Sunday, June 30, 2013
BENI - OUR SKY
CD + DVD
1) OUR SKY
2) Home Sweet Home
3) OUR SKY -instrumental-
4) Home Sweet Home -instrumental-
OUR SKY is BENI's 16th single & it was released on 26th June .
Released 2 months + after BENI's previous single Satsuki Ame , the A-side is described as a summer love song .
Honestly , I really love OUR SKY on 1st listen with this being a really catchy up-tempo track , as compared to Satsuki Ame . Let alone , this's BENI's 1st summer inspired single . I wouldn't consider her previous singles such as Yura Yura / Gimme Gimme♥ & Suki Dakara. as Summer driven but for OUR SKY , it's very obviously as so .
Also , OUR SKY is 1 of those songs that have a lot of positive vibes being given out which's a good thing . Listening to OUR SKY always puts me in a really good mood after that .
Home Sweet Home serves as the B-side in the single & this's probably BENI's longest sounding B-side to date as the song clocks in at a whopping 5:54 mins .
For this song , Home Sweet Home plays a great contrast against OUR SKY , with it being a piano driven ballad with shades of Jazz influences thrown in for good measure . I was frankly shocked when I saw the duration of Home Sweet Home but after getting over the initial shock , I actually thought Home Sweet Home is pretty good .
BENI welcomes Summer with open arms in the form of her latest single offering OUR SKY . After releasing her previous single the piano driven ballad Satsuki Ame , OUR SKY brings out a fun cheery feeling which makes this single enjoyable to listen to during Summer .
Her 5th album Red will get released on 31st July , making this her 1st original album release since 2011's Fortune .
Monday, June 24, 2013
CD Review :: AKIHIDE - Amber
CD + DVD
1) Namida no Kawa (River Of Tears)
2) Itoshi no Valkyria (Chronicles Of Love)
3) Hoshi no Kyousoukyoku (Star Extravaganza)
4) Kuroneko no Tango (Black Cat Tango)
5) Sakura Ame (Cherry Rain)
9) Kumo no Ito (Spider Silk)
11) Hello ! Mr. Sadness
12) Hoshi no Oujisama (Star Prince) (CD Only Track)
Amber is BREAKERZ's guitarist AKIHIDE debut solo album which was released on 5th June .
Last Dec , BREAKERZ announced each of them would be starting solo activities this year from April onwards .
No singles are included in Amber , with the exception that 1 album track Hoshi no Kyousoukyoku received a music video .
All songs on Amber were written , composed & sung by AKIHIDE himself . He was also in charged of the album's artwork too .
Amber kicked things off with Namida no Kawa (River Of Tears) which's a rather dark if not deep in thought no. . AKIHIDE's deep vocals worked well in complimenting Namida no Kawa .
Namida no Kawa sets the tone in what to expect in Amber ie. with each song being crafted in an unique style that's distinctly different from each track .
The next song Itoshi no Valkyria (Chronicles Of Love) is 1 of 2 preview snippets that AKIHIDE uploaded on his personal site . To be honest , I didn't liked the preview of what Itoshi no Valkyria had to offer but thank goodness , the full version sounds a lot more better than the actual preview .
Itoshi no Valkyria is very catchy & perhaps paying homage to what the song's all about , it has that somewhat war tone feeling attached to it .
Hoshi no Kyousoukyoku (Star Extravaganza) as mentioned before , it's the only album track that gets a music video . Prior to the release of Amber , the song was released in advance via iTunes last month on 15th May .
Frankly , a lot of songs in Amber truly deserve to get music videos of their own . I suppose AKIHIDE had his own reasons on why he picked Hoshi no Kyousoukyoku to be the only 1 out of so many songs to get a video . But with that said , Hoshi no Kyousoukyoku is definitely 1 of the album delights in Amber . There's something heartening if not emotional to note about Hoshi no Kyousoukyoku which I adore .
Kuroneko no Tango (Black Cat Tango) follows right after Hoshi no Kyousoukyoku . Another song with a strong identity , as the song title suggests , Kuroneko no Tango is a charming no. with a very distinct melody which packs plenty of attitude .
Track #5 is Sakura Ame (Cherry Rain) . The longest track in Amber clocking in at 5:20 mins , Sakura Ame is a heart wrenching & thoughtful song . You can sense just how much feelings AKIHIDE poured his heart into when comes to Sakura Ame .
Circus is the next song & I consider this to be 1 of the more edgier if not creepier sounding tracks in Amber . The opening of the song pays homage to the song title & something about this track showcased a different music side of AKIHIDE .
Track #7 is LION & this's actually 1 of my fave tracks in Amber . Not to mention , it's 1 of the 4 song snippets that can be heard in the documentary digest video of the album . What I like about LION is that it's very upbeat sounding without going over the top .
Maria follows after LION & this's 1 of the more harder sounding tracks in the album . Coupled with rather eerie sounds , it's just as equally creepy sounding just like Circus except that in this case , Maria closed off with a very nifty gritty electric guitar solo .
Kumo no Ito (Spider Silk) is the next song & this's actually 1 track that took a while for me to remember . Not sure why so because I've since appreciate Kumo no Ito significantly despite it being 1 of the weaker sounding no.s in Amber .
Dash is track #10 & just like LION , both songs are upbeat but what makes Dash different is that it's extremely joyous sounding with it being slotted in the cheerful happy go lucky category .
Hello ! Mr. Sadness is the 2nd last track (last track in the CD + DVD edition) in Amber & this's also another fave song of mine . What I like about this song is that despite the rather sad sounding title , AKIHIDE sang it in such a way in making myself feel inspired if not empowered .
Not to mention , Hello ! Mr. Sadness was the last song snippet that can be heard in the documentary digest video of the album & already the preview was something that I really liked so it did not surprise me that I enjoy the full version tremendously .
Only found in the CD only edition of Amber , Hoshi no Oujisama (Star Prince) serves as a bonus track in this particular edition .
Hoshi no Oujisama is a self cover of NEVER LAND , a band that AKIHIDE started in 2004 before they disbanded in 2007 . In addition , this song was the 1st song AKIHIDE wrote but unfortunately at that time , it was not put in any NEVER LAND CDs until now .
I guess for old times's sake , AKIHIDE decided to do this self cover of Hoshi no Oujisama & this's really simplicity at its very best . It's just AKIHIDE , his acoustic guitar & a harmonica backing him up musically . There're no further need for any other traits to make Hoshi no Oujisama sound good as it's already a great song in its own right .
Easily the best if not extremely very long anticipated album to have released this year of 2013 , BREAKERZ's guitarist AKIHIDE finally stepped back in front of the microphone & put his heart + soul into the release of his debut solo album Amber .
Honestly I'm not going to lie that when the guys announced last Dec that they were going on hiatus this year in April to pursue their solo activities , AKIHIDE was the 1 I was most excited for & true enough when further details of each of their solo projects were announced , I was spot on in guessing that he would release original material of his own .
It's not that I dislike DAIGO's singing voice but I personally feel that AKIHIDE's singing voice is much better than DAIGO's . Both are equally talented if not displayed their own unique style when comes to singing and/or composing . It's just that for AKIHIDE's case , he's a bit under the radar in that not a lot of people knows he has a great flair when comes to this as well .
Amber is truly worth such a long wait & for AKIHIDE to get involved in every single aspect in creating it , it makes me appreciate it even more than before . I'm sure a lot of people will be very surprised to know that Amber sounds like nothing what AKIHIDE does in BREAKERZ .
If that's a minor grouse about Amber , it's that I would have loved to hear some of AKIHIDE's own personal 'covers' towards the songs that he wrote/composed in BREAKERZ as it would have been interesting to hear his own personal take on them .
But with that said , Amber is a really enjoyable album from start til finish & I couldn't be any happier than to hear AKIHIDE come out of the shadows & return to what he does best .
Definitely by far the album of 2013 , in my books .
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Kanjani∞ - Namida no Kotae (Tears Of Answer)
CD + DVD A
CD + DVD B
Namida no Kotae (Tears Of Answer) is Kanjani∞'s 24th single which was released last week on 12th June .
Released less than 2 months + since the group's previous single Hesomagari / Kokonishikanai Keshiki , the A-side was picked to be used as the theme song for member Okura Tadayoshi's movie 100-kai Naku Koto which will open in cinemas this coming Sat on June 22 .
Namida no Kotae is described as a ballad that was written & composed by the members of SEKAI NO OWARI . The touching song has an inspiring message about embracing hope amid loss & loneliness .
There're a total of 3 B-sides in the single . Royal Milk Story is found in the CD & CD + DVD A's editions of Namida no Kotae while Kizuna Sou [Bansou] is found in the CD & CD + DVD B's editions of the single .
∞th ANNIVERSARY Single's Remix is only available in the 1st press CD only edition of the single . This particular track was 1st used during the credit roll for the group's live DVD , KANJANI∞ LIVE TOUR !! 8EST ~Minna no Omoi wa Donandai ? Bokura no Omoi wa Mugendai !!~ .
Kanjani∞'s 2nd single release of 2013 , Namida no Kotae was picked to be used as the theme song of the Ryuichi Hiroki film 100-kai Naku Koto starring member Okura Tadayoshi .
With the release of Namida no Kotae , it gives Kanjani∞ their 11th consecutive #1 single & it's their overall 19th #1 as well at this point in time .
Friday, June 14, 2013
TLC with Namie Amuro - Waterfalls (20th Anniversary Version)
Waterfalls (20th Anniversary Version) is an updated/re-recorded version of US R&B group TLC's Waterfalls which up to now is still considered as the group's signature song .
TLC will be releasing a special 20th anniversary greatest hits album titled TLC 20 ~20th Anniversary Hits~ on 19th June & Namie Amuro has been featured on a newly recorded version of Waterfalls .
Waterfalls (20th Anniversary Version) was released online on 12th June & was re-recorded under the name TLC with Namie Amuro .
This isn't the 1st time Namie worked with TLC . She's worked many times with TLC's main producer Dallas Austin & a remix of Namie's 2003 single Put em up featuring TLC member Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas was supposed to be released , but plans fell through .
Namie sang the parts originally sung by member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes , who tragically passed away in 2002 . Namie also sang the hook part in the song .
With regards to Waterfalls (20th Anniversary Version) , Namie remarked , "I'm very honoured to be able to participate in their 20th anniversary album ."
When I 1st heard about this news , I didn't expect that & let alone before I started listening to Japanese music , I loved TLC's iconic older works , inclusive of Waterfalls .
In the case of Waterfalls (20th Anniversary Version) , almost everything's the same as the original except for the parts that Namie sang/took over from Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes . Luckily Namie's English pronunciation/dictation is able to stake up alongside with the remaining TLC members .
Listening to Waterfalls (20th Anniversary Version) makes me feel real nostalgic & Waterfalls is still able to stand the test of time after all these years .
Saturday, June 08, 2013
Anna Tsuchiya (Aiaigasa) Kishidan - STEP IN TO THE NEW WORLD !
1) STEP IN TO THE NEW WORLD !
2) STEP IN TO THE NEW WORLD ! [INSTRUMENTAL]
STEP IN TO THE NEW WORLD ! is a collaboration single released by Anna Tsuchiya & Rock band Kishidian which the single was put out 2 months ago on 17th April .
Anna's previous single release was last Aug's Voyagers .
STEP IN TO THE NEW WORLD ! was released under the billing Anna Tsuchiya (Aiaigasa) Kishidan in which the A-side was picked to be used in the ads of Stride .
Unlike other collaboration singles , no B-sides are included STEP IN TO THE NEW WORLD ! . In addition , the single was only released in a CD + DVD edition .
Thanks to a new Stride bubble gum commercial , Anna Tsuchiya & Kishidan collaborated for the 1st time ! As part of their collaboration , they've provided the theme song in the ads of Stride . In which , the ending result brings about STEP IN TO THE NEW WORLD ! , which's a fun spirited rock no. that's in the spirit of the hilarious television ad .
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
ARASHI - Endless Game
CD + DVD
Endless Game is ARASHI's 41st single & it was released last month on 29th May .
Released 2 months + since the group's previous single Calling / Breathless , the A-side serves as the main theme song for the TV drama series Kazoku Game starring Sakurai Sho .
Endless Game is described as an upbeat song about finding the strength to overcome problems in the endless game that is everyday life .
There're a total of 3 B-sides in Endless Game .
Intergalactic & Monochrome are found exclusively in the CD only edition of the single .
Out of the 3 B-sides found in Endless Game , I enjoyed Intergalactic quite tremendously as it's nothing like what ARASHI has done before .
In this case , Intergalactic as the song title suggests , is a sleek meets gone to the future no. coupled with a lot of techno & autotune . It might sound cheesy but all the elements work well in the group's favour here .
As for Monochrome , it's a rather odd sounding no. which sounded like something from Popcorn's Tabi wa Tsuzuko yo left behind as both tracks have this mad circus theme going on , making Monochrome 1 of their kookiest sounding B-sides to date .
Magic hour is only found in the CD + DVD edition of Endless Game & it's also the 3rd/last B-side song .
Frankly I think Magic hour is ok if not pleasant sounding . The song is neither good or bad & I suppose it's quite a typical standard peppy no. . I guess I really like Intergalactic a great deal , if not I wouldn't think that both Monochrome & Magic hour are both only ok if not average sounding for my liking .
After the release of Calling / Breathless which was a great single in marking their 40th single milestone , ARASHI once again came back with their latest single offering Endless Game .
I must say the A-side itself is extremely entertaining & nothing like what they used to do . I had 0 expectations on how Endless Game might sound like but the full version blows me away . Let alone it's equally catchy if not addictive just as much as Breathless and last year's Face Down .
On the other hand , I only find the B-sides not that good if not well just B-side sounding . Except for Intergalactic , I think the other 2 tracks are there just to fill in the gaps . I remembered in the past , ARASHI at most only included 2 B-sides for their 1 sided single releases which most of them tend to sound great unlike now .
Perhaps they should go back to that old formula instead of putting in many B-sides but with most if not all of them sound like fillers .
But at least singles wise , they're still tops & this year they've definitely step up which's more than good enough for me .
Sunday, June 02, 2013
Kuriyama Chiaki - 0
0 is Kuriyama Chiaki's 1st digital single & it was released digitally on 22nd May .
This song was picked to be used in the ads of Zenyaku Kogyo Company Limited's Jikinin IP series which will start airing from 21st Sept onwards .
Kuriyama will appeared as the image character in the ads herself .
Honestly I didn't know Kuriyama was even releasing a digital single until I chanced upon 0 being leaked out online . Still , this song is quite drastically different from the usual hard rock songs she does .
1 thing to note about 0 is that it's very electro & somewhat techno driven , something that Kuriyama never done before until now . Also , 0 reminds me a lot of what the now defunct band school food punishment used to do & I wasn't surprised as 0 is produced by the same group of personnel whom worked on school food punishment's material before .
With that said , 0 is really cool & futuristic sounding . The way Kuriyama's vocals get wrapped up in autotune & synch , it's not something I see everyday when comes to her .
Saturday, June 01, 2013
JASMINE - High Flying
1) High Flying
3) High Flying (Instrumental)
High Flying is JASMINE's 9th single & it was released on 29th May .
JASMINE's 1st release of 2013 , High Flying comes almost 10 months since the release of her previous single Best Partner & it's also her 1st single to get released in 2 formats ie. CD regular & CD limited editions .
The A-side was picked to be used as the opening theme no. for CDTV last month & High Flying is described as an upbeat song which's an EDM tune that overflows with elation .
High Flying was produced by UTA , whom has worked with other artistes that include AI & Miura Daichi .
BED serves as the B-side in the single & this's actually a cover of DOUBLE's 3rd single which it was released on 21st Oct 1998 .
I never heard how the original of BED sounds like but from what I've heard from JASMINE's cover , BED sounds good & plays a great contrast to the highly energetic charged A-side . BED showcased a much more softer side to JASMINE & proves how versatile she's , be it when comes to upbeat songs and/or mid tempo no.s .
1 of the most under-rated if not talented R&B artistes , JASMINE is finally back with solid material in the form of her latest single offering High Flying .
And looks like JASMINE is not going away for another long period of time as her 10th single is scheduled to be released next month on 31st July . It's currently untitled but with more details soon to be followed .