Sunday, February 28, 2010
Hey ! Say ! JUMP - Hitomi no (Eyes) Screen
CD Only Cover :
CD + DVD Cover :
Hitomi no (Eyes) Screen is Hey ! Say ! JUMP's 5th single . It was released on 24th Feb / Wed & it's their 1st single release in 1 1/2 years after 2008's Mayonaka no (Midnight) Shadow Boy .
The group's comeback single is being used as the theme song for the detective drama Hidarime Tantei EYE starring Yamada Ryosuke & the A-side is a stylish pop number coupled with unique dance choreography .
Boy oh boy , I can say that WELCOME BACK guys ! Other than the release of their 2nd DVD Hey ! Say ! Jump-ing Tour '08-'09 last year on 29th April , this 10 piece Johnny's group did not release even 1 single in 2009 which I put it down to the temporary unit NYC boys & the guys were also busy pursuing projects on the drama front as well .
Anyway , I can honestly say that I'm really pleased with their comeback single Hitomi no Screen .
It's pop but it presents a more mature side of them & I frankly will be disappointed if they returned back with an Ultra Music Power part 2 as I think they cannot & should not go back to release the same type of music that they did when they debuted 3 years ago as they were so young at that time .
So naturally , Hitomi no Screen presents a really nice growth & change of music transition from them which I really like & I do admit that I like the song on 1st listen too .
There're 2 B-sides in the single . The 1st one is something called Kagayaki (Sparkle) Days & it was used to promote dwango in their ads .
This's an unique B-side because it's sung by the 5 younger guys in the group aka the original Hey ! Say ! 7 prior to before Hey ! Say ! 7 merged with the older group Hey ! Say ! BEST to become Hey ! Say ! JUMP .
It's still on the pop side of things but this's catchy . Kagayaki Days reminded me of their older works but considering that it's sung by the younger guys in the band , I guess I can pardon them in a way or 2 & it's a fun song too .
The 2nd B-side Romeo & Juliet will be reviewed in due time & this's only found in the CD only edition of the single .
In the meantime , I say it's great to have Hey ! Say ! JUMP back & it's definitely extremely long overdue for them to release a debut album ... if that's ever going to materialise that's .
Monday, February 22, 2010
ai otsuka - LUCKY☆STAR
LUCKY☆STAR is ai otsuka's 1st digital single & it was released on 10th Feb .
While L'Arc~en~Ciel's comeback single BLESS is used as the theme song for NHK's coverage of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver , otsuka will do the same for rival tv station Fuji TV .
LUCKY☆STAR will be used in Fuji TV's coverage of events such as figure skating and curling , which will feature medal-aspiring athletes Miki Ando & Mari Motohashi , respectively .
The song has been described as a bright and uptempo tune & it took about two and a half months to complete after Fuji TV requested the theme song from otsuka last early September .
The Winter Olympics will be held next month on Feb 12th - 28th .
Basically , I'm fine with LUCKY☆STAR even though I feel there's something lacking in the song as compared to other peppy upbeat songs that she has dished out before .
Also , the fact that it will be used to promote the Winter Olympics , the way the song's sounded like , it doesn't feel like so .
LUCKY☆STAR will be released as a physical single on 7th April , alongside with a new song Zokkondition (Marriage Tension) which was used to promote Asahi Slat beer in which the ad features otsuka herself .
Zokkondition / LUCKY☆STAR will be otsuka's 20th single release .
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Matsushita Yuya - Futari (Two Of Us) (Trust Me's B-side)
Futari (Two Of Us) is the B-side no. that's found in Matsushita Yuya's 4th single Trust Me which was released on Wed / 17th Feb .
The B-side has been selected to be used as the theme song for the movie Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo .
Way before I listened to Futari , I knew it somehow or another that it was going to be a ballad & I think it plays a great contrast against Trust Me which's a really great catchy infectious R&B tune .
In the case for Futari , it does bear some resemblances to Matsushita's 2nd single LAST SNOW except in this case , Futari somehow takes on a more serious/sombre tone .
I think it's great that Matsushita's pretty versatile when comes to upbeat songs & ballads & it's evident in his latest single offering Trust Me & it's nice to see him progress on maturally musically & then some as each single release goes by .
Trust Me has been performing a lot more better than expected as compared to Matsushita's 1st 3 singles & it's on the way to become his 1st single to clinch a top 10 position in the Oricon singles chart , something that foolish foolish , LAST SNOW & let alone Honesty weren't able to accomplish .
He's supposed to release his debut album I am Me on 17th March but that unexpectedly got cancelled . I'm not sure why so but I have a feeling Epic Records Japan might want Matsushita to roll out 1 more single & then finally put out I am Me .
Regardless of which , it's long overdue for this talented singer to roll out a debut album .
Friday, February 19, 2010
school food punishment - future nova / after laughter
CD Only Cover :
CD + DVD Cover :
future nova / after laughter is school food punishment's 5th single . It will be released on 10th March & it's the group's 1st double A-side single release .
Both A-side songs have been chosen as the opening and ending theme no.s respectively for the upcoming movie Higashi no Eden Gekijouban II Paradise Lost .
Honestly , both songs tend to sound the same in the sense that the quartet stick with the whole indie meets rock meets synth route which make them famous to begin with .
I only gather that after laughter takes on a more cheery approach as compared to future nova but still I would have prefer that 1 A-side contrasts the other as like what I mentioned , I find both A-sides a bit too similar sounding for my liking .
light prayer -AKXMIM Remix- serves as the B-side in the single .
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
KAT-TUN - Love yourself ~Kimi ga Kirai na Kimi ga Suki~ (~I Hate You I Love You~)'s B-sides
The following 3 songs serve as B-sides in KAT-TUN's 11th single Love yourself ~Kimi ga Kirai na Kimi ga Suki~ (~I Hate You I Love You~) which was released last Wed on 10th Feb in which the last 2 songs are new solo tunes that were done by the 1st 2 co-lead vocalists of the group :
1) HEART BEAT (CD Only Track)
I had a rude shock or 2 when I 1st listened to HEART BEAT as it's very/extremely poppy & peppy , which's something that I never expect KAT-TUN will do at all .
It sounded like something what V6 or even ARASHI or maybe NEWS might do as this's really on the pop side of things & you're not able to find any traces of their harder rock material in HEART BEAT at all .
It's a good thing that this's slotted as a B-side no. as I think this might scare fans away if it was released as an A-side song .
2) Aishite Irukara (Because Love) ; Kamenashi Kazuya's solo song (CD + DVD Type A Track)
Kame 1st sang Aishite Irukara during the guys's KAT-TUN SUMMER '09 Break the Records tour which took place last year & he even has a hand in cowriting this latest solo song of his as well .
I have heard the live version of Aishite Irukara way before the studio version of the song materialises & it's a really lovely , touching & beautiful ballad .
It's probably on par with his other solo no. Kizuna (Bond) but for Aishite Irukara's case , it's a simple & heartfelt song & his vocals didn't went over the top in here which's great .
3) A Page ; Akanishi Jin's solo song (CD + DVD Type B Track)
Composed & arranged by Akanishi , this's 1 of the many new solo songs sung by him in his debut solo concert You&Jin which commenced recently .
It's a full English R&B inspired no. & on 1st listen , it somehow reminded me of his childhood friend NEWS's leader Yamashita Tomohisa's solo no. MOLA & some of the B-sides that was found on his Loveless single .
I had mixed feelings over A Page initally as it sounded nothing like what he has done before if you were to compare it against care & let alone LOVEJUICE .
The song did grow on me eventually & his vocals seem to be distorted in here on purpose probably .
KAT-TUN started 2010 off with this top notch single of theirs , Love yourself ~Kimi ga Kirai na Kimi ga Suki~ .
For me , I'm happy that the A-side & let alone THE D-MOTION which's the 1st B-side of theirs to get a video sounded nothing like their previous works which shows that they're not afraid to step out of their music comfort zone & experiment , regardless whether the final product's good or bad .
Love yourself ~Kimi ga Kirai na Kimi ga Suki~ sold 354,231 in the 1st week & it's their best 1st week sales since DON'T U EVER STOP & I guess it's saying something .
Except for HEART BEAT which I still don't really like , the 2 solo songs of Kame & Akanishi's are pretty good . I frankly think everyone in the group should have recorded solo songs which happened for their DON'T U EVER STOP single as it's not nice that the other 4 members get left out in the spotlight & it's not like T-TUN cannot carry a tune or 2 of their own to begin with .
Monday, February 15, 2010
SID - sleep
CD Only Cover :
CD + DVD Type A Cover :
CD + DVD Type B Cover :
sleep is SID's 5th major label single . It will be released on 3rd March & this's their 1st single release for 2010 .
The quartet's new no. has been selected to be used as an ending theme for this month for the TV program Sukkiri !! and it's also the commercial song for Recochoku TV .
When I saw the title for their new single , I was wondering will it be going to be a ballad but I was so wrong when I managed to give sleep a listen .
Instead , what I was presented is a really dramatic & emotional driven no. & I do feel that it bears some resemblances to Namida no Ondo (Temperature Of Tears) , a song that I blogged/talked about a while back ago .
Except for sleep's case , it's more polished & sleek & you can tell how much emotional personal input lead singer Mao which's plain lovely I have to say .
The following songs serve as B-sides in the single :
- Utahime (Songstress)
- Aikagi (Master Key) (Live from SID TOUR 2009 hikari)
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Aoyama Thelma - Kaeru Basho (Place To Come Home To)
Kaeru Basho (Place To Come Home To) is Aoyama Thelma's 9th single . It will be released on 3rd March & this comes 2 months + since the release of Fall in Love which was released under the billing Aoyama Thelma x SOL from BIGBANG .
Aoyama's new song has been chosen to be used as an ending theme no. for the movie Doraemon The Movie : Nobita's Great Battle of the Mermaid King which will be released in Japanese cinemas on March 6th & it's a commemorative work for the 30th anniversary of Doraemon .
Songwriter/rapper SoulJa wrote & composed Kaeru Basho which's described as a ballad & also both artists already collaborated before in Aoyama's 2nd single Soba ni Iru ne which was considered as Aoyama's breakthrough hit .
After the really nice Fall in Love that she dueted with BIGBANG's SOL , Aoyama returned back with this really touching , emotional & beautiful ballad .
If you have seen/read the lyrics for Kaeru Basho , it will bring tears to your eyes . The song's by right depressing but somehow it offers a ray of hope that you should move on with your life instead of dwelling in the past of what you spent/felt towards your ex boy/girlfriend .
Anata ga Kiechaisoude (You Must Disappear And In The Aspect) serves as the B-side for Kaeru Basho .
Saturday, February 13, 2010
CD Review :: Koda Kumi - UNIVERSE
CD Only Cover :
2 CDs Only Cover :
2 CDs + DVD Cover :
1) Step Into My World
2) Can We Go Back
4) You're So Beautiful
5) Lick me ♥
6) Work It Out !
7) No Way
9) Comes Up
10) Physical thing
13) It's all Love ! (Koda Kumi x misono)
15) Moon Crying (Live ver. In taiwan) (First Press Track)
UNIVERSE is Koda Kumi's 8th album . It was released last Wed on 3rd Feb together with her 5th best album BEST ~third universe~ .
This best + original album concept was dubbed BEST ~third universe~ & 8th AL "UNIVERSE" & it debuted at #1 with 1st week sales of 221,887 .
All the singles that Koda released last year are included in UNIVERSE except for Hashire ! (Run !) which's the last A-side from her 44th single 3 SPLASH .
Step Into My World kicks off UNIVERSE & if the melody for the song sounded vaguely familiar , that's because it's the same melody that INTRODUCTION FOR TRICK had .
I'm frankly not sure if I count Step Into My World as a full song or an introduction . I think I go with the former since there're actual lyrics surrounding Step Into The World .
Can We Go Back is Koda's 46th single & it was released 2 weeks before BEST ~third universe~ & 8th AL "UNIVERSE" .
Pressings for both editions of the single were limited , the same thing which happened for her 39th single anytime .
Despite being a cover of Kelly Clarkson's song , I like Can We Go Back . It's not as hard rock in your face as compared to Ningyo-hime (Mermaid Princess) but still this's something that I don't mind at all .
The next 2 songs are the only 2 album tracks that received music videos of their own .
SUPERSTAR which I reviewed a while back ago , is track #3 . I still like this song even though it's something similar to what Koda has put out before as this's not the 1st cutesy poppy song that's found in her discography .
You're So Beautiful follows after SUPERSTAR & I think this's 1 beautiful no. & probably 1 of the stronger prominent album tracks in UNIVERSE .
It's a ballad but there's just something captivating , earnest & sincere about You're So Beautiful which I really like & I could see why it got a video as it deserves so .
Lick me ♥ is the 1st A-side from Koda's 44th / triple A-side single 3 SPLASH .
Funny enough , despite the somewhat obsence title of the song , Lick me ♥ was probably the best received song from the Japanese public last year seeing that it's a summer inspired no. & I think this's the song that Koda performed the most live in 2009 .
Guess this shows that you shouldn't judge a song based on its title alone .
The next 4 songs are album tracks in which unfortunately to me , 3 of them doesn't seem to live up to expectations .
Work It Out ! sounds like a Run For Your Life reject to me on 1st listen . As much as I would like to love this song , I can't see myself doing that at all .
The song sounded very lazy & it's as if Koda's vocals was just going though the motions for the sake of doing so .
No Way is track #7 & this no. to me , is another prominent album track in UNIVERSE .
Unlike Work It Out ! , No Way sees itself as a smooth crooner which frankly works in Koda's favour .
Also I like the way her vocals are harmonised very well with the melody of the song as well & I find myself putting No Way on repeat mode too .
Stay is the 2nd album ballad after You're So Beautiful .
Unlike You're So Beautiful , I find Stay nothing special . It sounded like another typical ballad that Koda dished out before in past singles/albums of hers .
It's a pity as I wanted Stay to work but that doesn't seem to be the case as it's quite a monotone driven ballad .
Comes Up follows after Stay & for Comes Up's case , I had music deja vu vibes of girls & Lady Go ! when I listened to Comes Up .
Except for Comes Up's case , it's like the poor cousin of both songs that I singled out earlier on .
Physical thing's the 2nd A-side of Koda's 45th single Alive / Physical thing .
The song is a Japanese cover of the song of the same name by British singer Nosheen .
I'm so relieved that after 3 sub par album tracks , Physical thing is the one that cracks the volume up in a way or 2 . Other hot dance tracks found in Koda's discography are better but Physical thing's something that I still enjoyed even up to now & I think it contrasts Alive very well in every single aspect .
ECSTASY is the 2nd A-side of 3 SPLASH & I think out of the 3 A-side in 3 SPLASH , this probably is the best A-side out of the lot .
When ECSTASY was 1st released alongside with Lick me ♥ & Hashire ! , I knew that somehow or another , I was going to like it a lot more than the other 2 A-sides .
ECSTASY is like the distant cousin of Driving where both songs are seriously & extremely addictive for all the right reasons & this's 1 hot dance track that's for sure .
Sharing the same title as her album , it's the last album track UNIVERSE .
Boy oh boy , I had music deja vu vibes of Missy Elliott's 2005's hit single Lose Control which featured Ciara and rapper Fatman Scoop when I 1st heard UNIVERSE . The melody's so similar , it's impossible to ignore this at all .
Funny enough despite this , I actually like UNIVERSE even though it has quite an Americanised flair attached to it & this's 1 song you probably can plug it loud in a club for that matter .
It's all Love ! is Koda's 43rd single . The single was released under the billing Koda Kumi x misono in which misono's her younger sister .
The B-side faraway is not included in the album .
I know there were quite a lot of people who doesn't really like It's all Love ! as it combines the musical aspect of both sisters's solo careers .`
But if you read the lyrics for It's all Love ! , it's quite a girl enpowered tune & I think misono had fun recording this song with her older sister .
Alive is the 1st A-side of Koda's 45th single Alive / Physical thing .
The song was used as the theme song for Yoichi Sai's manga-to-film adaptation The Legend of Kamui (Kamui Gaiden) & the melody of the song was inspired by Lascia ch'io pianga which's an aria taken from the Italian opera Rinaldo by Handel .
I think this's 1 of the most under-rated ballads of Koda . I know people didn't really warm up to Alive that much which probably explained why the single sold below expectations even though it debuted at #1 .
The sampled melody for Alive's pretty & you can hear/feel how much emotions that's going though in the song even though I felt the song kind of ended adruptly & that it's a tad too short for my liking .
Found as a 1st press track for all 3 editions of BEST ~third universe~ & 8th AL "UNIVERSE" , it's the live version of Moon Crying which was recorded from Koda's 1st Taiwan concert performance which took place last year .
Moon Crying is frankly not really my fave ballad/single of hers but in here , you can hear how powerful her voice's when she belted out quite a long version of the song .
This's something I don't see myself listening to again though as there're some parts where she kind of went over the top & with that , I much prefer the studio version of Moon Crying .
After last year's TRICK , Koda Kumi started out 2010 with this best + original album concept BEST ~third universe~ & 8th AL "UNIVERSE" .
As much as I don't like to say this but I feel UNIVERSE's a music step down or 2 from TRICK .
The album tracks somehow do not live up to expectations & seem like second fiddle when you compare them against the singles which're pretty much winners in their own right .
Also , I feel the album's sounded rush/incomplete & as a result , I feel that on some of the album tracks , Koda's vocals were quite lazy/mundane .
Not to mention , Koda seems to be gearing towards a more pop & Americanised sound for UNIVERSE which I don't think it's working in her favour especially after the music disaster that's of That Ain't Cool which featured Black Eyed Peas's Fergie .
Considering that this year's her 10th anniversary , it seems way too early for avex to ask her to release UNIVERSE with another best album . I thought that's un-necessary to put together a best & original album in 1 package & I feel it's unfair for people who wants to buy UNIVERSE but they have to end up getting both albums together at the same time .
Juding from the 1st week sales of BEST ~third universe~ & 8th AL "UNIVERSE" which's weaker/lower than TRICK , I think avex should know the whole once bitten twice shy saying as that also backfired for BoA last year too when she released BEST&USA .
I hope Koda will not start 2010 with a bad foot note , it will be a pity if that were to happen .
Thursday, February 11, 2010
ARASHI - Troublemaker
Troublemaker is ARASHI's 29th single . It will be released on 3rd March & it's the guys's 1st single release for 2010 .
The A-side will be used as a theme song for the drama Tokujō Kabachi !! Kabachitare ! 2 starring member Sakurai Sho & Horikita Maki & YesAsia described Troublemaker in that it's an 80's style power pop song .
I usually do not say this about ARASHI but I find Troublemaker to be extremely boring/bland . Like how many songs of theirs have this safe pop route formula which has been used over & over again ?
Oddly if not freaky enough , if you compare the group's last 2 A-sides songs ie. Everything & My Girl , the music structure for all 3 songs inclusive of Troublemaker are so similar sounding .
I frankly was expecting Troublemaker to be something dark like maybe a Believe or a truth part 2 , not another safe sounding & over poppy song but I think the fans will lap it up but for me , this's something that I probably will not put on repeat mode on my stereo .
I miss the days when their material were very hip hop / rock influenced until in recent times where they unfortunately sellout to the masses .
I don't like to use the term sellout in here but I think it's quite evident in a way or 2 .
The 1st B-side song Yurase , Ima wo (Shake It Now) is slightly better in my books .
The song has been chosen to be used as the theme song for the 2010 Winter Olympics for the TV station NTV & I do feel that Yurase , Ima wo should have been chosen to be the A-side instead of being a B-side song .
Then again both Troublemaker & Yurase , Ima wo have almost the same style so I wouldn't blame you if you find both of them to be extremely safe & boring .
The 2nd B-side Mou Ippo (One Step) will be reviewed in due time & this's only found in the CD only edition of the single .
I sure hope that Mou Ippo will be the saving grace for Troublemaker as frankly since the beginning of 2010 , I have not been impressed in what ARASHI has to offer , musically wise .
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
flumpool - Zanzou (After Image)'s B-sides
The following 3 songs served as B-sides in flumpool's 3rd single Zanzou (After Image) which was released last Wed on 3rd Feb :
- Kotoshi no Sakura (Cherry Tree Of This Year) (Graduation Remix)
- Over the rain ~Hikari no Hashi~ (~Light Bridge~) Live at Nippon Budokan (Limited Edition Track)
Zanzou debuted at #3 with 1st week sales of 31,020 .
I really like the 1st B-side Birds . It's very uptempo which plays a very good contrast to the A-side which's a heartfelt ballad .
Birds reminded me of Calling to a certain extent , except Birds is more polished & put together .
Originally found as track #13 in the guys's debut album What's flumpool !? , it's the Graduation Remix of Kotoshi no Sakura .
Compared to the original which's a straight up no nonsense indie driven rock tune , this's not the case for the Graduation Remix of Kotoshi no Sakura as it takes on a more laidback , chilled out & calmed down route which's really nice .
I thought the over usage of instruments might overpowered lead singer Ryuuta's voice but thankfully that did not happened .
Only found in the limited edition pressing of Zanzou , it's the live version of Over the rain ~Hikari no Hashi~ which was recorded at the Nippon Budokan .
I can understand why the guys decided to include the live take of Over the rain ~Hikari no Hashi~ in the single , seeing that it was used in the 1st season of Bloody Monday & for Zanzou's case , it's being used for the 2nd season of the drama which makes sense .
I have seen a fair deal of flumpool live performances & they impress me in the sense that they put out almost seamless performances & Ryuuta sounded on par if not almost the same as what you can hear on a CD .
I thought he might be lip synching as compared to other artistes that I have seen of whom performed 'live' but after watching a sizeable amount of their live performances , I don't think that's the case now & in here , the live version of Over the rain ~Hikari no Hashi~ was really good/solid .
flumpool started out 2010 with this really solid physical single release & it's nice to see them improve musically as time goes by .
I sure hope I wil not have to wait long for another release of theirs to swing by .
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
BENI - bye bye
bye bye is BENI's 7th single . It will be released on 10th March & this comes in 2 months + since the release of her previous single Sign .
Her new song has been chosen to be served as an outro theme no. for the TV series HEY ! HEY ! HEY ! & it's produced by Daisuke "D.I" Imai .
bye bye will also be released on the same day as her Bitter & Sweet Release Tour DVD .
I was really impressed with Sign overall & in here , BENI doesn't stop to deliver the goods in the form of bye bye .
I like that the song grabbed my attention immediately on 1st listen & while it's a R&B mid tempo no. , the difference between Sign & bye bye is that bye bye incorporated some subtle Oriental flair to it which I really like .
I guess the credit has to go to Daisuke "D.I" Imai who produced BENI's latest single offering & kudos to him for making bye bye a winner in its own right .
The following serve as B-sides in bye bye :
- Sign DJ HASEBE REMIX
Monday, February 08, 2010
Shota Shimizu x Miliyah Kato - FOREVER LOVE's B-sides
The following 2 songs serve as B-sides in Shota Shimizu & Miliyah Kato's 2nd duet FOREVER LOVE which was released last Wed on 3rd Feb :
- Love Forever ~Happy Wedding Remix~
The single debuted at #4 with 1st week sales of 30,685 & ranked a notch higher than Love Forever's 1st week position .
On 1st listen , Jewelry sounded like something that Shota might release on his own seeing that it has the same rap/hip hop/R&B flair you can find like in One Last Kiss .
I thought I might dislike Jewelry but the harmonisation of both Shota & Miliyah's vocals more than make up for this .
The Happy Wedding Remix of their 1st duet Love Forever is the 2nd B-side & this's really lovely !
Compared to the original , there's naturally traces of wedding like influenced sounds you can find in here .
It's hard for me to pick which one I like as Love Forever's already a winner in its own right .
After releasing their 1st duet Love Forever last May , Shota Shimizu & Miliyah Kato termed up together to deliver FOREVER LOVE which's an answer call song to their maiden duet & I have to say it's great for them to band together to release another song once more as I really like both songs from them .
Also , the harmonisation of their vocals are perfect to a tee . I'm not sure if they're going to team up again in the near future to deliver another duet .
If it happens for the 3rd time , I really don't mind at all .
Shota will be releasing his 2nd album Journey on 3rd March & FOREVER LOVE has made the cut in the album & strangely enough , that does not apply for Love Forever's case hmmm .
Sunday, February 07, 2010
CD Review :: NEVER LAND - Beautiful Days EP
2) Tengoku e no Tegami (Letter To Heaven)
3) Ama no Gawa no Shita de (Under The Milky Way)
4) Aoi Tori (Blue Bird)
5) Itoshiki Hibi (Our Beloved Sun)
6) Akai Ito (Red Thread) ~Album Mix~
7) Rain Drops
Beautiful Days is a mini album released by a now defunt rock band trio by the name of NEVER LAND .
This mini album was released on 3rd Aug 2005 & despite the fact that they made numerous demos CDs which were sold during their live concerts that time , this's the only proper release you're still able to get hold of online .
No singles are included in Beautiful Days & only Tengoku e no Tegami (Letter To Heaven) received a music video of its own .
NEVER LAND consisted of BREAKERZ's guitarist AKIHIDE (who went by his full name Akihide Satou in this release) on vocals/guitar , hitoshi on bass & Makoto Motoki on drums .
Prior to NEVER LAND , previous bands that AKIHIDE joined & were involved in included nostalgia , LULL & FAIRY FORE .
The trio disbanded some 3 years ago after being together for little more than 3 years & in NEVER LAND , AKIHIDE was the lead singer/guitarist & was responsible for writing/composing everything in the group & the album cover art & the music video for Tengoku e no Tegami which consisted of a lot of drawings were drew/designed by him .
I guess being a really big fan of BREAKERZ , naturally I was curious about NEVER LAND since this project was quite dear to AKIHIDE to a certain extent as he had a lot of personal input towards NEVER LAND , as what I mentioned above & I never heard him sing at all since now that he's in charge of doing backup vocals for BREAKERZ alongside with writing , composing , playing guitar with the other guitarist SHINPEI .
Anyway , Beautiful Days kicked things off with a really pretty song titled Pianist . It's a really nice mid tempo piano & guitar driven song .
What I like about Pianist is the thrown in of banjo influences for good measures after AKIHIDE belted out the 2nd chorus of the song which's really lovely .
Tengoku e no Tegami (Letter To Heaven) is the 1st NEVER LAND song that I heard & I guess this's probably can be considered as the best track in Beautiful Days seeing that it's the only song that received a music video .
It was my 1st contact on how AKIHIDE sounded like when he sings as well & it's catchy & I personally think his singing voice's pretty good .
Ama no Gawa no Shita de (Under The Milky Way) is 1 of the more slower guitar driven songs . It's also 1 of those songs that you can feel a lot of emotions that's coming from this no. .
Aoi Tori (Blue Bird) is the next song & in here you can hear the backing vocals of the other 2 members a lot more as compared to other songs in Beautiful Days .
I guess because of this , I kind of like Aoi Tori to a certain extent .
Itoshiki Hibi (Our Beloved Sun) is 1 of the more slightly hard rock tunes in Beautiful Days . It's actually very mellow in nature but somehow or another , the song was able to break out of this mould & establish itself as a rather mean & aggressive no.
The album mix of Akai Ito (Red Thread) is another nice song to listen to & I actually like the harmonisation of AKIHIDE's vocals with the melody of the song .
I feel that there's something captivating about the album mix of Akai Ito .
The final track Rain Drops closes off Beautiful Days pretty well . It's a soft mellow song but just like for Itoshiki Hibi's case , it morphs into a mean electric guitar no. as time goes by which I really like .
Even though there're no singles included in NEVER LAND's only release , I personally feel that Beautiful Days is an emotional , raw & indie driven mini album .
I always have admired AKIHIDE for being so talented in every single aspect from writing , composing , playing guitar & now , singing , drawing & design .
Also after listening to Beautiful Days , I notice how much significant growth AKIHIDE has shown in his writing/composing skills & he definitely has come a long way from his past indie days til now being in BREAKERZ .
I really hope he can get behind a microphone someday in the future as I frankly think his singing voice's pretty good . I'm not sure if that's ever going to happen but I can only hope this will materialise in the near future & if so , that will be something great to look out for .
Friday, February 05, 2010
alan - Over the clouds
Over the clouds is the 2nd A-side of alan's 12th single Diamond / Over the clouds which was released a few days ago on Wed / 3rd Feb .
Diamond / Over the clouds debuted at #20 with 1st week sales of 5,096 .
The 2nd A-side is used as the opening theme no. for the PSP game GOD EATER & despite being alan's 1st double A-side , it did not get a music video .
That's a really big pity seeing that Over the clouds plays a really good contrast against the ballad Diamond .
It's an upbeat pop song but there's a certain edge / flair Over the clouds has & she doesn't sound that wooden in here .
This's one song that has been growing on me I have to say & the fact that this's her 1st double A-side single , alan has proven her singing chops with this latest single offering of hers .
I hope 2010 will shape up to be another musically productive year for her .
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
CD Review :: abingdon boys school - ABINGDON ROAD
CD Only Cover :
CD + DVD Cover :
2) PINEAPPLE ARMY
3) and I love ...
5) SOUEN (Blue Flame) -SOUEN- (-Blue Flame-) Feat BASI , Sakkon , FUNKYMIC from Insist
6) Shiosai (The Sound Of The Sea)
7) From Dusk Till Dawn -INCH UP-
9) BLADE CHORD
10)Kimi no Uta (Your Song)
11) Sweetest Coma Again
12) Gold Eclipse
13) Valkyrie - Lioleia Mix-
ABINGDON ROAD is abingdon boys school's 2nd album . It was released last month on 27th Jan & this comes nearly 3 years since the release of their self titled debut album .
The album debuted at #2 with 1st week sales of 34,478 copies & you can find 5 singles , a B-side & a cover song in the jrock quartet's latest album offering .
All lyrics were written by frontman/lead singer Takanori Nishikawa . It's only for SOUEN (Blue Flame) -SOUEN- (-Blue Flame-) - that he cowrote with BASI , Sakkon , FUNKYMIC from Insist .
Most of the music was composed by guitarist Shibasaki Hiroshi & synthesizer/programming/leader Kishi Toshiyuki except for their 4th single BLADE CHORD which was composed by their other guitarist SUNAO .
STRENGTH. is their 5th single & what better way to kick off ABINGDON ROAD with this great straight up rock song !
The song was used as an opening theme for the anime Soul Eater & can be considered as their comeback single as they did not release anything 2 years ago after they put out BLADE CHORD so it was a big relief when they finally returned with STRENGTH. .
PINEAPPLE ARMY is the 1st album track & yes I still have ??? whenever I see this song in my mp3player .
The guys didn't lose their marbles & despite the odd funny title , it's actually a normal thumping rock tune .
I was hoping for something crazy & over the top but that didn't happened .
and I love ... is track #3 & it's the longest track in ABINGDON ROAD , clocking in at 5:58 mins .
I can't help but realised that and I love ... sounded identical to Via Dolorosa which was taken from their self titled debut album as track #3 too ironically .
Still , I really like I love ... as it's probably 1 of their more emotional driven songs in their 2nd album .
JAP is the group's 6th single & it was used as the opening theme for the anime Devil Kings (Sengoku Basara) .
I frankly have no complaints towards JAP at all . Way before it was released physically , I already love what JAP had to offer for me & it's a straight up no frills catchy rock song .
SOUEN (Blue Flame) -SOUEN- (-Blue Flame-) is the only song that features the voices of other artistes & this time round you can find the voices of BASI , Sakkon , FUNKYMIC from Insist .
Just like LOST REASON Feat Home Made Kazoku's Micro in the group's 1st album , this goes for no exception for SOUEN -SOUEN-'s case .
I like to say that this's 1 of the more stronger prominent tracks in ABINGDON ROAD . I thought the song might be overcrowded with the vocals of 4 people but surprisingly , all 4 of them harmonise themselves pretty nicely in this rock meet hip hop / rap song .
Shiosai (The Sound Of The Sea) is track #6 & this's 1 song that took me a lot to remember .
There's frankly nothing fantastic to shout about for Shiosai as it's a pretty standard rock fare that the guys delivered & as a result , I will not consider this as a fave song of mine .
From Dusk Till Dawn is the group's 8th single & it was the last single included in ABINGDON ROAD prior to the release of the album .
The song was used as an ending theme for the anime DARKER THAN BLACK -Ryūsei no Gemini- & in here , it has been renamed as From Dusk Till Dawn -INCH UP- .
Compared to HOWLING -INCH UP- which I can't tell any difference from the single & album version , that's not the case for From Dusk Till Dawn .
In the introduction for From Dusk Till Dawn , you can hear about a 38 seconds - 40 seconds of Takanori singing the song acapella acoustic which was done beautifully & very raw in emotions .
I was surprised when that cropped up & I really thought the guys might probably have rearranged the whole song in this manner but sadly that only lasted for less than a minute & after that's out of the way , the original take of the song begins .
Despite that disappointment , there's no deny that From Dusk Till Dawn is beautiful . There's no much mid tempo / ballad driven songs in ABINGDON ROAD & this's the closest I would associate From Dusk Til Dawn as so .
Siren is the last album track you can find in ABINGDON ROAD & it's also a full English song too .
If you find that girl's voice in the background familiar , that's because she's the same person whose voice that you can hear in the backdrop for their 2nd single HOWLING & DOWN TO YOU .
Her name's Lynn Hobday & she contributed additional words for Siren too .
Despite being a full English song & that Takanori's dictation was somewhat lost in here , I actually really like Siren . It borders almost on the rock metal side of things which gives the song the edge it really needs / deserves .
BLADE CHORD is their 4th single & it was used as the theme song to the Wii and Playstation 2 game Sengoku BASARA2 .
This's the oldest single you can find in ABINGDON ROAD as it was released some 3 years ago on 5th Dec & it's the only song that guitarist SUNAO composed too .
Even though BLADE CHORD's 3 years old , I can never get enough of the song . It's very unique in terms of the sound & also it has that interesting edge it deserves to .
Kimi no Uta (Your Song) is the group's 7th single & it was used as the opening theme for the anime Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. .
This's also the last single you can find in the album & despite being the weakest performed single to date , there's something about Kimi no Uta that I really like .
It's probably because of the music video which kind of influence me in saying so . Then again , I feel all the singles that made the cut in ABINGDON ROAD are fabulous in their own respective right .
Sweetest Coma Again is track #11 & the original artiste who wrote/composed this was Luna Sea .
Just like the group's cover of BUCK TICK's Dress in their 1st album , they have included 1 cover song in ABINGDON ROAD .
I was very happy to see Sweetest Coma Again in here as I have heard their take of this song a very long time ago when the Luna Sea Memorial Cover Album -Re:birth- was released way back in 19th Dec '07 .
For me to hear the song again , it's fantastic & brought back a lot of memories for me . This's the closest I would associate the group as metal as it's a lot more edgier than what they usually does .
After a very pretty 1:53 mins Gold Eclipse interlude , the guys dived straight into the B-side of JAP which's Valkyrie .
In here , it has been given a Lioleia Mix .
The Lioleia Mix of Valkyrie is a lot more aggressive / tougher & meaner than the original which I like . I actually find the ending of Valkyrie -Lioleia Mix- a bit amusing for my liking .
And the album finally closed & wrapped things up nicely with the 2nd interlude of the album which's titled nocturne . I think the ending piece of the puzzle fit things well with it being the last track in ABINGDON ROAD & all .
Not to mention , I can't help but find nocturne serene & peaceful calm sounding too .
Some 3 years + since the release of abingdon boys school's self titled debut album , they have finally put out their 2nd album ABINGDON ROAD .
I have to admit that abingdon boys school was the very 1st jrock group that I listened to of when I began my jpop music journey some 4 years back & I still have a lot of respect for them .
The fan in me would say that ABINGDON ROAD is pretty much chapter 2 of what they does best in that it's a straight up rock affair record .
On the other hand , I feel the album suffered in the sense that the album tracks doesn't seem to live up to expectations when you compare it against the singles which're all stellar in their own right .
Perhaps time also plays a factor in here since like what I said before , waiting for them to release ABINGDON ROAD almost 3 years since their debut album is no laughing matter .
Also , there doesn't seem to have much experimentation / growth for ABINGDON ROAD too . They could have mixed & match things up with other music genres with rock & that worked quite nicely for SOUEN -SOUEN- where they mixed hip hop , rap & rock together .
But at the end of the day , I guess it's better than nothing . I honestly have no idea when they will release something new in 2010 as their release pattern's pretty hard to predict but ABINGDON ROAD's worth a listen , especially if you like some good 'ol rock material .
Still , I will recommend their debut self titled album as that's 1 fantastic solid release . If not , listen to both albums wouldn't hurt things either .
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
KAT-TUN - Love yourself ~Kimi ga Kirai na Kimi ga Suki~ (~I Hate You I Love You~)
CD Only Cover :
CD + DVD Type A Cover :
CD + DVD Type B Cover :
Love yourself ~Kimi ga Kirai na Kimi ga Suki~ (~I Hate You I Love You~) is KAT-TUN's 11th single . It will be released next Wed on 10th Feb & this's the group's 1st release for 2010 .
The sextet's latest offering serves as the theme song for the drama Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge starring KAT-TUN's 1st co lead vocalist Kamenashi Kazuya , NEWS/Tegomass's Tegoshi Yuya & Johnny Junior Uchi Hiroki .
Prepare to get yourself surprised when you give Love yourself ~Kimi ga Kirai na Kimi ga Suki~ a listen as it sounds like nothing like their previous works at all .
If you know how RESCUE & SIGNAL sound like , you probably have a rough idea what music direction has Love yourself ~Kimi ga Kirai na Kimi ga Suki~ has taken , except you still can hear traces of rock .
Still , I wouldn't deny that Love yourself ~Kimi ga Kirai na Kimi ga Suki is really catchy & it's nice that they offered something different for a change .
There're 4 B-sides in the single . The 1st being THE D-MOTION .
Despite being a B-side no. , this's the group's 1st B-side song to get a music video .
THE D-MOTION was used in the Decotomo ad & the English lyrics were coordinated by the 2nd co lead vocalist Akanishi Jin .
I was surprised when I 1st heard THE D-MOTION as I'm not a club dance person to begin with but I actually really like the song on 1st listen as it's really infectious .
If you know how girl trio Perfume sound like , then you have a rough idea on how THE D-MOTION sounds like .
There's quite a lot of autotune going on in the song which as a result , I was a bit turned off since I wasn't able to catch hold of whose voice's so in the song except for a few .
But despite this , THE D-MOTION is top notch & I could see why it got a music video even though it's a B-side song .
The following 3 B-sides will be reviewed in due time :
- HEART BEAT (CD Only Track)
- Aishite Irukara (Because Love) ; Kamenashi Kazuya's solo song (CD + DVD Type A)
- A Page ; Akanishi Jin's solo song (CD + DVD Type B track)
Monday, February 01, 2010
GIRL NEXT DOOR - Infinity ~Ballad Version~
The ~Ballad Version~ of GIRL NEXT DOOR's 5th single Infinity is found as a hidden track in their 2nd album NEXT FUTURE which was released last month on 20th Jan .
NEXT FUTURE debuted at #1 with 1st week sales of 56,436 copies & this's their 1st #1 album .
The album marks another 1st for them in that it contains a hidden track after you listen to track #14 FRIENDSHIP , something that you do not see in their debut self titled debut album .
There's frankly no extra words that I need to describe Infinity ~Ballad Version~ as it's already self explained in this take of the tune .
Compared to the original , the ballad version is more slower / stripped down / emotional & longer .
I frankly had to take some time to get used to the ballad version of Infinity seeing that I was very used to the original take of the song but it's nice I have to admit .
Could see a reason or 2 on why they chose to re-record & include the ballad version of their so far only #1 single too .