Nine Muses - Sweet Rendezvous (2012, South Korea) Rating: 4.5/5
Favorite Tracks: WHO R U, TICKET, News
I must admit I didn't like this group that much, until I came across "News", but let's not get into my personal relationship with these girls. "WHO R U" has a retro 70s pop sound with guitars and a feel good dance beat. It's catchy, sassy, and repeatable. I was surprised I didn't have any problems with it, except the rap just a little. Whoever is rapping's voice sounds like someone else from another girl group and I can't seem to place it at the moment. Nonetheless, good start so far. "TICKET" took me a while to get into upon viewing the music video. The costumes were very similar to SNSD, but the sound is way better. *dodges rabid Sones attacks* It's sassy, typical female kpop group sound with horns blaring and a repetitive chorus that'll easily get stuck in your head. This track could've easily been bad, but their vocal talent and arrangement save it from being like everyone else. "News" is, of course, responsible for all this mess. Sure, it goes with that electro-pop trend, but it blends in very well with their sound. The vocals, as I already said before, are really great and they harmonize very well. They have a skill for layering that a lot of girl groups lack. Only compliant with this song are the weird sound effects in the background. "Figoro" was one of the first videos I saw of these girls and I wasn't all that impressed, like "No Playboy". It sounds too much like everything I've heard before, but it's not bad because they have good voices and layering. The last couple tracks are instrumentals, so mostly I am pleased with these ladies and look forward to more in the future. Please don't sell out when you regain your new members, girls. ;~;
SPICA - Russian Roulette/Painkiller (Repackage) (2012, South Korea) Rating: 4.5/5
Favorite Tracks: 화 (火), Russian Roulette, Potently, Painkiller
You probably all know that I am completely in love with this group and listening to their first mini-album made me excited. "화 (火)" starts off this mini with a soft, enchanting feeling of instrumentals and melancholy lone vocals. Then the kicker comes in and the vocals become a little strong. This is definitely true R&B with fire, anger, and passion as the title suggests. The greatest part about this track is that the music doesn't overpower the vocals, but subtly support it to emphasize the emotion behind the tone. "Up N Down" picks up the down tempo to something more electronic and a little dancy. There's some vocal distortions and a more playful tone is shown, but keeping the strong attitude intact. "Russian Roulette" gave us our first glimpse of the faces behind the voices. It's a catchy song and definitely memorable. It has some more great harmonizations and dynamic instrumentals that make these girls stand out from the typical kpop girls. "No More" starts off a little iffy, but it soon picks up a little more smoothly with vocals and the music around the chorus. The vocals aren't weak at all, it's just a different structure and sound than I'm used to. "일기장" has a dramatic intro with a thunderstorm, soft vocal harmonies, acoustics, and piano to lead you along to this angelic wonderland. It sounds like a sorrowful song, but it shows that these girls have good control of their voices to fit all these different structures and tempos. "Potently" was their debut song that showcased their strong vocals with this piano and acoustic music set. It has a subtle strength to it in the verses, then blows you away in the chorus. If you picked up the repackage version of this mini, you received the new track "Painkiller". It has deep piano melodies, a strong dark musical sound, and powerful, pained vocals. I didn't think it was possible for me to fall for these girls even more, then this came out. Keep up the amazing work!
Angelo - Calvary (2012, Japan) Rating: 5/5
Favorite Tracks: Calvary, SEVEN DEADLY SINS, Forbidden Fruit
You should all know how I felt about the fan wars involving Angelo and Karyu fans. This isn't the place to talk about that either, but I was definitely crossing my fingers that the new member additions would work out a little better with the release of this single. "Calvary" introduces a great merge of Angelo's signature sound and guitar skills that didn't exist in previous works. You can definitely hear the great harmony between Kohta's deep bass and Karyu's speedy guitar that just have that little hint of Redeemer era D'espairsRay. Hopefully, the fangirls stopped complaining when this was released. "SEVEN DEADLY SINS" has more of a typical rock sound to it with a hint of their signature sound (maybe even Pierrot). There's a lot of prominent bass moments and the chorus is kinda upbeat. Kirito's vocals shift effortlessly throughout the song. "Forbidden Fruit" bring out a darker sound that might even be pegged as D'espairsRay-esque. It features some deep bass notes, dark guitar notes that sting in the verses, and a soften vocal tone that crawls under your skin like a leech. With all three tracks, I believe Angelo has found their sound again that compliments everyone's skill sets and stays true to their original concept.
Illinit - Triple I (2011, South Korea) Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: 술서울, 아날로그걸, Lost, 향수
This is my first real taste of Illinit outside of YouTube videos. "Ill Bomb" is a bass booming song with smooth, yet slightly rapid vocal attacks. "술서울" keeps the energy high and lightly aggressive. It has an easy beat to it. "Esperanza" mixes Latin sounds, dance hall elements, and fun little party atmosphere to the song. "아날로그걸" has a mixture of R&B and hip-hop sounds that sounds familiar from older American rappers. There's even some references of these American artists as well. There's a nice smooth vocal arrangement throughout, switching from singing and rapping here and there. "Lost" is the song responsible for giving Illinit another chance. He chose the right female vocals to accompany him in this heart wrenching tale. "Love & Hate" continues the dramatic music with piano and painful guitar sounds in the background with deep male vocals layered behind Illinit's voice. It seems like most things featuring SAN-E is going to be fun. "나쁜놈 둘" opens with his verse and the music is very skip here, hop there, playful tone with occasional sound effects, but still maintains a strong attitude. "좀 더 바삐" brings a handful of rappers together for this looping track for them to rap over. "향수" brings the mood back down to sorrow and loneliness with distant vocals, acoustic guitar, and a mellow music set. "낯선" is a little more upbeat than the previous songs and features some female vocals this time and piano. It's an alright song, but it seems a little generic with the music for some reason. "Set Me Free" opens with this Minutes to Midnight era Linkin Park sound to it. There's subtle drumming and some silly electronic vocal distortions. "Dreamer" closes out this album with an uplifting tone to it and Kangnim bringing in the bright light of inspiration from the heavens. It's a bit generic and not extremely impressive. Although, Illinit's skills aren't very memorable to me so far compared to other Korean rappers, I still enjoyed what I heard especially since I disliked him before. I hope he continues making music and improve his musical skills.
Miryo - MIRYO a.k.a JOHONEY (2012, South Korea) Rating: 2.5/5
Favorite Tracks: 사랑해 사랑해, Revenger
If you didn't know, I do accept music review requests and this is one of them. I did mention that I was looking forward to this release and I'm a fan of Miryo as well, so let's jump into it. "Party Rock" made me a little nervous by the title as it reminds me of that God awful LMFAO song, but it's not what you expect. It does feature some electronic elements, but it's kinda quirky and fun as Miryo raps along and her musical guests add a little something to the track. It's not as dancy though, so that might be a little disappointing to some. It has a lot of musical elements to it with the electronic rock sound, but it has a snippet of dubstep as well. "DIRTY" was the promotional track for this mini-album. It's a little slower and playful than I thought it would be. It is a fun little song that you can relate to. The song's very simple and seems to be missing a little punch or something like the previous track, but it's not terrible. I was a little worried if SNSD's Sunny would mess up "사랑해 사랑해" with Miryo, but it's actually a pretty good track. This is the best vocal I've heard from Sunny. It's a slower song with keyboard, drums, and a little piano. Both girls' vocals sounded good together, although I wish they left the autotune out of Miryo's voice. "Revenger" has some dramatic piano and has minimalistic music backing Miryo's rap. Despite it mixing dubstep elements, this is the closest she's gotten to some sort of hip-hop. It has a lot of great emotion put into the tone, but I wish there was no autotune used. Brown Eyed Girls' Narsha joins her fellow group mate in "Leggo" to close out this mini-album. It's a lot more dancy than the tracks you would think you would be moving to. It's alright. Not much music playing throughout, Narsha's voice sounds nice, of course, and that damn autotune is ruining everything. Otherwise, the track isn't extremely impressive. Honestly, I was a little disappointed with this mini-album, but it did have some good points. I'll give her props for stepping out of the box people might've thought she would've been in with her first solo release, but nothing stood out too much for me.
If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.