Monday, January 31, 2011
ARASHI - Lotus
CD + DVD
Lotus is ARASHI's 35th single & it will be released on 23rd Feb .
The group's 1st single release of 2011 , Lotus has been selected to be used as the theme song for the drama BARTENDER , starring member Aiba Masaki .
The A-side has been described as an up-tempo dance number which's backed by an intensely catchy melody & an cutting-edge style .
Honestly , I will not lie that I had that ??? look when I saw the title of ARASHI's latest single offering & not to mention , the title doesn't fit a drama that's called BARTENDER too .
But I threw caution in the wind after I managed to hear Lotus in full & it sounds better than what I thought it might be .
Think of Lotus as a cross between other dark songs/singles that ARASHI has released before , such as truth & Monster . Except in Lotus's case , a dash of autotune is enough to bring out the song's elements to its full potential .
Lotus is not catchy on 1st listen but giving it a few more spins allows me to remember how the song goes like now & it goes to show that you shouldn't judge a song based on the title alone .
The following songs serve as B-sides in the single :
- Boom Boom (CD Only Track)
Sakurap is included in Boom Boom .
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Shota Shimizu - YOU & I's B-sides
The following songs serve as B-sides in Shota Shimizu's 8th single YOU & I , which was released a few days ago on 26th Jan :
- Kimi no Koe (Your Voice)
- Kimi ga Suki (I Love You) ~Acoustic Version~
YOU & I was selected to be used for promotion in the ads of Sony's Play You walkman , alongside with YUI & JASMINE .
The three singers went aboard to find an inspiring sound to use in a new song . YUI chose to head for Sweden , while Shota & JASMINE went to New York City . All 3 of them used the experiences from each of their journey to help create their new tracks .
Shota decided that his theme was to be meeting & sound . As a result , he worked with a New York pianist he met & created YOU & I .
Kimi no Koe is probably the longest B-side I have ever came across from Shota because it clocks in at a whopping 6:50 mins , which's almost 2.5 times longer than the A-side .
No doubt I was a bit shocked when I found out the extensive duration length of Kimi no Koe & I felt a bit intimidated on 1st listen .
Kimi no Koe is 1 of those songs that you either might like or dislike , depending on your preference . For me , I'm sitting in between the fence . Certain times when I listen to it , I like it for being raw/emotional .
Other times when I take a listen to Kimi no Koe , I will not like it for it being somewhat lengthy & considering that it's almost 7 mins long , it's those type of songs that might be hard to keep short attention span listeners at bay .
Kimi ga Suki is Shota's 5th single & in here , it has been given an acoustic take .
It's no open secret that I adore acoustic songs & I'm actually pleased that Shota decided to give Kimi ga Suki an acoustic makeover because I like the original take of the song , so something like this , it's very easy for me to feel satisfied with .
I noticed that Shota's vocals are much more stronger & prominent in Kimi ga Suki ~Acoustic Version~ which's nice & simplicity is at best in here .
Shota Shimizu kicks off 2011 with this inspiring uplifting single YOU & I . It's very nice to see him progress musically as each release goes by & with a single like YOU & I , he has come of age & mature a significant great deal that he displays in his music craft .
It's said that Shota will be releasing his 3rd album (title tbc) on 9th March & I'm excited for that to happen & it will be interesting to see how things will pick up from where they left after last year's Journey .
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Hilcrhyme - Okubyou na Ookami (Cowardly Wolf)
CD + DVD
Okubyou na Ookami (Cowardly Wolf) is Hilcrhyme's 7th single & it will be released next month on 23rd Feb .
The duo's new single has pop essence & showcases a new style from Hilcrhyme . Promo wise , Okubyou na Ookami received the following mode of promotion :
- NTV "MIDNITE television series " ending theme (4th Jan - 22nd March )
- Nippon TV series "Happy Music "POWER PLAY (28th Jan - 18th Feb)
It was a bit surprising to hear Okubyou na Ookami & it's indeed true that it showcased a different side of Hilcrhyme that I never heard before .
Although it was stated that Hilcrhyme has pop essence , to me , I detest a significant fair bit of Jazz trumpet beats while being mixed up with the duo's signature trademark R&B/Rap sounds .
Hilcrhyme once again has pushed music boundaries & I think this applies very well to Okubyou na Ookami , which's a nice well crafted song that's somewhat dark & angsty driven .
Ibuki (Breath) serves as the B-side in the single .
Thursday, January 27, 2011
YUI - Rain ~YUI Acoustic Version~ (It's My Life / Your Heaven's B-sides)
Rain ~YUI Acoustic Version~ serves as the B-side for YUI's 18th single It's My Life / Your Heaven which was released yesterday on 26th Jan .
Both A-sides have tie up's . It's My Life was used in the new commercial for U-CAN which began airing on Jan 1st while Your Heaven was used to promote Sony's Play You walkman , alongside with 2 other songs that're sung by YUI's labelmates , ie. JASMINE & Shota Shimizu .
Honestly , I have no issues when comes to YUI giving acoustic mixes of her songs & the same thing goes for Rain , which was her previous single release before It's My Life / Your Heaven came along .
The original take of Rain is a straight up angsty no. . The YUI Acoustic Version sees YUI toning things down a great deal while still maintaining the angsty edge Rain has in itself .
YUI kicks off 2011 with this solid single offering It's My Life / Your Heaven in which both A-sides showcase different sides of her which she never portrayed in her previous releases .
I don't know if it's a good or bad thing but personally to me , it gets boring if YUI does the same thing that she's known for , so it's nice of her to just get out of the mundane music rut & experiment .
As a result , I come to appericate both A-sides & the single conclude things nicely with the YUI Acoustic Version of Rain .
YUI's 2nd concert DVD HOTEL HOLIDAYS IN THE SUN will be released on 9th March & it has been 4 years since the release of her maiden DVD Thank you My teens .
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
KAT-TUN - ULTIMATE WHEELS
CD + DVD
ULTIMATE WHEELS is KAT-TUN's 14th single & it will be released next week on 2nd Feb .
The group's new single has been selected to be used in the ads of Suzuki's SOLIO which the guys are the spokesperson for the company .
Looking ahead to the future , ULTIMATE WHEELS is about the bond between the members & working together as a group .
I myself have seen the Suzuki SOLIO ad in which ULTIMATE WHEELS can be heard in the background of the commercial . So I already had a teaser feeling on how the song's like from the preview snippet in the ad .
But what I didn't expect that ULTIMATE WHEELS will have such a dramatic sweeping orchestra feeling which took me by surprise in a good way .
As a result , ULTIMATE WHEELS is another fantastic A-side that I enjoyed of the guys . I thought CHANGE UR WORLD was great but I suppose what makes ULTIMATE WHEELS even more of a class of its own is the sweeping orchestra meets angsty rock sound which totally gives the group's latest release a unique identity of its own .
The following songs serve as B-sides in the single :
- Yoake Made (Until Dawn) (CD Only Regular Edition Track)
- MAKE-OR-BREAK (CD Only Limited Edition Track)
- TWO (CD + DVD Track)
Saturday, January 22, 2011
CD Review :: Kuroki Meisa - MAGAZINE
CD + DVD A (DVD contents - contains all of Kuroki's music videos from Like This to LOL !)
CD + DVD B (DVD contents - contains features footages of Kuroki's 1st concert ATTITUDE 2010)
1) Intro -MAGAZINE-
2) LOL !
4) BYE BYE MY FRIEND
6) SHOCK -Unmei- (-Fate-)
7) Say Good Night☆
8) As I Am
9) Why ??
13) 5 -FIVE-
14) Somewhere ...
MAGAZINE is Kuroki Meisa's 1st full length debut album & it will be released this coming Wed on 26th Jan .
Kuroki's 1st 3 singles & a B-side made the cut in MAGAZINE . Even though her official site stated that hellcat is her debut album , for me I will count it as a mini album & MAGAZINE as Kuroki's 1st proper full length album , given the duration for both records .
After Intro -MAGAZINE- , the album dives straight to LOL ! which's Kuroki's 3rd single & most recent release .
LOL ! was used in the ads of Kit Kat which Kuroki can be seen in the ads herself , with her promoting both the red & black Kit Kat of the brand respectively .
I remembered that I had a lot of dislike towards LOL ! for whatever reason(s) I can't think of but now the song has grown on me a great deal & if you listen to the lyrics of the song , there's some subtle linkage with LOL ! & Kit Kat .
But at the end of the day , this's still 1 fun catchy song to dance along to .
SWITCH⇔ is the 1st album track on MAGAZINE & wow , what a no. this's . The usage of autotune in SWITCH⇔ thankfully didn't overkill the song & Kuroki sounded really good here , alongside with the various layering of synths thrown in for good measures without spoiling everything else .
BYE BYE MY FRIEND follows after SWITCH⇔ & I remember I reviewed BYE BYE MY FRIEND as a standalone track before anything else happens .
I still feel that BYE BYE MY FRIEND is really solid . Even though there're 9 new songs in MAGAZINE , somehow or another BYE BYE MY FRIEND is able to carve an unique identity of its own & it's still enjoyable to listen to this mid tempo R&B track .
CELEBRATE is the 3rd album track & just like the 1st 2 album no.s in MAGAZINE , CELEBRATE is another solid track that I really like .
I frankly thought that CELEBRATE was going to be a ballad , given the opening that's piano driven but I was surprised when it breaks away from all that & it launched into another R&B mid tempo song , without sounding similiar like BYE BYE MY FRIEND which's neat .
SHOCK -Unmei- (-Fate-) is Kuroki's debut single . The song was used in the ads of KIRIN's COLA SHOCK which Kuroki can be seen in the ads herself .
Even though it has been close to 2 years since SHOCK -Unmei- was released , I'm still not bored of the song . I still remember that I was really annoyed that this didn't made the cut in Kuroki's 2nd mini album ATTITUDE .
But when I saw SHOCK -Unmei- on the tracklist for MAGAZINE , I was really happy because there was 1 time/stage where there was uncertainty on whether will Kuroki release a full length album prior to MAGAZINE but after this , all's fair game now .
Say Good Night☆ follows after SHOCK -Unmei- & for this , I probably can consider this as MAGAZINE's 1st proper album track for a ballad .
Even though Say Good Night☆ is not a full blown emotional driven ballad , the energy/mood it gives off in here , it's somehow a bit bittersweet & definitely more reserved , as compared to the other album tracks found in MAGAZINE .
As I Am is track #8 & out of the 9 album no.s , I feel that As I Am is the weak link out of the lot because it took me quite a while to catch hold on how it sounds like .
But after a few listens , I managed to get a grasp on As I Am but if you stack up the song against the rest , As I Am is probably slightly weaker but it's still an enjoyable track which's very synths driven .
Just like CELEBRATE & Say Good Night☆ , Why ?? has the same piano opening as an introduction , except in this case , Why ?? is a lot more angsty & full force .
I like Why ?? though because it showcase a different side of Kuroki that I normally don't get to hear so I'm all good with it .
Loneliness is another mid tempo R&B track but unlike the other mid tempo songs that I mentioned before , Loneliness bring back to basics when comes to a good R&B track .
There's nothing fanciful going on in Loneliness but I like the song for being pretty much fuss free .
LOVEHOLIC is the 2nd last album track & oh wow , this's quite a bad ass track . The song reminded me of Bad Girl to a certain extent , given the vibes that both songs give me .
Still , LOVEHOLIC is unique in the sense that Kuroki's vocals sounded more distorted than ever than usual which I guess that's done on purpose .
Wasted is found as the B-side of SHOCK -Unmei- & in here , it's track #12 in MAGAZINE .
I was very happy to see Wasted included in MAGAZINE's tracklist because I think the song's enough to rival the A-side just as well as each other . For that , I don't really have that much complaints on this .
5 -FIVE- is Kuroki's 2nd single & it's the last single included in MAGAZINE .
Frankly , all of her singles are real solid but what makes 5 -FIVE- stands out from SHOCK -Unmei- & LOL ! is that 5 -FIVE- has a strong summer vibe attached to the song , something that's not showcase that much in her discography but in here , Kuroki does it really well .
Also , it's 1 of those tracks that wouldn't hesistate people to get their groove on when the song is being played in a party as well .
Somewhere ... is the final album track & let alone last song before MAGAZINE concludes .
For this , Somewhere ... borderlines on the ballad & mid tempo sections but I think it's a nice way to wrap up the album with a somewhat chilled out / quietened mood .
After making a stunning musical debut with her 1st mini album hellcat , model/actress/pop star Kuroki Meisa finally released her full length debut album MAGAZINE .
Despite juggling a successful acting career while being a model full time , Kuroki is also able to set aside time & effort to create fun R&B-dance songs for fans which gives rise to MAGAZINE .
Truth be told , I was really surprised on how solid/top notch the album tracks are & each of them are able to distinguish each other from the rest .
Singing's obviously not Kuroki's niche area since she's by right a model/actress to begin with . But the songs that she picked to choose to sing in MAGAZINE , allows her to showcase her somewhat limited vocals while concealing the weakness portions of her voice .
Then again , at the end of the day , MAGAZINE is really solid & I like the sound consistency which flows very nicely from the start to the end .
Hopefully MAGAZINE wouldn't be the 1st & last of many great things to come from Kuroki Meisa & for this , I'm going to be plugging on MAGAZINE for the time being .
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Tegomass - Aoi (Blue) Bench
CD + DVD
Aoi (Blue) Bench is Tegomass's 5th single . It will be released on 16th Feb & this comes about 1 1/2 years since the duo's last single release Tanabata Matsuri (Star Festival) .
Tegomass's latest single release is actually a cover song of the male duo Sasuke whom disbanded in 2009 & it has been selected to be used as an ending theme song for “Onegai ! Ranking” from next month onwards .
What an uplifiting song Aoi Bench is & Tegomass has given it a fresh take on this refreshing folk-rock tune . I never heard the original which was sung by Sasuke but still , from what Tegomass has brought to the table , Aoi Bench is some really impressive stuff .
Then again , I'm not surprised considering that NEWS's Tegoshi & Masuda have 2 of the best voices in NEWS if not in the Johnny's talent agency & something like Aoi Bench allows them to showcase their vocal talents at fine form .
There will be 2 B-sides included in Aoi Bench , in which both of them are only found in the CD only pressing of the single :
- Aoi (Blue) Bench (Acoustic ver.)
- Sotsugyo (Graduation) Album
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Matsushita Yuya - Paradise
CD Limited With Photobooklet
CD Limited Pressing
CD + DVD
Paradise is Matsushita Yuya's 7th single . It will be released on 2nd Feb .
MY's 1st single release for 2011 , Paradise has been selected to be used to promote the drama Quartet , in which MY will be playing the lead role in the drama & this also will be his maiden debut in a drama .
Paradise is basically a pleasant mid tempo R&B ballad . When I 1st heard the song , it has shades of elements from MY's previous single , Bird / 4 Seasons .
I don't know if it's a good or bad thing but I think Paradise is a nice song & it's a lot more positive/upbeat than Bird , which I find that a bit depressing for my liking .
I don't think Paradise can be considered to be MY's best single that he has released to date but this's something that I don't mind to listen to again on a regular frequent basis & kudos to his mentor/composer Jin Nakamura , for composing this tune (once again) .
The following songs serve as B-sides in the single :
- Kimi no Koe (Your Voice)
- Loving Loved (CD Only Regular Edition Track)
- Secret Love Feat BRIGHT , SHUN (CD Only Limited Edition & CD + DVD's Track)
Monday, January 10, 2011
alan x Fukui Kei - Ai wa Chikara (Love Is Power)
Ai wa Chikara (Love Is Power) is alan's 15th single & it was released on the 1st day of 2011 .
This song is a collaboration with tenor Fukui Kei & it was released under the billing alan x Fukui Kei .
Ai wa Chikara was used as the theme song for the drama Sengoku Shippuden Futari no Gunshi & this's the only song available in the single ie. no B-sides & let alone instrumentals are included .
It has been a really long time since alan utilised her signature yodelling to full force & I guess for fans who have been following since her debut single Ashita e no Sanka (A Hymn For Tomorrow) , they probably miss this unique aspect of alan .
So for my case , I wasn't surprised when I like this power ballad that alan belted out with such gusto alongside with Fukei Kei . I was worried whether will Fukei's vocals will clash with alan but considering that he's a tenor , that has no issues in any single bit .
Ai wa Chikara will be included in the 2nd disc of alan's 1st compilation album JAPAN PREMIUM BEST & MORE which will be released on 2nd March .
Saturday, January 08, 2011
Koda Kumi - POP DIVA
CD + DVD
POP DIVA is Koda Kumi's 49th single . It will be released next month on 2nd Feb .
Described as an electro dance number , POP DIVA has been selected to be used in the ads of Daiichikosho's LIVE DAM LIVE , in which Koda can be seen in the ads herself .
Honestly when I saw the words electro dance , I was like would POP DIVA sound like another ECSTASY or Driving but when I was finally able to give the song a listen , I surprised myself that I was in the wrong .
POP DIVA is hot but I would describe this as a hot mess of the good kind . It's really catchy & very addicting on 1st listen which I adore .
On the other hand , what I dislike about POP DIVA slightly is the chorus . I remembered when I 1st heard a 30 seconds preview of POP DIVA , I really dislike it & turned out that the preview of the song was taken from the chorus of the song which ironically is the weak link for POP DIVA .
The chorus is something that you either will like or dislike , depending on how your mood's like on a particular day .
Black Candy serves as the B-side of POP DIVA .
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Kuroki Meisa - BYE BYE MY FRIEND
BYE BYE MY FRIEND is found as track #4 in Kuroki Meisa's full length debut album MAGAZINE which will be released on 26th Jan .
This's pretty cool even though I must admit on 1st listen , BYE BYE MY FRIEND is a bit weak & forgettable for my liking . Still , it's on the same music vein as her previous mid tempo slow songs like 5-FIVE-'s B-side So Smooth .
At this point in time , I'm not sure if I can consider BYE BYE MY FRIEND as a fave album track of mine . Maybe I will be able to give a better judgement when MAGAZINE is released in about 3 weeks's time or so .
For now alongside with Kuroki's 1st 3 singles & a B-side , I will be keeping BYE BYE MY FRIEND on loop for the time being .
Sunday, January 02, 2011
Yamashita Tomohisa - Hadakanbo (Naked Person)
First Press Limited Editions
Hadakanbo (Naked Person) is NEWS's leader Yamashita Tomohisa's 4th single . It will be released on 19th Jan , a week before Yamapi's debut solo album SUPERGOOD , SUPERBAD drops on 26th Jan .
This song Hadakanbo will be included in the 1st disc of SUPERGOOD , SUPERBAD as track #2 but it will be titled as Hadakanbo (Naked Person) (Album ver.) so there's no telling whether or not will both the single & album versions for Hadakanbo sound the same or not at this point in time .
Hadakanbo has been described as a funky pop song that will be great fun to deliver during a Karaoke session .
I have to admit after Yamapi released One in a million which was downright awful to me to handle , I was worried on what kind of a song Hadakanbo will be like but my fears were unfounded after I gave the song a listen .
I surprised myself that I actually like Hadakanbo despite the somewhat weird song title & this's some really funky catchy track !
Hadakanbo has some traces of Jazz influences , almost in the same vein as NEWS's Say Hello which's 1 of my fave album tracks in the group's debut album touch .
As such , Hadakanbo is a good single to kick start 2011 for Yamapi ! Definitely something to check out for in the new year .
Hadakanbo will be released as a standalone single on 19th Jan & there're no B-sides included in the single .