Kurayami Monogatari

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Mika Nakashima – REAL February 6, 2013

Filed under: Mika Nakashima — solarblade @ 10:48 am

real

Track Listing

  1. Hatsukoi
  2. DEAR
  3. Ashita Sekai ga Owaru Nara
  4. PASSION
  5. You Knocked Me Out
  6. LOVE IS ECSTASY
  7. BE REAL
  8. SUPER WOMAN
  9. SUPREME
  10. Pierce
  11. Kioku
  12. Epilogue
  13. LETTER

1. Hatsukoi

Interesting that Mika would kick things off with quite a lot of old stuff lol.  Anyways, REAL opens with the last single released, Hatsukoi an I’m still trying to enjoy the song but I’m still kind of turned off by all those high notes she tries to pull and epicly fails.  It was seriously a hard listen to get through, she could’ve placed this somewhere else and I would’ve at least enjoyed it somewhat more…no not really, this song was a HARD listen.

2. DEAR

I was kind of surprised she stuck the ballad A-sides altogether in the front of the album, DEAR was the first of them released and I must say after the vocal crap out of “Hatsukoi”, this was actually a step up even though I’m still not the biggest fan of it because it sounds like many of the countless other ballads she’s done!

3. Ashita Sekai ga Owaru Nara

So we enter the Resident Evil ballad, Ashita Sekai ga Owaru Nara and it really flushes the previous two tracks down the train because it seriously is such a chilling, yet beautiful ballad from Mika.  Her voice isn’t crappy and she puts such painful emotion into this track.  I was completely blown away by this track and that hasn’t happen since “ORION” which says something right?  Definitely a favorite of mine here!

4. PASSION

We finally get our first new track in PASSION and it’s definitely there to kind of bridge into the more experimentive side to Mika even though it’s quite jarring coming after the last track haha.  The song itself is a bit more funk/rock which is nice but with the next track, this kind of seems a bit simple for me.

5. You Knocked Me Out

You Knocked Me Out (the B-side from “LOVE IS ECSTASY”) stood out to me more because it’s got a lot of English and it’s rather catchy, especially that chorus…I keep on humming that a lot whenever I hear the song once so that’s why I felt this was a lot more complete of a song than “PASSION”.

6. LOVE IS ECSTASY

I gotta admit, LOVE IS ECSTASY is probably her edgiest track she’s had since “VOICE” and seeing her return with something as strong as this track surprised, especially since it was the second A-side released for the era.  I kind of like Mika’s rough vocals in this track as it adds scruff and a certain quality that I just enjoyed lol.  It does though kind of sound like a song that would be a tad difficult to sing live, but damn this was a good song!

7. BE REAL

Back to new songs, BE REAL is the title track and boy did it kind of had the synth beats that I really enjoyed with stuff like “FOCUS” and “LONELY STAR” so it’s that dance track for the album.  Nothing bad to really say because there’s just really nothing TO say about it lol.  It’s one of the better new tracks to come from the album.

8. SUPER WOMAN

I almost forgot that SUPER WOMAN was already released back on “Ashita Sekai ga Owaru Nara” but this song is kind of different in a way.  It has a mysterious, yet sultry flow like “GAME” did, but this has a bit more funk involved.  It’s pretty nifty and definitely suited the album!

9. SUPREME

Oh hi Mika whatcha doing doowop for?  When I started the song, it really sent me back to the olden days when these songs were huge.  This song is just adorable and it even sounds like Mika had a pretty good time recording this track.  The only conplaint I really had was the whole ~ayyyeeeeayyeeeeeayyyeeee~ that was going on…that was bloody annoying, but the rest of the song is just charming for sure.

10. Pierce

Looks like the final stretch of songs bring things back down to a slower level starting with Pierce.  To me it feels more like a mid-tempo because it’s got a slow jam tone with the little bits of brass and the bongo drums.  It does kind of remind me of “DEAR” for some reason, but I’m quite alright with that since this sounds a LOT more memorable to me.

11. Kioku

“Hatsukoi”s B-side comes next and unfortunately is probably my least favorite of the B-sides because I could not remember one small thing about this track then, and now it’s here and I still have trouble remembering how it goes.  It still does have a Winter theme going, but it could just be me that thinks it.  Basically, Kioku is that background fodder that phases out for me.

12. Epilogue

Strange that the album doesn’t end with this track even though the name is Epilogue xD.  I love the jazzy backdrop for the song and still to this day, works wonders when combined with Mika’s smoky vocals.  It’s sappy but pleasant in a way, but seriously should have closed the album.

13. LETTER

The album actually closes with LETTER which tones it down even further by making it a piano/acoustic affair.  I suppose it was an appropriate way to end the album but they could’ve called this “Epilogue” you know…because it makes SENSE.  The song is pretty much basic the entire time, Mika sounds nice the music is pretty…not my kind of ballad, but it ends the album on a good note.

Tracks Recommended

  • Ashita Sekai ga Owaru Nara
  • You Knocked Me Out
  • BE REAL
  • SUPREME
  • Pierce

Song of Avoidance

  • Hatsukoi

It’s been a while, but Mika finally made an album that actually had a bunch of new material!  I think she got it right with REAL even though it’s a bit more tame and to the books than “STAR” before it.  I will say I didn’t feel so polarized than I did with the last album which is good.  REAL got a lot of good A-sides, B-sides and even album tracks with a couple of disappointments.  Not bad Mika, not bad.

 

Mika Nakashima – Hatsukoi December 4, 2012

Filed under: Mika Nakashima — solarblade @ 4:33 am

hatsukoi

Track Listing

  1. Hatsukoi
  2. Kioku
  3. Ashita Sekai ga Owaru Nara -World’s End Ver.-
  4. Hatsukoi (Instrumental)

1. Hatsukoi

In recent times, I haven’t been the biggest fan of Mika’s ballads (simply because she was doing too many weak ones for me to really take notice).  She tries to interest me with Hatsukoi and somehow I feel like I really enjoyed the song despite that its really nothing much.  Though my biggest complaint is Mika herself because she’s singing in a higher register and she just can’t pull off those notes very well…it’s very thin and pitchy all in one.  I like the arrangement, but if I wanted that, I’d listen to the instrumental.  Mika’s vocalwork, is just icky here.

2. Kioku

I kind of hoped that the B-side would’ve been the upbeat song, but it seems that Kioku is the kind of holiday track Mika would release.  I don’t find the arrangement to be as intriguing as “Hatsukoi’s” for obvious reasons, but once again the fault here is Mika’s need to try for high notes that she can’t hit…It’s OK, but it’s definitely in the lower spectrum of her ballads that I enjoy.

3. Ashita Sekai ga Owaru Nara ~World End’s Ver.~

So the single ends off with a new version of Ashita Sekai ga Owaru Nara and for the changes it had, they were continuing to make the song sound very dark and haunting which I feel it succeeded in keeping with this new version.  The original had less sound whereas this new version filled the background with a haunting fluff that makes the song a bit more creepier?  I don’t know but this is really nice and it’s a toss-up to as whether I like this more than the original.

 

 

Closing out the “REAL” era, Hatsukoi is probably my least favorite of the four singles she’s released.  There’s just something about both Hatsukoi and Kioku that doesn’t seem to work well and this time I think it’s mostly Mika’s vocals that turned me off this time.  I mean she’s done songs with high notes, but none that annoyed me until now…The single only really was kept afloat by the new version of Ashita Sekai ga Owaru Nara since it’s creepy and cool and Mika sounds amazing in that.  With the album coming up I’m excited for the prospect of a bunch of new tracks (hopefully)!

 

Mika Nakashima – Ashita Sekai ga Owaru Nara September 17, 2012

Filed under: Mika Nakashima — solarblade @ 1:51 am

Track Listing

  1. Ashita Sekai ga Owaru Nara
  2. SUPER WOMAN
  3. Dear -DJ AMIGA REMIX-
  4. Ashita Sekai ga Owaru Nara (Instrumental)

1. Ashita Sekai ga Owaru Nara

Pretty awesome to see Mika lending a song to the Resident Evil franchise of movies ^_^.  Though I wasn’t sure what to expect, the song is a ballad and suited because it’s an ending theme.  However, this is ballad that I’ve fallen for quite strongly.  It’s dark and gloomy, but also dramatic in a way which all rolled up in a nice package with one of Mika’s strongest vocal performances.  I haven’t been this impressed for quite a while so I’m happy this is here!

2. SUPER WOMAN

The first thing I thought of when SUPER WOMAN started was “CANDY GIRL” because it has this sly and soulful charge but at the same time, it’s playful and cool and once again has some pretty strong vocals from Mika.  I like it and definitely sounds stronger than the mentioned song.

3. Dear -DJ AMIGA REMIX-

So we have a remix of Dear which was a couple of singles ago and when I heard this I immediately thought of the “Over Load” remix from that single.  The difference is is that this was originally a ballad and it was taken up to this island-friendly latin mid-tempo.  I don’t remember Dear much to begin with, but I was happy they they made it more bright and upbeat.  Kind of basic, but not bad for a remix.

 

 

After the rather strange “LOVE IS ECSTASY”, she took more time of and started to do more acting (recently for the Resident Movie this A-side is tied to).  Coming backm she released a really solid ballad in Ashita Sekai ga Owaru Nara and definitely stands as one of her better songs in recent times.  SUPER WOMAN is good too and definitely sounds a lot more cooler as a sultry song than “CANDY GIRL”.  The Dear remix is OK, but nothing amazing.  Overall, I liked this single a lot more than a good portion of her previous ones!

 

Mika Nakashima – LOVE IS ECSTASY September 13, 2011

Filed under: Mika Nakashima — solarblade @ 5:27 pm

Track Listing

  1. LOVE IS ECSTASY
  2. You Knocked Me Out
  3. LOVE IS ECSTASY (Instrumental)
  4. You Knocked Me Out (Instrumental)

1. LOVE IS ECSTASY

Mika has been in a rather blah place since “Over Load” and it took her this long to return into something that’s actually has energy and force in it with LOVE LIKE ECSTACY.  We all thought that she’d left her rock-side back with her NANA stuff…but simce then she’s surprised us with her MICA3CHU single and now this song which is quite gritty and a little synthy as well.  I will say that her voice still doesn’t feel comfortable in such a setting and that might turn people off…but c’mon after all those ballad A-sides…I think we deserved a song like this and it’s better than I thought it’d be.

2. You Knocked Me Out

Even the B-side has an arrangement that’s more rock-based but it’s a little more like “conFusiOn” (B-side from “SAKURA ~Hanagasumi~”) in the way that it’s pop/rock but strangely done.  It’s kind of fun to listen to and the chorus is catchy.  I think vocally it’s a little more safer than “LOVE IS ECSTASY”.  Interesting B-side I’d say.

 

 

Mika’s second entry for the era took Mika back into a style she rarely dabbles in these days and while I still think her NANA stuff is still better this isn’t bad.  LOVE IS ECSTASY reminds me of Anna Tsuchiya’s latest stuff but with Mika’s vocals instead and that’s good…but doesn’t fit her voice well.  You Knocked Me Out however did and that made the song for me even though it is like “conFusiOn” in a way.  Alright single and much memorable than “Dear” was.

 

Mika Nakashima – Dear April 26, 2011

Filed under: Mika Nakashima — solarblade @ 8:11 pm

Track Listing

  1. Dear
  2. A MIRACLE FOR YOU (2011)
  3. Dear (Instrumental)
  4. A MIRACLE FOR YOU (2011) (Instrumental)

1. Dear

It has been a little while since Mika has released “STAR” and she did say she was taking a break from music because of illness.  Anyways back to the main song on the single, Dear is unfortunately (for me) another ballad from Mika.  I do like that instead of before this time she opted for a more guitar-ladened arrangement and it was a nice change after the last few singles.  Her vocals sound better than it did as well which is a good sign for sure.  Still, I want something different from a ballad next time.

2. A MIRACLE FOR YOU (2011)

As it was the final track off of Mika’s debut album “TRUE”, A MIRACLE FOR YOU was revamped as the B-side of this single.  I don’t remember much of it when I reviewed it but I do remember that there was a pretty interesting gospel kind of feel with it.  It’s nice to see that Mika resang that song and that there’s no extra vocals present as well.  It’s a more bare-boned revision, but it’s nice.

I’m prolly going to be biased but I’m kind of getting tired of Mika ballads right now since the last few haven’t been really all that great in memory and such.  Dear does try to switch the normal ballad formula by being more acoustically guitar-based, but it’s a ballad through and through.  I did like Mika’s vocals though and it continued to the revision of A MIRACLE FOR YOU.  The B-side was a nice treat, but took out a lot of what made the original nice to listen to…it’s ok I guess, but nothing jaw-dropping.

 

Mika Nakashima – STAR October 27, 2010

Filed under: Mika Nakashima — solarblade @ 12:47 am

Track Listing

  1. ALWAYS
  2. Ichiban Kirei na Watashi wo
  3. BABY BABY BABY
  4. Over Load
  5. GAME
  6. SMILEY
  7. CANDY GIRL
  8. LONELY STAR
  9. No Answer
  10. SPIRAL
  11. Memory feat. DAISHI DANCE
  12. 16
  13. Nagareboshi
  14. SONG FOR A WISH

1. ALWAYS

You know after an era of tons of ballads, ALWAYS for me is probably not such a good start to the album.  I mean of course we get the smoky vocals from Mika and such, but that’s really it.  I mean the piano/strings combination is kind of bland and especially with “Ichiban Kirei na Watashi wo” and “Nagareboshi” also being A-sides, this seemed poor and forgettable.

2. Ichiban Kirei na Watashi wo

Which is kind of poor placing this song right after “ALWAYS”.  For me, the ballads of the era has been mostly misses for me and this one misses the mark simply because there just wasn’t anything for me to stick to.  I did like that it was a bit more brighter and had more things going on than the last song, but it still is kind of underwhelming.

3. BABY BABY BABY

At least one of the B-sides from “ALWAYS” made a good enough change to the previous two blah ballads by making this a bit jazzy and with some sitar added along as well.  While I couldn’t remember the song since the single review, I’m surprised this song didn’t take over til now and I ended up actually liking the song all over.  It’s one of the best vocally sung tracks off the album TBH.

4. Over Load

After we get out of the ballads, we get into our poppish songs and there’s a bunch of them starting with the A-side that began the era.  Just like “BABY BABY BABY”, I ended up forgetting how the song went in the first place, but I was happy the song brought the tempo up because I was slowly getting bored of the ballads.  I do think it does rather pale to her older poppy songs, but I’m happy she went back to this style since it’s been a while since we’ve gotten a “cute” song from Mika. 

5. GAME

*record scratch*…Wait, what is GAME doing on this album?  If you don’t know, the song was originally the only new track found of the “NO MORE RULES.” compilation album and that was before the release of “Over Load” as well.  Who’s complaining though?  I actually loved the song because it’s so upbeat and funky and just full of spunk and spice that it’s hard not to like it.  Mika’s vocals are very sexy and fit the atmosphere the song gave off.  Loved this!

6. SMILEY

I still can’t get over that laugh at the start since it so rings “Rocking Horse” from here.  Just like “GAME”, SMILEY has a pretty smoky atmosphere that’s filled with brass and funky bass lines.  Her vocals oddly sound more clear than before, but some of the high notes she hit are a bit weird sounding.  I don’t know why I bashed it on the “CANDY GIRL” review..but I think it was because the same instruments were used in both songs x.x

7. CANDY GIRL

Which is unfortunate because CANDY GIRL is right after.  I loved the brass opening for the song, but for me the song sort of failed because, it’s the first time where I think a Mika song is too repetitive and focused more on the backups than Mika herself which is stupid.  I do think it does have a nice groove to it, but I wished Mika had redone it to where she was singing more and less repetition.

8. LONELY STAR

Wow only two brand new songs on the album?  (“SONG FOR A WISH” was a digital release).  LONELY STAR I guess starts up the synth songs up and I was surprised at this one.  I mean I know she’s great under this style like “FOCUS” and DAISHI DANCE version of “SAKURA ~Hanagasumi~”.  The beat though is heavier and definitely set in the dance/pop style and I enjoyed this quite a bit.  Maybe the verses are a bit off since Mika’s vocals are filtered, but this is still a sweet song nonetheless.

9. No Answer

Being the B-side from “Over Load”, No Answer follows “LONELY STAR” quite closely, but this is more lighter and focuses on the strings and piano than the beat that’s going on.  While since the single my enjoyment of the song has lessened a bit, it’s not bad, but it’s just feels rather plain since it’s between two stronger dance tracks.

10. SPIRAL

SPIRAL is definitely the sequel to “FOCUS” there is no doubt about it since both song kind of start up similarly except SPIRAL isn’t fused with jazz to make a good combination.  It has its own style and flow which is great, but this song has gotten on my nerves as of recent.  It’s the whole chorus where she butchers the ~spiral~ by hitting these pitchy high notes that bug me.  If it wasn’t because of that, I’d say it was the best damn song on the album.

11. Memory feat. DAISHI DANCE

Wow, they actually decided to include Memory to the album (if you don’t know this song was on “Nagareboshi” and was on DAISHI DANCE’s album “spectacle.”.  For me the inclusion is both good which meant she did include every non-remixed song of the era on the album, but on the bad side, this song is a tad too long for me.  It does share a lot with “SAKURA ~Hanagasumi~” for sure, but being almost 7 minutes is a bit much for me.  I loved her vocals since they were so pretty in the arrangement and the harmonizations were just tight.  I liked this…but I would’ve enjoyed an album version of it at least.

12. 16

Since the last three songs are ballads, we’d have to get the other new song out of the way huh?  Of the ballads on the album, 16 seems to be the most basic of them, but also the calmest of the bunch which doesn’t force Mika to get soooo dramatic.  I think it’s probably the best ballad off the album and that’s coming from so many strings/piano based ones from the album.

13. Nagareboshi

Yeah, this is what I mean by forgettable.  At the time, Nagareboshi came off as really sweetly done and pretty, that is until the singles after it were basically carbon copies of one another and I lost interest in this song.  While it isn’t my favorite A-side of the era anymore, I think it’s the best of the piano/strings ballads.

14. SONG FOR A WISH

Closing the album off, is the only digital release of the era.  SONG FOR A WISH begins nicely enough with piano and cello before Mika starts singing.  I do like when she sings in a quieter tone since her voice sounds right for ballads.  Might be a little too blah for some people, but I think it did quite nicely closing up the album.

Tracks Recommended

  • GAME
  • LONELY STAR
  • BABY BABY BABY
  • 16
  • SPIRAL

Song of Avoidance

  • ALWAYS

Why is that Mika’s studio albums feel like friggin best-ofs.  I swear this has been her poorest era since her debut with such bad choices in A-sides.  Also we the huge amount of B-sides there was just no reason for lazying up and essentially leaving us with ONLY two new songs.  Either way though, those two songs were great LOL.  I don’t know, but “VOICE” runs circles round this album…and it’s a good idea that Mika is taking a hiatus for the time being.

 

Mika Nakashima – Seppun September 22, 2010

Filed under: Mika Nakashima — solarblade @ 1:10 am

Track Listing

  1. Seppun
  2. Seppun (Yard Style mix)
  3. Seppun (Dennis Bovell Lovers Dub #2)
  4. Seppun (Instrumental)

1. Seppun

For the first time, that isn’t a remix…Seppin is Mika’s first dabble into reggae and Seppun is a perfect example of how Mika sounds perfect in a style because this song is gorgeous and takes me to a new place.  The only thing that bothered me was that it got such a weird PV (molting…really Mika?)  Still, I can’t deny that the song was still such a breezy and pretty tune from her.  You have to listen to this because Mika’s vocals just fit the song like a puzzle piece.  Very sweet song!

2. Seppun (Yard Style mix)

For the first remix, I didn’t notice what was so different from this and the original because they still carry the same reggae style, but as time went on, I heard some synth/flute w/e thing that wasn’t a part of the original track.  Also the strings are missing from the remix as well giving this a more emptier sound.  It’s not bad, but it’s a very lazy remix.

3. Seppun (Dennis Bovell Lovers Dub #2)

As for the other remix, you might as well just pass this up because it’s terrible and horribly made.  It feels like the dude just added way too much echoes and the song feels so messed up that it makes me wanna punch this Bovell dude.  What the fuck were you thinking when doing this…travesty (and that’s putting it lightly).

 

 

I definitely still think Seppun is one of Mika’s best A-sides in her first three eras.  The fact that it’s a reggae tune is so beyond me, but she’s perfect for this style and it shows with later releases, “MY SUGAR CAT” and “Eien no Uta”.  There’s no doubting that Mika and reggae are like peanut butter and jelly.  The only thing bring the single itself down were the lazy and atrocious remixes of said song…SMH!