AZIATIX - Nocturnal (2011, U.S.) Rating: 3.5/5
Favorite Tracks: Slippin' Away, A Game, Say Yeah
I must admit that their first release wasn't all that, but I was still excited to listen to more music from this talented trio and spread their talent from friend to friend. Skipping over the "Intro" and going straight into "Slippin' Away", it starts this CD off very calm and mesmerizingly beautiful. The vocals are very emotion filled and the rap sections don't sound awkward either, which takes skill. I also have to agree with LinzerDinzer that the video for this song is absolutely breathtaking as well. "Superstar" brings the tempo up a little bit to a smooth hip-hop song with a great balance of singing parts. "A Game" really braces the hip-hop side of the trio and reminds me a little of the St. Lunatics' "Batter Up", but a different message of confidence. "Be With You" takes a step back to that silly electro-pop sound that I don't think suits them very well. It seems too cheesy. "Say Yeah" closes out with a more club like feeling that I actually prefer a lot more than the previous track. It sounds more natural and displays growth. I'm really looking forward to a full length album...and a second chance to see them live.
Tablo - Fever's End (2011, South Korea) Rating: 4.5/5
Favorite Tracks: 집, 나쁘다, Airbag, 출처
I love Epik High and Tablo is a lyrical genius, so I was a little skeptical what kind of music he would produce under YG Entertainment. "집" introduces us in with some beautiful, yet sorrowful piano melody that flows smoothly with Tablo's voice. I love the haunting female vocals that accompany his as well. It already pierces the heart and it's only the first track! "나쁘다" was everyone's first taste of Tablo's return and debut under YG. The song features a simple beat and subtle acoustic guitars as well as another female guest vocal to tell the other side of this painful love tale. Before I heard this album, I heard a sample of "Airbag" through someone's countdown list and I had a feeling this would be my favorite track of all. I was right! The music a simple hip-hop beat that compliments Tablo's rapping and the guest vocals were the perfect addition to the song as well as the acoustics. "밀물" mixes hip-hop scratches and piano together, giving us a little taste of what Epik High was. It has a simple, memorable chorus that makes an impact without forcing itself in. Seeing Bumkey's name attached to this track automatically made it good, it's called "밑바닥에서". It has a simple, atmospheric beat with each voice complimenting the other equally. "Tomorrow" was the second choice for a promotional video. It has a beautiful instrumental with some piano and drums. Oddly enough, I think this song would've been better without Taeyang in it. DJ Tukutz joins Tablo for "출처" with an old school sound and real underground hip-hop feeling. It feels almost comforting. "Dear TV / 해열" is an experimental song that features prominent drums and emphasizes Tablo's voice throughout the whole track without taking you out of this traditional atmosphere. "고마운 숨" jumps in with a feel good acoustic melody and uplifting vocal tones. "유통기한" closes out this album with a distant, mysterious shell. It has some sorrowful guest vocals, borderline orchestral elements and piano, and ticking sounds. Overall, I thought this first YGE album was a masterpiece and I hope he continues making art. Perhaps Epik High reunion in the near future, yes?
U-KISS - Tick Tack (2011, Japan) Rating: 4.5/5
Favorite Tracks: Tick Tack, Coincidence
Everyone is aware of the hallyu invasion in Japan and nearly every group just remakes old Korean material into Japanese. Well, I was proud when U-KISS decided to take a different route with their promotions. "Tick Tack" left a good feeling in my ears. It's addicting, the pronunciations were natural, and I think it stayed true to the group as well as subtly blending a few elements of Japanese mainstream sound. I've probably listened to this song more than 25 times and I'm still not sick of it. "Coincidence" kept the sound from the previous song consistent. It doesn't pack as much of a punch for me, but it's still a pretty good song that I can listen to repeatedly. "0330 -Piano & Chorus ver.-" is, of course, a remake of a Korean track, except they changed it up to showcase their vocal talent accompanied by piano. It's beautiful, but I'm still not that fond of this song. The last two tracks of this single are instrumental versions of "Tick Tack" and "Coincidence".
The Quiett - Stormy Friday (2011, South Korea) Rating: 4/5
Favorite Tracks: T.G.I.F, Mr. Lonely Part 1, 귀로
"T.G.I.F" opens the EP with a smooth, old school feeling that makes you reminiscent on the instrumentals of the iconic Marvin Gaye. It effortlessly flows smoothly with The Quiett's voice and the tag line just makes you appreciate this track even more. "Came From the Bottom" is more of a typical mixtape sound where a bunch of buddies can gather in the studio and just attack the beat with words. "The Real Me" goes back to the old school R&B music that gets you in the mood for the sweet flow as well as some playful vocal distortion. I'm starting to think that every rap song Jay Park is featured in is flawless. "Mr. Lonely Part 1" has a smooth, simple acoustic R&B beat that compliments The Quiett's voice and Jay contributing to the chorus was the perfect touch to this track. "우리들만 아는 얘기" starts off gradually with drums and piano, then The Quiett joins in with his lines, keeping your mind in awe. "귀로" keeps a consistent old school R&B sound with horns this time and also features another rapper I enjoy Jerry.K. "Stormy Friday" plays like a record effect with a downtempo 80s hip-hop beat to close out this EP. It's a simple 3 minute instrumental just for you to take in everything you just heard. A unique way to close out something so great.
Sadie - Rosario (2011, Japan) Rating: 2.5/5
Favorite Tracks: Break the silence
It feels like I've been quite harsh to Sadie. Maybe not here, but perhaps mentally. Anyway, "Rosario" doesn't completely stick out in my mind. At first, it sounds like a rip from Dir en grey or something, but it takes some vocal risk and a nod to their older material. "Suicidal Rock City" follows Girugamesh's experiments of mixing rock and hip-hop record sounds together. The song is alright, but does that weird group yelling thing that annoys me with BORN. "Break the silence" features some great instrumentals with underlying beauty hiding in the background. Mao's voice sounds the best in this track and, in general, this song is amazing. For a neutral feeling single, the ending track left a good impression in my mind and I simply repeat it over and over.
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