Thursday, May 31, 2018
Ken Hirai - Shiranai ne Desho?
1) Shiranai ne Desho?
2) Shiranai ne Desho? (less vocal)
Ken's Bar 20th Anniversary Bonus Track
Ken's Bar 2017 X'mas Special!!
3) Kimi wa Tomodachi
4) Strawberry Sex
5) Non Fiction
Shiranai ne Desho? is Ken Hirai's 44th single & it was released yesterday on 30th May .
This single was released on the same day alongside with Ken's 43rd single Todokanaikara .
Promo wise , Shiranai ne Desho? was chosen to be used to promote the TV Asahi's drama Mikaiketsu no Onna .
Prior to the single physical release , Shiranai ne Desho? was 1st released digitally on 17th May .
Just like Todokanaikara , 3 live recordings serve as B-side songs in Shiranai ne Desho? which they were all recorded from last Dec's Ken's Bar 2017 X'mas Special!! .
I reviewed Todokanaikara yesterday so today's focus is on Shiranai ne Desho? .
I already mentioned that both Todokanaikara & Shiranai ne Desho? are very different from each other . While Todokanaikara is an upbeat acoustic guitar driven love song , that's not the case for Shiranai ne Desho? .
For Shiranai ne Desho? , it's almost like Non Fiction in that both songs are emo sounding but Shiranai ne Desho? has a more stronger piano driven presence .
To me , Ken demonstrates how musically versatile he's as he pretty much can nail almost every different kind of music genre and for him to release Todokanaikara & Shiranai ne Desho? side by side together on the same day , it's proof how musically talented Ken's after being in the business for a very long time .
I'm not expecting Ken to release a new studio album so soon & hopefully Todokanaikara & Shiranai ne Desho? will not be the only new songs that he released this year .
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Ken Hirai - Todokanaikara
2) Todokanaikara (less vocal)
Ken's Bar 20th Anniversary Bonus Track
Ken's Bar 2017 X'mas Special!!
3) Mahoutte Itte Ii Kana ?
Todokanaikara is Ken Hirai's 43rd single & it was released today on 30th May .
For this , Todokanaikara was released today alongside with Ken's 44th single Shiranai ne Desho? .
Todokanaikara was chosen to be used to promote the 50 First Kisses movie which's a remake of 2004's USA movie 50 First Dates that starred actor Adam Sandler and actress Drew Barrymore .
Described as a love song , Ken specially created Todokanaikara for 50 First Kisses which the movie will be released in Japan cinemas on this coming Fri on 1st June .
Prior to the physical release , Todokanaikara was 1st released digitally on 9th May .
3 live recordings serve as B-side songs in Todokanaikara which they were all recorded from last Dec's Ken's Bar 2017 X'mas Special!! .
It's a bit strange that Ken chose not to release both Todokanaikara & Shiranai ne Desho? but rather as 2 separate different singles .
Both Todokanaikara & Shiranai ne Desho? are very different from each other . Today's blog entry will focus on Todokanaikara .
After Ken released last June's Non Fiction which was quite an emo moody song , he decided to go for a different music direction with Todokanaikara .
For me what I like about Todokanaikara is its simplicity and it's just Ken singing alongside with an acoustic guitar backing him vocally while there's some autotune thrown in for good measure .
Todokanaikara reminds me of a cross between Ken's past singles songs such as Kimi wa Tomodachi & Canvas which both of them are still great tracks .
I will review Shiranai ne Desho? tomorrow .
Monday, May 28, 2018
Kis-My-Ft2 - You & Me
CD + DVD
2) ZERO (Kitayama Hiromitsu , Fujigaya Taisuke & Tamamori Yuta)
You & Me is a special single by Kis-My-Ft2 which was released last month on 25th April .
This special single was released on the same day as the group's 7th album Yummy!! . You & Me is only available for sale via 7/11 .
Only 77,777 copies of You & Me was made & this's in line with 2018 being Kis-My-Ft2's 7th debut anniversary , Yummy!! is their 7th album & lastly the group having 7 members .
You & Me includes 2 songs , the 1st 1 is titled HOME . HOME was chosen to be used in the ads of TOKYO interior .
ZERO is the 2nd song in You & Me . Unlike HOME , ZERO is handled by leader Kitayama Hiromitsu , Fujigaya Taisuke & Tamamori Yuta .
Promo wise , ZERO was chosen to be used to promote NTV's drama ￮￮Na Hito no Matsuro starring members Senga Kento , Miyata Toshiya , Yokoo Wataru & Nikaido Takashi .
I think it's quite cool for Kis-My-Ft2 to do something interesting in marking their 7th anniversary in the business and in this case , they chose to release a special single alongside with their latest album offering Yummy!! .
I personally like HOME a lot as it's a really nice heart warming ballad . It's a bit unfortunate that neither HOME or ZERO are included in Yummy!! but it will defeat the purpose of releasing it as a standalone special single in the 1st place .
On the other hand , I only find ZERO ok for my liking even though I find it a bit strange that it's not Busaiku that sang the song as it was used to promote ￮￮Na Hito no Matsuro starring them .
Kis-My-Ft2's 21st single LOVE will be released on 11th July .
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Shota Shimizu - Friday
Cover for both CD & CD + DVD versions
3) Good Life -New Jack Swing Remix-
4) Friday Instrumental
Friday is Shota Shimizu's 24th single & it was released last week on 16th May .
Shota's new single was released about 4 months+ since his previous single Good Life .
Friday was used to promote The Premium Music Campaign organised by Suntory's The Premium Malts & the song was 1st aired via The Premium Music Campaign app .
The A-side was also chosen to be used as the opening theme song for TV Asahi's Break Out programme for this month .
Prior to the physical CD single release , Friday was 1st released digitally on 9th May .
Friday includes 2 B-sides , Letter & a New Jack Swing Remix of Good Life .
It's no secret that I haven't been liking Shota's recent music releases since early 2016 as he kept releasing music back to back which's so auto tune driven & unfortunately or not , Friday is easily his most auto tune over saturated single to date .
All the 3 songs in Friday are filled with maximum auto tune usage back to back which made me have a big headache .
I wish Shota's fans can write/tell him personally to stop using auto tune since Shota writes & composes almost his entire discography as that's not what I got into Shota's music in the 1st place almost 10 years ago .
It's strange for Shota to use autotune to mask his vocals , it's not that he's vocally terrible , in fact it's the opposite .
I don't want to come to a situation where I stop listening to Shota due to this which's a big shame as I think he's vocally talented but at this rate he's going , I might as well go listen to Hatsune Miku instead .
Thursday, May 17, 2018
CD Review :: NEWS - EPCOTIA
CD + DVD
1) EPCOTIA SAFETY GUIDE -INTER-
4) TWINKLE STAR
5) Warp Chu -INTER-
7) Koi Suru Wakusei
8) JUMP AROUND
9) Docking -INTER-
11) IT'S YOU
12) Iseijin to no Contact ni Tsuite -INTER-
16) Hoshi ni Negai wo
18) Kaeri Michi -INTER-
19) HAPPY ENDING
EPCOTIA is NEWS's 9th album & it was released on 21st March .
NEWS's new album is a sequel to last year's NEVERLAND & it has a space travel theme . Only 1 single LPS is included in EPCOTIA .
The new album title stands for EXPERIENCE PLANETS, A CORNER OF COSMOS. LET'S GO TRAVELING INTO ASTROWORLD .
The CD only version of EPCOTIA has 4 solo tracks . Both versions of the album has 5 interludes each .
After the album opening introduction number EPCOTIA SAFETY GUIDE -INTER- , NEWS wasted no time in diving straight into the 1st new album song which shares the same title as the album .
EPCOTIA (the song) sets the tone on what to expect in the subsequent songs found in EPCOTIA (the album) & since it's already mentioned that the new album has a space travel theme , it's not surprising EPCOTIA (the song) follows in this route .
The next song KINGDOM was used as NTV's tournament theme song coverage on last year's FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 .
Before KINGDOM was included in EPCOTIA , NEWS performed KINGDOM last year in TV shows such as Best Artist 2017 . At that time I didn't quite like the song cos it sounded as though they were shouting & not singing .
For the studio version of KINGDOM , I got almost the same feeling when I 1st heard it . Out of the new material in EPCOTIA , KINGDOM is actually my least favourite due to this . My ears were aching slightly after hearing KINGDOM which's unfortunate as if not for this , I would like the song much more .
TWINKLE STAR is the 3rd album track . Unlike EPCOTIA (the song) & KINGDOM , TWINKLE STAR is pleasant sounding . Although not 1 of my favourite songs in EPCOTIA (the album) , I think the song's not bad overall .
Warp Chu -INTER- is the 1st album interlude & this's followed by LPS .
LPS is NEWS's 22nd single & it's the only single song included in EPCOTIA . LPS stands for Love Peace Smile & it's described as the group's most 'peaceful' single in their discography .
This song was used as a special track to promote NEWSICAL last year . NEWSICAL featured NEWS creating a 6 minute long musical of the same name from scratch & the musical comprises singing , dancing & acting .
NEWS began working on NEWSICAL last Aug with each member making use of their own individuality & strength to fulfil different roles .
The next 2 album tracks are the shortest in the album but they're some of my favourite songs in EPCOTIA .
Koi Suru Wakusei is a catchy uplifting song that's quite space travel driven lyrics while JUMP AROUND is a very fun upbeat song .
NEWS performed JUMP AROUND at last month's CDTV 25th Anniversary which didn't surprise me cos I feel JUMP AROUND is 1 of the standout tracks in EPCOTIA .
Docking -INTER- is the 2nd album interlude which's followed by 2 back to back album songs .
I think it's quite easy to see why AVALON & IT'S YOU are side by side each other as they're in the same music genre as both have the inclusion of auto tune .
Iseijin to no Contact ni Tsuite -INTER- is the 3rd album interlude which's followed by some of EPCOTIA's most experimental driven tracks .
On 1st listen , UFO & EROTICA both have slight traces of NEWS's 21st single EMMA which's not a bad thing . I wasn't sure what to expect prior to hearing both songs but they kind of make up parts of EMMA in some ways or another .
BLACKHOLE is 1 of EPCOTIA's most aggressive driven track & it reminds me of NEVERLAND's BLACK FIRE to some extent as both songs are very angsty driven .
Slowing things down considerably are the next 2 album tracks Hoshi ni Negai wo & Innocence which're both mid tempo songs .
Kaeri Michi -INTER- is the 4th / last album interlude which brings to the last song in EPCOTIA , HAPPY ENDING .
Just like NEVERLAND's U R not alone , HAPPY ENDING is a short straight to the point song which concludes EPCOTIA very well on a happy ending note , no pun intended .
Welcome to EPCOTIA ! NEWS follows NEVERLAND with the 2nd release of the group's album project , this 1 themed around space travel . NEWS invites you to experience the cosmos with their 9th album which includes LPS .
1st of all before I go on further , I want to say that EPCOTIA is not NEWS's 1st release to have a space travel theme , the 1st was actually their 1st single NEWS Nippon although that's not counted as their debut single .
With that out of the way , I'm quite surprised with NEWS's latest album release EPCOTIA . NEVERLAND was a surprising enjoyable album as I found it a lot more better than White & QUARTETTO so I was curious to see if EPCOTIA was able to live up to expectations , especially since only LPS is included .
After listening to EPCOTIA , I can say that more or less NEWS's latest album offering managed to live up to expectations and I'm not surprised both EPCOTIA & NEVERLAND are similar , in terms of both albums' structure .
For NEWS to only include LPS in EPCOTIA , this means the album tracks have to be of certain standard & luckily I like most of the album tracks . Also quite a few songs definitely could have been in NEVERLAND which's not a bad thing .
I feel that both NEVERLAND & EPCOTIA flow quite well from start until end , sound consistency wise . Perhaps that's why both albums have interludes to balance things out .
Overall I think that NEWS's 5th self titled album is still their best as a 4 piece cos at that time of release , they set a pretty high standard with their comeback album which I still feel it's great .
Ironically since then , NEWS has been releasing albums on a yearly basis since 2013 unlike in the past where their releases were quite unpredictable .
That said , EPCOTIA is a pretty good solid follow up to last year's NEVERLAND . In a way I was hoping NEWS would release something special to celebrate their 15th anniversary in the business but I suppose in a way they did as for them to utilise a space travel theme for EPCOTIA just like what they did for NEWS Nippon , guess this kind of come back full circle for NEWS ?
Saturday, May 12, 2018
UVERworld - ODD FUTURE
CD + DVD
Tracklist for both CD & CD + DVD versions
1) ODD FUTURE
3) CORE STREAM
CD Anime version
1) ODD FUTURE
3) CORE STREAM
4) ODD FUTURE (short ver.)
ODD FUTURE is UVERworld's 32nd single & it was released on 2nd May .
This's UVERworld's 1st single release of 2018 & ODD FUTURE was chosen to be used as the opening theme song for the 3rd season of the Boku no Hero Academia anime .
Aside from the A-side , a video was also made for PLOT , which's the 1st B-side in the single .
It's kind of a known fact that it's not easy to get into UVERworld's music as their releases are quite unpredictable sound wise & frankly the last single song I genuinely liked from them was 2015's I LOVE THE WORLD .
But looks like now I have a new favourite in what they brought to the table with ODD FUTURE as this's something a bit different as UVERworld hasn't really used that much autotune in their songs .
As the song title suggests , ODD FUTURE is like a mix mash up of many different sounds as you even can hear saxophone beats in the 2nd part of the song .
In short ODD FUTURE is a bit all over the place but despite the musical confusion surprisingly I like it .
UVERworld's 2nd best album will be released on 18th July & this will be almost 10 years since their 1st album Neo SOUND BEST was released in Dec 2009 .
Monday, May 07, 2018
CD Review :: FLOWER FLOWER - Spotlight
CD + DVD
4) Anata to Taiyou
11) Chiisana Mado
iTunes Japan exclusive :
13) Fuyu -Live at Ebisu The Garden Hall-
14) Mannequin -Live at Ebisu The Garden Hall-
15) Honou -Live at Ebisu The Garden Hall-
Spotlight is FLOWER FLOWER's 2nd album & it was released on 14th March .
FLOWER FLOWER's last full length album release was 2014's debut album Mi .
All 12 songs in Spotlight are new songs . Singles Takaramono & Mannequin are not included in the new album but the music videos for both songs are included in the DVD .
Vocalist yui commented , "We have completed a new album ! Something incredible has been made ! It was a great time working together with the other members [of the band] . I am excited for everyone to listen to it ."
iTunes Japan included 3 live recording as bonus tracks should fans decide to buy Spotlight digitally via their website .
Kicking things off in Spotlight is Inochi which's a great album opening number & the 1st time I heard it , I got a bit of a shock as I didn't expect the song to get very loud in the later part but after a while I got used to its aggressiveness .
The next song Powerful is 1 of 2 songs that were originally created from demo tracks during FLOWER FLOWER's early days .
Powerful was 1st released digitally on 13th March prior to Spotlight physical release . A video was made for the song but it's not included in the DVD .
What stands out about Powerful is the fast paced piano driven melody & the accompanied video has a rather weird kooky feel which elevates the song's status to another level .
After 2 back to back upbeat tracks , things are slow down considerably with the next song Coffee .
Prior to the release of Spotlight , FLOWER FLOWER already had performed Coffee during their past live performances .
Just like Powerful , Coffee is also quite heavily piano driven but in this case , it's more chilled & laid back which both back to back songs contrast each other very well .
Anata to Taiyou is the next song & this's a bit different from what FLOWER FLOWER does as it's quite a dreamy no. . It's also quite laid back sounding like Coffee but for this , the usage of synthesisers can be heard quite substantially in Anata to Taiyou .
The pace in Spotlight is picked up subsequently with Chizu which's quite a moody sounding song . Just like the album opening track Inochi , it initially is quite slow paced but after a while , it changes to have a more upbeat sound .
Chiri is interesting as it's a mid tempo song with prominent usage of bass & saxophone beats can be heard in the melody .
The next 2 songs Ice & Odori are both over 5 minutes long each . Despite this , both tracks are quite good . Ice also has the same type of melody change up like Inochi & Chizu where it's quite mellow sounding in the beginning & after a while , its melody changed to a more heavily synthesiser driven sound .
Same with Powerful , Odori was 1st created from demo tracks during FLOWER FLOWER's early days .
Prior to Spotlight physical release , Odori was 1st released digitally on 7th March .
Ice & Odori have some music similarities where synthesisers play a rather big role in both tracks .
Ubugoe is another lovely piano driven no. which's almost in the same vein as what Coffee offers .
The next song Tokei was 1st released digitally on 28th Feb . A special video was made for the song & it's included in the DVD footages of Spotlight .
I think out of all the songs in Spotlight , Tokei is probably the most radio friendly sounding track as it's a very pleasant upbeat listening no. that is quite heavily piano driven (once again) .
Chiisana Mado is the longest song in the album & it's almost 7 minutes long . It might sound daunting at 1st but I actually enjoy it .
For this , Chiisana Mado has some similarities with Anata to Taiyou as both have a dreamy laidback sound but for Chiisana Mado , yui's vocals doesn't sound that distorted which I'm sure it was done on purpose .
Concluding Spotlight is Nichijou which's a good album closing no. that's filled with positive vibes .
It has been quite a long time since I last listened to an album that has no singles but yet I enjoy listening to Spotlight tremendously .
When it was made known that FLOWER FLOWER will not include Takaramono & Mannequin in Spotlight , I was surprised but at the same time , that probably means that they felt very confident on the new material & after hearing the tracks in the album , I have no doubt that it's a music risk that paid off really well .
It's also hard to believe it has been almost 4 years since FLOWER FLOWER released their debut album too . While Mi wasn't a bad album , some of the songs felt as though the group included them as a form of testing ground & I think at that time , they haven't found their niche sound yet .
Comparing Mi with Spotlight , FLOWER FLOWER has grown significantly & I think they finally found what works for them , sound wise . Also , quite a lot of songs in Spotlight placed big emphasis on piano & synthesisers but for both elements , the members utilise them well & it doesn't felt as though both traits are over saturated in Spotlight .
I don't have any complaints towards the songs in Spotlight as it's a joy to listen to the album from start until finish . When I 1st heard the new material , I was really surprised in a good way & since then , I haven't stopped listening to Spotlight on a regular basis .
Over the years I have come across albums that have inclusion of singles which they sound great from beginning until the end .
But for albums that have no singles & to sound stellar from the 1st to the last song , that's something that rarely happens but thankfully , Spotlight is 1 of the few albums that's now in this category .
All in all I hope I wouldn't need to wait another 4 years for a new FLOWER FLOWER album but if they will make something on par if not better than what Spotlight is , then I'm up for it .
Spotlight is definitely worth the 4 years wait & it's so far no doubt my favourite album of 2018 . A highly recommended album worth a few listens & more .