Tag Archives: Japanese Music Review

“GOLD” – Jasmine

I definitely appreciate that the album's title calls attention to her now-famous cover color schemes.

Here’s a shout-out to my buddy Steph! Hello! 🙂

Tracklist:

01 – PRIDE
02 – SAD TO SAY clip paroles
03 – L.I.P.S.
04 – JEALOUS
05 – BAD GIRL
06 – DEAR MY FRIEND
07 – STAGE
08 – THIS IS NOT A GAME
09 – CLUBBIN
10 – KOI
11 – WHAT YOU WANT?
12 – NO MORE
13 – DREAMIN
14 – WHY

Notably absent are her Gospel tunes.

Jasmine is an up-and-coming Japanese pop artist who many are comparing to Utada Hikaru. She has celebrated moderately great success for a newcomer to the pop scene. GOLD is her debut album. Shall we see if it lives up to the title?

Pride is a confident opening track. It’s not very long and I wish it had been. I love the rhythm of this piece, and for some reason it gave me the same feeling that Get Up & Move!! did on Koda Kumi’s Black Cherry album.

Don’t even talk to me about Sad To Say. I’m sorry guys, but if this was my first Jasmine song I would have never listened to her again. I’m lucky I started with Jealous. This song is plaintive and whiny with completely unnecessary usage of the eff bomb. I am glad she had time to grow though. Listening to this mediocre song just serves to prove how much she has gotten better since.

Jealous of course is fierce as all heck.

I had hoped that Bad Girl would sound a little more, well, bad than what it was. This song was bad in the wrong sense of the word. I felt like the song went nowhere and that Jasmine sounded bored. You can’t be a bad girl and be bored with it. You can be a bored girl. I vote we change this song title to that.

I loved that ~stage~ Interlude came directly before This is Not a Game because Jasmine says “this is my stage” quite a bit in it. It definitely is her stage and she makes the song hers perfectly. I love the harmony in this song. It’s so catchy!

Koi is an adorable song reminiscent of late 80s/early 90s pop music. It has a really great beat but Jasmine’s voice falls flat.

I didn’t like the title What You Want? because it just looked weird. This follows Koi’s old-style pop sound. It’s not as good as Koi but it’s a solid pop tune.

In Conclusion: Mehhhh. I think I am falling out of love with j-pop because this album failed to impress me. The best tracks on it had already been released as singles. I’m not hating on the album because it was pretty good. I think I’m just starting to become a full-time Visual Kei fan. Don’t blame it on me. Blame XodiacK. Take it easy, guys.

~Alisa~

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“Holidays In The Sun” – YUI

She looks so pretty! We've got a serious font-strosity going on, but its beyond forgivable.

Track Listing:
1. to Mother
2. again
3. Parade
4. es.car
5. Shake My Heart
6. GLORIA
7. I do it
8. Please Stay With Me
9. SUMMER SONG
10. Cinnamon
11. Driving Happy Life
12. It’s all too much
13. Kiss me

I loved the placement of To Mother. Such a gentle song.

Again is still just as good as always.

Despite being short, Parade is a bright and happy song. Perfect for this time of year. I’ve never heard her do anything as light as this cute little song.

I don’t understand es.car at all. It makes me think of MegaMan for no reason. I liked the melody but I just wasn’t feeling anything in YUI’s voice. I will give this one a few listens because its not bad at all. I just don’t feel any energy in her delivery.

Shake My Heart is an interesting, gospel-sounding piece. I haven’t heard YUI tackle something this soulful before. (I like that this album has so much experimentation, by the way) Her voice is so full of air and… well, soul! The people singing along with her on the chorus all sound happy so I feel good listening to this! The horns are also a nice touch.

GLORIA sounds so good coming right after Shake My Heart.

I was excited from the start when I heard YUI would be doing her own version of I Do It, originally written by her for Stereopony. Its like she rips Stereopony’s rendition apart saying “this is how it was meant to be done!” The arrangement of this song rocks, to say the least. The guitar and drums sound epic and YUI sings it with such power that you begin to feel a little afraid of her greatness. Wonderful.

Please Stay With Me is terribly sad, yet relaxing. I would play this long late on a summer night. You can feel the plaintive sadness in this song from the first few notes on. YUI has created an excellent song here because it literally breaks my heart. *sniffle*

Forgive me if this sounds bad or mean, but the fact that Summer Song is on this album reminds me of how long its been since YUI released an album! The fact that Summer Song is on an album that, in fact, came out in the summer and has a very strong summer theme is great though. It fits here perfectly.

Cinnamon, like Parade is very short. This song doesn’t cut corners, partly because it doesn’t have enough time to! I like that the song maintains a steady pace throughout. I feel energized!

From reading the title alone, I had pegged Driving Happy Life to be a total throwaway song. Sadly, it is. Its happy-go-lucky but it doesn’t have much else going for it. Its still nice on this album.

Its All Too Much is back! YUCK! Why didn’t she put Never Say Die instead? Seriously? I never liked Its All Too Much, and that’s something I’ve always felt sort of bad for.

Kiss Me is a wonderful way to round out the album. Its considerably more sultry than any other song on the album and makes you feel like you just listened to the greatest album in the history of the world.

In Conclusion: Without a doubt, this is YUI’s magnum opus, her best album to date. Every track, save for a couple, is pure gold. Dare I even say that ALL of these tracks can be considered a-side material? YUI has done things right by waiting so long to release a new album. She’s proven she’s still fresh. Brilliant brilliant brilliant. I have a feeling this album will be making up a major part of my summer soundtrack. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

~Alisa~

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“Precious” – ViViD

Isn't this cover.... "precious!?" *slaps knee* Ah, you just don't know humor like I do.

I’ll just start by being a jerk and saying the ViViD has never really been a band I have in heavy rotation. Usually their songs have been incredibly ordinary and honestly a little weak. Please don’t take it to heart, though.

Precious is another boring song that gets a little less boring on the second listen. The melody is basic and predictable but I can happily say that the vocals have improved. My problem with ViViD’s songs in part is that the vocalist takes too many “risks” while singing. He attempts notes that he can’t reach and the song suffers. He kept his voice in a comfortable zone this time around and while its obvious that he’s “playing it safe” so to speak, the song is smoother than previous works like Across the Border. Still, give the song a try because my opinion can always differ from yours. This song just had the same problem for me as giru’s “Color” in that every note was predictable, start to finish.

Things get a little jazzier with Bright Red Garden. Lots of trilled letter r’s which is something I like. I usually like jazzy VK songs like The Last Show (Nightmare) and Mad Tea Party (D) but this song sounds a little cheap with synths (I guess?) that remind me of playing WarioWare. Okay, maybe that was a bit harsh but that’s what I envisioned in this song. Wario riding a motorcycle.

Survive is typical ViViD. Really bad vocals and typical VK beat. Its… decent. Still the chanting in the song is laughable so I can’t take the song seriously.

悪女♂トリッキ- is the last track on the single and its dumb that they put the song that was closest to being enjoyable at the end. Regardless, the song is AGAIN basic VK with all the trimmings. Cool guitar solo at the instrumental break but.. meh.

In Conclusion: I just feel like this single was totally uninspired and that ViViD has nothing to distinguish themselves from other VK bands. They have no flavor of their own, no style of their own, and certainly no sound of their own. I’m not bashing this band and please forgive me if it seems that way but I think I’m too picky with VK. Try the single for yourself, because that’s about the best advice I could give you.

~Alisa~

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“Welcome to Sa-World” – SAWA

This is Sa-World... and I am just visiting!

Track List:
1. Opening Ceremony ~Sa-Worldへようこそ~
2. Merry Go Round
3. Stars
4. NightBus
5. Chocolate Zone ~野生のSAWA~
6. Throw him away!
7. ManyColors
8. I’m a President
9. Danger Zone ~逃げろ!危うしSa-World!~
10. Swimming Dancing
11. Friday Night
12. Planet-T
13. Eat It All ~Live in Sa-World~
14. I Can Fly
15. あいにいくよ
16. Dream about…
17. Thank you for visiting ~My name is…~

After what seemed like a darn long wait and sixty billion (yet another one of my famous rough estimates) hit-or-miss mini-albums, we finally get this album. Its full length, holy cow! I’ll go ahead and say that the carnival image on the cover is absolutely fitting for the album. When I listened to Welcome to Sa-World, I could totally see a carnival, summer, golden warmth.

Merry Go Round is a cute song to kick off the album because it has that summer carnival feel I’ve been raving about. I am one of those people who likes to create music videos in their head while listening, and I can see the cover image being acted out when I hear this song.

Stars…. oh… Are there words to even describe that song? We’ve all heard it before, so I’ll not say much.

Something about the sequencing of NightBus coming after Stars just worked. The song is a little dull though.

Throw Him Away! is my favorite song on the album, despite being a wee bit short. Its done in a Shibuya-kei style, which I adore and the whole song makes me think of strawberry ice cream. I am sure that with today being our 26 month anniversary, my fiance would be a little hurt at me liking a song with such a title, but its nothing personal, darling. I’d never “throw you away!” Ever. And I’m being serious.

If you’ve heard ManyColors you’ll probably agree that SAWA’s pronunciation of the word “color” is interesting, to say the least. Fun song.

You already know how I feel about Swimming Dancing. Its my favorite song by SAWA because its so far-out and spacey. You feel glued to the song from the start. Its like an outer space roller coaster!

Friday Night is an R&B track. I was doubtful at first but SAWA pulled it off very well. I totally see the carnival imagery again too. ^_^

Planet T is a fun party song. You have to give it a few listens to warm up to it because otherwise it makes little sense.

A lot of people are saying that I Can Fly works a lot better on the album. I agree with said people, but it doesn’t make me like the song any more than I used to.

I have to say that I feel a lot better about Ai ni Ikuyo. When I first listened to it on the mini-album, I thought it was cuteness overload and that I was about to bleed sugar from my eye sockets. The song falls into place better here and I can appreciate it ten times more.

Dream About… has a sweet melody but the vocals don’t work. SAWA downright wails at points, and its not the good kind of wailing you hear from alan either. Great song if you turn it down pretty low..

In Conclusion: As of today, I am changing my citizenship to Sa-Worldian. I have my bags packed and I’m waiting to catch the train to take me to my new home. Okay, not literally. SAWA is not by any means the greatest singer in the world. GACKT is. (ouch, kidding kidding kidding! Put down the pitchforks!) BUT! SAWA can make some fun music which is fitting. When you think summer, you think of fun music! SAWA is surely delivered with this album because she’s experimented with several styles without becoming a mess. Not a lot of artists can do that. So, who wants to come with me to Sa-World?

~Alisa~

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“Aitai Riyuu/Dream After Dream” – AAA

I wish I could stand sideways like that. They do it so naturally. 😛

Special shout-out goes out to my new buddy convenience93 😉

AAA has always been a fun group for me to listen to, particularly when I’m in a funk. Their music always has a sort of “eurobeat-revival” as I like to describe it. You see, I’m a bit of a pretentious jerk who likes to invent her own terms for describing music in order to sound one step ahead of the crowd. Anyway, Dream After Dream/Aitai Riyuu (please don’t smite me if the latter isn’t spelled correctly. I’ve seen about a dozen different spellings, and I’m helpless since I’m not the biggest AAA buff out there.) is the latest single for the queens and kings of eurobeat-revival cool (there’s my term again!)

When Dream After Dream starts, there’s a strong, spacey techno sound. Then the singers come in, muffled at first so they sound a bit like bleating sheep. The vocals become clearer and the music becomes something I can only describe as “wooo, beach party! YEAH!” It’s a hysterically fun song, a bit lengthy but the song’s so fun that you don’t pay much attention to that. I’ve noticed that a lot of J-pop acts have been putting out a TON of music that have that “kicking off the Summer sound” and I’ve always been a sucker for songs like that.

Aitai Riyuu begins with a more intense and passionate sound. All of the singers sound great as the song picks up tempo. I ADORED the rap portions of this song for some reason. If Dream After Dream is the day, then Aitai Riyuu is definitely the night. It’s a great song on its own merit, performed well and with a slight 80s flair.

We also get remixes of the songs, which are okay. Dream After Dream’s remix’s constant beeping sounds irked me a little, and I hope nobody shoots me in the fact when I say that I preferred Aitai Riyuu’s remix to the original. (ducks and covers)

In Conclusion: This is a great listen because both songs work nicely together. I also noticed that the vocals of all the group members have improved with time, and its wonderful to see them doing so well.

~Alisa~

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“To Mother” – YUI

YUI swaps her guitar for a piano. No, you're not dreaming.

YUI is back with her newest single “To Mother!” The single’s release date is June 2, 2010. For this single, or for the a-side at least, YUI trades in her guitar for a fancy schmancy piano. What I liked about this single before I had even heard it is that YUI was willing to step outside her comfort zone and try something new. Interestingly enough, Angela Aki traded in her piano for a guitar for her most recent single, making it feel like she and YUI swapped identities. Both singles were a success in my eyes. Artists need to change it up every once in a while!

The Review:

To Mother is a touching piano ballad. From the start, I get very strong Sea vibes. Remember Sea? The song a lot of people liked even more than Again? It has that “graduation” or “going-away” feel that I’ve seen many people describe Sea as having. Its fitting because it is graduation season after all! The piano is beautiful, YUI sounds great, and the song sits at a comfortable three minutes and fifty seconds. This keeps it from having the cursed “ballad overkill” that has ruined many a song for me due to my impossibly short attention span.

YUI’s gained a lot of fame for her b-sides that often rival her a-sides, and Tonight falls into that category perfectly. Every time I get a YUI single, I feel like I’m getting a double a-side even if that isn’t the case because her b-sides might as well be a-sides. She doesn’t disappoint. Tonight is like a flashback to Rolling Star. Its not quite as hard and the song suffers from a case of “Never Say Die syndrome” in that it is too short! Overall, a great piece. Placing it with To Mother was a little awkward to me, but who cares? Its YUI. She can do what she wants.

As fans can predict by now, YUI has included an acoustic version of her most recent song, this time being GLORIA. The song doesn’t sound much different from the original. All I can hear is that the percussion is stripped away. The difference wasn’t astounding enough for me, but it’s a great inclusion for diehard fans of YUI.

In Conclusion: YUI proved to me with this single that she can go outside her normal realm of music and still create something magnificent. I highly recommend this single.

~Alisa~

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