Moving Forward

It’s been a long time. I’m unsure whether it’s vanity or nostalgia that makes me hope that I am still recognized in this community. It feels foreign to me to be drafting this post after months of inactivity but on the other hand it’s warm and welcoming, like home. Yes, exactly like home.

Why have I been gone so long, you ask? Have I “outgrown” Visual Kei? Please. Don’t make me laugh. You can’t outgrow what you live for. Truthfully, I’ve lost a lot of my will to live. I’ve become numb and empty. Everything seems to have slipped away from my grasp and I feel disconnected from my own mind and body, as well as the world around me.

The wheels of fate began to turn this afternoon when I randomly decided to check my seldom-used e-mail account I had set up specifically for the blog. Within the cesspools of my inbox I discovered a very touching message from a cherished friend, Gacktpause. As much as I love private, intimate conversations among friends, I feel it would be more appropriate to respond to this e-mail publicly. It’s been a long time coming, yet these words need to be said. To everyone.

After reading, re-reading, and re-reading the message many times over, I began to feel a sensation all over me, my intuition so it seemed. I knew what I had to do. I raced for my iPod and began to listen to GACKT. I had never stopped enjoying his music during my absence, but this time I seriously listened to the song. I entered a sort of VK zen-like state of mind, where every syllable of the song cut into me like thorns. Of course, I wept deeply but I have no shame in admitting this because for the first time in a while, I felt a little glimmer of hope that I wasn’t alone in this cruel world. It was in this moment that my life’s validity was reaffirmed to me, that I did matter, that no matter how bad things got I could keep living with a smile on my face.

The moral of the story goes that no matter how far you get away from home, the people you love and the things that count will help steer you on the right path. You’re only as alone as you let yourself be. In all, Visual Kei is my family, and I’ll never forsake my family again.

Thank you, GACKT. Thank you my dear friend, Gacktpause. I’m finally on the path back home.

-Alisa

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Upcoming: Best of 2010 Countdown!

I am hoping that I can complete this long-awaited post before New Years, but considering how impossible work has been lately (who knew so many people need lotion!) I’m unsure if I can finish it on time!

The Countdown will consist of my top twenty songs from 2010. I’m also going to showcase the artist who impressed me the most in 2010, and the artist who disappointed me the most. (cough, Girugamesh) Here’s where you all come in. If there is any other field you would like to see me dissect, post it here or tweet me. Any suggestions are welcome and I’ll try my best to include it!

2010 was a beast of a year as far as music goes. I can’t wait to share my thoughts with all of you!

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T.M. Revolution Patents the Ultimate Cat Toy

Can you imagine how many cats would go positively HAYWIRE if they developed a laser cat toy that goes in multiple directions!?

Takanori Nishikawa is a busy, busy bee with many, many projects! He is kind of like a male version of Tomoko Kawase/Tommy Heavenly6/Tommy February6 except his music is actually good. (Just joking, I love Tommy.)

Save the One, Save the All was chosen as the theme song for the fourth Bleach movie. I got a lot of negative feelings about Bleach out of my system in the last post, so I promise the bashing will be vastly reduced here. I’m still relatively new to Takanori’s work, so pretending to have expertise while talking about him would be nothing short of arrogant. But I will say in the 6+ months I’ve been listening to him I have become a fan very quickly. I love the energy he puts into his pieces, not just as T.M. Revolution but with abingdon boys school as well. He’s a superstar and I’m immensely lucky to have discovered him.

This song stays true to the hyper and futuristic beat you’d expect from a T.M. Revolution song. It’s got a great melody that sounds tragic and confident. I think it works well for Bleach because I can definitely see Ichigo whipping somebody’s butt with this song blaring in the background. But then he gets distracted by some random woman in skimpy clothing (AKA any female Bleach character) and then the entire fight is forgotten. Stay classy, Kurosaki-san.

Artist's rendering of what Ichigo Kurosaki will look like at age 95.

This song also has some really cool guitar riffs paired with some eurobeat (that’s the only way I can describe it). This is the reason why I have trouble classifying T.M. Revolution as any kind of genre. It’s easy with abingdon boys school because their work is distinctly rock. I can’t call T.M. Revolution pop, but I can’t call it rock either. So I tend to shy away from giving it a label. It’s just T.M.R. Simple as that.

To sum it all up, I was vastly impressed with Save the One, Save the All. To me, it blows Naked Arms/SWORD SUMMIT clean out of the water. I’m still waiting for him to top Resonance though. ;)

~Alisa~

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SID Creates Another Brilliant Song; Bleach Remains Wholly Uninteresting

This was my favorite cover, because I love cats! Notice that SID has been keeping with a "watercolor painted" cover theme for the past few singles. Very distinguished.

With this being my first holiday season in retail, I had no idea what to expect. I now understand why people in retail hate the holidays. The spirit of giving has been replaced by droves of iPhone-wielding robot overlords who misunderstand the purpose of all manner of coupons, spit out obscenities, and do other types of… well… not nice things. It’s rather discouraging. My light at the end of the tunnel has been this little spurt of awesome j-rock we’ve gotten recently. That’s what’s been getting me through the long hours, broken toes, and cold weather.

Today’s little nugget of j-rock awesomeness is SID’s Ranbu no Melody. SID’s been riding the wave of quality singles since Uso dropped last April.

Ranbu no Melody served as the 13th opening theme for the bland and tasteless anime, Bleach. The song is actually exciting and provides a great contrast to the otherwise dull and listless experience one will have while watching an episode of Bleach. I do feel that such a great song being used for such an outdated-please-end-it-already anime is a bit of a waste. I mean, it’s misleading. This epic song is going to pull you in, then the show will start and by the end of the episode all you’ll be able to say is “Bleach taught me that you can be a superhero and a pervert at the same time. Also you can hop dimensions and give six-page monologues and then do like two cool things with a sword. Sure it sucks, but at least the theme song is fun. Right?”

One of Bleach's many enthralling moments, which is not only crucial to the nonexistent plot, but also gives insight about the immense maturity and wisdom of the viewing audience. Remember, children. If you watch an animated woman unbutton her shirt, your IQ will increase tenfold.

The opening sequence does a fantastic job of showcasing all 25897498759375890830859038957438908420849037859304583502830 Bleach characters and at the same time reminding me of exactly why I stopped watching the show in the first place. I think I can live my life without knowing Rangiku’s bra size, or whatever information Bleach fans find to be crucial. Surely the plot isn’t important to them, since we all know that Aizen is the most frustrating anime villain since InuYasha’s main antagonist and part-time bus driver, Naraku.

True story.

Now that I’ve covered why Ranbu no Melody by no means deserves to be in a tired and rootless series like Bleach, (although I will say that the 2-3 minutes of action in every episode completely captures the mood of this song perfectly) I do believe I should explain just what makes this song so great. This song is like an upbeat version of Rain. The melodies of the two songs are in no way comparable, but their pattern of building and exploding relentlessly is very similar. Mao is one of those vocalists that can put a lot of emotion into his voice and bring it out when appropriate. I like him for the same reason that I like Gara from the band MERRY, in that they both have relatively high voices for j-rock, but they exude soulfulness. SID is a ridiculously awesome band, and I’m so pleased with how far they have come so quickly. I am, however, disappointed that this single only charted at #5.

The b-side, Danrou is a fun throwback to SID’s earlier days when their work had a distinct jazz flair. I said it about D in my last review, and I’ll say it again here with SID. I am so happy that this band is changing directions and trying new things, but at the same time it’s nice to see them occasionally bringing back their old style and reminding us fans why we loved them in the first place. I love how cozy and fluffy this song is; two terms I tend to shy away from when reviewing music. This is the kind of song that makes me want to shimmy over to Starbucks and/or Panera Bread and drink expensive lattes because I’m just that self-important. My gosh, I love embellishing.

In Conclusion: This single was phenomenal in all respects. It is debatable to me whether or not this single or Rain was SID’s best achievement this year. Either way, I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

~Alisa~

Next time, I’m taking on T.M. Revolution’s Save the One, Save the All! Yes, it’s another theme from that mutated abomination known by the common man as “Bleach….”

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D Gives up J-Rock, Goes LARPing in the Woods

Meanwhile, in the world of live action role play.... never mind, guys. It's just another Visual Kei PV shoot.

When I heard the thirty-second promo for In the Name of Justice, I just knew it was going to be pure visual love! Thankfully, my premonitions were spot-on.

Oh my gosh, people. Listen to this song. Forget about your homework. Forget about your jobs. Nobody cares about that stuff. Seriously. Go listen to this song.

Okay, maybe I should give you reasons to listen to this song first. That might help. You think? In the Name of Justice has everything I loved from last year’s Nocturnal, which was an absolute BEAST of a song. Catchy chorus, blazing guitar riffs, and Asagi belting his VK heart out. I complained earlier this year that I didn’t feel that Asagi was giving his all in his vocal performances. No more of that! He sounds boss, and that’s what I like.

The one heartbreaking issue that made me pout was that there was no instrumental version included on the single. I would have loved to hear the amazing bass line in the song a little better. Hats of to you, Mr. Tsunehito, for a wonderful job! Why don’t more people pay attention to the bass? It’s clearly the best instrument ever.

A final point I feel needs to be raised has virtually nothing to do with the quality of the single. I’m so happy with D for staying true to their image. Note this version of the cover:

Asagi is wearing his trademark red contact lenses! Sure, this may seem like a minute detail to you, but it’s important to me that the band keeps on shredding the way they always have. Go, D!

After a shaky start that even the most hardcore of fans were skeptical of (ahem ahem, me included) D is closing the year with a fantastic single. I’m pumped for the release of VAMPIRE SAGA in January!

~Alisa~

Keep watching this blog for upcoming reviews of SID’s Ranbu no Melody and Save the One, Save the All by the one and only T.M. Revolution!

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Rose Noire is Violin-Heavy, Interesting

Hello everyone! I’m back after a particularly rough semester. I’ll tell you, I think I wrote more essays this semester than I ever have in my life. Returning to the blog is an awesome change of pace considering that now I’m writing about something I actually care about.

Today, I’m reviewing the debut album by the gothic duo Rose Noire, Apocalypse. I became fascinated by this duo when I happened upon their song Alert during a recent YouTube-trolling session. You guys thought that I dropped off the face of the Earth, didn’t you? Ha! I’ve still been lurking around. I’m just not as in the loop in the VK scene as I ought to be.

I then set my sights on the CM for the upcoming album, Apocalypse. The previews sounded so good, I couldn’t wait to listen to the album!

Before I proceed, I’ll give you a bit of background information about Rose Noire. The group consists of vocalist Louie and violinist Jill. They play gothic/neoclassical music with a modern twist, combining elements of other genres such as metal and hip hop. Yeah. It’s gonna be a wild ride.

The main complaint I had with Apocalypse is that the violin is overkill. It’s so loud you can barely hear Louie’s singing. Even worse is that I can’t tell if that was their intent. Another bad thing is that Jill never adds much variation to her violin playing. It’s the same couple of bars being played over and over and that can get annoying really fast. The violin drowns out both the vocals and the “backdrop” which is usually a sound contrasting with the gothic sound of the violin, for example an industrial rock-style riff. The cruelest irony is that the final track is called Ears which is precisely what will be hurting after being screamed at by a violin for roughly fifty-two minutes.

I understand that Rose Noire’s main aim is to experiment, and that is never a bad thing. One song in particular where their experimentation worked quite well was Royal Slaves, which has the violin (of course) not entirely drowning out the vocals and the whole thing plays on a dream-like background. I was pleased with this song, and it’s a gem among a bunch of other duds.

I would still recommend this group just because they have a good concept going. I hope that for their sophomore album, they can refine their sound a little more.

~Alisa~

Still to come: My reviews of D’s phenomenal In the Name of Justice single and SID’s fantastic Ranbu no Melody!

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Sample Post

This is a sample post! :)

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