style that’s rarely tackled in H!P.

10. Kaze ni Fukarete

Next up is the secondary A-side from the single and it’s the uptempo Irish-y dance song lol!  I actually love this song a lot more than I did with “Black Butterfly” because it’s really what the group does best is dance tracks that are a little more serious and less playful/sexy.  Great beat and the group sounds amazing (though I still do wince sometimes with Sayuki’s lines).  Overall one of the best songs from the first disc if it wasn’t for…

11. Senobi

As the final single closes the first disc (wait, what?), Senobi as the primary A-side was really out of nowhere (literally was announced shortly after “Black Butterfly/Kaze ni Fukarete” was released.  So I was surprised to think that this was their first actual EDM song and boy was it a strong song.  A lot of cool effects, the dubstep wasn’t stupidly placed, the quintet sounded great (especially Sayubee) and just ended 2014 on a high note for me!

12. Date ja nai yo Uchi no Jinsei wa

Then we get this song which sounds like a nice throwback to “Romance no Tochuu” with the kind of funky arrangement and peppy brass that we’ve grown to enjoy.  Initially, being the other A-side to “Senobi” I was more entranced by the latter’s EDM sound more than the familiar funk sound that came with this one.  After some time with it, the song is pretty awesome in its own right despite Sayuki once again trying a little too hard on the vocals.  Beyond that, it was a nice song with good enough line distribution to get by.  Maybe not the best song to end the first disc, but it makes sense.

CD2

1. Wonderful World

Though I’m curious to why the “Wonderful World/Ça va? Ça va?” single is on the 2nd disc (full of new songs, mind you…maybe it’s just because it’s the only 2015 single they’ve released prior to the album, though that would’ve meant “Erabareshi Watashitachi” also should’ve been on CD1 since they’ve been performing it for so long).  Anyways, CD2 begins with Wonderful World which I was definitely not impressed with.  Like “Arekore Shitai!” it’s a little too overbearing with the cute vibes and the group themselves sound odd (looking at you Tomoko!).  Though I do love hearing Yuka and Akari more in line with the 3 other members, so it’s a small good thing, otherwise…just too sugary for me.

2. CHOICE & CHANCE

Then we get a bunch of new songs!  The first song up is actually one of two that were chosen to promote the album!  I was happy we got this one because this is a banger!  It has a LOT of punch to it and makes the group really sound cool (though I’m not sure if I agree on the vocal filters being used on some girls (it’s REALLY apparant on Akari, Tomoko, and Yuka).  Still, the song is really cool and while H!P is slowly moving away from EDM, this stands as one of the better tracks introduced.

3. Ai・Ai・Gasa

Next up is the rather sparkly song Ai・Ai・Gasa and it starts off nice and shows a cuter side (not as sugary as “Wonderful World” mind you) but it’s still kind of nice.  I hate to say it though, but the chorus is kind of where I got annoyed with the whole ~ai-ya ai-ya ai-ya ai-ya ai-ya gasa~…they repeat that a little too much for my liking and made the chorus fail where the verses won me over.  It’s just kind of in the middle of the road for me.

4. Umaretate no Baby Love

Moving on, Umaretate no Baby Love is next and this one threw me for a loop.  It reminded me a lot of a Taiyou to Ciscomoon song, “Magic of Love” (ironiiiiiiiiiic).  It’s a nice discotheque kind of song and the band is pretty exciting to listen to, but it could’ve been a 2011 song for all we know hahaha.  It’s not the most intriguing song for me so it kind of flew over my head.

5. Erabareshi Watashitachi

Jeeze, it took forever to finally have a studio version to listen to.  Of the new songs, it seems this is the only Tsunku song on here which is surprising, but yet not at the same time.  Erabareshi Watashitachi was first performed last year in lives and since then had been hiding until now and for good reason because it’s a REALLY solid song!  It has a bit of an edgier sound and the guitarwork is pretty cool too!  Pretty amazing song overall and just caught my interest quickly!

6. Ça va? Ça va?

Then just randomly, this A-side is placed in the middle of the album (very strange).  Luckily, this song is still a favorite of mine this year.  The mix of surfer rock and French pop is unusual, but very welcome to H!P after the oversaturation the company had.  I’m loving the kind of frisky sound it has and the group is just sounding really pleasant.  Even Karin’s ~Je’taime bien~ line is just ADORABLE.  It’s a cool song though and hope to see more of this unique style to them with future A-sides.

7. GIRLS BE AMBITIOUS

Not to be confused with GREEN FIELDS song of the similar name (hmm yet Yuka is in both groups) nevermind that!  This song is definitely something I could’ve seen Buono! pulling off easily with it’s fun rock arrangement and yet some of the song reminds me of that Jet song, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl”, but that could just be me.  It’s a loud song and the girls wasn’t particularly worried about meshing together and it sort of shows.  It sounds perfect for live performances, though as a studio song…eh?

8. Ai no Diving

Next song, I really wasn’t sure what to think of it.  Like the arrangement is pretty much all over the place (verse-wise) and the chorus is no better.  I mean there’s some cool effects like the synthwork and the fact once again, it would make a great live (with a live band).  Otherwise, this song kind of just fell rather flat for me.

9. Tick-Tock Watashi no Shun

Another cutesy song appears next as well and it got worse.  It felt like the arrangement was done wrong because there’s like NOT ENOUGH bass and the effects from that point sounded REALLY cheap to me.  I mean the group sounds good and can do cute if they did it right, but this kind of cutesy anime tone doesn’t work and the arrangement is just in the shitter…pass.

10. Mirai e, Saa Hashiridase!

After all the odd songs, it’s nice to get Mirai e, Saa Hashiridase!  I will say that it does feel like a pop song and an ending song mixed together and I approve of that because it just has a nice wrapping up feel.  Plus it helps they do chant the group name in the afterchorus XD.  Might not be at the same stretch of greats like “CHOICE & CHANCE” and “Erabareshi Watashitachi” but it’s decent!

11. Tsuzuiteiku STORY

So the other song chosen to promote the album is ironically the first ballad they’ve done (not counting the stageplay they did).  It’s a pretty standard ballad from H!P, but luckily it keeps my interest with the sitar plucking in the arrangement, without it…it could’ve been really vanilla and forgetful, but the vocals are quite nice as well…decent way to close out disc 2 (though “Mirai e, Saa Hashiridase!” would’ve fared better).

CD3

1. Magic of Love (J=J 2015 Ver.)

So Disc 3 is all about covers of older H!P songs (sad there’s only 6).  First is Magic of Love and I think a lot of their fans expected it because they’ve performed it soooo many times since their debut.  Yeah, so despite “Umaretate no Baby Love” taking some melodies out of this one, this is a pretty awesome song (though nothing could really surpass the original).  I actually have to say, Sayubee just kicked ass in this song and I loved it.  The changes to the song is pretty minimal besides the arrangement getting updated…still awesome song!

2. Kousui (J=J 2015 Ver.)

Just like the previous track, this cover song also got a slightly updated arrangement.  Tackling Melon Kinenbi’s big song, Kousui is a song I was never too into, but this new version is at least decent (maybe a bit over arranged xD).  The quintet sound nice though and Kanatomo was the one that stood out for me the most…dang!

3. Narihajimeta Koi no BELL

So the next two covers’ arrangements were not changed hence no version behind the titles.  I LOVE the original from Ongaku Gatas and was surprised Juice=Juice was going to tackle it.  Overall it’s actually not that bad and the group has the same power and energy about it (though the ~aaaaaaa~ parts are still a bit wince-inducing, sorry Tomoko xD).  Still this was probably my favorite of the covers.

4. Scramble

Funny enough, I’m not too familiar with Maki Goto’s original take but I do know her voice well enough.  Having a 5-member group tackle this is pretty interesting and they didn’t do too bad, though I had to really go by just this version so I’m not too certain how it compares to Gocchin’s (probably not AS good as Maki’s but eh). It’s solid.

5. BABY! Koi ni KNOCK OUT!

The final two cover tracks have our group split up into more groupings!  Starting with this Petitmoni cover that has only Yuka, Akari, and Tomoko at the reins and it’s a little strange.  If there was any point on this album where I thought Yuka and Akari didn’t sound right, this song might just be that one.  I mean they aren’t weak by any means, but this song might’ve been just a bit too rough on them and Tomoko while a great singer…also didn’t seem to suit this song either.  It just didn’t roll well for me as much as the Yasuda/Goto/Yoshizawa version did.

6. Last Kiss

Finally, we have the Tanpopo cover of Last Kiss sung by the remaining two members, Sayuki and Karin.  While it’s going to rough already trying to be better than the original of Iida/Ishiguro/Yaguchi, I would say this is a nice version regardless.  I do think Karin’s more higher register doesn’t seem to gel much to the arrangement, but Sayubee rather impressed me here…maybe not at the same levels as the 3 mentioned above, but she held her own.  Overall a nice cover.

Tracks Recommended

  • Romance no Tochuu
  • Senobi
  • Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS
  • Kaze ni Fukarete
  • Ijiwaru Shinaide Dakishimete yo
  • CHOICE & CHANCE
  • Erabareshi Watashitachi
  • Ça va? Ça va?
  • Last Kiss
  • Mirai e, Saa Hashiridase!

Song of Avoidance

  • Arekore Shitai!
  • Tick-Tock Watashi no Shun

Wow it seemed like forever until we finally got our first album from Juice=Juice.  I was surprised at how packed it was to the brim with songs (which is most of their current discography).  When it comes to the first disc, well it’s songs that we fans have known since their debut and most of it was pretty strong, of course they’re all A-side quality with a couple of misses here and there.  The 2nd disc was what most people were excited for because besides the 2015 single, that whole disc was never before heard songs.  Sadly I think I was hoping too much for this disc.  Minus 3 rather impressive songs, the others felt lacking and kind of forgettable.  Finally, the 3rd disc isn’t really much to gawk at…good covers, but definitely not as good as their originals.  Overall strong album with a lot of variety…Now I just want to see what’s next for the quintet!