Saturday, April 30, 2016
CD Review :: Shota Shimizu - PROUD
CD + DVD
1) Feel Good
4) Good Conversation
7) thinking bout you
9) Hanataba no Kawari ni Melody wo
10) MONEY Feat Aoyama Thelma , SALU
12) Kimi no Sekai e
PROUD is Shota Shimizu's 6th album & it was released last month on 30th March .
Shota's last studio album release was 2014's ENCORE . 3 singles are included in PROUD . Single songs SNOW SMILE & I miss you -refrain- are excluded from the album but they're included in Shota's 1st best album ALL SINGLES BEST that was released last Feb .
Feel Good & PROUD (the song) are the 1st 2 new album tracks . Feel Good is a smooth mid tempo piano driven opening number while PROUD is an upbeat track that has quite a lot of auto tune .
Damage is Shota's 20th single & this mid-tempo ballad that expresses painful emotions is the latest single song included in the tracklist prior to the release of PROUD .
Good Conversation is the 3rd album track and for this song , it has a really groovy Jazz feel & it's 1 of the rare tracks in the album that doesn't have auto tune but Shota can be heard rapping a considerable amount in the song .
ANIMAL is the next new song & it's the only new album track to get a video .
Prior to the physical release of PROUD , ANIMAL was released digitally last month on 16th March .
Honestly before hearing ANIMAL , I was a bit scared in wondering what kind of song it was going to be . Turns out it's an upbeat song that follows almost in the same music vein as PROUD (the song) with both tracks quite heavily auto tune driven . The video accompanying ANIMAL is really odd & random though .
The next 3 album tracks are also in the same auto tune & rap music pool . Drunk is the most gritty aggressive out of the lot with everything almost being kicked into overdrive while thinking bout you is a slow paced number that has auto tune .
As for N.E.E.D , it sees Shota once again doing a fair amount of rap , in addition to singing in the song .
Hanataba no Kawari ni Melody wo is Shota's 19th single & it was used as the theme song for NHK's drama Designer Baby that starred Kuroki Meisa .
Described as a warm yet painful love song about universal love , Shota commented , "Hanataba no Kawari ni Melody wo is a fantastic love song that I wrote with the thoughts , 'a love song that I can only write now after striving towards music all this time .' I want many people to listen to it ."
Out of the 3 singles included in PROUD , Hanataba no Kawari ni Melody wo is my favourite as unlike Damage & BYExBYE , there's no auto tune and the piano driven ballad is still a really heartwarming great no. .
MONEY is the only collaboration found in PROUD & for this track , it features Aoyama Thelma & SALU .
Surprisingly , a video was made for the song but it's not included in the album DVD .
Shota 1st collaborated with Aoyama in stay which was found in her male theme concept GRAY SMOKE mini album which was released last Sept . stay was a good song that showcased how both their vocals compliment each other rather well .
In MONEY , SALU is brought into the picture and while I'm not familiar with his material , at the end of the day , this song mainly emphasised on rap & the portions that Shota sings have auto tune .
It would have been better if Aoyama was featured more but her music talent is not showcased much in MONEY as she's mainly doing rapping which's a bit of a pity .
BYE×BYE is Shota's 18th single and this R&B no. that documents the painful feelings of two people parting ways is the last single included in PROUD .
Kimi no Sekai e & lovesong are the last 2 tracks in the album . For Kimi no Sekai e , it's the shortest track in PROUD while lovesong felt like it picked up from where the opening number Feel Good left behind .
lovesong would have been better if Shota didn't rap that much in the song .
Shota Shimizu makes his fans proud with his 1st album release in 2 years & in Shota's latest album , he displayed a lot more attitude and character in PROUD .
Frankly , PROUD is actually not that bad but if you realise the way I wrote the new material in the album , a lot if not most of the songs have either auto tune , Shota's rapping or both .
I like songs that have auto tune but in PROUD , it's a bit too much which Shota should have toned down as having it in almost all the songs is quite excessive .
Likewise I actually never really been a fan of Shota doing rapping , which probably explained why I didn't like his debut album Umbrella that much .
I suppose in PROUD , Shota wants to express himself to be more liberal but I can't help but feel the material in his new album has a more western flair .
Hopefully in Shota's next album , he will go a different music direction . His previous album ENCORE was still good . In this case for PROUD , if you happen to like R&B music that has plenty of auto tune and/or rap , then this might be something for you to check out .
If not , just stick with Shota's past albums such as ENCORE & my personal favourite COLOURS .
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Koda Kumi - Shhh !
1) Shhh !
2) Kimi Omoi
Shhh ! is a special single by Koda Kumi which was released on 9th April .
Koda's official site states Shhh ! as her 59th single . 4 editions of Shhh ! were released with 3 that only can be bought at the concert venues of KODA KUMI LIVE TOUR 2016 ~Best Single Collection~ .
Only 1 edition (the purple cover) of Shhh ! is sold via mu-mo .
When I 1st listened to Shhh ! , it feels like an offspring of Bon Voyage's SHOW ME YOUR HOLLA & Let's show tonight , thrown in with some Oriental sounds for good measures .
Let alone if that's not good enough , Shhh ! also has traces of TRICK's show girl too , making this song an interesting 1 that has different music elements which's actually pretty cool .
Kimi Omoi serves as the B-side in the single & this song was originally found in 2014's promo mini album FEVER KODA KUMI LEGEND LIVE .
Frankly I'm a bit surprised that Kimi Omoi is included in Shhh ! as I thought the 3 songs in FEVER KODA KUMI LEGEND LIVE (including SO FEVER , NEVER GIVE IT UP) were only exclusively available to the release . But I was told that Kimi Omoi was popular with fans , hence the decision for the song to be featured as a B-side in the single .
I thought at most Koda should re-record the song seeing that now , Kimi Omoi doesn't feel that exclusive anymore .
Also in recent times , the way that Koda's releases been marketed have been rather unpredictable/messy . To me even though avex count Shhh ! & Dance In The Rain as singles in her discography , I do not as they did not chart on Oricon but since this has been planned , I can't do anything about it .
I just hope that since Koda's next single release will be counted as her 60th , she will do something special just like what she did with her 50th single 4 TIMES which was still an excellent release .
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
CD Review :: flumpool - EGG
Cover for both CD & CD + DVD editions
2) Yoru wa Nemureru kai ?
3) World beats
4) Kyou no Chikai
6) Zettai Zetsumei!!!
8) Dear my friend
10) Toaru Hajimari no Joukei ~Bookstore on the hill~
11) Natsu yo Tomenaide ~You're Romantic~
13) Blue Apple & Red Banana
14) Ashita Kimi ga Nakanai You ni
EGG is flumpool's 4th album & it was released last month in 16th March .
The original release date for EGG was 9th March & the group's last studio album release was 2012's experience .
3 singles are included in EGG . However Taisetsu na Mono wa Kimi Igai ni Miataranakute / Binetsu Refrain & Tsuyoku Hakanaku / Belief ~Haru wo Matsu Kimi e~ are excluded . But the single songs are included in the group's 1st best album The Best 2008-2014 "MONUMENT" .
The jacket cover for EGG was inspired by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch's famous work The Scream . Its theme is "an egg's scream" and it's a design full of impact .
flumpool hopes that with the release of EGG , it will encourage everyone to "hatch and leave their shells" & not be restricted by their environment of the opinion of others .
Kicking things off in EGG is Kaihouku & it's the only new album track to get a video .
Kaihouku has the theme , "to release various emotions" & as such , the video portrays the members releasing their emotions . Promo wise , the song was picked to be used as the ending theme for NTV's Sukkiri ! news programme .
Yoru wa Nemureru kai ? is flumpool's 15th single & it's the latest single put out before the release of EGG .
Described as an edgy rock tune , Yoru wa Nemureru kai ? was picked to be used as the theme song for the anime film Ajin Part 1: Shoudou as well as the Ajin TV anime series .
Out of the 3 single songs included in EGG , Yoru wa Nemureru kai ? is still no doubt my favourite & hopefully flumpool can release a similar sounding dark aggressive single song in the near future once again .
World beats is the 2nd album track & this fast paced song has a catchy melody that has auto tune to boot . It's 1 of my personal favourite tracks in EGG .
The next 2 songs Kyou no Chikai & DILEMMA were used in the ads of Bourbon Alfort mini chocolate .
Both tracks sounds different from each other . Kyou no Chikai is an uplifting mid tempo no. while DILEMMA has that Christmas vibe seeing that the Bourbon ad featuring the song was aired last December .
Zettai Zetsumei!!! is another favourite album track of mine as it's an aggressive in your face song and given the title , it's not really surprising but it's a standout no. in EGG .
LINE is 1 of the few new material that's a ballad in EGG . It's a welcome change seeing that the 1st 1/2 of the album is quite upbeat so having something like LINE is good in slowing things down considerably .
Dear my friend & Ubugoe are the next 2 album tracks . Both are equally good with Dear my friend being a good empowering no. while Ubugoe has traces of harmonica in the melody which makes it stand out .
The next 2 songs are single songs prior to the release of EGG .
Toaru Hajimari no Joukei ~Bookstore on the hill~ is the 1st song in flumpool's 13th single FOUR ROOMS while Natsu yo Tomenaide ~You're Romantic~ is flumpool's 14th single .
Rinne + Blue Apple & Red Banana are the last 2 upbeat songs with Rinne having an edgy angsty melody .
Also despite the funny title , Blue Apple & Red Banana is actually pretty good & catchy . I love the 'woah woah' going on in the melody & it probably might be a crowd favourite during concerts .
Ashita Kimi ga Nakanai You ni is the final song in EGG & this song was 1st performed during flumpool COUNTDOWN LIVE 2015→2016 .
Clocking in at almost 7 minutes long , Ashita Kimi ga Nakanai You ni is the longest track in EGG & I guess flumpool saves the best for last seeing that it's a ballad , alongside with LINE .
Oddly , when I 1st heard Ashita Kimi ga Nakanai You ni , it sounds a bit like their 7th single Akashi which's not a bad thing seeing that it's 1 of their more acclaimed songs .
After a 4 years wait , flumpool finally released their 4th studio album EGG and considering that they've been releasing material since 2008 , for EGG being only their 4th album , it's quite a surreal feeling .
Nonetheless despite the funny title chosen for their latest album , EGG is actually a surprisingly enjoyable solid album which exceeded my expectations .
Considering there're 11 new songs in EGG , for flumpool to make the new material stack up to be on par if not exceed the singles songs is not an easy thing to do but somehow or another they've outdone themselves .
flumpool's previous album experience was good but EGG takes things up to a notch or 2 & for most of the new songs to sound memorably strong individually , it's great .
If there's 1 thing I don't like about EGG is that Toaru Hajimari no Joukei ~Bookstore on the hill~ & Natsu yo Tomenaide ~You're Romantic~ being sandwiched together as I prefer if both songs get spread out but aside from that , EGG is an enjoyable record & I have fun listening to it .
It may took 4 years for flumpool to release a new studio album but it's worth the wait and EGG is a record highly recommended to check out .
Friday, April 08, 2016
Kobukuro - Mirai Spring Package
3) Ima to Mirai wo Tsunagumono
4) Mirai (Acoustic ver.)
5) Mirai (LIVE ver. from Keio University 57th Mita Festival)
Mirai Spring Package is a special re-release edition of Kobukuro's 27th single Mirai that was released last month on 23rd March .
Mirai was originally released last Dec & it was used as the theme song for the movie orange that starred Tsuchiya Tao & Yamazaki Kento .
Kobukuro's 12th single Sakura is included in the tracklist . The cover for Mirai Spring Package was drawn by manga artist Takano Ichigo , the original author of orange .
Also , only 30,000 copies of Mirai Spring Package were made .
In the Mirai Spring Package there're 5 B-sides , inclusive of Sakura , a new B-side song and 2 different renditions of Mirai .
For Kobukuro to include Sakura , it feels as though they come full circle since the cover for Mirai was inspired by Sakura's single cover .
Sakura is 1 of the duo's signature singles & it's surreal knowing that it was released in 2005 but it's still a timeless song .
As for Ima to Mirai wo Tsunagumono , it's nice stripped down laidback no. that's quite nice .
There're 2 different renditions of Mirai in the re-release of the single & 1 of them is an acoustic take while the other was recorded from their performance at Keio University 57th Mita Festival .
I enjoy the original take of Mirai but the acoustic version just amplified its status to a higher level which makes you appreciate the song in its raw state .
Kobukuro certainly has an affinity with both Sakura and Mirai seeing that both singles were re-released in special Spring editions and let alone both singles share similar artwork with regards to their covers .
Mirai on its own was good & Mirai Spring Package is an extension of the single seeing that last Dec when it was released , it was only the A-side & no other songs accompanied it until now .
On that note , the duo's 9th album TIMELESS WORLD will be released on 15th June and Mirai will be included in their upcoming new album .
Thursday, March 31, 2016
KAT-TUN - Kimi no Yume Boku no Yume
2 CDs + DVD
Kimi no Yume Boku no Yume is a new song included in 1st best album KAT-TUN 10TH ANNIVERSARY BEST "10Ks!" .
KAT-TUN 10TH ANNIVERSARY BEST "10Ks!" was released on 22nd March , on the same day when their debut single Real Face , debut album Best of KAT-TUN & Real Face Film DVD were released exactly 10 years ago .
A ballad that expresses the group's thoughts and gratitude , Kimi no Yume Boku no Yume was written & composed by Suga Shikao whom was responsible for composing Real Face . The collaboration was realised as strongly wished by the members .
Suga quoted the lyrics from Real Face in Kimi no Yume Boku no Yume and soon to depart member Taguchi Junnosuke is not featured in Kimi no Yume Boku no Yume .
I think KAT-TUN couldn't have picked anyone else aside from Suga Shikao to write/compose Kimi no Yume Boku no Yume especially since he's the 1 that wrote their debut single .
Kimi no Yume Boku no Yume itself is really touching & it's the 1st song that featured Kame , Udea & Nakamaru vocals wise . And lyrically , it's great for Suga to quote the lyrics from Real Face and incorporated them into Kimi no Yume Boku no Yume .
Also before hearing Kimi no Yume Boku no Yume , I had doubts if the soon to be trio will be able to synch together well but turns out they're able to .
A 10th anniversary landmark is supposed to be a joyous thing but it's unfortunate for KAT-TUN it's a bittersweet feeling but no matter what happens , I will continue support KAT-TUN .
As for Taguchi who's leaving both the group & talent agency today , all the best to him as he will be missed dearly by fans .
Friday, March 25, 2016
Kis-My-Ft2 - Gravity
CD + DVD A
CD + DVD B
Gravity is Kis-My-Ft2's 16th single & it was released on 16th March .
The group's 1st single release of 2016 , Gravity was picked to be used as the theme song to NTV's late-night drama MARS: Tada , Kimi wo Aishiteru. which's a live-action drama adaptation of Souryo Fuyumi's popular manga MARS. .
Member Fujigaya Taisuke and actor Kubota Masataka were cast as the leads in MARS: Tada, Kimi wo Aishiteru.
The A-side is described as an uptempo dance tune with a sense of speed .
There're 3 B-sides in the single . The 1st 1 is something called MU-CHU-DE Koishiteru .
MU-CHU-DE Koishiteru was used to promote Ginza Calla which Fujigaya stars in the ads . A recording movie video was made & included in the single .
Despite the weird title , MU-CHU-DE Koishiteru is actually a nice uptempo song although I feel it sounds like something that should have been released during Winter as it has that Christmas vibes when I listened to it .
Crystal Sky & Gravity -Ballad ver.- are only available in the CD only edition of the single .
Out of the 3 B-side , Crystal Sky is my favourite as this's EDM autotune at its best .
Whereas for Gravity -Ballad ver.- , I'm not so keen on this version of Gravity . The A-side itself is fantastic but somehow I'm not feeling the ballad version of the song .
Perhaps the group was trying to recreate what they did for their 2012 / 5th single Ai no Beat where they did the song in 2 different music styles (which both the Dance & Rock renditions were good) but for Gravity -Ballad ver.- , I would have prefer it much more if the rap verses were excluded as end of the day , I still can hear traces of the original melody in it .
Kis-My-Ft2 musically kicks off 2016 with Gravity , which's a solid release and just like the song title , you can't help but be drawn onto this catchy track the moment you 1st hear it .
2016 will be the group's 5th anniversary since their music debut & it feels like yesterday when their debut single Everybody Go was 1st released .
Hopefully they will have something special planned to mark this milestone . But for now , Gravity is highly worth checking out .
Sunday, March 20, 2016
CD Review :: NEWS - QUARTETTO
CD + DVD
1) Theme of "QUARTETTO"
10) Chumu Chumu
12) Hikari no Shizuku
QUARTETTO is NEWS's 7th album & it was released on 9th March .
The group's new album was released 1 year 1 month after their previous album White . 2 singles , 1 DVD single & 1 DVD single B-side are included in QUARTETTO .
The CD only edition of the album includes 4 solo tracks while the CD + DVD edition excludes them . This time round , the album theme centres on "four people playing an instrument" .
Opening number Theme of "QUARTETTO" kicked things off in the new album & unusually , a video was made for this track despite it being an introduction no. with little/no singing involved .
However , the video itself showcases perhaps 1 of the coolest innovative video I've seen Johnnys wise as NEWS utilised a variety of different sounds to create Theme of "QUARTETTO" and frankly , the CD version does no justice to the video version of the track .
Sharing almost the same title as the record , it's the 1st proper new album track QUARTETTO . This track has a slight tint of Classical vibes thrown in and I think it's not bad , although the downside is that it's under 3 mins long and I wished it could have been longer .
ANTHEM is found as the 1st B-side in NEWS's 1st DVD single Yonjuushi & promo wise , it was used as the official song for FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2015 .
At that time when I reviewed Yonjuushi , I enjoyed ANTHEM a great deal so seeing it making the cut in QUARTETTO , I have no issues with .
Sirius is the 2nd album track & this was used as the theme song to promote the Miss Slender underwear .
Despite the rather odd promo tie in , Sirius is hands down my favourite new song in QUARTETTO as it's a great uplifting no. . The 1st time I heard it , I already knew immediately this was something I was going to like .
Touch is the 2nd A-side of NEWS's 19th single Hikari no Shizuku / Touch .
Promo wise , this light Pop love song was used as a tie up no. for Nissen & NEWS themselves appeared in the ads .
NEWSKOOL is the 3rd group album track & this song showcases NEWS attempt to rap , both individually and/or group . It's a commendable effort as rapping is not their forte so it's actually quite fun for them to do something different .
Yonjuushi is NEWS's 1st DVD single & it was used as the opening theme song for the 2nd season of the anime Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo R .
Described as a Classical Pop song which sampled Sergei Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini , Yonjuushi was arranged by female conductor Nishimoto Tomomi . Conducted by Nishimoto , IlluminArt Philharmonic Orchestra was in charge of the music .
Before QUARTETTO was materialised , I was wondering if Yonjuushi would be included but in the end , I'm glad to see it in the album tracklist as it rightfully deserves so .
Wonder & Life are the next 2 new group tracks . Oddly/hilariously , when I 1st heard Wonder , I thought I was listening to Golden Bomber as the style is a bit similar to what they do .
Whereas for Life , it frankly doesn't stand out to me despite the numerous times I listened to it .
Chumu Chumu is NEWS's 18th single . The Indian Bollywood inspired driven no. is described as an upbeat love song that everyone can sing & dance to . Chumu means kiss in Hindi , which is the official language of India
Departure is the last group new track available / 2nd last song in QUARTETTO (if you purchase the CD + DVD edition) & when I 1st heard it , it sounds like White's Weather NEWS slightly .
Hikari no Shizuku is the 1st A-side of NEWS's 19th single Hikari no Shizuku / Touch & it's the last song in the CD + DVD edition of QUARTETTO .
Promo wise , Hikari no Shizuku was picked to be used as the theme song for Fuji TV's drama Kasa wo Motanai Aritachi which was based on member Kato Shigeaki's short story of the same title . Shige himself stars in the drama & likewise for Kiryama Renn , Sakata Masanobu Adachi Rika , Watanabe Mai , Takeda Rena , Minamisawa Nao & Raita Ryu
Hikari no Shizuku is described as a support song for young people who are troubled or hesitant , a support song that gently shines a light on the troubles and doubts of young people .
NEWS welcomes fans to Quartetto world ! The Johnnys group's 7th album takes on the emphasis of the music & vocal harmonisation of the four members in the group .
1st of all , let me start with the positives of QUARTETTO . Concept wise , I definitely prefer it over White as I found their last album to be rather depressing & the covers didn't helped matters .
Next I applaud NEWS for choosing to make a video based on an album introduction track which has little/no vocals & I think utilising a variety of sounds to make a song is a lot more harder . They could have picked something else to make a video of but to do what they've done for Theme of “QUARTETTO” really opened my eyes in a different manner .
And lastly , the singles included in QUARTETTO are stellar as last year the singles that NEWS released were some of their most entertaining/musically diverse to date .
Despite the positives , QUARTETTO also has flaws too . While the singles found in the album are great , the album tracks suffered as they struggle to sound on par if not more superior than the single songs .
Except for QUARTETTO , Sirius & NEWSKOOL which I generally like , I feel that the other group album tracks had something lacking in them .
Ironically , I find the album material in White more stronger than QUARTETTO which's a real shame as I like the concept they've gone for in QUARTETTO but somehow unfortunately the group album tracks pushed the overall quality of NEWS's new album a few steps back .
I'm not sure why but I think when NEWS made their comeback as a quartet with their self titled / 5th album , it set a rather high music benchmark because subsequently , White & QUARTETTO weren't able to match up .
Perhaps what NEWS can do for their next album release is to release an album on its own , without any single songs preceding the record . I know it sounds risky but it's possible & it has happened to artistes before which I have reviewed previously on my blog but somehow I doubt it's possible for NEWS to do something like this .
If not , the next alternative is for NEWS to be more selective on their group album material .
That said , QUARTETTO isn't an outright bad album but if you ask me , just listen to the single songs and watch the Theme of “QUARTETTO” video , alongside with listening to QUARTETTO , Sirius & NEWSKOOL while just forget about the rest .