NEWS – color [3rd Studio Album]

November 30, 2008 at 6:34 pm (NEWS) (, )

color

NEWS’ 3rd studio album, entitled color, was released on 11.19.08. The singles released prior to the album are as follows: weeeeek, 太陽のナミダ, SUMMER TIME and Happy Birthday. Much like their previous albums, there are some solos, the trio songs as well as one KoyaShige duo.

The album starts off with the boys’ first single off this era, weeeeek. With its fun and light-spirited sound, it’s the perfect album opener. The guitar brings the song to a strong beginning and the boys come in singing the chorus with that fun atmosphere coming through powerfully. On the verses, some of the boys doing some rapping and it works well with the overall feeling and everyone’s voices sound nice. The hook is a little cleaner as the boys with the softer voices sing their way through smoothly. That pure instrumental section definitely stands out as there is a very grand feeling to it and following is Tegoshi, who tends to give the best vocal performances. The song finishes with more exciting and upbeat music to bring this song to a close. weeeeek is one of the album’s strongest songs and a very memorable way to begin the album.

Following is STARDUST, a midtempo rock number. The song starts off with a calming rock instrumental that gets a little more aggressive as times goes on before the first verse. On the verses, the vocals are okay and they fit with the music well but they’re nothing very special. The chorus picks it up a little more as the instrumetnation becomes more interesting and the boys’ vocals are a little stronger. When they sing “stardust,” that is a pivotal moment in the song and it gives it a little more flavor. The pure instrumental section is all right and is nice because the guitar gets the spotlight but it’s nothing that great. Overall STARDUST is a nice track to listen to when you’re in the mood but they could have (and should have) done a lot better than this.

SUMMER TIME, which was the second single of the color era, is the third track on the album. A very pretty and twinkling instrumental starts the song off before the chorus arrives strongly. Everyone sounds great and they perfectly capture that summer light-hearted atmosphere with the combination of the vocals and instrumetnation. English phrases such as “I want you to know my sweet emotion” and “beautiful days” really pop and make the chorus all the more enjoyable. There is a more relaxing feeling on the verses and everyone sounds good with Massu’s vocals being the real standout. The rap section allows Koyama and Shige to shine a little more and it gives the song even more of that fun flavor. SUMMER TIME is another one of the album’s best tracks and one to look for.

The next track is SNOW EXPRESS, which was recorded previously and even appeared on the boys’ latest tour DVD. Now the song has a physical release on color. The song starts off with a very pretty instrumental that touches the listener’s heart. Surprisingly, the boys’ vocals are a little stronger than usual on the verses (notably Massu’s) as they smoothly move with the music. The chorus is what makes this song so addictive as everyone sounds good together and when they sing “snow express,” it’s heaven. It also stands out because the guitar is spotlighted there for a moment, which sounds fantastic. Yamapi then delivers his rap sequence and it’s a little surprising to hear but it has that Yamapi sexiness which just works so well for him. SNOW EXPRESS is a fantastic song, one that definitely deserved a physical release.

The next song is the sweet ballad track, Forever. From the moment the instrumentation opens, the listener should know that the boys are going to pour on the emotions. The first part of the chorus where they sing quickly is what stands out particularly because of Tegoshi’s vocals but then it doesn’t sound as good. The English is also a nice touch On the verses, the vocals aren’t bad but the instrumentation gets very old very quickly so the listener can’t really get hooked on it. Massu actually provides some strong moments during his part of the verse as does Tegoshi but overall the verses aren’t very impressive. What saves this song is the chorus with Tegoshi being the real star as there is a certain cuteness about this song that really stands out. It could have been much stronger though.

Up next is MOLA, which is Yamapi’s usual solo number. This track sounds so much like an American song that it’s a little strange to hear Yamapi doing something like this. To connect back to the American idea, the song is entirely sung in English and his pronounciation is actually pretty good despite the music interfering to the point when he is somewhat inaudible at points. The song opens up with “lady” and it sounds so much like T-Pain and his vocoder that it’s ridiculous. The lyrics show off the dirty flare as he sings “everybody feelin’ kinda naughty.” Much like his previous song, ゴメンネ ジュリエット (on the pacific album), there is a girl who sings a couple lines and although she provided some pretty vocals on the first song, she is too present here. Luckily for this song, the pure instrumental section is addictive and really shines. Overall, Yamapi’s vocals are so distorted that it doesn’t even sound like him and the sound is so American, it just comes off as annoying. This solo track doesn’t even come close to ゴメンネ ジュリエット.

Luckily, there is one new track that shines above all the other new ones and is even on par with the single songs and that is ケセナイ, sung by the trio of Tegoshi, Ryo and Shige. From the moment the instrumentation starts, there is such a beautiful and peaceful feeling that is instilled with the listener. Tegoshi then comes in on the first verse and provides smooth and calming vocals that match the music perfectly. There is a moment right before the chorus where the instrumentation goes a little higher and even though it’s only for one moment, it has that sparkling feeling that just hits the listener’s heart. Tegoshi then provides powerful and beautiful vocals on the chorus, showing off just how fantastic a singer he really is. On the second verse, Ryo and Shige have their moments to sing (although Tegoshi still is the leading singer here) and both boys sound great too. There is something about the overall feel of the song that just evokes memories of the one you love so the emotions definitely come to the forefront. Although this is a trio song, Tegoshi is the clear star (much like 愛なんて from pacific) and this is easily the best new track for providing the listener with a gorgeous and calming song to listen to.

Ryo’s solo, ordinary, is the next song to arrive. Much like code (on pacific), this song takes on a midtempo rock sound. After some pure instrumentation, the first verse comes in and Ryo provides some nice vocals although the music quickly gets old. The chorus is nothing special as the music doesn’t paricularly change and neither do Ryo’s vocals. One part of the song that does shine though is the pure instrumental section, in which the guitar is put on display for the listener. Overall, this isn’t a bad song and it is a step up from code as it gives us the opportunity to hear Ryo sing instead of scream but it’s not a very memorable one. I think they should give Ryo some different sounds next time instead of the same old rock number (that or give the solo to someone else…).

みんながいる世界をひとつに愛をもっと Give & Take しましょう features Massu as the lead with Koyama and Shige as the backups. The opening instrumentation actually sounds pretty cool like there is going to be a cool and dark rock following but then the chorus comes in full of happiness and cuteness and it’s a little disappointing. The boys’ vocals are good here and the repeating words stand out but not exactly strongly. On the verses, the instrumentation calms down so the focus can be on the vocals. Again, the vocals aren’t bad but the instrumentation and overall feeling of the song isn’t particularly interesting. That pure instrumental section is nice as the music gets that pretty spotlight and there are some elements reminiscent of TEPPEN (from their last album). Overall this song is just nice, nothing spectacular but nothing horrible.

KoyaShige team up again for ムラリスト and this track sounds so identical to their last duet チラリズム (from pacific) that it’s absolutely ridiculous. In fact, the title of that song is even mentioned in this one. The moment the song opens, the chorus comes in and there is such a fun beach feeling to it. Then the verse comes in and Koyama sounds pretty good here since his voice has a certain lightness to it. Shige has a little more trouble since his voice is deeper and when he reaches really deeper, it just doesn’t sound good (Koyama also does this too at points at the song). This song is one of those that you can’t take seriously to enjoy. Unfortunately it loses major points for basically being a carbon copy (and a worse one at that) of チラリズム. If anything, they should have tried to a song more similar to their other duet, アリバイ.

太陽のナミダ is another song released before the album and yet again, one of the album’s strongest numbers. The opening instrumentation features Arabian and Spanish influences to push for an absolutely perfect instrumentation. Following is the first verse and everyone provides the song with that dark coolness that suits the music perfectly. Massu and Koyama stand out since their voices are lighter compared to the rest of the members. The chorus is absolutely fantastic as they come together and harmonize fantastically, with the last word being held with strength. Overall this song is amazing and is one of the best (if not the best) on the album.

Smile Maker is up next and honestly, it sounds like a watered down version of Happy Birthday then tweaked to be a little more upbeat. It’s not that the song is bad but it’s just not interesting. Vocals are okay throughout but the music is just not there. Truthfully, this song’s one grabbing point is the ending when the instrumentation sounds fantastic. Had the song taken on this sound the whole way through, it would have been far more enjoyable.

The next song and semifinale is Happy Birthday. This relaxing pop number is pretty nice although it’s pretty weak compared to the other singles. One thing that stands out from this song is during the chorus when they sing “happy birthday.” It’s a very sweet song and worth the listen and surprisingly, it fits with the overall feeling of the album (and that can be argued as being a good thing or bad thing).

Closing the album is FLY AGAIN. It definitely was not the way to finish the album since it’s just so boring. It’s mostly due to the instrumentation being so simplistic and it just feels like it’s already been done before. This is possibly the worst song on the album so having it be the last one was not a smart idea.

Album Ranking: B –

The thing that makes this album so disappointing for me is that their last album, pacific, was fantastic. The album had upbeat numbers you can dance to (a la 愛のマタドール or サヤエンドウ), the sweet ballads (i.e. 思う夜 and 星をめざして), Yamapi did a wonderful job on his solo and the album tracks were on par with the single ones. On color, the solos were an absolute mess; the single tracks were extremely better than the album tracks; the KoyaShige was a rip-off of their last one and overall the album tracks were not that memorable. The new jewel of this album, ケセナイ, is absolutely fantastic though and is the perfect example of why Tegoshi belongs in this group. The album was definitely lacking in dance songs so I sincerely hope they pick it up on the next album to make up for this one.

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capsule – More! More! More! [11th Studio Album]

November 30, 2008 at 1:40 am (capsule) (, )

more

capsule’s 11th studio album, entitled More! More! More!, was released on 11.19.08.

The album begins with the introductory track, runway. A robotic voice introduces us to the song by saying “one, two, three, four” and soon the interesting instrumentation comes in. There are certain moments which are quite aggressive and others which are soft and it makes for good variety. However the robotic voice (I’m assuming it’s Nakata) that continues gets really annoying because it sounds like he is just groaning and making noises. It’s not a very good track but it does introduce the listener to Nakata’s style.

More! More! More!, the album’s title track, is the second song. A cool and very catchy instrumental begins the song and the synth is very pretty. Next, Toshiko comes in and sings various English phrases, most notably the title of the song. Her voice is pretty distorted so it’s a little hard to understand what she is singing but just going with the overall spacey feeling of the song, it works. There is a clear focus on the music here as the same lyrics are repeated throughout the course of the song but the music is so addictive that it doesn’t make the song any less strong. More! More! More! is a very good title track and nicely shows off the group’s power.

Following is the very long number, the Time is now. From the moment the instrumentation begins, the listener knows they are going to be taken on a wild ride. After a section of aggressive instrumentation, a rapper comes in with a rap section and it’s very surprising and unexpected. She actually sounds pretty good because she delivers the lyrics with such rapidity that it becomes infectious. Unfortunately, Toshiko does nothing for this song and her section just sounds awkward. Although it’s interesting at the beginning, the song gets pretty old pretty quickly.

JUMPER, which was released as a single before the album, is the next track. Overall this song is nice although it isn’t that strong. Toshiko’s vocals are spotlighted with each syllable and the moments of aggressive instrumentation really shine. It could have been stronger if Toshiko’s vocals had been stronger but it’s nice for what it is.

Phantom is home to one of the best instrumentals on the entire album. With a kind of dark and mysterious atmosphere around it, the song begins on a strong note. Once again, the focus really seems to be on the music and that was a fantastic choice. As for the vocals, there is some extreme distortion going on so anything that is said comes across as unintelligible. However, the good thing about them is that they do enhance that mysterious feel. The instrumentation is absolutely fantastic here and it even has a kind of Suzuki Ami feel to it, which makes it even better (truthfully, this track should have been given to her since I think she would add her special magic to it to make it even better than it is. It kind of sounds like Mysterious off of her latest album Supreme Show).

Following this mysterious track is the creepy ominous interlude, gateway. It’s very simple and it follows the last track extremely well. It also connects to the next track since they share a very similar sound. Truthfully, this interlude was pointless since it sounds like this same instrumentation appears as the front of the next track.

The seventh track is pleasure ground. The song begins with that same ominous feeling as gateway and then Toshiko comes in as the vocalist. One notable thing about this instrumental is that it has a kind of sound like other Nakata produced acts and that works well here. Toshiko’s vocals here are actually really strong and suit the music perfectly, keeping the listener hooked from beginning to end. This is another strong track coming from the duo and one of the album’s crown jewels.

With a title like the mutations of life, one would think that the song would be aggressive and cool. Unfortunately, that’s almost the opposite. This track is very laid-back, to the point where it sounds a little boring. Toshiko’s vocals are actually pretty good here but the instrumentation remains so monotone and uninteresting that the listener quickly forgets it.

Now we arrive at e.d.i.t., the aggressive electropop dance number. The song begins with a very interesting and cool instrumental that sounds sort of weird at first but after Toshiko says “edit,” the listener becomes wrapped up in another world. When Toshiko comes in to sing, her vocals are extremely distorted and it honestly sounds a little strange but the focus can really put to the instrumentation and she can be ignored. This song may be simple but it’s actually really addictive, proving to be one of the best on the entire album. Each time Toshiko says “edit,” it’s absolute gold and the instrumentation remains perfect throughout.

We close with Adventure, which actually stands apart from the rest of the album for its different sound. There is something very light-hearted and sweet about the song from the relaxing instrumental as well as Toshiko’s vocals. It’s a little slow so it does feel a little longer than usual but it’s by no means a bad track. It also gets bonus points for having a different sound.

Album Ranking: B

Well the king of electropop himself brings some enjoyable beats to this album so that tracks like Phantom and e.d.i.t. really shine through brightly. These two tracks are perfect examples of capsule power and should not be forgotten. The other tracks are nice and so is the album as a whole but it’s not as memorable as those of Suzuki Ami or Perfume. Perhaps it’s Toshiko’s vocals that are holding the songs back at times since Nakata tends to give the more strong aggressive beats to this group.

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SAWA – Colors [Debut Mini Album]

November 28, 2008 at 11:50 pm (SAWA) (, )

sawa

SAWA’s debut mini album, entitled Colors, was released on 06.18.08. Many Colors was promoted before the album.

The album begins with Many Colors. The song begins with a sleek electropop instrumental that has a lighter feeling than many of the other current electropop masterpieces before coming into the first verse. SAWA’s vocals are enjoyable although there seems to be a little consistency problem as she hits certain notes higher when it would have sounded much better if she just kept one note. It’s also a bit hard to distinguish when the chorus begins as the music remains the same and there is no vocal change. Although it has its strange moments, Many Colors is actually pretty enjoyable. It’s primarily the music that is the grabbing point but SAWA’s vocals provide some nice moments.

We come to the nice and calming track, blue, next. Opening the song is a sweet and twinkling instrumental that has some electronic flavors to it but it doesn’t really sound all that electropop. SAWA’s vocals sound much more controlled here than on the last track, which is seen on the first verse as she provides smooth and enjoyable vocals. She reaches high and shows off her range at points but it doesn’t sound as random and comes across to the listener as much more enjoyable. Here, the chorus is much more distinguishable as SAWA generally stays in the higher range while the music just stands by and compliments her (even taking a slightly different sound at the end). blue is a very enjoyable track and shows an enjoyable relaxing atmosphere.

yellow is the slowest song on the album with a very simplistic instrumental and clapping to assist the beat. After a nice head-bopping instrumental, the clapping comes in and after a while, it gets to be really annoying. Those opening vocalizations sound a bit piercing but after that, the music gets to a little bit more enjoyable. This song suffers the same problem as Many Colors: the vocals are a bit messy. SAWA reaches too high and it just doesn’t go with the music very nicely. The problem is that unlike in Many Colors, there are so many high vocals that the whole song comes across as awkward. It doesn’t have the same appeal as Many Colors but maybe it would have been catchier had the vocals been taken down a notch.

Coming a little closer to the real taste of electropop is the fourth track, pink. The opening instrumentation is a twinkling electric paradise, pushed by the sweet sounds of the piano. SAWA comes up for the first verse, singing in all English and her vocals sound pretty controlled here, nicely moving with the music. The chorus stands out as her vocals become loud again but they work here and don’t sound so random and thrown around. There is a real cuteness about this song that just works and the instrumentation of this song is easily one of the best (if not the best) of the album. pink is a very good track, showcasing a pretty instrumental and great vocals from SAWA.

The closing song is green, which features a different sound from the rest of the album. Although the opening sounds very abrupt and strange with the vocalizations, the instrumentation really does sound good with a pretty upbeat jazzy flavor that is a welcome change from the preceding songs. SAWA then has a cuteness in her voice on the first verse and her lower vocals really work here although the higher vocals aren’t as welcome here. Had they been saved for certain moments rather than being spread out, it would have been much better. However the instrumentation is so addictive that the listener just falls for SAWA while listening.

Album Ranking: B

SAWA’s debut album definitely has its strong points. The instrumentals for green and pink, for example, are very strong and provide the listener with a constant point to return to. There is something very likeable about Many Colors, despite a little sloppiness of the vocals. The album’s biggest problem is that the vocals tend to be a little too high a little too often. Hopefully her next mini album will feature more strong instrumentals with a little more vocal control.

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Morning Musume – Cover You [9th Studio Album]

November 28, 2008 at 8:46 pm (Morning Musume) (, )

coveryou

Morning Musume’s 9th studio album, entitled Cover You, was released on 11.26.08. The entire album features covers of Pink Lady songs, written by Aku Yuu. Only one single, ペッパー警部, was released before the album.

The album opens up on a fantastic note with the fun summery number, 渚のシンドバッド. After some quirky sounds, the instrumental comes in full force with the girls doing some great and catchy vocalizations. Soon the first verse comes and the girls’ voices perfectly capture that fun beach sound that the song is all about. The chorus is easily the song’s standout point, particularly when the girls sing “sekushii, anata wa sekushii” as the vocals here do portray that mature sound that makes Morning Musume’s music so addictive. This song is pretty short but it’s definitely a fabulous one and a wonderful way to open up the album.

mm1Continuing with the catchiness is the second song, どうにもとまらない. The opening instrumental sounds great and gives off a fun in the jungle vibe that stands out strongly. The first verse then follows and Ai sounds wonderful here as that deepness in her voice smoothly moves with the music. On the chorus, everyone comes together to keep up the energy and unfortunately, Ai doesn’t sound as strong here on her solo line. Following is a small pure instrumetnal section and because the music is so strong, it stands apart as an addictive section. More insrumentation brings the song to a close, perfectly rounding the song as strong from beginning to end. Although it’s another short song, once again clocking in at under three minutes, it’s definitely one of the album gems.

Takahashi Ai teams up with Itsuki Hiroshi for the third track, 居酒屋, a sweet slow song. The moment that instrumentation takes off, the listener is taken to a fantasy world where these two singers are right in front of them. Hiroshi takes the lead on the first and his vocals have a true deepness to them that just are the essence of a romance story and then Ai comes in and her vocals are surprisingly lighter than usual. Both singers do well on their individual parts and the atmosphere really comes alive from hearing these two. When they come together to sing, the vocals sound wonderful and suit the other’s perfectly. For its perfect romantic instrumental and the vocals that tell a story, this song is another great one from the album and shows the power of Ai.

ペッパー警部 (Album Version) is the fourth track. A nice and relaxing lounge instrumental begins the song and soon the upbeat and sleek music comes in, prompting the listener to want more. The girls then split into pairs to bring the chorus to the listener’s ears, strongly standing out. On the verses, they continue the pairs and although some are stronger than others, the vocals remain interesting. Reina has the solo line in the hook and she sounds great so it was a strong choice to give her that part. One standout part of the song is the pure instrumental section, which provides the opportunity for a nice dance break. Closing the song is Sayumi who sings with a certain cuteness that makes it all the better. There is a slight change from the single version of this song. On the album version, there is an added instrumental section at the end with the same lounge sound that opened the song. It’s not really necessary but it was nice.

The girls take it down a notch with 白い蝶のサンバ. The song begins with a nice instrumental that sounds a mm2bit old and soon the beat really comes. Then the first verse begins and the words are sung with a certain rapidity that actually works with the song and gives it a bit more flavor. On the chorus, the music becomes more diverse and the vocals are stronger, which make it stand out. However it’s really the verses that make this song catchy. The pure instrumental section is heavenly as that element of sweetness comes full force and sparkles in the listener’s eyes. 白い蝶のサンバ makes another great song on the album and continues the string of interesting numbers.

The next song is 青春時代, which continues the slower sound. If there is one thing to say about this song, it’s that the moments of pure instrumentation are very catchy. Vocally, this song could have been stronger since at times it feels like the music is taking over the girls’ voices. Nonetheless, the verses manage to be sleek and enjoyable while the chorus is a little dry. It would have been nice to see that sleekness continue but this is by no means a bad song.

林檎殺人事件 is the fun relaxing song that also has a beach vibe. This song is sung by Takahashi Ai and Niigaki Reina. The song begins with a very sweet and comforting instrumental that feels like the sun is caressing the listener’s face. Next is the first verse and both girls’ vocals sound great here, really pushing that atmosphere strongly and managing to entice the listener. The beginning of the chorus can be a bit annoying with the repeated word sung in a overly cute voice but the rest of it is enjoyable and makes the listener feel at paradise. The pure instrumetnal section at the end actually is really nice and brings the song to a strong finish. Ai and Reina really bring the fire here to make one heck of a memorable song.

ロマンス (Album Version) is the following song on the album. Not much has changed from it’s release as the B-side of the last single. It doesn’t stand out any stronger than before. It’s by no means a bad song but it’s just not that interesting or ear-catching.

mm3The album’s first real ballad is 街の灯り, which features the girls beautifully singing over a wintery instrumental. Everyone sounds great and definitely portray the emotions of the song well. The verses of the song are what make it stand out as the music stays nice and simple, complimenting the fragility in the girls’ voices. Overall the chorus is memorable, particularly because of the music but the girls manage to keep up. This is a great song and the perfect way to show that these girls can handle slow numbers as well as the upbeat fun ones.

恋のダイヤル 6700 is actually a really annoying song. Well the whole song isn’t really annoying but the chorus really does grind the listener’s ears. The constant “rings” get so old so quickly. On the other hand, the verses aren’t that bad but just having the chorus come over and over again just ruins the song. There is a very exciting and happy atmosphere of this song, which has a sort of traditional H!P sound and it just doesn’t work here.

ピンポンパン体操 is even less memorable than the last song. Keeping with that cuteness atmosphere, the girls really fall into that H!P sound. After having so many cool and sleek tracks, the album comes to the low point. This song is just not memorable at all and it would have been better if it was just left off all together. Ironically, this song is sung by everyone but Ai and Risa. Perhaps they bring that quality to the group that just makes the songs unforgettable.

It’s nice to come back to a good song with 私の青い鳥. With a very soft and relaxing sound, the girls make mm4themselves sound perfectly at home. It’s also a good example of how to be cute without going overboard as there are some cute elements hidden here and there, which sound great.

ジョニィへの伝言 is an absolutely pointless song that really shouldn’t have made the cut. There is just something so boring about this song and it definitely does not work well with the rest of the album. They tried but it just didn’t come through.

We finally finish with UFO, a perfect addictive number worth the listen. Opening the song is very catchy instrumental that has kind of a spacey theme. After Ai says “UFO,” the addictive instrumental comes back in stronger than ever. On the verses, the girls sound smooth and sleek while the music remains a force to be reckoned with. The chorus stands out as the girls give an even stronger vocal performance and the music comes in even stronger. Even though it’s another short number, it’s definitely one of the album’s best offerings that cannot be missed.

Album Ranking: A –

The album opens and closes with the best tracks (渚のシンドバッド and UFO) while other tracks (どうにもとまらない, 居酒屋 and ペッパー警部) show just how powerful these girls really are. The upbeat catchy numbers are definitely the most memorale and make this album worth the purchase. Although there are a few duds, it’s a pretty solid album with very strong flow.

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Suzuki Ami – Supreme Show [7th Studio Album]

November 24, 2008 at 8:25 pm (Suzuki Ami) (, )

Suzuki Ami’s 7th studio album, entitled Supreme Show, was released on 11.12.08. In order to celebrate her 10th anniversary and her recent work with Nakata Yasutaka, Supreme Show was produced entirely by him. It also comes as her 2nd album of the year (as DOLCE was released in January). Both singles: ONE and can’t stop the DISCO (as well as their respective B-sides) as well as a new mix of previous song SUPER MUSIC MAKER were included on this album. The first track, TEN, was used in a Honda Cars CM.

TEN opens up the album on a strong note. The song is quite simple lyrically speaking but that simplicity in conjuction with the addictive instrumentation makes for a catchy opening number. Opening the song is a fun and cool electropop instrumental that takes the listener into a whole other world and soon the striking part of the music comes in, the piano. Having the piano run through really sets this song apart from various other Nakata songs and it makes this song a standout number on Supreme Show. Getting back to the lyrics, during the verses, it is generally a list of things that Ami can relate to such as “daydream,” “setback” and “lonely.” The chorus stands out as her vocals stand out and show that Ami edge as she sings “dream a happy dream, which way shall we take?” and the final line is so perfectly apt for this song as she chants “transcend the TEN.” TEN really introduces the listener to the genius production of Nakata and the unmistakable flavor of Ami. Although the vocals are heavily distorted, it works very nicely with the music to make TEN an electropop paradise.

supremeshow1The second song on the album, can’t stop the DISCO, is a maginificent sleek electropop wonderland. The song was perfect when it was released as a single and it sounds wonderful on Supreme Show. The song takes off with a mysterious and cool instrumental that takes the listener on a ride and straight into the first verse. The verses are the strongest part of the song as they give off that cool vibe that only Ami can bring. English phrases such as “feel my heart” and particularly “love tactics,” give the verses that special edge. Transitioning smoothly into the hook, the vocals become a little more strong as she holds her notes with flawless ease. The hook really does a good job of connecting the cool verses to the lighter chorus. Ami brings a fun atmosphere for the chorus as she sings primarily in English with phrases like “time trip, time slip” and “No! None of your tricks!” making the listener stand up and notice. The song finishes with more of that dreamy instrumentation that just sounds so great and makes a perfect transition into the next song. can’t stop the DISCO is a perfect Nakata and Ami match and it stands out strongly on the album.

Much like the transition on the single, cimb up to the top follows can’t stop the DISCO perfectly. This song is one of the funnest songs on the album as she sings in all English and it almost sounds like shouting but it works well in the context of the song. Opening the song is a cool instrumental with the sounds of a woman moaning here and there, fueling that sexual atmosphere that makes the song have a little more edge. The English phrases are a little nonsensical at times like “whoop it up, blow one’s top” “what is you up to? out of control!” but they only enhance the song’s fun atmosphere. Similar to some of Nakata produced B-sides (i.e. feel the beat or edge by Perfume), the emphasis is really on the music here since the actual singing is only of the chorus. Luckily the music is so addictive that the times just flies by. There are certain points when the music becomes dark and aggressive and others when the music is light and fun, which makes for a very strong song as the transition between them is flawless. climb up to the top is a great song, one definitely worth checking out.

Up next is SUPER MUSIC MAKER (SA’08S/A mix), which was also released on the previous single. climb up to supremeshow2the top perfectly flows into this song just like on the single. Since its release on the can’t stop the DISCO single, it hasn’t lost of any of its magic. That opening instrumental really grabs the listener in and prepares them for the amazingness to come. Soon Ami comes in cutely saying “yeah! hey you, yeah!” and then the first verse follows. Her vocals here really match the laid-back element of the music and keep the listener intrigued for what is to follow. The chorus is easily the most addictive part of the song as the music becomes more diverse and the “hey you!” line really pops and catches the listener’s ear. This new version of SUPER MUSIC MAKER definitely finds its home on Supreme Show and is another product of the perfect team of Ami and Nakata.

Mysterious is home to a dark and almost creepy atmosphere that makes it one of the best songs on the album. That spooky instrumental begins the song and there is almost a video-game like element to it that really makes it extremely enticing. Ami comes in on the first verse with sleek vocals that support the music strongly, showing off that cool flare. Following each couplet is a couple English lines such as “dance dance dance dance follow me, back step next step give me a beat.” It appears many times throughout the song but it’s so catchy that the listener won’t mind. One line separates the verses and the chorus, beginning with “grab a chance” and it is at this moment that the instrumentation rises high to build up for what is next. The chorus is fantastic, primarily for the drawn-out “mysterious” that Ami sings, separated by that repeated “dance” line. Following the chorus is a small pure instrumental section that takes a listener on a ride through this mysterious world, perfectly representing the song’s meaning. Without a doubt, Mysterious is a knockout on Supreme Show and one of the best Ami and Nakata creations for its infectious instrumentation and cool sexy edge.

supremeshow3Picking up the energy and the mood is the next song, change my life. The instrumentation takes off and instantly the listener feels that lightness. On the verses, Ami gives a very good vocal performance as the distortion on her vocals perfectly fits with the music. The chorus actually is very memorable, primarily for the interesting twinkling world of the instrumentation. Ami’s vocals are pretty good here too, though they could have been a little stronger. English phrases such as “change my heart” and “up to date” do a nice job of popping and catching the listener’s ear. The pure instrumental section is great and has a certain warm feeling about it that just works within the context of this song. It’s a good song and although it may not be one of the most interesting offerings on the album, it’s worth a listen.

It wasn’t the smartest idea to place the next track, LOVE MAIL, right after change my life since they are a little too similar in sound to be next to each other. Similar instrumentation opens this song up but there is something unmistakably different about it, which is hard to describe. On the verses, Ami gives some good vocals again, nicely supported by the instrumentation. Generally it’s the music that makes this song a good listen and there are certain sections of the song (such as right before the chorus), which sparkle in the listener’s ear. The chorus is nice but having Ami constantly reach higher to sing becomes a little much for the song and doesn’t sound as strong as she did on the previous song. One interesting point about this song though is that on the first verse, she sings with a certain rapidity that sounds so fresh and gives the song a nice little edge.

Although A token of love didn’t strike me when it was released as a single on the ONE single, it has shined more considerably since then. The opening instrumentation catches the listener as it’s almost like they are entering another world as it shifts from being light to agressive to a cool. After some vocalizations from Ami, the first verse and there’s somewhat of a cute feeling to it as Ami sings along to the sleek instrumental. The chorus is what makes this song stand out with all English lyrics, she sings phrases such as “make a happy” and “you and me.” When she sings the title of the song, the music also has a momentary change that makes for one perfect split second that is still noticeable to the listener. Closing the song is a fantastic instrumental that takes on more aggressive qualities. A Token of love finds a nice niche on this album and actually sounds better here in the context of the album than its release as a B-side.

TRUE is definitely an album gem as Nakata takes a more relaxing approach with the synth leading Ami supremeshow4through the song. Ami effortlessly follows, showing off her vocal prowess and coolness. The opening instrumentation immediately makes the listener want to follow as it opens the doors to a new world. On the verses, Ami manages to slickly hold her notes and staying in the lower tone allows her to keep that cool edge that she is so good at keeping. The chorus stands out as Ami gives a little more vocally and the music doesn’t have to do anything but remain strong (which it manages to do no problem). This song is truly one to remember and it is a wonderful addition to Supreme Show.

Our last track is flower, an electropop ballad of sorts, which Ami brings to magical life. There is such an immediate draw to this song once the instrumentation begins the song so that the listener cannot escape. She holds her notes wonderfully and there is a layer of aggressive instrumentation that runs through the lighter and more fragile level, perfect for forming unforgettable music. On the chorus, Ami reaches higher but here it works so perfectly with the beauty of the music that the listener could just sleep into a dream while listening. She sings “come into flower,” enticing the listener to hear even more. flower is fantastic and it’s the perfect way to slow things down while still keeping the listener addicted.

Ironically ONE is the album’s last track. It was such a strong song when released as a single and it still maintains that perfect edge. The song begins with Ami singing the hook, probably the most addictive part of the entire song. She sings “number one” over an absolutely fantastic instrumental that catches the listener’s attention. The last line of the hook is the most memorable line of the entire song as she holds the last note with strength. On the verses, there is a very relaxing feeling as Ami’s vocals remain in the lower pitch and they really work with the certain dark spacey atmosphere about the instrumentation. If you listen closely, you can hear her saying “smile and music and this world” at certain moments of pure instrumentation and it’s a very nice touch that adds flavor to the song. Closing the song is addictive music, that makes for the perfect finish for this album. ONE is one of Ami’s best songs to date and certainly an album jewel.

Album Ranking: A

Supreme Show definitely shows the true power of the Ami and Nakata team. All the songs from the singles (ONE, A token of love, can’t stop the DISCO and climb up to the top) sound fantastic here, maintaning their strength from single release. As for the new tracks, Mysterious reigns top jewel with TEN, TRUE and flower closing following. The album provides many different sounds, all of which show Ami’s versatility and appeal, making Supreme Show an album to remember.

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Hangry & Angry – Kill Me Kiss Me [Debut Mini Album]

November 23, 2008 at 5:59 pm (Hangry & Angry) (, )

hangry

Newly formed H!P unit, Hangry & Angry, consists of 4th generation Morning Musume members Ishikawa Rika and Yoshizawa Hitomi. Their debut mini album, entitled Kill Me Kiss Me, was released on 11.19.08.

The first song is the title track Kill Me Kiss Me. An aggressive rock-filled instrumental supports the girls as they bring the chorus, fueled with emotion and angst. Surprisingly, their voices take on this angry sound very well and the whole atmosphere of the song really comes to life. Although the title of the song is sung slightly strangely, the listener pays attention to these girls as they bring the emotions to the forefront. On the verses, there is a very mysterious feeling as the instrumentation has a spacey effect and the girls’ vocals take on a more delicate feeling that signals loss. Kill Me Kiss Me serves as a good title track, introducing the rock sound to match the girls’ image.

Continuing that rock sound is the second song, Angelia. With this opening instrumental, the listener is another world and soon the rock sounds come crashing in to make it sound like a song supporting a video game. Soon the girls come in for the first verse and yet again, the vocals go perfectly with the music to catch the listener’s attention. On the chorus, the rock instruments come back to play and the girls’ vocals are lighter here, which actually works in their favor as it sounds like they are crying out for Angelia. The emotions are portrayed fantastically and the girls really bring the cold and desolate atmosphere to life. It’s much stronger than the previous track and should have been the promoted song.

GIZA GIZA is the next song and there’s something very Ayu-esque about the instrumental which makes it enjoyable. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Ayu’s song kiss ‘o kill (from her Secret album) but unfortunately these girls don’t have Ayu’s chops to pull it off as nicely. The chorus is definitely sung too quickly and kind of trips the listener up while listening. They manage to do a nice job on the verses but unfortunately it couldn’t save this song.

ロマンティックにバイオレンス is up next and it’s nothing particularly captivating. The one thing about the song that stands out is that it has a softer tone on the verses as the sounds of the piano provide a new outlook for the girls. It would have been interesting to keep this up and see where they could take it but then the chorus comes crashing in with rock blasts that just sound like they’ve already been done. It’s a nice attempt at a different sound but the execution wasn’t fully there.

The album closes with WALL FLOWER. Well it’s not a great song but it’s quieter in comparison to the other songs, which is a nice break from the loud and aggressive songs beforehand. Unfortunately it’s a little on the boring side and the listener never really finds that exciting moment. It definitely was not the way to close the album.

Album Ranking: B –

Angelia is the real gem on this album but that’s really the one. Kill Me Kiss Me is a nice song while the other three just fall flat on the listener’s ears. It’s understandable that these girls are going for the rock sound but they could have taken different rock sounds to make this album more diverse and enjoyable.

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BIG BANG – Number 1 [Debut Full Length Japanese Album]

October 24, 2008 at 10:47 pm (BIG BANG) (, )

BIG BANG’s 1st full length Japanese album, entitled Number 1, was released on 10.22.08. How Gee, Baby Baby and Always, songs from their previous mini albums, are included on this album along with new songs for the group’s first full album.

The album opens with Intro, an upbeat hip-hop blasting number. The song starts off very abruptly with a little rap to introduce the song but it’s the first actual rap that comes across the smoothest as it entices the listener and leaves them wanting more. The lyrics are entirely in English and it definitely has that catchy feeling that just makes you want to dance.

Following the introduction is the title track, Number 1, another song sung completely in English. The song begins with an absolutely hot and sleek instrumental with some electronic influences and immediately the listener is taken on a ride. The first rap sequence is delivered by T.O.P. and G-Dragon and it’s really G-Dragon’s voice that stands out as there’s a certain energy and spark to it that just is so grabbing. Soon the singing starts with Seung Ri on the hook, showcasing some smooth and sexy vocals that slide over the music. It continues on into the chorus as the vocals continue to prevail and keep the listener interested. T.O.P. and G-Dragon go together again on the second verse and yet again, G-Dragon manages to shine the most. Number 1 is a fantastically catchy song that the boys really deliver on, particularly G-Dragon. 

Things then slow down for the third song, Make Love. The opening instrumental really gives a smooth and comforting atmosphere and once the first verse begins, the beat becomes more clear. One of the song’s strongest points is that the vocalizing perfectly suits the song by putting the emotions to the forefront. Although the singing is wonderful, the rapping sections aren’t particularly captivating. G-Dragon does do a good job of at least suiting to the music a little better but the rapping is still not a very good fit for the song. Make Love is a very nice way for the boys to show they can bring the tempo down and still shine.

We come back for more sexy upbeat music for Come Be My Lady. Once again, the moment the instrumentation begins, the listener is captivated. The rapping during the first verse is wonderful as they are able to deliver the lyrics with rapidity and sleekness, perfectly matching the music. All the vocalists on the chorus do a really good job of keeping some good vocals without getting lost in the music. The one misstep with the song is that it’s so short, clocking in at under three minutes but for the time that the song lasts, the boys do a very good job of keeping the listener interested.

Next is Haru Haru, another slow number. The piano serves as the central instrument and it also provides the song with an emotional connection. With the first couple vocalizations, it sounds really awkward because they almost sound like their gasping for air. However once the first verse comes in, the beat becomes painfully clear and it helps the rappers sound more comfortable on the track. T.O.P. sounds really strange on the song because his voice sounds so rough in comparison with the music. Luckily, the song excels on the chorus when the vocalizations show that the boys feel the emotions of the song so well. Overall it’s an enjoyable song that the listener can pick up particularly during the singing parts.

Once again, we are treated to another upbeat number with With U. This time, the opening vocalizations sounds great and portray a certain sexiness that almost sounds like inviting moaning. Then the first verse begins and Tae Yang steps up to really entice the listener with a sleek rap section that is in perfect harmony with the music. The hook sounds great as the sining takes center stage to mesh with the music so nicely. It’s the chorus that really stands out as the boys sing “I wanna rock with you, dance you with…run around in the rain with you” and the vocals here go together so well that the listener cannot help but fall in love with them. Dae Sung continues to bring that sexual energy that fuels this song and his vocals are fantastic. The pure instrumental section is heavenly as the listener really gets the chance to fall into the hot music. Of course G-Dragon does a great job on his rap section and lets the listener fall in love all over again. With U is a perfect song, one of the album’s best offerings and a definite memorable song from BIG BANG.

How Gee is a song that shows a different side of BIG BANG as there are some uptempo jazzy influences that drive the instrumentation. The first rap sequence is a very nice fit for the music as it sounds so different from but still having that cool swagger that makes it pop. The chorus does come across as a little repetitive as they repeat “raise the roof” but the vocalizations in the background propel the song very nicely. With the various rap sections of the song, it definitely stands out and the music is a nice experiment for the boys to take on.

Keeping the energy up is the next song, Baby Baby. Much like songs such as With U and Number 1, the opening instrumentation with a hot beat immediately takes the listener. The chorus stands out as the music remains creative and the vocals stay with the music strongly, particularly on the “girl” note when they reach a little higher. Interestingly enough, the song doesn’t take off with a rap section but some singing delivered with rapidity to stand out. G-Dragon then comes in with a rap section that sounds fantastic as usual. Baby Baby is another catchy number that allows the boys to do what they do best, bring the edge on upbeat songs.

So Beautiful keeps the sleek energy for the listener to enjoy. The repeated “and you don’t stop,” which continuously grows in distortion introduces the song nicely before some pure instrumentation brings the listener into the world of the song. On the chorus, the music remains interesting but the vocals are a little bit dry so it comes across just a little bland. This continues on the first verse when the vocals have a certain coolness about them but they don’t possess that sleek energy that the boys can bring and make the music pop even more. Luckily G-Dragon comes to the rescue nearing the end of the song as his rap section brings everything to the top. So Beautiful really stands out for the interesting music although the vocals should have carried more edge to match the music.

Remember is a slow jam and while the vocals are nice, the music leaves a little to be desired. There really isn’t much to be said but G-Dragon is stellar as always and grabs the listener for at least a few moments. Although it’s a nice song, it’s nothing to brag about.

The next song, Heaven, is even more forgettable than Remember. Unfortunately, the music is lacking that spark and the vocals are still lacking that edge that the boys are usually so good at bringing. It just comes across as another boring slow jam.

Finally we come to another interesting track with Everything. The opening instrumental possesses such a mysterious atmosphere that the listener is lulled into the cool atmosphere. When the boys come in to sing on the vocals, a sexual air comes through as their voices sound smooth and sexy. The chorus lacks a little bit of that energy but it’s still enjoyable as there is almost a certain cuteness about it through the lyrics. As always, G-Dragon does his thing and makes the song even more enjoyable. Everything is a very nice way of picking the album up and entertaining the listener.

Always is an interesting song because the music has its very cool moments and its quite bland moments but the boys’ vocals consistently remain strong. It’s a nice song but the music just swings too much between being strong and weak to really keep the listener fulfilled all the way through.

Bringing the album to a close is Candle – Together Forever (Japanese Version). It definitely wasn’t the way to close the album because it’s quite the forgettable ballad. The vocals are nice but the music isn’t enticing or emotional enough to capture the listener.

Album Ranking: A –

Number 1 is a great album, particularly notable for the upbeat numbers like With U, Number 1 and Baby Baby. The boys are able to bring that cool edge, sexual energy or the emotional presence depending on the song and this album proves it. If there’s one star of this album it’s G-Dragon as his voice just does such a great job of suiting all the songs. As the boys’ first full length album, BIG BANG did a wonderful job and it’s definitely worth checking out.

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Berryz Koubou – 5 (FIVE) [5th Studio Album]

September 13, 2008 at 5:02 pm (Berryz Koubou) (, )

Berryz Koubou’s 5th studio album, entitled 5 (FIVE), was released on 09.10.08. Three singles were released prior to the album: 付き合ってるのに片思い, ジンギスカン and 行け 行け モンキーダンス.

Opening the album is the sleek dance song, HAPPY! stand up. The song starts off with a cool and edgy instrumentation that immediately catches the listener’s attention and then the chorus comes in and the girls’ voices go perfectly with the music. During the first verse, the vocals continue to support the music but they are a little smoother, which helps them stand out to the listener. Each moment of pure instrumentation is heaven but the actual section is where the music really shines as the guitar takes the lead, making for a perfect re-introduction of the chorus. The shout at the end was a bit strange but it definitely captures the whole energy of the song. The girls did a great job on this opening track and it really leaves the listener wanting to hear the rest of the album.

Up next is この指とまれ, sung by the trio of Momoko, Chinami and Massa. Opening the song is another upbeat pop instrumentation with slight disco influences that sound great. The first verse then comes in and the vocals are very smooth here, going with the music in order to establish a light and fun atmosphere. The chorus is a little lacking but the preceding hook is nice. The problem that arises is that the girls’ voices don’t stand out enough and the listener’s attention is taken to the instrumentation. However when they reach a little higher, they sound great and stand out against the music. The pure instrumentation does provide the song with a little needed edge before the chorus comes back in. Overall it’s not a bad song but it could have been stronger.

After the previous three girls had their trio song, it’s time for the other four with バカにしないで. The song begins with a very interesting and ear-catching instrumental that slowly introduces new musical elements and soon the chorus comes in strongly with these girls providing strong vocals to match the edginess of the music. The first verse comes next and the vocals here are still strong, supporting the overall atmosphere of the song strongly. Also, the note that is held right before the chorus is really good and shows the power of these girls’ voices. Between the battle of these two shuffle songs, Shimizu, Miyab, Kumai and Risako are the winners for this cool and addictive track.

行け 行け モンキーダンス is the first single to appear on the album and it hasn’t lost any flavor from its single release. A cool and fun instrumental fueled by traditional Japanese instruments starts the song off on a good note and makes way for a very fun first verse. Easily, the best part of the song is the chorus. The girls’ voices sound great and actually carry a bit of power behind them and it’s great how the first “monkey dance” is sung lower and the second sung higher (this is the really addictive one). As the girls repeat “monkey” in order to end each phrase of the verses and singing “everybody” for the second part of the verses, the listener falls in love. The pure instrumental section is great as it begins with a carnival-like sound before spotlighting a hot guitar-driven instrumentation that spotlights the song’s catchiness. This song is excellent, one of the girls’ best and its placement on the album was genius.

Ah Merry-go-round returns the listener to the shuffling as a duo between Shimizu and Momoko. Opening the song is some talking over a nice and smooth instrumental. Soon the music begins to pick up just a little bit by introducing more instruments and then the first verse begins. The vocals go very nicely with the music and solidify an atmosphere for the listener to pick up on. The chorus stands out as the instrumentation becomes more dramatic and the girls’ voices step out a little more to catch the listener’s mind. As the album’s first slow songs, these two girls do a nice job of keeping with the pretty instrumentation by providing supporting vocals that help capture the song’s atmosphere.

We have another trio song as the next song, CLAP! with Chinami, Miyabi and Kumai. An acoustic guitar starts the song off for a nice slow pop sound. The verse is nice as the vocals sound good but the instrumentation is very interesting. Following the chorus , which actually turns up to be pretty forgettable but at least the hook is catchy. Honestly, this song isn’t very good and just isn’t able to catch the listener’s attention as it should.

The first and only solo song is REAL LOVE, sung by Risako. The song begins with a cool and sleek dance beat that surprises and entices the listener’s ear. Soon the first verse starts and Risako’s voice is pretty nice here. Although there are a few notes that sound a little strange, she manages to sound pretty good and support the coolness of the instrumentation. The chorus has a little more punch to it that captures more edginess and the ending note is fantastic. The little speaking part really wasn’t needed but it does do a good job of re-introducing the chorus. Closing the song is a fantastic note sung by Risako that leaves the listener wanting more although unfortunately the song is over. Overall, Risako surprised me and this song is one of the best ones the album has to offer.

夢を一粒 ~Berryz 仮面 Ending テーマ~~ is a short song sung by the trio of Massa, Chinami and Saki. There is a sort of twinkling prettiness that takes on the sound of a tango. The girls sound great on the verses as the vocals are smooth and carry that tango sound perfectly. Strangely enough, the chorus takes on a different route by bringing a sweet pop sound and the girls give a little more power in their vocals. Nonetheless, the two parts fit strongly together to keep the listener interested. Overall this is a fantastic song and although it is short, it’s definitely oneto watch out for.

ジンギスカン is the other single release that appears on the album. Opening the song is a fun pop instrumentation that immediately catches the listener’s attention. On the verses, there is more of a cuteness to the girls’ voices that actually works here. The chorus is easily the best part of the song because the vocals are stronger and the title of the song is sung very strongly. The laughing is a bit weird but it does fit with the energy of the song nicely. It’s just a fun song that the listener can enjoy from start to finish.

Well it’s another group song that was released as a single, 付き合ってるのに片思い. The song begins with a cool pop sound that sounds great. There is such a catchiness that comes through the first verse that the listener can’t help but fall in love with these girls. On the chorus, the cuteness factor shines but it doesn’t sound cheesy at all and the music still retains its cool edge. The pure instrumental section has a feeling of fun freeness that is really addictive. This song is inasnely catchy and definitely worth checking out.

BE is the last new song on the album and the album’s biggest ballad. Unfortunately the song isn’t that great as the music just stays pretty boring. Also, Tsunku appears at random intervals and provide backing vocals, which is really surprising and un-necessary. The girls’ vocals on the other hand are nice but the music just doesn’t capture the listener so it doesn’t sound as great.

スッペシャル ジェネレ~ション (エキセントリック Remix) closes the album on a good note as the music is edgy and interesting and the girls’ vocals really support the music. Although it’s a remix of an earlier song, it’s definitely a good way to finish the album and have the listener take off on a strong note.

Album Ranking: A –

Berryz Koubou definitely have some strong tracks on this album that allure the listener. All three singles are some of the album’s best offerings as well as the energetic opening Happy! stand up and the solo dance song, REAL LOVE, by Risako. As for the shuffling of members in duos and trios and such, 夢を一粒 ~Berryz 仮面 Ending テーマ~~ is the best one that is offered. It’s a great package and one worth going through excluding some of the weak forgettable songs (such as CLAP! and BE).

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Aira Mitsuki – COPY [Debut Studio Album]

September 6, 2008 at 11:54 pm (Aira Mitsuki) (, )

Aira Mitsuki’s debut album, entitled COPY, was released on 09.03.08. Three singles were released before the album: カラフル・トーキョーサウンズ NO. 9, チャイナ・ディスコティカ and Darling Wondering Staring / STAR FRUITS SURF RIDER

GALAXY BOY serves as the album’s opening track. The song starts off with a really cool space-like electropop instrumental with Aira singing along to make the listener really take notice. After some pure instrumentation, the first verse and there is a hollowness about the music so that the focus is on her voice. The transition from the verse into the chorus is a little hard to follow at first but once the chorus becomes clear, it is very catchy. The strongest element of this song is the spacey instrumentation that makes for a perfect introductory track of this album.

Up next is チャイナ・ディスコティカ, which was released as a single before the album. The song takes off immediately with the chorus; Aira sings “plastic fantastic” which is immediately ear-catching over a light instrumentation. Soon there is an aggressive element that comes through the electropop music, allowing for a smooth transition into the first verse. Her voice sounds great here, perfectly matching the sleekness of the music. During the pure instrumental section, there is a real interesting sound as it begins a little spacey and the distorted sounds provide the listener with a cool change of pace. The following chorus is heavily distorted, which actually works in the song’s favor in that it is very catchy.

Another song released as a single, カラフル・トーキョーサウンズ NO. 9, is the album’s third number. Opening the song is the chorus with a fantatic electropop that washes over the listener while being soothed by Aira’s voice. On the verses, there is more of a relaxed feeling as opposed to the chorus, which features some more powerful vocals that break the music and catch the listener. Overall it’s a nice song and it’s actually the verses which capture the listener rather than the chorus.

Darling Wondering Staring, another single song, is next. The song begins with a very sweet spacey instrumental that is a nice change of pace from the previous songs. She sings in English alongside an instrumental that is not very capturing at all. The chorus doesn’t pick things up so unfortunately the listener just continues through the song without having a particularly catchy part. It’s not a very good song and would have been better being left off the album.

Following a streak of singles is a new song, HEART LINE ALIVE. A nice instrumentation opens the song but once again, the listener doesn’t become enamored with the electropop sound. The song is just a little too slow and thus, the listener loses interest rather quickly. There isn’t any savory pure instrumentation sequence and it certainly doesn’t help that the song clocks in at over five minutes.

There is absolutely no need for チャイナ・ディスコティカ (Substance Remix) to be on this album as it was actually released on the second single. There definitely should have been a new track here instead of a remix. There is no reason for this song to be here.

The next song, ファンタジー・キャンディー, manages to pick up the listener’s interest level a bit. The song begins with the chorus as she sings the lyrics with a rapidity over a nice electropop instrumental. Just for having a poppier and upbeat sound, Aira manages to sound more comfortable and the listener can successfully follow. Per usual, the moments of pure instrumentation are heaven in that they hold a slightly different sound than the ones that run through the verses and chorus, allowing for a change of pace. It’s a nice song that is worth checking out.

ハイバッシュ (YOKENOHARA ver.) is the album’s eighth song. Sadly, this song is another song that drags on without really catching the listener’s ear. The vocals move with the music nicely but because the music isn’t very intereting, it doesn’t do the song any good.

Swallowtail D.A.N.C.E. (Cherryboy function ver.) finally takes a turn in the right direction. The electropop instrumental features both light and aggressive moments so that the listener never falls out of love with the music. It takes quite a while for Aira to actually come in and sing and when she does, there is a robotic element to her distorted voice that matches the music perfectly. Overall, this is one of the album’s better songs and definitely one that shines through the streak of uninteresting numbers.

Aira teams up with Terukado on Beep Count Fantastic. The song begins with an aggressive electronic instrumental that sounds fantastic. The opening instrumentation is quite long but it offers a nice chance for the music to really grow and make a smooth transition into the first verse. Her vocals are very soft, almost silenced by the heaviness of the music but they come through sweetly, catching the listener’s ear. Interestingly enough, the music actually stops and comes back just as aggressive as ever. Generally, the focus of this song is the instrumentation but because it is so strong, it emerges as one of the album’s best numbers.

The album’s semifinale is イエロー・スーパーカー. This song features more of a poppy sound to it that nicely matches the electropop madness. It’s actually a pretty nice track so having it come at the end was a nice move in that the listener’s attention is prepped for the finale.

Happiness land is the closing number of COPY. Of course they saved a great number for the finale. There is a real prettiness about this electropop number that catches the listener’s ear. Her vocals perfectly match the song’s atmosphere. It’s such a great song, one of the album’s best songs perfect for closing the album.

Album Ranking: B

COPY certainly has its ups and downs. With songs like Swallowtail D.A.N.C.E. (Cherryboy function ver.), Beep Count Fantastic and チャイナ・ディスコティカ, the listener could just fall in love with this album. However there is a slew of uninteresting songs that bring the overall quality of this album down. Had the focus been more centered on the aforementioned songs then it would have been a really strong album from start to finish.

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Leah Dizon – Communication!!! [2nd Studio Album]

August 26, 2008 at 5:02 pm (Leah Dizon) (, )

Leah Dizon’s 2nd studio album, entitled Communication!!!, was released on 08.20.08. Only two singles were released prior to the album: Love Paradox and Vanilla (including their respective B-sides). Leah explores new sounds such as rock on Lost At Sea and BxKxRxxx and reggae on LOVE SWEET CANDY, giving this album a little more versatility than her last and allows her to try out new things.

The album’s opener is the cute and fun song, Step into my world. There is a twinkling sound reminiscent of a cradle toy that begins the song before the chorus comes in. Leah’s vocals are very cute here as she sings “step into my world baby” and “step into my world tonight” over a fun upbeat instrumental. On the verses, there is a more calming feeling as Leah gives some very nice vocals. The hook features a lot of English that really shows the happy and sweet atmosphere of the song, particularly when she sings “I’ll spend everyday the rest of my life to bring you the happiness you’ve brought to me.” Repeating English phrases from the chorus then bring the song to a close. Step into my world is so light-hearted and cute that it serves as a great album opener.

Love Paradox, a hot dance track, comes in as the second song. Opening the song is a strong dance beat with an American flavor, really catching the listener’s ear. Then the first verse begins and Leah sounds very strong as her voice perfectly compliments the music. English phrases such as “oh no, thank you” and “no time for love” pop nicely and communicate the song’s meaning really well. Every other line during the chorus is sung and it’s a strong way to make it stand out in the listener’s mind. She continues to deliver good vocals and phrases like “why can’t I let it go” and “am I falling in love” connect the chorus strongly. The third verse is particularly impressive with the English lines such as “sometimes love just ain’t enough” pushed to the back and Leah bringing the best vocals of the song. Finishing off the song is the chorus, which then fades for a perfect finish. Love Paradox was a fantastic single and it’s still amazing in the context of the album.

Leah then explores the sounds of reggae on the next track, LOVE SWEET CANDY. A twinkling reggae instrumental begins the song, which introduces a very light and fun atmosphere. On the first verse, Leah’s vocals are soft but carry a sweetness that is unmistakeable to the listener as she follows the direction of the music perfectly. For the hook, the English line “my love’s like candy” repeats and Leah gives a little more vocal power, which allows for a perfect introduction to the chorus. The chorus is insanely catchy as she sings in a higher pitch and the English words “kiss” and “wink” pop cutely. Longer English phrases “the sweetest ice cream” and “the taste of a dream” stand out to the listener sweetly as well. There is a small pure instrumental sequence that leads the listener from its start to end and then the chorus is re-introduced with Leah singing in a higher octave than before. Closing the song is more pure instrumentation to make LOVE SWEET CANDY a fantastic song and a great way for Leah to explore new sounds.

Things slow down for the fourth song, Without a good-bye. The opening instrumentation really presents an emotional atmosphere that stands out to the listener, allowing for a good transition into the first verse. Leah’s vocals carry emotion here and she is able to hold them out strongly. There are slight rock tints that come out on the chorus and although Leah expresses the emotions powerfully, her voice seems somewhat different. Perhaps she is singing in a different octave in order to communicate the song’s true atmosphere. However she does close the chorus strongly as she sings “without a good-bye.” This song is nice in that it shows Leah’s ability to bring the emotions to the table although it is the weakest song on the album.

The sweet pop song, Vanilla, is the fifth track on the album. The song begins with a funky pop instrumental that leaves the listener wanting more and then she comes in with the hook as she sings “just groovin,’ have a celebration, step with me, yeah yeah yeah.” Then the first verse starts and Leah sings with somewhat deep vocals that actually stand out nicely and the English phrase “I don’t need no silly promises” pops strongly. Soon, Leah begins to sing a little higher and to follow suit the instrumentation takes on a lighter tone. The chorus is extremely cute and catchy and the English phrases help convey that “pure and simple love” as she sings “celebrate my love for you” and “I just wanna be with you.” For the verses, the second verse stands out even more than the first as there is a real cool sleekness about it that Leah definitely brings strongly. After the chorus comes back in, she says “step with me now” and the pure instrumental section appears. There is a real funkiness about it that leaves the listener wanting so much more. Closing the song is the hook, making a perfect and clean finish. Vanilla is another great song released before the album that hasn’t lost any of its magic on Communication!!!

Nothin’ to Lose, a song sung entirely in English, is a sleek dance song that emerges as one of the most addictive songs on the album. Opening the song is a hot dance instrumental and then the first verse begins. Leah sings with attitude and slickness, really catching the listener’s ear. The hook continues its strength and the final line “the stakes are high but he’s one of a kind” really introduces the chorus strongly. She sounds great here and the final two lines “cause when you got nothin,’ you got nothin’ to lose” is absolutely fantastic. There is an element of sexiness about this song that is wonderful, allowing Leah to sound very comfortable. After a small section of pure instrumentation, the chorus comes back in and continues to entice the listener. Much like Love Paradox, the song has an American quality to it that Leah brings out strongly, which makes this one of the absolute best songs on the album.

Leah explores rock sounds on Lost at Sea, a powerful and emotional song. A nice acoustic-guitar-driven instrumental begins the song and then there are some vocalizations that hold a naturalness that matches the song. Leah’s vocals during the first verse are somewhat deep and move with the music fantastically. She then comes in with the hook, sung in English that really catches the listener’s ear. There is more of a beat as the guitar becomes a little bit more powerful and the English communicates the song’s emotion strongly as she sings “I’m a fiend and you’re a drug” and “as long  as you exist I’ll never stop.” The rock sounds come out the most strongly on the chorus and Leah delivers some of the best vocals on the entire album here, filled with emotion and strength. The hook is what finishes off the song after some repeating English phrases. As her first foray into the sounds of rock, Leah passes with flying colors on Lost at Sea for so successfully bringing all the emotions of the song and displaying them through powerful vocals.

The title track, a cool dance song, is up next. The song takes off with a very interesting and sleek instrumental, moving into the first verse strongly. Leah sings with attitude to match the edginess of the music. English phrases such as “surrender your inhibitions” and “we’ve been using body language” are what make the hook pop nicely. She brings more sexiness on the chorus with lines such as “you wanna know what turns me on?” There is a nice pure instrumental section perfect for a dance break that really catches the listener’s ear as the music of this song is what really makes it so catchy. She whispers the title of the track to bring it to a close, making Communication!!! both a hot dance song and an fantastic title track.

With a sound that makes it somewhat of a slow-jam, Not Too Bad appears as the album’s ninth track. This song features quite a bit of English, roughly being equal to the Japanese. The chorus starts off and the English phrases such as “hair cut” and “baby you’re not too bad” really pop. Leah sounds very sleek on the verses, delivering a certain attitude to her vocals and the phrase “you’re looking so damn fine” that closes the verses really stands out to the listener. Once again, it’s the English that fuels the third verse and there is a slow coolness to it that is memorable.

She comes back to the sounds of rock for BxKxRxxx. There is a certain element of fun that comes through the introductory pop-rock instrumental. She then sings the first verse and her vocals sound very pretty here, moving over the music strongly. Then the rock sounds really come full-force on the chorus and Leah delivers more good vocals to match with the English phrase “out of sight, out of mind” really sticking out in the listener’s mind as well as her ability to deliver the lyrics with such rapidity. There is a section of vocalizations over a cool and sleek aggressive rock instrumental that sounds fantastic and then the chorus comes back in. The same vocalizations close the song perfectly. BxKxRxxx takes the more poppier side of rock and once again, Leah shines here, perfectly capturing the song’s attitude.

The album’s semifinale is the sweet ballad, Under The Same Sky. A very soothing and pretty instrumental that gives off the feeling of a hidden paradise begins the song and then Leah sweetly sings the first verse. Her vocals carry a vulnerability that allows the listener to really feel what she is singing. Instrumentally, the chorus is more diverse than the verses and Leah’s vocals continue to carry emotion, making this section really catch the listener’s ear. Certain notes are spotlighted and Leah holds the last note of the chorus with such prettiness that the listener follows a smooth finish each time. Finishing the song is more beautiful instrumentation, which is the absolute perfect way to close it. Under The Same Sky is a wonderful song that finds a spot on this album perfectly.

Leah closes the album on a strong note with the cute song, Thank You. She sings “oh happy days for you and me” over a sweet instrumental with a clear beat, really standing out to the listener. Then the full chorus comes in, which features a few other English lyrics that show Leah’s gratitude for the person she is singing to. On the verses, she sounds very pretty and the instrumentation matches by creating a very friendly atmosphere. More pretty instrumentation then brings the song to a close, then finishing off the album. Thank You is a very memorable track and it’s a great way to end Communication!!!

Album Ranking: A

Leah takes a different route on this album then she does on Destiny Line. Communication!!! takes Leah through the sounds of rock, hot dance sounds and sweet soft numbers. Both of her attempts with the sounds of rock are pulled off strongly as Lost at Sea and BxKxRxxx both sound fantastic. The two strongest songs on the album are Love Paradox and Nothin’ to Lose, bringing that hot American style that she sounds so perfectly comfortable with. She also brings strength to the cute songs: Step into my world, LOVE SWEET CANDY, Vanilla and Thank You. Although there are only two real slow songs on the album, she steps up for Under The Same Sky (although Without a good-bye is the worst song on the album). Overall, she brings everything on this album and there is that magic that only she can bring that makes this album a success.

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