BENI – Undress

December 3, 2015 at 2:15 PM | Posted in BENI | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
BENI – Undress

1. INTRO
2. DO IT RIGHT
3. BFF
4. Forever
5. MEOW
6. Kimi no Kakera
7. Yokogao
8. PAPA
9. DEEP SWEET EASY
10. BABY
11. SAYONARA
12. TATTOO
13. ZERO
14. Fun Fun Christmas

♦ ♦ ♦

Undress is the ninth studio album by Japanese/American singer BENI, and her sixth under the NAYUTAWAVE RECORDS label, released on November 25, 2015. The album ranked at #14 on the Oricon weekly charts, selling 7,281 copies in its first week.

INTRO is just a very serene track with BENI chanting in the background, kinda leading you into the feel of the album. DO IT RIGHT flows straight from it and it sounds very Western, like this is BENI’s American roots speaking. The track is similar to a mix between Selena Gomez and Kygo, a smooth R&B flow with laid back tropical deep house beats and high synths. Not very bombastic, but very nice as the first full track on the album!

BFF opens with soft acoustic guitars, but for the chorus the arrangement swells with percussion, electric guitars and strings. It gives the song just the right touch, and the melodies give it a very sweet and uplifting vibe. When you call a track ‘BFF’, this is what it should sound like. It’s a bit too long, but still very pretty (especially the vocals).

Ahh, there it is, Forever. I loved it on the single and it comes at the right time on this album, making it sounds even better than it already was. The opening still reminds me a bit of “You Can’t Hurry Love”, that same funky vibe, but BENI made this her very own unique and fun song with stellar vocals. I don’t think she has ever done anything like this before and I love her for releasing this as an A-side.

Interesting to call a track MEOW, but oh well. At least the arrangement sounds very interesting, modern and Western again, something that is probably her style for this album. This track is all over the place, and with that I especially mean the chorus, drawing inspiration from types of hardstyle music. I don’t know where she was heading with this, but it’s very quirky and I’m sure some people will hate this x’D

Kimi no Kakera is an R&B midtempo ballad, which is her signature style, but still BENI managed to make this different and in the style of this album, in contrast to what her songs were like back when ‘BITTER & SWEET’ was released. Despite that, and despite me really liking the track, I bet I will soon forget how it goes.

For Yokogao, BENI went for a more soulful and minimalistic approach, singing to a piano and strings only (with some soft percussion). I feel the vocals are a bit too loud, making her sound unstable at times, but on the other hand the emotion in her vocals is well done.

Opening the second half of the album is the midtempo song PAPA, a sweet song for BENI’s daddy. I like the arrangement, very smooth and fitting for this kind of song, and although I can’t understand the lyrics, I get the feeling she sings a sweet song to her father about how much she loves him. Just for that, I would love this.

DEEP SWEET EASY is a drawback for BENI if you ask me. Not that there’s anything very wrong with the song, but it just lacks something outstanding to make it memorable. Despite that, the arrangement is indeed beautiful. It just doesn’t live up to its full potential.

I like the uptempo quality of BABY, it’s like R&B on steroids. It could have had a smoother arrangement, but I feel like I understand the flow of the song more now than I did back when I reviewed it on the ‘Forever’ single. Now I also notice how the music develops throughout the song, adding more fun touches and making it more memorable. BENI, now I feel you.

SAYONARA incorporates more dance influences in its arrangement, and somehow I feel the beats, deep synths and handclaps make it sounds like a 90s dance song will there is still something modern about it. Interesting, and although usually I wasn’t into songs like this, I like this one. I would like to hear BENI do more of this in the future (despite some of the too simple lyrics).

In that same style (albeit a bit more like 90s house), this is the perfect time to cue in TATTOO. I liked this on the ‘Forever’ single for being another song that was not typical for BENI, and I mean that in the best way possible. BENI has always been about the smooth midtempo R&B ballads, but this girl can do uptempo dance and house tracks too and honestly, I like this better on her! One of the most kickass tracks on the album.

Alright, BENI, have it your way, one more midtempo R&B to close the original tracklisting. ZERO is kind of predictable, but enjoyable nonetheless. I would have liked this better earlier on the album, though. One thing: did BENI just sing “I don’t give a f***” right before the first chorus??!😮

CHRISTMAS! Fun Fun Christmas is what it says on the tin: a fun, uptempo song about Christmas, BENI style. Not something you would expect on a regular album, but it’s just a bonus track anyway. I do like the addition of this, it makes me happy!🙂

At first I was very excited about this album, I loved the first couple of tracks and I had high hopes, even when that weird piece MEOW came along. This is BENI doing something different for a change, and I could get used to that. Weren’t it for the fact that she always manages to add some more generic songs to her album to spoil the fun a bit. Now I would like to make clear that I still have to hear the first bad BENI song, but some of her songs just fail to capture my attention and that’s just too bad because I know what she’s capable of. Luckily, there are some new gems on this album, and I will definitely give it another chance in the future!

Favorite tracks: DO IT RIGHT | BFF | Forever | PAPA | BABY | SAYONARA | TATTOO | Fun Fun Christmas

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
3½ stars

Namie Amuro – Red Carpet

December 3, 2015 at 1:15 PM | Posted in Namie Amuro, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

redcarpet_zpscblhl6lgSingle review
Namie Amuro – Red Carpet

1. Red Carpet
2. Black Make Up
3. Red Carpet -Instrumental-
4. Black Make Up -Instrumental-

Red Carpet is the forty-third single by Japanese singer Namie Amuro, released on December 2, 2015. Black Make Up is used for theme of One Piece ~Adventure of Nevlandia~. The single debuted at #2 on the charts and sold 13,130 copies on its first day.

I feel so proud of Namie, Red Carpet sounds amazing from beginning to end! ‘_genic’, the album released earlier this year, was very good, but some of the songs did not stand out. This track does, so she’s going places with this. It’s very rhythmic, combining electric guitars, synths and acoustic guitars, and very catchy. I love the chorus, her vocals are very good and the melodies are very memorable. All in all, I love this!

Black Make Up is like a throwback to Namie’s ‘PLAY’ days (the 2007 album), it’s as playful as some of the tracks on that particular album. It’s faster paced than the A-side track, kinda funky with a lot of nice electric guitars, baselines and percussion. The arrangement is less full than that of Red Carpet, but it’s more fun while Red Carpet was impressive. All I can say is: perfect combination of two tracks on one single!

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarstar
5 stars

Selena Gomez – Revival

November 13, 2015 at 1:12 PM | Posted in Selena Gomez | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Selena Gomez – Revival

1. Revival
2. Kill Em With Kindness
3. Hands To Myself
4. Same Old Love
5. Sober
6. Good For You (feat. A$AP Rocky)
7. Camouflage
8. Me & The Rhythm
9. Survivors
10. Body Heat
11. Rise
12. Me & My Girls
13. Nobody
14. Perfect
15. Outta My Hands (Loco)
16. Cologne

♦ ♦ ♦

Revival is the second solo album by American singer Selena Gomez, released on October 9, 2015. The album topped the charts in the USA, Canada, and Norway, and sold 117,000 units in its first week.

I dive into the future / But I’m blinded by the sun / I’m reborn in every moment / So who knows what I become
Selena speaks these words when opening Revival, the title track and first track on the album. The song has an interesting sound, kind of experimental electro, very soft and yet the percussion is very loud and thumping. Selena delivers a very solid vocal performance, but as an opening track, this is probably a bit too laid back. Amazing track, just in the wrong place.

This is where things really take off. Kill Em With Kindness probably has even a better whistle hook than Adam Lambert’s ‘Ghost Town’, which was already amazing, but in this song it’s even more catchy. The album should’ve been opened by this track, since it instantly got me into the groove. Instead of sticking up her middle finger to how bad the world can be, Selena tells us to ‘kill em with kindness’. Inspirational.

A song that will hopefully become a hit somewhere down the line is Hands To Myself, which is so catchy I cannot get it out of my head (I haven’t been able to do so for the past few days so…). It’s seductive, smooth, and Selena’s vocals are soft and sultry in the verses, while she cries out in the hooks sounding like a mix between Miley Cyrus and Robyn. I’m in love with this one.

I was wondering why Selena sounded a bit different in the chorus of Same Old Love, but Charli XCX delivers the background vocals and they sound great together nonetheless. It’s an interesting midtempo electropop song that is another earworm on this album. I like the snappy beats, jazzy elements and piano tune in the arrangement. Great choice for a single.

Sober reminded me sooo much of Charli XCX’s ‘Boom Clap’, but it’s a good thing because it’s one of those few songs on the album I keep thinking about all day. It’s very catchy, I love that echoed percussion, and Selena’s vocals are again very powerful and solid.

And of course, there is the big summer hit: Good For You (feat. A$AP Rocky). I adore this song and I’m in love with Selena’s breathy and mumbling vocals, the stripped-down, minimalistic sound of the arrangement and the little hiphop elements (strengthened by A$AP Rocky’s catchy and fitting performance). All in all, possibly the strongest song on the entire album, it’s like Selena’s own version of Beyoncé’s ‘Partition’.

I was wondering if Selena would only do catchy and minimalistic songs, but not ballads on this album. Yet, Camouflage is the ballad I’ve been waiting for, and she executed it wonderfully. Her vocals are clear and controlled, attractive to listen to, and the arrangement is simple yet effective with only a piano and strings.

Me & The Rhythm is the next earworm on the album, and it took only one listen for me to love it. That chorus, and the way Selena sings her lyrics, is too catchy and interesting to forget. Nice for a change that it features a deep house beat (which I have come to love), while also incorporating 70s beats and tropical steeldrum sounds every now and then. Very good choice for the third single.

In order to keep things even more interesting, there is Survivors, which is kind of an anthemic song in the best possible way there is. It has a softer approach to electro-pop music, just to slow things down after Me & The Rhythm, but it works so well. That high pitched synth hook is perfection, reminds me a bit of Kygo music.

While explicit content isn’t Selena’s thing, she comes pretty close to discussing it in Body Heat. It’s like a little throwback to her roots because it features some catchy Latin influences, made more unique by brassy instruments and drums. If I didn’t know any better, this could’ve been Carnival music (and I mean that in a good way).

I was instantly attracted to the sound of Rise, somehow similar to Rihanna’s ‘Here I Go Again’ minus the beachy influences. There’s a certain bounce to it that I like and it sounds so airy and celebratory, so different from the approach Revival had, but it’s still like its sister song.

Moving on to the bonus tracks of the deluxe edition, there is Me & My Girls, a complete wake-up call. It’s like Body Heat, but on party drugs. Latin influences, quite feisty vocals by Selena (feistier than on the actual album tracks), and a big dose of female empowerment. If there’s a track that deserves it to be a special bonus track, it’s this spicy one.

Nobody slows it down again, and it’s like the sister song to Good For You, but then more about love than seduction. Still, the music is very seductive and while it’s not necessary, it sticks very well. It’s sweet and tasteful, and the R&B beats and soft piano notes echo around nicely.

From sweet love to bitter and obsessive jealousy in Perfect, which has an interesting and looming harp-smattered arrangement. When Selena sings ‘Maybe I should be more like her‘, I feel it. She brings a certain desperateness to her vocal performance that brings the track to a whole new level, proving that it’s well worth it to have the deluxe version of the album.

There are also two Target bonus tracks (wow, I really got my work cut out for me today). Outta My Hands (Loco) is indeed a bit ‘loco’ with that crazy violin melody opening the song, but it sure grabbed my attention very well. The longer I listen to this, the more I love it, although it’s more like material for her previous albums. Yet, I don’t mind at all!

Last but not least, there is Cologne. Is it just me, or does Selena indeed sound like Miley Cyrus when she belts out? Well, never mind, it’s nice to have her slow things down one last time with this mellow midtempo track. It features beats and synths, but in such a way that it’s soft and sweet, sounding like the love letter that it is. These last two tracks will make that trip to Target worth it.

Is it a big surprise that I love this album very much? I never expected to like Selena’s music because she never really caught my attention, but she surely has with this perfect piece of work. She embraced a completely new image, shaking off her Disney princess one, and she shows she is mature enough while she’s keeping it classy and tasteful. I was expecting a ‘phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes’ all over again, but eventually, that was totally not the case. Could this be the best revival ever?

Favorite tracks: Kill Em With Kindness | Hands To Myself | Same Old Love | Sober | Good For You (feat. A$AP Rocky | Canouflage | Survirors | Me & My Girls | Outta My Hands (Loco)

OVERALL RATING
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5 stars

Girls’ Generation – Lion Heart

November 13, 2015 at 11:45 AM | Posted in Girls' Generation | 2 Comments

ALBUM REVIEW
Girls’ Generation – Lion Heart

1. Lion Heart
2. You Think
3. PARTY
4. Eotteon Ohu (One Afternoon)
5. Show Girls
6. Fire Alarm
7. Talk Talk
8. Green Light
9. Paradise
10. Check
11. Sign
12. Yegam (Bump It)

♦ ♦ ♦

Lion Heart is the fifth Korean album by South Korean girl group Girls’ Generation, released on August 18 and 19, 2015. Half of the album’s songs were released on the 18th while the other half were released on the 19th. The title track and song “You Think” were used as the lead tracks.

I really like their vintage pin-up concept for this album, and Lion Heart fits that concept well with its retro sound. I keep thinking where I heard this song before, but I can’t seem to figure it out. It does mean it’s catchy enough to stick, which is absolutely true. Love the sugary pop vibe and cute vocals.

Now it seems that 2 EPs were released, ‘Lion Heart’ and ‘You Think’, but I’ll just stick to the tracklisting I’ve got here. You Think is the other lead track and it’s very different from Lion Heart. Again, it sounds so familiar, but oh well. Maybe my friend M. introduced me to the tracks months ago. This track is the R&B club banger the girls perform so well, and I love how bratty it sounds. Great vocals again.

Of course, I know PARTY. I reviewed it when it was released and that ‘P-A-R-T-Y‘ is something I cannot get out of my head for, like, the rest of the month, thank you very much. It’s generic, it’s autotuned, it’s completely out of place in November with its summery sound, but it’s like a guilty pleasure. So despite that, I still seem to love it. When I’m in the right mood, that is.

SNSD goes Spanish for Eotteon Ohu (One Afternoon), with the arrangement I mean. It’s a sweeter and more mellow songs than the other songs on the album, it features some nice Spanish guitars, but the jazzy piano solo makes it even more interesting. It’s like they mixed two different styles and made a new one that doesn’t sound unattractive. Extra points for originality.

From Spain to a Burlesque club, where the heck are these girls taking me. Show Girls starts off very smooth and mysterious with that typical slow burlesque vibe, I really like it. But then they screw things up by moving into a very bombastic and fast chorus. It’s like two songs mixed into one, and it kinda ruins it for me. Just stick to the slower verse vibe, please, this is just horrifying while it didn’t have to be.

Fire Alarm is what its title suggests (in my opinion): a dance tune with blazing synths and beats, and some more techno sound effects. The arrangement sounds very full for most of the song, which I like, but it could’ve been better, I need some more power now. Praise for the vocals though, which are very smooth.

Apparently, Talk Talk was already on another release, but I can’t seem to figure out which one. Anyway, it’s a midtempo R&B inspired track with a snapping beat, piano melodies in the background, and solid vocals. It’s a bit 90s Destiny’s Child, which is amazing. I really like this one.

Green Light is pure SNSD at its best: catchy hooks and a little bit of repeated lyrics here and there to really make it stick. The chorus is the best part, I like how they repeat ‘Beep Beep‘ between their lines. This should’ve been a single to be honest, could’ve been a hit.

Paradise keeps the smooth ambiance of the album on track, it’s somewhere between a midtempo and uptempo track. Somehow I categorize it as a summer song, probably because of its soft and airy approach to dance music. The verses are the best, but the chorus doesn’t stay to far behind either. It’s relaxing, while it still slays with those synths and beats.

Partnering PARTY, Check is like a mellow take to EDM music, which leaves more room for the SNSD girls with their crooning. I liked it when I reviewed the PARTY single because the songs balanced each other, but on this spot in the tracklisting, it sounds a bit too generic and maybe forgettable. Still, the lower vocals make it stick just enough. Maybe if I listen to it more, things will work out.

Sign brings back a bit more of the power that was needed at this point, with low pitched synths, and even some horns that really spice it up. The little hiphop break in the bridge was nice, kinda had me surprised there. But overall, I think this is the track on the album that is easiest to forget, at least for me. Not bad, but still.

Moving on to the last track already. I was expecting a ballad because of how Yegam (Bump It) starts, with a soft piano tune. Then, the other girls come in with a relatively fast and bouncy beat that’s typical for R&B, but the piano tune in the background makes it more bluesy. You got it, a very interesting arrangement to say the least. That’s what makes me love it so much, this is the track I’ve been waiting for! It’s amazing and definitely a recommendation.

I completely forgot about this album. I mean, HOW COULD I, I checked the Generasia Wiki frequently during the summer because I knew SNSD would release a new album. Well, thankfully, I caught up eventually. I really like this album, there wasn’t a single bad track. Maybe some that were kinda lost between the others because of their particular spot on the tracklist, but many songs have something unique and interesting to offer that I haven’t heard before. SNSD manages to keep things vibrant, and for that, they receive extra points!

Favorite tracks: Lion Heart | You Think | PARTY | Talk Talk | Green Light | Paradise | Yegam (Bump It)

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarhalfstar
4½ stars

Leona Lewis – I Am

November 12, 2015 at 4:22 PM | Posted in Leona Lewis | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Leona Lewis – I Am

1. Thunder
2. Fire Under My Feet
3. You Knew Me When
4. I Am
5. Ladders
6. The Essence Of Me
7. I Got You
8. Power
9. Another Love Song
10. Thank You

♦ ♦ ♦

I Am is the fifth studio album by British singer/songwriter Leona Lewis, released on September 11, 2015. The album sold 24,000 copies in its first week of release.

What a great way to open the album with power anthem Thunder. It’s a power ballad with a soulful bounce to it, announcing Leona’s rise from the ashes and her return to the industry after her depression. She certainly puts herself on the map again with this song and I love it for its fiery ambiance.

For Fire Under My Feet, Leona channeled her inner Adele (think ‘Rolling In The Deep’). It’s a bit of a diva song that takes elements from gospel music, which I think is very original nonetheless. It took me a bit longer to let everything this song has to offer sink in, but now I’m positive about how strong this single really is.

For the first slow ballad on the album, Leona pours her heart out in You Knew Me When. Lyrically, it’s about how she changed after a relationship gone wrong. When it comes to the music, there’s a noticeable buildup in the song. She starts softly singing to a piano melody, but eventually percussion, strings and a background choir come in to add to the drama of it all. Center point is Leona’s vocals, which are stunning.

Massive Attack (‘Unfinished Sympathy’) anyone? I Am is the next self-empowerment song and it takes a bit after said song, in the best possible way of course. Some believe this is about how Leona feels after leaving Syco Records and Simon Cowell, but I’m not sure, could be though. Anyway, this is quite a catchy song and a worthy title track. Also, one of my favorites.

Ladders is so different from the rest of the tracks when it comes to the arrangement (not surprising since it’s the only song with other producers). This track is more dance-friendly, which is something I did not expect Leona to tackle, but she did it very well. Her vocal acrobatics near the end of the song are among the best on this album, but overall this song is not among my absolute favorites. Not bad, though.

Of all the songs on the album, I think The Essence Of Me was most forgettable (despite some highlights in the song, but they apparently couldn’t really save it). It’s a bit too generic, and by now I was so surprised about the diversity on this album. Not a bad song, but it could’ve been more special. Maybe I just need a little time with this one.

As the queen of emotional ballads, Leona has had problems in the past with uptempo songs. Yet, on this album, another track like I Got You proves otherwise. This positive song is very welcome by now on the album, and it reminds me a bit of some other uplifting gospel songs. Her vocals slay everything and I think this is probably the track that showcases her amazing abilities best.

Power is right what it says on the tin: another self-empowerment song (‘This is where you end and I begin‘). Some blame Leona for being too blunt on the album, which is sort of true, but at least she’s not overly bitter. The chorus is quite simple, but I like the overall 90s pop ambiance this track has. It’s like a little throwback!

Another uptempo track, and this is probably the best on the entire album since it’s so different. Tropical dance, yay! Another Love Song might feature some bitter lyrics, but the arrangement is so uplifting with its tropical steeldrums and fast beats I can’t even. Some autotuning won’t even ruin this, I think she needed this song in her discography since it’s wonderful.

Closing the album gracefully, Thank You is a soft ballad in which Leona thanks someone for always standing by her side, which is of course a beautiful message. It has a subtle soulful approach, but that only becomes evident near the end when the music swells, and that’s when everything truly becomes magical. Thank you Leona, for those lovely notes that were borderline whistle notes.

I’m surprised this album is this good, I’ve never considered Leona as one of my standard artists but now I’m definitely contemplating it. This is her breakup album, and usually, when they are good, I love those kinds of albums. She gave it her own twist and tackled some genres that make her more diverse as an artist. She fought her way back into the spotlight and battled many things to accomplish this, I think she should receive more recognition for this album. After all, 24,000 copies is not a lot.

Favorite songs: Thunder | Fire Under My Feet | I Am | I Got You | Another Love Song | Thank You

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

Kalafina – far on the water

November 11, 2015 at 12:52 PM | Posted in Kalafina | 1 Comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Kalafina – far on the water

1. into the water
2. monochrome
3. Gogatsu no Mahou
4. ring your bell
5. Usumurasaki
6. identify
7. Hokage
8. One Light
9. Musunde Hiraku
10. heavenly blue
11. Sorairo no Isu
12. believe
13. far on the water

♦ ♦ ♦

far on the water is the fifth studio album by Japanese group Kalafina, released on September 16, 2015. The title track “far on the water” was used as the fourth ending theme for the NHK program Rekishi Hiwa Historia. The album peaked at #2 on the Oricon Charts and has sold 41,372 copies to date.

into the water opens the album and it’s like a welcome to the listener, a welcome to the world of Kalafina’s new album. It’s soft and features beautiful chanting, sound of nature, and some bells. Personally, I prefer ‘al fine’ on Consolation, but this is definitely not bad either.

What I loved on their previous album was the kickass song right after the intro, and monochrome is not in the category ‘kickass tracks’. I must say I’m more used to it by now, but all I could think of when I first heard this song was ‘Hm… interesting”. Perhaps because of the arrangement with both electric guitars and an accordion, which is not very typical. Still interesting, but more on the positive side.

I think I would’ve preferred Gogatsu no Mahou as the second track after into the water, it’s a bit more bombastic from the start. It’s a 6/8 track with percussion, electric guitars and strings, and there’s more pathos. Wakana’s vocals are amazing, as always, but so are the other girls’. For ‘just’ an album track, this is golden.

ring your bell is still quite a complex song because of the melodies (and I just can’t follow), but that’s not a bad thing. Despite not being very catchy (only after a couple of listens), it is breathtaking. I’m glad it’s fast paced and that it features a lot of electric guitars, still it sounds very light. The vocals are perfection here, definitely one of my favorite tracks.

Usumurasaki is a dark and Arabian-influenced track, very different from ring your bell. In a way, it’s even foreboding in a certain way. Those strings make it perfect, and the vocals finish everything off. I think I need multiple listens to really memorize it, but the first impression is very good!

What I love about Kalafina is their diversity, and after some lighter songs and a dark Arabian song, their side focused on rock music comes in with identify. Keiko and Hikaru take the lead wonderfully in this guitar-driven, fast-paced track with more aggressive elements. That electric guitar solo in the bridge was everything.

I don’t like how Hokage just… starts, out of the blue. It’s like they throw in a chorus right away. This is a slow song with piano and strings, and the girls singing in harmony. Wakana takes the lead again, the vocals sound amazing, but with more of a buildup this could’ve worked out better. Now it’s quite boring and ‘just there’.

YESS, One Light! This is definitely one of my new favorites, and I love how Hikaru is the best vocalist in this song (her vocals usually work best for their heavier songs). Together with ring your bell, this is probably the most solid song on the entire album. Classic Kalafina slaying everything, wham!

Like a throwback to ‘Eden’, that’s what Musunde Hiraku sounds like. Again, it’s much lighter than songs like One Light and identify, but still the arrangement kicks you-know-what with a lot of electric guitars and strings. Although I like this song, I’m afraid it gets lost between all the other songs here.

The ‘anime theme song style’ Kalafina sometimes has returns with heavenly blue, and I can tell you it doesn’t sound as ‘heavenly’ as the title suggests (and I don’t mean that in a bad way). It’s the theme song for ALDNOAH.ZERO and again its bursting with energy from electric guitars, strings and percussion. The more I listen to it, the more I appreciate it!

Despite being one of the shortest songs on the album, Sorairo no Isu sounds very magical, reminding me of fairy forests for some strange reason. I love the arrangement with a harp, an acoustic guitar and a soft violin, it makes the song stand out among all the others.

believe was on a single I reviewed almost a year ago (wow…), and I remember loving it. It opens as a winter song, but then it becomes something completely different with that typical Kalafina anime rock quality as I call it. Some parts still remind me a bit of ‘to the beginning’, but this track has a unique quality of its own nonetheless.

The title track closes the album. far on the water has some beautiful melodies than stun me from the beginning, Keiko opens the track so well. Hikaru and Wakana take over pretty soon, though. But I must say, this is a song that has its very own sound and I love it for that. It’s a worthy ending to this album.

I think Wakana must have a sore throat now because I heard more of her than the other girls on this album, but still. At first when I heard monochrome, it kinda caught me off guard and I wasn’t sure whether this album would be as good as their previous albums (looking at the tracklisting). It worked out pretty well in the end, and the Kalafina magic still isn’t lost. The singles were the album’s highlights, but some of the album tracks are also very pleasant to listen to. I don’t think this will ever be as good as ‘Red Moon’, but at least they didn’t disappoint at all! One small detail: where are ‘Kimi no Gin no Niwa’ and ‘Alleluia’???!!

Favorite tracks: Gogatsu no Mahou | ring your bell | One Light | heavenly blue | Sorairo no Isu | believe | far on the water

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

Kalafina – One Light

November 6, 2015 at 4:59 PM | Posted in Kalafina | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Kalafina – One Light

1. One Light
2. Mahiru
3. Samidare ga Sugita Koro ni
4. One Light ~TV size~

One Light is the eighteenth single by Japanese group Kalafina, released on August 12, 2o15. The title track was used as the second ending theme for the anime series Arslan Senki. The single has sold 11,708 copies to date.

Wow, One Light sounds amazing, so much like what I know and love from Kalafina. It’s one of their heavier songs and I always love those since they slay everything there ever was. I’m surprised by how good HIKARU sounds, I’m starting to love her voice more and more with every release. Both the verses and the chorus in this song are perfect, and that electric guitar solo in the bridge finished it. Let me adore this, thank you very much❤

How different Mahiru sounds right after One Light‘s burst of energy, and how different the girls all sound! Both WAKANA and HIKARU have much deeper vocals here, and it’s nice to hear some other influences in their voices for a change. Basically, this song is very serene and calm, led by only a piano, but it’s beautiful. I think I would’ve liked it better as the third song, though.

Since when does Kalafina do regular pop…? Samidare ga Sugita Koro ni literally has nothing of their usual (or should I say unusual) style and it’s such a pity, since their vocal harmonies do not fit the music well if you ask me. Also, there are absolutely no highlights that make it stand out. No, I think this single would’ve worked better with only the first two songs. But, as you can see, it didn’t influence the rating much because the other two songs were more than perfect😉

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

BENI – Forever

November 6, 2015 at 4:21 PM | Posted in BENI | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
BENI – Forever

1. Forever
2. BABY
3. TATTOO
4. CAT’S EYE

Forever is the twenty-sixth single by Japanese/American singer BENI, released on August 12, 2015. The single sold 765 copies.

Well, that’s not much, only 765 copies… And to think this is the first single for her new album ‘Undress’ (TBR 2015.11.25). Anyway, Forever does not sound like anything BENI has done before AT ALL. The song is very funky and the beginning reminded me a bit of ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’, it’s actually the best part of the entire song. BENI herself also sounds amazing, belting out high notes in the chorus.  I’m in love with this❤

The beat in BABY sounds a bit off to me, it’s not a bad thing that it’s uptempo but when I listen to the instruments I would imagine something a bit smoother, like in the bridge. It does have some nice R&B elements that BENI always pulls off nicely, but I think this song needs a little more time to get used to before I love it (and besides, I’m not going to love any song as much as Forever).

There’s something about TATTOO that sounds very 90s house, while it’s also modern. One thing is for sure, this is the third song in a row that is not typically BENI, in a good way! It’s very interesting that BENI tried this and her vocals work very well for this genre too, it leaves me wanting more!

CAT’S EYE is a cover, but I don’t know the original (as with most cover songs). The song has a mysterious ambience in some way, perhaps because of those piano notes throughout the arrangement. I must say this is the song I like least of all, although it doesn’t completely lack potential.

Well, if I wasn’t excited for ‘Undress’ already, I certainly am now!

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

Ayumi Hamasaki – sixxxxxx

November 6, 2015 at 3:05 PM | Posted in Ayumi Hamasaki | Leave a comment

MINI-ALBUM REVIEW
Ayumi Hamasaki – sixxxxxx

1. Step by Step
2. Summer diary
3. Sayonara feat. SpeXial
4. Sorrows
5. Shape of Love
6. Sky high

♦ ♦ ♦

sixxxxxx is the fifth mini-album released by Japanese singer Ayumi Hamasaki on August 5, 2015. The album debuted at #1 on the Oricon charts and has sold 44,410 copies to date.

Ayu didn’t waste any time after A ONE, she released this only five months after that! Opening this mini-album, Step by Step kinda feels like it’s a bridge between A ONE and sixxxxxx, since it won’t sounds out of place on A ONE. It’s easily recognizable that this song is a theme song for an anime, it has that typical Ayu anime song feeling, but with a touch of summer. I needed to get used to it a bit, but I really like it now!

I have loved Summer diary ever since I first heard it and saw the (emotional) MV, too bad summer is over already and I should’ve played this on repeat all the time, but unfortunately I didn’t. Still, I can imagine doing so, because this bubbly summer song (with a little Ayu edge) totally slays everything.

Time to fire it up for the next song. Sayonara feat. SpeXial is a collaboration with a Taiwanese boy band, and it sounds pretty awesome! After some typical Ayu rock songs, they threw in some dance beats for this one and it actually works very well. After four and a half minutes it does get a bit monotonous, but the rest of the song is better than I thought. Also, Ayu’s English sounds so good!

Wow, I’m surprised by how dramatic Sorrows sounds (yes, even despite the title). The verses are quiet and even ominous, but I wasn’t expecting the aggressive chorus with the full arrangement. This is Ayu’s other side, more focused on heavy music and kicking serious you-know-what. I’m even more surprised that I find this one of the better songs on the album.

Shape of Love interestingly features a 6/8 beat, but that’s not everything. Where did that amazing mandolin come from?! I was about to think Ayu didn’t have any more tricks up her sleeve, but boy I was wrong. It makes the whole song much more interesting, and it’s less bombastic than the previous song too.

Last (but definitely not least), Sky high closes the album with an airy vibe. After two darker and more emotional tracks, this is a great way to end the album upbeat and cheerful. It has the same feeling that Summer diary also has, so I think that makes the song instantly likeable.

I wasn’t expecting to be so satisfied with the album. Ofcourse it’s going to need multiple listens because I basically remember only the first three songs (I know), but I was overall very pleased. I hear Ayu is going to release another mini in about a month, so it makes me even more curious if she can keep this up. I hope she can release more songs that do not sound to much like older songs.

Favorite songs: Step by Step | Summer diary | Sorrows | Sky high

OVERALL RATING
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4 stars

 

 

Back!

November 6, 2015 at 2:18 PM | Posted in !Random! | Leave a comment

Hi everyone!

It’s been quite a while, but I have decided to come back to MA to catch up on some releases of the past few months. I’ve been absent since the end of July because I went on vacation for three weeks and school started right after that, and since I started my Masters education you can imagine I don’t have that much time to myself.

Also, my apologies for not updating for the 5th anniversary, I was in the USA at that time and I completely forgot to prepare something in advance! I was not really planning on anything special, but maybe I can make it up to you guys by making the holiday season a bit more special😉

As always, I cannot promise to post frequently. Starting today, I do have a week off from my studies, but who knows what I want to do during that week off, there are so many things I haven’t done in quite a while. But the intention is there! Bear with me and enjoy what’s coming up!🙂

Love,

Jade

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