AKB48 – 涙サプライズ! [12th Single]

July 29, 2009 at 1:55 am (AKB48) (, )

Namida Surprise

AKB48’s 12th single, entitled 涙サプライズ!, was released on 06.24.09.

涙サプライズ! is a cheerful birthday number. The song begins with a upbeat and cool instrumental that definitely catches the listener’s attention before the first verse. On the first verse, the vocals are very nice and carry a cuteness to them while also having a mature feel to them, making for a strong combination. The chorus is really enjoyable as the girls sing happy birthday with such an undeniable sweetness to their vocals that the listener can’t ignore them. The third verse features the girls chanting “happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear my friend,” which sounds kind of strange but it fits the overall atmosphere of the song quite well. It’s cute and fun, definitely a good listener.

Team B takes center stage with the first c/w track, 初日. It carries a similar sound to the A-side although it has less of a cheery sound and has a slightly cool feeling to it. All the girls voices sound good and suit the instrumentation very well. Although it’s not as strong as the A-side, it’s still a nice song to listen to.

Ono Erena gets the spotlight with the second c/w track, FIRST LOVE. It’s a sweet and simple slow pop number which sounds quite peaceful to the ears. It’s a very nice combination to have the cold and peaceful alongside the upbeat nature of the song so that the listener can find a true balance between the two. It’s the stronger of the c/w tracks although not as strong as the A-side.

In order to promote the single, a PV for 涙サプライズ! was made. The video is fun and colorful, featuring the girls celebrate a girl’s birthday by doing various things for her. It shows the sweet bond of friendship for everyone to see.

Single Ranking: B +

AKB48 definitely delivers quality with this single as the A-side is a fun and cute number to dance along to. Both c/w tracks are enjoyable too, with the second being the more interesting of the two. Hopefully they can keep up this quality in the future.

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Nakayama Yuma w/ B.I. Shadow and NYC boys – 悪魔な恋 / NYC [Debut Single]

July 26, 2009 at 4:51 am (Nakayama Yuma w/ B.I. Shadow, NYC Boys) (, , )

Akuma na Koi Limited A Cover

Nakayama Yuma w/ B.I. Shadow’s debut single, entitled 悪魔な恋 / NYC, was released on 07.15.09. The single also features temporary unit NYC boys, a group which also includes Hey! Say! JUMP’s Yamada Ryosuke and Chinen Yuri. 悪魔な恋 was used as the theme song to the dorama Koishite Akuma ~Vampire Boy,~ starring members Nakayama Yuma and Nakajima Kento. NYC was used as the image song 2009 Women’s Volleyball World Grand Prix.

悪魔な恋 is a cool styled upbeat number delivered by Nakayama Yuma w/ B.I. Shadow. The song opens up with a really cool and sleek instrumental that kind of have a Western feel to it, catching the listener’s interest immediately. Then Yuma comes in on the first verse and gives some very nice vocals that suit the music well. English phrases such as “time” and “so lonely” stand out and give the song a little more flavor. The chorus features a more involved instrumental and thus it stands out a little stronger. The boys of B.I. Shadow get their chance to shine, sort of, when they sing “just give me your smile.” They don’t have any other solo parts except for these little lines, which seems very unfair. The boys give some great vocals at the start of the third verse and the inclusion of different instruments makes this verse really shine. It’s a great start for this group although the lines need to be fairly distributed to the other four members.

NYC calls on Yamada and Chinen for a more upbeat positive traditional Johnny’s debut styled song. The song opens up with the chorus, featuring English lines like “love love love and peace” and “you you you and love,” giving a quite cheesy feeling. The “sky high” parts feature some noticeable singing from the boys of B.I. Shadow but the whole song is primarily done by Yamada, Chinen and Yuma in front with the others essentially providing backup vocals. On the verses, the three all do a good job on their separate parts and give their coolness to the song. Yamada’s “kiss me baby” during the chorus adds a little spice to the full chorus after the first verse. One part that particularly stands out is the pure instrumental section, which is perfect for a dance breakdown, keeping the listener’s attention easily. Overall, it’s a typical debut song and not one that will blow the listener away. Perhaps if the other four got their own lines, it would have been better. This song definitely doesn’t stand strong up against Ultra Music Power.

Dial Up is the B-side that appears on both limited editions of the single and is sung by NYC boys. The sound of a telephone dialing is heard and then the upbeat and spicy instrumental comes in, with some Spanish influences that shine strongly. Yuma sounds great as he starts the first verse, his vocals really giving that coolness that suits the music perfectly. Yamada and Chinen also sound good on their parts of the verse as well. Unfortunately, what kills the song is the chorus. It doesn’t sound bad but it’s absolutely too repetitive. The first chorus doesn’t fall into this trap but the various ones near the end certainly do. The rap section sounds very interesting with Yamada and Chinen both giving their own style to it. Another reptitive part is when they repeat “I can say it yeah” so many times. If the song wasn’t so repetitive, it actually would have been very interesting.

蒼い季節 is only available on the regular edition of the single. The song begins with a hot jazzy upbeat instrumental that will definitely capture the interest of the listener. On the first verse, Yamada sounds great and shows off his cool side for all to hear. Yuma and Chinen also have their time to shine alongside him and sound. The chorus is full of energy and fun, which makes it a very strong part of the song. Although the listener can barely hear the boys of B.I. Shadow, they make the vocals a bit fuller. One of the most memorable parts of the song is the ending when they repeat two words, three times each. The pure instrumental section has a cool degree of aggression in it that really catches the ear and makes a nice transition back into the chorus. This is definitely a fantastic song and should have been the other A-side, replacing NYC.

In order to promote the single, two PVs were made: one for each A-side. The 悪魔な恋 PV features the boys in an old abandoned house. Yuma takes pictures of everyone in the group smiling, which fits the lyric “just give me your smile.” Fuma plays the guitar, Kento reads a book and Hokuto and Yuugo look cute as always. Another scene includes the group singing. This was definitely the better video and showed off all the boys quite nicely. The NYC PV is simple, featuring the boys sing and dance to the song in a big room surrounded by a bunch of Johnny’s Juniors on different levels. It’s colorful and happy, fitting with the song nicely although it’s a little dull.

Single Ranking: A –

A new debut from Johnny’s has been coming and he certainly picked the right people. Kento and Hokuto are hilarious; Fuma is extremely loveable and Yuugo is the most kawaii kid you’ll ever see. Yuma certainly does have talent although he’s getting so much of the spotlight, it feels like there isn’t enough for the other four boys. Then add Yamada and Chinen to the mix and they get pushed back to the role of backup to these three. 悪魔な恋 and 蒼い季節 are both fantastic song and definitely will catch the listener’s ear while the other two fall into the trap of repetitiveness. It’s good that NYC boys is only a temporary unit because it would be great to see the other four boys grow and show off their talents.

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EXILE – THE HURRICANE ~FIREWORKS~ [31st Single]

July 23, 2009 at 4:38 am (EXILE) (, )

THE_HURRICANE_~FIREWORKS~_%28CD%29

EXILE’s 31st single, entitled THE HURRICANE ~FIREWORKS,~ was released on 07.22.09.

FIREWORKS is the first song on the single. Beginning the song is a cool upbeat instrumental with some traditional sounding influences, which makes a very interesting combination. Then the chorus comes and the vocals are just okay, suiting the music nicely although it does feel a little cheesy with lines like “your love is like fireworks.” The verses are a little better just because the vocals sound cooler and suit the music much better. It’s a nice song although not the most interesting.

優しい光 is the next track. It’s a pretty ballad in terms of the instrumentation although the lead singer’s vocals do get to be a little high at times. However, it is quite a nice song and a good fit with the boys’ style.

The boys team up with FLO RIDA on THE NEXT DOOR -INDESTRUCTABLE.- It’s an edgier dance song with an aggressive sound that definitely shines. This should have been the A-side since it’s a sound that really works with the boys’ voices well.

Single Ranking: B

THE HURRICANE ~FIREWORKS~ is a good single in terms of diversity. FIREWORKS has a good dance sound, 優しい光 has a pretty and emotional sound while THE NEXT DOOR -INDESTRUCTIBLE- carries the needed edge. However if the first two songs hit the mark a little harder then the overall package would have been more enjoyable.

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SAWA – I Can Fly [Debut Mini Album]

July 23, 2009 at 4:08 am (SAWA) (, )

SAWA_-_I_Can_Fly_RE

SAWA’s debut major mini album, was released on 07.22.09.

The album starts with I Can Fly. The instrumentation of the track is mellow and pretty nice but SAWA’s vocals sound pretty grating and take away that mellow feeling from the song.

Sing It Back follows. The song starts off with a very pretty and calming instrumental that catches the listener’s ear before SAWA comes in for the first verse. Her vocals are pretty good here, suiting the music quite nicely. The atmosphere of the song continues to get to the listener and then it’s the chorus. Admittedly, it’s a little flat with such similar phrases being repeated often but it’s still manageable. It’s a pretty nice track and shows SAWA’s colors.

Night Desert is the third album track. The song begins with a mysterious and interesting instrumental that has a peaceful quality while also having a haunting feel. Then SAWA sings the first verse and her vocals don’t really bring out anything amazing and the instrumentation doesn’t really continue to shine. The chorus is nice in that there’s a little more energy to it, which is a good change from the verses but it’s nothing that really catches the ear as nicely as other tracks. It’s an okay song but it definitely could have been better.

Up next is I Love You Always Forever. The song starts off with SAWA singing acapella and there’s a really cheerful feeling that comes out, which is nice. Then when she sings the first verse, her vocals sound really weird and the instrumentation sounds so empty so it’s a bad combination. I Love You Always Forever follows the same suit as the last track and it doesn’t stand out at all.

My Sunny Days is the fifth song. Like the last two tracks, the interest just isn’t there, mostly due to SAWA’s vocals. The one positive thing is that the instrumentation of this song is fuller and fits the vocals a little better.

Album Ranking: C

If SAWA’s vocals were stronger and the instrumentation was fuller and more diverse, the overall product might have been more enjoyable. Sing It Back is the only song on the album that actually is manageable.

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Aira Mitsuki – PLASTIC [2nd Studio Album]

July 22, 2009 at 7:58 pm (Aira Mitsuki) (, )

PLASTIC

Aira Mitsuki’s 2nd studio album, entitled PLASTIC, was released on 07.22.09. The singles released before the album are as follows: ロボットハニー, サヨナラ TECHNOPLOIS and BARBiE BARBiE.

ロボットハニー is the album’s opening track. The song begins with an intersting instrumental that feels like the listener is being taken into an alternate world. Over time, the aggression comes and makes it shine even more. On the verses, there is a more calming atmosphere although the music retains its coolness. Aira’s vocals sound great here, really suiting the music very well. There’s just a happiness that comes through the chorus, which makes it really stand out. It’s sweet and it’s fun, which makes it a good opener for PLASTIC.

Aira teams up with AYUZE KOZUE for Summeeeeeeeer Set. Opening the song is a fun and upbeat instrumental that is insantly ear-catching. Then Aira comes in and there’s such a sweetness in her vocals that bring out the atmosphere more strongly. AYUZE also sounds good at her parts, supporting Aira very well. On the chorus, both girls sound great and each add to the overall strength of the song. It’s a very enjoyable song and one that works very well with the season.

ニーハイガール, a B-side released before the album, is up next. The song starts off with a really cool twinkling instrumental that is very ear-catching and then Aira’s distorted vocals come in and it’s pretty hard to undestand what she is saying. The whispered vocals in the background is a nice touch and add a sort of creepiness to the song. It’s a pretty repetitive song so it gets to be old rather quickly.

Aira and Terukado come together again, this time for BAD trip. The song begins with a really cool and aggressive instrumental that definitely piques the interest of the listener. Having the background vocals by Aira spices things up a little and then the first verse comes in. Much like Beep Count Fantastic from the last album, the focus is on the instrumentation and what an amazing team the two of them make with tracks like these. It may not be as catchy as Beep Count Fantastic but it has the same instant addictive quality.

CHANGE MY WILL gets the energy up in a fantastic way. The song starts off with such a cool and almost sloppy instrumental except it’s done so perfectly that it doesn’t sound bad. Aira’s vocals perfectly fit the music when she comes in and makes things even better. Following, the instrumentation becomes truly aggressive and keeps the listeners on their their toes. The chorus sounds awesome when she sings the title of the song and the higher pitch of her voice in contrast to the low and aggressive instrumental is a dangerous combination. The pure instrumental section is awesome because it takes things in such an interesting and slightly different direction. For its purely aggressive instrumentation and overall cool feel, CHANGE MY WILL is definitely a gem on this album.

The sixth track on the album is the interesting and sleek HIGH SD スニーカー.  A soft and cool instrumental, giving the listener a dreamy and spacey feeling. Here, Aika’s vocals sound great and catch the ear very easily. Then a twist arrives and the instrumentation becomes aggressive and addictive, really having a different feel from the opening instrumental. Then Aira’s vocals are heavily distorted so that it’s near impossible to decipher what she is saying. This stood out proudly on the サヨナラ TECHNOPOLIS single and it shines here as well.

Another B-side from the same single, distant STARS, follows. The song begins with a very soft and pretty instrumental with Aira’s vocals filled with emotion and strength. The choice to center on the piano was a nice one since it changes things up from the usual instrumentation. It’s nice to see Aira slow things down and with this song, she did quite a good job.

プラスティックドール was the song used to promote the album as it got a PV and from the moment the song opens, it’s easy to see why. A really dreamy and spacey instrumental opens the song, taking the listener to another world and then the aggressive nature works its way in. On the first verse, Aira’s vocals sound so smooth and perfectly matching the instrumentation that the listener can’t help but fall in love. The chorus sounds great as the instrumentation becomes just the slightest more aggressive and Aira’s vocals become stronger. It’s insanely catchy and leaves a fantastic impression. The pure instrumental section features some very distorted words from Aira in the background before transitioning back into the dreamy chorus. It’s one of Aira’s best songs and definitely is one of the most memorable songs on the album.

Now comes the addictive song, サプリ. The song begins with a fantastic instrumental that has kind of an old school feel to it. Then comes the first verse and Aira’s vocals sound great, really fitting with the cool and catchy music. One small part that really stands out is that key change before the chorus. Somehow it makes all the difference and leaves the listener wanting more. There is a kind of cuteness on the chorus, which actually works really well and leaves the listener wanting more. It’s also to hear a key change in the last chorus, which makes it all the more memorable. It’s definitely one of the strongest songs on the album.

Kuchiroro joins Aira for 夏飴. A jazzy sort of instrumental starts things off and it’s definitely surpsising since it differs frmo the usual instrumentation. Aira sounds good here and her vocals really suit the music. Then the instrumentation takes on a more familiar dreamy style that sounds great. Kuchiroro sounds okay although he isn’t the strongest addition to the song. His rap section is also pretty weak in addition to being cheesy. It’s not the best song since the instrumentation is a little dull and Kuchiroro does nothing for the song.

The final collaboration of the album is with Shigeo on Time is. Really cool sounds begin the song and give the image of lights turning on one by one in the darkness. The song goes on the instrumentation becomes present as well as the beat, gradually gaining more attention from the listener as the anticipation builds up. Over after a minute of pure instrumentation, Aira comes in and her vocals really suit the atmosphere of the song. It sounds really cool when she sings “time is up.”  It’s definitely one of the coolest songs on the album and is a good balance between focusing on the music and on the vocals.

The twelfth track on the album is the impressively catchy サヨナラ TECHNOPOLIS, centering around the theme of the end of the world. The song kicks off with part of the chorus, in which Aira sings English phrases like “plastic babe” and “the end dance,” which really catch the ear. However the catchiest part of the song are the songs. Aira’s vocals have such a coolness that cannot be ignored and melt over the instrumentation addictively. Then Aira repeats the title of the song, making for a good entrance to the chorus. Overall, this is one of the strongest songs on the album and leaves the listener wanting more.

BARBiE BARBiE is the album’s semifinale. Starting off the song is a cool summery sort of instrumental which actually sounds pretty cool. Then comes part of the chorus and Aira’s vocals sound very nice here over the cheerful instrumental. Overall, the structure and sound of the song is similar to that of ロボットハニー. The vocals feature lyrics delivered with rapidity which is nice although the interest isn’t as high as it could be. While it’s a nice song, it’s similarities to its predecesor prove to be a little annoying.

Re:† serves as the album closer. That opening instrumental is aggressive and almost scary, really grabbing the listener’s attention at first listen. The background vocals add to the creepiness of the song and keep things going at a good pace. As the song goes, it makes instrumental twists and turns, which keeps the listener’s interest perfectly. The only problem with the song is that it’s too long. Otherwise, it’s a very enjoyable song and a good way to finish off PLASTIC.

Album Ranking: A –

PLASTIC is a very solid collection of songs that show how Aira has grown from her last album. From the aggressiveness of BAD trip and CHANGE MY WILL to the dreaminess of プラスティックドール to the fun dance feel of サプリ, Terukado and Aira definitely make a dream team. It’s a bit strange to not have COSMiC CHOP on the album with the other two B-sides from the same single making appearances, especially since it’s one of her strongest songs to date. Nonetheless, PLASTIC does a great job of bringing together strong album tracks and memorable single ones for a cohesive collection of songs.

5 Most Memorable Songs: プラスティックドール / サプリ / BAD trip / CHANGE MY WILL / サヨナラ TECHNOPOLIS

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Aoyama Thelma – 忘れないよ [7th Single]

July 22, 2009 at 6:04 pm (Aoyama Thelma) (, )

Thelma

Aoyama Thelma’s 7th single, entitled 忘れないよ, was released on 08.05.09. The title track was used as the theme song to Hachiko: A Dog’s Tale.

忘れないよ is a pretty slow song. The song begins with a pretty and very natural sounding instrumental before going into the first verse. Thelma sings “can I still believe in you?” and there’s a lot of emotion packed into that line so the listener instantly is curiosu about what is to come. She continues to provide smooth and sweet vocals over the music, letting the emotions flow. Unfortunately, the chorus falls flat on those expectations. Nothing really changes, neither the instrumentation or the vocal strength so it feels a little boring. It’s nice but it’s not the most engaging song and comes to be just another one of Thelma’s ballads.

On the other hand, Don’t Stop picks up the energy and shows off Thelma’s cool side. The image has a real coolness to it and Thelma’s vocals really give an attitude that sounds great. It’s reminiscent of MADONNA and it’s always confusing as to why Thelma doesn’t choose these very strong B-sides over the more uninteresting A-sides.

In order to promote the single, a PV for 忘れないよ was made. The video is nothing special, mostly featuring scenes from the film as well as Thelma in a dark place. It’s not very interesting but it fits the theme of the song nicely.

Single Ranking: B

Don’t Stop really should have been promoted to A-side status since it shows a different side of Thelma and what she can really do. It’s nice to have a certain sound but it’s getting to be old for her and she needs to switch it up on these A-sides.

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Tegomasu – テゴマスのうた [Debut Studio Album]

July 22, 2009 at 3:01 am (Tegomasu) (, )

Tegomass_no_Uta_limited

Tegomasu’s debut studio album, entitled テゴマスのうた, was released on 07.15.09. The singles released before the album are as follows: ミソスープ, キッス~帰り道のラブソング~, アイアイ傘 and 七夕祭り (not included in the album).

The album opens up with the sweet song, ミソスープ. Opening the song is a very pretty and romantic instrumental that will instantly attract the listener. It carries a nostalgic and somewhat sorrowful feel to it before the first verse comes in. Both Tegoshi and Massu provide vocals that perfectly suit the atmosphere of the music, helping establishing the story of the song more strongly. When they come together on the chorus, it sounds great and is really catching, particularly with those last few lines. The pure instrumental section is a very good fit since it perfectly captures the romantic nature of the song and makes a great introduction to the third verse. There’s something very hopeful and freeing about the third verse that comes rom the slightly changed instrumental. The boys’ first single makes for a very strong opening track for the album by giving such a cute story with sweet music.

The duo’s second single, キッス~帰り道のラブソング~, is also the second track on the album. The song immediately begins with the first verse and Tegoshi’s vocals really compliment the instrumentation, which feels almost like a gentle lullaby, bringing the listener into a dream. Massu also sounds great for his part of the verse and his vocals really catch the ear of the listener. The chorus has a twinkling sound to it that sounds great, further amplifying the beauty of the song. One part that particularly stands out in the chorus is Massu singing “I Love You.” The third verse brings the sweetness and beauty even more to the forefront which such a dreamy instrumentation and more strong vocals from the duo. Lyrically, the song is strong in that it has a naturalness anyone in love can relate to. It’s such a pretty song and it definitely keeps the strength from the last song and continues it.

The first new track is the sweet summery track, たったひとつだけ. Starting things off is a nice upbeat insrumental that gives the image of a summer day. Then Massu comes in and his vocals really exute a happiness that perfectly matches the instrumentation. Tegoshi also sounds good on his section, giving his usual strong vocals. The chorus sounds nice although it would have been nicer if Tegoshi didn’t sing in such a high pitch because it’s somewhat distracting. With the guitar spicing up the pure instrumental section, it sounds great and really captures the ear of the listener. Ending the song is a really weird sound that actually sounds pretty cool. The lyrics speak of a boyfriend of a strong-willed girlfriend and how he’ll be by her side forever so it’s an interesting contrast to the summery happy feeling of the song. It’s a great way to pick up the pace and keep the listener interested.

夏への扉 is a jazzy catchy number. The song starts off with a cool jazzy instrumental that immediately catches the ear. The boys do some smooth vocalizations before moving into the first verse. Tegoshi’s vocals really suit the music and bring the sweet story of the lyrics to life. When Massu gets his chance, his vocals sound great as well and are particularly ear-grabbing. The chorus is nice although the instrumentation doesn’t stray that much from its state during the verses. Near the end is when it really gets good as their vocals become slightly stronger and there’s a new instrument that makes a cute feeling come out even more. Like the other songs, the lyrics feel very natural and somewhat personal feel to them, which makes the song all the more special. It’s a very nice change of pace and one that definitely shines on tihs album.

What’s going on? is a fun track that will get the listener up and dancing. Starting things off is a nice pretty pop instrumental that actually kind of has a disco feel to it. That atmosphere comes out even more strongly with those background vocals before the first verse. On the first verse, both boys sound great, giving that special magic touch to the music. The chorus is easily the strongest part of the song just because it’s so catchy. They sound great whey they sing “oh, what’s going on?” and they just have that spark that makes the song shine. The pure instrumental section sounds very cool and even kinda jazzy, which makes a good connection from the last track. Although the lyrics are a bit weird but the nonsensical nature of them makes the song all the more charming. It’s fun and cool, definitely worth the listen.

くしゃみ is one of two short songs on the album. The song starts off with a pretty and soft instrumental, consisting of primarily stringed instruments that sound quite nice. The verses are pretty short but sweet and filled with emotion for the listener to really feel. The chorus features the repetition of the word “love,” which gets to be a little annoying over a while. Overall, it’s short and sweet although quite repetitive and it begins to annoy the listener.

サヨナラ僕の街 brings the boys back to the jazzy sound. Beginning the song is a cool instrumental with a very jazzy and powerful feeling to it. Then comes the first verse and both boys sound great, their vocals supporting the gradually growing instrumenation perfectly. While the chorus could have been a little stronger, it sounds nice because the vocals are slightly stronger and the music keeps its enjoyable tempo. The pure instrumental section sounds very nice, really showcasing that catchy jazzy sound that keeps the listener’s interest. The lyrics of the song talk about leaving all the familiar things of town behind, which ignites a feeling of nostalgia in the listener. It’s a nice song even though the chorus could have had a little more punch to it.

Then they step things up with HIGHWAY. The song takes off with an upbeat instrumental that also has a jazzy feeling but this time it’s much stronger and in-your-face. The chorus sounds great with their vocals bringing even more life to the vivid instrumentation. Things don’t slow down on the verses and both Tegoshi and Massu really bring more energy that will catch the listener’s ear easily. Massu does a particularly strong job of ending the verses and making that transition into the chorus. The pure instrumental section has a slight change to it, making it sound fuller and the saxophone part sounds great. It’s a very strong upbeat number that will get the listener dancing.

Up next is the cool and inspirational song, POWER OF EARTH. Opening up the song is a cool pop-rock sort of instrumental that has more of an aggressive nature than the other songs, thus making it stand out. Tegoshi steps up first for the first verse and he sounds great here. Massu also does his thing, adding magic to the song before the chorus comes in. There are slight notes during the chorus that make it much more interesting and the little key change during the part when they sing “we are the power of earth” really makes for a nice finish. Tegoshi sounds perfect when he gives his solo version of the chorus and catches the ear nicely. Lyrically, the song speaks of making it through anything because of the inner power in everyone. POWER OF EARTH is a very strong track that will really speak to the listener.

四季彩 is the other short track on the album. A very pretty oriental styled instrumental begins the track, taking the listener back into a beautiful dreamy state. This song is sung by the two of them together at all times, suggesting the connection of spirits, which is reflected in the lyrics. The seasons are united and throughout all time, love will continue. It may be short but it’s very pretty, standing out much stronger than the other short track.

片想いの小さな恋 was the ending theme to the anime series Neo Angelique Abyss ~second age.~ The song starts off with a very pretty instrumental, drawn out by the erhu before the first verse arrives. Massu sounds amazing on the first verse as his vocals bring out the emotions of the music. Tegoshi also stands strongly when his part comes in. They sound amazing together on the chorus, the emotions coming out more strongly through more powerful vocals and the continuation of the erhu. It’s such a beautiful romantic song that definitely shines on this album.

The third single released before the album, アイアイ傘, is up next. The song begins with a very pretty and twinkling instrumental that immediately gets to the listener. Massu’s voice instantly stirs the emotions on the first verse and makes a good way for Tegoshi to come in. Tegoshi’s vocals are smooth and fit with the music perfectly. The chorus shines strongly as they sing together, letting the words really hit the listener’s heart. One part that really stands out is the pure instrumental section, which gives the image of the clouds dispersing and letting the sun shine through that rainy day. It’s an absolutely gorgeous song and one of the best Tegomasu’s offerings.

雨のち晴れ appears as the first track only available on the regular edition of the album. The song begins with an upbeat instrumental that has a cheery feeling. The repeating section of the instrumentation sounds a little annoying although Massu’s vocals sound very strong. As the song goes on, however, the music becomes more bearable and certain parts really sound pretty. The chorus is a little simple but enjoyable nonetheless as the boys come together and give it their all. It’s sweet and it’s pretty, really suiting the summer season.

チキンボーヤ is the second track only available on the regular edition. A dreamy and lulling instrumentation begins things perfectly and then it becomes slightly more upbeat and diverse, letting the listener fall further into the dream. On the first verse, the vocals are smooth and soothing, perfectly suiting the beauty of the music. They sound great on the chorus, particularly at the end of the chorus when Massu has those two solo lines. At that moment, the music takes on a slightly higher tone and shines strongly. The pure instrumental section is beautiful and really has an angelic feeling to it that will take the listener away. It’s a very strong song and carries some of the magic from アイアイ傘.

Miso Soup, the English version of their first single, also appears as the final bonus track on the regular edition. It’s kind of hard to understand what they’re saying a lot of the time but it’s kind of cute to hear them put all of their effort into it.

Album Ranking: A –

Tegomasu’s first album was surprisingly solid. One might expect a slew of slow songs but there were many upbeat numbers that showed off what the boys could do. From the cool jazzy numbers, to beautiful ballads and even one disco styled track, the album offers more variety than expected. Tegoshi and Massu certainly delivered a quality album.

5 Most Memorable Songs: アイアイ傘 / HIGHWAY / What’s going on? / たったひとつだけ / サヨナラ僕の街

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Shimizu Shota – 美しき日々よ / さよならはいつも側に [4th Single]

July 21, 2009 at 3:36 am (Shimizu Shota) (, )

Shota Shimizu

Shimizu Shota’s 4th single, entitled 美しき日々よ / さよならはいつも側に, was released on 07.15.09.

美しき日々よ kind of has the same atmosphere as Shota’s other songs but it feels slightly more upbeat and fun, which definitely catches the listener’s ear. As usual, Shota’s vocals are enjoyable and catch the listener’s ear. It definitely stands out the most of the three songs and was a good choice for leading A-side.

さよならはいつも側に is the second A-side. Opening the song is the piano and it carries a nice uptempo tune that sounds quite nice. However when the verses come in, it sounds pretty generic and doesn’t catch the ear particularly well because it feels done before.

風のように is the single’s B-side. The song starts off with the sweet sounds of the piano, nicely constructing an atmosphere for the listener to hook onto. The beat then comes in for the chorus and Shota’s vocals are nice here, staying smooth and sleek over the instrumentation. On the verses, his vocals continue to sound strong and suit the music very well. There’s something very soothing about his voice, which makes this mellow tune worth the listen.

Single Ranking: B –

It might not be the greatest single out there but if you like slow sweet numbers then you’ll like this single. The problem with it is that there isn’t enough variety and it leaves the listener wanting more from him since he has the vocal strength to handle it.

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Ikimonogakari – ホタルノヒカリ [14th Single]

July 20, 2009 at 3:45 am (Ikimonogakari) (, )

Hotaru no Hikari

Ikimonogakari’s 14th single, entitled ホタルノヒカリ, was released on 07.15.09. The title track was used as the theme song for Naruto Shippuuden.

ホタルノヒカリ is a sweet pop number. The song starts off with te chorus and there’s a very natural feeling to it that catches the listener’s ear. Then the pace quickens and the instrumentation is more upbeat and fun. The vocals sound very nice with the music and carry a breezy feel that suits an anime theme perfectly. Right before the chorus, the instrumentation is really pretty and makes a good introduction to the chorus. The chorus may not be the most interesting but it’s nice. Overall it’s an enjoyable song and one that suits the series very well.

おもいでのすきま is a nice and relaxing number that definitely gives a natural feeling of home. The vocals are quite enjoyable and suits the overall atmosphere of the song. It’s a good compliment to the A-side.

In order to promote the single, a PV for ホタルノヒカリ was made. The video is very simple, just featuring the group singing in the song in front of a pretty backdrop. It’s not the most interesting but it works.

Single Ranking: B –

It was an okay single with two nice songs although they aren’t the most engaging. Both songs carry a natural feeling to them, which is nice. Hopefully the material to come will be stronger.

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Kuroki Meisa – SHOCK -運命- [First Single]

July 20, 2009 at 3:17 am (Kuroki Meisa) (, )

Meisa SHOCK

Kuroki Meisa’s first single, entitled SHOCK -運命-, was released on 07.22.09. This is Meisa’s first single to be released physically and the title track was used as the KIRIN’s COLA SHOCK CM song.

SHOCK -運命- is a hot dance song that gets the listener in the mood to dance. The song opens up with a sample of a Beethoven piece, with new life and energy oozing from it before the chorus comes in. Meisa sings “ready for the shock” and her vocals during this section really stand out and the whole energy of the instrumentation has the listener in love with the song already. Then comes the first verse and there’s a cool sleekness to it, Meisa’s vocals still sounding great. The graceful sweetness of the hook is really interesting and provides as a strong introduction to the chorus. This is one of Meisa’s best songs and it’s sure to hook the listener on first listen.

Wasted is the single’s B-side. It has a sort of rock feeling to it although it doesn’t sound aggressive enough to match Meisa’s style. It’s just sounds a little cheesy at parts such as the “come again another day” line and the instrumentation doesn’t grab the listener like it should.

In order to promote the single, a PV for SHOCK -運命- was made. The video seems to take cues from Amuro Namie’s shine more and the SPEED STAR PVs. There is the same dancing in front of what looks like a turbine or fan scene as in the SPEED STAR as well as the same styled room as in shine more for the chair dancing scenes. Nontheless, Meisa looks great and the song suits the energy of the song very well.

Single Ranking: A

Meisa comes back stronger than ever with SHOCK -運命-. This song is probably her second strongest, only preceded by Like This. She really shows what she can do and leaves the listener wanting more. Wasted was just okay but a good change of pace from the A-side. Hopefully she’ll continue to follow this path and bring even more great songs.

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