Archive for the ‘Albums’ Category

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Hey Y’all

2010年 8月 5日

Hi everyone! Aoliwa here.

As you’ve probably noticed, Koweizhi and I have been rather absent lately. We just got back from a Taiwanese American camp and we’ve got lots of stuff.

  • Jpop releases by: YUI, Kanon Wakeshima, Nana Mizuki, VAMPS, alan, Ayumi Hamasaki, JASMINE, Namie Amuro
  • Kpop releases by: C.N. Blue (discography), BoA, and SHINee
  • Editorials: Kpop vs. Jpop (II), Summer of Tek
  • Live reviews: D’espairsRay, Dir en grey (we get to meet them :D)
  • New Polls
  • Aoliwa’s playlists for EVERYTHING

Also Koweizhi and I are doing some recording in the next couple of days so we might post that as well. Look forward to it!!

Much 愛、

Aoliwa

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[Album] Asian Kung-Fu Generation – Magic Disc

2010年 7月 7日

Well, I’ve been slacking off since this is an album. It’s interesting that the band is on the cover this time. I don’t think they have had one with them on it yet. Very colorful!

This starts off with Shinseiki no Love Song. It’s a pretty chill song and the vocalist starts off doing this rap-like singing. The accompaniment is very sparse, using some repeating effect and having their drums avoid using the cymbals. The guitar plays chords and the bass sets the tonality with an active line. Later in the song, it becomes more active. The guitars switch to a sort of overdrive tone and play repeated chords and the bass, instead of providing a line repeats notes in your typical fashion.

Magic Disc is quite different, but still has a sort of relaxing feeling. The bass sticks out a lot, is repetitive and whatnot. It carries the tempo and makes it easy to predict what the guitars are going to play and what the vocal will sing. Still a pretty nice song to listen to though. The vocal is given an echo effect sometimes and he uses a more of his range in this song as opposed to the first one. Also, has anyone else noticed that he NEVER uses vibrato?

Soushiyo kind of lilts. I can just see it now, a bunch of people just leaning side to side. More rock-like I suppose since the guitars are featured more, but still very chill. Seems to be what they wanted. Oh yeah, there’s finally a guitar solo!

Sayonara Lost Generation is… what do ya know. Another laid-back song. The singer uses a very small range with that rapping style. The guitar and bass play pretty much the same thing, but with interspersed sections of rock. This is why it takes me so long to review these guys. Everything starts to sound very similar so I can’t listen to them long.

Here’s my review for Maigo Inu to Ame no Beat

Ahhhck… Getting sick of how little resistance there is to the ears here. On with it: Aozora to Kuroi Neko…. Another damn chill song. Well, this song is a bit more alive I think. Overall, the environment remains the same. Just a few crashes here and there and some more guitar prominence. The vocals are more melodic.

Kaku Seibutsu no Blues…. Seriously guys, can’t you do anything more fun-sounding like you used to? Repetitive bass again. Spread out guitar chords. A small synth orch buildup to just about nothing new. Slight change in vocal melody. Gah, this is getting painful.

Last Dance wa Kanashimi wo Nosete, FINALLY SOMETHING NEW. God damn. Anyway, it’s a pretty upbeat song. You get some… cow bell? percussion part. It sounds decent. At least it’s alive compared to everything before this. He uses falsetto quite a bit in this song. I don’t think that it works out too well. The backing vocals are all falsetto too.

Up next is Microphone. Another more upbeat song. Starts with a repetitive intro, which unfortunately keeps on going as the main melody. And… going into the second verse, the accompaniment is the same, but it’s okay because it changes. We get some electronic addition too. There are signs of their old style spread out. Repeating chords and some rhythm trips.

Rising Sun… I wonder why they didn’t mix these songs between the chill ones. This one is a bit unique in the fact that they use acoustic guitars for the intro and throughout the song. It sort of gets covered by the electric when that one is playing. The vocal melody is kind of awkward at times in my opinion. Rhythms remain the same most of the time and the bass does nothing interesting at all. There’s a little synth noise also. I don’t know how to describe it, but it doesn’t hurt the song at all.

Yes. Now that’s an interesting song name. Oh no, he starts it off by purposely singing off key. This is not turning out well. Only at the ends of verses he gets back on. This kind of thing is a no-no for me. I love to have a solid tonality going on. Towards the middle, it kind of sounds like a bunch of noise and weird singing. Kind of a weird song, but maybe if I give it a chance I could like it.

Daidai is the last new song we have. It sounds like their traditional style before this period of boredom. The guitar does anyway. The vocal melody sounds similar to all the rest of the song. If only he could do… or used (if he can do) vibrato. That would add quite a bit more depth to their music. There is a section which reminds me of another of their songs… I can’t come up with a name though.

Here is the review for Solanin

Overall: Damn, that was an ordeal to get through. There is just about nothing new, unless you like their new boring music. The song order could have been changed to keep my patience for longer.

Rating: 6/10 (This is being generous)

Tracklist:

  1. Shinseiki no Love song
  2. Magic Disc
  3. Soshiyo
  4. Sayonara Lost Generation
  5. Maigoinu to Ame no Beat
  6. Aozora to Kuroi Neko
  7. Kaku Seibutsu no Blues
  8. Last Dance wa Kanashimi wo Nosete
  9. Microphone
  10. Rising Sun
  11. Yes
  12. Daidai
  13. Solanin

-KWZ

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Kana Nishino- to LOVE

2010年 6月 30日

Would be perfect except for I hate those shoes x_X Also… I think we get the same expression from her in every cover. Nevertheless, it still looks pretty.

Prologue ~What a nice~ is a gentle pop song complete with harp, piano, and Kana’s smooth vocals. It sounds kind of like a lullaby. The only thing that bothers me is the combination of English and Japanese… I would have preferred consistency with just one language.

Go here for my review of Best Friend.

The next song, Summer Girl feat. MINMI is the perfect song for a fun summer night. This song is high energy and screams “dance.” MINMI and Kana are a great pair together… I love the way MINMI’s deep vocals contrast with Kana’s higher-pitched ones. The chorus is adorable especially, “I want some dancing and some romancing.” The instrumentals of this song are great too… we get a nice combination of piano and brass that make this song fun to listen to.

I think it’s safe to say that Kana Nishino is neither fully an R&B artist nor a pop artist. She’s a great combination of the two, and Hey Boy proves this. This song was interesting because of the electric guitars: they are pop-rock but retro at the same time. It took a while for me to like this song, but it really is catchy and reminds me of a fusion between the 50s and modern times xD.

Go all the way back here to see my review of Motto…

I think this song, love & smile, is a good transition from Motto… While the previous track is a bit melancholy, love & smile brings us into happier times, but subtly. This song has more of an R&B vibe, but the plucked strings throughout the song give it a bit of pop flair too. The only thing thing that bothers me is the way she sings “I’m searching for what you have,” where she sounds like “I’m searching for wert you have.” Her English isn’t terrible, but her mistakes are noticeable.

The first new ballad of the album is Kono Mama De. This song is basically your typical R&B ballad, which we’ve heard all over the map in 2010. The verses of this song are really beautiful, especially with the layering they do with Kana’s voice. I’m not a huge fan of the chorus because it sounds a little typical. There’s a really beautiful acoustic guitar solo in the middle (unfortunately Kana sings over it with some lifeless vocals).

Go here to see my review of MAYBE.

For some reason I was looking forward to WRONG more than any other song when I saw the track list. It’s a great transition from the previous track because it uses lots of synth. I love this song because of the tremendous amount of power and attitude it possesses. What’s great about this song is the combination of ethereal stuff mixed in with guitars. Also, Kana’s vocals are nice and strong here.

Okay now for the obligatory WTF track. I cannot be the only one who thought Come On Yes Yes Oh Yeah!! sounds like it belongs in a porno. The beginning is totally hardcore hip-hop (well as hardcore as Kana can get). Fortunately we get into more Kon’ya wa PARTY UP territory pretty soon. In fact, the two songs have tons of similarities to one another. They have the same tempo, atmosphere, and even similar lyrics. Now, I don’t know what I think about Kana rapping, but at least this song is… original.

Who the hell thought Dear… should be placed right after this song? Anyway, see my review of MAYBE to see my review of Dear…

You can find Aitakute Aitakute here.

You are the one is a ballad that gets ready to close up the album. Unlike Kono Mama De, this song is much more powerful and original. There’s this cool synth during the chorus, during which Kana sings with some solid vocals. Many of the songs on this album are hybrids of different genres, and this song is no exception. This time it’s synth and R&B. Very nice song.

Last of all is Epliogue ~to LOVE~, which is kind of a another version of the prologue. I like the epilogue more because it seems more solid in the instrumentals and not so “fairy-ish.”

Overall: We’re definitely moving our way up with Kana Nishino. It’s miles above her previous album, LOVE one. That being said, I still think Kana has a long way to go before she reaches her full potential.

Best tracks:

  • Summer Girl feat. MINMI
  • WRONG
  • You are the one
  • MAYBE
  • motto…

Rating: 8/10

Track list:

01 *Prologue* ~What a nice~
02 Best Friend
03 Summer Girl feat. MINMI
04 Hey Boy
05 もっと…
06 love & smile
07 このままで
08 MAYBE
09 WRONG
10 Come On Yes Yes Oh Yeah!!
11 Dear…
12 会いたくて 会いたくて
13 You are the one
14 *Epilogue* ~to LOVE~

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Stereopony- Over the Border

2010年 6月 22日

I totally called it when I said that this would be a series of cover designs.

Let’s start right away: Over the Border is a progressive rock track with an uplifting quality. It has a n awesome guitar intro that transitions into soft verses. The chorus is very energetic and AIMI suspends a lot of her vocals. I thought this song was a little too ballad-like to open up a ballad. If only it had kept the same action in the beginning.

Go here for my review of Tsukiakari no Michishirube.

Smilife is the oldest A-side on the album, and coincidentally one of my favorite Stereopony songs. I like how it follows Tsukiakari no Michishirube because these are the two songs that convinced me to follow Stereopony. Smilife is as upbeat and energetic as you can get. I love how this song places so much emphasis on the guitars (including bass) (as opposed to vocals).

Second new track of the album is happy ‘A’. Whenever I hear the intro I instantly think of Yaida Hitomi’s STARTLiNE. With a title like happy ‘A’ it’s a given that the song is going to be, well, happy. I thought this was a good song, but I would have liked to hear more interchange in harmony between the guitars during the chorus. Also, the constant beating of the drums got a little annoying. Even though it does well in following Smilife, I probably won’t listen to this track much.

Never Look Back has to be one of Stereopony’s best songs yet. AIMI does her job and maintains strong vocal vigor throughout the whole song. This song is one of the more rock-heavy tracks of the album and it just does not let up (which, in this case, is a good thing). The guitar work is just great in this song and keeps you constantly interested.

When I heard the beginning of Tomodachi no Koibito I was like “Oh no..” because it sounded like a Western folk song. Fortunately AIMI and NOHANA step up their bass/guitar work the song really comes to life. I thought AIMI’s vocals were a little weak, but NOHANA and SHIHO do a great job with sustaining the energy through the song.

More with the happy. Mousou Jet brings back the standard Stereopony fare. It took almost an entire minute to get me involved in this song. The chorus is very strong, but the verses feel empty and stale. Passable, but they could have done so much more with this song. The one thing I really didn’t like in this song was the scream-thing right before the final chorus (it sounded more like a dying animal). Really… that is not how we scream AIMI!

Go here for my reviews of cherry my… and hanbunko.

Hoshikuzu Cantera (Kandelaar) is an interesting track because it’s a mix of dark and light. The beginning instrumentals and verses show us that dark side while the chorus brings more of that happy quality.  This track is very lovable because of the great mixture of techniques used. AIMI even uses autotune… which doesn’t bother me too much.

Next is 100 Pararhythms, which actually brings us in with what sounds like an alarm clock. This song is much more slowly paced than most other songs on the album. I’m always seduced into listening to the song because of the cool title, but then I have trouble making it through the song. It’s so slow and lacks anything memorable. There a couple nice spots in the song, but mostly just a very average track.

Last A-side is OVERDRIVE. With that kind of title you’d expect a high-octane rock track. Instead it’s a calm, mid-tempo pop-rock song. I still think it’s A-side worthy, but it’s not as good as the others.

Now here’s the mother of all tracks, spanning almost 13 minutes: Sakine. I actually really like this song because it’s the album’s one true ballad. It’s weird because the actual song ends around 3:35, and you’re left with a bunch of empty space until the last minute or so. I don’t know the title of the “secret track” (which is a nice live acoustic mix)… but I wish it were longer.

Overall: A lot of good songs, but also a great number of flaws that hurt the album.

Best tracks:

  • Tsukiakari no Michishirube
  • Smilife
  • Never Look Back
  • Hoshikuzu Cantera

Track list:

  1. OVER THE BORDER
  2. tsukiakari no michishirube | ツキアカリのミチシルベ [the guiding moonlight]
  3. スマイライフ | Smilife
  4. happy’A’
  5. Never Look Back
  6. 友達の恋人 | tomodachi no koibito [my friend’s lover]
  7. 妄想ジェット | mousou JETTO [daydream jet]
  8. cherry my…
  9. はんぶんこ | hanbunko [split down the middle]
  10. 星屑カンテラ | hoshikuzu KANTERA [stardust torch]
  11. 100パラリズム | 100 PARARIZUMU [100 para-rhythm]
  12. OVER DRIVE
  13. 咲音 | sakine
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BENI- lovebox

2010年 6月 14日

Classy as usual. It does remind me of the last single’s cover though… maybe she cleaned her room?

It has taken me a while to do this review, primarily because I was rather bored with BENI’s new album. Lovebox intro is kind of cute because of the playground/kid noises in the background. Aside from that it’s just a mid-paced, repetitive, R&B track. Not very memorable.

Go here for my reviews of Yura Yura and Sign.

Hitomi Tojite is the first new song on the album. It’s you’re typical BENI-R&B track with catchy lyrics. This song reminded me of too many… KIRA KIRA, Yura Yura, etc.

See the link for Yura Yura to read my review for Gimme Gimme♥.

Fortunately, the album picks up a bit with Girl’s Night feat. JAMOSA. The girl-talk in the beginning of the song reminds me of Yuna Ito’s Stuck On You. This song is a bit more upbeat than BENI’s typical works, which is a good thing. JAMOSA’s vocals aren’t perfect, but BENI’s are!

a million jewels has a more hip hop vibe, reminiscent of Western works. I found myself bored throughout most of this song because it lacked any particular engaging catch.

Kimi Ja Nakyua becomes one of the more poignant songs on the album. While the continual snapping throughout the song annoyed me to no end, the rest of the song is pretty good. The strings make this song more heartfelt and authentic, helping it standout among her numerous mid-tempo songs.

Go here to read about bye bye.

MOVE makes me think of a toned down version of Anything goes!!, from her last album. While it does offer a break from the mid-tempo songs that dominate the first half of the album, I just wasn’t feeling it. Dislike for the most part.

We finally move into more aggressive music with break the rules. What attracted me to this song were the numerous synth affects (vocal and instrumental). There’s nothing wrong with R&B, but too much is too much sometimes. break the rules does just that in terms of what BENI usually sings.

While we don’t have a new Beautiful World on this album, he is mine is the song that comes closest. BENI tones things down a lot with this R&B number. You get a little bit of the ethereal feel with this song, making you want to relax. BENI’s vocals are on par as well (heh, well aren’t they always?)

Okay more mid-tempo stuff with My Friend. Unlike the other mid-tempo works though, I actually liked this song. There’s nothing particularly ground-breaking, but there are so many elements working together that this song comes out well.

Last brand new track is message, arguably the most sincere track on the album. Message is the closest thing you’ll get to a ballad from the new songs. I didn’t think it was anything too special, but it was a nice way to wind things down.

Finally we have Zutto Futari de unplugged ver., a beautiful arrangement of one of BENI’s most famous songs. Unplugged in this case implies lots and lots of strings (and a little piano). This is a tried and true ballad- I like it even more than the original!

Overall: Not going to lie, this was not as impressive as her last album. However, there are lots of new tracks to listen to and there’s something for everyone.

Best Tracks:

  • Girl’s Night feat. JAMOSA
  • break the rules
  • he is mine
  • zutto futari de unplugged ver.

Rating: 6.5/10

Track list:
1. Lovebox Intro
2. Yura Yura (ユラユラ)
3. Sign (サイン)
4. Hitomi Tojite (瞳とじて)
5. Gimme Gimme♥ (ギミギミ♥)
6. Girl’s Night feat. JAMOSA
7. a million jewels
8. Kimi Ja Nakya (君じゃなきゃ)
9. bye bye
10. MOVE
11. break the rules
12. he is mine
13. My Friend (マイ・フレンド)
14. Message
15. Zutto Futari de unplugged version (ずっと二人で unplugged version)

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4minute- Hit Your Heart

2010年 6月 4日

I like this cover for the most part (even if it looks like they’re all photoshopped). At least they’re trendy, right?

Who’s Next? (feat. 비스트) is kind of an annoying hip hop track in my opinion. I would have enjoyed this track MUCH more had it not been for the horrendous male vocals (yeah not a fan of B2ST). Overall this track seemed a bit sloppy and rushed (it’s only 2 min). It has a nice moment about half-way through, but unfortunately it doesn’t last long enough.

Now we’re talking. HuH is a sexy, upbeat, dance track. The verses are sassy and aggressive, while the chorus has a lot of passion and power. This song has hip hop influences, but thanks to the vocals of 4minute and background synth we have a much more dance-friendly track. Easily the best track of the album.

Invitation continues with a streak of solid hip hop based dance tracks. Invitation is much more aggressive than the previous track because of its “in the club” feel. The rappers of the group (Hyuna, Sohyun, Jiyoon) a chance to shine.

My second favorite track on the album is I My Me Mine. This track is much more my style because we’re in the electronic/dance genre. This song is incredibly infectious, and I was completely impressed. What I like about this song is that it has a style with which the girls are comfortable, but still maintains originality.

Things lighten up a bit with Bababa. To me I think of your typical happy Koda Kumi song when I hear this song. This song isn’t necessarily a standout, but at least it’s memorable.

4minute hits us with another stellar track with Highlight. As this song says, Highlight is “hot hot hot hot.” While I’m normally a critic of vocal editing (and even the affects are a little much here) it’s done in good taste.

Last we have 태연하게 당연하게 (Cool and Natural), the slow track of the album. This song has a laid back romantic feel to it, fairly typical kpop fare. I liked the smooth rapping sections in the song because I thought they gave the song some nice contrast.  I still don’t understand how a ballad can be only 4:03 min ._.

Overall: Outstanding work by 4minute! I’d recommend this to anyone eager to try Kpop
Rating: 9/10

Best tracks:

  • HuH
  • I My Me Mine
  • Highlight

Track list:

  1. Who’s Next? feat. Beast
  2. HuH
  3. Invitation
  4. I My Me Mine
  5. Bababa
  6. Highlight
  7. Taeyeonghage Dangyeonhage
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f(x)- NU ABO

2010年 5月 22日

Cover looks like it’s from a horror movie ._.

Okay, so I don’t review kpop a lot (actually this is my first time). Japanese music will always represent my soul, my passion. However, since I’ll also be studying Korean stuff as part of my major, I’ve been trying to familiarize myself with the sound of the Korean language (as if I don’t get enough of that from watching kdramas…) I’ve listened to Korean music for as long as I’ve listened to Japanese music, but currently my division of music is 90% jpop, 7% kpop, 3% cpop. Let’s go!

NU ABO, the title track, is an aggressive, hip-hop-based, high-energy track. With a strong beat, fierce vocals, and a crowd cheering during the verses, NU ABO is one of the sexiest songs I’ve heard in a while. This song would be great for dancing, and isn’t too far out of Koda Kumi’s style for those of you who want to try kpop. I don’t like hip-hop very much, but this track is great because of its electronic feel.

The next track is much more of a pop/electric track: Mr. Boogie. This song has a dark feel to it, and has some strong verses. I thought the chorus was a bit awkward/repetitive, but overall not too bad.

All the aggression takes a break to make way for a positive track, Ice Cream. What I like about this track is that it has elements of bubblegum pop, but isn’t too sweet. Overall very cute song.

ME+U is the most electronically charged track on the album. I haven’t learned which vocals correspond to each member yet, but whoever leads the verses has a bit of an annoying voice (but I still kind of like it xD). This song brings back that sass and attitude of the first couple of tracks.

Surprise Party is a cool R&B/pop track, which reminds me of a fusion between the kpop and jpop worlds. Although the song is about birthdays it’s still cute.

Lastly, we can’t have an album without a ballad. I’m still getting used to the fact that Korean songs are so much shorter than Japanese songs. This ballad isn’t even 4 minutes long! Now, Sorry (Dear. Daddy) is totally Korean in style. Basically, this song could fit into an kdrama; it actually reminds me of Byul’s stuff from the best drama EVAR Full House. This song shows off the girls’ strong vocals very well.

Overall: I can’t wait to listen to more f(x)!

Rating: 7/10

Track list:

  1. NU ABO
  2. Mr. Boogie
  3. Ice Cream
  4. ME+U
  5. Surprise Party
  6. Sorry (Dear. Daddy)
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KOKIA- REAL WORLD

2010年 4月 26日

When I first saw this cover I thought it was just a green screen, but KOKIA actually went to Tunisia for inspiration for the album. Awesome!

Just to let you guys know, ever since  Lex recommended this album I’ve been whoring it for the past two weeks. I can’t get enough of KOKIA’s glistening vocals!

Birth is an unusual way to open up an album because it’s such a soft and slow song. This song is so peaceful with the gentle strings and muted drums. Although it isn’t my favorite song off the album, it’s still a great example of KOKIA’s musical prowess.

Road to Glory ~ for Dragon Nest is a 5 minute journey of epicness. The beginning is very mysterious, almost ominous. But about a minute into the song we hear some layered ethereal vocals from KOKIA. This song tells a story, and that’s what gives it this magical element. The chorus in this song is mind-blowing; it makes you feel like you’re on top of a mountain.

U-CHA-CHA continues the exotic feel of the album. The beginning is rather quiet with some of KOKIA’s vocals singing from the distance. Personally I felt like it took this song a little too long to arrive to the main theme, but I can tell some people will love this track.

The title track REAL WORLD is next. This song opens with almost a R&B/pop vibe. The song is up-lifting and filled with positive emotion and sass. I did not like the chorus too much  because of the way “real world” was pronounced (Re-al world). Also, I wasn’t too much of a fan of the gospel feel during the chorus.

Back to the Tunisia tracks, Saishuu Jouei is one of the best on the album. Like the songs before it, this song also tells a story. This time KOKIA says “welcome to the magic world,” and indeed that’s where we are. This song made me think of riding on a camel in the middle of the desert. The way the vocals are layered during the chorus causes an other-worldly affect to the song.

Love is Us, Love is Earth is another track inspired by KOKIA’s trip to Tunisia. Unlike the previous track, this one has a more acoustic vibe in favor of ethnic melodies. A soothing ballad, Love is Us, Love is Earth shows off KOKIA’s radiant vocals. The song really picks up speed during the second half.

Dugong no Sora is one hot track. The mysterious beginning alerts us to some desert instrumentals, which carry us into the main melody. This song is over 7 minutes long, but amazingly it didn’t feel like anything was being dragged out. This song is great for people who love ethereal music that makes them feel as if they were floating (or at least that’s how it makes me feel). One of the best songs on the album.

The next two songs didn’t exactly resonate with me as well as some of the other songs. Kodoku na Ikimono was one of the singles to appear on the album. Don’t get me wrong it’s still a great piano-based ballad. I still love this song, but Dugong no Sora is kind of a hard act to follow!

I tried very hard to like single mother. Like KOKIA, I also have a single mother (my father passed away this past year) so I appreciated the song’s message. I guess I just didn’t like the lullaby feel of the album or the chorus that accompanied. It is still a well-produced song, but I think I was so caught up in the Tunisia-inspired songs that this one slipped under the radar for me. Don’t let my review deter you from these songs… they’re still beautiful.

Continuing the ballad theme is Kimi ga Sagashite (another thing… don’t listen to this album if ballad’s aren’t your thing). KOKIA’s vocals are much softer in this song, erring on the side of breathy even. You can experience the vast range of KOKIA’s vocal ability by listening to this song.  Kimi ga Sagashite kind of has a pop/R&B vibe to it too because of some of the synth in the background.

Oto no Tabibito might be my favorite song on the album. This song is sexy like an Arabian night. I thought of the desert nighttime with swift, warm breezes and perhaps a bit of sadness. This song is definitely a ballad, but it differs from all the other ones on the album. The layering of KOKIA’s voice creates a mystical vibe for the song.

Watashi ga Mitamono is a bit similar to Kodoku na Ikimono in that it is another slow piano ballad. The chorus in this song is really beautiful, and it combines one of my favorite instruments- solo cello. This track isn’t as lively as some of the others, but still beautifully done.

Yet another ballad ensues. Kono Chikyuu ga Marui Okage de has a positive and hopeful tone to it. It was a well-produced song, but I didn’t find this one as memorable as some of the other piano ballad songs.

Concluding the album is The woman. The woman is the final track of the album, and by far the most depressing song. This song is kind of lullaby like in that it could easily soothe you to sleep, but it isn’t boring at all. KOKIA does an excellent job at reaching notes in the upper register. Good job KOKIA!

Overall: Why did I forsake KOKIA’s music for so many years?! BUY THE ALBUM BITCHES.

Rating: 9.5/10

Best tracks:

  • Road to Glory ~ for Dragon Nest
  • Saishuu Jouei
  • Dugong no Sora
  • Oto no Tabibito
  • The woman

Track list:

  1. Birth
  2. Road to Glory ~ for Dragon Nest
  3. U-CHA-CHA
  4. REAL WORLD
  5. Saishuu Jouei
  6. Love is Us, Love is Earth
  7. Dugong no Sora
  8. Kodoku na Ikimono
  9. single mother
  10. Kimi wo Sagashite
  11. Oto no Tabibito
  12. Watashi ga Mitamono
  13. Kono Chikyuu ga Marui Okage de
  14. The woman
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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

h1

Ayumi Hamasaki- Rock ‘N’ Roll Circus

2010年 4月 9日

This is a HQ cover, but Ayus eyes are looking a liiiittle to wide for my likes. Also I’m not too much of a fan of the Brit theme. Nothing against Brits, but the image doesn’t match the style of the music presented in this album.

THE introduction sounds very profound right? xD Anyway this is one of Ayu’s most ominous intros to date. We open up with some dark synthetic elements that gradually creep up into a main theme. It’s not my favorite of Ayu’s intros, mostly because I don’t like the melody line. Also… this is the only song relatively “circus” themed…

Looks like Ayu’s going into forays with the power/symphonic metal genre with microphone. A baroque style melody played by organ begins this piece, but its delicateness is interrupted by a slew of metal chords. Pretty soon we’re in your run-of-the-mill Ayu pop-rock song. But what makes this one different is the soft, delicate parts that lead up to the powerful chorus. Admittedly I didn’t like this song when it was first leaked, but it has recently gained my approval. It is one of the best tracks on the album.

I first thought count down would be an interlude track because of the static synth in the beginning. But actually, this song is a whole different style altogether. A dark and ponderous piano melody follows us through the song. Also, all the mysterious synth in the background reminded me of the ethereal stuff of salyu or Hikki. Nevertheless, the song loses the mysterious affect during the chorus because of the rock albums. Do we have a repeat of GUILTY?

I’m kind of surprised that Ayu put Sunset 〜LOVE is ALL〜 before Sunrise… anyway I actually like this song (yes just shut up). It’s definitely a summer ballad, but it’s very uplifting and sweet. Still, kind of an unusual transition because the songs around it are so moody.

See here for my review of BALLAD.

Okay now we’re jumping into what I’d like to call “Avril Lavigne Territory.” A melancholy acoustic guitar and cello bring Last Links its melody. This is definitely another rock track, but not the “Rule” kind. Actually this song reminds me of some of her older works like: (Miss)Understood, Memorial Address, etc. It’s a good song, but not necessarily different from anything we’ve heard yet.

Next we have montage, the appropriately titled interlude. Okay… montage is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever heard Ayu do. It starts with a dark synth, but explodes into this melody lead by an organ. This whole thing is like a piece of Baroque musical literature (except for it sounds a little more modern/romantic at the end). We have strings, organ, and harpsichord. Just… very different. This interlude would have been better placed at the beginning of the album to prelude microphone.

Don’t Look Back is one of the most innovative tracks on the album. The beginning is sexy as hell, with the Middle Eastern instruments and melody. I was kind of disappointed that the influence didn’t remain as strong throughout the chorus. During the verses there was this cool whispering voice that outlined Ayu’s vocals. My favorite part was the instrumental bridge in the middle song. It was so different from anything else on the album.

Jump!, the second interlude, brings us back to our NEXT LEVEL roots. It’s littered with synth and Ayu sustaining various notes. Also there are a number of fragments during the song wherein the background vocals repeat “jump!” over and over. This interlude was a bit of a hot mess, not going to lie.

Lady Dynamite was one of the few tracks I decided not to listen to until the album was leaked. At least Jump! was an appropriately placed interlude. Lady Dynamite follows much of the pop-rock model we’re used to seeing in Ayu’s music. Although not necessarily innovative, Lady Dynamite is one sexy and empowering song.

Sexy little things begins with a highly futuristic synth sound. But what was cool about this song is that this synth was transformed into creating a jazzy melody. The chorus was my favorite part of the song, because we haven’t really heard Ayu done this kind of sexy before. This is one of the best tracks off of the album IMO (even if it is a little weird ;]).

Yes I loved Sunrise 〜LOVE is ALL〜 too. This is the upbeat version of Sunset, which was placed earlier in the album. This song is one of Ayu’s famed summer songs, and it incorporates background vocals, which charge the chorus.

The third ballad, meaning of Love is next. Fortunately, Ayu rarely messes up a ballad. Meaning of Love is a little traditional in terms of instrumentals and melody, but it is still beautiful to listen to. Everything in this song is carefully placed and uplifting. My only concern with it is it precedes another ballad, You were…

You were… is another ballad that was released this past December. My problem is that, although pretty, contains many of the same ballad elements that meaning of Love has. Now You were… is easily more wintery, but its beauty is undermined by the grandiose ballad before it. I reviewed You were… with BALLAD.

Lastly is the album version of RED LINE 〜for TA〜. I’m still confused as to why she chose to end the album with this song… BALLAD, the most grandiose and powerful song on the album should have been placed here. Honestly there aren’t many differences between this version and the single version. The only main difference is that it’s much longer, and the chorus and guitar solos are extended until Ayu’s a capella section at the end. Couldn’t we just have this version and screw the single version?

Overall: I’m not really sure what to think right now. This album is all over the place in so many different ways. There isn’t a “bad” song on the album, but I think what I’m missing is the cohesiveness that’s present in Ayu’s other works (example… montage and microphone). Lots of rock on this album (hence the title… but where the hell was the circus? Oh well, that theme’s overdone anyway).

Best tracks:

  • BALLAD
  • Don’t Look Back
  • meaning of Love
  • Sexy little things
  • microphone
  • count down?

Rating: 8/10

Track list:

01. THE introduction
02. Microphone
03. count down
04. Sunset 〜LOVE is ALL〜
05. BALLAD
06. Last Links
07. montage
08. Don’t look back
09. Jump!
10. Lady Dynamite
11. Sexy little things
12. Sunrise 〜LOVE is ALL〜
13. meaning of Love
14. You were…
15. RED LINE 〜for TA〜 [album version]