Kurayami Monogatari

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JUJU – Dreamer March 3, 2013

Filed under: JUJU — solarblade @ 7:34 pm

dreamer

Track Listing

  1. Dreamer
  2. Beautiful
  3. Story -Live Ver.- (JUJU En @ Nippon Budokan)
  4. Yasashisa de Afureru You ni -Live Ver.- (JUJU En @ Nippon Budokan)

1. Dreamer

THANK YOU! JUJU didn’t make this song a ballad this time around with Dreamer.  It’s actually a little bit ballad-y but it has an upbeat kind of beat to it that prevents it from being like her last couple of A-sides!  When I listen to this I get nostalgic vibes because of the arrangement and JUJU’s vocals…it just sounds like something from the early 2000’s.  It’s a pretty good song, still not at the awesomeness that “Sayonara no Kawari ni” is but this is much better than stuff she’s been releasing recently.

2. Beautiful

At first I didn’t recognize this because of the Western twang it has, but this is a Christina Aguilera cover and that’s a pretty risky thing to cover (especially a song like Beautiful which is an emotional  trip).  JUJU sounds great and all, but she just doesn’t bring the emotions like Xtina does unfortunately.  Not a bad try though JUJU but nothing could ever defeat the original IMO.

3. Story -Live Ver.- (JUJU En @ Nippon Budokan)

I was surprised that the next track is an AI cover and sung live which kind of impressed me.  I definitely know AI has signature vocals (like Xtina) but JUJU does sound better than her here which doesn’t totally surprise me heh.  It’s a pleasant song overall and I think she did justice here.

4. Yasashisa de Afureru You ni -Live Ver.- (JUJU En @ Nippon Budokan)

The other live version is actually is of JUJU’s 9th A-side, and this kind of reminds me of a slower “Dreamer” but with more electric guitar present hahah.  Now this is the kind of ballad JUJU should do more of because it sounds powerful and it has a lot of direction going on.  Even though this is just a live version so the original could be slow as molasses…still I enjoyed this live version!

I’m happy that JUJU slightly changed it up for Dreamer by not giving us a ballad and going for more of something mid-tempo.  I really appreciate that and broke the monotony of her music after such a LONG stretch of ballad A-sides.  Her cover of Beautiful isn’t bad or anything, it just didn’t have the emotional mark that Xtina flawlessly pulled off.  The live versions were a nice touch too and she really sounds great in both of them.  I wonder if an album is coming up now…

 

JUJU – Arigatou October 14, 2012

Filed under: JUJU — solarblade @ 8:57 pm

Track Listing

  1. Arigatou
  2. Kuchizuke
  3. The Greatest Love Of All
  4. Arigatou -Instrumental-

1. Arigatou

Is there an off switch for JUJU to prevent her from doing ballads  because she really is starting to bore me to death with her singles she’s released since “YOU”.  Unlike previous ones though, the song has a little more light on it which kind of makes this better than her previous singles.  I really did though enjoy her voice in this song as it’s soothing and bright like the song itself.  Still wished for something different from her, but this’ll do.

2. Kuchizuke

At least the first B-side tries to bring my interest back.  Kuchizuke has more of a R&B-like feel to it but still ratains that lightness.  I think the beat actually helped the song to prevent it from being a borefest.  It’s a nice track and it’s slighter better than “Arigatou” so that’s good.

3. The Greatest Love Of All

It makes sense that JUJU would cover a Whitney Houston song since it’s a good tribute and all.  Now weall know that no one can really be as good as Whitney but they can try and I like JUJU here since she sounds great in this song (minus the accents) but she put in a great effort to this classic!

 

 

I actually kind of liked this single (it is the best single she’s released since her last studio album, that’s for sure) but I still kind of want something upbeat from JUJU since these ballads aren’t truly cutting it for me.  Kuchizuke is a tad better than Arigatou but I think it’s mostly because of the beat.  The Greatest Love Of All though is a solid cover for sure and JUJU was good.  So overall it’s a good single…but not the best she’s done.

 

JUJU – Tadaima June 18, 2012

Filed under: JUJU — solarblade @ 5:11 am

Track Listing

  1. Tadaima
  2. Hana ga Meguru Tokoro e
  3. Natsu no Hana -Touch of Jazz Version-
  4. Tadaima (Instrumental)

1. Tadaima

I know I may be cynical for saying this, but can we have something different JUJU?  I know you’re more than capable of releasing upbeat stuff like “Sayonara wo Kawari ni”.  Tadaima is more of a mid-tempo track and has more movement than “sign” did which is good but I kind of find myself struggling to be interested in the song because it’s more or less what we’ve been getting from JUJU for a while.  I still do enjoy her vocals a lot and the melody is a little memorable but I just want something different from her for an A-side.

2. Hana ga Meguru Tokoro e

The next track though is more of a song that probably should’ve been on “YOU” for some reason because it has that piano + strings arrangement that seems to be her forte.  Sadly, the song goes into bore mode for me quite quickly just like “YOU” did.  I mean it has a little nostalgia in it but at the same time, the song just moves a bit too slow.  At least JUJU’s vocals are quite strong and left a nice mark on a rather boring song.

3. Natsu no Hana -Touch of Jazz Version-

JUJU’s 4th A-side gets touched up in a new version for the single.  I never heard Natsu no Hana so I can’t really compare the differences but I’m going to say it’s more jazzier than the original LOL.  It’s mostly just piano, strings, and light percussion.  Once again, I kind of fall into a lull just listening to the song so I kind of zone it out.  I thought there’d be more to like “Lullaby of Birdland’s” arrangement but this is too bare-boned.

 

 

I keep going back and forth between liking the hell out of JUJU and just being unimpressed.  Tadaima is oddly enough has the least amount of faults in it because it’s lively but it’s a little plain at the same time.  Sadly, Hana ga Meguru Tokoro e and the updated take on Natsu no Hana were just BORING.  I just couldn’t listen to them back to back since they just did nothing for me.  I just hope she does something exciting next >.>

 

JUJU – sign January 24, 2012

Filed under: JUJU — solarblade @ 7:17 am

Track Listing

  1. sign
  2. Be Myself
  3. Tsuioku
  4. sign -Instrumental-

1. sign

Wooo…>.>  Another JUJU ballad huh?  At least the good thing about sign is the fact that is has better movement than “YOU” and actually pulls you in with its chorus.  Of course there’s no problem with JUJU because she’s just that solid of a singer.  Definitely a nice moving ballad from her and makes up for the borefest of well…”YOU”…

2. Be Myself

Being a little more there and kind of having a guitar-based sound, Be Myself kind of worked for here though it doesn’t feel as strong of a song like “sign”.  I mean it’s at least upbeat but there’s something kind of missing from the tune that stops me from fully enjoying it.  I guess for right it can be considered all right…

3. Tsuioku

I can’t tell if it’s a cover (I think it is…but I can’t be 100% sure about that.  This is actually feeling like a little leftover from “DELICIOUS” because it’s a bit more on the slow, jazzier side of things.  It does kind of bore me because it’s going at such a snail’s pace and the only thing that’s keeping it from hitting rock bottom is JUJU’s vocals.  It does get better as times goes on and there’s a violin solo as well which is kind of cool.  Still…a little zzz for me.

 

 

As her first for a new era, sign was alright but nothing to fully gawk about in my opinion.  sign is the best thing on the single and it’s a shock since JUJU’s ballads aren’t my cup of tea most of the time.  I don’t know but it has great movement and sounds dramatic in a good way.  Tsuioku isn’t too bad since it has that slow tempo and jazzy undertones, but it’s a little TOO slow for me to pay attention to.  As for Be Myself, it’s got the right things going but I feel like there could’ve been more effort and excitement to make things a little more cohesive.  Alright single, but like I said nothing too extravagant here.

 

JUJU – Lullaby Of Birdland/Mizuiro no Kage November 22, 2011

Filed under: JUJU — solarblade @ 7:08 am

Track Listing

  1. Lullaby Of Birdland
  2. Mizuiro no Kage
  3. Mizuiro no Kage -Instrumental-

1. Lullaby Of Birdland

The first A-side is actually a cover but I’m not familiar to who it’s from originally.  Unlike her last single, Lullaby Of Birdland is actually jazzy which is one of the styles I love to hear more of JUJU in since it works perfectly with her voice.  Though the 2 and a half minutes of the song are spiffy, I still felt that it was super short and her English was spotty but not terrible.  At least I can remember this unlike her last A-sides “YOU” and “BELOVED”.

2. Mizuiro no Kage

The other A-side is more lowkey of a jazzy ballad, but that’s good since the light music caters to JUJU’s vocals moreso and she sounds so relaxed and chill that Mizuiro no Kage kind of flows nicely.  It’s not short either which is a plus!  To me the arrangement of the song would’ve fit many different artists but I think only JUJU and Mika Nakashima would pull it off lol.

 

 

As the lone single promoting “DELICIOUS” (which I won’t review), Lullaby Of Birdland/Mizuiro no Kage was actually a nice single after the rather mundane “YOU/BELOVED”.  The fact both songs were jazzy was probably the biggest reason that I liked the single.  Though Lullaby Of Birdland does come off as a bit too short, Mizuiro no Kage was the winner!  Still, great single!

 

JUJU – YOU/BELOVED August 30, 2011

Filed under: JUJU — solarblade @ 7:37 am

 Track Listing

  1. YOU -Single Version-
  2. BELOVED
  3. YOU -Single Version Instrumental-
  4. BELOVED -Instrumental-

1. YOU -Single Version-

At first I couldn’t really tell what changed about YOU which was originally the final track of her last album of the same name.  Since this is somewhat of recut single I was trying to find the difference between the two tracks and it seems that it’s very minor when compared.  The biggest change I heard was this new take has strings but otherwise the same arrangement with the same instruments.  So basically if you liked the song from the album the same will be said here and it’ll add points if you like strings in your ballads but for me, this is still the same boring ass song and wished it wasn’t the one being recut.

2. BELOVED

As the other A-side, at least it’s a new song.  It sounds pretty opening up with strings and acoustic guitar with a rain stick being used.  That was really pretty but one JUJU comes in and the piano and acoustic guitar are left, I kept getting “ANTIQUE” vibes and it really didn’t help this song because it also left a sleepy feel to it.  Also add in that it’s actually not that impressive of a GLAY cover and you got a pretty lame secondary A-side.

 

 

 

Wow this was a poor decision all-around.  To me YOU and BELOVED were too sleep-inducing to let it be released together more or less be counted as a recut single as well.  I don’t know why but I was hoping for something more grand for YOU at least besides just throwing strings in.  BELOVED just could not make up for because it too was pretty boring but at least it’s a happy ballad but a cover from rock band, GLAY???…but still boring…Girl needs a little break

 

JUJU – YOU July 12, 2011

Filed under: JUJU — solarblade @ 7:32 am

Track Listing

  1. Kono Yoru wo Tomete yo
  2. Sayonara wo Kawari ni
  3. Tsuyogari
  4. If
  5. Negai
  6. Voice
  7. Love again
  8. Memories
  9. Piece Of Our Days
  10. Trust In You
  11. Mata Ashita…
  12. ANTIQUE
  13. YOU

1. Kono Yoru wo Tomete yo

Starting the album with JUJU’s second A-side released in the era, Kono Yoru wo Tomete yo to me at first seemed like an odd choice to begin her fourth album, but I guess I can see why she chose it since it’s a slow starter and grows into something kind of catchy for me.  Despite the R&B feel stuck to it and slightly making the ride a little stale, I think JUJU did very well with vocals and there’s places that sound quite perfect.  Ok, good start!

2. Sayonara wo Kawari ni

I wasn’t worried that the primary 3rd A-side of the era wasn’t going to make it because simply, it’s the best thing she released in the entire era!  I love the heavier beat that’s carried in the song much more as well since it gives the tune a bit more of a punch to go along with JUJU’s smooth vocals.  I love this song a whole lot and to be honest…it might be my favorite JUJU song surpassing “Sunao ni Naretara”.

3. Tsuyogari

Getting into two new tracks next, Tsuyogari tones things down quite a bit after “Sayonara wo Kawari ni” to a more mid-tempo kind of track with strings and up-front drums.  I still find myself enjoying JUJU’s vocal performance and the tune does sound a bit more livelier than many of the era’s other tracks. 

4. If

I must say that I also enjoy whenever JUJU delves into her jazzy side to her music and If fills that space quite nicely especially since it’s fun and upbeat and JUJU is doing pretty well singing along with the upbeat arrangement.  I did find it lulzy that I kept finding myself thinking that the chords of the tune remind me of Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity”.  Absurd, but kind of funny as well.  I liked this track quite a bit.

5. Negai

I’m surprised of the sudden change of emotions from “If” to Negai (the secondary 3rd A-side released).  Like I said in the single review, it’s nothing new that we haven’t heard with other songs of the era (or the last era for the matter) and it really caters to the fans of JUJU’s ballads.  I mean you have the dramatic strings and strong verses and choruses.  I guess it’s alright, but I’m finding myself rather tuned out from this song.

6. Voice

Yeah, very strange to have thrown in “Negai” in such a place because Voice brings the beats in and it reminds me of a more strings-based version of “Sayonara wo Kawari ni” and I approve since it’s another strong tune for JUJU since it’s pretty dance-forward and she sounds quite great.  Sounds like a perfect Springtime song!  This is probably my favorite amongst the new songs.

7. Love again

If you’ve read my review for “Mata Ashita…” you can tell I wasn’t fond of the entire single and it really boggles my mind to see why she added Love again to the album.  Being after “Voice” also shows that it’s a little disappointing and almost like album fodder.  I mean besides the amount of English used, it’s just like “Kono Yoru wo Tomete yo” but a little lighter?

8. Memories

I’m surprised that JUJU took some notes from Kana Nishino (or lecca) since Memories has this poppy, light reggaeton vibe and I found myself surprised at this little tap of experimentation here.  I’ve also noticed that JUJU sounds a bit more girly and not vocally as compelling as she is in the previous tracks.  It’s interesting and shows a rather new side to JUJU but I can also see her fixing and making something even better with this style…but this isn’t too bad.

9. Piece Of Our Days

Unfortunately, the next three songs are IMO the album’s true boring stuff starting with “Kono Yoru wo Tomete yo’s” B-side.  I guess it isn’t as bad as the next two tracks since it’s got a sweet acoustic vibe with small blips of jazz throughout and that’s pretty good for such a down-tempo kind of song.  I take it back, Piece Of Our Days isn’t as blah as I first remembered it…then again it does create the bridge into blahville XD

10. Trust In You

As the album’s first A-side released, Trust In You was definitely a dropoff after the previous single (which was that quadruple A-side).  I mean it is upbeat and pretty synthy which is great and all but damn did this song sounds so much like Nami Tamaki’s “Omoide ni Naru no?”.  Like in “If” the chords really make it sound similar and I was just bored immediately from the song no matter how hard JUJU was trying to not make it sound as such.

11. Mata Ashita…

I might be the only one that actually wished she hadn’t released Mata Ashita… as a single since it felt rather useless to do it.  As the second ballad A-side released (sharing with “Negai”…and “Hello, Again” doesn’t count), Mata Ashita… doesn’t really stand out on this album as well since it just feels like it was tacked on because JUJU needed more ballads.  Since “Negai” did come first I prefer that track to this one, but TBH they’re one in the same lol.

12. ANTIQUE

I will say it does suck that the last two new and final tracks are also ballads.  They’re also both the two longest tracks as well, reaching over 6 minutes at the least.  Starting with the longer of the two, ANTIQUE actually starts quite softly with JUJU and acoustic guitar.  After a little bit of this it slowly grows into a full ballad with piano, strings, and background vocals…I also notice small sounds of like water dripping and paper crumbling…I want this explained!!!!  It’s a nice song but WAYYYYYYY too long.

13. YOU

Finally closing the album is the title track, YOU and as a 6 minute ballad I was expecting maybe something a little better than a simple ballad that feels like “Tsuyogari”.  I’m very unimpressed here and despite good vocals and a good range, this tune does nothing for me and I was still dealing with “ANTIQUE” sleep-inducing arrangement!

Tracks Recommended

  • Voice
  • Sayonara wo Kawari ni
  • If
  • Piece Of Our Days

Song of Avoidance

  • YOU

I wasn’t even excited for JUJU’s album to be honest, but I think YOU was a pretty strong album but doesn’t surpass “JUJU” since that album had a little more experimentation.  I thought this album was pretty good from the beginning right up to Piece of Our Days and then just crash-landed for me in the remaining songs.  I think she should avoid slamming the ballads towards the end…especially ANTIQUE and YOU…two long ass ballads…ugh.  Still the rest of the album is quite good!

 

JUJU – Mata Ashita… June 1, 2011

Filed under: JUJU — solarblade @ 3:08 am

Track Listing

  1. Mata Ashita…
  2. Love again
  3. You’ve Got A Friend
  4. Mata Ashita… (Instrumental)

1. Mata Ashita…

After that awesomeness with “Sayonara no Kawari ni”, it’s a bit disappointing that Mata Ashita… is a ballad and not really a memorable one for that matter.  Of course since this is a JUJU track, it’s pretty clear what we’re dealing with from pretty vocals to a unimpressive arrangement…it’s a bit meh…but I guess the song’s dramatics kept it afloat. 

2. Love again

Likewise, Love again is your run of the mill R&B track from her and simply put…if you enjoyed her stuff in this kind of mid-tempo feel then you’ll really enjoy this.  Otherwise, it’s a bit forgettable like “Mata Ashita…” but with some English lyrics lol. 

3. You’ve Got A Friend

No, this is not a cover of that silly Toy Story song sung by…well that odd dude.  No it’s actually a cover of a Carole King song that was first heard back in 1971.  Out of the songs on the single, this feels like the most laidback and relaxed as well.  It’s a nice cover since JUJU’s vocals sound really sweet and soft against a rather oldies-like arrangement. 

 

 

Is it me or does it feel this single was a little rushed being released pretty quickly after “Sayonara no Kawari ni/Negai”?  It’s not as strong and none of the songs really made an impact like the previous single either.  I guess the good thing was the cover track but otherwise…forgettable.

 

JUJU – Sayonara no Kawari ni/Negai April 5, 2011

Filed under: JUJU — solarblade @ 2:20 pm

Track Listing

  1. Sayonara no Kawari ni
  2. Negai
  3. Mou Koi Nante Shinai
  4. Sayonara no Kawari ni -Yasutaka Nakata Remix-

1. Sayonara no Kawari ni

After the last A-side, “Kono Yoru wo Tomete yo”, I was hoping for something different from JUJU and Sayonara no Kawari ni is actually what I hoped.  First off, it’s not a ballad, but more of a synthy R&B/piano track which is great since it did a good job mixing great music with JUJU’s great vocals.  It might lack a focal point since it keeps up the same pace and sound for the most part, but you can tell what’s the verse and chorus.  Impressive A-side!

2. Negai

As for the other A-side on the single, Negai is definitely for the people that has been enjoying JUJU with her sound from her last few singles.  I’m not totally into this side of her music since R&B piano ballads are kind of forgettable for me.  It’s just that once you have heard one of JUJU’s piano/strings ballads, you’ve seriously heard them all, minus the melodic changes.  It’s hard to really enjoy that.  I’m sure that some of you really like this kind of music, so maybe in time I won’t bitch so much XD.

3. Mou Koi Nante Shinai

As the lone B-side and another cover song, Mou Koi Nante Shinai would have totally fit on “Request” for sure since it does have a lot of similar sounds throughout.  The good thing is that unlike “Negai”, it does have the same instruments, but this is slightly more upbeat and has some keyboard on it as well giving it a little more spark.  I do think that it still is underwhelming compared to “Sayonara no Kawari ni”, but it’s a good cover though.

4. Sayonara no Kawari ni -Yasutaka Nakata Remix-

Simply because an already awesome track needs to be remixes, more or less from Nakata himself is a surprising move for sure.  I haven’t really enjoyed Nakata’s remixes for other artists here recently, but it seemed he got it right for JUJU.  I do like that JUJU’s vocals aren’t really tampered with if at all…but damn the electropop sound fits the song nicely.  I must say, I liked this remix.

JUJU did pretty well with this single for the most part and it does topple “Kono Yoru wo Tomete yo” by a big shot.  The first A-side and its remix were surprisingly very strong and was the strongest point of the single.  Mou Koi Nante Shinai is pretty good as well, but does feel outdated sometimes and Negai was just kind of boring for me…album time yet???

 

JUJU – Kono Yoru wo Tomete yo November 16, 2010

Filed under: JUJU — solarblade @ 1:25 pm

Track Listing

  1. Kono Yoru wo Tomete yo
  2. Piece Of Our Days
  3. Kotoba ni Dekinai
  4. Kono Yoru wo Tomete yo -instrumental-

1. Kono Yoru wo Tomete yo

Yes, the girl that released “Request” finally comes back and releases another single and I’m not surprised that it’s once again a ballad…Still I found a lot to enjoy about the song from the chill beat, pretty piano melody, and some pretty legit sounding synths going on in the background as well as vocals to support JUJU who of course sounds amazing.  Though it still runs in my mind that it’s a bit like “Trust In You” but with a beat.  Still it’s a good A-side and continues the era nicely.

2. Piece Of Our Days

Let’s take out the beats from “Kono Yoru wo Tomete yo” and just see what we can work with.  Thus ending us up at Piece Of Our Days which is of course a slower song, but at the same time kind of a pleasant little tune from JUJU.  I wouldn’t have minded this being the A-side either since it’s actually really relaxing and doesn’t try to force you to enjoy it.  Good B-side.

3. Kotoba ni Dekinai

So I’ve heard through the grapevine that Kotoba ni Dekinai is actually a cover song (seriously? we just got out of “Request”).  Anyways, the song begins with JUJU singing acapella and she can really sound nice by herself as well.  After a short bit, piano comes in and joins her and then some other instruments.  It kind of rests between the previous two songs since it’s soft, but at the same time not very slow.  Though I was intrigued with the metal guitar being included since you only hear that in Country music.  Very different but once again vocally pulled it off well.

While “Request” is continuing to chart on the Oricon Album charts, she kind of quietly announced and released this single (which is strange because it’s how I felt when she released “Hello, Again ~Mukashi Kara Aru Basho~” previously).  Kono Yoru wo Tomete yo is the usual JUJU goodness people are starting to take notice on and it might be good for some not so much for others it depends on where you began listening to her.  All three songs are light tunes for sure and JUJU’s voice does her well in these areas, but it’d be nice for something upbeat to come by…