KAT-TUN - RUN FOR YOU (2011, Japan) Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: RUN FOR YOU, COSMIC CHILD
Something happened and I've grown to like this group more than before. "RUN FOR YOU" is a super catchy dance track with loads of good moments and the video isn't half bad either. Sadly, this has become one of my favorite KAT-TUN tracks.
Cinemaglam - LOVE AVANT-GARDE (2011, Japan) Rating: 4/5
Favorite Tracks: サディスティックラブ, I've no name
"LOVEコレクション" mixes old rock elements and happy song elements you would probably hear from a jdrama opening or something. It's an interesting combination, but it definitely keeps you in to hear more from this debut mini. "サディスティックラブ" has the same feeling as the first track, but I'm more impressed with the melody and guitar work in this one. It maintains that feel good emotion from listening and keeps you hooked in to continue forward. "I've no name" reminds me of a present day Beatles track in some ways. I really like the vocalist's voice and the song definitely sticks easily. "君に愛された理由が分からない" displays a good partnership between acoustics and bass. It's an easy song to listen to and it's almost relaxing in some ways. "愛ヲ持テ進メ" picks up the tempo some and wakes up our bodies to move a little. "愛の罪人" completely shifts the mood to something almost haunting, but beautiful at the same time. It has strong musical elements and the vocals are pretty impressive. Sadly, not much is known about the artist/group, but I'm looking forward to more.
miss A - A Class (2011, South Korea) Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: Good-bye Baby, Mr. Johnny, Breathe, Love Alone
I've been looking forward to an album from these girls, yet I feel conflicted by the title of it simple because it's similar to Miss $'s album name. "하나부터 열까지" opens with an almost different, tame sound from the girls. It has a nice piano melody that repeats in the background and it's dancy, but sadly not a strong opening for me. It feels a bit strained. "Good-bye Baby" was the promo song for this album and this is what got me interested to what they had to bring to their first album release. It's really catchy, powerful, and somewhat stays true to the girls' sound. Although, in some ways I'm reminded of the Wonder Girls. "Help Me" combines electro-pop with R&B elements. It does spotlight the girls' vocal talents nicely, but it's not a track I would listen to a lot. "Break It" was featured on the girls' first single and features simple beats and autotune. Never was a fan of this track and still am not. "Mr. Johnny" brings back my interest to this album and I can listen to this repeatedly. It's fun and dancy and doesn't take away from the girls' vocal abilities without the overuse of autotune. Once "그 음악을 틀어줘요 DJ" popped up, I thought my iTunes skipped to a T-ara track or something. I don't think this style fits miss A's style. "Step Up" doesn't quite transition that smoothly from the previous track, but the song's decent. It was featured in the last single release from the girls. "Breathe" was also featured on the same single. Sure, we've heard this song already, but this track still remains great and memorable. "멍하니" is R&B ballad track that almost falls victim to those boring, generic kpop ballads that annoy me, but the orchestral track saves it barely. "다시 사랑" was one of miss A's debut songs. It still remains a good song, but it pales in comparison to the growth of "Good-bye Baby". "Love Alone" jumps in as another promotional track from the album. It has an electro-pop and R&B sound which somehow makes it replayable for me. Although, I wish the music video was better though. "Bad Girl Good Girl" was the song that put the girls in the spotlight and even though it's not as polished and mature as the previous track, you can still tell that these girls have talent from the beginning. Lastly is "Good-bye Baby (Silver Mix)" which slows things even further and strips away the melody. In the end, I'm pleased with what they've put together and I'm looking forward to more growth.
Infinite - OVER THE TOP/Paradise (Repackaged) (2011, South Korea) Rating: 2.5/5
Favorite Tracks: 내꺼하자, 3분의1, Paradise
Like miss A, I was anticipating an album from this group as well and I strangely feel conflicted with it too. "OVER THE TOP" opens the album with a positive feeling that this album is going to be great. It has minimal, but dramatic snippets from the next track. "내꺼하자" took me a while to like, but it's a pretty good song. It's not as strong as "BTD (Before the Dawn)", but it still shows the guys' vocal chemistry. "3분의1" has become my favorite track from the album. It has an effortlessly vocal tone to it yet it remains in your mind for longer than 10 seconds. "Tic Toc" opens with a little orchestral sound and minimalistic music arrangement. "Julia" has more of an arrangement and it reminds me of a weak Backstreet Boy ballad when they were a five member group. It has nice vocals, but nothing interesting for me. There's a couple solo songs featured on this album as well. One is "Because" sung by Sungkyu. It's okay and has some good moments, but nothing super interesting. Next is a ballad by Woohyun called "시간아" which automatically doesn't keep me in for long. "Amazing" brings all the members back together for the remainder of the album. It has a nice piano arrangement and the guys sound good, but it's not a powerful track. It's a very safe N'SYNCish pop song. "Crying" intertwines pop and R&B elements together. This song isn't that bad, but nothing I'd repeat very often. Baby H takes over a good portion of the song and I wonder how it would sound without her. "Real Story" keeps the easy pace steady and closes out the album. If you bought the repackaged version, then we have 3 more songs to cover. "Paradise" brings violin and nostalgic 80s synth-pop together. This song also took me a while to like. It's not great, but at least it's on the same level as "내꺼하자". "Cover Girl" kinda throws me off on what direction Infinite is trying to go and, honestly, this track seems a bit of a joke for what they're working with talent-wise. So the fans requested a remix of "내꺼하자". I bet they didn't expect it to turn out like this. I really like the original more, but the guitar work is decent. Overall, the music is way too dramatic. Sadly, I'm disappointed with the final work, but I'm still cheering for them to rise up to their talents.
the GazettE - VORTEX (2011, Japan) Rating: 2/5
Favorite Tracks: UNCERTAIN SENSE
"VORTEX" sucks you in like the song title. It's a bit wild and goes in and out of old Gazette and new sounds with a hint of autotune. It's not particularly strong, but it's not extremely boring either. It gives the listener just enough. "UNCERTAIN SENSE" also has a musical arrangement that matches the title. It goes back and forth to the band's generic rock sound to an effortless vocal flight before tugging you back in for a couple yells and guitar punches. "BREAK ME" almost reveals a different side of the band that almost seems completely borrowed from someone else. It doesn't quite fit their skill set and teeters on the edge of boring.
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