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“a:FANTASIA” – Nightmare

This is one of three available covers for the single.

I’m excited to be reviewing a release by my fiance’s favorite band!

Nightmare is back, commemorating their ten year anniversary. Congratulations, guys! Seems like a lot of artists have been observing anniversaries lately. Maybe its just me who notices that. Hmm..

I’ll cut straight to the chase. a:FANTASIA is positively amazing. It builds with a lot of tension and rapid guitar playing and is just totally exhilarating. Yomi, despite his diminutive stature, can definitely sing. He sounds amazing in this song. (by the way, if you’ve ever watched lives of Nightmare/listened to their live album you’ll hear that he sounds just as great live. Actually, he sounds BETTER live to me!) Listen to the song here.

Romeo, like Love Addict on their last single Rem_, also got a PV! I really liked Yomi’s blonde perm and blue contact lense-wearing look in this video. I have to admit that he is one of the better-looking j-rockers. (cringes at Yasu from Acid Black Cherry)

Yomi becomes a member of the Aryan race.

Romeo carries on a:FANTASIA’s hard, fast sound. Overall, I liked it but it didn’t leave as big of an impression on me as the first song. I liked this song’s PV a lot better, though.

Rover closes out the single. Its much slower and completely forgettable but a nice way to end the single because it kind of mellows out the mood presented in the previous two songs.

In Conclusion: I realize that I have been overlooking Nightmare lately, as Majestical Parade and Rem_ were both pretty meh for me. This single was refreshing and I’ve had the a-side in my head for about three days now. Highly recommended to any fan of j-rock!

~Alisa~

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SPECIAL REVIEW!!! The Music of Final Fantasy 13

The OST, with main character Lightning on the front. I gotta say, her character has grown on me over time, but she's nothing compared to Fang. ❤

I felt like doing this write-up because I’m such a loser for FFXIII these days. I don’t play it, don’t know how to play it, and don’t pretend to know how to play it so I’m sort of a poser fan. My experience with the game involves me shoving the PS3 controller into my fiance’s hands and saying “play it.” Yes, I have enslaved my own fiance just so I can watch him play this game for hours on end while I drool at it like a babbling idiot. And I don’t think he minds it much. 🙂

What’s funny is that I totally hated the game at first, would roll my eyes when my fiance turned it on, and went off and buried myself in Pokemon. I thought the game, despite having great graphics, was over-the-top and had storylines that were so nauseating that it turned my stomach. This is because I had never fully understood how Final Fantasy works. Its nothing like the games I’m used to playing, where you have a clear objective, you go do it, and then its over. When you play a Final Fantasy game, you live it. You feel like you’re best friends with all the characters just because they become so believable as the game progresses.

Okay, ranting aside, and on to the review.

The music of Final Fantasy XIII was composed by Masashi Hamauzu, and it is a far cry from the music we were used to Nobuo Uematsu cranking out. Because FFXIII takes place in a more futuristic society, the music reflects that. The battle theme for the game is really rock-ish with some heavy thumping guitar driving the beat. The battle theme has some elegant, yet still really contemporary strings in it, which screams classic FF but with a twist. My favorite song from the game is called Will to Fight and is the music from the Fifth Ark dungeon. Its a very hard and tense song, but also incorporates harp and some angelic vocals. I loved the contrast here, because it really works and doesn’t seem strained. You can listen to Will to Fight here:

Not every song in the game is modern sounding. There are some that sound like older FF pieces. Examples include The Promise, which is absolutely beautiful and breathtaking, like we expect FF songs to be. Another orchestral piece is Fang’s Theme, which is a strong and confident number and totally captures the aura of butt-kicking Amazoness Fang. She is totally my hero.

Another song worth mentioning is Sazh’s Theme. Sazh is a ridiculously cool character because he’s got super powered guns and a BABY CHOCOBO which lives in his afro. How much more crazy awesome could you be? Sazh’s Theme is a smooth and jazzy piece which is really unique, I thought.

In Conclusion: The OST for Final Fantasy XIII is four discs, so there’s no way I’m going to cover each track in detail. NO WAY. Just trust me in saying that all the music is great, and is a seamless blend of old and new. I think the music is part of the reason I love the game so much.

~Alisa~

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I Forsee Much Procrastination…

Ohhh crap.

I’m innocent! Blame my fiance for this! It is his fault if this holy grail of video gaming causes any absences from the blog world.

I’ll try to get to work on that e.via review… just as soon as I get my Spinarak up another level…

~Alisa~

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Chris’ Birthday!

Sorry for the inactivity…. Today is my fiance’s birthday! Yaaaay! I should have my next review up tomorrow. Take care!

~Alisa~

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“Infinity” – Aquamarry

First of all, let me begin this review with some disappointing news. I will not be reviewing this entire album. Why? Because I haven’t heard half of it! This album is so rare that I can’t even find anywhere to purchase it from. Through doing some obsessive trolling on sites like Myspace and Audioleaf, I have been lucky enough to hear half of this album. Its really a shame that this band is that indie. On to the review!

The album's cover. Click on it to visit Aquamarry's Myspace!

Track 1: Flapjack- What a start to an album! Some hard guitar and strange, hollow-sounding beats on the drums start off the song and then back off when the jumpy vocals begin. This is what I would consider a “party song.” It’s pretty good, and accomplishes the task to giving a taste of Aquamarry’s sound.

Track 2: プラスチックロボットボーイ- So, I know that I am supposed to be praising this band but this song is just awful. However, I can forgive them for it.

Track 3: Mirror Ball- This is the leading track from the album, and even has its own PV! You can watch it here! It’s pretty terrible, to be honest, but you can’t forget that this is an indie band so you shouldn’t expect any bells or whistles as far as the PVs go.

One time, I made a list in my head of the best songs I had ever heard. This song was number 6 on that list. Before it came “Mizerable” by Gackt at #5, “D-tecnolife” by UVERworld at #4, “Planetarium” by Ai Otsuka at #3, “Colors of the Heart” by UVERworld at #2, and the beautiful “Kingyo Hanabi” by Ai Otsuka at #1. But you can’t count out Mirrorball! It’s just perfect. I love the guitar in it, and the melody is very unique.

Track 6: Tender- Another perfect song! Unfortunately I have only heard it in a pathetic bitrate of 96 kbps. This is sad, no? I still really like it because the acoustic guitar seems to flow along with Cinnamon’s gentle voice. Yeah, you read that right. The vocalist calls herself Cinnamon. INDIE!!!! If you like a more relaxing kind of rock, check out “Tender.”

Track 8: Water Sprite- I have come to realize that Aquamarry’s trademark is the sound of a guitar that has a significant echo, so much so that it gives the feel of being submerged underwater. Perhaps this is why they are called AQUAmarry? The “underwater guitar” is prominent in the vocals while an echo effect is added to Cinnamon’s voice. In the hook, the echo disappears and the voice gets stronger. Then in the chorus, the “underwater guitar” takes a backseat to the drums. The cycle repeats seamlessly into the second verse/hook/chorus. It’s a great piece of music with equally great transitions that don’t feel rushed, awkward, or out of place.

In Conclusion: “Infinity” by Aquamarry is a ten track album, and as you see here only five songs were reviewed. I am going to own this album someday. I am determined to have it because it is THAT GOOD! If my fiance is reading this then “HEY CHRISPY, GO BUY ME THIS ALBUM PWEEEASE!!!!”

Next time, I will do Aquamarry’s second release, “Fairyshift.” Luckily I have been able to listen to all of it.

Hopefully this review has done something to spread the word of a band that nobody has heard of, but should know about. Be sure to leave me comments about what you thought of this review and/or if you know anything about or have an interest in Aquamarry!

~Alisa~

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“Owari no Hajimari” – XodiacK

Single Cover

This is Galactic Rock, apparently. Sure, it looks like your average run-of-the-mill visual kei band but trust me. They're worth listening to.

Okaaaaay… This is my first review so hopefully this goes okay. (nervous)

XodiacK is a relatively new band. At first glance, anybody would peg them as a  standard visual kei band, but this group calls themselves “galactic rock.” What this means is beyond me, but I believe it translates into “awesome.” From what little information I have found on them I have seen that the goal of the band is to channel the spirit of the God Eros. (or “Cupid” to us average joes. How fitting, with Valentine’s Day around the corner!)  I guess this is why the vocalist uses the stage name Eros.

Track 1: Kuroi Taiyou – Oooooh, a song titled “Dark Moon!” You would expect this to be something hard and angst-filled.  You get the angst part, but the hardness just isn’t there. I don’t know why but I feel like this is the weakest track on the single. I just don’t feel it. I think my problem with this song is Eros’ growling vocals. I’m not going to sugarcoat this one bit. This man does not sound threatening by any means. His voice during the supposedly menacing portions of the song sounds to me like Scooby Doo got choked on a chicken bone. The vocals are great when there is actual singing but then it quickly moves into a masochistic squeal which disturbed me quite a bit on the first listen. The vocals are just all over the place, but the instrumentals are nice. Nothing spectacular, but there’s a touch of piano adding some class to the song. Not the best single opener, guys.

Track 2: Kimi ni Furu Zetsubou no Ame- Just allow me to say one small thing before I review this song:

HOLY CRAAAAAAAAAAAAP!!!!!!!!

I explained to my fiance last night while listening to this song that when I am looking for a good rock song that I want something that makes me feel like I could beat the ever-loving crap out of someone and look good doing it. This song fits the bill. The track begins with some hard guitar and nice use of the drums. Then, Eros begins to sing and we are treated to a pulse-pounding beat on the drums, an astounding bass line, and some other guitar that almost reminds me of Gackt-era Malice Mizer. The chorus takes flight as Eros flawlessly transitions from a hatefully low voice to a soaring falsetto. I would compare his vocal style to that of the legendary Asagi from D. This track never slows down or loses its thunder. You will be clenching your fist from the sheer intensity of this song for the full three minutes and fifty four seconds. This is the most refreshing J-rock song I’ve heard for about a year, and it is highly recommended. However, I have one bit of advice: DO NOT WATCH THE PV! As perfect as this song is, the music video is laughably bad. Just don’t watch it. I don’t want anyone’s experience with this song to be tainted by something as minute as a bad video.

Random photo of frightening XodiacK guitarist Agito! I am terrified of this dude.

Track 3: Kimi no Koe- After the awesomeness of the previous track, you can imagine my disappointment when I saw that there was only one song left on this single. It opens up with some very old-style guitar. I’m thinking of good ‘ol Luna Sea or X Japan when I hear it. I think that the main draw to this song is that it showcases Eros’ vocal quality and range. There’s a beautiful wolf-like howl around the middle of the song, and actually believable screaming. Eros is a great screamer, but he needs to never growl again. Ever.

In conclusion: I’ve seen a handful of bloggers out there saying that XodiacK is the band to watch in 2010, and I am happy to jump on that bandwagon. I am pretty sure that “Kimi ni Furu Zetsubou no Ame” will be their signature song and I doubt they’ll ever top it, but I am curious to see what kinds of experiments they pull off with their “galactic rock.” Hopefully they will not disappoint.

~Alisa~

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Look everybody, its Alisa! (applause)

Well, here I am, falling into the blogging craze that everyone seems to want to be a part of. I’m just your typical Japan addict trying to survive a community college setting.  Not much more to be said there.

I’m looking forward to reviewing all sorts of fascinating Japanese music. I’ll try to do all kinds of genres… even… R&B!?!?! AAAHHH!

The banner at the top of the screen shows the greatest band nobody has ever heard of, Aquamarry. I encourage everybody to check them out because they are amazing. Their bass lines can’t be beat and even give the feel of being underwater. Its a completely unique sound that I just adore.  http://www.myspace.com/aquamarry

Stay tuned for my first review of XodiacK’s “Owari no Hajimari” single. My fiance and I are all about this band at the moment.

~Alisa~

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