Archive for the ‘ayaka’ Category

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ayaka- Real Voice

2010年 6月 1日

Could this girl be any more beautiful?

Real voice is ayaka’s first foray into a more rock-folk sound. Real voice is one of those songs that isn’t overly cheery, but still makes you feel great after listening to it. The laid back feel of this song makes me think of warm summer days. The chorus of this song is great– it’s easy to learn and fun to sing-along.

Peace loving people has never caught my attention as some of ayaka’s other songs have. It’s not a bad song, more that I don’t understand the concept as well. It’s actually quite pretty though. For the most part it’s just ayaka with a soothing piano melody, and perhaps a couple guitars or brass instruments. Peace loving people is one of those songs that you overlook the first time you hear it, but it soon grows on you. Have I mentioned this girl has a hell of a voice?

Overall: Yet another solid single from the beautiful ayaka.
Rating: 9/10

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ayaka- Melody ~Sounds Real~

2010年 3月 15日

Yet another great cover. I love the detail painted into the corners.

Melody has a kind of a Spanish rock flair. The electric guitars that open up in the beginning remind me of a lot of YUI songs (kind of like an upbeat Umbrella). Most of the verses rely on the more pop-rock aspect of the song, however. ayaka’s voice is really passionate during the chorus, where she wails “Melody…” This song is very colorful and shows plenty of variety in vocals and instrumentals.

Taking a break from the soulful melody we have one of my favorite ayaka songs of all time, blue days. Blue days is a calm acoustic ballad that’s easy on the ears. While the verses are pleasant, it’s the chorus that sticks out to me. She approaches the higher notes with such grace and ease, despite her natural voice being slightly lower.

Next is the live version of melody, and it’s even sexier than the original. Electric guitars in the beginning are replaced with acoustic and a soulful violin is added to the mix. There’s also a sassy violin solo during the instrumental bridge, which is notably absent from the original song. Also, ayaka ad-libs in the end.

Continuing with the live versions we have sha la la next. Sha la la has a noticeable blues feel to it. The violin is once again present, assisting ayaka’s vocals. ayaka sings some really high songs in this song, but she handles them perfectly every time.

Lastly is a live version of blue days. The live version is just as serene as the original, but this time ayaka is only accompanied by a single guitar.

Overall: Melody ~Sounds Real~ is an excellent piece of work. Seriously, this girl can do no wrong.

Rating: 9.5/10

Track list:

1. melody
2. Blue Days (ブルーデイズ)
3. melody ~Live Version~
4. Sha la la ~Live Version~
5. Blue Days ~Live Version~

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ayaka- I believe

2010年 3月 11日

Ayaka always has such elegant covers. The contrast between light and dark alongside ayaka’s expression give it an air of mystery.

As one of the strongest debuts ever, I believe is a ballad between pain and hopefulness. We get a sample of the former when the song opens up with the strings’ suspended note and the powerful piano melody in the background. ayaka has a bit of an unusual voice in that it is much deeper than many of her musical peers. She has a nice, wholesome vibrato and excellent intonation. The song experiences hopefulness during the chorus when she sings,

I believe myself shinjiru koto de
subete ga hajimaru ki ga suru no
I believe myself atatakai hikari wa
machigacchainai aruite yukou
I believe

I believe myself, I know that if I believe
everything and anything can begin
I believe myself, and as the sunshine warms me
I walk on without failing myself because
I believe

The next song has a more upbeat vibe to it. Yume no Kakera (lit. Pieces of a dream) relies on a strong acoustic guitar to carry the melody. Like the A-side we have a mix between pain and hope, and it’s perfectly paired with ayaka’s emotional vocals. In my opinion Yume no Kakera is one of ayaka’s strongest b-sides to date. In fact, this song is so powerful that I could survive as an A-side itself.

Overall: Phenomenal debut. Currently ayaka is the only artist on Tsuki no Ai to have obtained a rating of…

Rating: 10/10

Track list:

  1. I believe
  2. Yume no Kakera
  3. I believe (inst.)


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New Feature: Artist in Residence

2010年 3月 8日

Yay new feature time! So in a recent poll readers voted that they’d like to see more discographies from artists posted in the blog. Kowezhi and I had the idea to create an “Artist in Residence” feature in order to carry out this task. An Artist in Residence program is something I had when I was in 5th and 6th grade. As part of a magnet school different artists would come in and show us their craft. We’d like to create that same atmosphere here at Tsuki no Ai. Although this picture features alan (I was looking for an excuse to use it in a graphic), all different kinds of artists and bands will be featured.

Since this is relatively new for me I’ll be doing a memorable artist with a manageable sized discography: ayaka. At the moment ayaka has put her career on hold in order to treat Grave’s disease. In the meantime all we lowly fans can do is listen to old favorites until she comes back. If you haven’t heard of ayaka, then you’ve most likely been living under a rock (with a force field of Ayu stans surrounding it). Hopefully I’ll be able to do this incredibly talented artist justice.

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Ayaka- MTV unplugged

2010年 1月 14日

This was released just the other day and I have to say that I’m a huge fan of MTV Unplugged. I never used to listen to Utada Hikaru until I heard her MTV Unplugged concert. ayaka is a perfect candidate for something like this, given the almost folksy sound to her music.

So yeah… ayaka has a voice! We begin with Jewelry Day, although you can’t tell that’s what it is at first because it opens with ayaka belting out notes. She has a stunning vibrato and is in tune. The acoustic guitar make its entrance after a minute or so of ayaka singing. What’s interesting about the live version of this song is that we only have a single guitar and ayaka… nothing else. It makes for a serene opening. ayaka never misses a note.

Next we have one of her most famous singles, I believe. Complete with live piano and violin I believe maintains close semblance with the original song. Of course this being MTV Unplugged we have acoustic guitar instead of electronic instruments. During the bridge there are noticeably no drums, and the beat is created with the acoustic guitar.

Next we have the first out of six MCs. I will not be reviewing them.

Te wo tsunago is next, already a calm song. The complete acoustic version is even more serene than the original song. I loved the presence of the violin in this song as well. ayaka released a live version of this song on a previous single, but this time the background singers are actually in tune and together. Since there’s no electric guitar I wondered what they’d do during the bridge. Instead of electric, acoustic guitar and violin center stage. This violin solo is gorgeous.

Why begins with a quick note from piano. ayaka and acoustic guitar quickly chime in. The violin accompaniment during the verses gives the song a folksy atmosphere. Background singers accompany ayaka during the chorus, but I prefer doing it solo. Now there is electric guitar during the bridge, but it has been given a different effect so that it doesn’t stick out so much. Its sound is somewhat muted and reminds me of something from past decades.

To tell you the truth I was surprised to see that Goodnight Baby made it onto the set list. That being said it’s one of my favorite ayaka song. Ayaka’s vocals are overall softer during the live than on the track. With new instruments this song (like keyboard) has a different atmosphere from the original song.

The next song, Human Nature, is a cover of Michael Jackson’s song of the same name. This was my least favorite song on the set list because it’s kind of dated and didn’t exactly fit in with the other songs. That being said, I do like how they took a traditional R&B song and gave it an acoustic feel.

Fortunately another one of my favorite ayaka songs was up next. Blue Days was given a bit of a transformation during Unplugged. It was kind of hard to discern whether ayaka was accompanied by an electric guitar with effects or a heavily microphoned acoustic. Either way it maintained a very wholesome sound. No other instruments were added. Also ayaka ends the song a bit differently than the original (she goes down in pitch).

Mikazuki had a totally different opening; you couldn’t even tell that it was mikazuki right away. For the first thirty seconds or so we have a duet between piano and violin before transitioning into the rest of the song. Piano occupies most of the instrumentals, but violin and acoustic are added later. ayaka’s voice really rings in this song.

Unfortunately there were no bagpipes for the performance of Okaeri. Instead their melody is kind of implied with the harmonies of the violins and piano. Okaeri was already kind of a folk song and the live version only enhances that fact.

Now off to newer material. Yume wo Mikata ni proves to be one of the more powerful and uplifting tracks on the set list. The cheery piano pairs well with ayaka’s airy voice. The song gains a lot of momentum during the chorus because of the choir in the background. One of the background vocalists actually gets a solo.

I was surprised that Arigatou was on the set list. They used piano and violin to replace electric guitar and brass. The audience clapped during the beat of this song. I kind of like this version better than the original.

Another surprise… WINDING ROAD? I wasn’t a fan of this song actually, and I wasn’t sure what they’d do without Kobukuro. Background singers took their place… much better than Kobukuro because these singers actually have soul and voice. Now this song is over 8 minutes… why? There’s actually an audience participation section in the middle with ayaka guiding them along.

Lastly, we have Minna Sora no Shita, and I couldn’t recognize it at first. I was like “where are my strings??” Instead, they were replaced by piano. Also this song opens much slower than the original. This gives ayaka some freedom with her vocal solo. Kind of a rubato. For this song we just have piano and ayaka, making this song more ballad-like. The live of this song was over 7 minutes because of the songs slower pace. A perfect way to end the night.

Overall: ayaka can do no wrong… she performs exquisitely on CD and live. Also, don’t miss out on the MCs… ayaka’s known for talking a lot xD. I don’t know when this concert took place or the status of her illness at the time, but if she wasn’t feeling well she definitely didn’t let it show.

Rating: 10/10

Set list:
1. Jewelry day
2. I believe
3. 手をつなごう
4. Why
5. グンナイベイビー
6. Human Nature
7. ブルーデイズ
8. 三日月
9. おかえり
10. 夢を味方に
11. ありがとう。
12. WINDING ROAD
13. みんな空の下

*MCs are not included in the track list!

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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