Archive for the ‘alan’ Category

h1

alan- 蘭色~Love Moon Light~

2010年 4月 16日

I have a feeling that dress is really cute, but whoever did the lighting for this shoot should be fired <_<

First song we have is 我的月光 (I have no idea what the pinyin tracks are for these songs, so if someone could help me out I’d appreciate it!). I’m really happy with this new direction that alan has taken with this Chinese mini-album. We are back to a much more folksy and natural sounding alan. This first track is a ballad, and has this very mysterious opening. The song is mostly occupied by piano, but it’s absolutely gorgeous. The chorus is epic. This is one of alan’s best ballads to date IMO (and we know she’s had a LOT of those).

炫影~Sharp Light~ begins with this graceful piano solo, preparing us for a ballad. This song has numerous Asian undertones in the melody. Although traditional instruments weren’t necessarily prevalent, the plucking of the harp and other string instruments brings us back to alan’s folk roots. The verses are the best parts of the song because they really carry a story.

有Me就好 is the obligatory (?) pop track on the album, and consequently my least favorite. It’s not a bad song, but not my style. It’s very poppy and up and positive and let’s-go-shopping-and-be-cute-lalala. Truth be told it’s pretty catchy, but most of you know by now how I feel about bubble gum pop. What I do like about this song are the jazz elements incorporated in the instrumentals.

落單的翅膀 is a mix of folk and modern pop-rock. We don’t get much guitar action in alan’s Japanese works, so the acoustic flavor of this song works really well. The melody combines folk elements with modern melodies, which is pretty cool. The choruses switch from acoustic guitar into electric, giving the song an edgier sound.

The next two tracks are the Chinese covers of to songs on her last Japanese album, My Life. Nobody knows but me was kind of the least favorite track for a lot of people, but it was my favorite track off the album ._. The instrumentals are the same this time (often they are altered in alan’s Chinese versions). The Chinese actually flows quite well in this song, and alan takes more vocal freedoms. There’s this one part where she sounds like she’s about to cry; it was so raw. Also, unlike many of alan’s Chinese versions, the mountain wails are still here!

Lastly is my other favorite track from the album, My Life. Personally I prefer the Japanese version because I feel like it flows better with the instrumentals. Anyway, this song is still as beautiful as the Japanese version.

Also, this album includes 炫影~Sharp Light~piano only version, which is a gorgeous listen as well.

Overall: I think the old alan is coming back =] No more ayu treatment, ‘kay?

Rating: 9/10

Track list:

1. 我的月光
2. 炫影~Sharp Light~
3. 有Me就好
4. 落單的翅膀
5. Nobody Knows But Me
6.My Life
7. 炫影~Sharp Light~piano only version

Advertisements
h1

alan-Diamond/Over the Clouds

2010年 2月 3日

Makeup looks pretty. Hair looks not so pretty. Dress looks badly photoshopped. And white background is very sterile and lame. No like much. God damn alan wear a kimono again! Also… where’s the fancy script of alan’s name ;_;

Ok so like many of you I was tentative about alan’s new release after the debacle that was My Life. Diamond borrows the same melody as the craptastic song from said album, Essence of Me. While I thought Essence was the biggest piece of crap I had ever heard from alan, Diamond treats the melody much better. The beginning of the song is sooo alan IMO (and a little Ayu..). The bells and piano create a wintery atmosphere similar to songs like Ashita he no Sanka. After about a minute or so the pace changes and this is where the song gets Ayumi-fied. Upbeat drums and alan singing “la la la” and stuff is so veerrrry Ayumi Hamasaki. I think the new style works for this song, but I really don’t want alan becoming another Ayu.

Personally I preferred Over the Clouds to the first A-side. The song has a game tie-in, so the music is very ominous. We hear a mysterious harp solo in the beginning, but that is substituted for more game like music. I do not like what they did to alan’s voice. Why put stuff like autotune/vocoder on someone with such a fantastic voice. Judging by the way the voice distortion was use it seems like they were trying to imitate alan’s ethnic style of singing. I looovve the strings in the background. To me this song has the same mood as Yuna Ito’s song I’m Here. The chorus is much more alan style too. alan can take something like static electronic music and give it life, which is not easy to do. The ending of this song is my favorite part with alan murmuring in the background.

Overall: While we’ve moved away from the crap in My Life we’re still not back to alan’s usual style. I liked this songs, but I’m wary of her style being transformed into Ayu’s. At least this stuff is more innovative. It’s not Kuon no Kawa, but it’s a hell of a step up from her more recent singles.

Rating: 8.5/10

Track list:

  1. Diamond
  2. Over the clouds
  3. Diamond (Instrumental)
  4. Over the clouds (Instrumental)
h1

Best of 2009: Album Artwork

2010年 1月 8日

I’ve been looking forward to this part of the “best” awards. This will probably be my last installment of the “best of”s, because I’m going to have a gigantic “worst” of post out this weekend. So here, in all their glory, are what I thought were the best album covers of 2009.

RURUTIA: Seiros
For a while I thought that this release was part of 2008 because it was released so long ago!. Anyway, RURUTIA’s music is very ethereal and reminiscent of Final Fantasy music. This cover reflects the magical element so present in her music. This cover is like a cross between reality and fantasy.

Namie Amuro: Past<Future
Plagiarized or not, this is one hot cover and it represents Namie’s moving forward with her musical career. The cover came under suspicion when it greatly resembled an image in a Korean magazine. Although it seems like the case is valid, it probably wasn’t Namie’s idea. In truth what really makes this cover amazing is Namie’s coy expression. Even if it wasn’t her idea, her cover is ten times sexier.

alan: Gunjou no Tani
This cover is one of alan’s finest. She looks so peaceful. She dons traditional garb, and it really pops compared to the dark background behind her. In this cover we have tradition and nature- the two most important aspects of alan’s music. I hope we see more of this soon!

OLIVIA: Sailing Free
Everything about this cover is so “OLIVIA.” She’s just kind of floating there, looking completely serene. Although it’s a lot of pink, all of the detail keeps this cover from being boring.

Koda Kumi: Alive/Physical Thing
Regardless of what you think of the single, I think its cover is astounding. Kuu-chan’s covers have gotten progressively better over the years. She went from looking almost like a trashy porn star to looking like more of an artist. I love the juxtaposition of this cover: Kuu looks like an angel while the environment around her is clearly rugged. Her outfit looks really high-fashion and her make up looks class. This cover is sexy without being over-the-top.

Nana Kitade: Tsukihana
Not only was this an outstanding musical feat for Nana, but its cover is a work of art too. Nana looks great in a traditional kimono. Since Nana is a model for a lot of lolita clothes, she knows how to wear an outfit. Her posture and expression make this otherwise traditional setting a little more modern.

Tohoshinki: Stand by U
The reason I like this cover so much is that it makes the boys look more “real” to us. They usually wear flashier clothes in staged and tempered environments. Here though, things look a little more candid and realistic. This kind of comforting image fits the A-side as well because the song projects a kind of intimacy.

Ayumi Hamasaki: Rule/Sparkle
This is one of my favorite Ayu covers to date. The tight-fitting outfit, silver high-heels, and bold covers give this image a futuristic look, perfectly representing the songs on the single. This single came out with many cover editions, as is common for Ayu nowadays, but this one was my favorite. Her makeup looks great too… not overdone, but still foxy. =]


Minami Kizuki: Shiroi Tsuki
I discovered Minami’s music kind of late in the year. For those of you who don’t know her, she has a voice uncannily similar to Hajime Chitose’s (she did the 4th ending to Blood+). This single happens to be a ballad, and the cover kind of reminds me of something alan would do. Minami really stands out from the black background. I really do think of the moon when looking at the cover.. maybe it has something to do with her reflection.


Miliyah Kato: WHY
This single represents one of Miliyah’s strongest releases to date. This cover lacks the glamor of a lot of these others on the list, but it perfectly reflects the raw emotion of the song WHY. Miliyah is known for her more “Diva-esque” covers, so this vulnerable side from her is something to look forward to.

h1

Best of 2009: B-sides and other stuff

2010年 1月 3日

Here’s the 3rd part to my 5-part “Best of 2009” installment! This time I’m focusing on B-sides and album-only tracks.  There are a couple more bonus categories I didn’t know where else to put (best collaboration and such). Again, nothing is in any particular order.

  • Gunjou no Tani (acoustic ver.)- alan (Gunjou no Tani)
  • SYOUKUBENI (shot in one take)– Dir en grey (Hageshisa to, Kono Mune no Naka de Karamitsuita Shakunetsu no Yami)
  • mute– Mihimaru GT (Torokechau Dandy)
  • Pied Piper– Plastic Tree (Sanatorium)
  • I– salyu (extension)
  • KISSES– stephanie. (Pride ~a part of me~)

  • Shiroki Yuu Utsu- the GazettE (DIM)
  • suki– Rie fu (Urban Romantic)
  • Akizakura (cosmos)– Ikimono Gakari (Hajimari no Uta)
  • Driving– Koda Kumi (Trick)
  • Drella– alice nine. (Vandalize)
  • COPY THAT– Namie Amuro (Past<Future)

There were a number of new artists this year… but as the title suggests I’ve only considered the artists who had the strongest debuts (I chose 5). I don’t consider artists like alan to be “new artists” since her work was well known way before her debut album. Artists like Mao Denda (who apparently released stuff about 9 years ago) are eligible because they made themselves known in 2009.  It’s a bit confusing, but it makes sense in my mind ._.

  • JASMINE
  • MiChi
  • Kana Nishino
  • Kizuki Minami
  • Lil’ B

Those where my three “main” categories. Here are the other ones (basically I was just too lazy to make graphics for categories with only one or two winners).

Best Collaboration: Ima Demo Aitai Yo– Yuna Ito feat. Spontania

Best Revival: UnsraW
Best appearance on anime: Again– YUI
Best Instrumental/Interlude: —anten.– Plastic Tree, Tenyou ~Interlude~– alan, INTRODUCTION FOR TRICK– Koda Kumi
Best Remix: romantic (strings ver.)– Rie fu, Days 8-bits of tears YMCK remix– Ayumi Hamasaki

h1

Best of 2009: Albums

2010年 1月 1日

Best albums of 2009 (not necessarily in order) from left to right

  1. alan- Voice of Earth
  2. Yuna Ito- Dream
  3. Ayumi Hamasaki- NEXT LEVEL
  4. the GazettE- DIM
  5. alice nine.- Vandalize
  6. Namie Amuro- Past<Future
  7. Nothing’s Carved in Stone- Parallel Lives
  8. rie fu- Urban Romantic
  9. Mai Fukui- My Song for You
  10. Girugamesh- Now
  11. Younha- Growing Season (Honorary Korean Masterpiece)

Honorable Mentions

MiChi- UP TO YOU
Ikimono Gakari- Hajimari no Uta
Koda Kumi- Trick
Ayaka Hirahara- My Classics
Perfume-

h1

Best of 2009: singles

2009年 12月 31日

Well I haven’t been reviewing on account of I’ve been on vacation =]. Anyway, now that I’m back and Kowezhi has decided to go party without me (<_<) I’ll spend my New Year’s Eve writing “best of”s. I’ll do singles holistically. I may add a category for b-sides or album-only tracks. None of them are in any particular order… just whatever comes to my mind. Also, no commentary since that would take way too long. Feel free to comment if you agree/disagree. It’s quite possible that I forgot some of the best. Mouse over the album pics to see the name of the artist/single.

Singles

Alright I really wanted this to be a “top 10” sort of deal… but 11 never hurt anyone =] If I *had* to pick a “number 1” I’d have to go with alan’s Kuon no Kawa. I mean come on.. that thing is EPIC (even if it rehashes the same two songs over and over). Also, even though I gave some singles better reviews than others I gave my top 10 based on musicianship, not necessarily the rating I gave. For example, although I enjoyed Miho Fukuhara’s Nande Nakitaku Nacchaun Darou tremendously, Hanabi Sky was clearly a more musical feat.

Honorable Mentions
Kana Nishino- Dear…/MAYBE
Onitsuka Chihiro- X/Last Melody
Lil’B- Tsunaida Te
Mika Nakshima- Overload
Salyu- Corteo ~Gyouretsu~
BoA- Eien


h1

Christmas Blowout Part I: Ballads

2009年 12月 2日

Christmas music wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t have those sweeping ballads. So here I’ve compiled some of my favorite Christmas ballads. I’ve tried to pull from different genres so that there’s something for everyone. Just a note, not all of these are Christmas songs; I’ve included some songs that I associate with snow/Christmas etc. So here we have it, Aoliwa’s top 15 Christmas ballads.

15. Stay With Me- Koda Kumi
Kuu looks so pretty in this cover… and it’s perfect for winter. Be sure to check out both versions!
I love how this song opens with strings, harp and piano… all these musical elements are what make the ballad so stunning. We soon transition into a consistent ballad beat that continues for the rest of the song. The verses are pretty, with Kuu-chan alongside strings, piano, and even backup vocals. She really shines in the choruses and bridge though. The orchestration during the bridge is some of the best work I’ve seen in Kuu’s ballads. There’s so much power in the last chorus, but Kuu calms it back down when she utters the final, “stay with me.”

14. Harmony of December- KinKi Kids

This is one of my favorite winter ballads. This was actually my first KinKi Kids song, and I happened to listen to it on a whim. I’m so glad I got it though! We have a lot of traditional elements… the beginning opens up with an erhu (or some variation of it). The verses aren’t my favorite, as I’m not too much of a fan of KinKi Kids’ vocals, but the choruses are heavenly. I’d recommend this song to anyone looking for a new, ethereal, take on a Christmas ballad.

13. Yuki no Hana- Mika Nakashima
Despite Mika-chan’s poor makeup, I like this cover because it reminds me of a Northern aurora. Plus that dress is way ahead of its time =D
All you hear in the beginning is a melancholy xylophone, and you’re ready for something like Hitori. However, once the piano kicks in you get this sad, yet hopeful ballad. For a while all we have is Mika and piano… but it’s a beautiful combination because of her smooth voice. After the first two choruses we get the full affect of Mika and strings. We have the strength of a ballad paired with the delicateness of Mika’s voice… just perfect. By the end you can just imagine “snow flowers” falling from the sky.

12. Itsuka no Merry Christmas- Gackt and Ayumi Hamasaki
Yes this crappy pic is the only one I could find of the two together… and I didn’t feel like doing screen shots xD.
I was surprised when I first heard the combination of Ayu and Gackt. As a whole Gackt’s vocals are MUCH stronger than Ayu’s (still love her though ^_^). We’ve got Gackt and his intense vibrato and Ayumi’s “choppiness.” The two actually make a good pair on the B’z cover (you can also hear “Silent Night” duets from them as well). Unlike the B’z version, however, we just rely on piano to accompany the vocals. Good idea… because with such strong artists you don’t want the music to overpower them. Very delicate song… makes me think of sitting by the fire place by Kowezhi (baaaah he’ll kill me if he sees I wrote that xD).

11. Forever Love (Bell ‘n’ Snow Edit)- Tohoshinki
Anyone who’s a fan of THSK has probably heard this song. While I love the original very much, this edition is just flawless. Even if you’re not a fan of THSK, I’d recommend this song anyway because of the unique orchestration. The boys opted for a “church” feel by using church bells and an organ to accompany their seamless vocals. We also have some faint soldier-like drumming in the background throughout the song. Overall the feeling is romantic and gracious. Although this was a B-side to Together, this truly is strong enough to be a single on its own (buuuut no one likes re-cut stuff so…)

10. Winter Love- BoA
I’m a BoA fan in a loose sense of the world… definitely not die-hard or anything. I actually tend to find the majority of her vocals a little nasaly. She can, however, sing a damn good ballad. I don’t think this single got much reception when it first came out, but I instantly loved it (one of the B-sides, Candle Lights, is also nice). This is reminiscent of Kuu-chan’s Stay With Me, but about 10 times more epic. There a lot of chime-y bells, strings, and background guitar (which is what gives it so much power). BoA slows it down during the verses, but totally lets loose in the chorus. One of the strongest Japanese winter ballads IMO.

9. Konayuki- Remioromen
Taking a  diversion from Jpop land we have a classic ballad from band Remioromen. I’m not an experienced Remioromen fan, but I know enough to say that this ballad is amazing. Meaning “powder snow,” Konayuki creates the atmosphere of freshly fallen snow by using soft and progressive guitar rifts. Strings are gradually integrated into the chorus, but we never lose sight of the fact that this a rock band. You can definitely feel the “Asian-ness” of the ballad in the choruses. By this I mean that kind of subtle mix between sweet and sad… and no one creates that mix like the Japanese.

8. Bokura no Love Story- WaT
Look at that (poor quality) cover… tell me that’s not cute! I want one of those sweaters ._.
It’s a shame these boys aren’t too active anymore, because they have some of the best harmony I’ve heard in the Jpop world. Bokura no Love Story is WaT at its finest. Unlike many other Christmas ballads we actually get a little bit of brass in the beginning and during the choruses. Wentz and Koike have a great understanding of each others’ voices, and it shows in the way they can trade of verses, line-by-line. The chorus (surprise) is what makes the song shine. They don’t try to be bombastic or show off-y, they seem like they’re trying to tell a story after all (fitting eh?) Also, my favorite part of the song is the string run just into the final chorus… it’s the sex.

7. Meri Kuri- BoA
I love this cover so much… even the tulle skirt xD.
Ok… everyone knows that this is THE classic BoA ballad, and a Christmas ballad stable. Admittedly I didn’t like this song when I first heard it (I wasn’t too keen on “happy” ballads then). Now I’ve grown to appreciate what really makes this song so timeless. BoA’s vocals are actually quite nice in this song. While I still stand by the fact that BoA never really reaches full potential with her vocals during this song, she still shows a good deal of control over her voice. The electric guitar in this song works well to give this that “pop” factor. The background chorus gives this song a special “holiday” feel.

6. JEWELAyumi Hamasaki
Baaah this is one of the prettiest PV’s I have ever seen… please go check it out.
Anyway, the only reason why this song stops at no. 6 is because it’s not “technically” a winter song. This is probably my favorite Ayu song of all-time, though. Ayu stands alone with just a piano by her side. This song doesn’t have a sweeping climax like the other songs, but that’s where JEWEL gets its strength. The subtleties of the song give its finesse. It’s a very sad song, but extraordinarily beautiful. I don’t want to say to much because this song truly deserves a listen.

5. Cherish- Ai Otsuka
Like JEWEL the only reason Cherish doesn’t get a higher ranking is because it still isn’t a Christmas song. However, I remember this song was released on a tribute album for “Nana” and I discovered it back in December 2006. I don’t see how this song couldn’t be a winter one… we have these synth elements in the beginning that totally mimic winter wind. Harp is very prominent in this epic song, as is a strong drum beat. This is Ai-chin’s best song because it has some of the best orchestration I’ve ever heard in the Jpop world and Ai’s voice is very diverse. A sad song… but one of the best I own.

4. CAROLS (acoustic string ver.)- Ayumi Hamasaki
Ok I dislike this cover… sorry. I love that sky and I love Ayu on the swing… but the two images just don’t mesh well for me. The regular version of CAROLS is pretty, but this string version is just awesome. The orchestra in the background makes a good ballad great. The thing I love about Ayu’s string versions is that the orchestras always show a lot of variety (not the same string loop played over and over…) This is one of the more depressing songs here, but beautiful all the same.

3. Yume no Uta- Koda Kumi
I love these covers so much… looks like she’s getting married ._.
This song, and Unmei, are Kuu-chan’s best ballads of all time. This is around the time when Kuu started taking much more control over her music, as she wrote the lyrics to Yume no Uta and the other A-side, Futari De… Both songs revolve around the same melodic motif, but Yume no Uta, although the “sadder” of the two, is better. We open up with piano, which is present throughout the song. Drum beats, a chorus, and strings dominate the choruses. Yume no Uta also has a quartet version, which I highly recommend as well.

2. Ashita e no Sanka- alan
Baaah beautiful cover… her coat looks so warm… kinda reminds me of the wintery highlands.
Again… not technically a Christmas song, but I still think it works. For some reason this song (and the Orchestral Ver.) make me think of snow. Despite this being alan’s first single, it’s her best. Most people have heard alan by now, and if you haven’t just know that her vocals are jaw-dropping. Her Tibetan wailing dominates the choruses, giving this song an especial ethnic feel . Nothing much can be said about this song, except for “go listen now.”

1. White X’mas- KAT-TUN

Pretty cover, I love how it looks like snow is falling.

Yeah I know some people will probably bitch at me for putting a boy band first here, but honestly KAT-TUN deserves the hype with this song. It’s catchy and delicate (uses harp, strings, etc). The harmony during the chorus is so great. The lyrics are also easy to learn and understand. This song doesn’t appear outwardly “Christmas-y” but still manages to give off that kind of vibe.

Yay I’m done -_-“

Please comment… this took so much longer to do than I thought it would xD

–Aoliwa