Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Shota Shimizu - Friday
Cover for both CD & CD + DVD versions
3) Good Life -New Jack Swing Remix-
4) Friday Instrumental
Friday is Shota Shimizu's 24th single & it was released last week on 16th May .
Shota's new single was released about 4 months+ since his previous single Good Life .
Friday was used to promote The Premium Music Campaign organised by Suntory's The Premium Malts & the song was 1st aired via The Premium Music Campaign app .
The A-side was also chosen to be used as the opening theme song for TV Asahi's Break Out programme for this month .
Prior to the physical CD single release , Friday was 1st released digitally on 9th May .
Friday includes 2 B-sides , Letter & a New Jack Swing Remix of Good Life .
It's no secret that I haven't been liking Shota's recent music releases since early 2016 as he kept releasing music back to back which's so auto tune driven & unfortunately or not , Friday is easily his most auto tune over saturated single to date .
All the 3 songs in Friday are filled with maximum auto tune usage back to back which made me have a big headache .
I wish Shota's fans can write/tell him personally to stop using auto tune since Shota writes & composes almost his entire discography as that's not what I got into Shota's music in the 1st place almost 10 years ago .
It's strange for Shota to use autotune to mask his vocals , it's not that he's vocally terrible , in fact it's the opposite .
I don't want to come to a situation where I stop listening to Shota due to this which's a big shame as I think he's vocally talented but at this rate he's going , I might as well go listen to Hatsune Miku instead .
Thursday, May 17, 2018
CD Review :: NEWS - EPCOTIA
CD + DVD
1) EPCOTIA SAFETY GUIDE -INTER-
4) TWINKLE STAR
5) Warp Chu -INTER-
7) Koi Suru Wakusei
8) JUMP AROUND
9) Docking -INTER-
11) IT'S YOU
12) Iseijin to no Contact ni Tsuite -INTER-
16) Hoshi ni Negai wo
18) Kaeri Michi -INTER-
19) HAPPY ENDING
EPCOTIA is NEWS's 9th album & it was released on 21st March .
NEWS's new album is a sequel to last year's NEVERLAND & it has a space travel theme . Only 1 single LPS is included in EPCOTIA .
The new album title stands for EXPERIENCE PLANETS, A CORNER OF COSMOS. LET'S GO TRAVELING INTO ASTROWORLD .
The CD only version of EPCOTIA has 4 solo tracks . Both versions of the album has 5 interludes each .
After the album opening introduction number EPCOTIA SAFETY GUIDE -INTER- , NEWS wasted no time in diving straight into the 1st new album song which shares the same title as the album .
EPCOTIA (the song) sets the tone on what to expect in the subsequent songs found in EPCOTIA (the album) & since it's already mentioned that the new album has a space travel theme , it's not surprising EPCOTIA (the song) follows in this route .
The next song KINGDOM was used as NTV's tournament theme song coverage on last year's FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 .
Before KINGDOM was included in EPCOTIA , NEWS performed KINGDOM last year in TV shows such as Best Artist 2017 . At that time I didn't quite like the song cos it sounded as though they were shouting & not singing .
For the studio version of KINGDOM , I got almost the same feeling when I 1st heard it . Out of the new material in EPCOTIA , KINGDOM is actually my least favourite due to this . My ears were aching slightly after hearing KINGDOM which's unfortunate as if not for this , I would like the song much more .
TWINKLE STAR is the 3rd album track . Unlike EPCOTIA (the song) & KINGDOM , TWINKLE STAR is pleasant sounding . Although not 1 of my favourite songs in EPCOTIA (the album) , I think the song's not bad overall .
Warp Chu -INTER- is the 1st album interlude & this's followed by LPS .
LPS is NEWS's 22nd single & it's the only single song included in EPCOTIA . LPS stands for Love Peace Smile & it's described as the group's most 'peaceful' single in their discography .
This song was used as a special track to promote NEWSICAL last year . NEWSICAL featured NEWS creating a 6 minute long musical of the same name from scratch & the musical comprises singing , dancing & acting .
NEWS began working on NEWSICAL last Aug with each member making use of their own individuality & strength to fulfil different roles .
The next 2 album tracks are the shortest in the album but they're some of my favourite songs in EPCOTIA .
Koi Suru Wakusei is a catchy uplifting song that's quite space travel driven lyrics while JUMP AROUND is a very fun upbeat song .
NEWS performed JUMP AROUND at last month's CDTV 25th Anniversary which didn't surprise me cos I feel JUMP AROUND is 1 of the standout tracks in EPCOTIA .
Docking -INTER- is the 2nd album interlude which's followed by 2 back to back album songs .
I think it's quite easy to see why AVALON & IT'S YOU are side by side each other as they're in the same music genre as both have the inclusion of auto tune .
Iseijin to no Contact ni Tsuite -INTER- is the 3rd album interlude which's followed by some of EPCOTIA's most experimental driven tracks .
On 1st listen , UFO & EROTICA both have slight traces of NEWS's 21st single EMMA which's not a bad thing . I wasn't sure what to expect prior to hearing both songs but they kind of make up parts of EMMA in some ways or another .
BLACKHOLE is 1 of EPCOTIA's most aggressive driven track & it reminds me of NEVERLAND's BLACK FIRE to some extent as both songs are very angsty driven .
Slowing things down considerably are the next 2 album tracks Hoshi ni Negai wo & Innocence which're both mid tempo songs .
Kaeri Michi -INTER- is the 4th / last album interlude which brings to the last song in EPCOTIA , HAPPY ENDING .
Just like NEVERLAND's U R not alone , HAPPY ENDING is a short straight to the point song which concludes EPCOTIA very well on a happy ending note , no pun intended .
Welcome to EPCOTIA ! NEWS follows NEVERLAND with the 2nd release of the group's album project , this 1 themed around space travel . NEWS invites you to experience the cosmos with their 9th album which includes LPS .
1st of all before I go on further , I want to say that EPCOTIA is not NEWS's 1st release to have a space travel theme , the 1st was actually their 1st single NEWS Nippon although that's not counted as their debut single .
With that out of the way , I'm quite surprised with NEWS's latest album release EPCOTIA . NEVERLAND was a surprising enjoyable album as I found it a lot more better than White & QUARTETTO so I was curious to see if EPCOTIA was able to live up to expectations , especially since only LPS is included .
After listening to EPCOTIA , I can say that more or less NEWS's latest album offering managed to live up to expectations and I'm not surprised both EPCOTIA & NEVERLAND are similar , in terms of both albums' structure .
For NEWS to only include LPS in EPCOTIA , this means the album tracks have to be of certain standard & luckily I like most of the album tracks . Also quite a few songs definitely could have been in NEVERLAND which's not a bad thing .
I feel that both NEVERLAND & EPCOTIA flow quite well from start until end , sound consistency wise . Perhaps that's why both albums have interludes to balance things out .
Overall I think that NEWS's 5th self titled album is still their best as a 4 piece cos at that time of release , they set a pretty high standard with their comeback album which I still feel it's great .
Ironically since then , NEWS has been releasing albums on a yearly basis since 2013 unlike in the past where their releases were quite unpredictable .
That said , EPCOTIA is a pretty good solid follow up to last year's NEVERLAND . In a way I was hoping NEWS would release something special to celebrate their 15th anniversary in the business but I suppose in a way they did as for them to utilise a space travel theme for EPCOTIA just like what they did for NEWS Nippon , guess this kind of come back full circle for NEWS ?
Saturday, May 12, 2018
UVERworld - ODD FUTURE
CD + DVD
Tracklist for both CD & CD + DVD versions
1) ODD FUTURE
3) CORE STREAM
CD Anime version
1) ODD FUTURE
3) CORE STREAM
4) ODD FUTURE (short ver.)
ODD FUTURE is UVERworld's 32nd single & it was released on 2nd May .
This's UVERworld's 1st single release of 2018 & ODD FUTURE was chosen to be used as the opening theme song for the 3rd season of the Boku no Hero Academia anime .
Aside from the A-side , a video was also made for PLOT , which's the 1st B-side in the single .
It's kind of a known fact that it's not easy to get into UVERworld's music as their releases are quite unpredictable sound wise & frankly the last single song I genuinely liked from them was 2015's I LOVE THE WORLD .
But looks like now I have a new favourite in what they brought to the table with ODD FUTURE as this's something a bit different as UVERworld hasn't really used that much autotune in their songs .
As the song title suggests , ODD FUTURE is like a mix mash up of many different sounds as you even can hear saxophone beats in the 2nd part of the song .
In short ODD FUTURE is a bit all over the place but despite the musical confusion surprisingly I like it .
UVERworld's 2nd best album will be released on 18th July & this will be almost 10 years since their 1st album Neo SOUND BEST was released in Dec 2009 .
Monday, May 07, 2018
CD Review :: FLOWER FLOWER - Spotlight
CD + DVD
4) Anata to Taiyou
11) Chiisana Mado
iTunes Japan exclusive :
13) Fuyu -Live at Ebisu The Garden Hall-
14) Mannequin -Live at Ebisu The Garden Hall-
15) Honou -Live at Ebisu The Garden Hall-
Spotlight is FLOWER FLOWER's 2nd album & it was released on 14th March .
FLOWER FLOWER's last full length album release was 2014's debut album Mi .
All 12 songs in Spotlight are new songs . Singles Takaramono & Mannequin are not included in the new album but the music videos for both songs are included in the DVD .
Vocalist yui commented , "We have completed a new album ! Something incredible has been made ! It was a great time working together with the other members [of the band] . I am excited for everyone to listen to it ."
iTunes Japan included 3 live recording as bonus tracks should fans decide to buy Spotlight digitally via their website .
Kicking things off in Spotlight is Inochi which's a great album opening number & the 1st time I heard it , I got a bit of a shock as I didn't expect the song to get very loud in the later part but after a while I got used to its aggressiveness .
The next song Powerful is 1 of 2 songs that were originally created from demo tracks during FLOWER FLOWER's early days .
Powerful was 1st released digitally on 13th March prior to Spotlight physical release . A video was made for the song but it's not included in the DVD .
What stands out about Powerful is the fast paced piano driven melody & the accompanied video has a rather weird kooky feel which elevates the song's status to another level .
After 2 back to back upbeat tracks , things are slow down considerably with the next song Coffee .
Prior to the release of Spotlight , FLOWER FLOWER already had performed Coffee during their past live performances .
Just like Powerful , Coffee is also quite heavily piano driven but in this case , it's more chilled & laid back which both back to back songs contrast each other very well .
Anata to Taiyou is the next song & this's a bit different from what FLOWER FLOWER does as it's quite a dreamy no. . It's also quite laid back sounding like Coffee but for this , the usage of synthesisers can be heard quite substantially in Anata to Taiyou .
The pace in Spotlight is picked up subsequently with Chizu which's quite a moody sounding song . Just like the album opening track Inochi , it initially is quite slow paced but after a while , it changes to have a more upbeat sound .
Chiri is interesting as it's a mid tempo song with prominent usage of bass & saxophone beats can be heard in the melody .
The next 2 songs Ice & Odori are both over 5 minutes long each . Despite this , both tracks are quite good . Ice also has the same type of melody change up like Inochi & Chizu where it's quite mellow sounding in the beginning & after a while , its melody changed to a more heavily synthesiser driven sound .
Same with Powerful , Odori was 1st created from demo tracks during FLOWER FLOWER's early days .
Prior to Spotlight physical release , Odori was 1st released digitally on 7th March .
Ice & Odori have some music similarities where synthesisers play a rather big role in both tracks .
Ubugoe is another lovely piano driven no. which's almost in the same vein as what Coffee offers .
The next song Tokei was 1st released digitally on 28th Feb . A special video was made for the song & it's included in the DVD footages of Spotlight .
I think out of all the songs in Spotlight , Tokei is probably the most radio friendly sounding track as it's a very pleasant upbeat listening no. that is quite heavily piano driven (once again) .
Chiisana Mado is the longest song in the album & it's almost 7 minutes long . It might sound daunting at 1st but I actually enjoy it .
For this , Chiisana Mado has some similarities with Anata to Taiyou as both have a dreamy laidback sound but for Chiisana Mado , yui's vocals doesn't sound that distorted which I'm sure it was done on purpose .
Concluding Spotlight is Nichijou which's a good album closing no. that's filled with positive vibes .
It has been quite a long time since I last listened to an album that has no singles but yet I enjoy listening to Spotlight tremendously .
When it was made known that FLOWER FLOWER will not include Takaramono & Mannequin in Spotlight , I was surprised but at the same time , that probably means that they felt very confident on the new material & after hearing the tracks in the album , I have no doubt that it's a music risk that paid off really well .
It's also hard to believe it has been almost 4 years since FLOWER FLOWER released their debut album too . While Mi wasn't a bad album , some of the songs felt as though the group included them as a form of testing ground & I think at that time , they haven't found their niche sound yet .
Comparing Mi with Spotlight , FLOWER FLOWER has grown significantly & I think they finally found what works for them , sound wise . Also , quite a lot of songs in Spotlight placed big emphasis on piano & synthesisers but for both elements , the members utilise them well & it doesn't felt as though both traits are over saturated in Spotlight .
I don't have any complaints towards the songs in Spotlight as it's a joy to listen to the album from start until finish . When I 1st heard the new material , I was really surprised in a good way & since then , I haven't stopped listening to Spotlight on a regular basis .
Over the years I have come across albums that have inclusion of singles which they sound great from beginning until the end .
But for albums that have no singles & to sound stellar from the 1st to the last song , that's something that rarely happens but thankfully , Spotlight is 1 of the few albums that's now in this category .
All in all I hope I wouldn't need to wait another 4 years for a new FLOWER FLOWER album but if they will make something on par if not better than what Spotlight is , then I'm up for it .
Spotlight is definitely worth the 4 years wait & it's so far no doubt my favourite album of 2018 . A highly recommended album worth a few listens & more .
Monday, April 30, 2018
KAT-TUN - Ask Yourself
CD + DVD
Ask Yourself is KAT-TUN's 27th single & it was released on 18th April .
KAT-TUN's last single release was 2016's UNLOCK which was the last single that featured former member Taguchi Junnosuke .
Ask Yourself is the 1st single release by the now trio KAT-TUN & the A-side was used to promote the drama FINAL CUT , starring member Kamenashi Kazuya .
The song was performed for the 1st time at Johnnys Countdown 2017 - 2018 , when KAT-TUN made a surprise appearance which they announce restart of band activities after they underwent a 'charging process' in May 2016 .
The sexy & melodious tune is typical KAT-TUN & the lyrics express the feeling of continually groping for a path & believing in the future as you walk on into tomorrow .
There're a total of 6 B-sides in Ask Yourself .
These 3 B-sides are only available in the CD regular of the single :
- Sweet Birthday
The song was chosen to be used in JR Hakata City AMU Hakata's 7amuse , 7colours , 7th anniversary ads with Kamenashi Kazuya starring in it .
The song has 2 promo tie in's
-- Broadcast tie in song for NTV's professional baseball broadcast Fun! BASEBALL which Kamenashi Kazuya serves as the baseball special supporter
-- theme song for NTV's Going! Sports & News
- Real Face#2 which's a newly recorded version of KAT-TUN's debut single featuring the now trio's vocals
These 3 B-sides are only available in the CD Limited of Ask Yourself & they're all solo songs :
- Wonderful World (Kamenashi Kazuya's solo) ;
Wonderful World was also used as the theme song for NTV's Going! Sports & News .
- Ore Melody (Ueda Tatsuya's solo)
- The way (Nakamaru Yuichi's solo)
KAT-TUN is back ! The group returns from their recharging hiatus with the anticipated new single Ask Yourself , the theme song of Kamenashi Kazuya's TV drama FINAL CUT . The sexy & melodious title song features strong lyrics about perseverance & believing in the future .
To say that I'm so ecstatic that KAT-TUN is back is an understatement as 2 years ago when they were supposed to celebrate their 10th anniversary , it was overshadowed considerably by the impending departure of Taguchi Junnosuke .
To see KAT-TUN go from 6 members to now 3 members over the years , it's a really awful feeling & fans who supported them from their pre debut days felt it even more than me .
Nonetheless for KAT-TUN to finally make a proper comeback after their surprise appearance at Johnnys Countdown 2017 - 2018 , it's a great feeling & they didn't disappoint with their comeback single , Ask Yourself .
Just like their past singles , Ask Yourself is full of angst & attitude . My concern was how the now trio will pull things off but after hearing what they did with Ask Yourself , my fears are now squashed in that yes they're able to carry on KAT-TUN's name as per say .
Group B-sides wise , I think Sweet Birthday & FUNtastic contrast the A-side quite well & it's surprising that the now trio KAT-TUN chose to re-record Real Face .
While I thought it's a commanding effort with Ueda who did the rapping portions of the song , somehow I feel Real Face#2 doesn't have enough gruff & angst as compared to what the original offered .
In fact , I didn't quite liked Real Face#1 either so in this case if it ain't broken , why fix it ?
Solo B-sides wise , Ueda's solo is my least favourite as it's just noise which's a shame as I was hoping to like Ore Melody . Somehow , Ueda's solos that're Rock driven are not good which in a way is ironic .
On the other hand , the other 2 solos are pretty good . I'm surprised I like Kamenashi's Wonderful World . After last year's ~Follow me~ (which's still a fantastic song) , I thought he might go for another song with a similar music route but guess not .
As for Nakamaru , all the while his solo songs have been consistently good so I don't really have much complaints over The way .
All in all , it's great that KAT-TUN are back . While I don't like all the B-sides , the A-side itself is stellar & the accompanied video elevates things to another level .
I'm sure Ask Yourself will not be the trio's last music release seeing that they will be going on tour in the later part of 2018 but I'm already looking forward to what they have plan in store next .
Welcome back KAT-TUN !
Thursday, April 26, 2018
Kobukuro - ONE TIMES ONE
Cover for both CD Regular & CD Limited
CD Regular tracklist
1) ONE TIMES ONE
3) Kimi ni Nare
4) ONE TIMES ONE (Instrumental)
5) Baton (Instrumental)
6) Kimi ni Nare (Instrumental)
CD Limited tracklist
1) ONE TIMES ONE
3) Kimi ni Nare
4) Kimi to Iu Na no Tsubasa (LIVE from 2017.8.21 Tokyo Kokusai Forum A)
5) Aoku Yasashiku (LIVE from 2017.8.22 Tokyo Kokusai Forum A)
6) Kokoro (LIVE from 2017.8.22 Tokyo Kokusai Forum A)
7) Tsubomi (LIVE from 2017.10.28 Tokyo Dome)
8) STAGE Acoustic ver. (LIVE from 2016.6.7 Shidax Culture Hall)
9) ONE TIMES ONE (Instrumental)
10) Baton (Instrumental)
11) Kimi ni Nare (Instrumental)
ONE TIMES ONE is Kobukuro's 29th single & it was released on 11th April .
This's Kobukuro's 1st single release of 2018 & their last physical single release was last May's Kokoro .
The CD limited version of ONE TIMES ONE contains 5 live audio tracks that were recorded during 3 concerts that Kobukuro performed last year .
Promo wise , ONE TIMES ONE was used in the ads of Asahi Beer .
2 songs served as B-sides in the single . Baton was used in the ads of Ono Pharmaceutical .
Both Baton & Kimi ni Nare were released digitally on 28th March . Videos were made for both songs but Kobukuro do not appear in them .
Kobukuro is finally back with a new single ONE TIMES ONE & it's worth the wait as the A-side is a great empowering no. .
ONE TIMES ONE is very different from Kokoro as it's a lot more upbeat sounding & I can definitely see this song being used in marching bands if not maybe in carnivals / circus festivals as that's the type of vibes I get when I 1st heard it .
I also like both B-sides in the single as well . Baton is a heart warming ballad while Kimi ni Nare is almost in the same music vein as Kokoro but it's not as angsty sounding .
Hopefully I wouldn't need to wait that long for yet another Kobukuro release but they've been doing this for a long time so I rarely get disappointed on what they put out .
KOBUKURO LIVE TOUR 2017 "Kokoro" at Hiroshima Green Arena DVD + Blu-ray will be released next month on 16th May .
Saturday, April 21, 2018
Fukuyama Masaharu - Rei -ZERO-
Rei -ZERO- is a song by Fukuyama Masaharu & it was released digitally on 7th April .
The song was chosen to be used as the theme no. for the latest Detective Conan Zero no Shikkounin movie that opened in Japanese theatres on 13th April .
The plot of Detective Conan Zero no Shikkounin centres on the values of truth & justice set against each other as the titular detective clashes with the police over the arrest of a suspect in a bombing incident .
Rei -ZERO- captures the essence of that conflict while refusing to necessarily take one side over the other .
After last Dec's heart warming ballad Tomoe Gakuen , Fukuyama Masaharu is back in full force with Rei -ZERO- .
I thought Rei -ZERO- was going to be a ballad as the introduction was quite mellow but that changed real soon after as it became an aggressive in your face rock song that's fun & engaging .
Rei -ZERO- is able to sum up what the Detective Conan Zero no Shikkounin movie is all about & it's an empowering song that I enjoy a lot .
Seeing that Fukuyama doesn't release music as often as I hope he would , he makes up for that with quality & Rei -ZERO- is proof of that .