Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

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miwa- Little Girl

2010年 7月 1日

Love love love this cover. Also, the scans for this single are so beautiful!

I was a little nervous with Little Girl. Frankly I thought it was going to be a ballad. That is not the case, as Little Girl is a light-hearted, up beat pop-rock song. miwa’s vocals are a little shaky during the beginning, but she gains control during the chorus. This song is tons of fun and super cute: a complete contrast to her last single, Don’t Cry Anymore.

Anata ga Inai to Sekai wa Konna ni Tsumaranai has some pretty weird instrumentals in the beginning, so I worried about the organization of the song. Fortunately, the general melody picks and stays pretty consistent. Like the a-side, this song is up-beat and perfect for summer. I like how this song uses lots of electric guitar, making her sound less YUI-like.

Finally, we have a gorgeous acoustic ballad. Sobani Itai Kara is soft and sweet, like miwa’s vocals. I love how miwa has a bit of a raspy tone quality to her voice in the song, as opposed to a lot of the high-energy “whining” she uses in her faster songs. This song is just miwa and acoustic guitar, so it’s perfect for listening before bed.

Overall: A great single, even better than her debut!

Rating: 10/10

Track list:

01. リトルガール
02. あなたがいないと世界はこんなにつまらない
03. そばにいたいから
04. リトルガール ~instrumental~

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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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[Single] Nightmare – a:Fantasia

2010年 6月 28日

Hoho! It’s about time Nightmare put something new out! So, if you’ve been keeping up with their releases, the last couple were fairly disappointing to me. Can’t really say much about their cover here, but I think it’s nice.

a:Fantasia is a pretty fast paced song. Nightmare has great band parts, especially guitars. They have intricate lines in this song and the bass in this song is very active too. Yomi’s vocals are great as always. His vibrato bothers me sometimes though… It’s a bit wide and very consistent. Not saying that it’s bad, but that consistency gets to me after a little. This works in his favor though so whatever. It’s a great song!

Romeo is also a very active song. It starts with a very deep, bass-heavy introduction and then proceeds to include the guitars. The guitars just go crazy in this song! Haha, awesome stuff. I think that the vocal melody is great too. Nice build-ups and stuff. The bass, the bass, the bass… Love hearing active bass lines. I never get bored of what Ni~ya plays in this song.

Rover, the complete contrast to the other two songs. It’s soft and slow. This song has a much more light accompaniment. More repeated chords and stuff, but that’s good for this style. The into to this song reminds me of Yasou Kyoku from their album Killer Show, but it takes a different approach after those few seconds. The melody is soft and melancholy. Guitar solo! Very simple, but effective ending.

Overall: Nightmare fails to disappoint me with this single. I love it! They seem to be reaching back into their previous style.

Rating: 10/10

Tracklist:
1.) a:Fantasia
2.) Romeo
3.) Rover

-KWZ

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C.N. Blue- The Way

2010年 6月 26日

Laid back and chill. Nice. But I don’t like the “1st single” part because this is actually their fourth release in Japan o_O

I was so excited to review this single. I’m usually pretty skeptical of new bands, but I was totally impressed with C.N. Blue. First, The Way ~One Way~ is an edgy rock song that combines great guitar riffs and rapping. This song is in English, so non-Japanese speakers can understand what they’re singing.

I can’t decide if I like The Way part 2~Ready N Go~ or ~Eclipse~ more because they’re both so good. The guitar work in this song reminds me of an AKFG song but, the MC and cheering crowds in the beginning make it stand out. For some reason I love the lyrics of this song:

Hey babe It’s rainy day
I can see the road in the rain
I have long sword
Makes me stronger

I’m not weak man
I will go to the world
I don’t need any more word
I seem to have set a trend

Last is a ballad, The Way part 3 ~eclipse~ begins with a soft, acoustic melody, but gradually picks up energy. This is the only song on the single that employs any kind of Japanese (which sounds pretty good still). It isn’t until the first chorus that we get some serious action. My favorite part of this song was the sweet guitar solo (comparable to those in the few ballads of Nightmare) in the middle of the song. Plus the lyrics are really sweet.

Overall: I can’t wait to review the rest of their songs!

Rating: 10/10

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[Single] VAMPS – ANGEL TRIP

2010年 6月 25日

Curse my laziness! Got a lot to catch up on so I might as well get started.

Well, first off, I’ll say that VAMPS really likes women on their covers lately. Nothing wrong with that! She has wings with white and black feathers? Hm, maybe not a pure angel. Anyway! Here we go:

ANGEL TRIP is an active, upbeat song. Normally, I like darker styles of music, but this is really quite catchy! Hyde does a great job with vocals and the accompaniment is awesome. The guitar solos between the verses are simple but add to the energy that this song already implies. Everything seems to compliment each other greatly.

KYUKETSU -SATSUGAI VAMPS Version- Wow, I was really surprised and happy when I first heard this song. This song has a much heavier texture. Fat bass lines and lots of nice kick drum here. Hyde uses a more aggressive tone and some other effect to distort his voice more (sounds to me like doing a second recording of the same verses with a slightly different style and overlapping them). As with most metal songs, they use a distorted tone and of course, there is a solo which shows off KAZ’s talents (I think he’s the one that does the solos haha).

Overall: Very good single. The songs have a nice contrast and their energy is inspiring!

Rating: 9.5/10

Tracklist:
1.) ANGEL TRIP
2.) KYUKETSU – SATSUGAI VAMPS Version-

-KWZ

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Koda Kumi- Gossip Candy

2010年 6月 24日

Weee colors 😀

Yes I finally have it. Gossip Candy. I’m still waiting for my copy to come in the mail, but until then this will suffice. Anyway, on to the review! This is a pretty “typical” Koda Kumi release in terms of single structure. We don’t really have an “a-side,” but we’ve got lots of new work to listen to. Lollipop is definitely the dirtiest song on the single, with lots of fun synth and edge. This song is comparable to lots of her other dirty summer songs, but I think this one stands out because it’s so damn catchy. Idk how I feel about Kuu rapping during the verses, but hey, not bad!

I think I was looking forward to the “fishbowl” tracks the most when I listened to the previews. Inside Fishbowl has a great summer flavor, but instead of the hip-hop of the first track we listen to more of her pop side. The chorus and the bridge are the highlights of this song. Great song!

We kind of have a Yume no Uta/Futari de thing going on with the fishbowl tracks, as they’re the same melody and lyrics. Outside Fishbowl is very similar to its counterpart, but a lot of the notes are inverted (a term for all you classically trained musicians). Basically this song is a bit deeper than Inside Fishbowl, and IMO a little edgier.

For You is a smooth R&B ballad that pays homage to Kuu’s earlier years. While I’m not a huge fan of this style, I think this song is very well done. It’s the right type of song for this single… chill and laid-back. Sometimes Kuu’s voice sounds a little whiny, but not too bad overall. Also, sometimes she dabbles into the upper vocal register, which doesn’t always work for her.

Last but not least, the highly anticipated Got to Be Real, a cover of Cheryl Lynn’s classic. Actually, this is a great cover for a couple of reasons. One: You can immediately tell it’s a cover. Two: You can recognize the original song, but Koda Kumi made it her own. I was a little worried at first because I was unsure if Kuu could match Cheryl’s soulful voice, but Kuu holds her own here. Of course I still prefer the original, but this is as close to Cheryl that you can get from Kuu.

Overall: I’m thoroughly impressed. There’s something for everyone on this single. Kuu’s vocals could have used some tweaking on songs like For You, but otherwise this is a great single.

Rating: 9.5/10

Track list:

  1. Lollipop
  2. Inside Fishbowl
  3. Outside Fishbowl
  4. For You
  5. Got to Be Real (Cheryl Lynn cover)
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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