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NCT 127 – NCT #127 May 11, 2018

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 6:47 am

nct127

Track Listing

  1. Fire Truck
  2. Once Again (Summer Breeze)
  3. Wake Up
  4. Another World
  5. Paradise
  6. Mad City
  7. Switch (feat. SR15B)

1. Fire Truck

Being the promo track for NCT 127’s debut, Fire Truck had a lot to look up to after the surprising success from their brother group, NCT U.  To be fair it does lean towards more “The 7th Sense” with the trap-like hip-hop sound and repetitive bass line here.  Of course some of the members from NCT U are in this group (Taeyong, Mark, Jaehyun, and Taeil) while we have new members, Haechan, Winwin, and Yuta.  The song is a bit more for the rappers it feels like, but everyone has some time in the song.  The new members don’t quite get as much here, Haechan and Yuta kind of having some decent lines, but Winwin kind of got little here.  Still the song is pretty hype!

2. Once Again (Summer Breeze)

On the opposite of the coin, we get Once Again which unlike the crazy hype song that “Fire Truck” was, is more of a chilled out kind of groovy song.  It’s got a little urban pop and R&B thrown in it as well.  I was surprised that besides Mark & Taeyong, Haechan got a lot of lines in this one an while his voice is a little more higher than the rappers, he sounded decent with all the lines.  Decent song, odd coming after the previous track, but it is what it is.

3. Wake Up

Another short song on the album, Wake Up brings up back to the more danceable NCT 127 with this kind of tropical sounding tune that has some eccentric dubstep breakdowns throughout.  The tune itself is decent a little better than “Once Again” at least.  I do have to say that it does feel a little simple for them and the line distribution favors Haechan once again…is he really that popular?

4. Another World

Hey a song that doesn’t start with Taeyong finally!  Anyways, Another World seems to focus a lot on Jaehyun, Taeil, Taeyong, and Mark which seems to be like that NCT U members are getting pushed more because they’re well known.  Haechan, I think is more of the up and coming member while Yuta and Winwin kind of just there (despite both getting solo lines…well Yuta got the more noticeable one).  The song itself is more of a slow jam for me and it’s cool and has groove in it too.

5. Paradise

Could you believe that Paradise is even more slower than “Another World”?  This one felt quite chill and the snapping finger beat with the almost acoustic touch was a nice change of pace for the group.  It definitely showed the hierarchy of the group though, but hey Winwin got a lengthy solo at the least so I guess that’s a plus!  For a laidback song, Paradise is OK, nothing too out there.

6. Mad City

Then comes the lone song that doesn’t include all the members.  It’s between Jaehyun, Taeyong, and Mark this time, but the focus is mostly on the latter two’s rapping skills which is made even moreso because Jaehyun only has the opening lines and then he’s out for the rest of the track.  It’s interesting to see Taeyong & Mark just going back and forth in their raps and they provide such a different experience.  Unique song to the mini I’d say.

7. Switch (feat. SR15B)

If you were wondering, SR15B is more or less a demo track, not sure why they had to make it as if it was a different artist though.  Interestingly enough a non-127 member is singing the first lines (Doyoung) and he’s with Jaehyun, Taeyong, and Taeil.  The song is cute-ish, moreso than “Once Again”, but considering it did get a MV for this, I was pretty curious to what it was all about.  The tune is nice and bright and it’s a solid way to close out the mini (and a bit foreshadowing too).

 

 

Being as the 2nd NCT unit to be created, I was surprised that they were going to be the “main” Seoul unit for this NCT Project.  Considering most of the members were already from NCT U with the exception of the 3 new members and no Ten, Doyoung, and Kun.  Fire Truck seemed to be slightly misleading because besides the lead-in track the rest are pretty light songs that feature vocals (yeah even Taeyong sings and doesn’t full blast rap).  I could’ve used more presence from both Yuta and Winwin though (Haechan got a lot of it here)  Overall, it’s a nice debut I’d say!

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NCT U – Without You May 10, 2018

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 5:45 am

withoutyou

Track Listing

  1. Without You
  2. Without You (Chinese Ver.)

1. Without You

You know, after “The 7th Sense”, I was expecting something similar in tone by being hip-hop, but I was happily surprised when in turn, we ended up with some pop/rock track with Without You.  I did recognize both Doyoung & Jaehyun here as they were involved in their debut, but a new member joined the ranks in Taeil and he suited the two together and they sound amazing together, especially with their chords they strike during the choruses.  It’s a really awesome song, not sure if I consider it more than their other leading track, but it’s definitely another knock out of the park.

2. Without You (Chinese Ver.)

Simply, it’s just the Chinese cut, but somehow this one has something interesting.  So I guess to promote this in China, they added an SM Rookie, Kun (who would later end up joining NCT) and he only has one singular solo in the song and to me he doesn’t quite live up to the trio already involved, but I suppose it’s just for promotion.

 

 

Only released a day ater “The 7th Sense”, Without You brought a totally different side to the group by giving us a pop/rock track instead of something hip-hop centric like the aforementioned track.  Like I said in the first single NCT U already got the rotation started by leaving out Taeyong, Mark, and Ten and added Taeil & Kun into the track.  Decent song overall and made me wonder what was next!

 

NCT U – The 7th Sense

Filed under: NCT — solarblade @ 5:29 am

7thsense

Track Listing

  1. The 7th Sense

1. The 7th Sense

What an interesting song to debut with!  Starting off mysterious and somehow keeping it throughout the song, The 7th Sense brings back a certain hip-hop vibe that SM used to be close to in the past but went away up until EXO came in.  Anyways, the group seemed to have 2 rappers (Taeyong, Mark) and 3 singers (Ten, Doyoung, Jaehyun).  Though it does feel like the rappers had a bit more oomph for the song as their flow and rapping sticks out the most to me (Taeyong’s raspy low vibes and Mark’s quick flow and youthful sound).  Really, the song is just cool!

 

 

Being the debut for NCT (as a whole) and NCT U specifically, I feel like The 7th Sense showcased a really cool and chill vibe here.  Considering the members were all SM ROOKIES that were finally promoted, they came in strong and left their mark.  Though the odd thing is is that NCT U is a rotational unit which means each release contains different members…

 

Hello! Pro Kenshuusei Hokkaido feat. Manaka Inaba – Hankouki!/Ice day Party May 9, 2018

Filed under: Hello! Pro Kenshuusei — solarblade @ 2:41 am

hankouki

Track Listing

  1. Hankouki!
  2. Ice day Party
  3. Hankouki! (Instrumental)
  4. Ice day Party (Instrumental)

1. Hankouki!

As the first half of the single, Hankouki! is definitely a different route than the group’s previous effort, “Real☆Little☆Girl” by taking it more like an upbeat EDM track that’s bouncy and cute.  It’s definitely a song I would see the Kenshuusei sing and it kind of at times, remind me of “Seishun Beat wa 16”.  Still, the Hokkaido girls sound a lot better and vocally viable than they did at their first single.  Maybe, Manaka is another reason why they sound a bit more together too.

2. Ice day Party

The other A-side of the single, Ice day Party, I feel like should’ve been a more wintry song because well of the title itself.  Though I guess I can hear the wintry feels in the chords from the synth guitar.  It’s just as bouncy as “Hankouki!” so it kind of feels a little more of the same old.  Though I do hear Manaka straight up get a solo here over the other girls.  I do like the guitar break in the bridge, but otherwise I would say this is similar to its sister A-side.

 

 

Wow, wasn’t expecting the Hokkaido girls to get another single in, but here we are with their 2nd offering!  Though I do have to say that both Hankouki! & Ice day Party were more or less too similar to one another to really stick out to me despite altogether, the girls sound better than in “Real☆Little☆Girl / Kanojo ni Naritai!!!”.  Though despite being released back in February (and this review was released in May), Ryo Kitagawa has left sadly and both songs were oddly omitted off the Kenshuusei’s sophomore effort (yet their first song is on it?).

 

Wow, almost 10 years…. May 5, 2018

Filed under: ~Announcements~ — solarblade @ 4:08 am

Yeah, even I’m surprised at how much time flew by these 10 years with this blog.  At the beginning, I had just graduated high school and thought this would be a good place for me to just gush about songs and artists and reviewing their discography and recent releases at that time.  During the early-to-mid 2010’s I had basically found new artists through friends, YouTube and other awesome forums and blogs and really found myself becoming enamored.  There was just a lot of J-pop in my life during that period.

However, the last couple years have dwindled a lot because I have a job now and J-pop isn’t too heavy on my radar currently (doesn’t help that a lot of artists that were big are now slowing down in releases and the fact I’m into K-pop nowadays.  Either way, it’s been a crazy ride and while I have no intention to shut this blog down at all, I do feel like I should apologize for not being able to keep up with all the groups that I have reviewed and sticking to artists that I kind of loving during this slow phase.  I love Hello! Project entirely, the big names in J-pop still resonate with and there’s a lot of electro I still love when it comes to J-pop, but other artists, I’ve just fallen off the radar for.

Anyways, back to my main topic….holy shit it’s been 10 YEARS!  I think I should do something special on the 18th right?  Well, I figure…10 years has been a long time and I should see what my thoughts have changed on the album I had reviewed the same time 10 years ago in the month of May, So I’m announcing that I will be “re-reviewing and taking a look back on:

  • Nami Tamaki’s 4 SONY albums; “greeting”, “Make Progress”, “Speciality”, and “Don’t Stay”
  • Ami Suzuki’s 3 avex albums; “AROUND THE WORLD” and “CONNETTA” & “Dolce” (I would do her SONY albums, but literally no thoughts have changed)
  • Perfume’s 1st two albums, “Perfume ~Complete Best~ & “GAME”

I may do more re-reviews in the future (If there’s any you would like to see, comment below and I will definitely take thought to it).

 

Anyways, thank you my readers past, present, and future…this is a passion of mine and it’s been a wonderful and awesome 10 year running and I hope to continue it to maybe 20? who knows!!!!

 

ANGERME – Nakanai ze…Kyoukan Sagi/Uraha=Lover/Kimi Dake ja nai sa…friends (2018 Acoustic Ver.) April 26, 2018

Filed under: S/mileage — solarblade @ 5:22 am

nakanaize

Track Listing

  1. Nakanai ze…Kyoukan Sagi
  2. Uraha=Lover
  3. Kimi Dake ja nai sa…friends (2018 Acoustic Ver.)
  4. Nakanai ze…Kyoukan Sagi (Instrumental)
  5. Uraha=Lover (Instrumental)
  6. Kimi Dake ja nai sa…friends (2018 Acousic Ver.) (Instrumental)

1. Nakanai ze…Kyoukan Sagi

As the primary A-side for the single, we get Nakanai ze…Kyoukan Sagi first and it’s quite the familiar territory for the group as the song has the upbeat electro sound that ANGERME has been tackling for a little while with songs like “Tsugitsugi Zokuzoku” and “Ai no Tame…” but this one mixes those two aforementioned tracks to become a futuristic bop for the group.  I do like hearing the group starting to even out their line distribution more and more, but knowing Murotan, Kamiko, and a couple of the newer members getting more time to shine!  It’s a pretty decent track and my favorite from the single!

2. Uraha=Lover

As for the 2nd A-side, I wasn’t sure what to expect other than a cuter song in comparison to the other two tracks.  Right from the start, I was kind of thrown off by the vocal filter thrown on Rikako & Murotan in the intro lines.  Though it does clear up once Funakki kicks the verses off.  There’s something odd to the song and I’m not quite as interested with the disjointed guitar in the chorus (though the melody does remind me of something, but not quite sure what).  It does try to push itself as a pop/rock track…it’s coming off a smidge messy in places.

3. Kimi Dake ja nai sa…friends (2018 Acoustic Ver.)

I really wasn’t too thrilled to have found out they would make this song even more of a ballad than its original take.  I never found the original with Murotan, Kawamuu, and Kamiko to be that great and the song was just kind of floating there on that single.  Granted, this time around, I do like the arrangement here with mostly acoustic guitar at its base.  Add on that all the members get a nice line in the song and I think it did a little better than the original.  Still not quite into the full-ballad mode it has and wasn’t expecting to be shorter by doing only two choruses.

 

 

ANGERME finally brings their first release for the year!  After the announcement officially saying that Maho left the group, I think the group just kind of shrugged it off and moved forward to release this single (which funny enough stated that their previous release, “Manner Mode / Kisoku Tadashiku Utsukushiku / Kimi Dake ja nai sa…friends” wasn’t considered an official single for the group), but to be fair I won’t say this is Kawamura & Funaki’s first single in ANGERME.

So the single itself is kind of a hodge-podge in my opinion.  I have to say that Nakanai ze…Kyoukan Sagi is a pretty cool song and fits in their repertoire of other EDM-flourished songs in their discography pretty nicely and Kimi Dake ja nai sa…friends’ updated sound did the song a bit better than the original.  I think the only song that bothers me is Uraha=Lover just from the arrangement being a bit too rough on the edges IMO.  With the recent announcement of Ayacho graduating we have a decent amount of time to get ready for it (she’s planning for next year).  So what could be next for the group has got me curious!

 

Juice=Juice – SEXY SEXY/Naite Ii yo/Vivid Midnight April 5, 2018

Filed under: Juice=Juice — solarblade @ 8:51 pm

sexysexy

Track Listing

  1. SEXY SEXY
  2. Naite Ii yo
  3. Vivid Midnight
  4. SEXY SEXY (Instrumental)
  5. Naite Ii yo (Instrumental)
  6. Vivid Midnight (Instrumental)

1. SEXY SEXY

Kicking the single off, we get SEXY SEXY and boy does it seem to give a new side to Juice=Juice that we haven’t seen since “Black Butterfly” and “Hadaka no Hadaka no Hadaka no KISS”.  It’s also an interesting sight to see Yanamin actually lead the song considering that she’s the furthest of being considered sexy in Juice=Juice.  Granted, we get to hear a lot from the other members especially Sayuki, Ruru, and Tomoko who gave powerful performances here.  I definitely dug this track and really shows the level this group has (especially after adding Nanami & Ruru)

2. Naite Ii yo

Of course, I wasn’t surprised that one of the A-sides would’ve been a ballad here and that’s where Naite Ii yo and it seems pretty Kanatomo centered, but it’s nice to see Aarii and Yukanyan get some extra spotlight as well. Unfortunately, the song for me kind of goes nowhere for me and it sounds pretty standard otherwise.

3. Vivid Midnight

The last track, Vivid Midnight is an odd track for them, but it seems really intriguing (primarily due to the fact that a lot of people involved in the track’s creation has made music in K-pop) which gives this song a slight K-popish feel to it which is nice, but also kind of unusual for the single.  I do like that Karin and Ruru dominate a lot of the song, but what kind of kills it for me is this high-pitched arpeggio synth that happens in the choruses.

 

 

As the actual first physical single to include Juice=Juice’s newest members, Nanami Yanagawa & Ruru Danbara, I thought this single was OK.  I think the biggest win here was SEXY SEXY because it’s true to its form and it sounds hypnotic a lot of the times giving a nice sensual feel.  Then comes Vivid Midnight which is fun and bright but it doesn’t seem to connect with me personally (plus that arpeggio is annoying af!).  Finally there’s boring Naite Ii yo…just there and blah.  I hope an album comes from them soon though (especially with 5 unreleased songs in their repertoire).