Kurayami Monogatari

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JERO – Yancha Michi April 17, 2009

Filed under: JERO — solarblade @ 5:30 am
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yanchamichi

Track Listing

  1. Yancha Michi
  2. TOKYO Ginga
  3. Yancha Michi (Original Karaoke)
  4. TOKYO Ginga (Original Karaoke)

1. Yancha Michi

Wow after “Yakusoku”, I didn’t expect something from JERO to release something so fast.  Honestly, if this is enka then I don’t really hear the line that connects to the line because it seems more like something that could be mainstream.  There’s a lot of female BKGD singers with the electric guitar playing along with some nice strings tying things together.  As I’m listening on, JERO is becoming more like an enka singer with his annunciation through some of the words.  Good song though.

2. TOKYO Ginga

Just like his last B-side, “Hare Butai”…TOKYO Ginga was written and produced by Ataru Nakamura which is pretty interesting and I can really tell this is her stuff because as a ballad, it flows just right and there’s a lot of harmonization going on and JERO is doing just exactly that.  I sense a little bit of jazz infused in the song so I naturally enjoyed the song.

 

 

JERO’s new era begins on a pretty stable note as he continues to release exciting tracks.  Yancha Michi was a little new to his repitoire and I loved it while TOKYO Ginga was a nice ballad to listen to.  His vocals still needs work, but he’s getting there.  Good start to a new era.

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Junko Akimoto – Madison-gun no Koi March 19, 2009

Filed under: Junko Akimoto — solarblade @ 4:15 pm
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madisongunnokoi

Track Listing

  1. Madison-gun no Koi
  2. Gatsu no Hamabe

1. Madison-gun no Koi

Junko’s debut is definitly strange and maybe a little cheesy in the musical sense.  I mean there’s piano and accordion just like “Ai no Mama de…” but there’s this weird percussion instrumentation, sounds like a cowbell, but worse maybe?  That right there took me out of the song, but I’ll have to say, I like Junko’s vocals alot.  Maybe not as extravagant as in her best single, but this is a nice try…but that cheesy cowbell sound is annoying!

2. Gatsu no Hamabe

See here we go again.  That idiotic cowbell sound is once again very apparant here, but luckily it isn’t as loud as it was in the last track.  This would be the first track I’ve encountered that I hear electric guitar present which makes this a more modern enka track as well.  I’m not sure who’s singing along with her but this male presence sounds very flat against Junko.  Hmmmm…

 

 

Junko’s debut single isn’t really much to talk about since well it is a debut.  Her voice though has a good tone and flow that a good portion of enka artists don’t because they usually sing enka mechanically for some odd reason…it might just be the guys though.  The thing that brought the single down the most was the cowbell.  I’m pretty the songs could’ve been fine without it, I’m sure…

 

JERO – Yakusoku February 27, 2009

Filed under: JERO — solarblade @ 10:37 pm
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yakusokujero

Track Listing

  1. Eisa
  2. Tokyo Hyoryuu
  3. Argentine Touhikou
  4. Shiren
  5. Hare Butai
  6. Kyoko to Takashi
  7. Rurou no Machi
  8. Osaka Jewel
  9. Na no Hana Hata Detsukamaete
  10. Umiyuki

1. Eisa

Eisa begins the album and even though it was the last A-side of the era, It does seem a little weird to start off like that.  It just seems to have a more ending kind of feel to it.  Still, one of the more traditional tracks on the album, since most of the new tracks are loving the electric guitar. 

2. Tokyo Hyoryuu

It’s definitly a nice surprise that Tokyo Hyoryuu is pretty much an acoustic ballad.  I didn’t expect such a track to happen, but JERO made it so that we’d connect with the song.  His voice definitly has gotten so much better since the debut and it really shows a more emotional side to him.  Good job here.

3. Argentine Touhikou

Funny to hear female BKGD singers and castanets fill up this next track.  Right now it is his most upbeat song and even though JERO’s vocals come off being too soft at least until the chorus where he does show off a little more.  I do love how he ends the chorus being loud and powerful.  Exciting track.

4. Shiren

Shiren instantly reminded me of “Umiyuki” because of the dramatic electric guitar and strings combination.  Even though it’s shortlived, Shiren still failed to really surprise me.  I do like the harmonica moments, it just melded in with the strings so fine.  It just seems to be a more dramatic “Umiyuki” for me.

5. Hare Butai

I still enjoy Hare Butai, being a B-side.  Initially I thought it was going to be one of those really boring ballads, but he threw a twist into the plans and made a very cool jazzy song, maybe borderline pop song.  It’s sweet to see how JERO can manage a different style, other than enka.

6. Kyoko to Takashi

And then we have this track…It’s possibly the most random track because of “off” it sounds.  First off the arrangement is like something you’d hear in a 70’s cop drama…so right from the start it’s so strange.  2nd is that there’s synths and brass included.  It’s not bad, but it does throw the mood out of the door since “Hare Butai” was such an easy song and then to have peppy and strange Kyoko to Takashi just pop up seems off.  Good song though.

7. Rurou no Machi

Rurou no Machi did get a tie-in which is nice because this is another one of those dramatic Enka songs.  You hear distant sounds from the shakuhacki during the verses and the brass plays a role here again but it isn’t in your face like the previous track.  It shows off some of JERO’s best vocals here so this is easily one of my memorable tracks.

8. Osaka Jewel

Forget it, this is one exciting track.  It’s a cross between something Enka and Latin music so it’s a fusion for me.  There’s some explosive sounds from the brass and the mood seems really happy.  The chorus is fast in sound, but JERO keeps it on a lower tempo.  I already think this is my favorite track off the album.  It’s just so frantic and just full of life. 

9. Na no Hana Hata Detsukamaete

He’s churning out some super songs closer to the end of the album.  It’s funny that I can imagine the music to be like from some Final Fantasy because it has a great piano arrangement and the strings make it pop out some more.  It’s nice that it breaks the mold for Enka and JERO feels right in this song.

10. Umiyuki

Actually hearing this on the album really makes this song feel rather weak against the new tracks.  It is his debut song and still the song has some awkward spots on his vocals and the electric guitar seems to be one instrument that I probably could’ve live without.  It’s OK, but there’s better tracks.

Tracks Recommended

  •  Osaka Jewel
  • Rurou no Machi
  • Na no Hana Hata Detsukamaete
  • Argentine Tohikou
  • Hare Butai

Song of Avoidance

  • Umiyuki

Would you be really surprised that this album could be one of the standout albums so far this year.  JERO doesn’t follow the rest because he twisted Enka around and made seem mainstream at points.  Even the two A-sides failed to be on the recommended because they both felt like minor drawbacks to the new stuff.  If you like Enka, then you’ll get a kick out of this one.

 

Hitomi Shimatani – Osaka no Onna February 19, 2009

Filed under: Hitomi Shimatani — solarblade @ 8:58 pm
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200px-osakanoonna

Track Listing

  1. Osaka no Onna
  2. Kaze no Michi
  3. Osaka no Onna (Instrumental)
  4. Kaze no Michi (Instrumental)

1. Osaka no Onna

Yeah, hard to believe Hitomi originally started out as an Enka artist.  Even then, she’s had an amazing vocal ability.  There is some issues pertaining to the fact her vibrato was just a little bit shaky, but she has a powerful voice back then.  There’s a lot of electric guitar and strings playing which isn’t surprising and it’s reminding me of “Umiyuki” just a bit. 

2. Kaze no Michi

Kaze no Michi seems to erase the enka style.  There might be some of it in it, but it isn’t as hardcore and obvious.  As such, it’s a ballad and even though it might not be memorable as “Osaka no Onna”, it has a lullaby-like quality, but Hitomi is louuud.  I just love the guitar solo in it, it just made it a bit more powerful in meaning perhaps.

 

 

In similarites, Ayu and Hitomi had an odd choice of a debut.  Ayu with urban sounds and Hitomi with Enka.  The main difference was that Ayu was on a different label and Hitomi was with avex when this came out.  Supposedly the single won awards, but was a flop in the mainstream charts so avex decided “Hey, let’s dump this style and make her just go pop”  Look where that got her, she’s so varied in her music now!  I’m not sure Hitomi acknowledges this single either, but it has never been on an album or even a Best-of….how disappointing.

 

Junko Akimoto – Ai no Mama de… February 18, 2009

Filed under: Junko Akimoto — solarblade @ 6:42 am
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v30q40

Track Listing

  1. Ai no Mama de…
  2. Wasure Mono
  3. Ai no Mama de… (Original Karaoke)
  4. Ai no Mama de… (Ippanyou Karaoke)
  5. Wasure Mono (Original Karaoke)

1. Ai no Mama de…

I can only imagine why this song is loved so much in Japan for it being NO.1 on the Oricon charts for so damn long.  For being in her 60’s, Junko has a deeper womanly voice and she knows how to control her vibratos unlike some other artists today.  There isn’t much in the music so it isn’t too important because Junko is the important one here.  I like it more than JERO’s “Umiyuki” actually.

2. Wasure Mono

Wasure Mono is still enka, but it’s got a saxophone in it, which usually doesn’t make any sense on any enka track, but luckily it isn’t used too much.  Once again the more minimal, the better.  I got to say, I admire Junko’s vocals here as it’s just emotional and so together.  Even better then the A-side actually.

 

 

I have no idea what number single this is, but all I know is that Junko broke a record for hitting No.1 on the Oricon and it’s that she’s the oldest the reach it, which is showing that Japan still loves their Enka.  Both tracks were just so amazing and even though, I am a tekkie person, this is just a nice leeway out of it.  *RECOMMENDED*

 

JERO – Eisa February 4, 2009

Filed under: JERO — solarblade @ 12:36 pm
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covervg5

Track Listing

  1. Eisa
  2. Hare Butai
  3. Eisa (Original Karaoke)
  4. Hare Butai (Original Karaoke)

1. Eisa

Eisa really sounds like traditional enka, even moreso than “Umiyuki”.  Like there’s no modern twists to it and JERO deep vocals really speaks out in the song.  He’s also seemed to work on his vocals since then because he really has no odd notes in the song and he seems to be able to twist his vocals better.  Definity a vast improvement since the debut.

2. Hare Butai

Finally, there’s an actual ballad that isn’t flavored in enka juice.  Hare Butai does come as a surprise because this is almost jazzy in sorts.  JERO sounds really good here and the song has a nice atmosphere with JERO’s vocals.  There’s even strings to add effectiveness in his sound.  Nice B-side.

 

 

JERO’s 2nd and final single of the “Yakusoku” era is actually way better than “Umiyuki”.  JERO has seemed to finally get comfortable in his vocals and even try a new style as well.  Eisa definitly beats my expectations.  I have to say I love Hare Butai a lot!

 

JERO – Umiyuki January 19, 2009

Filed under: JERO — solarblade @ 10:15 am
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umiyuki

Track Listing

  1. Umiyuki
  2. Touzainanboku Hitoritabi
  3. Umiyuki (instrumental)
  4. Touzainanboku Hitoritabi (instrumental)

1. Umiyuki

You know what Umiyuki sounds like something I would hear in Kill Bill.  JERO sounds just like Gackt in a very odd way.  So the music, yes it’s an enka track but given a modern touch and kind of has a groove to it that I just love.  The traditional enka instrumentals are just as prominent and it’s quite a nice touch.  I don’t know what else I can say, but you just have to listen to this.

2. Touzainanboku Hitoritabi

We get another one, but this just isn’t as emotionally driven as “Umiyuki” is.  JERO hits some of these odd notes, but he does sing the title really good and the music (still enka) is pretty cool and refreshing.   I think people well like this track because it’s more upbeat.

 

 

Jeeze…I would have never guessed he would be singing enka, right?  More or less singing in Japanese.  Anyway, Umiyuki was a pretty straightforward single showing of his skills and the music he’s singing.  I did like Umiyuki more than Touzainanboku Hitoritabi just because Umiyuki is just that epic.