Saturday, February 23, 2013
ayaka - beautiful / Chiisana Ashiato (Small Footprint)
CD + DVD
2) Chiisana Ashiato (Small Footprint)
3) Hajimari no Toki (The First Moment) English ver.
4) beautiful (inst)
5) Chiisana Ashiato (inst)
beautiful / Chiisana Ashiato (Small Footprint) is ayaka's 13th single & it was released on 20th Feb .
This's ayaka's 1st single release for 2013 & her 1st single to be released under her own independent label A stAtion .
The last physical single ayaka released was 2009's Minna Sora no Shita (Under Our Sky) & beautiful / Chiisana Ashiato comes about a year since the release of her 3rd / comeback album The beginning .
The 1st A-side beautiful serves as the theme song for television drama Share House no Koibito that stars Oizumi Yo & Mizukawa Asami .
beautiful brings back to what ayaka does best which's delivering heartfelt soulful ballads which's the 1st impression that I've gotten when I heard beautiful . Something about the song is truly well beautiful & there's no way to escape in enjoying such an emotional no. coming from her .
The 2nd A-side Chiisana Ashiato was used in the ads of Shiseido's MAQuillAGE & the song describes the niceties of a woman's mind , giving Shiseido's MAQuillAGE ads a worldview depth & colour .
While beautiful is a ballad , Chiisana Ashiato provides something different & I thought it was great for ayaka to try going experimental .
Chiisana Ashiato is a cheery sounding no. which contrasts beautiful extremely well & the music video for it is very cute which plays up an animated ayaka in a fun but yet lovable manner .
Hajimari no Toki (The First Moment) was originally found as track #1 in ayaka's 3rd album The beginning & in
beautiful / Chiisana Ashiato , an English version of it serves as the B-side .
I have to be honest that I was a bit skeptical in hearing Hajimari no Toki English ver. as the original take of it was already very good but surprisingly , I kind of enjoy it .
Hajimari no Toki English ver. gears more towards an acoustic sound but I guess what made me fearful in hearing it was ayaka's English pronunciation/dictation .
I wasn't used to hearing ayaka sing in English & I had trouble hearing what she was singing in the beginning but in the chorus of the song , I had no problems .
ayaka kicked off her 2012 with her 3rd album The beginning . A year later , she is finally following up her hit comeback album with a new double A-side single beautiful / Chiisana Ashiato !
beautiful / Chiisana Ashiato is no doubt a great comeback single release for ayaka & this proves why she's 1 of the most somewhat under-rated but yet talented artistes around . I'm really glad she's back in doing what she does best , ie. releasing/creating inspirational catchy heartfelt songs & the whole single is enjoyable to listen .
A highly recommended single to check out !
Sunday, February 17, 2013
CD Review :: ayumi hamasaki - LOVE again
CD + DVD (same cover as CD + DVD + Ayupan good limited edition)
CD + Blu ray (same cover as CD + Blu ray + Ayupan good limited edition)
1) Wake me up
2) Song 4 u
7) Bye-bye darling
8) snowy kiss
9) Sweet scar
12) untitled for her ... story 2
15) You & Me
LOVE again is ayumi hamasaki's 14th album & it was released last week on 8th Feb .
ayumi's latest album offering comes in almost 11 months since the release of her previous album Party Queen .
LOVE again includes 7 tracks from her 3rd & 4th mini albums LOVE & again respectively , hence the album title .
After excluding the 7 songs from both mini albums , the leftover tracklist consist of 5 new songs & 2 interludes in LOVE again .
Celebrating 5 months leading up to ayumi's 15th anniversary , 5 months worth of releases were planned .
Every month on the 8th day of the month until the 15th anniversary since the release of ayumi's debut single poker face on 8th April 1998 , something new will be released on 11/8 , 12/8 , 1/8 , 2/8 & 3/8 .
Wake me up was originally found as the 1st track in ayumi's 4th mini album again . Selected to used in the ads of Sumeragi Jun sports Ever Life , Wake Me Up is described as a rock track .
The next 2 songs are originally found in her 3rd mini album LOVE .
Originally found as track #1 in LOVE , Song 4 u was picked to be used as the theme song for the PSP game Tales of Xillia 2 .
On the other hand , Missing was originally found as track #2 in LOVE in which it's described as a medium rock tune overflowing with pain/sadness .
SAKURA is the 1st of 5 new album tracks in LOVE again & this song does remind me of LOVE's Melody to a certain extent , only a lot more stronger sounding & memorable .
And speaking of Melody , it's the next song after SAKURA & this song was originally found as track #3 in LOVE .
Described as a medium ballad , Melody gets a music video in LOVE again which this didn't materialised when LOVE was released last Nov 8th .
This despite the fact that last year it was 1st stated that Melody was the song that was to get a music video but at the last minute , this was switched with Missing .
After the 1st album track interlude task'n'bass , in comes Bye-bye darling which's the 2nd album track .
Something about Bye-bye darling reminds me of an organic guitar sound/style that ayumi didn't tried before & it's something different that she brought to the music table .
The next 2 songs are originally found in ayumi's 4th mini album again .
Originally found as track #3 in again , snowy kiss is described as a song that's sung with a 'big voice' .
On the other hand , Sweet scar was originally found as track #2 in again in which the song's described as a sad yet uplifting track .
The next 4 tracks in LOVE again consist of the 2nd album interlude & the last 3 album tracks respectively .
petal is the 3rd album track & on 1st listen , it reminds me of GUILTY's Marionette to a certain extent , with it having a rather exotic & creepy sound attached to the melody .
After the 2nd album interlude glasses , the album slows down quite considerably in the form of the 4th album track untitled for her ... story 2 .
untitled for her ... story 2 was actually the song that caught my attention when I 1st saw LOVE again's tracklist , seeing that this song supposedly served as a sequel after 2008's GUILTY's untitled ~for her~ .
True enough , both untitled ~for her~ & untitled for her ... story 2 are equally powerful ballads with both songs that have sweeping dramatic orchestra melodies that each of them possesses .
Gloria is the final album track & the opening of the song is quite unusual if not dreamy sounding . But in due time , the song began to take shape , which resulted with Gloria going out with quite a bang .
Ivy was originally found as track #4 in ayumi's 4th mini album again . Described as a medium ballad that will speak to listeners . this song is the only album track that did not get a music video in again .
I still think that out of the 4 album tracks in again , Ivy is still an amazing standout track . It's a pity that it didn't get a music video which I feel it should have received 1 . Something about Ivy still struck me as an emotional driven no. & the amount of emotions being poured in by ayumi in Ivy can be felt quite significantly in here .
The final song in LOVE again , You & Me was originally included as track #13 in the 2nd disc of A SUMMER BEST .
A SUMMER BEST contains a selection of ayumi's summer songs + You & Me which at that time , was the only new track available in the compilation album .
Honestly , I was a bit surprised that You & Me was included in LOVE again as I thought it would have been exclusively available in A SUMMER BEST but turns out that's not the case .
At that time when A SUMMER BEST was released & when I wrote about You & Me , I did had issues with it , even though I surprised myself that I enjoyed the remixes of You & Me (SHINICHI OSAWA remix) & You & Me (Remo-con rmx - Extended) [both of them found in LOVE] a lot more than the original take .
To celebrate her 15th anniversary in the J-pop world , pop queen ayumi hamasaki is putting out 5 releases over 5 consecutive months ! The 4th release of the campaign is also its biggest , because it's her 14th original full-length album !
With regards to the album quality of LOVE again , I always don't have issues with the songs that ayumi put out as I feel she's 1 of the rare few that keeps putting out songs that have solid quality & no exception goes for LOVE again .
The issues that I had with this album however , is more towards on the marketing side as when further details for LOVE again was released , I was horrified to say the least as I couldn't believe she included all the new songs from both LOVE & again , let alone including You & Me in the tracklist too .
I'm sure those that bought A SUMMER BEST , LOVE & again separately were angry if not felt cheated when LOVE again's details were announced as I didn't liked the way where this 15th anniversary campaign is going towards as once started as a promising marketing tactic , somehow been backfired quite badly along the line .
Aside from that , I personally feel that LOVE again is very enjoyable & experimental from start til finish . I'm sure fans that were put out just how Westernised ayumi's previous album Party Queen sounded like , would be comforted to know that LOVE again is back to what ayumi does best .
And the incorporation of tracks from LOVE & again that the songs in both mini albums serve as preludes (not to mention contains some of ayumi's most strongest experimental tracks she put out to date) , the 5 new songs + 2 interludes are just the 2 missing links to complete the puzzle that's of LOVE again .
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Kis-My-Ft2 - My Resistance -Tashikana Mono- / Unmei (Fate) Girl
CD + DVD A
CD + DVD B
My Resistance -Tashikana Mono- / Unmei (Fate) Girl is Kis-My-Ft2's 6th single & it was released a few days ago on 13th Feb .
The group's 1st single release for 2013 , My Resistance -Tashikana Mono- / Unmei Girl is Kis-My-Ft2's 2nd double A-side single after releasing their 4th single's WANNA BEEEE !!! / Shake It Up last Aug .
The 1st A-side My Resistance -Tashikana Mono- was picked to be used as the theme no. in the drama Nobunaga no Chef starring member Tamamori Yuta while the 2nd A-side Unmei Girl was used in the ads of retail store Seven & i's "Valentine Fair" Valentine's Day campaign that the members appeared in .
Between both A-side's , My Resistance -Tashikana Mono- was the 1st 1 I heard over Unmei Girl & something about My Resistance -Tashikana Mono- is just really good .
I guess what My Resistance -Tashikana Mono- really enjoyable on 1st listen is that this's an angsty piano driven no. , something that the group didn't tackled before ... until now . As such , I think this's a standout no. .
On the other hand , with regards to Unmei Girl , I was shocked when I 1st heard it & just like My Resistance -Tashikana Mono- , it's another music style Kis-My-Ft2 didn't tried before .
Except in this case , Unmei Girl sounds like something that's 80s/90s dated sounding with rather cheesy guitar riffs & quite a lot of pop beats . No doubt that Unmei Girl contrasts My Resistance -Tashikana Mono- but it took me quite a while to get past how much I unusually disliked Unmei Girl in the beginning .
Now after I gave Unmei Girl a few more listens , at least it's not so bad but to say that I wasn't prepared how Unmei Girl was going to sound like is an understatement .
Forever with U is the only B-side included in My Resistance -Tashikana Mono- / Unmei Girl & this song is exclusively found in the CD only pressing of the single .
With a title like Forever with U , I frankly thought it was going to be a ballad but I was surprised that's not the case when I heard the song .
Instead , Forever with U is an uptempo song that has a lot of autotune going on in it . I'm not sure why but I somewhat prefer this over Unmei Girl by a long shot . The usage of autotune does grit me a bit but other than that , it's tolerable .
Both songs in Kis-My-Ft2's latest double A-side single My Resistance -Tashikana Mono- / Unmei Girl are serving as theme songs for projects involving group members . The 1st A-side My Resistance -Tashikana Mono- is being used as the theme song for the drama Nobunaga no Chef , starring Tamamori Yuta .
Meanwhile , the 2nd A-side Unmei Girl has been picked to be used as the advertising theme song for retail store Seven & i's "Valentine Fair" Valentine's Day campaign . Don't miss the group's 1st release of 2013 !
In addition , a trinity of 3 new Kis-My-Ft2 releases is set to drop on the same day next month on 27th March ie. 7th single Ki•Su•U•Ma•I ~KISS YOUR MIND~ / S.O.S (Smile On Smile) , 2nd album title tbc & YOSHIO -NEW MEMBER- DVD which the DVD contents focuses on an original short movie about YOSHIO , who will join Kis-My-Ft2 as their 8th member .
Monday, February 11, 2013
KAT-TUN - EXPOSE
CD + DVD A
CD + DVD B
EXPOSE is KAT-TUN's 20th single & it was released last week on 6th Feb .
The group's 1st single release for 2013 , the A-side was used as the TV CM tie up song for Suzuki Solio Bandit + it also served as this month's theme song for music show On Air .
EXPOSE hits me on 1st listen & in a good way as KAT-TUN is known for their punchy in your face harder sounding songs & this's no exception .
Their previous single Fumetsu no Scrum saw them stepping outside of their music comfort zone but for EXPOSE , they went back to what they do best & I personally think it's a great all rounder track .
There're a total of 5 different B-sides scattered in all 3 editions of EXPOSE .
Found only in the CD only pressing of the single , it's something that's titled Haruka Higashi no Sora e (Far To The Eastern Sky) & for this song , it's a nice acoustic guitar no. .
Not something that KAT-TUN would typically do but I must admit , something about Haruka Higashi no Sora e is calming & soothing , a song that's perfect in kicking back during a lazy day .
STEPS TO LOVE & BRAND NEW DAY are only found in the CD + DVD A edition of the single & coincidentally or not , both songs served as TV-CM songs for Suzuki Solio .
For both tracks , I've seen/heard the preview snippets in the Suzuki Solio ads before hearing the full versions of each song . For STEPS TO LOVE , it's something that's very Winter inspired , quite slow sounding but it does remind me of the group's 8th single White X'mas to a certain extent .
As for BRAND NEW DAY , it's such a peppy cheery sounding no. which I really like on 1st listen . When I 1st heard the preview snippet of this track in the Suzuki Solio ad , I somehow had the feeling I was going to like the full track & true enough , I was right .
Best of all , BRAND NEW DAY is very catchy & easy to remember too .
The last 2 B-sides are found in the CD + DVD B edition of EXPOSE .
Just like EXPOSE , STEPS TO LOVE & BRAND NEW DAY , Connect & Go was also used in the ads to promote Suzuki Solio Black & White II .
Unlike STEPS TO LOVE & BRAND NEW DAY , Connect & Go gets a music video with this song being the guys's 3rd B-side to receive 1 , after their 11th single Love yourself ~Kimi ga Kirai na Kimi ga Suki~'s THE D-MOTION & their 17th single BIRTH's STAR RIDER .
Even though there're a total of 4 group B-sides in EXPOSE , I can understand why Connect & Go is the only B-side that gets a music video as it sounds like nothing KAT-TUN has done before .
BRAND NEW DAY is a close call if not the 2nd B-side I feel that should get a music video but I suppose why Connect & Go come out tops is that it's unexpectedly catchy & something about the melody just take things to a whole new level .
Snowflake is the final B-side track & for this song , it's a solo no. sung by Nakamaru Yuichi .
After Tanaka Koki released/input/included his solo track BLACK & WHITE in Fumetsu no Scrum , in EXPOSE , it's Nakamaru's turn to shine in the solo spotlight & not surprisingly , Snowflake is really good .
In general , Nakamaru's solos are something I always look forward to as I personally feel he can sing in the group & I enjoy what he brings to the table , especially for his latest solo offering Snowflake which's a mid tempo meets dub step no. .
Also , in the music video for Snowflake , Nakamaru can be seen beatboxing for almost 1 min before the song starts & both his beatboxing & singing skills in the group are a duo combination worthly of saluting him big time .
KAT-TUN kicked off their 2013 with this really solid if not very music versatile sounding single in the form of their 20th single EXPOSE .
Reaching the 20th single landmark release is no joke & in impending of their 7th year since debuting in the business with 2006's Real Face , KAT-TUN keeps soldiering on like a trooper & I think they outdid themselves with EXPOSE as I personally think it's a solid single from start til finish .
Definitely a single worth checking out & I really cannot wait to see what will be their next music move , perhaps a new album ?
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
CD Review :: Mika Nakashima - REAL
CD + DVD
1) Hatsukoi (First Love)
3) Ashita Sekai ga Owarunara (If The World Was To End Tomorrow)
5) You Knocked Me Out
6) LOVE IS ECSTASY
7) BE REAL
8) SUPER WOMAN
11) Kioku (Memory)
REAL is Mika Nakashima's 7th album & it was released last week on 30th Jan .
Mika's last album release was 2010's STAR & in her latest album offering , REAL contains a total of 4 singles , 3 B-sides & 5 new album tracks which in total , REAL has 13 tracks in its tracklist .
The 1st 3 songs in REAL are ballads & also incidentally singles Mika put out prior to the release of REAL .
Hatsukoi (First Love) is Mika's 36th single . Selected to be used as the theme song for the movie Kyo , Koi wo Hajimemasu that starred Emi Takei & Tori Matsuzaka , the movie is based on a popular manga that was written by Kanan Minami & it portrays the feelings of a woman who falls in love for the 1st time as an adult .
Dear is Mika's 33rd single . Selected to be used as the theme song for the movie Youkame no Semi that starred Inoue Mao , the song dictates the feelings of an adult woman whom expressed them upon which she noticed the joys of loving even when grieving her own fate .
Ashita Sekai ga Owarunara (If The World Was To End Tomorrow) is Mika's 35th single . Used to promote the film Resident Evil : Retribution , Mika appeared in the movie playing the role of an undead zombie . She also appeared in the previous film , Resident Evil : Afterlife , which she played the 1st Japanese to become infected with a virus .
In Resident Evil : Retribution , Mika had a showdown against actress Milla Jovovich during an intense action scene .
Ashita Sekai ga Owarunara is described as a piano ballad that gave comfort & relief to the audience who watched the film . It's a touching ballad that captured the emotional elements of the Hollywood blockbuster .
In addition , Ashita Sekai ga Owarunara depicts the fierce battle between humans & zombies that gave moviegoers a feeling of salvation & healing .
From 3 ballads to the next , the subsequent 3 songs are Rock tinged influenced no.s , starting with PASSION .
PASSION is the 1st of 5 new album tracks & what a song that has plenty of attitude . It's not as rock driven & extremely aggressive sounding unlike the songs Mika did for the 2 NANA movies but that didn't stopped me from enjoying PASSION a lot .
You Knocked Me Out served as the B-side of Mika's 34th single LOVE IS ECSTASY & this's 1 B-side that I really adore when I reviewed LOVE IS ECSTASY last year .
As such , upon seeing You Knocked Me Out being made the cut in REAL , I was really happy about it .
And speaking of LOVE IS ECSTASY , this song follows right after You Knocked Me Out unlike in the single where they interswitched with each other .
LOVE IS ECSTASY is Mika's 34th single & it was used as the theme song for the movie Unfair the answer that starred Shinohara Ryoko . The song's concept is based on Shinohara's character Yukihira Natsumi which drew inspirations from Yukihira's cool , tough & competent personality traits .
The theme of LOVE IS ECSTASY is about the strength of a women who confronts life & its difficulties .
Regarding Unfair the answer , Mika commented last year in that , "It is a fast-spaced & passionate movie , it was wonderful . I can't believe it had that kind of conclusion !! I'm sure this movie will meet viewers' expectations !" She added , "I am honoured to take part in this movie through my music ."
BE REAL is the 2nd new album track & I really adore this funky upbeat no. on 1st listen & I feel that BE REAL pays a homage to the album title but aside from that , the song is extremely addictive which was complimented by a really charming melody .
This song is definitely a standout track in REAL that's for sure .
SUPER WOMAN served as the B-side track of Mika's 35th single Ashita Sekai ga Owarunara . Just like LOVE IS ECSTASY's You Knocked Me Out , SUPER WOMAN is another B-side no. I was really happy to see it made the cut in REAL as it's still a great song that I enjoyed even up to now .
Let alone , BE REAL & SUPER WOMAN compliment each other very well , with both tracks being downright catchy & oh so fun .
The next 2 tracks are album tunes , with SUPREME up 1st .
With a title like SUPREME , I was expecting an empowering no. but I was surprised when I found out it's not the case . Instead , SUPREME is a reggae influenced no. which kinda shocked me a little bit .
But after I got over the surprise element , I kinda like SUPREME even though I was a bit turned off by the 'aye aye aye' going on in the background but other than that , just like BE REAL & SUPER WOMAN , SUPREME is enjoyable .
Pierce is the 3rd album track & things in REAL began to slow down considerably from this track onwards . In this case , Pierce is a soothing mid tempo no. that Mika nailed it downpat by delivering it well .
Kioku (Memory) served as the B-side track of Mika's 36th single Hatsukoi & Kioku was also used in the ads of CASIO SHEEN which Mika is the spokeswoman for the brand .
The last B-side to be included in REAL , just like the other 2 B-sides , I have no complaints about Kioku in any single bit as this's something that I still like even up to now .
Epilogue & LETTER are the final 2 songs in the tracklist & also the last 2 album tracks in REAL .
Both Epilogue & LETTER brings back to what Mika does best , which's belting out soulful inspiring heartwarming ballads .
Epilogue has traces of Jazz influences which was what Mika was best known in that she delivered the song flawlessly while for LETTER , it's an earnest ballad that Mika's vocals was backed up only with an acoustic guitar , no more no less .
In addition , LETTER was written & dedicated to Mika's fans which lyrically , it boosts of touching emotional lyrics , the perfect song in wrapping up REAL .
After being in the business for 12 years , Mika Nakashima shows no sign of slowing down & it's evident/proof in her latest album offering REAL .
Personally , I like how the whole album flows from start to finish . The sound consistency is there & I thought it was great that the album was separated into 4 distinct different corners which allowed me to enjoy everything seamlessly , unlike for albums that I came across before which everything was all over the place .
In REAL , Mika showcased a lot of different music styles that she ventured & tried which most of her music gambling risk played off as I find myself liking the songs as each listen goes by which's great .
Mika has been someone I've been following/supporting since the early days when I started listening to JPop in late 2005 & I'm really glad up to now , here I'm , still here in supporting her & I hope this will not changed at all .
REAL is definitely an album worth checking out for the beginning of the new year .