Category Archives: Japanese Rock

Reviews of Japanese Rock Music. Refers to all styles of J-rock, including Visual Kei.

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~

Leave a comment

Filed under Japanese Pop, Japanese Rock, Sakurayume's Collection

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….”

3 Comments

Filed under Japanese Rock, Sakurayume's Collection

“Crisis Moment” – Merry

Seems like it has to take something massive to get me to post. Well, here's your massive thing.

With school, work, and an obvious decline in musical releases, (or the quality of them, rather) I’ve really had no time or reason to blog. I am confused, though, as to what on Earth has happened with Japanese music. From the start of the year to the middle of the summer artists were constantly releasing strong singles. Now what? Has everyone fallen under some anesthesia and gone into hibernation? Where’s the good stuff, yo?

Thankfully, Merry came along to pull me out of my slump, as well as prevent me from questioning my faith in J-rock. (something I would hopefully never do) After the The Cry Against…/Monochrome My fiance and I had our interests piqued. His more so than mine, because I’m such a dang skeptic.

The first time I heard Crisis Moment I was ready to skip it after about ten seconds. Why? Because I’m a skeptic! The song starts out really slow and tender, then there’s a ton of screaming. Then it gets all touchy-feely again. THEN, the chorus!

What saves this jumbled mess of a song is its outstanding chorus. I’m really digging Gara’s voice because it’s so unorthodox for j-rock. Normally, you expect some deep, authoritarian, booming, Shao Kahn (sorry, I’ve been playing way too much Mortal Kombat) voice, but Gara’s got a much higher pitch and I can appreciate this diversity. The chorus of Crisis Moment is explosive, angry, and beautiful at the same time. It has a well developed melody as well, instead of just “hey guys, let’s play our instruments as loud as we can and see what happens.”

My only complaint with the song is its length. Merry seems to be terrified of stretching anything past four minutes. Crisis
Moment clocks in at three minutes and fifteen seconds. This is not enough time for the song to establish the links between the mellow and brutal parts so it seems a little forced. In j-pop songs, a 3:15 song is fine because not much change happens. In typical j-rock, you expect to be taken on a music journey of sorts. I would compare Crisis Moment to a roller coaster. You coast up a big hill, go down the hill at warp speed, some messed up crap happens that you barely remember, then its over and you have to go back again just to discern what just happened. Okay, convoluted analogy is over.

Don’t get me wrong, Crisis Moment is the best j-rock song I’ve heard for a while and I’m glad for that. I just would have wished for a little more organization. (as in, MAKE IT LONGER!)

Fleeting Prayer is an entire minute longer than Crisis Moment and a ghostly feel to it. It doesn’t have as sharp or extreme changes as Crisis Moment, but it’s worth listening to. I appreciate that obvious effort was taken with this song. You don’t see a lot of effort put into b-sides normally so this is a refreshing piece.

Finally, we get the unplugged version of Crisis Moment Eeeeeew. This song was not meant to be like this. It’s slow, boring, and should be skipped. Gara sounds terrible and the whole thing is just terrible. Sorry to be a total song-basher but this song made me want to bicycle kick a wall.

In Conclusion: Merry certainly delivered with Crisis Moment. To me, it’s their best single yet and builds off of the epic-ness that their last single had. It’s nice to see growth in a band I’ve overlooked for the longest time. Highly recommended!

~Alisa~

Leave a comment

Filed under Japanese Rock, Sakurayume's Collection

“Lunartail” – Luzmelt

Visual Kei band Luzmelt is back after a nerve-wracking loss of a few members. This single has been out since mid-July but since it was distributed only at lives, it took what felt like forever to become available to us gaijin losers who can’t go to lives. All I can say is that this was absolutely worth waiting for.

What I like specifically about Lunartail is that the song is broken up into two halves. (By the way, this song is over seven minutes long and I can actually make it through the whole thing! Crazy!) The first half is a gentle build up and the second half explodes like a supernova. The mood of the song is entirely celestial with distorted vocals and spacey sound effects. I adore this song and I can guarantee that the seven minutes flies by while listening to it.

In Conclusion: Luzmelt has fully recovered from taking some hard knocks courtesy of my Visual Kei voodoo. I’d like to think that my evil powers aren’t all that evil, considering that this is, in my opinion, their best song to date.

~Alisa~

Leave a comment

Filed under Japanese Rock, Sakurayume's Collection

“Naked Arms / SWORD SUMMIT” – T.M. Revolution

Takanori can see inside your soul.

T.M.R hasn’t been around for a little while. Takanori himself has been active with abindgon boys school and the field of being awesome, but he hasn’t “made revolution” since 2008’s Resonance, which was a fantastic song. I am still a relatively new T.M.R fan so I’ve had his entire discography to tide me over during the wait for this single. Seasoned fans probably found the wait to be tougher since they had heard it all before. Man, I have good timing.

Naked Arms picks up right where Resonance left off. It’s got attitude! Takanori’s vocals are out of this world. This man can seriously sing. I really liked the unpredictable melody that the songs boasts as well as the fact that the energy never dies out during the song. There isn’t a dull moment. Naturally, the PV for this song is delightfully camp (Takanori seems to really enjoy being on camera, okay?) with an interesting usage of color, or lack thereof. This song wasn’t as good for me as Resonance but it’s still a fresh track and a great reminder that even after two years T.M.R is still going strong.

I still don’t know exactly how I feel about SWORD SUMMIT yet. I like it, but there’s something too perky about it. I’m just waiting for this to turn up on Dance Dance Revolution (alongside GACKT’s Koakuma Heaven, hehe). I definitely dig how the flute was integrated into the song at the instrumental break. This song is DDR-meets-Pokemon-battle. Yep.

In Conclusion: I was blown away by this single. T.M.R is just brilliant, simply put. Naked Arms is an epic win for sure and SWORD SUMMIT grows on me with each listen. Highly recommended!

~Alisa~

1 Comment

Filed under Japanese Pop, Japanese Rock, Sakurayume's Collection

“Departure” – Deluhi

Understand this. My first Deluhi song was Hybrid Truth. That being said, the bar has been set pretty high and the band has yet to blow me away since. After “The Farthest” I was ready to call it quits but something in me never wants to give up faith in a band I at one time really liked. So here I am, giving it another go with Deluhi’s latest one-track single.

Departure begins with some chanting, electronic vocals, and those “machine gun drums” I’ve praised the band for. It starts out sounding like it’s going to be good. I was really thinking I could get into the song. That’s when things began to go downhill. The second I heard a party-over-here-style “whoooa-ooooh” I knew things were about to get very, very bad.

That’s when the chorus hit. The hard kind of electronic sound I was digging from the song’s opening had vanished and instead been replaced with a sort of happy-go-lucky-let’s-toss-beach balls-around-and-enjoy-being-young kind of song that you hear almost every throwaway Disney Channel star record at some point. I think I could headbang easier to the Degrassi theme song and feel less embarrassed. I’m going to be honest with you and say that I only made it about four minutes in to the song. It’s just not worth anyone’s time.

In Conclusion: I’m being so harsh because I know Deluhi has more in them than this. All I want to know is where that potential went. Don’t hand me a track as brutal as Hybrid Truth and then try to follow it up with something that I don’t even consider Visual Kei, alright? I am so disappointed, but I won’t give up. Deluhi has still got some fight in them and I’m sure it has to come out eventually.

~Alisa~

Leave a comment

Filed under Japanese Rock, Sakurayume's Collection

GACKT’s Too Sexy for Respect, Too Sexy For Respect…

“Why is he so sexy?????”

“Too hot.”

“Waaaaa, sexy!”

What do these useless statements have in common? They are all ACTUAL YouTube comments left on GACKT videos. (usernames withheld to protect the ignorant innocent)

Since being converted, in a sense, to the ways of GACKT a couple years ago, I’ve grown to become more and irked by his fanbase. It seems as though many people look to him as a sex symbol rather than a legitimate musician/artist. I challenge you to lurk around on YouTube for a while and surf through some of his videos. The number of comments reading along the lines of “I wanna be his waifu XD XD XD” far outweigh things like “GACKT is a phenomenal and brilliant artist. Golly, I sure do appreciate what he does!” This makes me sad.

Truth is, GACKT has more than one side. He’s human, after all. As a big fan of him, I can appreciate all of these sides because I appreciate him! In saying, I don’t only see this GACKT:

I see this GACKT too! The fun-loving GACKT!

And this GACKT as well. The artist GACKT, who works tirelessly just to make us smile:

To only like GACKT because he is “sexy” or because he sometimes performs music with sexual themes is narrow, and downright immature. He’s an artist, and people who are true fans (or rather, true Dears) will be able to love his music and his messages no matter what he looks like or sings about. We should love him because he’s GACKT, and he puts his entire heart and soul on display for us every time he opens his mouth. He loves us unconditionally, and we should return the favor.

I think my anger exploded when I read Liam’s write up of the YFCz gig in London, where some fangirls demanded for GACKT to play Vanilla, a song that wasn’t even in the set list, and the band obviously hadn’t rehearsed. Regardless of whether or not GACKT actually heard their cries, I was horribly embarrassed to read that this happened, and that these people had the gall to do such a thing.

I know what they were thinking. They thought “if GACKT sings Vanilla, it will be like he’s singing it to ME and then… *dirty thoughts*” I bet they don’t even know anything about the song other than the lyrics. I bet they have no respect for the fact that the song has one of the most spectacular bass lines ever. It’s sick.

The point is that GACKT didn’t have to come to Europe at all. It was his gift, and those fangirls abused it.

I am fully aware that celebrity crushes happen, but it’s important to think objectively in these situations. Learn to love the music too. That’s all I’m saying. Celebrity crushes usually happen to people who are otherwise untalented (A.K.A JUSTIN BIEBER) so normally I wouldn’t be so offended. But, GACKT has more talent in his pinky than I have in my entire body so it supremely irks me that people overlook this just because he’s “hot.”

Plus, do you think GACKT is going to be in the same physical condition twenty years from now? If you said yes, guess again. He is beginning to age, slowly but surely and at almost forty years old, this is natural. What happens when he’s old and gray? Will we abandon him then because he has lost his physique and his once-immaculate face is clouded with wrinkles?

I’m speaking from the perspective of a non-traditional female GACKT fan in that I am in no way attracted to him (rare, I know) but I love his music and find him to be possibly the most creative individual who ever lived. Maybe the fact that I love GACKT without “loving” GACKT influenced this long and senseless rant. I hope it was moderately coherent.

~Alisa~

30 Comments

Filed under Japanese Rock, Sakurayume's Collection, Special Articles