Saturday, April 12, 2014
Ken Hirai Feat Namie Amuro - Grotesque
CD + DVD A
CD + DVD B
1) Grotesque Feat Namie Amuro
2) Kikyo ga Oka (CD Only & CD + DVD B Track)
3) Aozora Sanka (CD Only Track)
Grotesque is Ken Hirai's 36th single & it was released on 2nd April .
Ken's last single release was 2012's Kokuhaku & this's his 1st single release that features a collaboration alongside with Namie Amuro .
Grotesque took a year to make & it features powerful dark lyrics about the negative feelings lurking in the depths of human soul .
Written by Ken , Grotesque is a dance song with a strong beat & a catchy melody that will get listeners singing + dancing along at the same time .
Ken shares , "It's a fight song for all the people struggling out there ." He continues , "We try to cover the real intentions behind the polite fiction of human interaction" .
Namie commented , "For Ken whom want to work with me in his 1st collaboration is a huge honour . Through representing a woman's view point as well I believe the song will strike a chord with people."
This's 1 collaboration that's just awesome beyond words & despite being in the business for almost close to 20 year , it's surprising to know that this's Ken's 1st collaboration single release .
That said , I absolutely love Grotesque the 1st time I listened to it . There's just something about the song that's just aggressively driven with an addictive melody . This's not a music style that Ken's known for but somehow , this works in his favour extremely well .
In addition , I think both Ken & Namie's vocals compliment each other very nicely + for this collaboration to bear fruit for almost a year prior to the final product , it's time well spent .
There're 2 B-sides available in the single . Kikyo ga Oka is found in the CD only & CD + DVD B editions of Grotesque .
Kikyo ga Oka was 1st released as a digital single in last Oct & it was used in the ads for Misawa Homes . The song was written specially for the ad & it perfectly suits Misawa Home's concept of "a home where we can grow up with the family" .
In this case , Kikyo ga Oka is described as a number with warm-hearted lyrics & sounds .
Aozora Sanka is only available in the CD only edition of Grotesque & it was used as the Japanese Red Cross Blood Donation campaign song .
Both B-sides showcase what Ken does best in which he didn't rely on anything fancy to flash out his vocals unlike the A-side . I think both B-sides are solid but Aozora Sanka is a true gem as Ken simply relies on an acoustic guitar & nothing else in delivering this heartfelt no. .
And the highlight of Aozora Sanka was a brief few moments when Ken sang acapella prior to the end of the track , which proves on why up to now he's still 1 of the best vocally driven male solo artistes around .
Ken Hirai will celebrate his 20th anniversary next year in May & he made a great music comeback in the form of his latest single offering Grotesque that features Namie Amuro .
Grotesque on whole is a solid release offered by Ken & the 2 B-sides included in the single lifts things up to a whole new level in which I enjoyed the single tremendously . And hopefully Ken will have more music releases in the pipeline considering that his 20th anniversary is looming around the corner .
On the other hand , Namie's 1st ballad best album Ballada will be released on 4th June .
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Kis-My-Ft2 - Kis-My-Calling
CD + DVD
CD + 2 DVDs
Kis-My-Calling is a bonus track that's only available in the CD only edition of Kis-My-Ft2's 1st best album HIT ! HIT ! HIT ! .
HIT ! HIT ! HIT ! was released last month on 26th March in which it includes 14 singles that were released from 2011 until 2013 .
The group's latest/10th single Hikari no Signal is not included in HIT ! HIT ! HIT .
Kis-My-Calling is a standard Johnny style song which's fun sounding & if you listen to it carefully , the lyrics in the beginning & the ending of the track actually said/mentioned each of the member's initials that adds up to the spelling of the group name which I think it's a genius .
Aside from this , I personally feel that it's a bit too early for Kis-My-Ft2 to release their 1st best album so soon as I definitely didn't expect this release coming from them given that they only made their music debut a mere 3 years ago .
As such it would have been more better for them to wait a few more years before releasing a prim proper best album as so .
Then again based from this release of HIT ! HIT ! HIT ! , I have a feeling that their contract with avex trax might be expiring/might not up for renewal so it reminds to be seen on what will be their next music release be like .
Saturday, April 05, 2014
Tackey & Tsubasa - Boku no Soba ni wa Hoshi ga Aru / Viva Viva More
CD + DVD A
CD + DVD B
Boku no Soba ni wa Hoshi ga Aru / Viva Viva More is Tackey & Tsubasa's 14th single & it was released last month on 19th March .
The duo's last single release was 2011's Heartful Voice .
Since releasing their album TEN in September 2012 , Tackey & Tsubasa have been focusing on their solo activities , such as appearing in dramas & stage plays .
Boku no Soba ni wa Hoshi ga Aru is described as a light rock tune that is a support song for the duo's new stage in life while the 2nd A-side Viva Viva More is described as a catchy party tune .
The B-side Ano Nitsu no Kimi ga Iru Kara is only included in the CD only edition of the single in which it will not be reviewed .
Despite being in the business for close to 12 years , it's surprising to note that Tackey & Tsubasa's music discography can be considered quite sporadic given that they have outside activities to juggle that're not music related .
That said , it feels like forever since they've released something new & I must admit , they genuinely have some good songs in their discography that still stand out & stood the test of time even up to now .
As for the release of their latest single offering Boku no Soba ni wa Hoshi ga Aru / Viva Viva More , I definitely prefer Boku no Soba ni wa Hoshi ga Aru a lot more than Viva Viva More as I feel Viva Viva More is not as catchy if not party driven as much as I was hoping for .
On that note , I really wish that Tackey & Tsubasa wouldn't take so long to release something new again since to wait for almost 3 years for them to release a new single is no laughing matter but then again the fact that they're still around despite their limited if not somewhat unpredictable music release pattern , it does say something isn't it ?
Friday, April 04, 2014
Daisuke - Daisuki Feat DAIGO
2 CDs + DVD
Daisuki is a song that's found as track #2 in the 2nd CD of Daisuke's 3rd album tsumugu .
tsumugu was released last month on 26th March & Daisuki is a cover of Okamura Yasuyuki's , with BREAKERZ's vocalist DAIGO being featured in the song .
Daisuke is DAIGO's junior as both of them are in the same talent agency .
To be honest , I'm not really a fan of Daisuke's vocals that much but I must admit there's something chilled out & melodic sounding when comes to Daisuki . Also the fact that DAIGO decided to lend a hand & give Daisuke some moral support with him being DAIGO's junior , it's a nice thing for DAIGO to do so .
That said , Daisuki is not bad & who knows maybe I will consider to listen to more of Daisuke in the near future .
Monday, March 31, 2014
CD Review :: JASMINE - Welcome to Jas Vegas
1) Welcome to Jas Vegas ~Opening~
2) Where U @
3) Handz Up !
5) R!de On
7) Panic ~Interlude~
10) High Flying (T.O.M Remix for Jas Vegas) [CD Limited Edition Track]
Welcome to Jas Vegas is an album that JASMINE released on 12th March .
Described as a concept album , Welcome to Jas Vegas was produced based on a theme of "live" . No singles are included except for a remix of JASMINE's 9th single High Flying that's only included in the limited edition of the album .
All songs in the album were written by JASMINE .
After the opening/introduction Welcome to Jas Vegas ~Opening~ , the album dives straight into Where U @ which's a sassy upbeat fun no. . The same thing goes for the next track Handz Up ! as well .
#AGARU serves as the lead track from Welcome to Jas Vegas & this was used as the ending theme no. for J-WAVE's Hello World from Feb 3rd onwards .
As for the next track R!de On , it's an edgy futuristic sounding song . Despite the song title , Dearest is unfortunately not a ballad but still it's something worth checking out .
After Panic ~Interlude~ , HIKARI is an uptempo upbeat no. while the 2nd last track in the album (in the regular edition ie.) , Hallelujah is a fun empowering catchy song .
High Flying (T.O.M Remix for Jas Vegas) is found exclusively in the limited edition of Welcome to Jas Vegas & the original take of the song was 1st released as JASMINE's 9th single .
Surprisingly , I do enjoy High Flying (T.O.M Remix for Jas Vegas) quite a fair bit . The original take of the song was something I was quite critical about to a certain extent as I don't really like JASMINE's most recent material but in this case regarding the remix , it fits the whole theme on what JASMINE was trying to achieve , concept wise .
Time to bring out the party mood in the form of JASMINE's latest album offering Welcome to Jas Vegas & honestly when it was announced she was going to release a new album rather so soon after her 2nd studio album Complexxx , I was really surprised .
On whole , Welcome to Jas Vegas is actually quite solid & for JASMINE to release this without including any singles prior to the release , it's a big risk she undertook as the music style presented/found in Welcome to Jas Vegas is quite different from what she usually does .
Let alone , it's commendable that JASMINE wrote all the lyrics for all the songs found in the album (except for the opening & interlude) . JASMINE has always been 1 of my fave R&B artistes as she dares to be different in what she does & likewise for the direction she chose to go for , be it when comes to her music or her image .
That said , Welcome to Jas Vegas is a nice surprise considering JASMINE tend to take quite a long time to put out new material but in this case , concept album or not , this's 1 album that definitely should be used + put to good use in a head banging club if not disco party .
Friday, March 28, 2014
CD Review :: SID - OUTSIDER
CD + DVD A
CD + DVD B
4) Akai Te
6) Summer Lover
7) Koi ni Ochite
OUTSIDER is SID's 4th album & it was released on 12th March .
SID's last original album release was 2012's M&W . In their latest album offering , OUTSIDER includes 5 singles & 6 new album tracks with a total of 11 songs found in the tracklist .
All songs in the album were written by frontman/vocalist Mao .
The album kicked things off with the 1st album track which's laser . laser was composed by guitarist Shinji while the next album track CANDY was composed by drummer Yuya .
V.I.P is SID's 13th single . This was used as the opening theme no. for the 1st season of the anime series Magi .
The next 2 album tracks Akai Te & MUSIC were both composed by bassist Aki . Akai Te is a heartfelt emotional no. while MUSIC is a fast paced song .
From 2 new songs , the focus now has been shifted to 2 singles that were released prior to OUTSIDER .
Summer Lover is SID's 15th single . Last summer , SID embarked on an outdoor concert tour across Japan in celebrating their 10th anniversary . To get their fans in the mood for a summer concert , Summer Lover is a light upbeat rock number perfect to listen to under the summer sun !
On the other hand , Koi ni Ochite is SID's 14th single . Out of the singles included in OUTSIDER , I still like both Koi ni Ochite & Summer Lover a great deal as both songs are music styles that SID has never tried before but the music risk definitely paid off for them .
Meiro & darling are the last 2 album tracks found in OUTSIDER . Meiro is a chilled out mid tempo song that was composed by Yuya while darling is an aggressive song that was composed by Aki .
I noticed that between the members , I seem to prefer Aki's compositions as the album tracks he composed in OUTSIDER are great such as Akai Te & darling in which these 2 are my fave , new material wise .
hug is SID's 17th single & this was released prior to OUTSIDER while ANNIVERSARY is SID's 16th single .
ANNIVERSARY was selected to be used as the opening theme song for the 2nd season of Magi : The Labyrinth of Magic .
Mao commented that they were delighted to return for the 2nd season after contributing V.I.P for the 1st season for Magi : The Labyrinth of Magic . He added that he thinks that ANNIVERSARY worked out well because it reflects how the anime characters Aladdin & the others are embarking into a new world in Magi & it reflects the band's own feelings when they faced their 10th anniversary last year .
SID had a fruitful 2013 with a string of activities & releases in celebrating their 10th anniversary . They carry the momentum to this year with the release of the band's 4th major album OUTSIDER .
Sunday, March 23, 2014
CD Review :: Shota Shimizu - ENCORE
Cover for both CD & CD + DVD editions
3) Kimi ga Mitsuketa Mono
6) Crazy Love
7) WOMAN DON'T CRY
8) You've Got A Friend
9) LOOKING FOR LOVE
10) Singer Songwriter no Uta
ENCORE is Shota Shimizu's 5th album & it was released on 12th March .
Shota's last original album release was 2012's Naturally & his latest album offering includes 11 songs inclusive of 2 singles .
Prior to the release of ENCORE , 2 album tracks Impossible & Shower were released digitally last month on 26th Feb in which it just so happens that Impossible happens to serve as the album's opening track as well .
I think Impossible is a great song to kick things off & it's probably by far Shota's best opening no. for an album .
What I like about Impossible is that it's an empowering song & it has a lot of positive messages which makes me think there's some truth in Shota singing that maybe in real life , 'nothing is impossible' after all .
DREAM is Shota's 15th single & it was picked to be used as the theme song for TV Tokyo's drama Nazo no Nazo no Tenkousei , which was produced & written by director Iwai Shunji .
Even up to now , DREAM is still a great single coming from Shota and I wasn't surprised that this's slotted after Impossible as both songs are encouragement theme no.s which I think it's great .
Kimi ga Mitsuketa Mono is the 2nd album track . This R&B uptempo song showcases Shota's ability to sing & rap at the same time rather seamlessly .
Shower is 1 of 2 album tracks that was released digitally last month on 26th Feb alongside with Impossible .
I definitely prefer Impossible over Shower . Not that it's a bad thing but I feel that Shower is quite a standard mid tempo R&B no. coming from Shota and there're other album tracks that have a more stronger identity/flair as compared to Shower .
Luckily the next song Natsunoowari is pretty good & enjoyable . Somehow or another , this gives me the feeling that Summer is about to come .
Crazy Love is an interesting song as Shota doesn't sound like himself in this track & this was probably done on purpose . Then again , it's 1 of the more unique no.s that's found in the album which's not necessary a bad thing .
WOMAN DON'T CRY is Shota's 14th single & it's the last single included in ENCORE .
This R&B piano driven no. is still a touching song & even up to now , I'm still not bored by it . There's something about WOMAN DON'T CRY that's quite charming for that matter .
You've Got A Friend is track #8 & this's a 1971 cover of originally sung/written by Carole King . It's also the only song in ENCORE that Shota sung completely in English as well .
Shota released his 1st cover album MELODY 2 years ago & You've Got A Friend could have been something that he recorded for it but perhaps it didn't made the cut so he probably chose to include this in ENCORE instead .
Luckily Shota's English dictation is quite good as I didn't get any weird/strange vibes when I listened to his cover of You've Got A Friend .
LOOKING FOR LOVE is track #9 & this's a nice soothing mid tempo song . It's almost in the same music vein as Shower but I personally prefer LOOKING FOR LOVE a bit more as it's more prominent sounding .
The 2nd last album track Singer Songwriter no Uta happens to be 1 of my fave album tracks simply because it's a very simple & acoustic guitar no. . Shota is more known for his R&B music style but he surprisingly sounds good doing something under-rated such as this which I really like .
Likewise the same thing goes for the last song that shares the same title as the album . Just like the opening no. Impossible , the closing no. ENCORE couldn't have been more fitting if not upbeat , making ENCORE (the song) the perfect track to wrap things up in a great way .
Shota Shimizu couldn't have picked a more suitable title by naming his 5th album ENCORE seeing that he didn't release an original album last year & with the release of ENCORE , it's proof on why he's 1 really talented & sought after male solo artistes out there at this point in time .
I did enjoyed Shota's last album offering Naturally but in this case for ENCORE , the album tracks are really something & the new material showcases a lot of maturity + growth .
I feel that ENCORE is musically on par with my personal fave album of Shota (which happens to his 3rd album COLOURS) & just like COLOURS , ENCORE has quite a lot of wide musical styles that Shota tackled which he more or less delivered them with plenty of gusto & enthusiasm .
ENCORE is a solid album that's recommended to listen & Shota together with Miliyah Kato will be releasing their 1st/last album THE BEST next month on 2nd April so both are definitely not to be missed out on .