Music: Chihiro Onitsuka – This Silence Is Mine – Single Review

“This tattoo, this preview, this heartbeat”

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Artists: Chihiro Onitsuka

Genre: Folk, Pop

Released: 18th December 2013

Chihiro Onitsuka used to have this unreal voice back in the early days of her career. Her previous albums have some of the most beautiful and haunting music I’ve ever heard, and this is coming from someone who makes it their mission to find that kind of stuff. Sadly, due to some health issues, her voice slipped into a gravelly tone, rather than that angelic instrument that gave out those soaring notes.

To compensate for the change in her vocal abilities, for recent albums Chihiro Onitsuka has produced songs with a 70s/80s rock style that’s…. different. See Anata to Science, the other song on this single, to have a good idea of what the new sound is like. Well, I’m sure fans appreciate it, but it just isn’t the same, and no-one expected another epic ballad out of this singer.

Along comes The Silence is Mine, an eery, haunting track that seeps under the skin and settles deep, to fit Drakengard 3, a game that is equally disturbing. This song is ugly-pretty. Gorgeous instruments and a rasping voice. A thumping beat, accompanied by strings builds up to reach a breathtaking finale. It feels like this could be her final song, and the purity and energy surges through powerfully. Chihiro’s vocals are raw and edgy and almost crying through those long high notes in anguish, delivering each word with such conviction that this song will haunt you for a long time. Sweeping instrumentals carry the listener through the final parts of the songs.

Now Drakengard 3 actually got released a while ago, and sadly rather quietly as a PSN Download only. The Silence is Mine was used in the trailers to promote the game, and is also the in-game vocal theme. How many people will come across the game, bearing in mind that the Drakengard series only has a cult following to begin with? How many will hear this song? To bring out one of the best songs in recent years, Chihiro Onitsuka deserves recognition. It deserves silence.

See below for previews:

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Music: Androp – BooHoo/AM0:40/Waltz – Single Review

“It’s strange, “Everyone”, Who is that again? Aren’t you curious?”

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Artists: Androp

Genre: JRock, JPop

Released: 22nd August 2012

I cannot even explain the infatuation I began with Androp after coming across the video for BooHoo, one of the songs from this triple A-side single.

BooHoo is a guitar-riffed-filled pulse-racing track that incorporates breathless vocals with life questioning lyrics. The chorus strikes as high and screechy, and yet it is pretty catchy. Everything about this track is just momentum. The softer parts of the song are almost dreamlike. Cries of “BooHoo!” will get stuck in your head.

Being a triple A-side the quality of the next track is pretty good, and although AM0:40 is less memorable than BooHoo, the chorus is likable and positive. This shares some of lyrics from BooHoo, and while I feel that the first song is superior, AM0:40 is such a short affair that it doesn’t outlive its welcome.

If there was one song I wasn’t expecting from a rock band, it was probably something that sounds like it’s dropped straight out of a shoujo anime. The soft vocals, the rhythmic almost lullaby-ish melody, Waltz feels like a summery tune to put on a lazy afternoon. The intense energy of the band is still coiled in the background, but this song feels like a gracious break from sharp questions the band posed earlier.

I don’t listen to JRock much because I don’t particularly the style, but Androp have their own style. The band members just look like cool guys hanging out, and the whole feeling of the band is so relaxed, yet they give out their own intense energy. Perhaps vocalists get too much attention, but in this case Uchisawa Takahito, who is lead vocalist and also lead guitarist, his unique vocals in BooHoo has wormed their music into my brain.

High pitched vocals from a guy isn’t really a thing I would recommend to anyone, and yet it works. Let’s not call it JRock. Call it Androck.

See below for previews:

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TV: Eurovision 2014 Live Commentary

“Eurovision! Eurovision! Eurovision! Are you ready?!”

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Refresh every few minutes for updating comments!

20:00

Eurovision begins.

20:02

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Featuring a short video by Emily, the previous winner. Showing different ways of travelling to the Eurovision set.

20:04

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Dancing with the competing flags.

20:07

Introduction of all the eurovision entrants.

20:11

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Introduction of the hosts. More than 18 million people are watching this show, including those outside Europe.

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TV: “Children of the Universe” Molly Smitten-Downes Official Video

“As I am awakened with fire in my bones”

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(“Yes, I am fabulous!”)

Rather excitingly, the official video for Molly Smitten-Downes entry into Eurovision 2014 has been uploaded in the past few days. The video, available on her official youtube channel, shows Molly amongst her band lounging around on plush furniture and standing in front of flowers.

The official video has clearer audio than the studio version that was uploaded earlier in the year. The song is actually pretty good, and even incredible considering this is a UK entry. Personally, I didn’t need any more reasons to love Molly’s creation, but the luxurious official video does help.

However, as good as the song is, it all depends on the actual night. Eurovision semi-finals will take place on the 6th and 8th of May, and the UK has automatic entry into the finals, taking place on 10th of May 2014.

See the video below:

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TV: BBC Horrible Histories Series 1-5 DVD Box Set (UK Edition)

“The best thing since cave-men!”

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Studio: BBC

Genre: Comedy, Historical, Age: 5+

Released: October 2013  (UK version)

Horrible Histories, for those that don’t know, are an insanely popular series of factual-comedic books made for children. They are pretty old, considering I read them in school, and are filled with facts that seem ridiculous, but are actually true. There have been many productions based off the books, from broadway shows, to animated series, but the 2009 series is easily the best one, being made for all age groups, not just children.

The whole box set is around 30 hours long, and includes all episodes from the five series. The first 12 episodes of each series has sketches, fake historical ads, historical parodies of modern-day reality and chat shows, songs, and quizes. Episode 13, the last of every series, has a compilation of the best songs from the series, and a few extended sketches.

The series groups ancient and modern history into categories titled like Rotten Romans, Awful Egyptians, and Terrible Tudors. Although the show starts off with mainly British related history, it does branch out into significant American and some European history.

Each member of the main cast plays a plethora of characters. As time grows on, you can immediately recognise them and their acting style, and the familiarity makes the comedy even more hilarious.

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(Featuring Ancient Beauty Tips from our experts)

I personally find it impossible to pick a favourite person from the cast, because even when they are not in the starring role, they bring a lot of charm and charisma to the sketch, and are great in their supporting roles.

Each cast member has plays many characters, but my favourite roles are Jim’s Shouty Man, Matt’s King Charles II of England, Simon’s Robert Dudley, Martha’s Queen Elizabeth I of England, Larry’s Bob Hale, and Ben’s King Henry VIII of England.

More information and videos below:

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Music: Janet Devlin – Hide & Seek – Album Review

“The Creatures of The Night. Me, Myself and I.”

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Artists: Janet Devlin

Age: 12th November 1994 (age 19)

Genre: Pop, Folk

Released: 3rd July 2014

I’m going through a big change in the music I listen to. Gone are the loud sounds, harsh vocals and lewd lyrics, I’m attracted more and more to soul-searching songs that feel like they explore the depths of the universe itself. There are very, very few artists that I can place within that category, and as such, they are getting a bit overplayed.

Janet Devlin is one of those singers that deserves recognition for having a beautiful voice. There is a rare quality in her young, bit-rough vocals, with it’s Irish lilt, and her album showcases her astonishingly understated vocals perfectly.

I first saw Janet Devlin on X Factor UK 2011, and in her auditions, she brought a charm and innocence to all her performances, and she’s good, very good.

Janet Devlin not only sings, but has co-written all the songs on this album. It adds that extra spark and personality to every line. Hide & Seek (obviously a reference to Imogen Heap, one of Devlin‘s influences) was first released in limited quantities last July (2013), but is set to re-released this summer.

The album explores Pop and Folk genres, and there are some upbeat songs, Wonderful, Working for the Man, that are mainstream pop. They are catchy enough, but sound hideously generic compared to quirky-piano-pop Creatures of the Night.

Walk Away, Who am I to You, Pick Me Up and the titular Hide & Seek, are pleasant songs that are perfect for putting on as background music. They don’t stand out in particular, but the feel is of good, solid, pop music. When was the last time I heard that? Probably not in a decade.

The standout tracks for me are Devlin‘s slower songs. If there is a reason to buy this album, it is for Crown of Thorns, Things We Lost In The Fire, Nothing Left to Hide, and the brilliantly haunting When We Were Young. I have never heard such a young voice sing so expressively, and against quiet accompaniment, and still move me.

There is an untrained quality to Devlin’s voice. A raw power that hasn’t grown into its own, and is so unusual in a world filled with auto-tune or power singers (and shriekers).

Not everyone will “get” her. There is a reason why she managed 5th on the X Factor, and had her album funded by PledgeMusic. However, if you love this type of sound, she is a great artist at the beginning of her career, filled with talent and great potential.

I know I am a fan.

See below for album previews:

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TV: Eurovision 2014 UK Entry “Children of the Universe” Molly Smitten-Downes

“Power to the people”

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The UK entry for Eurovision 2014 was shown a few days ago. The BBC version is the most publicised, featuring Molly Smitten-Downes singing a live version of her song “Children of the Universe”.

Described as cool and contemporary, Molly brings a different and modern style to the UK entry for Eurovision. Think 2010 winner Lena and her song “Satelitte“, but with an actual British accent. Molly stomps across the stage, reaches achingly beautiful notes with her voice, and oozes casualness with her henna tattoos.

Last year, Bonnie Tyler represented the UK. and although her fanbase was prominent in the audience, the song didn’t do well in the UK charts or in the competition. Bonnie Tyler crooned “Believe in Me“, and reached 19th place, scoring a mere 23 points.

Although British citizens like to scoff at Eurovion, and the “political voting” between countries, there is always that spark of hope that the UK will place in the Top 10 in the competition. I personally think that Molly Smitten-Downes offers the best chance of getting a high ranking (and dare I say, even winning) since Blue with “I Can“, back in 2011.

Eurovision Finals will be broadcast on the 10th of May 2014, following Semi-Finals on the 6th and 8th of May 2014. As one of the major countries backing the competition, the UK has an automatic entry into the Finals.

I will be aiming to do a live commentary on the competition.

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Purchased: Tiger & Bunny Limited Edition DVD + Blu-ray Volume 1 (UK Edition)

“That’s not a hero!”

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Studio: Sunrise

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Comedy, Superheroes, Science Fiction, Age: 12+

Released: February 2013  (UK version)

Tiger & Bunny has to be be one of the best series made in recent years. So much so, that I watched it multiple times in the Japanese subs, and was ecstatic when it was released in the UK. For once, I have no complaint that a “guy’s series” was being released, since I love superheroes. This series has so many lovable characters, and has original superheroes with their own unique costume design. The only thing that is evil is the cost of each of these volumes.

Since I purchased this when it came out in February last year, it was at full price. Since this is an ultra-lux “Limited Edition” (no, it isn’t, explanations at the end), so let’s see what the buyer gets for their money. Especially since there are four of these volumes to collect.

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First of all, there is a cardboard sleeve with the outer designs of the volume on it. Inside is another cardboard sleeve which holds the disks.  Each side features a superhero from the series. Everything is nice and glossy, and this is one of the major factors for buying this set.

More information and pictures below:

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Purchased: Princess Jellyfish Collector’s Edition DVD Box Set (UK Edition)

“Super Anti-Nerd Makeover Time!!”

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Studio: Brain’s Base

Genre: Josei, Romance, Drama, Age: Adult

Released: 3rd September 2012  (US version)

I mentioned the release of the Princess Jellyfish Collector’s Edition in a previous post, and I remember rushing out pre-order it. It arrived sometime last year, but I haven’t yet put up any pictures of how stunning this collection is.

This edition comes with the Clara toy, which is a massive keyring-type plush. I always seem to have grubby hands whenever I come near this box, and haven’t had the nerves to take the plush toy out. It sort of rolls about in the box. From my initial impressions, I was expecting it to be larger, but the toy is no larger than the palm of my hand. That’s pretty big for a keyring, but not really for a plush toy.

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So far there is no BluRay release of this in the UK. The actual DVDs are contained in a cardboard slip inside the larger box. This slip features some truly stunning artwork. I’m not sure if this is from the manga, but it does look in a similar style. Unfortunately, there is no way of securing the cardboard slip when traveling, and my method is to place it inside a folder is it ever needs to be transported. (The larger box feels too awkward to carry around).

More information and pictures below:

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Music: SUPER JUNIOR – SPY – Single Review

“Do ru ru ru ru do ru u ru”

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Artists: SUPER JUNIOR

Genre: Kpop, Urban, Pop

Released: 5th October 2012

So apart from the obvious reasons of work, what else has been filling my life? Shopping. I had been walking through H&M and realised they had been playing Kpop. And not just any kpop either; SUPER JUNIOR!

Nearby customers will have to excuse my squeals of excitement, for although I am not a huge SuJu fan, it is an odd experience to hear it blasting through the loudspeakers in your average UK store. And it’s an almost recent song too!

Played blatantly. At full volume.

The actual song is a poppy upbeat thing which screams SuJu. The video is inspired by James Bond, although both the song and the video are a far cry from the recent sultry theme that Adele sang. The new accompanying dance is much more complex than I have seen in their recent releases, and although they have blood raining down and silhouettes of women, everything ties down nicely with the vanilla boyband-ness.

See the video below to see the world’s greatest boyband perform. Although it is nothing on the same greatness as Sorry, Sorry or BONAMANA  they have done kpop proud. SPY will be playing in your head for days.

See below for previews:

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