Koda Kumi – Alive / Physical thing

August 20, 2010 at 9:35 PM | Posted in Koda Kumi | Leave a comment

SINGLE REVIEW
Koda Kumi – Alive / Physical thing

1. Alive
2. Physical thing
3. Alive (Instrumental)
4. Physical thing (Instrumental
5. TRICK Live Version (From TRICK Tour 2009)
6. Joyful Live Version (From TRICK Tour 2009)

Alive/Physical thing is Koda Kumi’s forty-fifth single, and it was released on September 16, 2009. “Alive” was used as the theme song for the film-adaptation of “Kamui the Ninja”. The single peaked at #1 on the Oricon charts, earning Kumi her 8th #1 single.

Alive is one of Kumi’s prettiest songs I’ve ever heard. It’s so ambient, I love the woodwinds and smooth strings, it gives off such a calm and sophisticated feeling. This could even suit fellow J-pop singer alan, who sings epic songs like this one. Personally, I love me some ballads, and this beautiful one right here never lets me down, no matter how many times I listen to it. It’s so different from things Kumi used to do, she would always hit folks with her cute pop or smooth R&B songs, so this was a huge surprise for me. One of my favourite Kumi songs ever!

As I expected, Kumi isn’t throwing two ballad’s in a row at me. Physical thing is energetic, good lawd! Aggressive synths and some fierce vocals from miss Koda as well. It’s a 180 from Alive, that’s for sure. It doesn’t really stand out in my opinion, but hey, everyone here knows I’m everything but a dance lover xD Apart from that, she really did some great work on this song.

Two live versions are included on this single too, and TRICK Live Version (From TRICK Tour 2009) is the first. It’s funny to hear Kumi scream and sweeping up the audience, and I really would like to see a video of this performance, since it’s all bouncy music and less singing, so she must have been dancing a lot. I like the (surprise surprise) new verse addition near the end! Very, very good live performance to say the least.

Joyful Live Version (From TRICK Tour 2009) is the second live performance, and I remember liking this song a little less on her studio album. I have to say there’s almost no difference between Kumi on a studio album and her on stage, she sounds exactly the same. She sings so pure, she hits every note and really sounds like a performer to me. This live version makes me like this song more though. Gosh, I’d almost book a ticket to Tokyo sometime to hit the road for one of her concert tours! xD

I understand why this single is #1 on the Oricon charts, every song, including the live bonus tracks, are extremely wonderful! Alive and both the live versions are all on #1 for me, but Physical thing isn’t bad either. This single is so full of useful material, and I’m so glad every track appeared on a studio album (Alive and Physical thing on her latest album UNIVERSE and both live versions on her previous album TRICK). I’ve found some new favourites, I think, that’s how much I loooove this single.

Favorite tracks: Alive | TRICK Live Version (From TRICK Tour 2009) | Joyful Live Version (From TRICK Tour 2009)

OVERALL RATING

5 stars

 

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KOKIA – Fairy Dance ~KOKIA meets Ireland~

August 20, 2010 at 3:59 PM | Posted in KOKIA | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
KOKIA – Fairy Dance ~KOKIA meets Ireland~

1. Lydia~Fairy Dance
2. song of pocchong~Shizuku no Uta (song of pocchong~雫の歌)
3. Kanashikute Yarikirenai (悲しくてやりきれない)
4. Black is the colour
5. Soshuu Yakyoku (蘇州夜曲)
6. Siúil a Rúin
7. Sono Mama de ~be as you are~ (そのままで ~be as you are~)
8. Taimse Im’ chodhadh

♦ ♦ ♦

Fairy Dance~KOKIA meets Ireland~ is Japanese singer KOKIA’s  seventh studio album, released on September 24, 2008. It is the third of four albums released in 2008 to celebrate her 10th anniversary as a singer. She recorded five covers and three original songs for this Ireland inspired album. Of the covers, three are traditional Celtic songs. The album reached #67 on the Oricon albums charts, selling 4,000 copies.

Gosh, for my first encounter with KOKIA’s music, I was completely stunned by how beautiful Lydia~Fairy Dance is! KOKIA is performing in traditional Irish sean nós style, and her head voice sounds so etherical… She sings in harmony with herself, and not an entire choir, which I always like a lot. Also heard on this track are very good arranged fiddle, guitar and flute parts. The flute plays lovely light melodies, so I’m almost dreaming away with this song… I have loved Irish music since Titanic, so I am positive this whole album will not let me down.

song of pocchong~Shizuku no Uta (song of pocchong~雫の歌) also includes that lovely fiddle sound in the music, and KOKIA herself is singing in… well, I don’t know what it is. Gibberish? What I DO know, is that KOKIA can hit some extremely high notes with those gibberish lyrics! This song is pretty enjoyable for me, but I like Lydia~Fairy Dance a little over this one. The music is most enjoyable ofcourse! I can hear Sissel Kyrkjebo chanting the Titanic tune already…

Wow, I love the woodwind and guitar in the opening for Kanashikute Yarikirenai (悲しくてやりきれない), which seems to be a Japanese track on this album. It also shows me what KOKIA’s vocals are really like without the chanting and overall gibberish adlibbing. She’s very talented in my opinion, her voice is easy on the ears and very light. Her voice goes very well with the beautiful flute in the background, and it’s the third track in a row that appealed enough to me.

Apparently The Corrs sung Black is the colour as well… Should ask my mum sometime… Anyway, KOKIA does it again. She sings completely in English and does that pretty well, better than fellow Japanese singer Koda Kumi (but that’s not even a comparisation worth). What I noticed, is that KOKIA sings this song form a male perspective. She sings about a certain ‘she’ in, for example, ‘I love the ground whereon she goes‘. The three magical instruments, being the flute, fiddle and guitar, return in this track ofcourse, and this is definitely one of my favourites.

It’s great fun to hear what you get when you mix an old Japanese song with an Irish musical arrangement: Soshuu Yakyoku (蘇州夜曲). KOKIA sings with so much beauty and calmness in her voice, she really sings in an Irish way. The music also features that typical Irish sound with the fiddle playing a nice tune. I keep noticing that KOKIA’s singing is always at a higher pitch, which gives off that special ambience for this album. For a Japanese woman, she blends in with this style very well.

A Japanese woman singing in Irish? It’s possible! Just listen to the beautiful Siúil a Rúin, and you’ll know how pretty KOKIA brings these Irish lyrics together with a lovely Irish melody made of a guitar and flute most of all. The choir in the chorus sounds wonderful as well, and the fiddle decorates this track once in a while ofcourse. The guitar is most dominant in this track, but my main focus is on KOKIA’s flawless vocals, including the accent she’s trying out!

As soon as I hear KOKIA’s first vocal notes in Sono Mama de ~be as you are~ (そのままで ~be as you are~), I immediately know that this will not be my last review of her music. Not even close! This track is a little more uptempo than the others because of the rhythm of the guitar, KOKIA’s lyrics are fully Japanese again and I love the flute part in the bridge. The fiddle becomes more dominant during the last chorus, and the instrumentarium and KOKIA’s vocal volume gain strength during the last minute of the song, my favourite part.

When KOKIA performs acapella during the beginning of Taimse Im’ chodhadh, it’s pure and flawless again, and it’s especially beautiful because of the uillean pipes addition. This track reminds me the most of the Titanic Suite, even in its melody lies a hince of that song. Because it reminds me so much of that, this could easily be my favourite song on the entire album, even though it’s so calm and relaxing.

Is there anything more I have to say about this album? Yes, that it was way too short for me and that I’m begging KOKIA for a follow-up on this album for sure! She did great, and for a Japanese performer, she can blend in with Celtic styles very well. For someone who already liked Irish music, I love it even more now because of this album. So because she did another style so well, I think KOKIA may be able of pulling anything off. So… since no one in my environment can stand this music, I call this my own guilty pleasure. And believe me, I’m PROUD of it!!

Favorite tracks: Lydia~Fairy Dance | Black is the colour | Siúil a Rúin | Taimse Im’ chodhadh

OVERALL RATING

5 stars

alan – my life

August 20, 2010 at 11:35 AM | Posted in alan | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
alan – my life

1. reflection ~overture~
2. Swear
3. One
4. Mitsumeteitai
5. Namida (Smooth Jam Mix)
6. Lost Child
7. Butterflies
8. Essence of me
9. Call my name
10. Shiroi Tsubasa
11. Nobody knows but me
12. BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~
13. Kuon no Kawa
14. my life
♦ ♦ ♦

my life is the second Japanese album by Tibetan singer alan. It was released on November 25,2009 in Japan and on November 27, 2009 in Taiwan and Hong Kong, under the name Wo De Ren Shen (我的人生). The album was released in two different versions: a CD-only version and a CD+DVD version. The album’s titular song, “my life”, was used as the theme song for the PSP game God Eater. The album peaked at #16 on the weekly Oricon charts, charting for seven weeks.

Maybe I’ve waited to long to finally review this album, even on my previous music blog. We’ll see in a while. I was hoping alan would pick up where she left off on her debut album Voice of EARTH, since reflection ~overture~ starts off so calm with a harp and a piano. It really makes me think of a flower garden, but then a dance, almost techno-like, beat comes in with some synths and the hole introduction goes 180.

Swear is more similar to what alan previously did, it’s more laid-back than the introduction, because it seems to be a midtempo oriental song of some kind. It goes a little more poppy when the song develops, but alan’s vocals still remind me of that beautiful Voice of EARTH era. The beat is hopping, and now the synths are replaced by real strings and a bass guitar. Even some bells are featured now and then, and the whole song is likeable to me.

When the melody of One drops in, I have a feeling I may like this song as well. This ballad track is led by a beautiful piano and a slow and soft beat with some strings in the chorus. alan’s vocals sound just a little different sometimes, like she’s suddenly a few years younger, but maybe that was her idea of fitting them into the song. In the bridge, I hear a electric guitar solo for the first time ever in alan’s discography (although I personally may have missed something), and I was right: love this song!

Again, a piano opens the next track, which is Mitsumeteitai. This is even slower paced than One, and includes only a acoustic piano, so that it almost feels like a piano version of a song that includes more instruments like One. The bridge really stuns me, since alan is singing all high notes and I even hear a little sort of Tibetan wail here. Even though this song may be all serene and stuff, it’s actually very pretty and simple.

Now I’m curious about Namida (Smooth Jam Mix), of which the introduction remind me a bit of her first self composed song Together because of the disonant drums. Nothing really stands out for me until the second chorus, when her voice wakes me up a bit. I don’t like the percussion in this song, it’s too dominant. The strings and piano are a pro though, as are alan’s vocals again. Still, this track remains more boring than what I’ve heard before.

Lost Child then features some sort of dance-like feeling through it’s bouncy percussion and a few pretty strings here and there. After the chorus, a sort of rapping voice can be heard in the background for a few seconds, and I wonder if that’s a featured artist who’s missing on the track list. This track does nothing for me, although there are some things I DO like, such as those deep string riffs and a electric guitar playing in more of a Jazz sound.

The introduction to Butterflies really DOES remind me of butterflies as a harp plays some beautiful tones. That melody is later being taken over by a more oriental instrument, and for the first time alan kind of returns to her comfort zone again. I don’t like the backing vocals in this song, but the music is a huge plus. alan reaches some big high notes in here again, but most of the time I’m just anticipating. The chorus stands out most of all, and so do the bridge and introduction.

For the first time on this album, a song can really be called a dance song. What was alan thinking with Essence of me? It’s so not her. This track is totally made of uptempo percussion, bass, heavy synths and distortion effects, even in her voice, which has definitly been edited by a vocoder. This sounds more like a remix than an original song, can I please skip this?

Then she’s back with a same kind of dance song, Call my name. Finally some normal vocals without the addition of a stupid vocoder (yes, in this case, it’s stupid), and this song makes a little more sense to me, although the beats and synths still don’t appeal to me. Apart from that, I must say alan is a multi-functional singer and blends in with different styles she may not be used to, so this style isn’t that bad at all. It’s just not her. Love the bass, though.

Back to the beautiful ballads with Shiroi Tsubasa, a song with a beautiful acoustic guitar, bass and fingersnaps. I still think her voice suits these kind of songs best, since they immediately get a sort of energy boost through her beautiful voice. The chorus can truly make a person cry, and this is such a big IMPROVEMENT after those dance tracks. The guitar really adds something pretty here, a relaxing element. The most beautiful song on this album!

Nobody knows but me is another ballad of the same kind as Mitsumeteitai, but here the piano is accompanied by disonant drums. This track is kinda pretty, but I just don’t get the fact that an altered voice is speaking right over the chorus! Her very first real Tibetan wail on this album and an erhu make things all right again, and she totally nailed this song, it takes me right back to those Voice of EARTH days…

I’m glad we got right back on track with oriental alan ballads again, and BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~ throws in a Tibetan wail even before the real song starts! This is more of a winter ballad with piano, soft percussion, bells, echo effects and strings. Reminds me of an Ayumi Hamasaki song of the same name (BALLAD), and I loooved that song.

Wait… isn’t Kuon no Kawa just Chi Bi: Da Jiang Dong Qu from her Chinese album Xin De Dong Fang, but then in a lower key?? I instantly recognized the bombastic opening to the track, which lead into a dramatic ballad that features some of the same elements as BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~, such as the same instruments (strings, bells, piano and sometimes some echo effects and soft percussion). Don’t get me wrong, these tracks definitly aren’t the same at all! This track is more dramatic because of some gong effect, and it’s a little more foreboding (Yes! Another wail and erhu!)

The fifth ballad in a row, and one of the prettiest of all: the title track my life, that really represents all the good elements of this album. This powerballad features some more dominant percussion to give it that extra drama, yet the piano makes it all laid-back again. I was surprised about alan’s vocals in this track, because she has a lot of high notes, especially in the bridge (unbelieveable, will the real Mariah Carey please stand up?).

There were some points where I was expecting the worst, but all those beautiful ballads made me forget the terrible elements instantly! Only reflection ~overture~, Namida (Smooth Jam Mix), Lost Child, Essence of me and Call my name are dance tracks that make me think ‘omg, now I know what they meant with AyuNation’. I really expected those tracks to overrule this album and to make me come to the conclusion alan is a new Ayumi Hamasaki! Luckily, all the other tracks proved the opposite, and especially the last five tracks. Those are moments I’ll never get back, and I have come to love both alan as her work. She does a great job, but I hope she’ll be back to her wailing after this, because stepping out of her trusted comfort zone isn’t really her thing.

Favorite tracks: One | Mitsumeteitai | Shiroi Tsubasa |BALLAD ~Namonaki Koi no Uta~ | my life

OVERALL RATING

4 stars

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