Kurayami Monogatari

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NCT DREAM×HRVY – Don’t Need Your Love September 12, 2019

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 4:59 am

dontneedyourlove

Track Listing

  1. Don’t Need Your Love
  2. Don’t Need Your Love (Inst.)

1. Don’t Need Your Love

I wasn’t expecting a collaboration for the group’s 3rd SM Station song, but hey anything is possible these days eh?  This time, they’ve chosen HRVY who as far as I know is pretty popular out in the UK.  Though knowing previous efforts with collaborations in Kpop, I was expecting much, but for some reason HRVY really slid smoothly alongside the group and his singing REALLY worked!  The rest of the group handled it well too with Renjun, Chenle, and Jisung singing while Jeno & Jaemin doing the raps (Haechan was too busy promoting with NCT 127 to be a part of this).  Honestly, this song is amazing for the group and would love to see HRVY collaborate with them (hell, the fact that PV made him actually feel part of the group is so cool!).

 

 

NCT DREAM’s 3rd SM Station single was a complete winner here.  I mean it is the first release without Mark and shame that Haechan had to miss it, but this might be one of NCT DREAM’s best songs currently because of how smooth yet teen bop it is.  HRVY was also a great addition as his English lyrics just suited alongside the Korean ones too.  Could we have him join NCT?

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NCT DREAM – Candle Light

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 4:35 am

candlelight

Track Listing

  1. Candle Light
  2. Candle Light (Inst.)

1. Candle Light

Did NCT 127 give up one of their R&B ballads to NCT DREAM for their 2nd SM Station song?  I mean for some reason I kind of like the sincerity of the song a lot and when it opens with Mark, Jisung, and then Chenle singing, that’s got to mean something right?  It’s such a laidback and relaxing tune for the group and the line distribution was a bit more interesting than in “JOY”.  That being said, Mark has a rap in the bridge and its mostly because this was his final song with the group before he graduated out.  One of the more underrated songs from the group to be honest.

 

 

SM really did nicely by this song.  Being that this is Mark’s farewell song, Candle Light was soft and soothing which is a surprise after the hectic sounds of both “GO” and “We Go Up” so this was a nice breakaway for a bit.

 

NCT DREAM – JOY

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 4:23 am

joy

Track Listing

  1. JOY
  2. JOY (Inst.)

1. JOY

I kind of figured that NCT DREAM would be the unit from the NCT umbrella to be thrown SM Station songs and considering it was the Christmas season, JOY just makes a LOT of sense for them.  If it wasn’t apparent from the start and when Haechan starts the verses, JOY is essentially their cut of the classic, “Joy to the World” and later on, “Jingle Bells”.  Granted, it’s really only Haechan, Renjun, Chenle, and Mark as Jeno & Jisung gets like a small part towards the end.  It’s not bad, but rapping in Christmas-themed songs never work and Mark’s is pretty awkward here.

 

 

Released around the time after “My First and Last” happened, JOY was the first SM Station NCT DREAM was involved in and it’s kind of a throwaway song for me.  I will say that Haechan, Renjun, Chenle did a pretty good job singing, but everything else was just a mess.  Oh well.

 

NCT DREAM – We Boom September 7, 2019

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 1:09 am

weboom

Track Listing

  1. BOOM
  2. STRONGER
  3. 119
  4. Bye My First…
  5. Best Friend
  6. Dream Run

1. BOOM

As the lead-in track, BOOM kind of continues the same kind of hip-hop feel NCT DREAM had started following with from “GO” and “We Go Up”.  It’s a bit more slick and cool though which makes it quite nice.  Adding that this time that Jeno, Jaemin, and Jisung starts things off quite nicely and I’m really loving Jisung’s more lower tones more than ever.  Does seem like those three really have their time to shine in this one and I’m quite happy with that.  Chenle, Haechan, and Renjun (and a bit of Jisung) gets actually singing lines and they perfectly work well too!  Hell, Renjun gets the big climatic note in the last run through the chorus which is usually saved for Haechan.  Honestl,y this is probably their strongest comeback yet if I had to be frank about it.

2. STRONGER

Next song in and we’re continuing with a bit more R&B here with STRONGER.  It seems like the line distribution here is pretty much similar with Jeno & Jaemin as the first two for the rapping verses and then Renjun & Haechan for the pre-chorus here too.  I’ll have to say the chorus is a bit strange to listen to and the aggressive nature is unique especially since Jisung gets to have this punch (Jeno does this in the 2nd chorus).  Odd song here, but seems to suit it after “BOOM”.

3. 119

I’m pretty surprised the mini-album has a darker tone to it and 119 is probably the darkest of the 3 on here.  I’m enjoying the uncomfortable air about and with Haechan, Jisung, Jeno, and then Jaemin was building it up so nicely and then it mellows our to Chenle & Renjun in the prechorus and it all worked.  Surprised to hear Haechan & Chenle sing together for its chorus.  It’s actually really cool and may surpass “BOOM” with some extra listens.  This was definitely a song for the rappers and I really dug it!

4. Bye My First…

Toning things down into more of a lighter setting, Bye My First… is still kind of poppy for the group, but it doesn’t really fall into the last 3 tracks.  Plus, it’s interesting hearing all 6 members actually singing here and not a lot of rapping here (maybe a little for Jaemin & Jeno).  Though what sticks out are the nice vocals (especially those high notes sung by Chenle & Renjun throughout).  I could’ve saw this back on “We Go Up” but I’m pretty impressed by this tune too and also enjoyed that lyrical nod to “My First and Last”!

5. Best Friend

Probably the slowest of the songs, Best Friend seems to be a song from “We Young” with the kind of the Summer-like groove and this laidback, chanting ditty.  I think also of the 6 songs, this is probably the weakest for some reason.  The 3 rappers are nice of course but they don’t seem to fit with the kind of campfire like chorus it has too.  I could live without it.

6. Dream Run

Ending the mini, I was thinking maybe this was going to be the group’s ballad song, but Dream Run is exciting, funky, and pretty unique to NCT DREAM all-around. I’m liking all the directions it took and the chorus is just lit and really lets the group have a good time.  I’m loving all the members here and their stylings really work here!

 

 

As the first release after Mark’s graduation from the group, We Boom is probably NCT DREAM’s best release yet with most of the songs coming out pretty damn well!  I will say that I’m happier that all 6 members are gelling a LOT better here than ever with Jeno and Jaemin becoming the group’s de-facto rappers where Jisung is kind of sliding between both rapping and singing (especially since his voice is getting super deep and silkier too). Even the other 3 are getting better at singing, my curiosity lies in what’s next because many are due to graduate soon…hmmm…Still best release yet! *RECOMMENDED*

 

 

NCT 127 – WE ARE SUPERHUMAN May 25, 2019

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 3:58 am

wearesuperhuman

Track Listing

  1. Highway To Heaven
  2. Superhuman
  3. FOOL
  4. Jet Lag
  5. Paper Plane
  6. OUTRO: WE ARE 127

1. Highway To Heaven

Opening the mini-album up, Highway To Heaven was kind of the preview before “Superhuman’s” PV came out and boy was I surprised to hear how different it sounded compared to all of their previous main tracks being a little more tame and straight EDM (kind of like “Replay” from their last album).  I instantly found myself into the song with the smooth feel and the strong vocals from Haechan, Taeil, Jaehyun, Jungwoo, and Doyoung (with bits from Johnny and Yuta too).  I think the only thing that threw me off was the rap from Taeyong & Mark though it is short regardless.  Still, what a cool song to open things with.

2. Superhuman

Though we move into the main course with Superhuman and likewise, it was something a bit more different than the hip-hop-esque sound we’ve been hearing from them the last couple of years.  The track is a bit more futuristic sounding and yet somewhat a but more livelier sounding.  It’s definitely a track that really encircles around the vocalists more and pushes back the rappers back (Johnny also seemed to join Mark and Taeyong in the rapping as well)  I really dug it though and a good change of pace after the likes of “Simon Says”, “Chain”, and “Wakey-Wakey”.

3. FOOL

Moving to the rest of the album, FOOL changes up by giving me some 90’s R&B here and it starts with raps from Mark, Jaehyun, and Taeyong before the song slightly opens to the chorus which feels light and minimalistic with not a lot of bass behind it.  I’m really liking the fact that there’s some lengthy solos for everyone in the song here.  I think the song may be a little too laidback and missing a backbone here, but it’s decent overall!

4. Jet Lag

The mini slows down further for Jet Lag, which seems to be the ballad here.  Simple piano melody and some Jungwoo, Jaehyun, and Haechan before the chorus hits with Taeil and just like “FOOL” they seem to aim for simplicity and not a lot of beats until Yuta comes in for the 2nd verse and then Jet Lag starts to gain some oomph but still gives me similar vibes to the aforementioned track, but handled a bit better.  Yeah, not bad here either, a small step above the previous track.

5. Paper Plane

Ending the mini off, Paper Plane is giving me some “Switch” vibes with the kind of playful cuteness here and I’m surprised the tune starts with Jaehyun, Johnny and Taeyong of all people singing and NOT rapping here whoa!  At least the song does somewhat gain some legs with the chorus section adding a dance beat, but it feels a bit weird?  It seems like a GAP commercial song (ironic since “Touch” exists).  I do like the EDM breakdown…but it just feels slightly filler here.  Still gotta appreciate all 9 members singing here!

6. OUTRO: WE ARE 127

Then we end with an outro piece that starts off light before we here Taeyong & Mark and then the song shifts into this low EDM beat that sounds pretty cool before it even outs while there’s random members throwing some lines before it kicks with dubstep and then some rough beats.  Don’t know why it was the outro because it surely didn’t work after “Paper Plane”.  Dunno, could’ve had been a song honestly…

 

 

Only about a month after their Japanese album, “Awaken” was released we get a mini-album from them in Korean and I’m not sure where I stand on this.  I feel like the buildup from both Highway To Heaven and Superhuman was awesome, but the remainder of the album felt lukewarm to me.  There was an obvious split of effort here and the fact that this mini wasn’t really like their previous minis, “NCT 127″, Limitless” or even “Cherry Bomb” was surprising.  I liked the first two tracks a LOT but the remaining 3 songs left me shrugging despite great vocals and the outro was just random.  Hmmmm….

 

WayV – Take Off May 10, 2019

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 3:26 am

Take Off 6

Track Listing

  1. Take Off
  2. Regular
  3. Say It
  4. Come Back
  5. Let Me Love U
  6. Dream Launch

1. Take Off

As the leading song, I was curious to see what WayV had up their sleeves as their first original leading track.  I’m liking the kind of similar groove it has to something from NCT 127 with the grittier hip-hop vibe.  I do like that Lucas opens the song up with a rapping line with Yangyang.  Though later on Hendery, Ten & Winwin joins in the rap.  Though I do like the song slowing down for the prechorus with Xiaojun & Kun.  This song has got some good flow to it and the chorus is pretty dope too!  Even the more aggressive bridge suited everything too.  Yeah, not bad!

2. Regular

Not sure why they had to include the whole “The Vision” single here, but its whatever.  Not really much to say here that I haven’t multiple times about the song itself honestly.  WayV’s version is interesting just in the fact that it’s sung by 90% by new members (with only Winwin here from the original cut).

3. Say It

At least it’s evened out by new songs here right?  Say It opens kind of mysterious before it’s lead by some nice light vocals in this airy and ethereal atmosphere (heightened by some whisper and piano) before the song builds up and goes kind of EDM and then into some kind of mix of that and trap beats.  I kind of like the grow and the after-chorus sounds a bit chaotic too!  While I do hear a lot of Ten, Kun, and Xiaojun, the other members do show up, but the song feels rather short to me?  Not bad though and I like the fact the members sing together more here!

4. Come Back

So returning to this song again, Come Back still makes me wonder why it’s a popular song.  Anyways, Come Back is the group going into this pop/hip-hop feel, but leans more towards the poppier side of things.  I do appreciate that all the members get lines here and I feel like the 3 newbies fit nicely into the mold as well!  I do see the lean on Xiaojun though and I dig that, maybe I was harsh?  I dunno, but regardless, Come Back is good though.  Plus hearing Lucas, Hendery, and Yangyang rap is fun XD

5. Let Me Love U

The last of the new tracks, Let Me Love U kind of dials it back for this rather light, poppy acoustic heavy track and I actually really liked this setting for the boys here.  It just feels lighthearted and soft and suited for the guys’ vocals.  It’s like what if they did a NCT DREAM song y’know?  It’s a really cool laidback song for them and settles things down for the final track

6. Dream Launch

Likewise, the mini ends with Dream Launch which post “The Vision” review ended up getting a PV,  Like “Let Me Love U”, it’s pretty laidback and has more of an R&B-kind of flow to it that makes it relaxing.  Once again, lines are just nice to hear and everyone gets a solo throughout (though Winwin & Hendery get like two solo lines).  It’s relaxing and sweet and closes the mini on a nice note.

 

 

WayV seems to have finally released their first mini and it was OK.  Not sure if I would’ve included the whole “The Vision” single on here, but the new tracks were pretty decent I have to say.  They might become big if they keep this up as all the members do sound great together.  Just wonder when Winwin will return to 127 and if the other members are going to be utilized elsewhere under the NCT branding in the future.  Overall, Take Off was pretty good!

 

NCT 127 – Awaken April 19, 2019

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 3:07 am

awaken

Track Listing

  1. Lips
  2. Wakey-Wakey
  3. Chain
  4. Regular (English Ver.)
  5. Touch (Japanese Ver.)
  6. Blow My Mind
  7. Limitless
  8. Long Slow Distance
  9. Kitchen Beat
  10. Cherry Bomb (Korean Ver.)
  11. Fire Truck (Korean Ver.)
  12. End to Start

1. Lips

Opening the album up, Lips kicks the album off on a rather interesting track.  Starting with Jaehyun and then building up in this kind of jungle-like hip-hop track, I found it pretty interesting especially when there’s lines from everyone all over the track against this deep and rather cool-sounding track.  Not bad for the opening song and sets up nicely for the next tack, but maybe Lips would’ve been better somewhere in the middle because of the subject matter?  I don’t know lol.

2. Wakey-Wakey

Though the 2nd track was the one used to promote the release and it definitely fills in the gap that pretty NCT has been doing (most recently in “Simon Says” which can be somewhat similar, but also to “Chain” too). Wakey-Wakey though has a lot of build-up and likewise with “Lips”, it has great build-up and leads to rather catchy chorus.  Though I’m noticing Jungwoo and Taeil a LOT in this song.  Though the tune is for sure in their style and really worked here (I wonder if there’ll be a Korean version someday)

3. Chain

I wasn’t surprised to see that Chain would be here considering it was the main track off their mini-album debut in Japan.  Chain was a surprise for the group because it felt a bit more dirty and mechanical but for some reason it somehow worked and I was happy to see some Yuta getting attention on top of Taeyong giving one of his fastest raps and Taeil’s super high notes.  It’s so unique for NCT and one of my favorite songs from the group!

4. Regular (English Ver.)

I’m more shocked that there wasn’t a Japanese version of Regular (considering there’s an English & Korean take and a Chinese version done by WayV).  Instead we get the English cut of the song and it’s still a great latin-y song that really get the mood going and was exciting because it was Jungwoo’s debut into the group.  I mean for what it is, it’s still a pretty awesome song regardless and the tune just wins, but maybe I would’ve preferred some effort and made a Japanese cut instead, but that’s just me.

5. Touch (Japanese Ver.)

Which is bizarre because this is a thing too.  Although this was released by itself digitally last year so I suppose it doesn’t count?  If you don’t recognize the song, Touch was originally on “EMPATHY 2018” as a Korean song and ONLY track NCT 127 kind of repped for it.  Not quite sure why a Japanese version was made, but hey it’s on this album woo!  I will say this though that Touch is their most unique leading song because it’s not fully hip-hop like their other efforts and really stick out.  The poppy, upbeat groove is nice and the song remains catchy from the lingual switch-up so altogether, it’s a nice inclusion overall!

6. Blow My Mind

The next new track pulls us back into their darker and smoother side and it kind of reminds me of “Lips” in that way, but it’s nice to see everyone once again just showing off their vocals here.  I’m starting to feel like Taeil is just used for her belting in the end of bridges like how Taeyong & Mark are just rappers.  Not bad overall, definitely fits the mold of a good NCT 127 track and hey more Johnny is always nice!

7. Limitless

Another track from “Chain”, Limitless is of course the Japanese version of the same Korean song that was their 1st comeback in Korea.  I mean I still love this song even if this version does sound slightly smushed up in the transition from languages and doesn’t quite ride or has the same oomph as the original.  Still, the song is just a rally for NCT to get noticed and I love that this song was used to introduce Johnny and Doyoung to the group and they fit in just nicely.

8. Long Slow Distance

After “Limitless” it kind of hits a brick wall and we’re led into the album’s lone ballad, Long Slow Distance!  With a small amount of actual ballads in their discography, Long Slow Distance is a pretty simple song compared to the rest of the album.  I really do love that Haechan, Yuta, Taeil, and Jungwoo have the first verse, but let’s be honest, it seems Taeil is the main vocalist here.  Though it is fair that both Mark and Taeyong didn’t get any lines here (though I think they should have since both can sing well enough to keep up with the rest of the group >.>).  Regardless, the tune is OK, but nothing here for me to dwell upon

9. Kitchen Beat

I wasn’t sure what to expect with a title as such, but this follows the dirtier sound that 127 has adopted in the last couple releases.  It has an unusual beat and has some weird sounds going on that kind of mimic “Chain”.  I mean I do like the aggressive sound of the track for sure, but I can’t help but feel that something is missing here.  Though those ~nananana’s~ can get somewhat annoying since it is the chorus essentially.  Probably the weakest song off the album for me.

10. Cherry Bomb (Korean Ver.)

Did we slightly get lazy for this end stretch?  I mean Cherry Bomb and “Fire Truck” both in their original languages?  Really couldn’t update it could ya (y’know with no Winwin and newly added Jungwoo who oddly was in the English cut of the song >.>).  Anyways, Cherry Bomb is my least favorite of their leading songs just because it felt a little repetitive and kind of off when compared to their other songs.  Not saying it doesn’t have merits because some of that repetition is catchy on occasion.  Lots of both Taeyong and Mark here which compliments the hip-hop sound of the song (a lot of rap-like than anything else previous).  Might be my least favorite, but it’s still passable.

11. Fire Truck (Korean Ver.)

Which brings us to Fire Truck which was the group’s debut song!  I mean remember when 127 was just 7 members in the beginning?  Yeah, this song is still pretty dope today and really feels like something unique was there when they debuted.  Fire Truck might not have a strong melody like later releases did, but it’s a cool song nonetheless and helped give this group some identity out there!

12. End to Start

Ending the album, we have End to Start the last of the new tracks from the album and like I was saying back in “Long Slow Distance”, I think Mark and Taeyong could fit along with the rest of the group singing.  Mark actually opens the song in a singing line and later on Taeyong kind of does this too!  End to Start though is kind of in the middle being not quite a ballad but not a full-on attack of dance either.  For the album’s finale, this wasn’t something I was expecting but it’s definitely cool

Tracks Recommended

  • Chain
  • Fire Truck (Korean Ver.)
  • End to Start
  • Wakey-Wakey
  • Regular (English Ver.)

Song of Avoidance

  • Kitchen Beat

So we have arrived at NCT 127’s first Japanese album and for what it’s worth, it’s not bad really and for the most part the new songs really suited the group nicely (maybe except Kitchen Beat, but it definitely had that NCT sound to it).  Though I can’t help but feel it was slightly padded with a little too much fluff and maybe not enough effort.  I mean the original songs were great and Limitless and Touch were nice but like why wasn’t Regular, Cherry Bomb, and even Fire Truck given the same treatment (especially since it’s two other languages here).  Add in this album had a LOT of different iterations of the group here (the original 7, the 9, the 10, and now the current 9 since Winwin is busy with WayV still and isn’t participating here nor the group’s next Korean comeback).  It just seemed like a little more could’ve gone into the album but what we got isn’t bad all luckily!  Just a nitpick I guess!