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

“This tattoo, this preview, this heartbeat”

cover

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:

(more…)

Advertisements

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

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

cover

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:

(more…)

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

“As I am awakened with fire in my bones”

eurovision_complete

Molly_Uk_officialvideo

(“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:

(more…)

Music: Janet Devlin – Hide & Seek – Album Review

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

Janet-Devlin-Hide-Seek-2013

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:

(more…)

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

“Power to the people”

eurovision_complete

Molly_Uk

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.

(more…)

Music: SUPER JUNIOR – SPY – Single Review

“Do ru ru ru ru do ru u ru”

mus13_superjunior_spy

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:

(more…)

Music: Ayumi Hamasaki – LOVEppears – Album Review

“Fly High And Then Immature Boys & Girls End Roll”

Artists: Ayumi Hamasaki

Age: October 2, 1978 (age 33)

Genre: JPop, JRock, Dance, Electronic, House

Released: 10th November 1999

One of my favourite albums, LOVEppears (pronounced ‘love appears’) is stuffed with dance tracks in Ayu’s distinctive voice.

The album follows a very tight and coherent style, so if you’re a fan of 90’s soft rock, electronic, or dance music, and you like a few of the songs, this album will rank high.

Although Boys & Girls is a favourite among many fans, WHATEVER, And Then, and Fly High are upbeat and vocally more interesting.

Even though it’s been a two decades since this album was released, the dance songs haven’t aged.

See below for album previews:

(more…)

Anime: Tari Tari – Episode 13 Series Finale Summary + Review

“Everybody do a rain-dance”

(The pressure got to Konatsu, and she went insane shortly before the performance)

Studio: P.A.Works

Genre: School, Music, Slice of Life, Age: All ages

Released: July 1 2012 – onwards

From the previous episode, the day of the festival arrives, and it’s a disappointingly rainy day. Everyone has put in hard work into rehearsals and other preparation, so the show will go on…

Warning! May contain spoilers!

(more…)

Anime: Tari Tari – Episode 12 Summary + Review

“Everybody needs costumes or this won’t work”

(The song is put on repeat until everybody can sing it in their sleep)

Studio: P.A.Works

Genre: School, Music, Slice of Life, Age: All ages

Released: July 1 2012 – onwards

From the previous episode, despite the school’s White Festival being cancelled, and the shutting down schedules for later, the group decide to carry on with their plans to perform.

Warning! May contain spoilers!

(more…)

Music: Ayumi Hamasaki – I am… – Album Review

“Connected Evolution Naturally Never Ever Still Alone”

Artists: Ayumi Hamasaki

Age: October 2, 1978 (age 33)

Genre: JPop, JRock, Dance, Electronic

Released: 1st Janury 2002

An album that’s covered with Ayumi Hamasaki’s own production, under the pseudonym of CREA. The personal touch truly helped as most of the songs are incredible, and recommended to old and new fans.

The opening track I am… starts with acoustic singing merging into pop-rock, that sets the tone of the album. The strong vocals follow into UNITE!evolution, NEVER EVER and M. Many of these songs are her most popular, and are also concert-favourites.

There’s a very tight and coherent production making the songs blend into each other, but each have their own distinctive quirks. Some would argue that Ayu has never created another album of this caliber.

See below for album previews:

(more…)

%d bloggers like this: