Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Quick Anime Review

Kuroshitsuji (2008) | Rating: 4/5

I'm still working on this series, but so far, I'm very in love with it. It has a bit of mystery, action, comedy, and a sprinkle of playful shounen-ai. I've become fond of Sebastian, who is "one hell of a butler" and I've gotten to the point I want a little collectible figure of him to join my shelf. I also like the always happy Tanaka-san, who always brings laughter to any scene he's in. Recently became a fan of Grell Sutcliff who brings comedy as well to serious situations. If you enjoy somewhat comical mysteries with demons, a stoic child, and death reapers then this is the series for you!

Shugo Chara! (2007) | Rating: 3/5

I'm still working on this lengthy series also and struggling to find a good place to watch the rest, aside from crunchyroll. It's a very cutesy series like "DiGi Charat" with some good life lessons if believing in yourself. Let your inner egg be born and live out your dreams. Without being overly cute, the series throws in your standard comedy and a little drama to keep you hook and interested for more adventures with Amu. Some areas of the series are a bit dark especially with dealing with the enemies or semi-enemies, depending on how you want to view certain characters.

Gun x Sword (2005) | Rating: 3.5/5

I started this series for an anime lover that comes by my job occasionally looking for new things to watch. I was a little hesitant since it didn't seem like a series I would enjoy. It had setting elements similar to "Trigun" in a way but with armor, as they refer to the machinery used by the main character Van in battles. It's a very action packed, dramatic yet comedic series that kept me wanting more. I've become attached to a few characters like Van, Wendy, and Carmen. If you like swordsmen, revenge, visually stimulating strong female characters, and "armors", then you should give this series a try.

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2006) | Rating: 4/5

Like "Nerima Daikon Brothers", I did not know what to expect from this series, but just like the anime I mentioned before there were a lot of surprises that I didn't expect from the series. It's a mixture of supernatural, comedy, and some perverted moments. It's also a little cutesy but not unnaturally so to throw off the real storyline. As I continued to watch, I had no idea what to expect in future episodes. All I knew was that I wanted to continue digging further into the not so typical high school series.

Coyote Ragtime Show (2006) | Rating: 3/5

I started watching this for the same reason as "Gun x Sword" and ended up enjoying it. At first, it kinda reminded me of "Cowboy Bebop" in a "Trigun" setting. For those who don't know what that is, it's like a space bounty hunter/criminal in a slight futuristic western scene. This is more of an action comedy like "Trigun" & "Gun x Sword". They have their high action moments, low dramatic scenes, and a few laughs here and there. It's not quite addicting but it is a pretty decent series.

Gravitation (2000) | Rating: 3/5

A fairly old series that most people know of, especially shounen-ai fans. I finally got to finish up the series after my best friend presented it to me years ago. It has its cheesy lovey dovey moments that you can't help but adore and of course the ever hanging conflict of the main couple: Shuichi & Yuki. There were a few things I expected of the character relationships that didn't come true, but I'm happy they didn't. It's a pretty decent shounen-ai to start off with for newcomers of the drama because it's light, comical, and focuses on the main plot of a band trying to make it big. Unlike some shounen-ai series that turn the main plot into a sub-plot and put way too much focus on the romance.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Quick Music Review

Vidoll - Monad (2010, Japan) | Rating: 4.5/5
Favorite Tracks: IKAROS, Darwinism, Hot cage mix

Just a little background info on myself: Vidoll was one of the first jrock indies bands I really got into. I immediately fell in love with Jui's outstanding vocal range and Rame's powerful basslines throughout a majority of their songs. I have watched them grow and transition with their new guitarists Shun and Giru as well as move onto a major label. Being a strong supporter, their music began to lose that "in your face" bass sound to something a little more mainstream, but still Vidoll-esque. Some their latest songs were just okay and the Bastard and Esoteric Romance albums, in my opinion, were disappointing.
Like the GazettE, I was a little nervous about the new album, yet excited since I enjoyed "Eve" & "Focus" singles. First listen through of Monad, I was inwardly smiling. It felt like Vidoll was making a comeback. The further I got into the album, the more hope grew in my mind that the band's talent wasn't fading away. Monad has made my wishlist! There are some really good songs on it and I'll continue to look forward to more Vidoll music in the future as I usually do.

Ayabie - Irodori (2010, Japan) | Rating: 3.5/5
Favorite Tracks: GAME, action (Irodoi ver.), Kanaria (Irodori ver.)

Like Vidoll, Ayabie was another indies band I fell for in the beginning of me joining the jrock fandom. They had crazy, cute energy and a strong statement through their music. As time passed, their leader Ryouhei departed and the band signed to a major label. Their image became a little more tamed and their sound was more balanced and softer than usual.
In my opinion, a lot of their title tracks on their singles weren't that great. I was a little hesitant to listen to their first major album. They still had that soft quality to them, but there were a couple tracks I was surprised with. They were very upbeat and fun and had a few elements from the old Ayabie. Overall, the album is worth checking out and giving it a couple listens. I'm still a little iffy about Ayabie's future sound, but I trust that they'll always stay true to themselves and keep that personal bond between each other.

The Underneath - us. (2009, Japan) | Rating: 5/5
Favorite Tracks: Rain, Chou no koe -The scream of the butterfly, Dolls

If I had to describe this album in one word, it would be "epic"! I have enjoyed this band in their beginnings and was pleased with their transition as the Underneath in their first album, Moon Flower. I believe us. totally blew the first album completely out the water. I couldn't just listen to it once, I had to majorly repeat every track because I felt so speechless. This further persuaded me to quickly add to my wishlist. Unfortunately, while listening to this album as time continues moving forward, I will continually ask myself why this band is leaving us after a hit like that. This album has left a strong good impression on the jrock fandom and now it'll be followed by a farewell single, before the Underneath disbands.

quaff - SHAKE YOUR BOOTY! (2009, Japan) | Rating: 3.5/5
Favorite Tracks: Destiny-00, more than blue, サイハラの都

Giving the band a second chance, I listened to their newest album and found it thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining. They keep the elements of traditional Japanese music and rock and fused them together with a slightly comical tone of vocals and rapping. Really listening to "SUPPONPON" reminded me of Sendai Kamotsu's fun, playful melodies. Like the red jumpsuit wearing band, they do have serious musical sounding songs to balance the album out. They show that they have great potential and would probably give a great

Friday, March 19, 2010


[from left to right] REO (bass), L (vocals), hyou (drums), and clhoe (guitar)
|Official Site||Official MySpace|

It took me a while to figure out what to say about this possible budding band, especially since I've only heard one song and watched a live of another that got removed from YouTube. It took some time to adjust to their overall sound, but in the end, I believe they have "mad" potential. I'm still waiting for another release, some sort of activity that this dark indies band is going somewhere in their country.

They have a definite unique image and L has a broad range from growling to a haunting rapsy-like singing style. It's definitely very new but the music is somewhat polished enough to attach to your mind. Tell what you guys think of The Mad Simpson!

♪Listen Up♪

Rant: X Japan Hype

While watching a new video presented by the always truthful Hinakun, I realized a lot of things she said was true about one of the legendary founders of visual kei in the Japanese rock industry. When I got introduced into the jrock fandom, I never really noticed the hype on X Japan and that was the first jrock band I heard. I don't think it's a requirement to like them or any other iconic jrock band, but it's nice to know the foundation sometimes.

I never became a hardcore X fan, just a mere admirer of their impact, diversity, and style. I ended up liking hide's solo work more than X and I know a lot of new jrock fans claim to like them a lot even though they only know a few basic songs, only got into them because of hide but barely know anything else about the band, or they claim to like them because they were a major influence to Dir en grey. Otherwise, no one really cares about them except older fans and fans that like older jrock music.

Hearing Hinakun's words of Yoshiki putting so much hype into X Japan is sadly true and amusing. X Japan is no longer a big deal to the jrock fandom. Only wannabes claim the X fandom nowadays (and maybe a few old jrock music lovers) and it just seems that Yoshiki wants attention because he's a big time musician and producer that starts up exciting music projects and never delivers. X will never be the same because hide has been dead and gone for more than a decade and mainstream jrock has changed.

I kinda want to believe that Yoshiki just wants people to inflate his ego because of his musical history and that his biggest musical success is slowly fading into the background due to the new jrock fan generation. Honestly, I think he should stick to producing bands and focus more on making his projects come to life instead of building all this hype for nothing like he's done with nearly every X Japan revival world tour and his "super visual kei" band S.K.I.N. Let hide's legacy rest, let Toshi move on with his new life since the divorce, and stop pretending X will be the big thing because you have Sugizo as your new guitarist. It'll never be the same~

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Live: 10 years

10 years
[2009.12.30] Scout Bar in Houston, TX
featuring: 10 years, TheLastPlaceYouLook, Since October, & Down From Up


Nava: Vocals
Richard: Guitar
Derek: Guitar
Kevin: Bass & Vocals
Andy: Drums

A local Houston band that apparently won some radio award last year. Despite them being local, it didn't seem like a lot of people knew of them, but that didn't stop them from enjoying the music. Their appearance was pretty simple and black. They had high energy and it took me some time to get used to Nava's voice. It kinda reminded me of Aaron Lewis of Staind and I'll note that I'm not a fan of Staind whatsoever. Not being familiar with their music, I know for a fact they played "Don't Make It So Easy" which has a music video to it. It had the most energy to close out their set. What got my attention was the passion Nava gave when delivering his lyrics to the audience and then there was Kevin who did some back-up vocals on some of the songs. He distracted me during the whole set being so close to the stage. He had a lot of energy and passion as well and enjoyed giving the audience attention. I ended up buying their new album, SEE THE LIGHT INSIDE YOU, after the show for my friend and myself. I wouldn't mind seeing them again for sure. I like hearing their songs live moreso than a recording. They definitely have promise and I recommend you guys check them out.

Here's their first music video:

Down From Up

Matt Brewster: vocals
Andy Wood: guitar
Matt Reynolds: bass
Andy Campbell: drums

A Florida rock band with an individual appearance. Matt B. appeared to be an intimidating pug ready to kick your ass if you look at him the wrong, but once he started performing his appearance lightened up some. He seemed like a friendly guy with a surprising non-screamo sound. Andy C., I believe, was wailing away at the drums with hair flying into his face with every swing he took on his instrument. Main focus was on Andy W. shredding the guitar as much as he could. he made me want to listen to Avenged Sevenfold he was so mind blowing. He was probably the biggest attention whore of the whole show, making seductive eye contact with each and every audience member. Their music wasn't as heavy as I thought it would be. At times, I felt that the extra guitar that Matt B. was a bit unnecessary since Andy W. completely outshines him. I wasn't too crazy about their overall sound. Maybe as an instrumental piece but not worthy of spending tons of money on. Although, I will give them major props on doing a couple Led Zepplin covers. It was the most enjoyable songs of their set and a great way to close it. The audience thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the Zepplin fans like my friend.

Since October

Ben Graham: lead vocals
Luke Graham: guitar & backing vocals
Josh Johnson: bass & backing vocals
Audie Grantham: drums & screaming vocals

Don't bite my head off, but basing off appearance they looked like a bunch of men going through a mid-life crisis, threw on some eyeliner, and created a metal band. But the guys were not metal at all, at least not to my ears. I guess they fall on the lines of 10 years's genre.
The band had a mature energy on stage, but their image kinda became an obstacle like their hair constantly hitting their faces, except for the drummer because he's bald. Their music was pretty decent. Probably the second best opening bands of the evening. Ben definitely immersed himself with his lyrics and Luke and Josh kept to themselves. They had the least interaction with the audience, but Ben was the only brave soul to jump into the crowd. Best part of their set was a musical teaser of "Killing in the Name Of" by Rage Against the Machine. I wish they went all out with it like Down From Up's Zepplin covers, but maybe another time if they tag along with a band I like.

10 years

Jesse Hasek: vocals
Ryan "Tater" Johnson: guitar
Lewis "Big Lew" Cosby: bass
Brandon: drums

The main event everyone was looking forward to. Suspense built up while equipment was being moved and set up for at least 20-25 minutes, but it was worth every minute of waiting. They opened with a powerful song from their latest album, Division, called "Actions & Motives". Perfect song to get the crowd hype and the band was very energetic throughout their whole set. The guitarist and bassist interacted with each other and the crowd a lot as well as Jesse. He kinda picked on the audience for waiting around toward the end, laughed it off, and played a few more songs. They played a lot of good tracks and made it diverse from old and new and upbeat to mellow. They did a powerful performance of "So Long, Goodbye" with Jesse and Ryan on acoustic guitar. They ended the night with a new song, "Shoot It Out" I believe, and Jesse told us the words he wanted us to say. We even did a couple practice runs before they started the song. Here's the possible setlist in no particular order:
Waking Up
The Recipe
Russian Roulette
So Long, Goodbye
Cast It Out
Half Life
Through the Iris
Paralyzing Kings
Actions & Motives
Just Can't Win
11:00 am (Daydreamer)
Drug of Choice
All Your Lies
Shoot It Out

After the live was over, I felt enlightened and in love with them all over again. It was definitely one of the best lives of the year and my good close friend can attest to that. Perfect way to end 2009!