Saturday, April 30, 2016
CD Review :: Shota Shimizu - PROUD
CD + DVD
1) Feel Good
4) Good Conversation
7) thinking bout you
9) Hanataba no Kawari ni Melody wo
10) MONEY Feat Aoyama Thelma , SALU
12) Kimi no Sekai e
PROUD is Shota Shimizu's 6th album & it was released last month on 30th March .
Shota's last studio album release was 2014's ENCORE . 3 singles are included in PROUD . Single songs SNOW SMILE & I miss you -refrain- are excluded from the album but they're included in Shota's 1st best album ALL SINGLES BEST that was released last Feb .
Feel Good & PROUD (the song) are the 1st 2 new album tracks . Feel Good is a smooth mid tempo piano driven opening number while PROUD is an upbeat track that has quite a lot of auto tune .
Damage is Shota's 20th single & this mid-tempo ballad that expresses painful emotions is the latest single song included in the tracklist prior to the release of PROUD .
Good Conversation is the 3rd album track and for this song , it has a really groovy Jazz feel & it's 1 of the rare tracks in the album that doesn't have auto tune but Shota can be heard rapping a considerable amount in the song .
ANIMAL is the next new song & it's the only new album track to get a video .
Prior to the physical release of PROUD , ANIMAL was released digitally last month on 16th March .
Honestly before hearing ANIMAL , I was a bit scared in wondering what kind of song it was going to be . Turns out it's an upbeat song that follows almost in the same music vein as PROUD (the song) with both tracks quite heavily auto tune driven . The video accompanying ANIMAL is really odd & random though .
The next 3 album tracks are also in the same auto tune & rap music pool . Drunk is the most gritty aggressive out of the lot with everything almost being kicked into overdrive while thinking bout you is a slow paced number that has auto tune .
As for N.E.E.D , it sees Shota once again doing a fair amount of rap , in addition to singing in the song .
Hanataba no Kawari ni Melody wo is Shota's 19th single & it was used as the theme song for NHK's drama Designer Baby that starred Kuroki Meisa .
Described as a warm yet painful love song about universal love , Shota commented , "Hanataba no Kawari ni Melody wo is a fantastic love song that I wrote with the thoughts , 'a love song that I can only write now after striving towards music all this time .' I want many people to listen to it ."
Out of the 3 singles included in PROUD , Hanataba no Kawari ni Melody wo is my favourite as unlike Damage & BYExBYE , there's no auto tune and the piano driven ballad is still a really heartwarming great no. .
MONEY is the only collaboration found in PROUD & for this track , it features Aoyama Thelma & SALU .
Surprisingly , a video was made for the song but it's not included in the album DVD .
Shota 1st collaborated with Aoyama in stay which was found in her male theme concept GRAY SMOKE mini album which was released last Sept . stay was a good song that showcased how both their vocals compliment each other rather well .
In MONEY , SALU is brought into the picture and while I'm not familiar with his material , at the end of the day , this song mainly emphasised on rap & the portions that Shota sings have auto tune .
It would have been better if Aoyama was featured more but her music talent is not showcased much in MONEY as she's mainly doing rapping which's a bit of a pity .
BYE×BYE is Shota's 18th single and this R&B no. that documents the painful feelings of two people parting ways is the last single included in PROUD .
Kimi no Sekai e & lovesong are the last 2 tracks in the album . For Kimi no Sekai e , it's the shortest track in PROUD while lovesong felt like it picked up from where the opening number Feel Good left behind .
lovesong would have been better if Shota didn't rap that much in the song .
Shota Shimizu makes his fans proud with his 1st album release in 2 years & in Shota's latest album , he displayed a lot more attitude and character in PROUD .
Frankly , PROUD is actually not that bad but if you realise the way I wrote the new material in the album , a lot if not most of the songs have either auto tune , Shota's rapping or both .
I like songs that have auto tune but in PROUD , it's a bit too much which Shota should have toned down as having it in almost all the songs is quite excessive .
Likewise I actually never really been a fan of Shota doing rapping , which probably explained why I didn't like his debut album Umbrella that much .
I suppose in PROUD , Shota wants to express himself to be more liberal but I can't help but feel the material in his new album has a more western flair .
Hopefully in Shota's next album , he will go a different music direction . His previous album ENCORE was still good . In this case for PROUD , if you happen to like R&B music that has plenty of auto tune and/or rap , then this might be something for you to check out .
If not , just stick with Shota's past albums such as ENCORE & my personal favourite COLOURS .
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Koda Kumi - Shhh !
1) Shhh !
2) Kimi Omoi
Shhh ! is a special single by Koda Kumi which was released on 9th April .
Koda's official site states Shhh ! as her 59th single . 4 editions of Shhh ! were released with 3 that only can be bought at the concert venues of KODA KUMI LIVE TOUR 2016 ~Best Single Collection~ .
Only 1 edition (the purple cover) of Shhh ! is sold via mu-mo .
When I 1st listened to Shhh ! , it feels like an offspring of Bon Voyage's SHOW ME YOUR HOLLA & Let's show tonight , thrown in with some Oriental sounds for good measures .
Let alone if that's not good enough , Shhh ! also has traces of TRICK's show girl too , making this song an interesting 1 that has different music elements which's actually pretty cool .
Kimi Omoi serves as the B-side in the single & this song was originally found in 2014's promo mini album FEVER KODA KUMI LEGEND LIVE .
Frankly I'm a bit surprised that Kimi Omoi is included in Shhh ! as I thought the 3 songs in FEVER KODA KUMI LEGEND LIVE (including SO FEVER , NEVER GIVE IT UP) were only exclusively available to the release . But I was told that Kimi Omoi was popular with fans , hence the decision for the song to be featured as a B-side in the single .
I thought at most Koda should re-record the song seeing that now , Kimi Omoi doesn't feel that exclusive anymore .
Also in recent times , the way that Koda's releases been marketed have been rather unpredictable/messy . To me even though avex count Shhh ! & Dance In The Rain as singles in her discography , I do not as they did not chart on Oricon but since this has been planned , I can't do anything about it .
I just hope that since Koda's next single release will be counted as her 60th , she will do something special just like what she did with her 50th single 4 TIMES which was still an excellent release .
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
CD Review :: flumpool - EGG
Cover for both CD & CD + DVD editions
2) Yoru wa Nemureru kai ?
3) World beats
4) Kyou no Chikai
6) Zettai Zetsumei!!!
8) Dear my friend
10) Toaru Hajimari no Joukei ~Bookstore on the hill~
11) Natsu yo Tomenaide ~You're Romantic~
13) Blue Apple & Red Banana
14) Ashita Kimi ga Nakanai You ni
EGG is flumpool's 4th album & it was released last month in 16th March .
The original release date for EGG was 9th March & the group's last studio album release was 2012's experience .
3 singles are included in EGG . However Taisetsu na Mono wa Kimi Igai ni Miataranakute / Binetsu Refrain & Tsuyoku Hakanaku / Belief ~Haru wo Matsu Kimi e~ are excluded . But the single songs are included in the group's 1st best album The Best 2008-2014 "MONUMENT" .
The jacket cover for EGG was inspired by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch's famous work The Scream . Its theme is "an egg's scream" and it's a design full of impact .
flumpool hopes that with the release of EGG , it will encourage everyone to "hatch and leave their shells" & not be restricted by their environment of the opinion of others .
Kicking things off in EGG is Kaihouku & it's the only new album track to get a video .
Kaihouku has the theme , "to release various emotions" & as such , the video portrays the members releasing their emotions . Promo wise , the song was picked to be used as the ending theme for NTV's Sukkiri ! news programme .
Yoru wa Nemureru kai ? is flumpool's 15th single & it's the latest single put out before the release of EGG .
Described as an edgy rock tune , Yoru wa Nemureru kai ? was picked to be used as the theme song for the anime film Ajin Part 1: Shoudou as well as the Ajin TV anime series .
Out of the 3 single songs included in EGG , Yoru wa Nemureru kai ? is still no doubt my favourite & hopefully flumpool can release a similar sounding dark aggressive single song in the near future once again .
World beats is the 2nd album track & this fast paced song has a catchy melody that has auto tune to boot . It's 1 of my personal favourite tracks in EGG .
The next 2 songs Kyou no Chikai & DILEMMA were used in the ads of Bourbon Alfort mini chocolate .
Both tracks sounds different from each other . Kyou no Chikai is an uplifting mid tempo no. while DILEMMA has that Christmas vibe seeing that the Bourbon ad featuring the song was aired last December .
Zettai Zetsumei!!! is another favourite album track of mine as it's an aggressive in your face song and given the title , it's not really surprising but it's a standout no. in EGG .
LINE is 1 of the few new material that's a ballad in EGG . It's a welcome change seeing that the 1st 1/2 of the album is quite upbeat so having something like LINE is good in slowing things down considerably .
Dear my friend & Ubugoe are the next 2 album tracks . Both are equally good with Dear my friend being a good empowering no. while Ubugoe has traces of harmonica in the melody which makes it stand out .
The next 2 songs are single songs prior to the release of EGG .
Toaru Hajimari no Joukei ~Bookstore on the hill~ is the 1st song in flumpool's 13th single FOUR ROOMS while Natsu yo Tomenaide ~You're Romantic~ is flumpool's 14th single .
Rinne + Blue Apple & Red Banana are the last 2 upbeat songs with Rinne having an edgy angsty melody .
Also despite the funny title , Blue Apple & Red Banana is actually pretty good & catchy . I love the 'woah woah' going on in the melody & it probably might be a crowd favourite during concerts .
Ashita Kimi ga Nakanai You ni is the final song in EGG & this song was 1st performed during flumpool COUNTDOWN LIVE 2015→2016 .
Clocking in at almost 7 minutes long , Ashita Kimi ga Nakanai You ni is the longest track in EGG & I guess flumpool saves the best for last seeing that it's a ballad , alongside with LINE .
Oddly , when I 1st heard Ashita Kimi ga Nakanai You ni , it sounds a bit like their 7th single Akashi which's not a bad thing seeing that it's 1 of their more acclaimed songs .
After a 4 years wait , flumpool finally released their 4th studio album EGG and considering that they've been releasing material since 2008 , for EGG being only their 4th album , it's quite a surreal feeling .
Nonetheless despite the funny title chosen for their latest album , EGG is actually a surprisingly enjoyable solid album which exceeded my expectations .
Considering there're 11 new songs in EGG , for flumpool to make the new material stack up to be on par if not exceed the singles songs is not an easy thing to do but somehow or another they've outdone themselves .
flumpool's previous album experience was good but EGG takes things up to a notch or 2 & for most of the new songs to sound memorably strong individually , it's great .
If there's 1 thing I don't like about EGG is that Toaru Hajimari no Joukei ~Bookstore on the hill~ & Natsu yo Tomenaide ~You're Romantic~ being sandwiched together as I prefer if both songs get spread out but aside from that , EGG is an enjoyable record & I have fun listening to it .
It may took 4 years for flumpool to release a new studio album but it's worth the wait and EGG is a record highly recommended to check out .
Friday, April 08, 2016
Kobukuro - Mirai Spring Package
3) Ima to Mirai wo Tsunagumono
4) Mirai (Acoustic ver.)
5) Mirai (LIVE ver. from Keio University 57th Mita Festival)
Mirai Spring Package is a special re-release edition of Kobukuro's 27th single Mirai that was released last month on 23rd March .
Mirai was originally released last Dec & it was used as the theme song for the movie orange that starred Tsuchiya Tao & Yamazaki Kento .
Kobukuro's 12th single Sakura is included in the tracklist . The cover for Mirai Spring Package was drawn by manga artist Takano Ichigo , the original author of orange .
Also , only 30,000 copies of Mirai Spring Package were made .
In the Mirai Spring Package there're 5 B-sides , inclusive of Sakura , a new B-side song and 2 different renditions of Mirai .
For Kobukuro to include Sakura , it feels as though they come full circle since the cover for Mirai was inspired by Sakura's single cover .
Sakura is 1 of the duo's signature singles & it's surreal knowing that it was released in 2005 but it's still a timeless song .
As for Ima to Mirai wo Tsunagumono , it's nice stripped down laidback no. that's quite nice .
There're 2 different renditions of Mirai in the re-release of the single & 1 of them is an acoustic take while the other was recorded from their performance at Keio University 57th Mita Festival .
I enjoy the original take of Mirai but the acoustic version just amplified its status to a higher level which makes you appreciate the song in its raw state .
Kobukuro certainly has an affinity with both Sakura and Mirai seeing that both singles were re-released in special Spring editions and let alone both singles share similar artwork with regards to their covers .
Mirai on its own was good & Mirai Spring Package is an extension of the single seeing that last Dec when it was released , it was only the A-side & no other songs accompanied it until now .
On that note , the duo's 9th album TIMELESS WORLD will be released on 15th June and Mirai will be included in their upcoming new album .