Kurayami Monogatari

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Kobushi Factory – Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa/Eejanaika Ninjanaika June 14, 2017

Filed under: Kobushi Factory — solarblade @ 3:59 pm

shalala

Track Listing

  1. Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa
  2. Eejanaika Ninjanaika
  3. Yami ni Nukegake (SP Edition only)
  4. Picchi Pichi Tomodacchi (SP Edition only)
  5. Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa (Instrumental)
  6. Eejanaika Ninjanaika (Instrumental)
  7. Yami ni Nukegake (Instrumental)
  8. Picchi Pichi Tomodacchi (Instrumental)

1. Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa

Kicking the single off, I was happy to hear that Shalala! gives me a mix of pop/punk with a little bit of ska in the tune.  Considering that it fits with Kobushi’s overall style, it was pretty decent and has a nice positive sound to it all.  I have to say though that I love the chorus and the energy the girls put in.  Surprising though that it’s the only song on the single not tied to something!

2. Eejanaika Ninjanaika

That said the rest of the single is tied to the JK Ninja Girls staeplay & movie.  Though I was wondering why they made the other A-side sound like a showgirls-like track mix with some light ondo.   It’s cute as things go but like with “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro” it’s one of the oddball A-sides they’ve had.  I will say that it’s catchy as hell though and everyone gets a solo line which is always decent to hear too!

3. Yami ni Nukegake

The last two tracks were insert songs for the stageplay (“Eejanaika Ninjanaika” was the theme for the movie).  Starting with Yami ni Nukegake, a song that outside of the play, Kobushi has been performing a lot of, it’s a pretty interesting song.  You can hear the ninja-esque elements, but it does stem closer to Kobushi’s style but has a lot of funky bass lines and horn lines.  Strange as it seems, it works a lot better than “Eejanaika Ninjanaika” as it’s a bit more edgy and the girls have a lot more solos to handle, but came out sounding amazing here!  Curious to why this wasn’t an A-side because it sounds awesome!

4. Picchi Pichi Tomodacchi

The same can’t be said for the last track though.  I instantly felt the stageplay feel immediately from the arrangement and the weird instrumentation.  On top of the male quips that were thrown in.  A lot of the girls sound higher than I thought and that in itself was odd.  Though it’s not as strange as the interlude of the guys singing against this EDM-ish cutesy arrangement for a little while.  What a strange choice to put on the single, couldn’t this have been on the “JK Ninja Girls” OST?

 

 

As the group’s first single after their first album, “Kobushi Sono Ichi”, I feel like they hit a weird point with this one.  I think Shalala! Yareru Hazu sa was appropriate enough to be the leading track because it sounds like a lot of their stuff prior.  Though having the other 75% being tied to their JK Ninja Girls stuff might have led them astray since none of the songs really fit Kobushi’s style.  That said though, I did really love Yami ni Nukegake and in some parts Eejanaika Ninjanaika as there’s some experimentation that works for them moreso than “Samba! Kobushi Janeiro” did.  Picchi Pichi Tomodacchi is just an odd song for them and to throw random male parts in didn’t help much in the end.

I guess it should be mentioned that this is also Rio Fujii’s final single with the group as she’s graduating and I don’t think she was well-represented here as a send-off single.  Shalala!’s PV helped, but Rio chose to announce this a bit after the single’s announcement sadly.  Still, I’ll miss her energy and quirkiness…hopefully she won’t leave too much of a hole behind.

 

Kaya – Yumeji

Filed under: Kaya — solarblade @ 6:52 am

yumeji

Track Listing

  1. Yumeji
  2. Frosty Rain
  3. Yumeji -Trance Remix-

1. Yumeji

Oh wow, is this tribal drums and percussion I hear that opens up Yumeji?  Wow, I’m actually impressed by it even after piano & strings are added to the mix.  I feel like it does sound a bit jazzy when Kaya starts to sing and I quite enjoy the soft atmosphere that he’s not really totally known for.  I will say I’m surprised too by the abundance of reverb here giving Kaya an echo-y sound to add to the whispyness of the track overall.  Decent song here and was not expecting a track like this.

2. Frosty Rain

Are we really seeing this song again?  Yup, not even one single after (it was a B-side from “Perfana”), we have a new version of Frosty Rain that makes the ballad even MORE ballad-like with a softer performance from Kaya.  Actually there’s another voice in the song singing lines too, Yume Suzuki (who I never heard of) and they both did a pretty good job.  Strange, but I think I prefer this cut over the original take.

3. Yumeji -Trance Remix-

Since the single so far has been a quiet ride, knowing that we’d get to a trance remix of the leading song perked my interest especially the genre shift from jazz to trance is quite the stretch.  Honestly though, the arrangement with blazing synths and cool melodies are neat to listen to, but I was expecting the song to just fizzle out and quiet down for Kaya.  Though once the chorus kicks in, everything feels right in the world and it just works SO well together. I have to say for just a remix, this was pretty damn good!

 

 

Kaya’s 2nd single for the era is quite a nice single from him I’d say!  Yumeji was a nice change of pace for an A-side being quiet and jazzy and somewhat cool for him to tackle and it even makes a better trance track on top of that!  I am curious to why Frosty Rain was chosen to be redone, but it definitely made the track more memorable than before!  Awesome single!

 

You Kikkawa – Sayonara, Standard

Filed under: You Kikkawa — solarblade @ 6:34 am

sayonarastand

Track Listing

  1. Sayonara, Standard
  2. Unbalance Unbalance
  3. Sayonara, Standard (Instrumental)
  4. Unbalance Unbalance (Instrumental)

1. Sayonara, Standard

I was wondering what Yuu would bring us for her next A-side after the odd “Ha wo Kuishibare!” and considering the same person wrote her next A-side, I was expecting the tune to be more strange, but Sayonara, Standard is a bit more normal, but I wasn’t expecting Yuu to sound so different than she has before.  Almost squeakier and nasally than before which is unusual.  Plus the arrangement is a bit kooky and cutesy too.  It’s definitely a Seiko Oomori song and it’s different enough to stick out, but I’m not quite sure if it reaches levels of Kikka’s older works.

2. Unbalance Unbalance

As the lone B-side, Unbalance Unbalance follows behind “Charming Shoubu Sedai” by having more of a pop/rock vibe, but like “Sayonara, Standard”, it comes off a bit cuter due to Kikka’s cutesy vocals and some of the arrangement choices made here.  It’s pretty simple and it works as a B-side I feel like.

 

 

Not sure why Kikka keeps moving away from her EDM works because I keep thinking that’s her bread and butter so once again I feel a bit bummed from this single.  Sayonara, Standard is strange, not as much as the previous Oomori produced song, but absurd from making Kikka not sound like herself.  Unbalance Unbalance is OK, nothing special…I feel this single could’ve used another B-side, but this single is just kind of meh for me.

 

 

Namie Amuro – Just You and I June 12, 2017

Filed under: Namie Amuro — solarblade @ 4:20 pm

justyouandi

Track Listing

  1. Just You and I
  2. Strike A Pose
  3. Just You and I -Instrumental-
  4. Strike A Pose -Instrumental-

1. Just You and I

It didn’t take too much for me to guess that Just You and I would be more of a softer effort from Namie this time around.  Of course she wouldn’t abandon her R&B beats here and I feel like the beat is a little distracting, but the song otherwise has a romantic & sentimental feel to it and it’s nice that she releases these tracks once in a while to keep her grounded.  Nice track, not exactly the best this era has seen, but it’s nice enough to last a while.

2. Strike A Pose

The B-side of the single actually has been known for quite a while (being around when her last single, “Dear Diary / Fighter” dropped almost).  When people were saying it was a bop, I was expecting something like “Show Me What You’ve Got”, but I get a mix of Katy Perry & poppy Nicki Minaj in this song.  I do get that the song makes for a good summer track, but I feel like she’s done better tracks that holds the summer jam down.

 

 

I feel like Namie is holding back an album because let’s be honest, she’s due for one at this point.  I do think this single is kind of the weakest of the 5 singles she’s released in the era (not counting some of the singles prior to her “_genic” album.  Either way, Just You and I is nice and all but she’s done this before alongside Strike A Pose which does cater to more of a Western pop song (seriously, it reminds me of Nicki’s “Starships”).  I hope there’s an album on the way, if not a best album to chronicle the singles.

 

PINK CRES. – crescendo May 30, 2017

Filed under: PINK CRES. — solarblade @ 4:59 am

crescendo

Track Listing

  1. fun fun fun
  2. LOVE CANDY
  3. Uwa na Sora
  4. Kirei Kawai Mirai
  5. Last Love
  6. Katasumi
  7. Warning ~Mirei Keihou~
  8. Tell me why
  9. Summer wonderland

1. fun fun fun

The sound of clock ticking opens the album up and then we have the return of Miyabi’s heavenly voice!  I knew that the group did start off with some EDM-like substance, but I wasn’t expecting the first unheard track to be more pop with horns and a heavy beat.  I kind of like the summer atmosphere I get from the track.  While I wasn’t too sure to differentiate from the other two members; Yuuka and Hikaru, I feel like they still had some training to go through and it was apparent that Miyabi had the spotlight here.  Still, I kind of dug the track overall and it’s a great start to the album!

2. LOVE CANDY

Now this was what I was expecting when I came to listen to the album.  Unlike the bright, beachy vibe of “fun fun fun”, we get the electro-heavy LOVE CANDY.  What caught me off guard was the abuse of auto-tune in the trio’s vocals and it’s something I’m not too into unless the rest of the track was catching on.  The robotic performance is rather surprising, but there’s someone with a deep voice that actually surprised in how well it sounded in auto-tune, possibly Yuuka?  The rest of the song was pretty good too, it did feel a bit long, but at 4 minutes is it really???

3. Uwa na Sora

Changing things up again, Uwa na Sora seems to take the trio into a much cuter vibe, but mixed in some light dubstep and hip-hop?  I don’t know, but I feel a bit conflicted with this track as it feels like it would be a ballad, but it’s given this super glossy sound that works against it except in the chorus where it does slightly work.  Yeah, it was never a song that I could really get into…

4. Kirei Kawai Mirai

I don’t know why, but when I listen to this song, it feels like a Buono! song that was sorely missed by the trio and yet here I am imagining Airi & Momoko somewhere in this song or hoping.  Granted, the song does somewhat stick out from being a Buono! track by including synths and mixing the three girls vocals together, but I’m feeling as if the mixing is rather overdone here.  It’s still rather somewhat catchy and brings back the summer tones like “fun fun fun” did.

5. Last Love

Yeah, what is this intro though?  Like “Uwa na Sora”, I feel like this track has a little problem with identity and trying to find a melody in its arrangement versus the girls’ vocals.  The verses are sparse and just kind of all over the place, but it does come together better when it enters the chorus and feels a smidge like an anison theme.  I do like some of the surprising quips that come off as video-gamey sounds, but the song altogether is just somewhat chaotic.

6. Katasumi

Next song up, Katasumi was another song I had never heard prior to the album’s release and no surprise Miyabi is ALL over this song quite a bit.  Though I feel like the newer members are somewhat struggling here, especially since they’re singing in a higher register.  The song itself is pretty tame and kind of relaxed and the natural instrumentation mixed with the synths is pleasant to listen too.  Not bad, but could’ve been better.

7. Warning ~Mirai Keihou~

Oh!  I wasn’t expecting alarms sounding to kick the track off, but we’re back to the upbeat and powerful dance tracks and Warning has got a lot of punch and lot of dynamic sounds going throughout and I have to say even the new members sound a LOT more better and cooler in comparison to the previous track.  Take out the auto-tune from “LOVE CANDY” and you get this track and I really dug it!  Cool cool track overall!

8. Tell me why

Oh my, another edgy track?  I have to say I think PINK CRES. is making a lot more waves when they do upbeat tracks like this and I have to say, even if the chorus is somewhat mechanical, it really works with the members vocals and just has this oomph and sass that I wasn’t expecting from them.  I actually think Yuuka is the one with the deep vocals and I’m really loving it when it goes against Miyabi’s voice and Hikaru’s slightly higher tone.  I think it’s definitely the best track off the album hands down!

9. Summer wonderland

Rounding out the album is actually the group’s first song they performed back in 2016 (y’know after that long audition), Summer wonderland kind of fits in the middle between the edgy tracks and the experimental, poppy tracks.  It has a slight Katy Perry-ala “California Girls” sound to it, but it does lean more towards the heavier beat.  I do think the chorus is a bit strange to me because of some extra beats going on and my mind trying to process one thing when its another (yeah, odd).  It’s OK, but it kind of is in the middle for me

Tracks Recommended

  • Tell me why
  • Warning ~Mirai Keihou~
  • LOVE CANDY
  • fun fun fun

Song of Avoidance

  • Uwa na Sora

Yeah, it might be odd that I never was interested in Lovendor (though at their time of formation, I was kind of tired of hearing Reina), but when Miyabi announced auditions for a group, I was pretty excited and quite impatient since it took forever.  Though once the winners were announced (Yuuka Nihei & Hikaru Kobayashi), I was more curious to see what these girls brought and initially it was rather meh…though after listening to crescendo, I see the potential, they’re pretty different and give off this strong sense of power…I hope they follow songs like Tell me why and less Uwa na Sora…but keep going it’s pretty good so far!

 

marino with Teapot Orchestra – Bathtub de Choushoku wo

Filed under: marino — solarblade @ 3:49 am

bathtubdechoushoku

Track Listing

  1. Teapot Orchestra no March
  2. Bathtub de Choushoku wo
  3. Ittekimasu
  4. Twinkle Star
  5. Oujisama to Watashi
  6. Christmas Wonder
  7. Curtain Call

1. Teapot Orchestra no March

I wasn’t expecting the mini-album to begin with a fanfare as such as the opening track.  I do feel like already from the start that Teapot Orchestra no March is rather just there for letting us get into the mini.  It has been a while since I’ve heard marino’s voice so getting back into it, I was shocked to hear how high-pitched it was.  After the march, it slows down into a ballad and marino’s voice starts to sound a smidge better, but it does a fake ending back into the upbeat march.  Interesting opening, curious to see what’s next.

2. Bathtub de Choushoku wo

Moving to the first full track (and title track), Bathtub de Choushoku wo takes things in a different direction by going more of a showgirl/burlesque kind of arrangement.  It’s quite cute and spazzy which is always something I like from marino’s music.  Her squeaky kiddy-like voice suits the jazzy arrangement and seemed to impress me more than the opening track…great track!

3. Ittekimasu

Oh, I’m a sucker for string bass intros and this one had that on top of some simple fingersnaps and marino’s adorable vocals to keep it simple and straightforward.  Actualy, that’s pretty much the first minute of the song before it turns into a sweet and light bossa nova track.  It’s wonderful and breezy and just overall nice!

4. Twinkle Star

I guess we needed a song to wake up a bit more and Twinkle Star kind of mixes that into its arrangement.  Keeping with the jazzy vibes, the track is a bit more latin-like and gives me a cool tropical setting with the saxes and rhythm and I just loved it a whole lot!  While I think a lower voice would’ve felt better to listen to, marino didn’t do too bad here…if there was an instrumental, I would easily love it!

5. Oujisama to Watashi

Next track in, Oujisama to Watashi from the start sounds a little like a Children’s track with it’s more loopy arrangement and jolly sound.  I was kind of surprised to hear a male voice in the song singing a different melody to marino’s.  Since the title does me Uncle and I, it’s no surprise and even features spoken dialogue between the two of them in the bridge.  It’s probably my least favorite on the mini-album, but there’s things to like about it.

6. Christmas Wonder

Seems random to be adding a Christmas song on a release in September…Either way, Christmas Wonder takes out some of the jazzy atmosphere and replaced it with jingle bells to make it more festive, at least for the intro.  After the introduction, the jazz ensemble join the fray to mix with marino’s cute vocals once again.  I liked it, maybe not as much as others, but still decent.

7. Curtain Call

Well, the mini is coming to an end as it shows with its outro.  I like the upbeat acoustic/jazzy feel of this even if the track itself is pretty short.  marino while doesn’t have a strong voice to really bring things to a close, she sure does try.  After her big end, the ensemble kind of just goes on its on til it fades out, closing this release.

 

 

Yeah, this may have released back in 2012, but I have to say that compared to her previous mini, “lollipop+”, this was WAY better and better handled.  I think it’s mostly due to her moving away from electropop to jazz and it’s a great move for marino.  I still think her voice is pretty tight in spots, but it’s a much better turnout than I expected, though way late on the review x.x

 

BTS – NO MORE DREAM

Filed under: BTS — solarblade @ 3:24 am

nomoredream

Track Listing

  1. NO MORE DREAM
  2. Shingeki no Boudan
  3. Ii ne! (CD only)

1. NO MORE DREAM

Oh boy, I love the string bass that opens up BTS’ Japanese debut.  Considering this was also the group’s debut in Korea as well, I was unsure what to say since I’ve been out of the Kpop game for quite a while.  Seems like the K-pop world has shifted just a little bit with their style taking on more of a hip-hop/trap-like genre and BTS kind of mixed it up.  The song is mostly led by Rap Monster, Suga, and Jungkook with the other members popping here and there.  It’s a cool song and quite an interesting listen, especially the chorus!

2. Shingeki no Boudan

As the first B-side, Shingeki no Boudan is surprisingly a little more energetic, but keeps that hip-hop feel going and the rappers in the song are just quite impressive all-around.  I’m enjoying the addition of horns and strings, but not sacrificing much in the flow.  I feel like the track is doing much more to hype the group moreso than in “NO MORE DREAM” could.  Fun track and surprising it wasn’t an A-side alongside the leading track.

3. Ii ne!

On CD only editions of the single, it comes with another B-side and it seems to be an original track unlike the previous two tracks.  I also feel like it’s a big shift in styles where this feels more soulful and smooth and showcases the singers more than the rappers and I enjoyed hearing Jungkook, Jimin, Jin, and even V here.  Though the rappers have their moments too so I approve that too.  It’s a pretty cool song overall!

I may be quite a bit late to the BTS party, but it’s never too late to get into the group who are reaching new heights internationally.  Going into their debut works, I have to be honest and say that I wasn’t into them as much as their more recent offerings, but I really like that they kicked off a new direction for K-pop.  NO MORE DREAM is pretty different (alongside Shingeki no Boudan) as they brought a lot more of this rap-like edginess that K-pop really needed to step out and stand out too.  Ii ne! though was cool and stylish and laidback and I’m impressed for their debut and can’t wait to dive deeper.