Kurayami Monogatari

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Koda Kumi – re(CORD) May 24, 2020

Filed under: Koda Kumi — solarblade @ 4:26 pm

record

Track Listing

  1. DO ME
  2. GET NAKED
  3. STRIP
  4. k,
  5. Rich & Famous feat. Sean Paul
  6. again
  7. Merry Go Round
  8. Eh Yo -re(CORD) edit-
  9. GOLDFINGER 2019
  10. Put Your Hands Up!!!
  11. Summer Time
  12. OMG
  13. SHUTOUT
  14. Livin’ La Vida Loca

1. DO ME

Oh?  We’re already jumping into the album super quick with the opening track, DO ME.  It has been a while since I’ve heard Kuu and this kind of attitude-laced performance is kind of eye-raising especially hearing the amount of auto-tune and filters placed here is slightly distracting.  I will say, the track is rather a booty-shaking romp and Kuu seems to really be into this one, interesting way to open the album, kind of miss the opening intros though lol.

2. GET NAKED

I guess the sexy romps continue from the evidently titled, GET NAKED.  While the previous track was a little more in your face, GET NAKED tries to go for the more sly and slick sound, but I’ve noticed for some reason that Kuu sounds a bit different from before, but it’s only in some places.  The tune is more or less how I felt about the opening track, maybe not so much memorable as “DO ME” was.

3. STRIP

Jeeze three in a row?  STRIP isn’t so much a romp, but it has that dark, sexy, glow to it on top of Kuu’s more rap-like verses to the chorus that’s a bit more alive.  I have to say, I do enjoy this track most of the 3 songs here as it has hooks and just sounds like another hit she could’ve had (I mean if she had released singles for the album).  Very cool song, one of the better ones from the album!

4. k,

While I feel like we’re leaving the romps behind, k, is pretty much a slightly toned down cut of “STRIP” as it has some funk vibes in it on top of some sections where she actually sings and not does the pseudo raps (though they’re still present in this one).  I definitely found myself interested in this one a lot and the chorus is interesting (that ~bum, bum, bum~ arpeggio is strange to say the least.

5. Rich & Famous (feat. Sean Paul)

Oh hey, another collaboration with Sean Paul eh?  After “Loaded” from her 2014 album, “Bon Voyage”, it seems we’re seeing these two again and while it doesn’t hit hard as the aforementioned track and Sean Paul doesn’t quite have as much of an appearance (except in his part in the bridge to the end, Rich & Famous’ more R&B tinted sound and mood are smooth and unique and the two sound so good together ironically.  I can see why Kuu wanted to do this again!  Wait, you’re saying it samples stuff from “CHANCES ALL” from her previous album?  That’s a little bizarre considering it wasn’t a main song?

6. again

Things slow down quite heavily for the only ballad on the album, again.  Taking away from the trap beats and sexy sound for this toned down acoustic/piano ballad is a bit strange, but I feel like it’s been a while since we’ve had something like this for Kuu (which is strange because I know she’s had ballads on the last couple of albums).  I mean Kuu sounds good once again and even though this is another case of if you’ve heard one of her ballads you’ve pretty much heard them all, it kind of sticks out on the album nicely in my opinion since it shows she still has the vocal chops for it.  It’s OK in her discography, just not on the higher side of things.

7. Merry Go Round

The mood starts to pick up again for Merry Go Round with it’s heavy summery vibes and it’s overall cute vibes throughout here.  It’s Reggae style really suits things throughout and Kuu sounds exciting here.  It’s probably my favorite so far on the album as it doesn’t rely on those trap beats and has its own identity, something I found more fulfilling here.  Really pleasant track here.

8. Eh Yo -re(CORD) edit-

So it seems like most of this album was released digitally prior to the album’s release and Eh Yo was the first one so for some reason it was the track that given an edit here.  I think most of the edits had went to cleaning up the equalizer and changing some of the elements to not stick out so much like the original did (and somehow shave 10 seconds off too).  Eh Yo is bringing back the energy back with something rockin’ and chant-worthy here.  I kind of dig flow of the song and Kuu sounds OK here too!  Decent track!

9. GOLDFINGER 2019

So I saw that Kuu was doing some covers for the album, GOLDFINGER being a cover of a 1999 Go Hiromi track and I thought I’d take a listen before diving into the track and…it turns out that this song is actually a cover of Ricky Martin’s HUGE hit in the same year, “Livin’ La Vida Loca” which now makes sense why Kuu is covering this song twice lol.  Instead of the latin pop sound of the originals, GOLDFINGER 2019 is a bit more dancey and synthy, but retains a little bit of the horns.  Though that dance break in the bridge didn’t need to be there…it kind of was incredibly out of place and made no sense.  The rest of the song is great though, I dug this!

10. Put Your Hands Up!!!

Are we back with the tropical house theme?  I think the song had something going, but I really couldn’t deal with Kuu under auto-tune here, it felt strange especially since she’s such a great singer that she definitely didn’t need this happening for a summery song such as this.  I think it’s what made me cringe away from the track, should’ve followed the same track that “Merry Go Round” did to be honest, what a shame…

11. Summer Time

I still find it funny Kuu saved the album release to November when there was so many Summer songs (thanks to the digital releasing).  Anyways, Summer Time is definitely what it brings to the table and it’s fun, cute, beach-friendly and whatnot, but I tend to feel after a while that she’s done so many songs like this that it’s also starting to blend into one another (like her ballads do).  It’s fine, it’s just kind of forgettable to me.

12. OMG

Oooh, are we back into the cool side to Kuu?  Wow, this song is definitely buzzing with the heavy beats and futuristic tone that caught my attention and Kuu has a lot of sassy moments which surprised me here.  Plus hearing Kuu say the title in its chorus is kind of humorous, but cool.  This is what I was wanting, something a little more energetic and works with Kuu’s vocals (though that auto-tune can go away).  Yeah, this was pretty damn good!

13. SHUTOUT

As we nearing the end of the album, SHUTOUT kind of brings me the same feeling that I got with “GET NAKED”, but once again the trap beats aren’t as in your face, but I’m wondering what this new timbre Kuu is using in her voice, it’s the 2nd time on the album she sounds like it and I’m not sure what I feel about that tone.  Very interesting song and like “OMG” would love more of to be honest!

14. Livin’ La Vida Loca

So I had a bad feeling when I got to the end of the album because while I think “GOLDFINGER 2019” is a decent cover, I also had to think that yes, Kuu is going to be singing in English again for the actual Ricky Martin cover.  Even since her take on “real Emotion”, Kuu has not really grown in the language much and while I do understand about 70% of what she’s saying, it’s pretty odd to me.  Much better than her take on “Venus”, just saying…As for the song, still the same as the earlier track, including the strange dance break.

Tracks Recommended

  • Merry Go Round
  • OMG
  • SHUTOUT
  • Eh Yo -re(CORD edit)-
  • STRIP

Song of Avoidance

  • Put Your Hands Up!!!

It seems like Kuu is just going through the waves in recent times with her last couple of album and unfortunately I feel pretty much similar to how this album felt.  It’s like the ideas and unique surprises are missing (though there are some to be found).  I will say now that I feel like her trap tracks are just not doing it for me no more and her aggressive sex romps are one too many now.  I will say that I wasn’t expecting the tracklist how it went, again being the lone ballad and a Japanese & English cover of what is a Ricky Martin song was interesting, but I need something new from Kuu…but what could that be?  Hard to say because Kuu has done all sorts of styles…so dance music as a whole next?

 

Koda Kumi – DNA September 15, 2018

Filed under: Koda Kumi — solarblade @ 6:32 pm

dnakoda

Track Listing

  1. Introduction ~My music is designed from my DNA~
  2. HUSH
  3. Dangerous
  4. WATCH OUT!! ~DNA~
  5. ScREaM
  6. CHANCES ALL
  7. Aenaku Naru Kurai Nara
  8. HAIRCUT
  9. Guess Who Is Back
  10. HOT HOT
  11. Kokoro Kara i love you
  12.  Work That
  13. PIN DROP

1. Introduction ~My music is designed from my DNA~

Interesting title for just a simple intro don’t ya think?  Very futuristic vibes I get from the opening though and maybe a little tribal and I don’t know why ominous fits here too before a robotic Kuu comes in and the track turns more into a trap-like tune.  Interesting way to kick the album off.

2. HUSH

As the quote-on-quote lead-in single for the album (was a bit surprised it was missing on “AND”), HUSH is the first full track and I was curious to see what it was all about (since I didn’t review those singles).  I was pretty impressed though since it brings us back a cool and sexy vibe that Kuu does very well with and this song is probably the first time I feel excited to hear Kuu going back to a more simpler vibe (without feeling like she’s trying too hard).  Very cool song to start the album.

3. Dangerous

The sound of a dog barking opens up our next track, Dangerous and this is more of what I was saying in the previous track where maybe she’s coming a smidge too strong, but it still isn’t as messy as some previous efforts.  The tune is more funky and the beat is cool if not a smidge all over when it comes to its chorus.  A little vague as well, yeah the chorus is just forgetful lol.  The beat though is definitely in your face.  I think overall the song is OK, but I still prefer “HUSH”.

4. WATCH OUT!! ~DNA~

Does this count as the title track?  Well either way, we go into more of this aggressive bad bitch vibe for our next track and WATCH OUT!! is pretty much the tryhard style that I’m not quite too fond of and Kuu is really in your face.  Unfortunately, the chorus is pretty repetitive and the track’s lack of a strong melody is kind of putting me off more and more.  Plus the Engrish is just humorous to me…yeah, pass…

5. ScREaM

Why does this song remind me of both 2NE1 & Red Velvet??  Just something about the opening gives me Kpop vibes which is a bit of a surprise.  I love the arrangement and the way it flows is a lot more smooth and clean like “HUSH”, the trap beats is a bit bleh, but I definitely can enjoy this song beyond that since the rest of the track is just catchy and fun to listen to.

6. CHANCES ALL

Oh the synths that open up the next track are really neat!  I’m happy it stays in the song as it gives more of a EDM/R&B kind of groove.  It’s like a nostalgic trip to something more of something from “Dejavu” or “UNIVERSE” and those albums had really decent tracks of the same vein.  Right now, I’m definitely bopping to this track the most, impressed!

7. Aenaku Naru Kurai Nara

Not surprised that the first track that’s written out in Kanji would be the ballad.  Aenaku Naru Kurai Nara is another track that kind of just goes into the ballad bin here because of the simplistic piano arrangement.  There are times where more instrumentation is added like drums/strings and such and it does try to add more color to the song.  It’s alright, but I mean what more can I say about Kuu ballads.

8. HAIRCUT

I mean I guess if you’re going to make a song about getting a haircut, I guess it means the song needs to hit hard and aggressive?  It’s just hilarious to think about, but the song is kind of cool and whatnot…though that ~Imma get a haircut~ hook is just awkward xD.  I really do love when the song chills out for the pre-choruses, that’s probably my favorite part of the song and maybe the sax inclusion…but this song arrangement-wise is a tad messy.

9. Guess Who Is Back

It’s been a while since we’ve heard Kuu tackle a rock track and here we are with Guess Who Is Back which is relentless and loud!  I’m definitely getting behind this a lot more than I did when she covered “Can We Go Back” a couple years back!  Kuu though does have to adopt a different vocal style, but she also manages to keep her sultry vocals too for certain parts.  I would love to see Kuu perform this live, this has the ability to really get the crowd amped up!

10. HOT HOT

Not sure what I was getting into here, but I thought maybe it was going to be more of a Summer themed track like “Hashire!”.  Though what we ended up is something in the realm of a sexy song, but maybe playful at that too?  I kind of like the ragtime after-chorus (maybe that’s what that she was going for??), but the song is short…not quite as short as “HAIRCUT” but pretty close.  I don’t know what I think about this tune…maybe somewhere in the middle.

11. Kokoro Kara i love you

Why does it seems the songs with Kanji in them are more or less the only ballads on the album?  As also the longest track, this one does sound like it has a bit more going on in its arrangement moreso than “Aenaku Naru Kurai Nara”, but it still is more or less similar instrumentation, just a bit more livelier I suppose?  Another song I could probably live without honestly.

12. Work That

After that, Work That comes up and it starts with a steady beat and Kuu being sensual and sexy once again.  I kind of enjoyed the build-up of the song, but the payoff in the chorus felt surprisingly weak, but the melody was still kind of interesting.  I’m pretty torn though to if I love it or feel like it’s just a plain song in the mix.

13. PIN DROP

As the final track, PIN DROP closes DNA off with another heavy bop with a punchy beat and Kuu being herself again haha.  I definitely get similar vibes here with “HUSH” and I think that made for a good round trip on the album.  I think it’s definitely worth checking out even if it didn’t make total sense as an album closer.

Tracks Recommended

  • Guess Who Is Back
  • CHANCES ALL
  • HUSH
  • Work That
  • ScREaM

Song of Avoidance

  • WATCH OUT!! ~DNA~

Here we are with the 2nd half of Kuu’s release, DNA!  I have to say, this album wasn’t that bad and didn’t feel quite as off the wall that “AND” was earlier in the year!  It just felt more cohesive and pretty much Kuu being comfortable.  Though the ballads were weak and my Song of Avoidance choice was abrasive…overall, I liked this more than “AND”.

 

Koda Kumi – AND March 11, 2018

Filed under: Koda Kumi — solarblade @ 1:00 am

and

Track Listing

  1. PARTY
  2. SWEETEST TABOO
  3. GOT ME GOING’
  4. WHO
  5. OUTTA MY HEAD
  6. NEVER ENOUGH
  7. ALL RIGHT
  8. LIT
  9. BRAIN
  10. IT’S MY LIFE

1. PARTY

As the opening track and song used to promote the album, PARTY definitely starts the album off with an upbeat note that gives me Summer vibes in comparison to her various other summer bops.  Kuu comes in with a catchy hook that’s sung (or shouted) in English and she sounded good in pronunciation.  After the hook, the tune kind of grooves all over the map and has a trap/dubsteppish vibe which is kind of cool.  The tune while short is just catchy and a good way to kick the album off.

2. SWEETEST TABOO

I wonder if anyone else thought about “TABOO” when they saw this title (good lord was that song amazing!).  I do like the deep bass that fills out this song and Kuu just hits the floor and runs with it with that rap!  Though, I was a little surprised there’s some lighter blips and the song kind of becomes a bit more poppy and odd.  I don’t know after a while, the song kind of just fades out to me, it’s a little too busy and the mood just doesn’t quite work here.

3. GOT ME GOING’

Our next track up, GOT ME GOING’ takes things back to more of an urban sound which is a bit better already after the mess that was “SWEETEST TABOO”.  I always seem to like these songs where Kuu gets to show her vocal chops and attitude like it does here and she sounds so in her comfort zone.  I am a little disappointed it’s 2:40 in length, but this was a pretty nifty and sassy song for her.

4. WHO

Interesting to open up with samples for WHO and this one is a bit more edgy and cool for Kuu, but I wasn’t sure if I was OK with the auto-tune that’s slathered on her voice (it’s very apparent when it gets to the pre-chorus) and then switches modes when the beat drops where it feels almost like a 4minute song (“Crazy”? “Hate?”).  Either way, it’s a better song here, but there’s been better.

5. OUTTA MY HEAD

I was wondering if we were going to get ballads, but it seems like this might be the closest.  OUTTA MY HEAD is definitely a slower song, but it’s crazy dramatic and VERY bass synth heavy which is a surprise after the previous 4 songs.  I want to say I like this, but Kuu is maybe cranking the dramatic vocals a little past what she can handle and it’s coming off a little like when her sister, misono tries.  That chorus is a bit lame though…and prolly where her vocals get the most annoying…oh and the 20 second surprise outro, didn’t need to be here either…

6. NEVER ENOUGH

So yes, Kuu did release 3 singles before the release of “AND” (which I didn’t review because they were kind of oddball single, though technically a part of her discography…but it was just A-side and the instrumental so I passed).  NEVER ENOUGH was released as the 3rd of them, (though oddly “HUSH” is absent on the album).  Since I never listened to the singles, this is my first listen to them.  NEVER ENOUGH actually takes things even more slowly than “OUTTA MY HEAD” with a piano ballad.  It’s a nicely sung soulful ballad from Kuu and its been a while since a ballad of hers has latched on to me.  This was a nice break…good choice for an A-side.

7. ALL RIGHT

Things get back to speed with ALL RIGHT and this feels like more of those upbeat pop songs that she does on the regular like “WIND” and “Come Over”.  The tune is Summery and breezy which is always relaxing and Kuu sounds pretty good and fits the girly vibes here.  On the album, it’s a nice track, but it would EASILY get lost when compared to her other feelgood summer pop tunes.

8. LIT

Then we move to the first single that was released for the album, LIT.  For some reason, this track does remind me a bit of songs like “Cherry Girl” & “Love Me Back” with that kind of gritty twang that made those songs really unique and cool and it works for LIT, but it might not be as unique as them or as memorable to me.  I do like the addition of brass at least and Kuu once again vocally knocks it outta the park here so I’m a little more intrigued by this track.

9. BRAIN

A track titled, BRAIN, huh?  I guess it could be the odd song?  Well, after listening to the song, I wasn’t expecting the tune to be a bit more urban and hard hitting with the bass hits and scratchy synths.  It’s OK, but being the shortest song on the album (2:30), it doesn’t leave much of an impression and when it did start to click with me, it ended…

10. IT’S MY LIFE

Closing the album out, IT’S MY LIFE is another oddball and strange that it was chosen to end the album since it’s pretty aggressive with its heavy beats and trap high-hats.  I do like it though, it’s less busy than “SWEETEST TABOO” so that helps it stand out amongst the other tracks from the album.  Though still odd as the last track IMHO…I think “NEVER ENOUGH” would’ve been more appropriate IMO.

Tracks Recommended

  • GOT ME GOING’
  • PARTY
  • NEVER ENOUGH
  • IT’S MY LIFE

Song of Avoidance

  • OUTTA MY HEAD

Seems like Kuu is doing it again with the double album release, luckily unlike “W FACE”, we have time before the second half, “DNA” releases.  Though let’s focus on AND.  I will say that this album makes me feel like “WALK OF MY LIFE” but much shorter and the song overall had a much better turnout.  I mean it’s still kind of bland in areas, but Kuu is showing some sass in her songs which benefitted a number of songs, though she could’ve toned down the dramatics in OUTTA MY HEAD here.  OK album overall!

 

Koda Kumi – W FACE ~outside~ April 19, 2017

Filed under: Koda Kumi — solarblade @ 3:42 am

wfaceoutside

Track Listing

  1. W FACE
  2. Ultraviolet
  3. insane
  4. Damn real
  5. Heartless
  6. Bassline
  7. Shhh!
  8. Bangerang
  9. Wicked Girls
  10. Cupcake feat. AKLO

1. W FACE

~Yes bitch, yes bitch, yes bitch, SLAY!~…Really now?  Hey, I could commend Kuu for opening this album on a kick.  I was thinking the song was going to be harder just from the intro, but W FACE is a little more mellow than I expected, but it does have its moments like the deep bass runs and trap rolls in the hook.  The verses though are smooth and cool.  It’s not a song that’s going to really hit the spot like older intros, but I appreciated the change overall!  Cool track!

2. Ultraviolet

After the cool first track, we enter Ultraviolet and one of the four songs chosen to promote the album from this disc solely.  Continuing from Kuu’s normal edgy and sassy songs, Ultraviolet feels like a K-pop song for some reason, but I kind of enjoy the music and the attitude is once again at the forefront (including some humorous machine gun impressions).  Interesting song overall!

3. insane

For a song titled as such, I was ready for something wild, but insane is a bit slower than “Ultraviolet” was.  A lot of Kuu’s urban pop tendencies make their appearance and I was quite interested in every turn the song took.  There are some points where Kuu seems to try a little to hard vocally (like the straining and nasal high tones, she pulls).  Still, the song is powerful and in your face mixed in with some desperation.  This is a song that will definitely grow on me in the long run even with its discrepancies and the PV helped too!.

4. Damn real

Ahhhh, I like that low bass that opens up our next track.  I even appreciated the low energy vibe of this song as it gives off this chill, yet uneasy setting with that track.  Though I was hoping the song would keep this sound for the whole way through, but the chorus (beat drops) happens and it’s like a very odd trappish mess.  Plus the repetition of ~do, do, do~ just gives me a headache from an otherwise cool ass track.

5. Heartless

Like with “inside” I wasn’t expecting ballads on this album, but there’s one here and Heartless is that track.  Funny enough, it has a REALLY simple arrangement of just piano and Kuu’s emotion-drenched vocals which funny enough worked better than it did on 90% of the other album which says a lot here.  There’s one point where I felt that Kuu’s emotions got the better of her and she cried a little bit.  This is probably her best ballad in quite a while IMHO.

6. Bassline

So drifting away from that emotional bomb, we move back into more upbeat tracks starting with Bassline.  Right from the start, the song feels a bit like a mix of “Ultraviolet” and “Damn real” with the mellower groove, but some interesting throws of sax in there.  There’s just something that’s so cool and clubbish (but muted).  Funky track overall and a good choice to get a PV

7. Shhh!

As the only A-side to really represent the album, Shhh! was a nice refreshing jump back to upbeat Kuu and on the album, it really pops out of nowhere thanks to its boom-clap arrangement and her epic first line!  I feel like of all the songs on this album, this track feels like something she would’ve popped out around the “Kingdom” era and I love the kind of throwback feel it has.  I enjoyed this song a lot and has grown a lot more since the single’s release!!

8. Bangerang

It feels like Kuu is loving saxes on this album, but I’m not complaining because it’s an awesome instrument to include in songs.  Bangerang I thought was going to be upbeat but after the introduction, the song drops and because a slower, sexier track that has a bit more punch.  I do think it could’ve been a smidge faster, but the crawling arrangement and lead-up to the chorus is nice (if not a bit mechanical).  Nice track overall though!

9. Wicked Girls

The 4th and final track to get a PV, Wicked Girls caught me attention early with the groovy arrangement, but after going through the album, I feel like this song could’ve had some worked done with it, but the chorus really is sassy and Kuu just always knows how to give it the right amount of punch.  Though I do find it funny once again that Kuu’s Engrish has slightly gotten better, but not enough because it feels like she’s saying ~weakened girls~ or ~weekend girls~.  Still a fun club song to really lose yourself to.

10. Cupcake feat. AKLO

Kind of funny that it begins with a cat meowing, but the final track, Cupcake feels very trappy and more urban than other songs on the album.  Not sure how to feel about this one, but she can pull off this darker vibe of this song.  AKLO doesn’t sound half bad in his rap either, so I feel happy that I can enjoy this more.  Although, its funny as hell as this song is called Cupcake and just feels anything but sugary xD.  Though I’m more surprised it’s a little over 2 minutes…Short huh?

Tracks Recommended

  • Heartless
  • Shhh!
  • W FACE
  • insane
  • Wicked Girls

Song of Avoidance

  • Damn real

Not surprised that I was more impressed by outside!  I mean already from the fact that it was going to be mostly upbeat and cool songs from Kuu helped me into this one.  I mean all of the tracks were good (Damn real, was only on the bottom because its chorus was terrible…).  Honestly, this is a pretty cool album overall and Kuu has finally found something to latch on to. *RECOMMENDED*

As a dual release, was it necessary?  I mean altogether 20 tracks is nothing unheard of in Kuu land so I was surprised she’d pull a Beyoncé “I Am…Sasha Fierce” situation.  Like both albums though, this concept fell flat when half the album was amazing and the other was just a snoozefest.  I would actually recommend W FACE ~inside~ just for the more stronger output.

 

Koda Kumi – W FACE ~inside~

Filed under: Koda Kumi — solarblade @ 2:01 am

wfaceinside

Track Listing

  1. BRIDGET SONG
  2. Bring It On
  3. Yorokobi no Kakera
  4. Stand By You
  5. Sukideshite
  6. Kimi Omoi
  7. On My Way
  8. What’s Up
  9. Promise you
  10. My Fun

1. BRIDGET SONG

Opening the album up, Kuu brings us BRIDGET SONG (which was used as promotional material, for this half of this album).  Considering that Kuu loves to open with a banger on majority of her albums, it’s a surprise that BRIDGET SONG is anything but.  Instead of a booty popper, we have something that’s akin to her more poppier and softer songs that seem to be more album fodder.  I do enjoy the bright atmosphere of the song and the more acoustic/piano-laced arrangement is pleasant on the ears.  Still getting used to this being the opening, but it’s a nice introduction.

2. Bring It On

I was kind of expecting that Kuu do have split the albums between light pop songs and ballads and her more badass songs on “outside”, but it seems I was heavily wrong because Bring It On is quite the edgy rock track for Kuu to release.  It’s been a while since I’ve heard Kuu release something that has this much power and fierce attitude to it.  Makes me think of “FREAKY” and “Ningyo-hime” to “Can We Go Back”.  I thought this song was a surprise and strange coming after “BRIDGET SONG” to say the least.

3. Yorokobi no Kakera

Which is made even weirder that Yorokobi no Kakera , a ballad, would come right after.  Kuu’s 3rd track on the album really saps the energy from what was made from the previous track to give us a straight up piano/strings/a. guitar ballad.  Sadly, with an artist that has such a back catalog filled with many, many ballads it does feel like she’s just going for the flow here.  Sadly, this feels like a song she’s done MANY times before and it just doesn’t really stick out to me.

4. Stand By You

Yup, it gets even more quieter with our next track, Stand By You.  While it feels mostly the same instruments in its arrangement, the song feels more quieter and slow-driven in comparison to “Yorokobi no Kakera”.  A near 6 minute affair, Stand By You unlike the previous track feels like Kuu put a little more effort in her performance and I have to say she still sounds pristine and wonderful as a balladeer when she’s given a track that actually works in her favor.  I liked it quite a bit and the background vocals were a nice inclusion too…a much better-handled ballad!

5. Sukideshite

At least things don’t get into a crawl as we enter our next track, Sukideshite.  I do like the slight urban/jazzy feel of the song and it kind of retains the same light and fluffiness that “BRIDGET SONG” had funny enough.  I think whenever Kuu does cuter songs, they’re quite hit or miss a lot of the times.  Sukideshite is a case where it’s not an offensive track to listen to and makes for a nice easy listen.  Though I feel it runs in the middle between the greats and the not-so-greats cute songs Kuu has done.

6. Kimi Omoi

As the oldest track in the dual release, Kimi Omoi originally came from the “FEVER” limited release before “WALK OF MY LIFE” released.  Then it was a B-side off the “Shhh!” single where it was slightly updated for the single.  Not sure if I would’ve added it, but it’s technically the lone B-side released in the era, so it makes sense.  The song itself never caught on though and it’s apparent on this album that it’s just fluff for the album.  Kind of there, but not really allotting to much in the overall.

7. On My Way

Now I feel like majority of the album is ballads now and now makes a little more sense with the split dual release.  On My Way is at a weird middle where it’s a ballad, but it has a driving beat to push it along without it feeling dead.  I do like Kuu’s vocals in the song, but the track is a bit of a snoozefest sadly.

8. What’s Up

At least there’s another track that works to wake me up from the monotony and I wasn’t expecting a punk/pop sog ala Avril Lavigne-esque arrangement with gritty guitars and a heavy push of the drums involved.  Kuu actually sounds like she was having with this track and I approve as there wasn’t a lot on this disc.  It’s definitely a summer track and honestly it’s one of the better ones in her collection (much better than “Hashire!” that’s for sure).  What a fun song to come across!

9. Promise you

The only other song that was given a PV from this disc, Promise you was definitely chosen to represent the ballad of the 6 chosen to be given a PV.  It’s another simple ballad initially, but there’s a bit of a Kuu-esque groove to it to kind of give it more life.  At least the chorus is a bit more lively with more instrumentation giving it flow and color.  I can easily imagine this used in an encore in one of her tours for sure and I like the chants in it, maybe my favorite of the ballads on this album.

10. My Fun

The album ends off with My Fun and while I thought it was going to be more poppy and cute, My Fun is another light track, but funny enough has children involved (at least that’s what I think that is XD, but they’re WAY OFF the marker xD).  The song itself does get better the longer it goes on, but I feel My Fun is lacking a certain spark IMO, but I’m not sure how to make the song better either so, it’s a strange juxtaposition.

Tracks Recommended

  • What’s Up
  • Bring It On
  • Stand By You

Song of Avoidance

  • On My Way

Starting with the first half of the album, W FACE ~inside~ is a little bit weak on its own merits.  Despite having a couple upbeat songs to prevent it from being entirely a snoozefest, it wasn’t enough to completely rid of the z’s that it was creating on me.  I knew that it would be split this way, but I was happily surprised to see the top 2 tracks appear.  Overall, I wasn’t too impressed here, but let’s see how “outside” will fare!

 

Koda Kumi – Shhh! April 13, 2016

Filed under: Koda Kumi — solarblade @ 3:50 pm

shhh

Track Listing

  1. Shhh!
  2. Kimi Omoi

1. Shhh!

Wow, talk about opening differently than normal, it sounds like a song that belongs on “JAPONESQUE” and yet it has a sound that’s more akin to sounds from “Bon Voyage”, but I appreciate the kind of upbeat and fun atmosphere the tune brings.  Also Kuu sounds so good when she belts like she does.  It’s a funky song and it stuck to me quite nicely…impressive track, I just hope it makes the next album!

2. Kimi Omoi

The B-side however is something that isn’t new (actually it’s an older song from her “FEVER” live special release she released during “WALK OF MY LIFE”.  It seems that this song was actually edited a bit with some arrangement changes.  While I never thought the song stuck out because of how many other similar sounding songs she has, but I really like Kuu’s vocals here.  The changes didn’t exactly sway me and if I hadn’t read otherwise (and compare the two versions) I wouldn’t have even noticed.  Still it’s OK though.

 

 

Being a mu-mo/venue only single, I thought it was an interesting single.  While I know Kuu has released new songs since “WALK OF MY LIFE” with the “____ OF LOVE” compilations, it feels like forever since Kuu released something on a single.  Shhh! is a good song and I hope it makes her next album because it’s just that memorable.  Seeing Kimi Omoi again is just filler, but the small changes didn’t change my opinion of it in anyway sadly…let’s just hope she’ll actually release a full-on single!

 

Koda Kumi – WALK OF MY LIFE March 23, 2015

Filed under: Koda Kumi — solarblade @ 3:17 am

walkofmylife

Track Listing

  1. Introduction ~WALK OF MY LIFE~
  2. Dance In The Rain
  3. Lippy
  4. Mercedes
  5. Like It
  6. House Party
  7. Interlude ~Dance~
  8. HOTEL
  9. Gimme U
  10. You can keep up with me
  11. MONEY IN MY BAG
  12. PIECE OF THE PUZZLE
  13. Fake Tongue
  14. Sometimes Dreams Come True
  15. LIFE so GOOD!!
  16. WALK OF MY LIFE

1. Introduction ~WALK OF MY LIFE~

What is up with this intro?  That deep bass voice sounds so weird and muddled along the beat.  At least it doesn’t last very long before Kuu comes in and sings quite with a sass that I slightly enjoyed.  Weird that it’s just an intro piece, would’ve loved to see it stretched a bit more.

2. Dance In The Rain

At least it moves into something familiar, as the 2nd of the two singles she released for the album, Dance In The Rain is still a pretty awesome song and coming first on the album was going to try to set a tone for the album (which didn’t happen) but this song is still full of a lot of emotion and reminds me of Kuu in her early days.  Pretty much, awesome way to kick things off.

3. Lippy

I figured that this song could’ve came after the intro since the beat is a little more urban and Kuu is once again a sassy gal.  The arrangement is a bit too messy for my tastes with the laser-grinding synths that kind of just give you a headache.  Certain parts sound like something I’ve heard before, but hey what can I say.  Kumi doesn’t sound bad though, it’s the music that’s bothering me here.

4. Mercedes

Next up, Mercedes has a pretty cool old-fashioned kind of groove with the addition of brass and the style of attitude is just written all over it.  I will say it could’ve used a bit more of a foundation so I could feel as if it was full and awesome.  Still for what we got here, it wasn’t too reckless.

5. Like It

Didn’t I just listen to “Lippy?” why am I hearing something similar here with Like It?  Actually after the initial couple of seconds, I hear some interesting brass moments (like something Mexican?).  The bass is once again feeling slightly subdued like in “Mercedes”…wait…it’s basically the previous two tracks just meshed into one.  It’s a tad bit barren…especially for being one of the two promotional songs.

6. House Party

At least the bass really comes in with House Party and I’m already sighing for relief because this song has a lot of energy and Kuu is once showing a lot of this sassy attitude that I’m loving so far from her in the album.  I would’ve loved to have seen a PV from this instead of the last track since it’s so much fun.  Well, I could use less of the male rapper/singer here and the cheesiness of the ~the roof, the roof, the roof is on fire~ line.  Still, the song is probably the best so far of the new songs.

7. Interlude ~Dance~

So we reached the middle of the album and of course we get a minute break from the interlude and once again, it makes sense because it has the same kind of flow as the first half of the album.  The beat is pretty solid though and Kuu sounds good too…short though as expected.

8. HOTEL

With the album sounding so Western, HOTEL makes sense now, the low trumpet synths fills the headphones nicely, but I’m still not exactly feeling Kuu’s speak-singing the verses (felt flat to me) but the chorus is pretty nice and it melds so nicely as a package there, it’s just the verses that felt lackluster to me.  You can say I grew into liking this, but it still doesn’t beat out “Dance In The Rain”.

9. Gimme U

I kind of smiled that our next song felt like a continuation of “HOTEL” with less mmph to it.  I will say that even without that, the song still kind of sounds similar for some reason.  It’s a cuter song though overall which is nice, but I find VERY little that’s memorable because I instantly think of the previous track.

10. You can keep up with me

The next track is actually another short track (2:40).  You can keep up with me is pretty upbeat and has a bit more edge than a couple other songs from the album.  Kuu really pushes herself here where she’s yelling and having that aggressive punch to her vocals too.  It’s a solid song even if it is quite short overall.

11. MONEY IN MY BAG

As the only B-side to make the cut, I was surprised she chose this AND it’s shorter than “You can keep up with me” by a good 6 seconds.  Really, being from “HOTEL”, I really didn’t care for it then and its placement here on the album doesn’t really help its case because it’s still short and the smoky/slyness of the tune is already lost to other similar songs.

12. PIECE OF THE PUZZLE

Back to the new songs that fill the rest of the album, PIECE OF THE PUZZLE has a killer beat actually that I don’t feel that’s so overdone and cheap.  It could possibly because that this could’ve been a cool rock song.  Plus, all of the tongue rolling and everything from Kumi is just badass in the song.  Definitely a strong contender as favorite song from the album!

13. Fake Tongue

Sadly, that wall comes back and we’re back to reusing stuff to get by.  I will say at least Kuu’s vocal performance is really surprising on this album because it’s so gritty and powerful.  I do love how the chorus is so in your face and then it just cools off quickly and we’re back into the verses.  Edgy song overall, one of the standouts.

14. Sometimes Dreams Come True

I’m wondering if this was the kind of “WIND” we were going to get because it does sound happy, but it has beats and guitars so it’s not as girly as the aforementioned song.  I mean beyond that, the song is another that just flies over my head due to its forgetful chorus and the feeling that it’s all one-note (even though it isn’t).  Just not my kind of track.

15. LIFE so GOOD!!

The intro of the next track is so annoying haha!  If “Sometimes Dreams Come True” was to be the cute -in love- song, LIFE so GOOD!! feels like the summer song that would’ve worked moreso than “HOTEL” did to be honest.  The guitars are free-spirited as Kuu is also.  Why do I feel like it would’ve fit “3 SPLASH”? because it’s actually not so bad…one of the fun songs that isn’t too trite.

16. WALK OF MY LIFE

So the album ends with the other promotional song of the album and surprisingly enough it’s the ONLY ballad from this album which is a bit surprising.  Actually it’s not really a pure-ballad because the beats that prevail over all of the album is here too.  It’s a bit odd as the final track and the arrangement is trying to be upbeat but trying not to at the same time and it leaves me confused in the long run…odd.

Tracks Recommended

  • Dance In The Rain
  • PIECE OF THE PUZZLE
  • House Party
  • LIFE so GOOD!!
  • Fake Tongue

Song of Avoidance

  • Sometimes Dreams Come True

I loved “JAPONESQUE” and “Bon Voyage” that is for certain, but coming into WALK OF MY LIFE, all I came out with was a bit over-saturation here.  I’m not sure why, but this album was trying to be upbeat and fun, but I feel like she’s done SO MUCH BETTER without needing to over-use urban beats and such here.  Generic isn’t the word I’d use, but it felt like Kuu was phoning this album in.

 

Koda Kumi – Dance In The Rain February 19, 2015

Filed under: Koda Kumi — solarblade @ 6:07 pm

danceintherain

Track Listing

  1. Dance In The Rain
  2. Dance In The Rain (Instrumental)

1. Dance In The Rain

Being a Kuu fan has had its ups and downs, but luckily she really stepped it up for Dance In The Rain.  Initially I did think it was going to be an R&B ballad of sorts but I was quite wrong there!  The tune is something nice and Kumi really sounds amazing in this track for sure!  The arrangement has a nice solemn sound to it and with Kumi using a lot of her deeper tones to add that emotional spark was just impressive.  The chorus though is so catchy and really strong for sure…Yeah, impressed with this one a lot more than anything from “HOTEL” that’s for sure.

 

 

Releasing this single as a fanclub single (something avex has been doing recently) and I was sad that the single would be lacking in content, but Dance In The Rain is an impressive song for Kumi, just because it is something different and not stretching her genres thin like she sometimes does.  I am happy it’ll be on her upcoming album at least!

 

Koda Kumi – FEVER KODA KUMI LEGEND LIVE September 2, 2014

Filed under: Koda Kumi — solarblade @ 5:48 am

fever

Track Listing

  1. SO FEVER
  2. Cutie Honey
  3. Butterfly
  4. Kimi Omoi
  5. you
  6. Koishikute
  7. NEVER GIVE IT UP

1. SO FEVER

This mini, opens with a song that eerilly reminds me of one of Kuu’s older songs, “Get It On” with the kind of Indian vibe mixed in with her ero-kakkoi style.  I kind of dug it because Kuu sounds into it and exudes such a sexy atmosphere and the arrangement is just as slithering and sexy.  Though for some reason, I thought there’d be more to it and a stronger arrangement, but I still liked the feel the track brought.  Maybe a little more bass would’ve made it a stronger song, but it’s solid overall.

2. Cutie Honey

Man, how many time do I have to review this song?  From her “LOVE & HONEY” single, Cutie Honey is a cover of course of a classic theme and she brought a groovy style to the tune that I instantly fell in love with.  Of course this was like the second song that I fell in love with (“real Emotion” was the first”).  This song is just a cool song and it’s easy to see why it’s one of her most popular songs even to this day (figures why it’s on the mini in the first place).

3. Butterfly

Funny that this is after since they were released around the same time frame.  It also has a certain jazzy tone and almost sounds like a clone to “Cutie Honey” with the string bass love and almost similar melody.  This one definitely caught my attention because of Kuu’s smoky alto vocals that just wooed me throughout.  Still, there’s just no way that people couldn’t say this sounds like the previous track in SOME way.  Cool song though, has a lot of cool elements to it.

4. Kimi Omoi

Then the mini goes into straight ballads starting with the only new one, Kimi Omoi.  I’ve said this MANY, MANY times, but once you heard one Kuu ballad, you’ve heard majority of them and this one is no different.  It’s a pretty basic ballad from her utilizing the typical instrumentation.  Also, Kuu sounds really pleasant so there’s really not much else to say, but it you’re a fan of her slower works then you’ll be fine.

5. you

At least you isn’t a total snoozefest.  It’s more in the range of her R&B ballads which does set itself apart from “Kimi Omoi” and “Koishikute” at the least.  It’s still the normal shtick with extra bass synths and more piano involved.  There’s not much to really say here, but I did enjoy this song quite a bit back then and even now.

6. Koishikute

One of her more recent ballads, Koishikute comes in with a more dramatic arrangement than either of the previous two tracks and I liked that about this song.  Being the lone ballad from the “Bon Voyage” era, I think it managed to stick on me in a good way because the arrangement is beautiful and Kuu sounds really good here.  Definitely the best of the three ballads on the mini-album.

7. NEVER GIVE IT UP

Closing out the mini is the final new track.  It’s funny because it doesn’t sound like a dance track nor a ballad XD.  Actually it’s an upbeat rock track and Kuu’s past endeavors in the genre have been met with mixed opinions.  With NEVER GIVE IT UP actually sounds great and Kuu sounds right pulling this off…that’s a first!  My only qualm is that it is shorter than 3 minutes and honestly it could’ve been better longer.  Not bad!

 

 

This was such a random release!  Being a special CD release (some say the new songs were tied to Pachinko) makes this such an odd release.  Even at that, the new tracks got PVs too!  To be honest, for the most part I actually enjoyed these songs more than the stuff from “HOTEL”.  NEVER GIVE IT UP is probably my favorite of the single with SO FEVER behind and Kimi Omoi in the back.  I’m not sure why the other 4 songs were included (especially 3/4 were around the “BEST ~second session~” time…not sure what the meaning of this was…I wonder if the 3 will be included on her next album as well…

 

Koda Kumi – HOTEL August 6, 2014

Filed under: Koda Kumi — solarblade @ 8:27 am

hotel

Track Listing

  1. Introduction ~Check IN~
  2. HOTEL
  3. Interlude ~Secret Room~
  4. MONEY IN MY BAG
  5. Interlude ~Last Night Dream~
  6. TURN AROUND

1. Introduction ~Check IN~

So kicking off Kuu’s annual summer single, we get an introduction with a cheesy ass hotel manager bringing us to “Kumi’s hotel” and telling us to enjoy our time and all that typical stuff.  Plus showing to us our room and calling us perfect…lord Kuu, why do you keep doing this?

2. HOTEL

As the leading song, HOTEL was such an odd song for me to get into.  It seems to have this Western groove going on and has such an interesting sound to it which sounds quite original to me.  A lot of the time Kuu isn’t really singing in the verses as she’s kind of speak-singing it through otherwise she gives a pretty good vocal performance.  I’m not entirely sure how this song stacks because while it’s upbeat there’s not much of a melody to remember IMO.  Let’s hope the other songs fare better!

3. Interlude ~Secret Room~

So the interlude of the single has a cool beat to it and it sounds like people just chillin around before the beat takes over and gets pretty cool before money is dropped and we’re shoved off to our next song…

4. MONEY IN MY BAG

Funny that the money dropping led into our first B-side, MONEY IN MY BAG and it’s another heavy track that kind of takes from “HOTEL’s” book.  Being a little more edgy, this song brings back Kuu’s unshamefully use of the ~bring bring~ fail.  I also wasn’t expecting the song to be a little under 2:30 in length…feels like it was just thrown in one sitting.  At least I can say I remember the chorus of the song…definitely catchy.

5. Interlude ~Last Night Dream~

The final interlude begins with knocking and there’s room service and saying that Kuu personally sent champagne before the guy wishes for the listener to come back and wishing for a good last night…meh…

6. TURN AROUND

Leading into our final track, TURN AROUND is surprisingly the ballad of the single, but something familiar to older Kuu fans as it reminds me of her early days.  As in this is an R&B track!  Ironically, it’s the best track from the single as Kuu sounds pleasant and the tune is refreshing.  Might not be the BEST of these kind of tracks, but with how unimpressed I am with this single.

 

 

I really am getting tired of these summer singles with these unnecessary interlude tracks…they really cheese things up for the singles.  HOTEL is pretty meh of a single because I just couldn’t get into HOTEL and MONEY IN MY BAG.  The only relatively good song is TURN AROUND, but it’s because it’s just the oddball song of the single and Kuu is actually fully singing.  I don’t know, but I’m not into this single.