Friday, December 19, 2014
CD Review :: FLOWER FLOWER - Mi
CD + DVD
4) Toumei na Uta
5) Ohayou no Kiss wo
7) Subarashii Sekai
10) Kimi no Koto
11) Start Line
13) Bye Bye
Mi is FLOWER FLOWER's debut album & it was released last month on 26th Nov .
FLOWER FLOWER's debut album includes 3 digital singles . Their 3rd & 4th digital singles Aki + Natsu are not included in Mi .
Prior to the physical CD release of Mi , 4 album tracks were released digitally week after week before 26th Nov .
The formation of FLOWER FLOWER is hemmed by singer-songwriter yui (previously stylised as YUI) who serves as the vocalist of the group .
Consists of vocalist/guitarist yui , bassist mafumafu , drummer sacchan & keyboardist/programmer mura☆jun , yui formed FLOWER FLOWER with other musicians she respects & the band started studio sessions last year . She said that with FLOWER FLOWER , she was able to purely enjoy the music that the band creates & from each new performance , she naturally gets new ideas for potential new songs .
yui commented, "I thought anything would sound good with these members , but it's true that there was some feeling of 'destruction' somewhere in my heart . I'm not sure how people will respond to it , but I hope to give some kind of shock ."
FLOWER FLOWER have released digital singles since last year , making Mi their 1st physical CD release .
The album title Mi mean a seed , a fruit . On why they chose to name their debut album Mi , FLOWER FLOWER explains that it's because they're growing & then they are getting it + sharing it .
Negai is the opening track of Mi . This mid tempo number more or less sets the rest of the music style found in other tracks in the album .
Kamisama is FLOWER FLOWER's 2nd digital single . yui commented , "I'm used to only play an acoustic guitar , but I've been playing the electric guitar a lot lately . Kamisama was one of the 1st songs I played on the electric guitar , so it's important to me . I hope Kamisama lifts your spirits when you listen to it ." .
Kuuki & Toumei na Uta were released digitally before Mi was physically released . Kuuki was released digitally on 5th Nov while Toumei na Uta was released digitally on 29th Oct .
Both songs showcase rather interesting music styles . Kuuki is quite a gritty sounding number while Toumei na Uta is more or less a straightforward mid tempo number that's quite piano driven .
Ohayou no Kiss wo & Suiteki are the next 2 songs after Toumei na Uta . Ohayou no Kiss wo is quite a chilled out number while Suiteki was accompanied by a rather strong Xylophone driven melody which I found it quite charming .
Subarashii Sekai is FLOWER FLOWER's 5th digital single . It was picked to be used as the ending theme for TV Tokyo's late-night drama Tamagawa Kuyakusho OF THE DEAD that premiered on 3rd Oct . The drama starred Hayashi Kento & was directed by Kawahara Masahiko .
Sekiwotatsu is yet another edgy sounding number which's almost in the same music vein as Kuuki .
The longest track in Mi , Hikari is 7:07 mins which's quite daunting . I would have preferred this song if it didn't sounded as though it's 1 long track that kept going on & on without stopping .
Kimi no Koto was released digitally on 12th Nov before Mi was physically released . It's 1 of the more simpler sounding tracks in the album as the melody of the song is just an acoustic guitar backing yui up . Kimi no Koto is also equally long like Hikari but it's not that bad on whole .
Start Line follows after Kimi no Koto . It's a straight forward sounding track & I feel it's 1 of the less complicated songs in Mi .
Tsuki is FLOWER FLOWER's 1st digital single & it was picked to be used in the ads for au titled au PERFECT SYNC./REAL . This song was the 1st release that showcased the start of the band's subsequent future music releases .
Bye Bye is the final track available in Mi & it was released digitally on 19th Nov , a week before Mi gets released .
Surprisingly with a title like Bye Bye , I thought it was going to be a ballad but turns out I was wrong as it starts off rather calm but along the way , the song gets really amped up big time although on whole the overall feeling is that Bye Bye felt like a mixture of various sounds were mashed up/thrown in .
In 2012 , despite having huge commercial success , YUI announced her retirement as a solo artist . Luckily in 2013 , she re-emerged as a member of rock band FLOWER FLOWER . YUI (now stylised as yui) aimed to make a new start & began her musical journey anew with the release of her new band's debut album Mi .
I'm sure the 1st reaction when people found out that YUI has came back in the scene with a new look + a new band , they ultimately going to assume that what FLOWER FLOWER does will be almost the same if not identical to what YUI used to do during her solo days .
But it turns out that YUI & FLOWER FLOWER's stuff are not the same despite being sung by the same person . I feel that what FLOWER FLOWER does , it's something completely out of yui's music comfort zone as certain things they've done , I can't imagine yui doing it should she still be a soloist & vice versa .
On whole Mi is quite an interesting release although I must admit it's not an easy album to listen to as quite a lot of the songs do not sound mainstream & let alone , another drawback is that almost 1/2 of Mi comprises of songs that're over 5 mins long which perhaps let me not to enjoy it as much as I thought I would .
That said in a way it's still heartening to know yui is still in the business even though more or less she has already left her solo days behind . It reminds to be seen whether will she head back to being solo or if she will continue her activities with FLOWER FLOWER as a long term venture .
But at the end of the day , Mi is a commendable effort & it's a new chapter laid out coming from someone that used to be known as YUI .
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Ken Hirai - Soredemo Shitai / Onnaji Samishisa
CD + DVD
1) Soredemo Shitai
2) Onnaji Samishisa
3) Zankyou (CD Only Track)
4) Tomorrow (CD Only Track)
5) Soredemo Shitai (less vocal)
6) Onnaji Samishisa (less vocal)
Soredemo Shitai / Onnaji Samishisa is Ken Hirai's 37th single & it was released last week on 10th Dec .
Ken's latest single offering comes in about 8 months + since the release of his previous single Grotesque that featured Namie Amuro .
In addition , Ken's last double A-side single was 2008's Canvas / Kimi wa Su・Te・Ki♥ & Soredemo Shitai / Onnaji Samishisa is his 2nd double A-side single release to date too .
Despite being a double A-side single , only a video was made for Soredemo Shitai .
The CD only edition of Soredemo Shitai / Onnaji Samishisa includes 2 B-sides which the CD + DVD edition excludes them .
1 of the B-sides Tomorrow was picked to be used to promote the movie ANNIE when it gets released in Japan next month on 24th Jan 2015 . This song is actually a cover & it was created in 1977 for the original Broadway production of Annie & has since become 1 of the musical's signature songs .
The 1st A-side Soredemo Shitai was picked to be used as the ending theme song for NTV's Tokui to Goto to Uruwashi no SHELLY ga Konya Kurabete Mimashita last month .
Prior to the single physical release , Soredemo Shitai was 1st released digitally on 3rd Dec .
A fun Indian-style dance song that showcases a very different side of Ken , the video for Soredemo Shitai as well as the single's covers , have a distinctly Indian feel . Ken says that he was inspired by Bollywood films & also that he mentioned that he has been mistaken as an Indian by Indians residing in Japan .
The 2nd A-side Onnaji Samishisa was picked to be used as the theme song for the NHK drama Sayonara Watashi that started airing from 14th Oct .
Prior to the single physical release , Onnaji Samishisa was 1st released digitally on 29th Oct .
Ken Hirai wraps up 2014 with the release of his 2nd single of the year titled Soredemo Shitai / Onnaji Samishisa .
I must say this has to be 1 of the most interesting singles I've come across , not just this year but in recent times . While Onnaji Samishisa is pretty much a standard mid tempo R&B number that's more geared towards Ken's comfort zone , it's really Soredemo Shitai that pushed the musical boundaries for him .
And I never would have thought Ken said that he gets mistaken as an Indian even though I must admit , he doesn't have that typical Japanese look despite him being 100% Japanese .
But that said , Soredemo Shitai is a breath of fresh air & I'm not familiar with Bollywood style music but it's quite cool for Ken to explore/tackle it . Who knows maybe in the near future , this might open doors for him in a way or 2 .
I'm not sure why Ken chose to release Soredemo Shitai / Onnaji Samishisa as a double A-side single as frankly Soredemo Shitai is the 1 that's the main star of the single .
Sunday, December 14, 2014
SID - White tree
CD + Goods
Consists of CD + book + Christmas Box + Christmas card + special ornament
CD + photobook
1) White tree
2) White tree (Piano version)
3) White tree (Instrumental)
White tree is SID's 19th single & it was released on 10th Dec .
The group's latest single was released about 4 months + since their last single ENAMEL .
White tree is a Winter-themed song which's described as a heartrending Christmas song that will shake the innermost souls of fans .
Prior to the physical single release , White tree was 1st released digitally on 19th Nov . The song was written by vocalist Mao & it was composed by bassist Aki .
Unlike ENAMEL , White tree does not have a B-side . Instead it includes a piano version of the A-side .
The jacket covers of White tree were created by highly-acclaimed illustrator Cato Friend who is known for his works in Samantha Thavasa's campaign illustrations & covers of magazine Tabi . He expresses the world of White tree with a soft touch & fresh colours .
SID's last Winter single release was 2011's Fuyu no Bench & it's great for them to put out another Winter inspired no. as White tree is definitely a heartwarming ballad that was created with a Winter motif in mind .
Be it White tree and/or White tree (Piano version) , both are equally good but I personally prefer the Piano version as it showcases a more vulnerable emotional side of the group while at the same time , I feel that Mao's vocals sounded a lot more better as well .
Before taking the stage at Nippon Budokan at their sold out Collabo BANG! collaboration concert that will take place on 27th Dec , SID brings a Christmas gift to fans in the form of their latest single offering White tree .
2014 has been a fruitful year for the group & I do hope more great things will happen to them in due time in 2015 which I'm sure it will happen but until then White tree is a single worth checking out .
Thursday, December 11, 2014
ayumi hamasaki - Movin' on without you
Movin' on without you is Utada Hikaru's 2nd single in which this single was was released way back in 17th Feb 1999 .
This song is included in a tribute cover album titled Utada Hikaru no Uta .
Utada Hikaru no Uta was released on 9th Dec to commemorate Utada's 15th anniversary in the business . The tribute cover album features a total of 13 artists covering Utada's songs .
Aside from ayumi hamasaki , other artistes that participated in Utada Hikaru no Uta include Sheena Ringo , Inoue Yosui , Okamura Yasuyuki , Hanaregumi , KIRINJI , tofubeats with BONNIE PINK , Yoshii Kazuya , Miliyah Kato , Ohashi Trio , AI , LOVE PSYCHEDELICO & Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis Feat Peabo Bryso .
In her cover of Movin' on without you , ayumi utilised her voice in a manner that she doesn't do in her discography .
I was honestly surprised when it was announced ayumi was participating in Utada Hikaru no Uta & let alone for her to cover an Utada song .
Even though I don't listen/support Utada anymore , her older works remind very prominent even up to now .
I enjoyed the original take of Movin' on without you . As for ayumi's cover on the song , it's actually quite unexpectedly fun especially since she doesn't sing like this normally .
People will always tend to compare if the cover of a song is able to stack up against the original but in this case , I say just enjoy as if they're 2 different songs .
Sunday, December 07, 2014
Aqua Timez - Ikite
CD + DVD
2) MASK (Shoes and Stargazing version)
3) Ikite (Instrumental)
Ikite is Aqua Timez's 17th single & it was released on 3rd Dec .
The group's last single release was last Nov's Eden & in Ikite , it contains a Shoes and Stargazing version of their 15th single MASK .
Ikite was picked to be used as the theme song for Nakama Yukie's starring drama SAKURA ~Jiken wo Kiku Onna~ that premiered on TBS on 20th Oct & it's described as a song that has a melody with a sense of drive , along with a positive message .
I think after all these years that Aqua Timez has been around , it's somewhat impossible not to find fault with the type of music they do even though at times it can get quite repetitive to use the same formula over & over again .
That's not to say Ikite is not a good song but I suppose here & there I do wish that they get out of their music comfort zone + start to experiment more . Hopefully their future single releases will see them taking more risks . At times it might not work but at least I've known they've tried .
Wednesday, December 03, 2014
SPYAIR - GLORY & Ano Koro , Bokura wa Onaji Mirai wo
Cover for all 3 editions of 1st best album BEST
GLORY & Ano Koro , Bokura wa Onaji Mirai wo are 2 new songs that're included in SPYAIR's 1st best album BEST .
BEST was released last week on 26th Nov . Since making their major debut in 2010 , SPYAIR has quickly climbed up the popularity ladder as one of Japan's top up-and-coming rock bands . BEST compiles 14 singles from their debut single LIAR until their most recent single release Imagination .
GLORY serves as track #1 in BEST . This song was recorded in the beginning of this year & it was 1st released digitally on 8th Oct .
Ano Koro , Bokura wa Onaji Mirai wo serves as track #16 in BEST & it was 1st released digitally on 12th Nov .
GLORY is quite a typical standard rock number coming from SPYAIR while Ano Koro , Bokura wa Onaji Mirai wo is a touching emotional mid tempo ballad .
Between both songs , I definitely prefer Ano Koro , Bokura wa Onaji Mirai wo a lot more than GLORY . Maybe it's just me but I honestly think SPYAIR shines a lot more in their slower numbers , not that they're not good when comes to rocking out & having a great time .
SPYAIR wraps up 2014 with the release of their 1st best album BEST & soon after they released Imagination , there were fears the guys might disband as frontman/vocalist IKE had to receive long-term medical treatment after developing vocal cord polyps & acute inflammation of his vocal cords .
Thankfully IKE is now on the mend to recovery & this month on 30th Dec , SPYAIR will be performing their 1st sold out live in 7 months titled SPYAIR LIVE 2014 ~Fukkatsu~ .
2015 will see them embarking on a new tour to promote BEST & despite what happened , I'm relieved that they're still continuing to do what they do best as I will be very disappointed if they choose to disband as in recent times they've become 1 of my fave JRock groups .
On that note , here's to better things in due time to come for SPYAIR in 2015 !
Sunday, November 30, 2014
THE TURTLES JAPAN - It's Alright !
1) It's Alright !
2) JAPANESE SPIRITS pile-up
It's Alright ! is THE TURTLES JAPAN's debut single & it was released on 19th Nov .
THE TURTLES JAPAN is a special unit that makes up of members from flumpool's vocalist/guitarist Yamamura Ryuuta + guitarist Sakai Kazuki , WEAVER's vocalist/keyboardist Sugimoto Yuji + drummer Kawabe Toru & music producer Kameda Seiji whom worked extensively with Shiina Ringo during his tenure with Tokyo Jihen for 7 years .
The band was formed in July & will function as a band for a limited time . The group's concept is reflected in the video of It's Alright ! & jacket styling , in which they want to tear down borders & enjoy music freely .
Both songs in the single were written by Ryuuta , composed by Kazuki & arranged by Kameda .
It's Alright ! was picked to be used as the opening theme for CDTV in Oct & Nov + also as the ending theme song for MBS MUSICEDGE + Osaka style in Nov & Dec .
When I 1st found out about the formation of THE TURTLES JAPAN , I was intrigued especially given the way they were formed & I was curious to find out if their music will be different from what flumpool and/or WEAVER does .
Sound wise , It's Alright ! feels like elements that borrowed & combined from flumpool + WEAVER with futuristic beats thrown in for good measure . Even though Yuji sings & play keyboards in WEAVER , in THE TURTLES JAPAN he's only in charge of keyboards so that leaves Ryuuta to sing solely .
JAPANESE SPIRITS pile-up serves as the B-side of the single & it's such a fun song that contrasts the A-side quite well . I personally like JAPANESE SPIRITS pile-up so much until I find myself listening to it a lot more than It's Alright ! at times .
THE TURTLES JAPAN certainly made their presence felt with the release of their debut single It's Alright ! with it being an overall solid release . Even though they're a temporary unit , it doesn't stop the members from doing something different in each of their respective bands .
Their debut album will be released in Spring 2015 that will be supported by a short tour . More details will be announced together in due course but it's safe to assume that It's Alright ! will make the cut in the album .