Sunday, April 30, 2017
Hilcrhyme - Mou Bye Bye -Indies Version-
Cover for both 3 CDs & 3 CDs + DVD
Mou Bye Bye -Indies Version- is a bonus track that's included in the 1st CD of Hilcrhyme's best album BEST 2006-2016 .
BEST 2006-2016 was released on 5th April & the release includes 45 songs , consisting of a mixture of Hilcrhyme's single songs , album + B-side tracks .
Mou Bye Bye was initially released as an indie single on 23rd July 2008 even though the duo released Jun'ya to Manami as their major label debut single .
Hearing the indie version of Mou Bye Bye was refreshing as prior to this , I only heard the updated version of the single song which wa released as their 3rd single .
There's definitely a raw old school charm surrounding Mou Bye Bye -Indies Version- as melody wise , it's not as polished as what you might hear in Mou Bye Bye but it's nonetheless a nice slice of a trip down memory lane .
Friday, April 28, 2017
Mao from SID - Chigau Kajitsu & Furachina Taion
Chigau Kajitsu & Furachina Taion are 2 new songs which're only available in the 2 CDs + 2 DVDs edition of Mao from SID's Maison de M vol.1 in Billboard Live TOKYO DVD .
Maison de M vol.1 in Billboard Live TOKYO DVD was released last month on 29th March .
Mao's Maison de M EP was a nice surprise given that it's quite heavily Jazz / Bossnova driven . Much as I would like it to have be a full length album , I can understand why Chigau Kajitsu & Furachina Taion are not in the EP .
Most of the material in Maison de M EP is very laid back / mid tempo and if Mao were to include both Chigau Kajitsu & Furachina Taion , they will sound very out of place .
That said , both Chigau Kajitsu & Furachina Taion are equally good . I'm more surprised on Furachina Taion as it's borderlines on being angsty driven .
Saturday, April 22, 2017
CD Review :: NEWS - NEVERLAND
CD + DVD
1) "The Entrance"
3) Un ・ Deux ・ Trois
5) "7 Elements"
7) Silent Love
8) Koi wo Shiranai Kimi e
9) "Neverland Cast Members"
11) BLACK FIRE
14) "The Grand Finale"
15) U R not alone
16) "To Be Continued...."
Only available in the CD only edition
17) I'm coming (Tegoshi Yuya's solo)
18) Nyanta (Koyama Keiichiro's solo) ; lyrics written by Koyama himself , song is about Koyama's late pet cat Nyanta
19) Ayame (Kato Shigeaki's solo) ; Shige wrote & composed it himself
20) FOREVER MINE (Masuda Takahisa's solo) ; a cover of Yamashita Tatsuro
NEVERLAND is NEWS's 8th album & it was released last month on 22nd March .
The group's previous album release was last March's QUARTETTO . In NEVERLAND , the new album includes single songs Koi wo Shiranai Kimi e & EMMA .
Johnny's Net described NEVERLAND as the most fantastical album in the group's history . It features the burning passion of fire , the peaceful nature of water , the hope of light , uplifting dance , mysterious elements and absolute love . As such , the dream sound that combines all of these aspects makes NEVERLAND an entertainment masterpiece .
Tracks that have script & music credits in NEVERLAND (CD wise , it's someone narrating/talking in them) include :
- "The Entrance"
- "7 Elements"
- "Neverland Cast Members"
- "The Grand Finale"
- "To Be Continued...."
Sharing the same title as the album is the 1st album track , NEVERLAND . 1 of the strongest memorable new song in the album , NEVERLAND (the song) has a really grand gothic feel to it which sets the tune on what to expect subsequently later on .
Un ・ Deux ・ Trois is the 2nd album track & this's 1 of the more simpler sounding upbeat new song in NEVERLAND .
EMMA is NEWS's 21st single & this was used as the opening track for Fuji TV's drama Kirawareru Yuuki that starred member Kato Shigeaki .
This was described as an intensely catchy song that's full of sex appeal & EMMA also showed off the full range of expressions that the group was able to pull off .
Brightest & Silent Love are the next 2 album tracks . Brightest was written by LISA & composed by m-flo's ☆Taku Takahashi .
Between both songs , Brightest is a lot more poppier than Un ・ Deux ・ Trois while Slient Love has a rather dreamy feel to it .
Koi wo Shiranai Kimi e is NEWS's 20th single & it was used as the ending theme for Shige's live action drama adaptation of the novel and popular animated film Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo .
Shige described Koi wo Shiranai Kimi he as "a ballad about the sadness of summer ending" on the official NTV website for Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo .
Mysteria & BLACK FIRE are 2 other standout tracks in NEVERLAND as Mysteria does have a mysterious flair while BLACK FIRE is an full on outright angsty rock song .
When I 1st heard BLACK FIRE , I was surprised as this type of music style is not something NEWS would do as they're not known for aggressive emotional charged rock songs but they actually handled it quite well in BLACK FIRE even though at times vocals wise , they went over the top a bit too much .
ORIHIME is track #12 . This song I feel is the weak link in NEVERLAND as I think nothing really stands out in it .
Nagareboshi is the 2nd last album track & this was arranged by Kameda Seiji .
What I like about Nagareboshi is that it's a great uplifting song & it melody is very much guitar driven .
U R not alone is the last album track in NEVERLAND & this song was written + composed by GReeeeN .
While U R not alone is no weeeek , it's still a really good no. which I'm not surprised this's slotted at the end of the album as it's a fitting way to conclude the release & it's also not surprising that the group sang this at the end of their current ongoing NEWS LIVE TOUR 2017 NEVERLAND , setlist wise .
Welcome to NEVERLAND ! Embark on a journey of dreams in NEWS's latest album .
I must say that I was pleasantly surprised after I listened to NEVERLAND as unlike their last 2 albums White & QUARTETTO , NEVERLAND felt more finished & put together .
White & QUARTETTO both had interesting concepts but to me they felt 1/2 finished . Luckily , I don't get that same feeling when I listen to NEVERLAND .
Also , I thought it was interesting for them to incorporate the use of someone's talking before a new album track starts , instead of the typical album (in some cases instrumental) opening/interlude/closing .
I still think that their 1st self titled album release as a quartet is their best but NEVERLAND comes in a close 2nd for me now . I also feel the material in the new album is a lot more better than I expected .
The only thing I wished it would have happened is that NEWS should have made a video for NEVERLAND (the song) as I'm sure it would have been something entertaining to watch .
All in all , I'm quite satisfied with NEVERLAND and I do hope NEWS will continue to surprise everyone of the good kind with many more music releases to come .
Friday, April 14, 2017
SPYAIR - Be with
CD + DVD
1) Be with
2) BRING IT ON ~Battle of Rap~
3) Be with (inst.)
Be with is SPYAIR's 20th single & it was released last month on 29th March .
This's the group's 1st single release of 2017 & SPYAIR 1st performed Be with on 21st Jan during the last tour date of SPYAIR ARENA TOUR 2016-2017 『Mafuyu no Dai Circus』 which took place at Tokyo's Yoyogi National Gymnasium .
Be with is described as a ballad with the theme of love .
BRING IT ON ~Battle of Rap~ serves as the B-side in Be with . This song features a rap battle between vocalist IKE & guitarist UZ .
This's 1 of SPYAIR's most interesting B-sides seeing that it features rapping done by both IKE & UZ respectively . UZ has done some rapping before in their songs (eg. in their 16th single Fire Starter) but I have not heard IKE rap until now .
SPYAIR takes on the theme of love in the band's new single Be with . Underlined by a beautiful piano & strings melody , the rock ballad expresses the realisation of love after growing through fighting .
I've been waiting for SPYAIR to release another ballad single song & Be with does not disappoint as it's a beautiful emotional no. . I'm frankly surprised that they don't release ballads as singles that often but when they do , they tend to be great & Be with is no exception .
I'm hoping SPYAIR will release a new album soon but I don't mind another single release prior to it .
Monday, April 10, 2017
CDs Review :: Koda Kumi - W FACE ~inside~ & W FACE ~outside~
W FACE ~inside~
CD + DVD
CD + Blu-ray
1) BRIDGET SONG
2) Bring It On
3) Yorokobi no Kakera
4) Stand by you
5) Suki Deshite
6) Kimi Omoi
7) On my way
8) What's Up
9) Promise you
10) My fun
W FACE ~outside~
CD + DVD
CD + Blu-ray
1) W FACE
4) Damn real
7) Shhh !
9) Wicked Girls
10) Cupcake Feat AKLO
W FACE ~inside~ & W FACE ~outside~ are 2 joint 13th & 14th albums released by Koda Kumi which were released on the same day last month on 8th March .
Koda's last studio album was 2015's WALK OF MY LIFE .
6 album tracks had music videos made which 2 songs were from W FACE ~inside~ & while the other 4 were from W FACE ~outside~ .
Subsequently , a video was made for W FACE but this's not included in both joint albums as the DVD is only obtainable if the album(s) is/are purchased at the concert venue/s of KODA KUMI LIVE TOUR 2017 ~W FACE~ .
Pronounced as double face , the theme of W FACE ~inside~ & W FACE ~outside~ centres on duality . The joint albums' concept is 2 faced with intentions to show 2 different sides of Koda . The promo photo also depicts this as 1/2 of her face with a mild expression representing W FACE ~inside~ & the other 1/2 represents W FACE ~outside~ with a powerful expression .
W FACE ~inside~ review
This album focuses on emotional ballads & uptempo pop songs . Kicking things off in the album is BRIDGET SONG which's 1 of 2 songs in the record that had a video made .
BRIDGET SONG is a nice chilled out guitar driven melody & Koda sounds at ease while belting out this track . And it was interesting that she's also whistling prior to the end of the song which I thought is pretty cool .
Bring It On was chosen to be used as the official song for the Sagan Football Club . Influences of BACK-ON can be felt here as they co-wrote the song with Koda while they composed & arranged it .
Yorokobi no Kakera was 1st released digitally on 1st March prior to the physical release of both joint albums & it was used in the ads of AOKI .
This song is 1 of my favourite tracks in W FACE ~inside~ & I think it's a pity that a video wasn't made for it as it's a heartfelt no. that has a grand sweeping orchestra melody .
Stand by you & Suki Deshite are the 2 songs that I feel are the weak links in W FACE ~inside~ .
What put me off for Stand by you is the length as it's almost 6 mins long & while it has a nice piano melody , I feel there're other better shorter tracks in W FACE ~inside~ .
Similarly with Suki Deshite , it's a pleasant mid tempo song but aside from that , given a choice I would skip it .
Kimi Omoi was originally found in Koda's 2014's promo mini album FEVER KODA KUMI LEGEND LIVE & it was also included as the B-side in her 59th single Shhh ! .
I had no idea Kimi Omoi is really popular & for it to be re-included in another Koda release , I think it means something .
On my way was 1st released digitally on 22nd Feb & it was used as the theme song for Fuji TV's drama Mahiru no Akuma which starred Tanaka Rena .
Just like Yorokobi no Kakera , On my way is another favourite song of mine in W FACE ~inside~ & likewise I feel it should have received a video as it's a lovely heartwarming track that I enjoy a lot .
What's Up is the only upbeat rock driven song in the album which follows in the same vein as past Koda songs like Poppin' love cocktail , LALALALALA , Hashire! .
I know some don't like Koda to sing rock songs but I'm ok with it & What's Up is a fun song to pump up the crowd so no complaints here .
Promise you is the 2nd album track that received a video & it was used in the ads of Eyeful Home .
In addition to make things special , Koda wrote Promise you specially for her son .
My fun is the last song in W FACE ~inside~ & Chara co-wrote the song with Koda while she was in charge of composing & arranging the track .
This's an interesting no. to conclude the album as not only this psychedelic driven no. is a music style that Koda hasn't tried before & background vocals wise , Koda's son also can be heard in the backdrop too .
W FACE ~outside~ review
This album explores new territory through a variety of sounds including avante-garde , dance , hip-hop & R&B . W FACE ~outside~ showcases the more aggressive and sexy sides of Koda through dance songs , J-Urban & a soulful R&B ballad sung only with a piano .
Sharing the same title as both joint albums is W FACE which's a cool sexy track . Even though the lyrics for this song is questionable , I'm still glad that Koda made a standalone video for it as this forms the basis of both albums .
Ultraviolet was 1st released digitally on 22nd Feb & it's the 1st of 4 songs in W FACE ~outside~ that has a video made .
This track was teased as the ending song at the end of KODA KUMI LIVE TOUR 2016 ~Best Single Collection~ as it was supposedly going to be released as Koda's 60th single .
Nonetheless , I enjoy Ultraviolet as it's a fun catchy song .
Insane is the 2nd track in the album that has a video made & there's rap included in the song .
This track is 1 of the standout no.s in W FACE ~outside~ as it's outright & aggressive . In addition , it has been quite a while since Koda last rapped in a song too .
Damn real is a slow mid tempo R&B driven no. and after 3 back to back uptempo songs , it's nice to slow things down a bit .
Heartless is the most simplistic song in W FACE ~outside~ as it's the only track that Koda sings together alongside with a piano . While I appreciate the simplify of Heartless , vocals wise I don't think it's Koda's best as her pronunciation got lost along the way .
Bassline is the 3rd album track to get a video & this's a sultry jazz driven no. which I enjoy a lot . And just like Insane , Koda also raps in Bassline which I thought it's really cool .
Shhh ! was released last April as Koda's 59th single & in a way I'm relieved this's included in W FACE ~outside~ as I do enjoy
Shhh ! when it was released last year .
Bangerang follows in the same music vein as Bassline but in this case , Bangerang is a lot more upbeat with trumpet beats to boot .
Wicked Girls is the last track to get a video in W FACE ~outside~ & it was 1st released digitally on 1st March .
This song centres on a woman's daily life & it's the same person who worked on Bon Voyage's Winner Girls hence the music similarity between both tracks .
Cupcake is the final song in W FACE ~outside~ . It's the only track that featured a collaboration (in this case AKLO) & it's also the shortest no. from both joint albums .
Not only that , Cupcake has the strangest melody as you can hear cats meowing in the backdrop which creeps me out & lyrically , it's quite raunchy as well .
Koda Kumi explores the 2 sides that form oneself with the simultaneous release of 2 albums , the emotional W Face ~inside~ and the aggressive W Face ~outside~ .
After switching up her music release pattern over the last 2-3 years , I was real surprised for her latest music release Koda released not 1 but 2 joint albums on the same day .
I'm the rare few that really enjoyed WALK OF MY LIFE when it was 1st released & last year Koda was the least active music wise as she focused a lot on touring & likewise she's going to do the same thing this year once more .
For Koda to release 2 joint albums , it's no mean feat & I feel overall on whole , W FACE ~inside~ & W FACE ~outside~ are pretty good in their own respective right .
Both albums have their own strengths & weaknesses . Prior to listening to W FACE ~inside~ , I thought it was going to be an album that I would be bored with but turned out I was wrong .
Between both albums , I prefer W FACE ~outside~ a lot more , not that I don't like W FACE ~inside~ . And for once , I don't have any problems regarding the sound consistency of Koda's albums as that was always a problem I had with her albums and this time round , Koda did not include any opening/interludes which made her go straight to the point on what she wants with both albums .
All in all , Koda managed to accomplish what she wanted with W FACE ~inside~ & W FACE ~outside~ . The only thing I wished she could have improved were the quality of the videos as for the 1st time , they do not elevate the status of the songs which I thought it's a big pity .
And initially , I thought 3 songs from each album would get videos in order to make thing fair but considering that songs from W FACE ~outside~ had more videos made , it's quite evident that the focus is on W FACE ~outside~ a lot more than W FACE ~inside~ .
If I could , I feel that either Yorokobi no Kakera and/or On my way should have a video made while a video shouldn't have been made for Wicked Girls (as much as I like the song , I don't think it's video worthy) .
That said , even though both albums are not 100% perfect , each album offer something different for Koda's fans to enjoy and on that note , I'm real proud of what Koda achieved with the release of W FACE ~inside~ & W FACE ~outside~ respectively .
Friday, April 07, 2017
GRANRODEO - Glorious days
CD Anime version
CD + DVD
1) Glorious days
2) BIG SUN
3) Tsukini Dakarete Nemuritai
4) Glorious days (OFF VOCAL)
5) BIG SUN (OFF VOCAL)
6) Tsuki ni daka Rete Nemuritai (OFF VOCAL)
Glorious days is GRANRODEO's 26th single & it was released last month on 22nd March .
The duo's 7th album Pierrot Dancin' was released on 8th Feb .
Glorious days was used to promote the Kuroko's Basketball LAST GAME movie that opened in cinemas on 18th March .
2 B-sides are included in the single . The 1st B-side BIG SUN is a fun peppy no. that contrasts the rather serious sounding A-side pretty well .
On the other hand , the 2nd B-side Tsukini Dakarete Nemuritai is a chilled out song which has subtle jazz bossanova beats to boot .
GRANRODEO has performed the opening themes of every season of the Kuroko's Basketball anime , so it's only appropriate that the band also provides the theme song for the film sequel Kuroko's Basketball LAST GAME . Glorious days continues the band's streak of catchy hot-blooded rock anthems for the anime franchise .
This's the 1st GRANRODEO single I listened in full & I enjoy it considerably . Glorious days is outright an aggressive rock song that has synth to boot (reminds me of a more grittier version of TRASH CANDY to a certain extent) & the video accompanying the track is interesting as they utilised past elements/footages from their older videos which's a really cool thing to do .
Also both B-sides in Glorious days are equally good/strong . Based on the B-sides that were included in the duo's Karma to Labyrinth & Pierrot Dancin' albums , I'm pleasantly surprised by the quality of the songs as normally coupling songs tend to be filler tracks but not in GRANRODEO's case .
I do hope they can release a new single after Glorious days & I look forward to see what else they have up their sleeves next .
Monday, April 03, 2017
CD Review :: GRANRODEO - Karma to Labyrinth
CD + DVD
1) Blue Pandora Box
3) Hengenjizai no Magical Star
5) DARK SHAME
6) baby bad boy
7) The Other self
8) Sakurairo Dai 2 Botan
9) Henai no Rondo
10) Zetchou Poison
11) Pink Phantom
12) wonder color
13) DAWN GATE
Karma to Labyrinth is GRANRODEO's 6th album & it was released 3 years ago on 24th Sept .
4 singles & 3 B-sides are included in Karma to Labyrinth .
1 video was made for both Blue Pandora Box + silence together in which the video shares the same name as the album title .
It was a wise choice for GRANRODEO to make a video for Blue Pandora Box + silence together as both songs are in synch with each other , melody wise .
On its own , the opening album track Blue Pandora Box is a short yet gothic haunting theme which frankly should have been much longer but it flows very well when it jumps straight to silence which's a no nonsense straight up upbeat song .
Hengenjizai no Magical Star is GRANRODEO's 21st single & it was used as the opening theme song for the Kuroko's Basketball anime .
Song wise , I only find Hengenjizai no Magical Star ok for my liking but the video amps up the amusing quirky side of things .
Volcano is the 3rd album track & this's 1 of my favourite songs in Karma to Labyrinth as it's an extremely addictive song .
Also , Volcano left an impression on me when I went to see GRANRODEO performed at BREAKERZ 10 Shunen 10ban Shoubu -VS- in January as back then , I wasn't familiar with the album tracks from Karma to Labyrinth & the live take of the song was something I really enjoyed a lot .
DARK SHAME is GRANRODEO's 18th single & this was used as the opening theme song for the Code:Breaker anime .
When I was listening to the duo's singles discography , DARK SHAME was a song that really caught my attention as it's an aggressive track that has a really cool synch beat to boot .
baby bad boy was originally included as the 1st B-side in GRANRODEO's 20th single The Other self (used as the opening theme song for the Kuroko's Basketball anime) & this was used as the opening theme song for Playstation 3 Super Robot Taisen OG INFINITE BATTLE game .
Also , it just so happens that The Other self follows suit after that in the album tracklist as well .
Both songs are very different as The Other self is a fun jovial song which's actually the 1st GRANRODEO song title I know/listened while baby bad boy is a rather moody dark track .
Sakurairo Dai 2 Botan was originally included as the 2nd B-side in GRANRODEO's 19th single Henai no Rondo (used as the opening theme song for the Karneval anime) & just like the previous 2 songs , Henai no Rondo is the next track .
Just like The Other self & baby bad boy , Henai no Rondo & Sakurairo Dai 2 Botan contrast each other well .
Henai no Rondo has an interesting circus burlesque type of theme melody wise while Sakurairo Dai 2 Botan is a mid tempo song & compared with the rest of the tracks in Karma to Labyrinth , this's the closest no. that can be considered a ballad in the album .
Zetchou Poison was originally included as the 1st B-side in GRANRODEO's 21st single Hengenjizai no Magical Star .
Just like Volcano , Zetchou Poison left a rather big impression on me as GRANRODEO performed these 2 tracks in BREAKERZ 10 Shunen 10ban Shoubu -VS- .
On whole , Zetchou Poison is a really wild song that has dynamic great guitar riffs & the melody is through the roof which makes things so fun to boot .
Pink Phantom & wonder color are the next 2 album tracks and they're also the slightly weak links in Karma to Labyrinth as they took me quite a considerable amount of time to remember .
In this case , Pink Phantom is a rather straightforward upbeat song while for wonder color , it has quite an old school melody . Both are still worthy of a listen or 2 but they're quite overshadowed by the other album tracks in Karma to Labyrinth .
DAWN GATE is the final album track in Karma to Labyrinth & this was originally included as the 2nd B-side in GRANRODEO's 20th single The Other self .
In The Other self , it's tagged as DAWN GATE "Unfinished" & it's 5:15 mins long . In the album , it's 9:50 mins long ie. nearly twice as long & also the longest track in Karma to Labyrinth .
When I saw just how long DAWN GATE was in the tracklist , I was dumbfounded initially but this's 1 song that takes time to appreciate as it's 1/2 haunting orchestra driven & 1/2 full out rock and I feel it's a fitting way to conclude the album .
Overall , GRANRODEO's Karma to Labyrinth on whole is a record I enjoy substantially . Compared with the duo's latest album Pierrot Dancin' , their last album is a lot more darker , moody & complex .
Between both albums , Karma to Labyrinth strengths is that it has great long opening & closing songs and despite the length , I don't feel bored in listening to Blue Pandora Box + silence and DAWN GATE as the melodies for the 3 songs are good .
Also because I didn't listened to the duo's singles' B-sides (but I did with their latest single Glorious days) , I wasn't particular nit pick on the fact that 3 B-sides are included in the album as the ones that made the cut , I like them especially Zetchou Poison & DAWN GATE .
On the other hand , the weakness that Karma to Labyrinth has is the sound consistency as 1 moment the mood is dark while the next it's happy go lucky . I would have preferred if the songs were categorised more properly because it does somehow break the momentum in trying to like the album a lot more .
Other than that , I feel that both Karma to Labyrinth & Pierrot Dancin' are equally good albums which gives off very different vibes . Each has its own strengths/weakness but all in all , I might consider to listen to GRANRODEO's past albums in the near future .
It took me quite a long time to get onboard GRANRODEO's music seeing that they've been in the business for so long but I guess it's better to be late than never .