Kurayami Monogatari

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Maaya Sakamoto – More Than Words July 23, 2012

Filed under: Maaya Sakamoto — solarblade @ 8:44 am

Track Listing

  1. More Than Words
  2. Dekoboko March (Tairetsu wa Kimi ni Tsuzuku)
  3. Kinobori to Akai Skirt -Live Version-

1. More Than Words

After her Christmas-friendly mini-album, I was wondering what More Than Words would bring and it’s definitely different from her last couple of singles, that’s for sure.  Maaya begins singing under filters and it slowly gets lifted towards the chorus.  It’s got a strange atmosphere about it but it’s a slower song and I somehow liking it…a little unique to her styles which is nice ^_^

2. Dekoboko March (Tairetsu wa Kimi ni Tsuzuku)

I guess to take out the seriousness of the A-side out, we ended up with Dekoboko March and I just can’t seem to get behind it.  I mean the muffled arrangement against Maaya’s clear vocals were a stramge to me.  It also feels a bit too Disney-march for me and it just didn’t register as good on this single…

3. Kinobori to Akai Skirt -Live Version-

As a secret track to the single, we get a live version of Kinobori to Akai Skirt (a song originally from her album, “Lucy”.  I like the live version quite a bit.  It’s simple and Maaya’s vocals sound just right for this song! 

 

 

Maaya kicks a new era off with a rather strange single in More Than Words.  The A-side is unusual but it’s mysterious and really pretty of a song when you listen to Maaya’s airy vocals.  Then came Dekoboko March and just kind of ruined things for me.  I think it’s a bit too childish and not right for her and made me wonder why it was made.  At least she put on a little surprise with the live version of her past song.  Strange single indeed but the A-side was really good.

 

Maaya Sakamoto – Driving in the silence November 9, 2011

Filed under: Maaya Sakamoto — solarblade @ 3:32 am

Track Listing

  1. Driving in the silence
  2. Sayonara Santa
  3. Melt the snow in me
  4. homemade christmas
  5. Kotoshi Ichiban
  6. Tatoeba Ringo ga Te ni Ochiru You ni
  7. Kyokuya
  8. Chikai
  9. Driving in the silence -reprisel-

1. Driving in the silence

Opening the mini is Driving in the silence and like the title implies, it’s a quite little tune.  It does grow louder by the midway point of the song and Maaya sounds really pretty.  I was left wondering if it was classified as an introduction because of it’s time of 2:23, but it sounds like it could’ve been a full tune because it moved really nicely.  I’m so confuzzled by this song!

2. Sayonara Santa

As the promotional wheel for the mini, Sayonara Santa is seriously showing that this is pretty much an album based on the winter holidays.  I like that it’s relaxing yet upbeat with the beat being the thing that stands out the moment.  I will say that I enjoyed Maaya’s vocals in this song since they sound sincere and fits the atmosphere. 

3. Melt the snow in me

After the upbeat song in “Sayonara Santa”.  Melt the snow in me comes in with this rather dark and dreary atmosphere but at the same time it’s rather interesting to listen to.  Also, Maaya is singing in English which makes the lyrics understandable and she sounds good in said language.  It’s a rather unusual song in her repetoire but it’s very pretty and did a great job at catching my attention!

4. homemade christmas

The second song that references Christmas directly is kind of unusual as well!  I wasn’t expecting the song to be upbeat and have a lot of synths used throughout.  It’s kind of strange, but endearing as well since Maaya’s vocals fit once again.  I’m not sure how to describe the song, but it’s fresh and surprising.  I liked this song a lot!

5. Kotoshi Ichiban

It’s a little strange to go back and fourth between upbeat songs and ballads but whatever.  Kotoshi Ichiban’s arrangement has this rather Charlie Brown-ish flow which is sweet to listen to no doubt.  That being said as well, it moves just like one too and that’s very low-key and very slow so it did rather bore me in the end.  At least I can say that Maaya sounds strong doing ballads too!

6. Tatoeba Ringo ga Te ni Ochiru You ni

I thought the intro to our next song was a little funky at first because it was really only guitar and Maaya.  It kind of pretty much sounds like it was done literally live in a studio since it kind of does have the live-ish kind of sound.  I’d say it’s different and yet at the same time has a lot of charm behind and some people could argue it’s more of a cute song. 

7. Kyokuya

The next song on the mini, is a ballad but more along the lines of a rock ballad.  At first I kind of dismissed the song because like “Kotoshi Ichiban”, it was a bit of a slow burner.  After listening to it again, I can say it left a better mark than the other song and the movement of the song is different than anything else prior so that’s good. 

8. Chikai

As the final full song on the mini, Chikai contiunes what “Kyokuya” left off with but with less electric guitar bursts.  I kind of liking this ballad from Maaya since the chorus is the best thing of the song.  I’ll say though that I kind of forget the song overall which is a little weird saying that I liked it initially.  However, it ranks lower than most of the other songs.

9. Driving in the silence -reprisel-

The final song on the mini is an outro that carries the same vibes the original had.  However, there’s jingle bells and Maaya’s only lyrical contribution is repeating ~driving in the silence~.  A little unorthodox of a choice as an outro but whatever XD.

 

 

Would it have really killed Maaya to just include “Buddy” and “Okaerinasai” on this mini-album despite neither of the songs had anything to do with the holidays?  Driving in the silence was actually pretty good though for the most part.  The upbeat songs though were the true shiners though.  Some of the ballads worked though and of course there were some blah songs but overall this was a nice mini ^_^

 

Maaya Sakamoto – Okaerinasai October 25, 2011

Filed under: Maaya Sakamoto — solarblade @ 9:09 pm

Track Listing

  1. Okaerinasai
  2. A HAPPY NEW YEAR
  3. Okaerinasai (Instrumental)
  4. A HAPPY NEW YEAR (Instrumental)

1. Okaerinasai

Unlike the previous single, “Buddy”, Okaerinasai is a much lighter tune with that has strings, acoustic guitar, and light vocals from Maaya.  It’s a nice little breezy tune but a farcry if you were expecting a little more like her last A-side.  It’s just a real easy tune to make you smile and enjoy life (yeah, it’s one of those songs ^_^).  Nice tune!

2. A HAPPY NEW YEAR

The B-side though is actually a cover of Yumi Matsutoya’s old song.  It’s a simplistic kind of song for Maaya since she’s much lighter in vocals and the music is a little fairytale-like and almost wintry as well.  It’s a pretty-sounding cover though, but I don’t know if it was good to have been put after “Okaerinasai”.

 

 

I still find it very strange that Maaya would release a mini-album without putting “Buddy” nor this A-side on it.  Okaerinasai was quite a change from her last single but that’s ok because I also like Maaya’s more breezy pop kind of tunes and it’s a really sweet song.  A HAPPY NEW YEAR was a nice cover and it’s a little strange that it’s more winter than anything else lol.  Still, good single but I liked “Buddy” better.

 

Maaya Sakamoto – Buddy October 17, 2011

Filed under: Maaya Sakamoto — solarblade @ 6:44 pm

Track Listing

  1. Buddy
  2. something little
  3. Buddy (instrumental)
  4. something little (instrumental)

1. Buddy

I was definitely on board when I heard that School Food Punishment co-wrote Buddy and it really shows with this mixture of strings and synth elements and I thought it worked awesomely since Maaya’s vocals sound amazingly great with the arrangement.  Then again, I also find myself thinking that if I didn’t know this was Maaya, I would’ve totally called this a SFP tune.  I don’t have a problem with that though since it’s a strong arrangement…almost like “futuristic imagination”.  I’d say this was a great song for Maaya and SFP lol.

2. something little

I’m sure SFP didn’t have anything to do with the B-side and I thought it was a nice send-off after that burst of energy from “Buddy”.  To me this sounds like something that would’ve fit nicely on “You can’t catch me” since it’s light jazz-pop and I quite enjoyed how soft yet smooth Maaya sung this tune in comparison as well.  It might not as the glitz, but it’s bouncy piano melody and just relaxing vibes worked for me.

 

 

It’s a little strange that this single and her next one, “Okaerinasai” aren’t appearing on the mini-album but I’m sure there’s a reason for that.  Buddy was what I was imagining how it would sound like since she did work with SFP for this song and the overall sound was totally theirs but with a stronger set of vocals (no offense Yumi, but Maaya sounds better LOL).  something little brought a little jazz to the single and while that might come off as a little strange (both songs are a little unusual for her) it made a complete package and I really enjoyed this single fully ^_^

 

Maaya Sakamoto – Kazeyomi May 24, 2011

Filed under: Maaya Sakamoto — solarblade @ 7:10 am

Track Listing

  1. Vento
  2. Triangler
  3. Kazemachi Jet ~ kazeyomi edition
  4. Remedy
  5. Ame ga Furu
  6. Get No Satisfaction!
  7. Ao no Ether
  8. Shitsuren Cafe
  9. SONIC BOOM
  10. Peanuts
  11. Saigo no Kajitsu
  12. Colors
  13. Kazamidori
  14. Guitar Hiki ni Naritai na

1. Vento

Being the introduction track to Maaya’s album, Vento opens with an orchestral moment and it’s a really pretty melody to listen to.  I’m not sure what the melody of the song is (if there’s any) but it’s nice nonetheless.  After the midway point, Maaya starts to sing but there’s background vocals mixed in giving this strange ethereal feel through the mix of vocals.  Nice little intro.

2. Triangler

As the 3rd A-side, Triangler is a bit on the fence with me still for some reason.  The arrangement of the song is great and very nice to listen to, but Maaya’s vocals are just not together in this song as she hits these awkward notes in the chorus that it kind of turns me off.  Still, I love the pop/rock arrangement so it’s a bit of a love/hate kind of song for me.

3. Kazemachi Jet ~ kazeyomi edition

Being as Kazemachi Jet is an old ass song (released in 2006, Kazeyomi in 2009), it was kind of obvious it was going to be changed for the album.  The new version isn’t as cute and fluffy like the original replacing the keyboard in the original with violin.  I guess it makes better sense since it does sound like the music I’ve heard from Maaya prior to the album, but it feels like it lost it’s identity as the cute song.  Even Maaya resang the song and doesn’t sound as good as it once was…meh…I’ll take the original.

4. Remedy

After two old songs, we move into a new track and is the first rather slower songs on the album.  I find it weird that it does slightly remind me of “Magic Number” (even though that was released after).  It’s a nice mid-tempo track from Maaya has a lot of great things about it.

5. Ame ga Furu

As the 4th and last A-side of the era, Ame ga Furu was one of my favorites just a little under “Kazemachi Jet”.  It starts off mysterious and slow like it was going to be a ballad, but once you get into the track, it starts to change and explodes into a nice pop/rock track that sounds quite nice for Maaya.  Might not be powerful, but it does its job right.

6. Get No Satisfaction!

Getting into some new songs now starting with Get No Satisfaction! and it stands out for me since it’s pretty much pop/rock done so much better than her try with “Triangler”.  I love Maaya’s vocals and she clearly sounds like she’s having with the arrangement which does sound a bit anime-ish since it’s pop/rock with strings so you know what I mean right?!?  It’s pretty awesome overall, a quick favorite almost!

7. Ao no Ether

After that we needed a chill pill and Ao no Ether comes crawling in quite soothingly with a rather quiet atmosphere and arrangement which is only piano and the soft tones of Maaya’s pure and sweet vocals.  It’s a really pretty song as well giving many different emotions throughout and I like the parts where it seems sad but moves into a more content feeling.  I wouldn’t say I’d repeat on end, but it’s definitely a sweet and beautiful ballad from her.

8. Shitsuren Cafe

I love the jazzy sounds of Shitsuren Cafe going through my headphones after listening to something like “Ao no Ether” simply because this kind of makes things lively again without going overboard.  I guess it makes a nice thing being the jazzy tune and all, but it is weird that I feel this would’ve sound better if she had held it off until she released “You can’t catch me”?

9. SONIC BOOM

For a title like that being that big and stuff, I was expecting something along the lines of “Get No Satisfaction!”, but this is actually nice but not as amazing as said song.  It starts off like a mid-tempo acoustic song, but the chorus blares out (kind of like “Ame ga Furu”, but not as drastic).  It’s alright, but nothing too amazing and other songs surpass it.

10. Peanuts

With “Kazemachi Jet” losing it’s cute properties because of the new version of it, I guess Peanuts takes its place as the cute song and it’s friggin adorable of a song.  I love the plucked strings in the melody and after a while when the songs gets further in, it gets even more catchy by having a fun clapping rhythm added mixed with other things.  Ok, it’s one of my favorite songs on the album!

11. Saigo no Kajitsu

Second A-side comes up next and I must say, this was my favorite of the A-sides released because it has a nice buildup and good instruments mixed with a really nice performance from Maaya.  Later on with the jingle bells, it does feel like a winter song but still quite nice to listen to.  Still loving it despite how long I’ve had it on my iTunes XD

12. Colors

Getting into our last tracks which are all new, Colors is pretty when it opens.  It seriously feels totally different then all the other songs on the album.  I mean the whole ethereal sounding arrangement is beautiful as hell and the fact that Maaya is singing in English is a winner in my book and she sounds quite good.  Scratch “Peanuts”, this is the album’s best track for sure!!!

13. Kazamidori

After “Colors”, I was surprised that the next song was going to be slightly underwhelming, but not to this level because it’s like another “Saigo no Kajitsu” and “Remedy”.  That being said, it’s kind of unimpressive and doesn’t leave mark.  Though it does later when it was performed live and the track made it on “Magic Number”‘s tracklist.

14. Guitar Hiki ni Naritai na

As the album comes to a close, the final track is a three minute acoustic track.  Yeah, I could’ve guessed that well with a title like that but still.  It’s pretty basic of a song and it’s got a nice charm to it.  Pretty little tune and is a closing song.

Tracks Recommended

  • Colors
  • Peanuts
  • Get No Satisfaction!
  • Ao no Ether
  • Saigo no Kajitsu

Song of Avoidance

  • Kazemachi Jet ~ kazeyomi edition

Like I said in the “You can’t catch me” review, I said this was a nice album and it’s true and it’s still a little bit worse than her next release since a couple of the songs didn’t really interest me in the long run, but there’s quite a few songs that stood out which is so good.  I guess it was an alright single but her next album trumps this ^_^

 

Maaya Sakamoto – You can’t catch me January 19, 2011

Filed under: Maaya Sakamoto — solarblade @ 4:37 am

Track Listing

  1. eternal return
  2. Himitsu
  3. DOWN TOWN
  4. Utsukushii Hito
  5. Kimi no Sei
  6. Zero to Ichi
  7. Mizuumi
  8. stand up, girls!
  9. Mirai Chizu
  10. Moonlight (Mata wa “Kimi ga Nemuru Tame no Ongaku”)
  11. Tegami
  12. Topia

Bonus CD Tracklist

  1. everywhere -opening-
  2. Gift
  3. Hemisphere
  4. 0331 Medley feat. Yoko Kanno
  5. I.D.
  6. Magic Number feat. Syoko Suzuki
  7. everywhere -piano & vocal-

1. eternal return

Opening on a good now with the first song, eternal return definitely carries the “Kazeyomi” flow just right with it’s upbeat and breezy nature.  Add in that Maaya sounds just as good as she was before adds to the song.  I will say that this kind of makes me worried that the album will just be her last album again.  Who knows maybe it’s a poor start, but it’s a very good song otherwise.

2. Himitsu

Well, I just swallowed my pride for a bit.  Himitsu actually starts off with an interesting synth melody before the rest of the song enters.  I thought it was kind of different for her since it sounds a tad darker and the colors of the instruments and Maaya’s vocals made it 10 times more better.  It’s almost out of the world on how it was presented.  I kind of enjoyed it more than “eternal return”.

3. DOWN TOWN

Thank god she included this song over the secondary A-side.  I thought adding DOWN TOWN would add a little spice to the album and it’s a good thing too because it actually does so.  While it is a cover of SUGAR BABE’s track, Maaya made it so much more better and jazzier and catchy in the most awesome of ways.  It’s still quite the cute song of recent days, but I thought it suited her fine.  Such a good A-side!

4. Utsukushii Hito

As the lone digital single release for the era, Utsukushii Hito continues this line of surprises on the album.  This time around, it feels like a traditional kind of ballad with little bit’s of flute and JPN-like instruments to make it a bit more ethnic.  I’m surprised she didn’t release this physically because it’s one of the album’s more powerful songs!

5. Kimi no Sei

After three songs of pure experimentation, Kimi no Sei bring us back to what Maaya is pretty much known for and it’s the more anime-like pop songs with strings and acoustic guitars.  I’m not saying it’s bad or anything, but it’s among the typical Maaya songs out there, so it might favor for the people that loved her since her debut. 

6. Zero to Ichi

Slowing things down again for our next song, Zero to Ichi is quite a pleasant listen to the ears for sure.  Being the second ballad on the album, it’s the most simplest so far and it does a better job at showing off Maaya’s vocals despite hearing places where she’s shaky, but she keeps it at a comfortable level.  It might be the strongest, but it’s nice and simple.

7. Mizuumi

Oh hey, another kind of experimental song on the album.  Mizuumi begins with this kind of beeping melody that stays throughout the song while Maaya sings along with that and some piano and light percussion.  That being said, it’s another ballad.  To me it has less oomph than “Zero to Ichi” and “Utsukushii Hito” did and it kind of passes over my head after a while.  I mean it gets stronger, but then it feels plain and boring.

8. stand up, girls!

Ahhh, we’re getting out of the ballad zone for some interesting songs.  stand up, girls! to me sounds like it would sound great if it was released in the 50’s since it has the doo-bee-wop kind of thing going on and it’s just simple and if I’m correct, she sample various oldies songs for this one so it has a lot of things going for it and it’s just so damn goody.  It could be the most catchiest thing from her on this album!  LOVE IT!

9. Mirai Chizu

Of course synths are always welcome to songs and Mirai Chizu opens up strongly with em, but it also seems it’s like it’s there to spice up the song since it’s like a lot of “Kazeyomi”.  I mean I like the atmosphere no doubt, but it just sounds more of the same we’ve come to known from Maaya, but the synths are a nice touch though.

10. Moonlight (Mata wa “Kimi ga Nemuru Tame no Ongaku”)

To me, this song is kind of like the wintery song for me.  Moonlight has that kind of sleepy kind of mood going on and it’s god some pretty quiet vocals that still sound great in this kind of arrangement.  It just hits the soft spot in such a nice way and the solos with those woodwinds were adorable too.  Iono, it’s got a sense of retro, but in a strong way.  I liked it a lot.

11. Tegami

Being the shortest song off the album being a bit over 2 minutes, Tegami is more or less an acoustic track from Maaya.  I thought Maaya’s vocals fit more of the softer role in her songs and it showed quite strongly with “Moonlight” and now this song.  Sadly, it’s still short and while it does grow more instruments as time goes by…it makes me want more from this.

12. Topia

I think keeping up with the night time feel as we close the album, Topia actually gave me more of a night feel than “Moonlight” did.  It’s pleasant, very pretty with the strings arrangement and of course Maaya sounds lovely singing the song.  It closes the album on a good note IMO.

Tracks Recommended

  • stand up, girls!
  • DOWN TOWN
  • Utsukushii Hito
  • Himitsu
  • Moonlight (Mata wa “Kimi ga Nemuru Tame no Ongaku”)

Song of Avoidance

  • Mizuumi

Ok, so I know I didn’t review the second disc, but it’s essentially live cuts of songs with some being collaborations of course, but still.  I thought “Kazeyomi” was a pleasant album from Maaya, but You can’t catch me actually turned out a whole lot better that I thought it would.  The different styles on the album made it a strong album and she can fit any of them with ease.  There are a few songs that kind of reminded us of her older days, but this is a good album!

 

Maaya Sakamoto – DOWN TOWN/Yasashisa ni Tsutsumareta Nara October 21, 2010

Filed under: Maaya Sakamoto — solarblade @ 1:02 am

Track Listing

  1. DOWN TOWN
  2. Yasashisa ni Tsutsumareta Nara
  3. Kanashikute Yarikirenai
  4. DOWN TOWN (instrumental)
  5. Yasashisa ni Tsutsumareta Nara (instrumental)
  6. Kanashikute Yarikirenai (instrumental)

1. DOWN TOWN

Since this single is all about cover songs, DOWN TOWN is first up and I was kind of surprised how cute it came out.  I did like that it was pretty cute though and the whole brass sound with this happy-go-lucky yet complex arrangement really stood out for me.  I mean I didn’t know what to expect after the somewhat meh “Magic Number”, but this song is kind of quirky and imaginative and I liked it.  Even Maaya sounds lively and in a good place.  Great little jazzy tune.

2. Yasashisa ni Tsutsumareta Nara

As for the secondary B-side, Yasashisa ni Tsutsumareta Nara takes things a bit more lightly than “DOWN TOWN”, but I was definitely expecting this sound more since it’s simpler and has that whole “Kazeyomi” feel to it.  I do think it’s slightly better than “Magic Number” as well, but nothing like the song before it so it’s just alright for right now.

3. Kanashikute Yarikirenai

Going back to jazzy stuff with the only B-side, Kanashikute Yarikirenai is more of the sleeper song between “DOWN TOWN” and itself.  Of course, the main thing that stands out for me is Maaya’s soft vocals and they sound really beautiful for sure.  I just think it’s definitely B-side material however.

Since this single was all covers, I think for the most part she did well on this single and makes up for that slump of her last single.  While there is an album announced and some of the songs are shown, there’s nothing bout the songs from this single appearing…but I’m thinking that at least “DOWN TOWN” will make the cut.  Kind of plain of a single, but it’s a nice plain single.