Sunday, April 20, 2014
CD Review :: Fukuyama Masaharu - HUMAN
2 CDs + DVD & 2 CDs + muffler towel
4) Toribi !
9) Showa Yattane
1) Kazoku no Narou yo
2) fighting pose
3) Ikiteru Ikiteku
4) Around the world
5) Beautiful life
7) Tanjoubi ni wa Masshiro na Yuri wo
8) Get the groove
9) Koi no Maryoku
HUMAN is Fukuyama Masaharu's 11th album & it was released on 2nd April .
Fukuyama's last original album release was 2009's Zankyou & in this case , HUMAN was released in a 2 CDs edition , alongside with a 2 CDs + DVD & 2 CDs + muffler towel set .
The jacket cover of HUMAN features a cross sectional X-ray of Fukuyama's brain .
Because of the unique structure the way HUMAN was released , each disc will be reviewed separately as so .
The 1st disc in HUMAN consists of 9 songs that includes 2 tracks that Fukuyama provided for the ads of Asahi Super Dry .
Kusunoki is the 1st track in disc 1 of HUMAN which's a slow tempo song that's piano driven .
After Prelude , the next song shares the same title as the album , HUMAN .
HUMAN (the song) is the only new album track that gets a music video . Promo wise , it was used in the ads of Asahi Super Dry .
It's easy to see why HUMAN (the song) has a video as it's a heart thumping no. which's quite in your face . I honestly feel that this should have been the 1st song in disc 1 & not Kusunoki as I feel it would have set a better tone on what to expect for the album in due course .
On the other hand after HUMAN , the next track Toribi ! is a light hearted song . It's quite strange but when I 1st heard Toribi ! , it gives me the whole feeling as though I'm in some beach that's found in Hawaii .
Miscast is track #5 & unlike Toribi ! which's happy sounding , that's not the case for Miscast which's quite an angsty song . While it's not a full blown out rock tune , Miscast still packs quite a lot of attitude .
Right after Miscast , it's 246 which I feel it's probably the weakest song in disc 1 . Perhaps it's because of the song title or that there're other better/memorable songs which as such it took me quite a long time to remember how 246 sounds like .
But after taking a few listens , 246 is actually quite a heartfelt no. but it's something I wouldn't consider as a fave track of mine in disc 1 .
Thankfully the next song Cherry is a whole lot more better . This's actually 1 of my fave songs as it's catchy , groovy & upbeat . Honestly if not for HUMAN (the song) , Cherry should have been 1 that gets a video as it's 1 of those songs that puts me in a good mood should I hear it .
Akatsuki is the 2nd last track in disc 1 of HUMAN . Just like HUMAN (the song) , it was also used in the ads of Asahi but for their Asahi Super Dry Premium series .
Unlike HUMAN (the song) , Akatsuki is a ballad just like 246 . It's actually a bit better/stronger than what 246 offers but surprisingly in disc 1 , the ballads offered by Fukuyama are the weak link .
Showa Yattane is the last song available in disc 1 & I like this song as it's basically a fuss free track . In addition , it's also quite listener friendly if not quite easy to sing along too , making this song a good fit to conclude things in the 1st disc of HUMAN .
Disc 2 of HUMAN also has 9 songs that includes 4 singles Fukuyama had released since 2011 to last year .
Kazoku no Narou yo / fighting pose is Fukuyama's 27th single . The 1st A-side Kazoku no Narou yo was used in the ads of Zexy which's a Japanese wedding magazine .
Described as a heartwarming acoustic guitar ballad , Kazuko ni Narou yo is Fukuyama's very 1st wedding song in which he wrote it with the theme of family in mind .
Fukuyama was forced to stop his nationwide tour for a month after the March 11th 2011 earthquake took place . When he resumed touring , he performed Kazuko ni Narou yo for the 1st time . It's said that the performance of this song caused a lot of Fukuyama's female fans in the audience to tear up .
In commenting about Kazoku no Narou yo , Fukuyama said , "I believe many people started reconsidering about family bonds with this situation & I wrote Kazuko ni Narou yo using family as the theme . I hope you think about your loved ones while you listen to this song ."
The 2nd A-side fighting pose was used as the WOWOW broadcast image song . This song was written to aid the March 11th 2011 earthquake relief with a portion of the sales donated to relief funds .
Ikiteru Ikiteku is Fukuyama's 28th single & it was used as the theme song for the movie Doraemon Nobita to Kiseki no Shima ~Animal Adventure~ .
In 2011 , Fukuyama joined the Doraemon animated television series as his animated alter ego Fukuyama Masa-aki .
Around the world originally served as the B-side in Ikiteru Ikiteku & it was used in the ads of Asahi Super Dry . This's also the only B-side included in disc 2 of HUMAN .
Beautiful life / GAME is Fukuyama's 29th single . The 1st A-side Beautiful life was used in the ads of P & G's SK-II & it's described as a heartwarming ballad .
On the other hand , the 2nd A-side GAME was used as the theme song for the 2012 London Olympic coverage that was broadcasted via TV Asahi & it's described as a hot-blooded rock tune .
Tanjoubi ni wa Masshiro na Yuri wo / Get the groove is Fukuyama's 30th single . The 1st A-side Tanjoubi ni wa Masshiro na Yuri wo was used as the theme song for Uchino Masaaki's drama Tonbi .
Tonbi is based on a best-selling novel by Naoki Award winner Shigematsu Kiyoshi . It portrays a story about a man (Uchino) who raises his son (played by Sato Takeru) by himself after his wife passes away .
Tanjoubi ni wa Masshiro na Yuri wo is described as a heartwarming touching ballad about a father-son relationship , Fukuyama received a request from producer Ishimaru Akihiko to create "a song that will make 1 have feelings to return to their hometown ." As such , for the very 1st time , Fukuyama wrote a song with his parents in mind .
Fukuyama commented , "I've always wanted to turn my feelings towards my mother & father into something , so I did my best to write it without being embarrassed . Even though we're apart , I turned my expression of love into a song ."
Even the title is filled with appreciation for Fukuyama's mother as he sends her flowers every year on his birthday . Producer Ishimaru stated , "When I first heard Tanjoubi ni wa Masshiro na Yuri wo , the world that Fukuyama spins opened up before me . I was very happy that he made a straightforward song ."
The 2nd A-side Get the groove was used in the ads of Asahi Super Dry CM song & it's described as a spirited rock tune .
Koi no Maryoku is the final track found in disc 2 of HUMAN & this's Fukuyama's self-cover of KOH+ , which's a unit that Fukuyama formed alongside with Shibasaki Kou .
Promo wise , Koi no Maryoku was used as the theme song for the Fuji TV drama Galileo .
KOH+ was formed in 2007 when Fukuyama & Shibasaki co-starred in Galileo . They attracted attention by singing the drama's theme song & were also in charge of the theme song for the movie Yougisha X no Kenshin which was released in 2008 .
Koi no Maryoku is described as an uptempo love song & since I never heard the version that KOH+ sung , I will take it that Fukuyama's self cover of the song to be something new .
The only song that's not released as a single & also the last song included in disc 2 , Koi no Maryoku is an uptempo no. which's just in your face . I'm sure Fukuyama had a lot of fun in recording this self cover of Koi no Maryoku & I definitely have a lot of fun in listening to this ditty .
After being in the business for 24 years , there's definitely no signs of Fukuyama Masaharu slowing down anytime soon which's evident in his 1st album release in 5 years titled HUMAN .
It's daunting to know that Fukuyama hasn't released a new album in such a long time with his last album release being 2009's Zankyou but I must say , listening to HUMAN was quite an interesting thing in that with it being a 2 disc album & let alone in the way the album is being released/structured .
Usually an artiste's album will 'dump' the singles + new album tracks into 1 package but for Fukuyama to separate/do things in an album tracks only & a singles tracks only discs respectively , that's something quite unheard of if not rarely seen/done .
Honestly to me this's something I don't mind as before HUMAN was released , the singles included in the 2nd disc of the album are mostly songs that I already enjoyed a great deal (except for Fukuyama's self cover of Koi no Maryoku) & in this case , both discs allow me to listen to the pre & post release of HUMAN .
1 drawback of any artiste's album is the tendency that it might/might not flow well as there's a possibility that when you include both singles & new album songs side by side together , the chances of an inconsistency music flow might happen which I think in HUMAN , it's something that Fukuyama wanted to avoid .
That said , both discs are equally enjoyable . The new material found in disc 1 of HUMAN is quite good except for the ballads which I already mentioned upfront that they're the weak links but other than that , the release of HUMAN proves on why after being in the business for so long , Fukuyama Masaharu still got it going on in him as evident on what he offers in his latest album offering , HUMAN .
Saturday, April 19, 2014
CD Review :: Miliyah Kato x Shota Shimizu - THE BEST
CD + DVD
1) Sakura Melody
2) Love Forever
3) My love goes on
6) Looking your eyes
7) Konya wa Boogie・Back Feat SHUN
10) FOREVER LOVE
11) You're the only one for me
12) I'M YOUR ANGEL
13) LOVE STORY
THE BEST is Miliyah Kato x Shota Shimizu's 1st/last album that was released on 2nd April .
This compilation album includes 4 singles & 5 B-sides . THE BEST also have 1 track that features rapper SHUN & 3 new songs , making the tracklist having 13 songs in total .
Since Love Forever was released back in 2009 , both Miliyah & Shota have released a total of 4 singles together . THE BEST is a complete best album that includes all the songs they've released thus far .
Along with the release of THE BEST , Miliyah & Shota have announced that this will be their last time collaborating with each other .
Sakura Melody is the 1st song in the tracklist . 1 of 3 new songs available in THE BEST , it's also the only track to get a video .
There's just something Spring driven when comes to Sakura Melody which I really like . I also enjoyed the other 2 new songs but it's understood on why Sakura Melody is the 1 that gets a video which I feel it deserves so .
Love Forever is Miliyah & Shota's 1st collaboration single + this's where it all begins .
It's quite surreal knowing that Love Forever was released 5 years ago as it still feels like yesterday when this song was 1st put out by both of them . Nonetheless , this was the start of many more great future releases coming from the duo .
My love goes on originally served as the B-side in Miliyah & Shota's 3rd collaboration single BELIEVE & coincidentally , BELIEVE followed suit right after the B-side in the tracklist . p>
Promo wise , BELIEVE was used as the theme song for the TV-show Sukkiri!! .
Out of the 4 collaboration singles , BELIEVE is actually my least favourite but there's no question/doubt that up to now , it's still an empowering no. .
Jewelry originally served as the B-side in Miliyah & Shota's 2nd collaboration single FOREVER LOVE while Looking your eyes was originally found as the 1st B-side their 1st collaboration single Love Forever .
Generally , the B-sides included in Miliyah & Shota's collaboration singles are quite solid . Hence I don't really have that much issues for them to include them in THE BEST , no exception goes to both Jewelry & Looking your eyes which're B-sides that I still enjoy listening to .
Konya wa Boogie・Back is found as track #7 in THE BEST . This's the only song that featured another artiste in the song in which in this case , it features the vocals of rapper SHUN .
In this case , Konya wa Boogie・Back was 1st included in Miliyah's 6th album TRUE LOVERS & the song is actually a cover of Scha Dara Parr which was released in 1994 .
Prior to Miliyah , Shota & SHUN covering Konya wa Boogie・Back , KREVA & HALCALI also sung their own renditions of the song .
Konya wa Boogie・Back is considered a new song to me because I don't listen to Miliyah's solo works although I do know/heard of SHUN as I've heard him rap before .
That said as the song suggests , Konya wa Boogie・Back is a fun hip hop laidback no. & in this case , both Shota + SHUN rap in the song while Miliyah sings .
And surprisingly the rapping vocals of Shota & SHUN blend quite seamlessly in Konya wa Boogie・Back , which makes things fun without sounding strange .
ESCAPE is the 2nd new song coming from Miliyah & Shota . Promo wise , ESCAPE was picked to be used as the theme song for TV Asahi's drama TEAM Keishicho Tokubetsu Banzai Sosa Honbu which started airing 3 days ago on April 16th .
This's 1 of the more interesting songs found in THE BEST as ESCAPE is much more aggressive/in your face . It's quite angst driven to a certain extent but this allows a different music style to be flashed out from the duo which I feel it works in their favour quite well .
Still is the last new song available in THE BEST & out of the 3 new songs , this's the only track that's a ballad .
I think the 3 new songs that Miliyah & Shota included has something for everyone to enjoy . For Still , it's a piano driven no. that's emotional & touching that showcased a vulnerable side of the duo .
FOREVER LOVE is Miliyah & Shota's 2nd collaboration single . This's their only single release that was released as Shota Shimizu x Miliyah Kato + it's an answer song to their 1st collaboration single Love Forever .
Love Forever is quite a slow mid tempo track while for FOREVER LOVE , it's the complete opposite . Then again it shouldn't stop people from listening to both tracks co-currently as both are still rock solid even up to now .
You're the only one for me originally served as the B-side in Miliyah & Shota's 4th/last collaboration single LOVE STORY while I'M YOUR ANGEL was 1st found as the 2nd B-side in Love Forever .
I'M YOUR ANGEL is a cover of Celine Dion & R.Kelly's duet . Prior to being included in Love Forever as the 2nd B-side , Miliyah & Shota's cover of I'M YOUR ANGEL was 1st found as track #9 in Tribute to Celine Dion which's a Japan only tribute album that was released on 7 years ago on 26th Sept .
LOVE STORY is Miliyah & Shota's 4th/last collaboration single which samples Oda Kazumasa's Love Story wa Totsuzen ni .
Promo wise , LOVE STORY was used as Coca Cola's Share a Coke and a Song commercial song & it's a modern funky R&B take on love .
I think it makes sense to conclude THE BEST with LOVE STORY seeing that this's Miliyah & Shota's 4th/last collaboration single release & up to now , there's still something captivating/charming about the song which I simply adore .
One of the most popular collaborations in Japanese pop of recent years , Miliyah Kato & Shota Shimizu are ending their collaboration with their 1st/last album release titled THE BEST .
There's no question that Miliyah Kato & Shota Shimizu has become 1 of my fave duet music pairings ever since they started collaborating with each other 5 years ago . As such , with the release of THE BEST , it's somewhat bittersweet as the fact that after this release , they will not be releasing anymore collaborations together .
On 1 hand , THE BEST basically is a great collection of songs that consists of their 4 collaboration singles & most of their B-sides , coupled with some new solid songs thrown in for good measure .
THE BEST is a must get album to savour the best of 2 talented R&B artistes Miliyah Kato & Shota Shimizu , especially when both of them teamed up together in releasing material that basically just works well in their favour , vocals wise .
And speaking of collaborations , Miliyah's 1st collaboration single with Mika Nakashima titled Fighter will be released on 4th June .
But before Fighter gets released , do yourself a favour & get THE BEST .
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 .