Catcher In The Light

May 20, 2009

http://elfwitch.wordpress.com/ 

This is my new blog, I started it a couple of days ago. I’ve completely changed up my reviewing style, so its a lot more fresh and interesting. I think I was just bored with the way I was reviewing, that in the fact that I was just entirely too busy to even bother. I’ll be reviewing the old with the new and also re-reviewing my reviews here, so drop on by and add me if you like. I’m back. ❤

eeyore5

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Aoyama Thelma [Mamoritai Mono; I Want To Protect This] (4th Single)

September 15, 2009
41Hd2B482BipL__SS500_守りたいもの (Mamoritai Mono; I Want To Protect This)
MADONNA

Aoyama Thelma’s 4th single starts off with the a-side 守りたいもの (Mamoritai Mono; I Want To Protect This). I’m not sure how Aoyama went from ‘soba ni iru ne’ to throwaway ballads such as ‘daikkirai demo arigatou’ and this, but she really is going to have to pick her game up with the next two singles I have to review or I have no hopes for her second album. The arrangement is tame, typically weepy and a tad bit on the sparkly side. Its nothing interesting, but its nice on the ears. Aoyama’s vocal performance is also pretty nice, though she’ll win no awards for it. This is a pretty bland a-side, it does nothing to stand out and is too safe to be even remotely memorable, I’ve forgotten it already. I like it because despite it being so underwhelming, its still a decent little ballad, other than that its as unmemorable and cliche as songs like this get.

The next track on the single is its b-side MADONNA. This is a lot more interesting and engaging than the a-side. We speed things up a bit, with an rnb laced with hip-hop beat and some nice and aggressive vocals from Aoyama. I’ll admit the part where she says: ‘all my females, gotta get down’ really gave me a Jay Chou moment, so that was weird, especially considering that I think this song is sampled, because it sounds familiar, or maybe its just me? I really like the chorus. This is a nice, catchy and somewhat danceable song and in my opinion should have been the a-side.

-GRADE: B
Rating: ** stars

Aoyama Thelma’s 4th single Mamoritai Mono was all right, but the b-side certainly saved this single from a C. Mamoritai Mono is a nice ballad in its own right, but it does nothing to stand out and thus becomes forgettable. MADONNA is a pretty nice dance track and played like a-side material as opposed to its counterpart.

*This is an old review, this is the first of a slew of reviews I did before I decided to go on my hiatus. [ April 16th, 2009]


Angela Aki [ANSWER] (Third Japanese Album)

August 2, 2009

angela-aki-answer

Tegami ~Haikei Juugo no Kimi e~ (手紙 ~拝啓 十五の君へ~; Letter ~To You, at 15~)
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan’s Cover)
ANSWER
Somebody Stop Me
ダリア (Dahlia)
Final Destination
Our Story
黄昏 (Tasogare)
We’re All Alone (Boz Scaggs’s Cover)
リフレクション (Reflection)
レクイエム (Requiem)
Black Glasses (In Collaboration with Ben Folds)
ファイター (Fighter)

The album starts off with the albums first and only single Tegami ~Haikei Juugo no Kimi e~ (手紙 ~拝啓 十五の君へ~; Letter ~To You, at 15~). I gushed about this song enough in my single review of it, but I still find that I love it, even though it seems a bit underwhelming on the album.

The next track on the album is Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan Cover). I didn’t too much care for this song when it first came out, but I’ve always rather liked Angela’s cover songs, she really does them well. This is no exception, she translated the lyrics to Japanese, which was a nice touch and dished out another exceptional cover. I’d actually like to hear the original.

The title track ANSWER is up next. I got such a ‘kokoro no senshi’ vibe from this song and would have been amazed had it actually went in that direction. It doesn’t, but its still a good song. The arrangement is piano based of course, with some guitar thrown in for good measure, mild, but effective. Angela’s vocal performance was pretty nice, in the beginning I wasn’t too much feeling her, but she got into it as the song went along. I really love the, ‘you’re my answer’ part of the chorus, its rather sweet. I thought I wasn’t going to like this track, but it became its own as it went on. I still think ‘today’ is her best title track to date though.

The next track brings the pace down to a trickle with Somebody Stop Me. This song is strange, because I don’t know if I should like it. I mean I do, but it seems to just come and go. The arrangement is that of the piano, its rather simple and makes this song sound familiar, like one of her older songs. Angela’s vocal performance was pretty good, though it didn’t seem like she sung much. This is a good track to pop on when you want to wind down, but be careful of the mood, since this songs gives off a rather depressing vibe.

The next track on the album is the rather dull ダリア (Dahlia). This is a pretty long song, well over seven minutes. I honestly can’t fathom why Angela would want such an uninteresting song to just stretch on like this did, but I think that was this songs major downfall. I like how the arrangement started off on a classical note and then of course fell into one of Angela’s typical piano melodies. Needless to say it got old fast, especially considering the length. Angela’s vocals give me such a ‘silent girl’ vibe and that is not good at all, because as it stands that is Angela’s most boring song to date. The vocals just dragged, because Angela wasn’t really doing much, but just singing this song in the same tone throughout. The most I made out was ‘dahlia’. This is a pretty tedious track, in which is magnified by the absurd length of it.

The next track on the album lifts the pace and the mood with Final Destination. This is so far my favorite song on the album and it got me back on track with it after the snooze-fest of the previous. The arrangement is of course the piano, but I like how crisp and clean it plays. Angela’s vocal performance was nice as well, because I love how the song just gives off such an self-assured feeling. Its precisely like I said in my single review of it: Angela’s going somewhere and no one is going to stop her. I love this track and yes, ‘oh, driving in my car’ is still the love.

The next track on the album is Our Story. This song is all right, if only because of its delivery, because if this song wasn’t so strong, mostly vocal-wise, it would be really boring. The arrangement is just the piano, but its played simply and aggressively at the same time, nothing interesting, but its effective. I liked Angela’s vocal performance, it wasn’t all that interesting, but she was into it and it kept me engaged, its honestly the only reason why I like this track.

The next track on the album is the down-tempo 黄昏 (Tasogare). This song sounds so familiar, I mean the piano piece and the vocals. I liked this a bit, it didn’t do much, but its honestly a nice listen. The arrangement is of course the piano, played rather somberly. Angela’s vocal performance was pretty wistful as well as if she was singing about something or someone that made her happy and sad at the same time. This is a pretty quiet track, but its good.

The next track on the album is the repeat We’re All Alone (Boz Scaggs’s Cover). This track is on her mini-album, so I honestly don’t understand why she decided to put it on here. I guess she did an all new vocal performance, but I can’t tell the difference, its still the same song to me. I like it, just not on this album, since it seems like filler and its pointless.

The next track on the album is the surprising リフレクション (Reflection). Well I didn’t expect this song to go the way it did, as its a pretty up-beat and slightly fun track. The arrangement is very Island-y, that’s the best word I can use to describe it without saying reggae-ish. I liked it, it was simple yet engaging. Angela’s vocal performance was quite energetic as well, I really liked how she got into it and made a song that could have come across as quite confusing, rather enjoyable.

The next track on the album is the dramatic and rather epic レクイエム (Requiem). This is a really long song, I just felt I needed to get that out of the way. Though despite its length it never drags or becomes boring, of course my interest shifted, that’s to be expected, but I never found myself wondering why it hadn’t ended yet. The arrangement is a piece of work, its quite incredible and certainly drives the entire song, completely reflecting the title. Angela’s vocal performance was rather nice as well and I’m surprised she managed to keep it up for so long, I’m wondering if she’ll ever sing this live. The length a turn a few people off, but I say give this a chance and hear it through to the end, you won’t be disappointed.

The second to last track on the album is the quirky Black Glasses (In Collaboration with Ben Folds). In collaboration, huh? This is a pretty different song from Angela, it almost sounded like she was enjoying herself for once, but that’s of course a stretch, she sounded way too serious for that. The arrangement is piano of course, but I like how whimsical and fun it plays, with the tinkles. Angela’s vocals were nice as well, I liked the verses more than the chorus, because the chorus came across as rather silly to me with the whole, ‘wizard of oz’ reference, but all in all this was a pretty enjoyable track.

The last track on the album is the strangely in Japanese ファイター (Fighter). This is quite a twist, normally she ends her album with incredible all English tracks, but this time its a pretty good Japanese one;  I’m not sure if I like this script-flipping. Anyways, this is a nice song. Its not as sad as ‘your love song’ or as positive as ‘surrender’ its somewhere in the middle, but it does leans more towards positive and sounds more hopeful than the previous album closer, reflecting the title nicely. This was a good ending to the album, I really loved how it went out, very abstract. I would have still preferred it to be in English though.

-GRADE: A
Rating: *** stars

Angela Aki’s third album ANSWER was a lot better than I expected it to be, to the point that I actually may prefer it over her second album. When I first gave this album the run through I was not impressed and I thought it was boring, so I went into this review with no expectations and came out rather pleased. I don’t know how Angela does it, but she manages to make boring sound so good, except in the case of ‘dahlia’. ANSWER is another good album from Angela and I hope she keeps them coming, she never really disappoints.

*This is an old review, this is the first of a slew of reviews I did before I decided to go on my hiatus. [April 15th, 2009]


alan [Voice of EARTH] (First Album)

June 29, 2009

flower2

Tennyo ~interlude~
Ashita e no Sanka
Sora Uta
Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~
Hitotsu
Kaze no Tegami
BRAVE
Yume no GARDEN
Gunjou no Tani
my friend
Liberty
Tsuki ga Watashi
RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~
Megumi no Ame
Together

The album starts off with Tennyo ~interlude~. This is a pretty long interlude, its practically song limit going a bit over three minutes. Its a nice opening to the album and invokes such an atmosphere of surrealism. I thought alan’s mountain notes were a bit unnecessary if only because they seemed to come out of nowhere, otherwise a pretty good start to the album, even if it did play like one of those random instrumentals.

The first full length track on the album is Ashita e no Sanka. This is alan’s first single and I admit its quite the single to debut with, but I believe at this point the novelty has worn off. I do like how this incorporates traditional Chinese music, very nice and gave me such an ‘house of flying daggers’ vibe. alan’s vocals are pretty regular and then you get to the chorus where she hits these notes that sound so alien, its awe-inspiring and annoying at the same time, that’s the best way I can describe it. I do like how this song was put together, how there isn’t much going on with it, but its memorable and leaves quite an impression. I may not like this track as much as I once did, but this is definitely one of my favorites from her.

The next track on the album brings the pace up a tad with Sora Uta. I reviewed all five of alan’s elemental release singles and this is the second in the saga. This song just sounds different to me, like a whole lot more interesting. I like the oriental airy-ness of the arrangement, I mean its not ‘wow’ ing or anything, but it certainly gives off an refreshing type of feeling. alan’s vocal performance also sounds better to me, like not so annoying and more in control. I don’t know, I don’t dislike this song anymore, but I’m not sure if I fully like it either. I’ll have to give it a few more listens before I can fully decide, but I’ll give it one thing, it sounds a whole hell of a lot better this time around.

The next track on the album is the first single from alan’s elemental release saga, Natsukashii Mirai ~longing future~. This song sounds a lot different than it did on the single. I gave this track a lot of flack, but hearing it on the album I actually quite like it, if only because its almost like another version. I like the sound of the kids at the beginning, I like how the arrangement and the entire atmosphere of the song makes you think of the Earth and how precious and important it is to our well-being and survival as humans. alan gave a good and rather genuine vocal performance and though I still think her mountain notes sound like a cat wailing, they were appropriate. I love the choir singing along with her towards the end and the fact that this track just sounds a whole lot more inspirational this time around. I can safely say this has grown on me.

The next track on the album is the rather tame Hitotsu. I’ve always thought of this as a part two of ‘ashita e no sanka’ because they sound so similar to me. This is a pretty quiet song and I think that’s where its charm lies. The arrangement plays like air and alan gives a somewhat strong vocal performance without overdoing it, even during the high notes, she kept it to a minimum. I’ve always liked this track, right a long with ‘ashita e no sanka’ that hasn’t changed.

The next track speeds the pace up a tad with Kaze no Tegami. Ah, unlike ‘sora uta’ this song is still as underwhelming as it was on the single. I’m just really not feeling the pseudo-rock and experimental arrangement it just seems so dead and limp, like it should be coming out at me, engaging me, but its just as dull as lights flashing on and off. alan’s vocal performance was pretty stagnant as well. I mean there was no emotion in her voice, no feeling and it made the song tedious. I don’t know, this track was the perfect opportunity to give us something other than oriental ballads and the payoff was weak.

The next track on the album is surprisingly not a single. BRAVE is a pretty boring title. We finally get presented with a non-single track, but it was hardly worth the wait. The arrangement is very traditional, but it isn’t really all that interesting and sounds pretty typical and strange. alan’s vocal performance wasn’t really all that good either, it wasn’t bad, but it did nothing to hold my attention. I also hated the bombardment of caterwauling she kept doing, it sounded like she was drowning.

The next track on the album is the ethereal-esque Yume no GARDEN. Ah, yet another song that isn’t a single, that makes two in a row. Anyways as where the previous was annoying, this is pretty forgettable and boring. The arrangement is a series of sounds that I guess are supposed to give off the atmosphere of an otherworldly garden or something, but sounds like crickets chirping at night an the wind. alan’s vocal performance was decent, because needless to say she does have a nice voice, but it just came across as tired to me, because she wasn’t doing anything with it. I mean the ‘mountain notes’ would have actually sounded right in this track, unlike the previous. Its also long, which made the song drag and thus more dull than it should have been.

The next track on the album is the last single release before this album Gunjou no Tani. I still think this is a pretty good track. It has a nice arrangement and alan delivers a good vocal performance and uses the whole high note hitting to her advantage. It’ll never be a favorite of mine and I don’t think alan will ever release a single or record a song that can top ‘red cliff’, but this is an enjoyable and rather atmospheric listen.

The next track on the album keeps the slow pace going with my friend. This is a pretty mild song, that manages to do nothing really, but has a nice flow. The arrangement is quite pretty, despite being rather simple and alan gave a somewhat boring yet genuine vocal performance. I have a soft spot for ‘friend’ songs an though this doesn’t really stand out and is a little forgettable I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Its not bad.

The next track on the album is the one that was suppose to be a single, but thankfully wasn’t. Liberty is not so much boring as it is uninteresting (which seems to be the case with these non single tracks), I do like the flow, its nice and easy. The arrangement is a rather simple piano piece with some sparkle sounds that play like they were thrown in there every once in a while. alan’s vocal performance was rather nice though, but it didn’t stand out at all. This is a decent listen, but single material it was not and I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought that.

The next track on the album is the down-tempo Tsuki ga Watashi. This song is pretty similar to the last track. The arrangement is more traditional though, that’s always nice. alan’s vocal performance was quite like the previous, nice, but it didn’t stand out. I’m not sure why the single tracks are so underwhelming and safe, but this was a pretty listen none the less.

The next track on the album is the epic RED CLIFF ~Shin Sen~. I swear alan must share my opinion in this being her best song, especially considering she releases it so much. I gushed about this song enough on my single review of it and my feelings towards it hasn’t changed. This is a great song, with a haunting and rather fantastic arrangement and a top-notch vocal performance, I wonder if she will ever be able to top this?

The second to last track on the album is the down-tempo Megumi no Ame. I gave this song quite the beating in my single review of it, but like ‘sora uta’ and ‘natsukashii mirai’ this track just sounds so much better, a lot better and surprisingly not boring at all. I like how simply pretty the arrangement is, there’s nothing to it and it plays so nice. alan’s vocal performance was also rather lovely. I quite enjoyed this song this time around, imagine that?

The last track on the album is the limited addition Together. This is the new track on the album that left the biggest impression on me and the only one I genuinely like. The arrangement was nice and dramatic and alan’s vocal performance was gorgeous. I thought it was interesting how she would switch up her tones, to where the song sounded incredibly depressing one second and then oddly up-lifting the next. This was a pretty good end to the album.

-GRADE: B
Rating: ** stars

alan’s first album Voice of EARTH is like the majority of debut albums, good, but not good enough. It took eight singles before this could be released and honestly had she snipped the eight to about three or four, I would have most definitely rated this album higher as she didn’t it becomes an orgy of tracks I’ve already heard and that really dumbs down the enjoyment factor. The main problem I had with this album, other than the mountain of singles, was the fact that the album only tracks were rather mediocre and safe. You go through all this trouble to glamorize the singles to make the album appealing and the songs that everyone are anticipating (the non single tracks) are pretty average and the only one that I’d even bother listening to again would be ‘together’ and ‘Tsuki ga Watashi’, ‘my friend’ possibly, but lets not stretch it. I did like how the elemental singles I didn’t like (all, but ‘red cliff’) played a lot better and the only one I still had qualms with was ‘kaze no tegami’. Voice of EARTH is a decent debut album, with some pretty nice tracks and some good vocals from alan (because lets face it, the woman can sing), but its just not all that good to me and was a pretty average if not boring listen.

*This is an old review, this is the first of a slew of reviews I did before I decided to go on my hiatus. [April 14th, 2009]


Ai Kawashima [Ashiato] (Third Album)

June 7, 2009

a.03

Kimi ni…..
My Love
Sakura Bojou
Crying (album version)
Someday
Kareshi
Sochuu Omimai Moushiagemasu
Akai Kutsu no Mimosa
Taisetsu na Yakusoku
Dreaming World
Kyuusei Shu
compass
Ashiato

The album starts off with Kimi ni…... I’m on the fence with this track, because I like it, but then again I don’t like it. The piano arrangement is nice if not predictable. Ai’s vocal performance on the other hand is just very hit or miss and mostly miss, I mean I don’t know what it is, or if its just me, but the tones she makes with her voice are just very annoying. It almost put me off this song completely, but I like the pace, the flow and its not really a bad song.

The next track on the album is the up-tempo My Love. I’m actually pretty surprised that this isn’t down-tempo, but it was a welcome change and so soon? The arrangement is pretty up-beat and sparkly, though just like the previous track, predictable and a bit anime-ish. Ai’s vocals weren’t as annoying thankfully, but she sounded rather odd trying to keep up with the music and I just didn’t buy it, it was a pretty tired vocal performance. This isn’t a bad song either, but unlike the first track, I don’t really care for this and can’t see myself listening to it again.

The next track on the album brings the pace back down with Sakura Bojou. This song seemed very long to me, but even though it seemed long I wasn’t ready for it to end, which is surprising seeing as how I’m talking about Kawashima here and I don’t really like her voice. The arrangement was calm, not anything interesting, but it went with the flow of the song and didn’t distract. Ai’s vocal performance was the usual, but I’m impartial to it in this track and thought she did a decent job.

The next track on the album is the down-tempo Crying (album version) This isn’t a bad song, but it just plays without being felt. The arrangement is a simple piano piece, but I thought it was a little too simple and the ‘ping’ sound I kept hearing was very distracting. Ai’s vocal performance was bearable in a sense, but I honestly didn’t care for it, it just passed over me. The chorus is basically the only part of this track that I somewhat remember. Its also longer than the previous, but thankfully just like ‘sakura bojou’ it didn’t seem long. I guess this is one of those songs that will have to grow on me, but I doubt I’ll be listening to it again.

The next track on the album calms things down with Someday. This song is pretty plain, but the flow is nice. The song didn’t really do anything arrangement wise and seemed to be there just to give the song something to stand on. Ai’s vocal performance was light and surprisingly nice. This song seemed long to me for some reason, which is strange because it is long, but it wasn’t long in a irritating way, but a ‘hmm? this song isn’t over yet’ way.

The next track on the album is Kareshi. This is quite possibly the most interesting song on this album so far. The arrangement is rather cute-sy in a mild way and even though it doesn’t do much it did keep the song interesting and a bit lively and upbeat. I thought Ai gave a pretty good and consistent vocal performance as well.

The next track on the album continues the breezy pace with Sochuu Omimai Moushiagemasu. This is another rather upbeat track that is nearly as interesting as the previous, if not moreso. I actually like the arrangement, not so much sparkly, but pretty nice and at one point it was a bit lovely? I thought Ai’s vocal performance was fine, she did sound like she was just getting over a cold, because her vocals had this strangely weak tone to them, but otherwise I found it bearable.

The next track on the album is the smooth Akai Kutsu no Mimosa. I actually really like this and it stood out, by not really standing out at all. The arrangement is very lounge and blue-sy and it made me think of smoke. I loved how laid-back and sensual it was. Ai’s vocals were surprisingly nice, I actually had no problems with her in that department. This was a pretty cool track.

The next track on the album keeps the down-tempo pace going with Taisetsu na Yakusoku. Well… this is a rather uneventful track. I actually thought I was going to like it, because it started off on a somewhat good note and then it just went nowhere and fast. This is such a tedious listen. The heard it a thousand times before arrangement just dragged and Ai’s vocal performance made me think of YUI, it was so monotonous. This song is boring and too long to have nothing going for it.

The next track on the album is the whimsical Dreaming World. I’m really surprised that this song was a bit over four minutes, because it honestly played like a six minute song. This is a track that you don’t really pay attention to, but you think is a pretty all right song once it fades. The arrangement is typically sparkly, but its of course fitting. Ai’s vocals were decent, it did seem like she was trying to sound dreamy a lot, by elongating on certain parts in the song and I thought that was kind a annoying and weird, but otherwise it was a fine vocal performance. The choir that came in towards the end was nice as well.

The next track on the album is the nice Kyuusei Shu. This song also seems longer than it actually is. I actually quite like this. The arrangement is the most interesting I’ve heard on this album, the smooth Jazz like qualities of it really appealed to my ears and put me in a very serene almost blissful mood. Ai’s vocal performance was pretty darn good as well, possibly the best I’ve heard so far as well. This is definitely the stand-out track, if only because it completely separates itself from the rest of the tracks on here.

The second to last track on the album is compass. I’m wondering if this song was suppose to be good, because I spent over five minutes wondering if it was ever going to go anywhere. The arrangement is the piano, it plays prettily, but is very simple, it eventually becomes background noise. Ai’s vocals are decent I guess, but did nothing to stand out and I found I hardly cared for it, pretty weak. This track is forgettable.

The last track on the album is its namesake Ashiato. This song isn’t bad, but I really dislike Ai’s vocal performance. The arrangement consists of an acoustic guitar, nothing amazing, but its nice on the ears. The problem is it makes Ai’s vocals stand out in glaring relief and I really don’t like the annoying tones she does with it, reminds me of that thing Ayu insists on doing with her voice in everyone of her songs nowadays. I just don’t like her voice and this song makes it stand-out too much. The arrangement was nice, Ai’s vocals weren’t. This was a quiet albeit weak ending to the album.

-GRADE: B-
Rating: ** stars

Ai Kawashima’s third album Ashiato was decent, but I wouldn’t listen to it again. I don’t really know what to think of Kawashima, I’m starting to think she was better when she first started out, because her material now is a drag. I admit, there were a few songs on this album that I genuinely liked, but overall this album was rather boring and forgettable. It was also a chore to get through and I found myself wondering if I really wanted to continue reviewing her music, because she honestly doesn’t appeal to me at all. I don’t like her voice and though she does a genre that I like, her music is more often than not tedious. I liked her first album and this album wasn’t as bad as it could have been; some tracks did appeal to me. I’m going to give Kawashima one more chance, but honestly I don’t think I’ll ever become a fan of her (perhaps her mini albums are better?).

*This is an old review, this is the first of a slew of reviews I did before I decided to go on my hiatus. [April 7th, 2009]


Aikawa Nanase [R.U.O.K?!] (Third Mini Album)

June 2, 2009

aikawananaseruokjw8FOOLISH 555
R.U.O.K?!
FLY TO RAINBOW RAY
ROCK STAR’s STEADY
RED WHEEL
Snowfall
EVERYBODY GOES

The mini album starts off with the grating FOOLISH 555. Wow, this song is pretty nerve-wracking. I actually think I liked this song when I first gave this mini a listen, now I’m wondering why. I’m not saying its bad, but this is just one of those songs I advise you not to listen to if your head is hurting, it just might split open. The arrangement is hard, chaotic rock, primarily the drums, I didn’t care for it. Aikawa was trying to do too much with her vocals and after a while it was almost like, ‘i get it, you’re a rocker chick and the best at that’ this song isn’t bad and I can see a lot of rock fans really getting into it, me? I really can’t see myself listening to this again and enjoying it, its just too loud and all over the place for me, even for an Aikawa rock tune.

The next track on the mini is R.U.O.K?!. I don’t too much like this song either, but I do like the mild flow of it. The arrangement is like a more tamer version of the previous and it plays in a smooth manner, despite being rock-based. Aikawa’s vocal performance is a lot better this time around, its not great, but its definitely tolerable. I had to listen to this song twice, because I wasn’t sure I liked it the first time, I think it’ll grow on me, especially considering I like how calm is seems, which kind of contradicts the exclamation mark in the title.

The next track brings things up a notch with FLY TO RAINBOW RAY. I’m surprised I like this song, but its pretty fun. The arrangement is rock: drums, bass, guitar, its loud, its consistent and it’ll certainly keep your head banging. Aikawa gives a good an enthusiastic vocal performance, really getting into the song during the chorus. I love when the backing vocals comes in, makes the song almost epic and a really memorable rock tune.

The next track on the album keeps the pace going with ROCK STAR’s STEADY. This is the type of rock I don’t like, because honestly no matter how many times I listen to this, it just doesn’t sound good. The arrangement is typical rock, it sounds like they recorded it in their garage band and I mostly heard the drums. Aikawa’s vocals were pretty much nonsensical, even in Japanese. I guess its safe to say I like this even less than ‘foolish 555’.

The next track on the album is the pseudo-dark RED WHEEL. This song gave me such an ‘black angel’ vibe, especially when she would get to the chorus. I enjoyed this song quite a bit, had the right amount of angsty rock in it to be tolerable. The arrangement is primarily the guitar and its pretty heavy. Aikawa’s vocal performance was top notch, she seemed really into the song. I’ve never really paid attention to this track, but it looks like that’s going to change.

The next track keeps the low-tempo rock tunes coming with Snowfall. I don’t know why I thought this was going to be some sort of down-tempo ballad. Anyways, its more like a rock ballad. The arrangement consists of the drums and the guitar, always a nice combination. Aikawa gave a good vocal performance of course and I like how she sounded so dramatic during the chorus.

The last track on the mini is the up-tempo EVERYBODY GOES. I’m on the fence with this track, because one part of me thinks its a more tamer version of the first track and another part of me finds it endearing. Its your typical loud rock arrangement and though it fits, it seemed to oddly clash with Aikawa’s rather straight-forward vocal performance. I don’t know this song is pretty all right, but its no ‘fly to rainbow ray’ eh, maybe it’ll grow on me.

-GRADE: B
Rating: ** stars

Aikawa Nanase’s third mini album R.U.O.K?! was all right, but nothing new. Aikawa went the rock route with this mini as oppose to the two ballad mini’s she came out with before this and I must say for Aikawa to be such a kick-ass rocker chick her down-tempo’s certainly seem to appeal to me more and its not just because I love ballads, its just her ballads seem to speak to me more than her up-tempo rock tunes. I liked the majority of this mini, but the song that stood out the most to me was, ‘fly to rainbow ray’ and as it stands its the only one I remember. R.U.O.K?! played better than a couple of her full-length album releases, so I’m not complaining too much about the typical-ness of it, but I do wish that it would have left more of an impression, like her ballad mini’s did.

*This is an old review, this is the first of a slew of reviews I did before I decided to go on my hiatus. [April 14th, 2009]


Yui Horie [Darling] (Sixth Album)

May 27, 2009

a.06

Lalala Song of Love (ラララ愛の歌, Lalala Ai no Uta)
Time machine
Days
Kamisama Onegai
Koi Suru Tenkizu
Say cheese!
Tsurarenai Kotoba
Hikari
Love Me Do
Lovely Everyday
Kirei na Kaze ga fuiteru
Zutto
Hello
Little Honey Bee

The album starts off with the light Lalala Song of Love (ラララ愛の歌, Lalala Ai no Uta). This was a really nice song and it does give off the feeling of love, an innocent, untainted type of love. The arrangement was light, very mild and of course sparkly. It made me think of milk for some odd reason. Yui’s vocals were rather lovely in this, I mean she sounded like a little girl, but it was actually quite endearing and really brought home that feeling of love I believe this song was trying to convey. This is a pretty, yes pretty, start to the album.

The next track on the album is the mind-numbing Time machine. Ah, this song was a bit grating. I mean its not entirely bad, a bit cute, well a lot cute, but I just can’t get into this. The arrangement is just way too poppy and sparkly, it was almost like she was throwing sparks of light at you, because the arrangement seems to come at you in a rush. Yui’s vocals were more little girl like in this and it was just… scary in a sense, because aren’t you a grown woman, why are you singing like you’re twelve?

The next track on the album is the up in the tempo Days. This song is rather spazzy, but not in a chaotic way, but in a tolerable and pleasant way. This song is really capable of brightening up your day, I felt my mood lifting a little while listening to this. The arrangement is so typical, with the added sparkles, but it fits, it works. Yui’s vocals were of course that of adolescence, but it suited the song and made me smile a little. Its not the best of songs like this I have heard, but its a decent listen.

The next track on the album is Kamisama Onegai. This song is pretty tame compared to what I have been listening to so far. Its a bit of a relief, but at the same time its a bit boring and maybe that’s because the peppy-ness of the other tracks stood out and the somewhat mid-tempo flow of this song tends to linger in the background. The arrangement is a bit windy but nice, I liked how it seemed a bit acoustic rock. Yui’s vocals are also pretty controlled and it made this song seem a bit serious. Its all right, but its not a song I’d listen to just because.

The next track on the album is the up-tempo Koi Suru Tenkizu. Well, as up-tempo as a song like this gets anyways. It was a bit overly cute, but I didn’t find that a problem. The arrangement was pretty interesting, I really liked the trumpets. Yui’s vocals were pretty engaging, she really got into the song and made it a lot fun, listening-wise anyways.

The next track on the album is the super happy Say cheese!. I guess I like cute things more than I thought I did, though that’s no surprise seeing as my favorite word in Japanese is ‘kawaii’ this song is so sugar high, you’d have to be high on something to enjoy this. I mean its not bad and I like it, but this is just one of those songs you’d enjoy more if you were wasted on karaoke night. It sounds so anime, it just might be, but I’m talking the opening to one of those stupid ecchi anime’s I hate, or Sugar Sugar Rune, Lucky Star… those types of anime. Yui sounds like an eight year old girl, but it fits.

The next track on the album is the tame Tsurarenai Kotoba. This is pretty low key compared to the tracks I’ve been listening to, but its nice. I heard the drums mostly in the chorus and it gave the song a sort of light edge that was actually a relief from all the sparkling anime pop. Yui’s vocals were good as well, soft, despite still having that child-like tone.

The next track brings the pace back up with Hikari. Hmm? I really don’t like this. The arrangement is just a rush of techno and it sounds so 80’s, gay club like and makes me think of seizure inducing flashing lights. Its also relentless, especially during the chorus. Yui’s vocals kind a clashed with the music, because the arrangement seems a bit edgy considering and her vocals were of course child-like and kind of slow compared to it, so it kind a drowns her out. This song is pretty hit or miss.

The next track on the album is the mid-tempo Love Me Do. This is a pretty interesting song, though not one I would listen to regularly. The arrangement is light, but that’s about it, I mean its nice, but it only does what it should. Yui’s vocals were girl-like of course, but she brought a bit of charm to this. The only problem I had with this track was that its kind a long, it didn’t bother me, but I noticed so that isn’t really good. This song also reminds me a bit of the ‘wedding bells’ opening to the anime Wedding Peach.

The next track on the album is Lovely Everyday. This is a pretty cute song, seriously. The arrangement plays pretty much like the previous track’s only doing what it should, but its a lot more engaging. I also like Yui’s typical girl-like vocals in this, because they fit right in. The backing verses were definitely kawaii, ah, so cute!

The next track on the album is the twinkly Kirei na Kaze ga fuiteru. I think that’s a stretch, but the arrangement is typical, but nice on the ears in a sense. I like Yui’s vocals during the chorus, though I thought she sounded a bit sad, or just the atmosphere just sounded a bit down to me. I don’t like the chorus, because its pretty strained, which I found amazing, cause it doesn’t ask for anything. This song had potential, but I just didn’t feel anything but an odd sense of annoyance while listening to it. I did like the verses though.

The next track on the album is Zutto. I knew I was going to like this song, but that was mostly because of the chorus. The arrangement was typically sparkly and anime-ish, but it was very nice on the ears and had enough going for it to keep your interest. Yui’s vocals were same, but I really did like her performance in this track, she seemed so into it and that definitely bumped up the enjoyment factor and made the song a fun an enjoyable listen.

The second to last track on the album is the up-tempo Hello. This song is a bit on the rock side arrangement wise, but it seemed a bit cliche, like I’ve heard it before, a thousand times before. Yui’s vocal performance was decent, but it definitely could have been better. I mean she sounded like an ear-sore and then the arrangement seemed to overpower her.

The last track on the album is the nice Little Honey Bee. What a cute title. This song is lead by the piano, which is simple, of course. Yui’s vocal performance was same, but endearing. This was an all right end to the album.

-GRADE: B
Rating: ** stars

Yui Horie’s sixth album Darling was pretty good. I’ve been listening to a few new seiyuu artists lately and I have to say she’s impressed me the most so far. I honestly didn’t think adding more seiyuu singers to my blog would be so difficult, but maybe its because there sound is so much more different from Maaya, Megumi and Okui’s sound and its a sound I don’t too much like. This album was not as difficult to review as I thought it would be, I pretty much breezed through it, only encountering writer’s block a few times. The stand-out track is of course LaLaLa Song of Love, but there was a few other good tracks thrown in there as well, just not as memorable. I look forward to reviewing more of her music, though I really think its going to take a while for her voice to grow on me.

*This is an old review, this is the first of a slew of reviews I did before I decided to go on my hiatus. [February 2th, 2009]


Tsubasa Chronicle [Season One] (Review)

May 22, 2009

I loved Card Captor Sakura, in fact its like in my top 5 favorite animes EVER so when I stumbled upon Tsubasa Chronicle and saw Syaoran and Sakura, my favorite hetero anime couple, I was a little more than ecstatic, especially considering the fact that they weren’t those cute little elementary kids anymore. Tsubasa is an anime that you really have to get used to, and you’d definitely have to be a fan of the CLAMP universe to enjoy this, since you get the treat of seeing all your favorite characters from their other works. I thought that was neat, and well the premise of the show is pretty good as well.

Sakura ends up losing her memory thanks to some prophecy and now its up to Syoaran to travel to different worlds, retrieve her feathered memories and give them back to his most precious person. It comes with a price of course, because according to Yuuko in order for her to grant your wish you have to give up something of equal value, thus Sakura will regain her memory back as her feathers are retrieved, but she will not remember Syoaran, as in the Syaoran that she fell in love with, those memories of him will never return. I thought it was pretty stupid at first, I mean they’ll just make new memories of one another on there journey, but its actually quite sad once you get into the series and realize how much Sakura cares for him, or well how much they care for each other. I mean its a bit heartbreaking that she’ll never remember him the way he was, so all those times they shared and them growing up together and whatnot, is forever lost. Its rather painful.

The first season of Tsubasa Chronicle is pretty slow, I’ll admit that I was bored to tears more than a couple of times and actually gave up on this series, because it seemed to be going nowhere fast. I mean even when stuff was happening, it just seemed to drag on in the most tedious way and it was all very frustrating. In fact despite my undying love for Sakura and Syaoran they are not the reason I finished this season or am continuing with it, the credit goes solely to the two original characters: Kurogane and Fai, who are the most interesting characters this show has to offer. I mean they are your typical dark and brooding and light and lovable characters, but they are very complex, especially Fai who I’ll admit is one of the most abstract anime characters I have ever come across and I can not wait until more of his dark and messy past is unearthed, because honestly him and Kurogane are in for quite a turbulent ride and I’m going to love every minute of it.

Sakura and Syaoran are tolerable in there own right, but for some reason they just seem too perfect, almost to the point of it being ridiculous. I mean of course they aren’t going to act like how they acted in the original series, but I mean when there scenes come up its almost like watching paint dry, they’re so two-dimensional and they aren’t interesting or engaging at all. It also drives me crazy when Sakura insists on saying ‘Syaoran-kun’ every chance she gets, I kind of want to strangle her every time his name comes out her mouth. So suffice it say I have a love hate relationship with them, but it definitely leans more towards hate, because they honestly offer nothing outside of being that obvious couple who you know are just going to get together at some point and you wish they would just hurry it up already, and will Syaoran stop calling her ‘hime’ goodness, he’s known her since they were kids! If he gets any more polite I think I’m going to kill myself. Why did CLAMP have to make my favorite pairing so BORING!? Why!?!

I haven’t discussed animation or music in my other anime reviews, but I do like the animation in this and the music is good, which is to be expected from a series like this. I had no problem with either. I mean the first season of Tsubasa dragged and was just way dull, I mean I think I would have got more action out of watching grass grow and even though its refreshing seeing the other characters of the CLAMP universe even they put me a coma; everything about this anime with the exception of Kurogane and Fai was stagnant, that is until the last six episodes. I mean I was practically snoring and then BAM! interesting stuff starts happening, and I’m actually finding myself paying attention and anxious to see the next episode, so yeah, the last six episodes definitely saved me from scrapping this anime. Though in all honesty I would have kept up with this series anyways, if only for the Kuropipi and Fai-san eye candy and character development as well as there relationship with one another which is very intriguing (I so wish CLAMP would let them get together!).

I’m really hoping the second season keeps the pace of the last six episodes, otherwise I don’t know how I’m going to endure it. I’m definitely interested though in seeing what the second season has to offer, so be looking out for my review of that whenever I finish watching it.

GRADE: B-


Wheesung [It’s Real] (Second Album)

May 20, 2009

wheesung2

Intro
Set me free
다시 만난 날
I am missing you
With me
사랑하지 않을 거라면
Player
말을 해줘
Interlude
Dilemma
미워하고 싶은데
Pretty lady
미인
Angel
Outro
Luz Control (Feat. Se7en & Lexy)

The album starts off with the Intro. Wheesung is talking at the start introducing himself as ‘real slow’ and then he starts singing and then there’s some clapping. Its a lot better then most intro tracks, but still a bit odd.

The next track on the album is the down-tempo Set me free. If Se7en makes me think of an Korean Usher than Wheesung definitely makes me think of an Korean Ginuwine. This has always been a song from Wheesung that I’ve particularly liked. The arrangement is heavy on the rnb, but very smooth and laid-back. Wheesung gave a nice strong vocal performance and the backing vocals were good as well. I love how the song ends with the rain falling. This is a really good track and a nice official start to the album.

The next track on the album keeps the down-tempo’s coming with 다시 만난 날. I’d have to say this is more of a power ballad, because Wheesung really does get into it. This is one of those tracks that I really need to listen to more often, what a good song and it reminds me of ‘from above’ off his first album. The arrangement is typical, but it does shift to match up with Wheesung, which makes it stand out a bit. Wheesung gave such a good and strong vocal performance and though I found it odd that he had a choir included in this, I did think it brought more depth to the track. Wheesung always has such good ballads.

The next track on the album is yet another down-tempo, I am missing you. This is one of the first Wheesung songs I ever heard and doesn’t really sound as impact-ful as it once did. Its your typical angsty ballad of love and longing, but its still a nice listen, because Wheesung’s vocals are great.

The next track on the album is the right around mid-tempo With me. This isn’t a bad song, but its just too abrupt for me and I don’t really like the flow or how its put together. I mean sometimes I do go for songs in which I only like the chorus, but I’m going to have to step back for this one, because even the chorus isn’t all that great. I do like Wheesung’s vocals though, because I always do. I figure if he would have just sung this instead of throwing in all that other stuff, I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

The next track on the album brings us to another down-tempo track 사랑하지 않을 거라면. Wheesung woos us once again with a ballad and this one is quite the tearjerker. I guess its the way Wheesung manipulates as well as controls his vocal tones during the chorus that makes it seem as if he is weighed down by a crushing sadness. This track isn’t anything Wheesung hasn’t already done, but it is rather poignant.

The next track on the album brings the pace back up a bit with Player. I was worried about this song for a second, with a title like ‘player’ I thought it was going to be like the annoying ‘corea new school’ or even ‘clubbin’ luckily its a somewhat mid-tempo party tune that is easy to swallow. The arrangement is typical, but smooth enough to work. I liked Wheesung’s vocal performance in this, he wasn’t trying so hard, but it just flowed out naturally making this song mildly catchy and surprisingly enjoyable.

The next track presents us with yet another ballad 말을 해줘. I can get down to Wheesung’s ballads more than his up-tempo’s, because I think he’s much better at ballads, if only because his strong vocals suit them more and gives his ballads more justice. This is a typical ballad of angst, but darn Wheesung for being such a good balladeer. The arrangement is a rather nice piano piece, I actually really liked it, because it managed to be sweet and sorrowful at the same time, making me think of someone smiling through the tears. Wheesung gives yet another good vocal performance, I quite liked the chorus.

The next track on the album is Interlude. Wheesung is conversing with some one else, at some point one of his songs starts playing in the background, it ends rather abruptly. Um?

The next track on the album is the mid-tempo Dilemma. This is a pretty typical rnb tune, with a simple swish beat and its moderately catchy, well mostly the chorus. I liked Wheesung’s vocals in this. Though I like this track, it does have the tendency to get old quick, which kind of knocks the enjoyment value down a pinch.

The next track on the album is the down-tempo 미워하고 싶은데. This is another ballad from Wheesung that I wasn’t sure if I too much liked on the first listen, the second listen its pretty decent. The song is rather slow and doesn’t really go anywhere, so it could come across as boring to most people, especially those who dislike ballads. Wheesung gives a good and rather emotional vocal performance, so that is really what bumped up the enjoyment factor, because the arrangement is a bit plain. This is not one of his stand-out, or even memorable ballads, but its a nice one to listen to if you want to wind down.

The next track on the album thankfully brings the pace back up a tad with Pretty lady. This is to me a better version of ‘she’s beautiful’. I’m actually surprised I like this track, because it does come across as a bit silly to me. I do like its charm, though. The arrangement is fresh, with a slice of rnb and makes me think of clear skies and sunny days. Wheesung’s vocal performance was good, he seemed pretty into the song as well. This track certainly picked the album back up a bit.

The next track on the album is another ballad, 미인. There comes a time when even I have to admit that there are far too many ballads on this album. This one in particular isn’t any different from the slew of ballads I’ve already heard; a simple arrangement and a nice vocal performance.

The next track on the album is the sweet yet sad Angel. This is one of the first Wheesung songs I ever heard and I still love it, even if Angel is just one of those song titles that every artist seems to do once, like ‘friend’ and ‘i love you’. The arrangement is appropriately depressing and angst ridden and Wheesung gave quite the heart-wrenching vocal performance. He sung this song in full English and it wasn’t half-bad. This is definitely the stand-out ballad on the album.

The next track on the album is Outro. This is actually an over one minute outro of the next track…

The last track on the album is Luz Control (Feat. Se7en & Lexy). This really sounds like a Se7en song. I love how catchy this song is and how Wheesung and everyone involved sounds so into it. The arrangement oozes rnb and is a near perfect club track, or track to play at a party to get everyone up and moving. I heard mostly Wheesung and Se7en, but it seemed like I heard Se7en more, I do not recall hearing Lexy (though someone who sounds oddly like G-dragon back in his younger days has a rap cameo). This is definitely an up-tempo track from Wheesung I can get into.

-GRADE: B+
Rating: ** stars

Wheesung’s second album It’s Real was a nice album overall. The only problem I had with this was the abundance of down-tempo’s, yes, Wheesung’s voice is quite suited for ballads, but when there are so many that they start to bleed together with only a few really standing out, you have a problem. It tends to drag the album down and makes it less and less enjoyable the more you go along. I’m a bit amazed at how easy it was to review this album, because it was almost torture trying to get through For the moment mostly because of the length and the slew of crap songs. It’s Real plays like a ballad album, so if you’re a ballad whore, or you just simply like ballads and down-tempo’s, this is the album for you, because Wheesung has a great voice, so even if the songs are typical they are still enjoyable. Those that don’t too much like ballads or down-tempo’s, I’d say skip this, because that’s pretty much all Wheesung is offering this second time around.

*This is an old review, this is the first of a slew of reviews I did before I decided to go on my hiatus. [April 7th, 2009]


Ami Suzuki [Reincarnation] (30th Single)

May 17, 2009

b70f631a67eaaa159f35a325caf3905fReincarnation
Dub-I-Dub
Reincarnation (Extended Version)

Ami Suzuki’s 30th single starts off with the a-side Reincarnation. Um… what was this? I remember watching the video to this and thinking I was high, because it didn’t make any sense and I didn’t like the song either. I normally like the song once I hear it on the single, but not in this case, its just strangely boring. The arrangement makes me feel like I’m trapped in some sort of time-warp during the verses and then it gets trippy during the chorus. I guess this is suppose to be techno, its pretty mild compared to her previous singles and sounds more like a dance beat. Ami’s vocal performance was pretty pass. I don’t like how slow she sings the verses, it just came across as very pointless to me, especially considering how she speeds up during the chorus. I don’t know, this track just does nothing for me and with a title like ‘reincarnation’ I was expecting something better than this. I really wish she’d return to her old style, or try out a new one, because this has gotten beyond old.

The next track on the album is a cover, Dub-I-Dub. Its a cover by some group called Me&My, that I’ve of course never heard of. Anyways, I’ll admit this is an interesting song, but I didn’t like it either. The arrangement is very techo, euro, dance dance. Ami’s vocal performance seemed to mesh with it, so I’m assuming she was under vocoder during this recording, of course. The only part of this song I liked was the ‘dub-i-dub’ parts, otherwise this song just went completely over my head. It played a lot better than the a-side though, I’ll give it that.

The last track on the single is Reincarnation (Extended Version). Ah, because the original just wasn’t long and torturous enough. It could have been worse, I liked this extended version a lot more than Perfume’s ‘edge’.

-GRADE: C
Rating: * star

Ami Suzuki’s 30th single Reincarnation was not as good as the cover art suggested it would be. I don’t like how its just another re-hashed version of all her other techno stuff, the only difference is it leans more towards dance than her previous techno material. Dub-I-Dub actually saved this single from a D, because even though I don’t like that track either, I do like the catchy-ness of the chorus. The extended version is self-explanatory, but surprisingly enough a lot more tolerable than the original, imagine that. I don’t know how much more of this I can take from Ami, she’s beyond boring to me now and has ventured into Kuraki Mai territory, hopefully her next single picks things up a little.

*This is an old review, this is the first of a slew of reviews I did before I decided to go on my hiatus. [April 14th, 2009]