23 February 2015

Kis-My-Ft2 - Thank youJan! RE single review


Artist: Kis-My-Ft2
Title: Thank youJan!
Release date:  24 DEC 2014
Type: single
Version: regular edition

Packaging: This came with a slip case being the first press edition of the version. The slipcase is a nice sturdy cardboard and the CD case itself feels thicker than the usual CD jewel case. The lyric booklet is part photo book with the lyric pages being mixed in with photo pages for the first half then the second half is just photos. There are five group shots then two sets of individual shots, so plenty to enjoy on the visual level.

Tracks:

1. Thank youじゃん! (Thank youJan!)
A really fun and poppy tune. It really makes me feel that Kisumai is shifting genres as they have been doing more standard pop songs like this with their more recent releases. It starts off with a good deal of energy that is carried through the entire song. The chorus has a nice catchiness to it, especially at the end. I love the use of instruments for the song instead of electronic beats as they add some nice flourishes in the music. While I do not think it is one of the group's stronger A-sides in the past year it is a nice little pop tune.

2. 君にあえるから (Kimi ni Aeru kara)
I really enjoy this B-side, which is a basic pop tune. It starts soft and mid-tempo but with the chorus the music swells and we get the highlight of the track. I would probably put this song on about the same level as the title track, though the chorus is slightly less catchy. And I love how it ends softly, making stand out from the other tracks on the single. It does make use of bells to give it a hint of Christmas flair and the lyrics revolved around that time of the year but not as overtly as the next two songs.

3. Holy night with you
Seeing as this single was released on Christmas eve the two bonus B-sides have strong seasonal connections, with this song being the first. While Kimi ni Aeru kara went lite with the use of bells they are going strong in this song. What I really love about this song is that it really sounds like there are more than three members in the group for a change. Sure Thank youJan has solo lines for those who are not Kitayama Hiromitsu, Fujigaya Taisuke and Tamamori Yuta but the harmonizing in this song goes beyond the usual standard for Kisumai and makes it sound like it is more than the main vocalists singing it.

4. Christmas Kiss
This song has the strongest traditional Christmas song overtones with a bit of an old school sound. It really takes the chorus for it to hit its stride, the verses just do not stand out and seem rather bland, especially compared to the chorus that holds some fun energy. The only exception is the third verse that comes with a change up in the music that keeps the energy of the chorus up the whole time and leads to a stronger end to the song than the rest of it. Overall it is nice enough but not a song I would put on a playlist until around Christmas when I start listening to Christmas themed songs.


Overall: I was not expecting much from this single as I felt with its release date it would end up being Christmas related. I was a bit off the mark as only the bonus B-sides had the direct Christmas link with the other two songs being more standard pop. And I do like that the group as a whole gets some lines and the split has been reduced quite a bit. I just hope this continues as the group goes on.

But while there are some nice tracks on this single it is not a favorite of mine. There just is not a lot that is really stand out about it. I am looking forward to their next single and hopefully it will not be much longer after that we get their next album.

16 February 2015

Kis-My-Soul

This will not be the year Kis-My-Ft2 does not have a new single released in March as they have just announced their next single to be released on March 25th. The title of the single will be called Kiss Damashii and will be released in three versions (not including the Japan/web store only versions).

The Limited Edition Type A will come with a DVD that will have the PV of the title track, choreography video featuring the group members and another segment titled "Damashii no Hanseikai". The CD will have the title track and a B-side that will be on all the verions, Shake Body!!.


The Limited Edition Type B also has a DVD that will have a multi-angle version of the PV, the making of and footage from the recording. The CD will have the same tracks as the other LE.


The Regular Edition will just be the CD. The CD will have the two tracks that the LEs have, as well as two bonus tracks titled, Sakura Hirari and Past & Future. The first press will have a bonus slipcase.



I am of course really excited about this news. With the Busaiku single already announced for early March it was hard to say if there would be a Kisumai single as well but in the end there is. And its release date is the same for another release I am looking forward to so I will definitely be pre-ordering the two together.

Of course I am really curious to how the single will sound as it is listed as a dance and rock track on CDJapan. That makes me think of Ai no Beat, which is one of my favorite Kisumai songs so I do hope this will be something like that.

11 February 2015

SHARK first episode impressions

Start the next NTV late night drama and have to wonder when the next good one is.

So basically the set up is that an indie band called SHARK was all set to have their major debut but then their vocalist tragically died right before. A year later they have another shot at major debut but only if they find a new vocalist, which looks to be a vocalist who was kicked out of his group for basically being a douchebag. And everyone of course is super serious about everything.

Kurata Mizuki (Hirano Sho) at this point is just a really annoying character. There is so little about him that you can consider to be likable as he is completely full of himself and basically acts like a little kid. I can only hope that he starts his character growth early on and moves on past that. Not much that I can say about Sho's acting ability in this as the character is not written well enough in the episode to expect good acting from a newcomer with.

On the other hand Hagiwara Kai (Hamada Takahiro) is easily one of the most likable characters. Of course he is also the most down on his luck with having the guy he clearly admired, Kitagawa Kazuki, die then having the band fall in popularity hard when he took over as vocalist. Then of course he is told that he is not good enough in that role and if SHARK is to have a major debut then they need to find someone else to be vocalist. Yet despite all that he does not seem to get too down about it, as he seems completely focused on making SHARK into the band Kazuki was aiming for. Hamada has the perfect feel of a rock band member in this though and I think that is what really helps sell this character.

I'm on the fence about Komatsu Ichika (Yamashita Rio)She certainly is in the position that she is meant to be the character the audience is to see the events through but I could not get myself to care for her at all. Which is bad seeing as she was the girlfriend of Kazuki and is the main player to get SHARK that second chance of debut. She also has the greatest emotional range of all the characters so far but most of it is moping or being in complete awe. If she is to remain a focal character I hope she gets developed more so

For a character set to die so early on Kitagawa Kazuki (Fujii Ryusei) gets a decent amount of screen time in this episode. Though it does make sense in the narrative as his character needs to be built up to be this amazing vocalist that just no one can replace. Of course his character brings in the whole "change the world with music" theme to the series, which is so pretentious for the characters to be spouting on about, but they are all so serious about it.

The other band members Ryuzaki Ayumu (Matsumura Hokuto), Adachi Teppei (Kamiyama Tomohiro) and Satomi Kenzo (Iwamoto Hikaru)have little presence in this episode so there is very little to be said about them. In fact I even forgot Hikaru was even in this between the time I watched the episode and writing this up. I do hope that Hokuto gets the chance to be more than a background character in this as he has already proven to be decent actor and this is a character that looks to break him out of the "too cool to care" character type he has been given in the past to portray.


Near the end I began to think that maybe this is the kind of drama that can be enjoyed in a "it's so bad it's good" kind of way, but the jury is still out on that. But I think this drama could potentially pull it off as it is not a boring bad so far, just a bad bad. But definitely at the level that it could still be fun to watch, though much of that hinges on how much they will play up on the arrogance of Mizuki.

Overall still not completely decided on this but there are some potential bright spots and this could be fun, though not in the way it was probably intended to be.

06 February 2015

Busaiku returns in March

While I have been expecting news of a new Kis-My-Ft2 release for March (they have released a single in the month since their debut) it looks like they may be breaking that trend as Busaiku now has something for that month, a new single. The single will be titled Yacchatta!! and will be released on March 8th. It will have three versions, two limited editions and one regular edition.

The Limited Edition Type A comes with a DVD that will have the PV and the making of for the PV on it. The CD will just have the title track as well as the karaoke version of it.


The Limited Edition Type B also has a DVD that will have a multi-angle version of the PV, footage from the recording as well as a talk segment between the members of the group. The CD will have the same tracks as the other LE.


The Regular Edition will just be the CD. It will come with a booklet and an application code for an event in Japan. The CD will have the two tracks that the LEs have, as well as a bonus track, a Eurobeat version of the song from their past single. The first press will have a bonus slipcase and picture label (there will be an image on the CD).



In a way I am happy about this as this hopefully means that all the Busaiku tracks are not going to end up on Kisumai albums. I can see them adding one of the tracks on the next album but not both. Of course I cannot help but wonder if Busaiku may get their own album at one point. Though I'm not sure if this kind of group could do an album. Maybe a mini-album.

I still hope to get a Kisumai single in March, or even April, as I feel we are overdue for something from the full group. But I will take a Busaiku release to help tide me over for that. It will be interesting to see what ridiculous angle Nakai Masahiro has chosen for them this time. And I am tempted to actually get one of the LEs this time around as the member talk seems like it could be interesting.

04 February 2015

Nakayama Yuma - Chapter 1 RE album review


Artist: Nakayama Yuma
Title: Chapter 1
Release date:  26 NOV 2014
Type: album
Version: regular edition

Packaging: This has rather basic packaging all around. The booklet has a few photos of Yuma placed between white pages of song lyrics and that is about it. The only bonus was a card that you could use for an event if you got another release, so for someone not living in Japan that was completely useless.

Tracks:

1. High Five
Not going to review this again as I did so already when I reviewed the single. That said I think this works well as an opening song as it does start things off with some energy that leads in well into the following track.

2. 交差点 (Kousaten)
Rather surprised that this was the track decided to be the lead track for the album as it is probably one of the weakest. Sure there is nothing I would consider to be bad about it other than it comes off as a bit bland to me. It is a more laid back song and Yuma sounds good in it but there is nothing there that really hooks me though there are a couple of moments that it comes almost close to doing so. But even then it is a song that I still like just not as much as some of the other songs on the album.

3. XOXO (キスハグ) (XOXO (Kiss Hug))
A fun energetic dance pop piece that is one of my favorite tracks from the album. The laid back verses that build up to the catchy chorus work so well. Especially as the verses cut back on the instrumental at points to let Yuma's voice take front and center. Plus it has a nice break that uses strings to slow things down just to jump right back into the chorus for a strong finish.

4. Missing Piece
This was the song that really made me take notice of Yuma and decide to follow his solo music career. I love the dark and mysterious sound it has from the start and that it is one of the songs that Yuma's voice never seems to be overpowered by the music. It has a nice driving beat that follows the song from the start to the end that gives it an added sense of urgency. I fell in love with this song with the first listen and I am still completely in love with it, as it remains my favorite Yuma song.

5. 舞い、恋 (Mai, Koi)
A slower song that works just so well to follow up from Missing Piece. There is this sense of sad longing in this song that I just love. Yuma seems to do these songs rather well so I am glad we have one for an album track. The use of more instruments over electronic beats is a no brainer here but does so much to help make this track stand out.

6. アイオライト (Aioraito)
This is just a fun and catchy pop song. The verses are laid back and work well to compliment the more vibrant chorus that kicks things up a notch and is what really makes this song so much fun to listen to. It puts me in a good mood whenever I listen to it and is one of my favorite tracks.

7. 僕たちのbirthday (Bokutachi no Birthday)
This song slows things down again a bit but keeps it light and poppy. It is a sweet sounding song that does a great job of building to the chorus where there is a nice swell of music to start it off to then drop off to go more tender before moving into the next verse. While not one of my favorite tracks on the album it is definitely a strong one and I do enjoy it still quite a bit.

8. おやすみ (Oyasumi)
The first bonus track for the regular edition. A rather straightforward pop song but it fits so well next to Bokutachi no Birthday with both using string instruments prominently. Though Oyasumi is more electronic overall with its instruments but that does make it a decent bridge song between Bokutachi no Birthday and Hustler. I would probably place this song on the same level as Bokutachi no Birthday, I like and enjoy it well enough but there are other songs on this album that I love much more.

9. Hustler
Honestly I am surprised that this was a bonus track for the regular edition as it is probably one of the more stand out tracks on this album. Of course I will confess that I did not care for it with the first few listens but it grew on me big time and has become one of my favorite songs off the album. And it goes so well with the following track with them both being dance pop. I really want to know what the sound is that starts and ends the track as it is unique and really makes the track stand out. And the chorus of this song is so catchy. I still cannot get over the fact I did not like the song with the first listen considering it is one of my favorites now.

10. Get Up!
Like High Five I am not going to bother reviewing this track again. It is a good fit after Hustler though and helps continue the strong streak of songs on the album started with that one.

11. 悪魔な恋 album ver. (Akuma na Koi album ver.)
This is basically Akuma na Koi as a solo song, which honestly it was originally but this takes out all the harmonies that B.I.Shadow did in the original song. In fact that is probably one of the biggest changes for this version is that there is little in the way of harmonies so it really focuses on Yuma's voice. And that works well if you want to compare how much Yuma's voice has changed since he originally sang this in his mid-teens. I really wish Johnny's would create new versions of older songs for groups that have lost members or had members that have had their voices change drastically like this as I love being able to compare the versions. Plus with Akuma na Koi it is a really nice slow song that I have loved since I heard the original version so I have no issues of having more versions of it to listen to.

12. 奇跡、見つけに (Kiseki, Mitsukeni)
The third and final bonus track for the regular edition. It has a simple and slow start with the opening verse but then you get to the chorus and there is a grand flourish of music that makes the track start to stand out. It took a few listens but the track has grown on me and it is really the chorus that won me over. Though the simple verses really help make it stand out with the contrast it creates. But every time in the chorus when Yuma reaches the part of the lyrics that is the title of the song it just has this grand feeling to it

13. In The Name of LOVE
This song starts off strong from the first note before pulling back for the initial verse. One of the slower songs on the album but closer to mid-tempo then anything else. It also has plenty of instrumental flourishes to give it an epic-esque feel and makes sure the album ends on a high note. Really a nice strong track and I like that this album decided to end on something like that and not one of the ballads.


Overall: Honestly I kinda feel like Yuma is the hidden gem of Johnny's. As a solo act he does not get too much promotion and is probably looked over as he really does not have a mega popular drama attached to his name. But overall his music releases have been steady and he is able to keep busy with being one of the main PLAYZONE actors in recent years. I hope he continues to have a decent career for a good long time.

The bonus tracks for the regular edition are well worth it. Hustler is great and Kiseki, Mitsukeni is really good as well with Oyasumi also being a solid track. Even the songs I do not love I still like and enjoy and of course the songs I do love I completely adore. This album is great and if you have liked any of Yuma's solo songs I would recommend it. I look forward to whatever he releases in the future, especially his next album if it ends up anything like this one.