Kurayami Monogatari

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Nana Mizuki – NEOGENE CREATION January 19, 2017

Filed under: Nana Mizuki — solarblade @ 7:03 am

neogenecreation

Track Listing

  1. Meguri Au Subete ni
  2. STAND UP!
  3. Please Download
  4. ALONE ARROWS
  5. TWIST&TIGER
  6. Rock Ride Riot
  7. Hatsukoi
  8. JEWEL
  9. UNLIMITED BEAT
  10. WAKE UP THE SOULS
  11. STARTING NOW!
  12. GLORIA
  13. RODEO COWGIRL
  14. Kimi yo Sakebe
  15. Zettaiteki Kofukuron

1. Meguri Au Subete ni

Opening the album, Nana usually opens with a very powerful song to kick things off and well I’m surprised that Meguri Au Subete ni isn’t the typical fast-paced epic song like “Avalon to Oukan” and “Glorious Break”.  Actually I’m more surprised she kick off NEOGENE CREATION with a ballad.  Well, a mid-tempo rock ballad.  I do like some elements of the track especially with the strings and guitarwork throughout.  Still, this is more of a song I’d expect in the middle of the album or at the end.

2. STAND UP!

I guess this is going to be a weird album because next up is STAND UP! with a celtic introduction which was something I wasn’t expecting.  I love that Nana sounds like she was having more fun with the song overall.  The tune itself feels slightly cluttered due to the smushing of lyrics in the verses, however, the chorus is a lot more straightforward.  I think the reason this song stuck on me is from the Celtic lines (and maybe the guitar solos too).  Interesting 2nd track.

3. Please Download

~Please download my secret message~…is really what kicks off our next track.  I’m already noticing the wild shifts through genres and we’re only on our 3rd track!  I was happy to hear Nana tackling electropop once again.  Despite not being as quick as I would hope it would’ve been, the computerized vocals and feeling of the track is interesting and gives us a small break from Nana’s strong and character-driven voice.  It’s a unique song on the album and as such, memorable to me!

4. ALONE ARROWS

I was expecting something like an anison track to come up soon on the album and ALONE ARROWS fits the bill to a T.  It has the chords of an opening theme on top of the moving strings and pop/rock sensibilities.  While I have to say these kind of songs from Nana are quite common and they all kind of meld together to a similar feel, I hate to say that ALONE ARROWS just didn’t stand out.

5. TWIST&TIGER

Then we hit TWIST&TIGER and I feel like it’s the retro-esque song of the album as it has a slightly jazzy feel due to the horns and funky riffs, but it also carries a lot of Nana’s powerful vocals.  I will say the chorus is a bit crazy and the drumming is a bit much, but the tune sounds familiar to another song of hers.  Interesting song though.

6. Rock Ride Riot

Despite not having more than one single on the album, I was hoping for that one edgy anison song that also has some dance elements somewhere.  Rock Ride Riot manages to fill in that void with having somewhat something that feels close to “Vitalization”.  I really love Nana’s performance in the track and the whole ~I know, I know, I know~ section is just really cool to hear.  My favorite song from the album right here!

7. Hatsukoi

After that piece of excitement, Hatsukoi strongs off quite powerfully with a rockin’ arrangement before slowing down to begin Nana’s run in the verses.  I do like some of the arrangement to be quite honest and it has a little Japanese flavor in it that really pulls me in and the guitar solo is pretty epic too.  However, the remainder of the song just doesn’t really speak to me.  It’s not a bad song though.

8. JEWEL

Our actual first ballad of the album, JEWEL gives us a break from the energetic songs with something a little more natural in arrangement.  While Nana has MANY ballads that topple over this track with ease, I feel like it was to be album fluff to break monotony from happening.  Just wasn’t something I was going to come back to after the review.

9. UNLIMITED BEAT

As one of the earliest album songs shown off, UNLIMITED BEAT seemed like it would’ve just been anison typical, but I feel like THIS was the song that should have opened the album because it’s heavy and really kicks the door down (especially after “JEWEL”).  The song is just so badass and Nana’s soaring vocals just paints the song in amazing colors!  Plus, it’s quite metal-like and I enjoyed the aspect of it.  Great song!

10. WAKE UP THE SOULS

Having our next track follow-up “UNLIMITED BEAT” is quite the task, but unlike the seriousness of that track, WAKE UP THE SOULS loosens up the atmosphere by being more lively and upbeat, but not losing the energy.  Nana once again really shines in the song and I like the control she has overall in the song.  Really a cool, cool track for the album!

11. STARTING NOW!

I find it strange that not only one single represented this album, there’s no B-side chosen to be included (sorry fans of “Antiphona” and “Koisou Hanabi”).  Anyway, STARTING NOW! when I first reviewed was exciting for me because it wasn’t the anison droll that she was putting out throughout some of the “SMASHING ANTHEMS” era.  I like the upbeat pop/rock atmosphere that kind of reminds me of “WAKE UP THE SOULS” which is pretty interesting they’re back to back.  Definitely one of Nana’s better A-sides of recent memory and fits this album nicely.

12. GLORIA

Seems like another anison track is on its way and it’s more synth based than previous tracks.  Despite that it sounds a bit to-the-books when it comes to Nana’s more synth-centric tracks, I do like Nana’s vocals cascading over the arrangement.  Maybe it’s me but it feels like a song that could’ve easily come from “GREAT ACTIVITY” if anything before that!  Sounds nostalgic to me and is a decent track overall!

13. RODEO COWGIRL

Of the titles on the album, RODEO COWGIRL had my brows raised the most.  Sadly, it fits with both “WAKE UP THE SOULS” and “STARTING NOW!” with the upbeat pop/rock arrangement.  I have to say of those 3 though, this is the weakest of them as it just doesn’t feel like it tries to stand out to me.  Does remind me of a couple songs too from “IMPACT EXCITER” but more in a bland way to me…another filler track for me.

14. Kimi yo Sakebe

As the penultimate track of the album, Kimi yo Sakebe would’ve made for another awesome opening to the album especially with an intro like that!  I think Nana and more serious rock tracks seem to finally suit her moreso than before.  I will say the chorus bums me a little bit, but overall the track is good and fills the album nicely.

15. Zettaiteki Kofukuron

Ending the album and also chosen to promote the album, I was surprised Zettaiteki Kofukuron was chosen as it’s a ballad, even moreso than “JEWEL” was.  I do think she could have chosen a better song because while it’s a decent song, I don’t think it was a strong suit to choose a ballad to promote the album IMO.  I love the stringwork and Nana’s low tones are great, but once it turns into a rock ballad, I’m just a little over it.

Track Listing

  • Rock Ride Riot
  • UNLIMITED BEAT
  • WAKE UP THE SOULS
  • STARTING NOW!
  • Please Download

Song of Avoidance

  • JEWEL

I wasn’t expecting Nana to have released a new album shortly after her last one, “SMASHING ANTHEMS” and only after one single.  NEOGENE CREATION (title is awesome BTW) seems like a bit more straightforward and stronger of an album even if there was a bit less promotion going on.  I do think some songs run on the generic side, but on the whole, Nana managed to pull some great songs here.  I wonder what she’ll release next, but I’m excited!

 

Nana Mizuki – STARTING NOW! July 11, 2016

Filed under: Nana Mizuki — solarblade @ 2:42 am

startingnow

Track Listing

  1. STARTING NOW!
  2. Antiphona
  3. Rensou Hanabi

1. STARTING NOW!

Kicking the single off, STARTING NOW! surprisingly changes things up by moving away from the synth and dramatic anison songs and we’re given a fun and bright pop/rock tune (which is many of her B-sides ironically in the past).  I do love the chorus and synth usage is used a bit there too!  It just feels like Nana has a whole lot of fun doing this song and I can’t blame her because it’s just refreshing and catchy in one package!

2. Antiphona

Though if you were looking for the style that Nana has been doing for a long while, Antiphona might fill that void on this single.  While it’s not overly dramatic and Nana isn’t going hardcore, this song is pretty much in the middle of the road for me.  I think it’s simply from the slower tempo, but I think it’s just alright for the moment!

3. Rensou Hanabi

As the 2nd B-side, Rensou Hanabi might be the longest track off the single (at over 5 minutes), it’s also kind of the forgettable song here.  It takes the slightly similar style that “STARTING NOW!” has but lowers it a bit and makes it more of a mid-tempo pop/rock track.  It could really use a boost of energy and a fire on its butt to just make it at least be memorable but this song is just meh for me.

 

 

Being the first single after her “SMASHING ANTHEMS” album, STARTING NOW! is an OK single for me.  Of course the leading track was the highlight here being upbeat and bright for the summer months.  Antiphona and Rensou Hanabi are on the lower end of things but they aren’t terrible, just kind of there for the single…

 

Nana Mizuki – SMASHING ANTHEMS November 17, 2015

Filed under: Nana Mizuki — solarblade @ 6:57 am

smashinganthems

Track Listing

  1. Glorious Break
  2. Never Let Go
  3. SUPER☆MAN
  4. Angel Blossom
  5. BRACELET
  6. Lazy Syndrome
  7. Koi Uta.
  8. Kindan no Resistance -Extended Mix-
  9. The NEW STAR
  10. Clutch!!
  11. Netsujou no Maria
  12. Ego Ideal
  13. Eden
  14. Ambivalence
  15. Exterminate

1. Glorious Break

Nana hardly ever disappoints when it comes to the opening track and Glorious Break is no exception to that rule fortunately!  It kicks off with this synth/orchestral intro that builds itself for a whole minute before Nana enters the song and the synths back off and the orchestra takes a punch, but then things take an unusual turn inserting some dubstep behind the horns and strings (what an odd mix though).  I do like how Nana still sounds epic with the arrangement switching back and forth.  It’s still no “Avalon no Oukan”, but that’s asking for a lot xD.  Still for the first track, this is really different but really epic!

2. Never Let Go

The album continues on with Never Let Go and I already knew that I was going to love this song with its emphasis on the punches of percussion and neat pop/rock sound!  While I didn’t expect the song to keep at the same time and not be overbearing on the heavy rock song, this was a solid track and Nana gave a powerful performance.  This is already becoming a quick favorite for me on the album and I haven’t even started on the rest XD.

3. SUPER☆MAN

Chosen as the album’s promotional track, SUPER☆MAN I thought was going to be a cutesy, upbeat track and while it does retain a little bit of that charm, the arrangement is a bit mixed with disco and techno beats and some violins too.  I do think it’s a bit slow for a song, but I do like the direction it wanted to take so I appreciate that about this one.  Also the PV…what? 😄

4. Angel Blossom

Then we come to our first A-side on the album (specifically, the leading 3rd single).  Back on the single review, I thought Angel Blossom was OK, but quite generic as Nana songs go regardless.  On the album, it is the first of the anison-like songs though so it’s kind of nice to hear, but I still can’t really shake off that feeling that we’ve heard this before.  Though the chords and Nana’s vocals are surprisingly pleasant though so I would say the song is still continuing to grow on me.

5. BRACELET

I love the introduction to our next track, very mysterious and light!  Though once the remaining arrangement enters the song, yeah it’s another one of those songs that remind me of stuff like “PHANTOM MINDS” and “Silent Bible”, but I actually enjoy those songs immensely so this song fits right at home.  The guitarwork is a nice touch to the song and adds to the strings and piano that also accompany the song.  I would say this is a better “Angel Blossom” if it was handled differently.

6. Lazy Syndrome

As the B-side chosen to be added to the album (this one coming from “Angel Blossom”, Lazy Syndrome wouldn’t have been my choice to include (would’ve rather chosen “BLUE” or “No Limit” here).  It’s still a solid choice regardless because it would’ve been my 3rd pick.  I thought the intro reminded me of something from school food punishment, but it lays off that idea once the main focus of the song is introduced.  I enjoy the overall rock content of the song, but there’s something a bit flat in this song when compared to other songs on the album.  Though the rapping section was interesting hahah!

7. Koi Uta.

As the album’s ballad?  Koi Uta. is something else and nothing strong like “BLUE” was.  I think the acoustic/electric guitar mix and stringwork didn’t seem to work very well together and Nana vocally wasn’t all quite there and I felt things was just not connecting for me.  This track just felt draggy the entire time and I couldn’t even remember how it went after just one listen.

8. Kindan no Resistance -Extended Mix-

As the first single released for the album, Kindan no Resistance is the lone song to get some kind of edit on the album and it’s taken from one of her recent tours.  Opening with a really nice orchestral intro and Nana singing some new lyrics, I really love the addition and her emotion is carried out quite nicely before entering the main course.  I still love the embrace of Celtic sounds and her synth/rock style (that’s become a favorite of styles Nana tackles), Kindan no Resistance is still a favorite of mine and with the new intro, the song is that much better!

9. The NEW STAR

Back to new songs, The NEW STAR begins in some odd chords, but then it’s led to an even stranger direction.  Becoming this kind of funky, bass-heavy song.  I also noticed that Nana is singing in a lower register and I welcome the change since she can pull off songs in a deep tone.  I overall feel like the song could also use a speed boost, but this is pretty cool and just stuck out to me on the album with weird things like some ad-libbing during the dubstepp-y bridge.

10. Clutch!!

I would’ve expected a song like Clutch!! to be the promotional song because it’s a more upbeat and pop/rock sound that’s akin to some of the more cuter songs in Nana’s repertoire.  I think it’s OK, but there’s just something lacking in this one for some reason, but it’s not short of energy and spice, but there’s once again that feeling of I’ve heard this before like with “Angel Blossom”.

11. Netsujou no Maria

Seems like return to the anison songs with Netsujou no Maria and really there’s not much to differentiate it from other songs of similar variety.  Once again though, Nana’s lower register is very pleasant and the chorus does save it from sheer mediocrity, but mostly, it’s more of the same as I’ve heard from previous releases.

12. Ego Ideal

Oh!  The piano intro for our next track is really bouncy and upbeat for a song title like this lol.  I wasn’t surprised that the song quickly fizzled out as quickly as it did because almost immediately after the intro, Ego Ideal just kind of became another typical song.  I suppose I do like the piano taking precedence over the arrangement, but it’s like another anison track waiting to be filled up with the typical stylings.

13. Eden

Which kills me further that my least favorite of the A-sides, Eden is up next.  While it does to me strike me as the hardest hitting song with the overabundance of percussion, without it, the song just would’ve fell to the wayside even moreso than it should.  I do also like the chorale in the background in some specific parts of the track giving it this rather haunting kind of feel.  It still doesn’t rank high with me sadly…

14. Ambivalence

The last of the new songs, I thought we were going to get another “Ego Ideal”, but I’m happy we’re getting this light funky song as it shows a little more variation than the album has been giving out.  The groove of the song is really unique and Nana sounds wonderful and the whole laidback feeling I get from this song is really nice and breaks the monotony before the finale.

15. Exterminate

I found it surprising that Nana would end the album with Exterminate and not a ballad (it’s been a while since this has been a case).  Being released as the 4th single, Exterminate is definitely in the same vein as “Synchrogazer” and “Vitalization” which is always a plus to the song itself.  Being very aggressive and full of striking sections, this song is up there with “Kindan no Resistance” as best songs, but this still might make 2nd place.  I still find it strange that it’s the album’s closer, but still a cool song.

Tracks Recommended

  • Kindan no Resistance -Extended Mix-
  • Exterminate
  • Never Let Go
  • BRACELET
  • Glorious Break

Song of Avoidance

  • Koi Uta.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to get out of SMASHING ANTHEMS, but it seems to have affected me the same way “SUPERNAL LIBERTY” had which was that it started out pretty strong, but then faded out to essentially boredom during the second half (with some exceptions both ways).  I also felt like half of the A-sides were pretty bland too which is odd, but oh well.  Not bad, but she’s had much better.

 

Nana Mizuki – Exterminate July 26, 2015

Filed under: Nana Mizuki — solarblade @ 6:46 pm

exterminate

Track Listing

  1. Exterminate
  2. Bramble
  3. It’s Only Brave

1. Exterminate

I was surprised that Nana would open this A-side by singing alone with no arrangement before the song actually kicks in.  Once things start to fill the speakers, there’s a lot of electronic beats (ala in similar fashion to “Synchrogazer” and “Vitalization” so this kind of familiarity was happily expected this time around!  While it might not be as heavy or punch-worthy as the aforementioned songs, it oddly fits amongst them and feels like a superb trilogy of this fusion of electronic and her anison sound.

2. Bramble

I wasn’t sure what to expect with a song titled as Bramble, but it’s like the focus is more along the anison/strings side of Nana’s repertoire of songs in the style.  Actually if I had known better, I would’ve said it’s a song that was from the “HYBRID UNIVERSE” or “GREAT ACTIVITY” era of songs.  On here, the song does sound a bit generic and lacks a little energy for me where “Exterminate” managed to pull off better.  I do love the melody of the strings, but not enough to save it.

3. It’s Only Brave

Hmmmm, what I thought would be a ballad, It’s Only Brave is pretty much an anison song down to its core.  Funny enough, some of the chord progression reminds me of “COSMiC LOVE” but without the sawtooth synths found throughout.  The chorus of the track is probably the best part of the song as it’s high-energy and Nana sounds amazing through it.  Overall, it’s still a little basic, but I kind of dig it.

As the 4th of the era, I feel like Exterminate is the kind of normal single I would expect her to release (not so much like the last couple).  The leading song is a pretty familiar setting with the synth beats and serious tone, which is something I do love…not as amazing as the others but still good.  It’s Only Brave was surprisingly good and despite the slightly cutesy sound…probably my favorite off the single.  Bramble though felt uninspired to me and just lacked interest…I sense an album soon!

 

Nana Mizuki – Angel Blossom May 13, 2015

Filed under: Nana Mizuki — solarblade @ 1:53 am

angelblossom

Track Listing

  1. Angel Blossom
  2. Lazy Syndrome
  3. Ashita graffiti

1. Angel Blossom

Wow, not even a few seconds and it feels like things were already moving on with Angel Blossom.  Listening onwards, the song does sound like something that we’ve heard from Nana multiple times before with such dramatic strings and bright vocals.  With the sheer amount of similar songs of this nature, it was hard to find myself remembering the melody out of this one.  At least it’s an easier listen than “Eden” was so I guess you can say it was an upgrade.

2. Lazy Syndrome

Let’s hope the B-sides are better!  Starting with Lazy Syndrome, the tune has a more rock-laced arrangement that almost made me think of Stereopony for some reason which is great because I also tend to enjoy Nana’s rock tunes.  It’s a very intricate tune and Nana.  This was definitely the preferred song off the single, how odd.

3. Ashita graffiti

I was thinking the 2nd B-side would’ve been a ballad considering the tune translated is “Tomorrow graffiti”, though I was pleasantly surprised that it was actually the opposite.  It’s a fusion of rock and synths together and would’ve fit back on “SUPERNAL LIBERTY”.   Though the chorus kind of became a strange mix of typical anison chords and bright happy sounds.  Overall, the song is OK, still not as exciting as “Lazy Syndrome” however.

As Nana’s 3rd single of the era, Angel Blossom is a slightly better single than “Eden” was, but not by too much.  Angel Blossom is more of the familiar same that we’ve known Nana to do for so long so it’s OK, very safe of a song.  At least both of the B-sides were a lot more memorable and not as generic as the last singles were.  Is it album time yet?

 

Nana Mizuki – Eden February 19, 2015

Filed under: Nana Mizuki — solarblade @ 6:35 pm

eden

Track Listing

  1. Eden
  2. No Limit
  3. Shuumatsu no Love Song
  4. Necessary

1. Eden

After all the epic songs she’s released in the last couple of years, I was expecting one to pop up where I just didn’t get interested in and that would be in Eden.  I do get a clear feeling that it’s like “SCARLET KNIGHT” with a more dramatic arrangement.  With out the percussion, this song would’ve just been a ballad and is it bad that I would’ve had had that be the case because I come off annoyed with the drums here (and less the guitars).  I don’t know, maybe I’ll get used to it, but as of right now Eden seems a bit overdone for me.

2. No Limit

Then comes No Limit which I personally would’ve rather had be the A-side because it shows off her vocals better and the arrangement sounds amazing here for some reason.  It definitely fits her style that she had in “Vitalization” mixing in some strings and letting up slightly on the synths.  Yeah I’m definitely digging this track for sure!

3. Shuumatsu no Love Song

Our next B-side is well…more of the same to be honest.  I mean Shuumatsu no Love Song has a stronger guitar feel to it, but beyond that it might as well been something akin to “No Limit” lol.  I’m here nor there with it, it’s a B-side lol.

4. Necessary

Of course we can’t have a Nana single without a ballad closing it out.  Necessary is one of those songs that tries to make itself try to surpass “Ai no Hoshi” and doesn’t come very close to pulling that off.  I will say as usual Nana sounds good regardless and she’s hitting some high notes for sure!  Not bad overall, but she’s done better.

 

 

Maybe it’s just me and the fact that I’ve been loving her futuristic powerhouse songs so much, but I came off Eden feeling slightly disappointed.  Eden has the workings of an awesome ballad, but she needs to get rid of the drums and guitars and it’d have been perfect!  Which means the best song of the single was No Limit, but it’s not saying too much since it runs with her other good anison tunes.  Necessary is a nice listen and Shuumatsu no Love Song just came off as a generic clone of a song that’s already on the single.  Hoping she bounces back with her next one!

 

Nana Mizuki – Kindan no Resistance October 12, 2014

Filed under: Nana Mizuki — solarblade @ 3:44 pm

kindannoresistance

Track Listing

  1. Kindan no Resistance
  2. BLUE
  3. Dream Rider

1. Kindan no Resistance

I really love the Celtic intro of Kindan no Resistance and then it blows up to this interesting mix of that and rock!  Something about the mix of that and pan flute just seems so epic!  Add on Nana’s already stellar vocals and this song just wrapped up in this pretty awesome song that breaks away from her synth-anison songs (like her last single “Vitalization”).  It’s been a long while since I’ve loved something that wasn’t so synth-dependent and I’m happy it’s this song!  Great A-side!

2. BLUE

Next up is the ballad, BLUE.  Now after being spoiled by “Ai no Hoshi”, BLUE just kind of comes in to bring a ballad onto the single so I was curious if she was going to sound good here.  For the most part, Nana sounds great and surprises me how she can so good with not much of an arrangement (which consists of light orchestration, but mostly piano for the first half).  After that, the song just builds with more instruments and a much stronger foundation.  It’s a pretty good ballad, still not as perfect as the aforementioned, but definitely another winner!

3. Dream Rider

If I had learned anything, usually the 2nd B-side turns out to be the -fun- song of the single and it definitely suits Dream Rider as it’s poppy and has a lot of 90s nostalgia throughout.  At some points it made me wonder if I was listening to Koda Kumi or GIRL NEXT DOOR given the atmosphere and arrangement.  It’s not as memorable like the previous two tracks, but I suppose it’s one of her better cute songs out there.

 

 

After “SUPERNAL LIBERTY”, I was kind of expecting her to take a break and come back next year, but nope she released this single and really this was some good stuff.  Breaking away from the synths for a bit, Kindan no Resistance is a pretty powerful song from her A-sides and I just loved every minute of it!  BLUE also did well as the single’s ballad and proves that she has the chops for it down-pat.  Dream Rider while my least favorite on the single, managed to sound nostalgic and fun, but doesn’t leave an impression on me as I wished it did.