Tag Archives: J-Rock

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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“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~

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HIZUMI Screamed “Death Point” One Time Too Many

Click here for the source of my heartbreak.

D’espairsray will be going on an indefinite hiatus due to problems with vocalist HIZUMI’s vocal cords. They will finish their D’espairsRay World Tour 2010 Human-clad Monsters but after that, all activities are going to be suspended.

Though it’s sad, you have to support the band for acting in HIZUMI’s best interest. Hopefully he can get some treatment and we can get back to watching tripods get kicked over.

Best wishes!

~Alisa~

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“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~

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“Nancy” – SKULL

Welcome back to me, and welcome back to SKULL! This band was introduced to me by Toshi San and I definitely appreciate it. Gaining insight on new VK bands is what I’m all about.

I’m going to probably step on some toes and hurt some feelings when I say that I wasn’t very fond of Nancy. The guitar and the rest of the instruments were great, but I didn’t feel like the vocals matched the intensity of the song and for that I couldn’t really take it seriously. This is one of those songs I will probably have but rarely listen to.

I did, however, find JUMPIT to be really interesting. It’s a fine blend of all sorts of musical elements which come together to make some weird messy thing that works. I would recommend this song to anyone with a varied taste in music, such as myself.

In Conclusion: I didn’t like this single as much as SKULL’s last effort, but they are still a band I’m going to keep up with. I pretty much have to if I’m going to have Toshi San as a friend. 😉

~Alisa~

AAA’s new single will be reviewed next, hopefully in the next couple of days. Ven, you have my permission to begin your cartwheels now.

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“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~

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