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)