Monday, April 30, 2012

Top 10 Korean Male Rappers

Before, I complained about female kpop idols being recognized for their rapping skills with actual rappers. So, I listed my six favorite Korean female rappers. This time, I'll give the fellas the spotlight. Granted, I was tempted to mention Big Bang's dynamic duo, Block B's rappers, and even Bang Yong Guk, but they're very borderline to me. While compiling this list, I excluded rappers that split off from groups to do solo work like Tablo and Simon D. Also, this isn't everyone I listen to either.

Top 10 Korean Male Rappers

Honorable Mentions
Jerry.K - When I was making this list, I wasn't around a computer, but it seems that Jerry.K was part of a rap duo by the name of Loquence. So, I kinda broke the rule here by picking him, but I didn't know that when creating this list. Nonetheless, Jerry.K has a very smooth, relaxing style and he experiments with a lot of grungy material as well as collaborate with artists and rappers that compliment his style.

Illinit - I haven't been listening to him for very long and, at first, I didn't really like his music. After watching a couple music videos, I gave him another chance and ended up enjoying his music. His album, Triple I, is going to be reviewed here on the Cult in the near future as well.

MC Sniper - Despite his gripes about the kpop industry and his cute little insecurities over his height, he is a great rapper and possesses a good ear for talent when signing artists under his label. He delves in a lot of classical and retro hip-hop styles with his rap that really makes an impact when you listen to his music. I can't listen to it often as it's sometimes too slow for my liking, but I still find it quite beautiful and unique. I'm glad he's back on the scene!

10. San E
Yes, I know I've already promoted him before and I even mentioned that I'm anticipating something new from him as well. C'mon, JYP, push him to make a new mini-album or even a full length one! So, I believe, San E started off as an underground rapper and later joined the ranks of JYP Entertainment. He has a very comical sense to him. Some might peg him as the Korean Eminem, but when he's not poking fun of the kpop industry and JYP, he makes some amazing music.

9. Double K
It took me some time to get into him, but hearing various collaborations with Gilme, Dok2, Kim Hyun Joong, and the song "Players", I started to become more interested in him. I saw "Favorite Music" on TV and went from there on explorations. He has a familiar cocky, but modest presence about him and his music is easy to digest without being too in your face.

8. Vasco
The first time I heard him was on an Untouchables track with other fellow Jiggy Fellaz members and he was quite...aggressive. When I listened to Guerrilla Muzic, he is probably the most intense Korean rap artists I have ever heard. It was a little scary, but I slowly got used to this abrasive style of rapping and enjoyed it. I find it amusing that a couple of his collaborations with other rappers are so upbeat and borderline poppy. Very contradicting~

7. Swings
Listening to him may confuse people as it really sounds like American rap, but there's something about it that makes it better. The quality, the effortless glow of skills, and it's hard to place it. Like many of my choices on this list, it's quite vague how I came to exploring more of Swings's individual works. Every time I hear his signature laugh, I immediately know it's him and get excited, like Tae yang's "After You Fall Asleep". The song was already pretty hot, but Swings being on it with that laugh...made it five times better!

6. The Quiett
Have I mentioned how much of a genius I think he is? He takes everything smooth about jazz and R&B music and makes love to it with his lyrics. It's just amazing! It seems like he feels like deep down he knows that everything he makes is a masterpiece, but plays it off like it's nothing. His music is almost down to earth and is just waiting to penetrate your ears in the most glorious way possible. Alright...I'll stop and let you guys enjoy this simple little music video.

5. Dok2
I suppose he's the Lil' Wayne of Korea or something, but I think he's way better than Weezy could ever be. Although, I think people in America would totally love him. He's versatile and knows how to pull off harder songs as well as heartfelt tracks without losing himself or making it a flop. I'll be reviewing his latest release here, which is completely different than anything else he's ever made before. Also, I'm mostly convinced that anything he's featured in is going to be awesome, especially if it's Jay Park.

4. NassuN
Despite collaborating with HyunA and other female kpop idols, he is an amazing rapper and has some punch to his creations. Whether it's fighting with an ex-girlfriend or shooting zombies, it has some diversity to his style. What really sealed the deal was his song with MBLAQ's G.O that showed off his classy, charming side that differed from the grimy "RAP Zombie" image with BigTone. I would like to hear more from him, because it seems like he's been silent for quite some time.

3. Verbal Jint
Like The Quiett, Verbal Jint isn't your conventional rapper with hard beats and aggressive lyrics or delivery. He takes smooth hip-hop and R&B beats and completes it with the most clever vocal arrangements. Aside from having a distinguishing flow, he inputs his talents with the piano as well as singing to some of his songs. When he performs, it's not all about attitude or high energy, he simply feels the music and makes listeners feel it as well. Another rap genius!

2. Drunken Tiger
It's probably really surprising that he's not #1 on my list, since I put his wife on the top of the list. I really thought about it, but it was really close honestly. Drunken Tiger also shares a very diverse style with mixing aggressive, upbeat silly, and emotional tracks. The ones I listen to the most are the emotional, heart wrenching ones like "8:45 Heaven" and "태어나 다시 태어나도". Although, his songs featuring his wife Tasha are always on point as they balance each other out in some many ways. It's ashame that him and some of the Jungle crew were only performing in Las Vegas. I would've loved to see something as epic as that in person. Maybe next time.

1. Outsider
Spitting 17-18 syllables per second and marrying orchestral music with rap effortlessly, Outsider is one of the main reasons I explored Korean rap as much as I have now. First, I was impressed by the music genre marriage, then when he started rapping, I was blown away. Not only is the speed he raps impressive, but the substance of his lyrics are just as admirable. Although, I was getting a little worried with his last release balancing on the fence of poppy, but I was overall satisfied. I can't wait until his military service is over and he can spend more time with his new wife and make more amazing, mind blowing music for the world!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Vlog: KPop Tag

Second Chances: Big Bang

Sadly, this is a very fuzzy story, but years ago when I was getting my toes wet in the kpop world, I kept seeing the name "Big Bang" every where in the fandom. So, I checked out a couple of their music videos and I honestly laughed. This self proclaimed hip-hop quintet were trying too hard to be "urban". Their appearance turned me off completely and their music didn't stick either. Forgive me for not remembering exactly what music video I saw to make me think that way. I'm just going to throw out a video as a guess, because this really reminds me of B2K. ^^;

Later, I gave the boys another chance. Yet again, I don't remember what redeemed them for me. If I had to guess, I think it was a solo music video that reeled me in. It was either G-Dragon's "This Love" or Tae Yang's "Pray". It's been so long so...I'm sorry, but I do remember introducing my friends to them through "La La La" and establishing favorites despite lack of knowledge of names. I also remember that "Number 1" and "Haru Haru" were my most played songs. To this day, I have yet to reach "VIP" status and I'm not aiming for it either.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review: American Psycho

Starring: Christian Bale, Justin Theroux, Josh Lucas
Directed by: Mary Harron
Language: English
Rating: NC-17
Running Time: 102 minutes

I think around the time Christian Bale was filming this movie, I heard some interesting news about him on the set. Once the movie was released, I heard interesting things about it as well. It sounded promising and crazy, so I finally gave it a shot last weekend.

Patrick Bateman is rich and handsome man that works for Wall Street. He seems like the ideal man that can charm any woman he wants, despite him being engaged to the beautiful Evelyn Williams. While hanging out with his friends, they discuss their colleague Paul Allen who they all envy due to his success in their business. As the movie progresses, another side of Patrick is revealed. Aside from being wealthy, narcissistic, and superficially blunt about appearance, he is mentally unstable and blood thirsty and must constantly fulfill his needs to subdue these feelings inside him.

While watching this movie, I was intrigued by Christian Bale's character Patrick. I couldn't think of anyone else portraying this psychotic egoist so effortlessly. Patrick's interactions with everyone he came across was interesting and seemed believable as an unstable person. First, you see that charming side and then his blood hungry side slowly eases out smoothly. Although, I was a little frustrated that a couple of the girls thought he was charming at all, since I thought he seemed more suspicious than intriguing. His friends had a small impression on me. The detective seemed a little suspicious as well and I wished they explained how he knew what he knew throughout the movie a little more clearly. "Christy" was enjoyable to watch as her reactions and expressions seemed very realistic and I didn't feel the need to yell at her through the computer screen. Lastly, I was really annoyed with Evelyn, Patrick's fiancée. I thought she was annoying and unnecessary. Reese Witherspoon's portrayal was weak and possibly a miscast.

The story was, indeed, intriguing and it kept me watching to find out what will happen in the end with Patrick, the detective, and his secretary Jean. I really liked that the viewers were able to have mental insight on Patrick such as his daily routine, his thoughts on himself inside and out, and his unstable needs that craved to be satisfied. The settings were appropriate and I found it interesting that these high dollar businessmen were attending such a grimy night club to get their drug fix like a normal person. I think mostly everything seemed to fit the setting of this movie, especially with the music Patrick played and his lengthy explanations about them.

Surprisingly, I wasn't all that impressed or blown away by this movie. Granted it was decent, but the ending ruined it with such an unclear resolution. I'm not sure if they did that purposely for the audience to conjure ideas of what happened with Patrick and the other characters or what. The "controversial" scenes weren't too terrible either. I could tolerate them. I am happy I finally watched this movie, but it feels like there could've been more or something. I won't be reading the book or watching the sequel with Mila Kunis either. It wasn't that interesting. Anyway, if you want to see Christian Bale playing himself, then knock yourself out with this movie.

Rating: 2.5/5

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Quick Music Review

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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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos


Still feeling a little bitter about missing out on their performance, but it's comforting seeing that this talented trio is still producing amazing music and videos. It's a simple visual concept that speak volumes through the emotional lyrics and clever editing. It takes what was great about "Slippin' Away" and gives it a darker approach that clenches your heart immediately.

"만나" by Primary and the Messengers feat. Zion.T

So, I've listened to some music from Primary and Mild Beats as well as Primary Skool and you all know I adore Zion.T. Still crossing my fingers for a full release of something from him. Anyway, I saw this on my Tumblrdore and looked it up on YouTube. It's a fun little video with some feel good music and great vocals. The dancing girl(s) I could've lived without, but it's a very simple concept that anyone can pick up.

"Two Mary" by Baechigi

I don't think many people have heard of them before, but I listen to them a little bit. They get buried under my massive library, but thanks to my Facebook feed containing AllKpop spam, I saw this video to remind me of this duo's talent. The video concept is based off a retro video game and I thought it was extremely amusing, especially since I'm currently obsessed with watching gamers on YouTube lately. It's good to hear some fun, silly rap from South Korea.

"Tease Me" by Seo In Guk

Cutie Seo In Guk is back on the scene with a lovely little acoustic song that doesn't bore me to tears. It has just the right beat and his vocals are still stunning. I wish he would produce more material. The video has an interesting storyline that's mostly easy to follow and doesn't take away from the song either, which is great. It's quite annoying when they focus too much on one or the other.

"Alone" by Sistar

Not a fan of Sistar, but I gave this video a try since a friend commented on it. I really like it. It strays from their cutesy image to a sultry sexy one. Although, it does bring up thoughts that kpop girl groups just copy each other when they comeback. I might discuss this, but it's still in the thinking process. Despite it reminding me of miss A's "Touch" with a hint of 4Minute and Nine Muses, I still really like it and they made use of their Las Vegas time better than Big Bang did. Watch and learn, boys!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Review: Hard Candy

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Ellen Page, Sandra Oh
Directed by: David Slade
Language: English
Rating: R
Running Time: 104 minutes

I heard a lot of good things about this movie and the fact that Ellen Page is in it. I don't know what the big deal is over her, but whatever. So, I skimmed the summary, decided it sounded like something I might enjoy, and dove right into it online.

Hayley Stark is a mature 14 year old girl who has been chatting to a 32 year old photographer by the name of Jeff Kohlver online for three weeks. They discuss interests, hobbies, music, and the usual sort of things as well as flirt with each other. The story begins with one of these chats when Hayley decides to meet Jeff in person at the Nighthawks coffee shop. They continue to learn about each other and flirt a little more, despite their age differences. As the day continues on, Hayley persuades Jeff to take her to his place to listen to music. The story picks up when things become a little hazy for Jeff and he passes out. He soon wakes up tied to a chair and greeted by a different side to this mature teen girl.

I've heard some controversies about this movie, albeit minor ones, as well as some small spoilers that probably aren't real spoilers. I also read that this was based off a real story from a case in Japan. The story's really fuzzy, but not extremely interesting as you would think. Anyway, the story for this movie was interesting, but very open. So, I made sure to keep an open mind when I was watching this and it led to having very neutral thoughts toward it until the credits.

The characters were believable...most times, but it wasn't the best of acting or worse. The bad thing about them is that I didn't feel attached to anyone, therefore I didn't feel sympathy or anger towards anyone. I nearly shrugged everyone off and didn't really care what consequences came to any of the characters. The cinematography was alright. The sets were interesting with it's block coloring, but nothing that stood out just like the characters. The story was interesting and had a good message for people who chat online, but it wasn't very impactful. Although, I'll commend it for trying to step out of the box.

With that in mind, I didn't completely understand the hype...maybe for a split second, but the idea quickly slipped from my mind as quickly as it came. It didn't feel like a waste of time, but it's just one of those movies you don't mind watching if there's nothing else to watch. I simply felt very indifferent towards it, so I won't encourage or discourage anyone from seeing it.

Rating: 2/5

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quick Music Review

BORN - ProudiA (2011, Japan) Rating: 2/5
Favorite Tracks: Dig Fxxker

I've had so many issues with this band...well, actually, just the label they're under. Seeing the promotional costumes for this single was slowly confirming my predictions of "the GazettE 2.0". "ProudiA" is a slower song than most of the stuff they've been putting out. Before joining PSC, they hardly did tracks like this. Sadly, this is the closest they've gotten to sounding like their old selves and the song isn't even all that spectacular. It's decent, but nothing mindblowing and not quite garbage either. "RAGE OF FACT" picks it back up with some fast pace instrumentals and those damn screams that I'm so sick of! OMG! Will you just quit it already and go back to your old vocals? I will commend them for breaking out the same old structure they've been recycling over and over. "Dig Fxxker" shows some promising opening instrumentals with prominent bass and drums with guitar strings echoing in the back. This song takes a step back to the BORN I know and love. New musical and vocal structure, the screaming isn't annoying and group like, and everything works together for the most part. I want more of this!

Lolita23q - Bad City (2012, Japan) Rating: 3.5/5
Favorite Tracks: Bad City, Vital

Have I mention how proud I am of this band's growth? "Bad City" picks up the electronic, fast paced, fun rock of "-Hikari-" and keeps pleasing the fans. This song further proves that the vocal changes weren't such a bad idea. The PV for it isn't that bad either and it's one reason I love this song. "Star Philharmony" goes a different direction by adding some classical Victorian-esque elements. I don't really like this song that much. It reminds me of a really boring Alice Nine. song. If you bought Type B, "Vital" closes out the single by reeling me back in with some strong guitars and headbang worthy drumming. There's some interesting vocal layering and it's a very odd track, but enjoyable for that reason. If you bought Type C, "Fullmetal Night Killer 1888" closes out the single with high energy and features some great guitar work that's borderline old school rock like Seikima energy. I'm still enjoying their direction they're going and I hope they keep it up.

THOMAS - Determination (2011, Japan) Rating: 4/5
Favorite Tracks: Shall we dance?, パルス, Social Puzzle, Determination

Skipping over the "Intro", "Shall we dance?" starts this mini off quietly with some subtle drumming and distant vocals, then slowly picks it up little by little to a funky little groove. "パルス" is a more upbeat track than the first and makes you want to dance along to the playful guitar melody. I really like the odd chorus and the raw vocals, although some notes are a bit strained, but still enjoyable. "Social Puzzle" is a heavier, playful song that I can see Girugamesh or MUCC doing, but the musical transitions are what makes them different. "血の轍" delves into the bass notes a little more for a more prominent rock sound, yet it keeps the tempo high. "Determination" minimizes the heavy sounds and goes back to a more fun rock sound that's very familiar to jrock listeners. It's a little more mainstream, but you can feel all the intensity in the vocals as the music eases along for support.

Sunny Hill - THE GRASSHOPPERS (2012, South Korea) Rating: 4.5/5
Favorite Tracks: 나쁜 남자, 베짱이 찬가

After listening to "Pray", I was slowly becoming overwhelmed by all the flawnessness, then this single came out. "나쁜 남자" brings out a range of horns, bongos, drums, and some hip jazz sounds that makes me want to swing dance all over the place. The vocal arrangements are well planned out, even the speaking parts. Although, I wish there was less autotune, especially on Janghyun's part. Everyone's voices are fine without it! "술래잡기" is a strange little electronic track with scratchy acoustic moments...and that dreaded autotune that ruins everything!! The song is kinda fun and all, but it lacks something (or maybe it's just the autotune that ruins it). "베짱이 찬가" was the main promotional push and to this day, I still can't get enough of it. It's still my ringtone. It has so many great elements and seeing it performed on stage is even more beautiful. One compliant...they autotuned Janghyun's precious voice! Everything is so perfect, from the violins, catchy chorus, and the musical pace, then they did that. I'm gonna agree with Jay-Z, kill the autotune, guys, you're way better than that.

Sujk - Arkhelism (2011, Japan) Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: The Arkhelist, Twisted Dimension

After the disbandment of one of the greatest j-indies bands DELUHI, Sujk announced that he would be releasing a solo album. Now after hearing high-ball, I was a little nervous on how this would turn out. "The Arkhelist" opens with some transtic drumming and alluring vocals that pull you into a dark, jungle-like atmosphere. It's very inspiring, actually. I really think the track is too short. "One's Weakness" picks up more rock elements and some vocals. It's very intense and high energy. "Arrival Point" continues that high rock energy with some fast paced drumming and growling. "Twisted Dimension" is another instrumental track featuring more atmospheric sounds and jungle like elements to occupy Sujk's drumming. It's probably a good track for yoga. "The Left Hook Of Waccha" has a dark, foggy feel to it that would be featured in an action movie perhaps. It features other instruments such as bass and guitar with hint of leftover DELUHI power. "Till the End" takes a step back some with harder guitar sounds and screaming vocals as well as some electronic vocal distortions. "Doll" features more fast paced instrumentals that are absolutely stunning. Although, I wish someone else was doing the vocals. It's more screaming, but it's completely in English and sounds a bit cheesy. "Believer" sounds a little like some DELUHI song, but it has more annoying screaming vocals. I really like the guitars and the drums aren't that bad either. "Paradoxxx" strips away everything and goes back to that mysterious, dark, yoga like atmosphere. This completely highlights Sujk's skills and sounds like one of those solos in a live. "Try Too Hard" closes out this album with some familiar rock sounds and fast paced music. Of course, more screaming vocals, but they're a little more tolerable than most of the vocal appearances. Perhaps it's Juri on this one, I'm not sure. Nonetheless, unlike Yuusuke with his high-ball venture, Sujk did a pretty good job with this one.

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Second Chances: D'espairsRay

When I was a jrock newbie, I occasionally judged groups by their looks. Yes, I admit my shallow mistakes. Before I gave D'espairsRay a listen, I thought their sound would be too dark, gothic, and heavy for me. Because of this perception, I turned down an invitation to their first U.S. show with a couple friends. Some time passed and I decided to give them a try. I was introduced to them through a live performance of "MaVERiCK" from Beauti-fool's Fest 2003. [Fyi, the video below isn't exactly it, so...]

From there, I further explored their music, PVs, and background and became attached. At the time, "Reddish -Diva version-" and "Forbidden" were my favorite songs. Thanks to them, they shattered my perceptions and I was able to enjoy other bands like Merry and Kagerou. I was fortunate to see them live in 2008 and it's ashame they disbanded so soon. Despite their disbandment, I'm willing to support their future endeavors and wish Hizumi a full recovery.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Quick Music Review

MEJIBRAY - Sabbat (2012, Japan) Rating: 2/5
Favorite Tracks: Sabbat

After VanessA disbanded, Genki changed his name and joined MEJIBRAY. Now, I wasn't a fan of VanessA and the only reason I know about them was through a good friend (and some jrock news feeds). She sent me the PV for "Sabbat" and I checked it out. The song is pretty garbled at first with growls and heavy instruments. It has a few musical moments, but it all sounded like screaming noise. I wished there was more singing than screams and growls. On the other hand, I liked the visuals of the PV for it. "Akercock" begins with some more promising heavy instrumentals, then the screams and growls kick in...throughout the whole damn song. "Divergence" has some nice strong bass moments and the music is a little lighter than the previous tracks. I was so happy there was some actual singing, despite a few screams, but the sound is very generic visual kei and the vocals don't stand out that much. I think they've improved a little, but not by much. I might check back on this band and see if they've grown later, but for now I'm not that impressed.

Se7en - SE7EN 2ND MINI ALBUM (2012, South Korea) Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: 내가 노래를 못해도, 그런 사람, 이해해, MAKE GOOD LOVE

From what I've seen through music videos for this album, I felt really bad for chicken shop owner Se7en. I was not excited to listen at all. "SOMEBODY ELSE" is a slow, electro-pop song that's a mixture of Big Bang's electronic leftovers and some borrowed arrangements from 2NE1 that never hooked me. This song is so...bland. Even the lyrics area blase. "ANGEL" is another soft song with acoustic guitar and sweet piano. It's about the same tempo as the first song and his voice sounds really nice, but the lyrical content is boring. How many songs in this world do we need that calls their loved one an angel? "내가 노래를 못해도" is a crossover with JYP, if you didn't hear it in the trademark vocal stamp. I really like the simple piano melody and the music is pretty simplistic too. Surprisingly, I like this way more than the previous tracks. It sticks to the original Se7en sound without all the fancy stuff and cheesiness. "그런 사람" features more piano, simplistic music, and highlighting the vocals. It has some pretty good transitions too to make the song more interesting. If you haven't noticed, this mini is very low tempo compared to Digital Bounce. I'm not complaining too much. Him and Rain are two of the few who can get away with ballads most times without making me annoyed. Anyway, "이해해" slows it down even more and is the purest sounding song on here. It's quite lovely with the soft vocals and violin/piano duo. If I had to pick a favorite track, it would be "MAKE GOOD LOVE". Now this could be borderline horny R. Kelly R&B track, but it's not that bad. It's a little more uptempo using string effects and classic R&B bass while cleverly layering the vocals effectively. After listening through this a couple times, I guess I can understand some fans' complaints about it being all slow songs, but if you're truly fan, you can find some good in these songs. They show his vocal skills off a lot more, if done right, and I'm not a big ballad/slow song fan either.

SHINee - Sherlock (2012, South Korea) Rating: 1.5/5
Favorite Tracks: Sherlock (Clue+Note), Alarm Clock

Still not fan of theirs, but I still listen to Lucifer proudly. I was curious how their comeback would turn out, especially with those uncomfortable gay French teaser photos. Then I saw "Sherlock (Clue+Note)" and the song wasn't that bad. It featured some retro horns and mixed it with some modern pop elements. Now the video, on the other hand, tempted me to start reviewing music videos on here because there was just a lot going on that made me facepalm (like Taemin's weave). Someone stop the Korean male weave epidemic, people! Anyway, back to the song, I think it has some great transitions and the boys' vocals are getting stronger too. Now the biggest "wtf" of this mini-album is that the first track is a combination of tracks 2 and 3. What was the point of separating them if they sound good together!? So, all the pop/dance bass whatever and horns are featured in "Clue" as well as the breakdown I liked. "Note" is all the upbeat, dancing sections and chorus, which sound a bit plain alone in some parts. I think "Clue" sounds more interesting than "Note", but this whole thing is confusing as hell and I don't know if SME was trying to troll or they're just being lazy on the tracklist for SHINee's comeback. Let's just move onto "Alarm Clock", which isn't that bad of a song. It's slower and the music is really unique. The harmonizations are just as good and I have a feeling I'll probably listen to this song to relieve the headache of trying to solve the first three tracks. "The Reason" is a slower song with some acoustic work and emotional vocals. "Stranger" brings in the intensity and a somewhat dancing feeling, but it sounds like a Super Junior reject song to me. "Honesty" closes out the comeback mini-album with some acoustic guitar and soft, "feel good" vocals. After writing this out and thinking about how I felt the first time I listened to this, I have a slight headache inkling in the back of my head. Thanks a lot, SHINee~

NOISEMAKER - PLATINUM SHOES (2012, Japan) Rating: 4.5/5
Favorite Tracks: Platinum Shoes, rule, CONTACT

Let me relieve my confusion with a new jrock band I came across. "TRUTH" starts off with some skilled guitar work and immediately pulls you in with intensity. The musical arrangement is a little all over the place, but it kinda follows the odd vocal inflections. If you saw in my recommendations, "Platinum Shoes" is responsible for getting me here on this review. It has some really great musical moments, admirable transitions, and the vocals feel so familiar to me like old ROACH, coldrain, or something. "rule" starts off softly with some wandering bass notes and subtle drums, then bursts out full on until it calms back down to a reminiscent Limp Bizkit echoy sound during the verses. I love it! "CONTACT" also highlights some bass guitar and slowly picks up the other instruments before the vocals join. It has another Limp Bizkit sound to it. I'm not complaining, it still sounds fresh. "TITLE IS MYSELF" goes back to the sound of the second track with prominent bass and wandering guitar notes. The vocals show a few flaws in the high notes, but it doesn't take away from the song. "WE SHOULD COME BACK" closes out the mini-album with a more aggressive sound without going overboard and trying to sound like other heavier bands. It kinda sounds like Rage Against the Machine in the drumming section, but it quickly detours a different direction.

VII-Sense - Silent Assassin (2012, Japan) Rating: 4/5
Favorite Tracks: Silent Assassin, Yuki no Kiseki...

If you haven't read before, I really enjoy "Silent Assassin". It takes a different direction both musically and vocally. Shaura sounds less like a Kamijo clone and the music doesn't make me think of Dio leftovers either. The transitions are very unexpected, but it keeps you even more interested in the song, especially the guitaring. "Blind Resentment" begins a bit cheesy with Victorian era sounds and dramatics. It's a big downgrade from the sounds of the previous track, especially with the opera vocals. "Yuki no Kiseki..." brings back all the hope I had from the beginning of this single and a little more. It is a beautiful track and really shows off the band's progress. It's sad to know now that this young band is breaking up this year, but I'm crossing my fingers that someone can save it from disbanding or something. Either way, this single is amazing and I'm very proud of them.

If there's something you want me to review, check out this post on how you can submit requests.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Top 6 Korean Female Rappers

This idea was inspired by seeing countless top whatever number on YouTube and being annoyed by the overwhelming kpop idol rappers in the list. Sure, I guess you can call them rappers, but they're not really what I think when it comes to rappers. You can't really picture or truly enjoy a free style by these individuals, except a couple. So, I figured, just for fun, I'd give you a list of my favorite female Korean rappers.

Top 6 Korean Female Rappers

Honorable Mentions
Yeyo - Recently I heard her on someone's YouTube countdown and the little material I heard was hit and miss, but she definitely has potential to be really good. Perhaps I can look into her music more later when I'm less overwhelmed.

Black List - I saw this duo on the same countdown as Yeyo and I'm willing to explore later as well. They have a familiar sound to them, combining fierce rapping with smooth vocals in the chorus with ease. They also bear potential and it'd be nice if I could find more of their material on YouTube, but I'll have to explore elsewhere later.

6. Rimi
I was recommended by a close friend to listen to her. When I first sampled her material, she sounded like a more improved Nicki Minaj with her flow structure and the borrowed/altered beats were very familiar from American rappers of the past. I really liked her sound, even though she was a little too vulgar at times and some tracks were way too short. Strangely, the song that hooked me to her was "Queen".

5. Ellie
I heard this fierce female in Untouchable's "Jiggy Get Down" which features several artists from the label Jiggy Fellaz. When I heard her lines, I was stunned. She was just as, if not harder than the other guys in the group. Unfortunately, it's really hard finding solo material of hers, but it looks like she's in a flop kpop girl group called EXID. I think she's wasting her talent with them.

4. Miss $
I kept scrolling past this name when I was looking for miss A songs, so I decided to give them a chance and I loved what I heard. I'm guessing they started as a trio and currently they're a duo. Either way, I love how they've grown and I was pleased with Miss Terious, especially with the addition of a cover of my favorite track by Block B. Not only are these girls great rappers, but they show versatility by featuring elements that work well for dramas and beautiful ballads that stand out from the generic.

3. Gilme
I first saw this lovely woman in a Double K music video on Mnet, I believe. The song was pretty catchy, then the same friend who recommended Rimi to me pointed her out. So, I watched "Love is War" and I was more clearly impressed with her skills, especially since her and Outsider blended effortlessly in the song. No one was left behind and their chemistry wasn't awkward. I further looked into her album and I was happy, then the birth of Clover arose and my love for her deepened. Thus proves that females can express sorrowful emotions and still be strong.

2. e.via
I guess I discovered this ridiculously cute young lady while I was delving into the Korean rap genre and I'm glad I did. I was already impressed by speed rapper Outsider, but now there's a female equivalent. OMFG! Apparently, she's been having some censorship issues, but who could deny that cute face and those amazing, sonic speed flow. I love her and I wish there was more too.

1. T (Tasha)
Yeah, this was a very obvious one. I think I stumbled upon Queen T the same way I did e.via. I scooped up majority of her discography and I was amazed by the deep emotion and soul she put into her music. Whether it was something hard and cocky or sorrowful and pure, she had versatility and passion with her craft. Not only does her skills stand out for me, but the amount of respect other rappers have for her and the fact that she is half African American as well is admirable. I'm still crossing my fingers for that comeback and/or something flawless from SUNZOO.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"流星少女~Shooting Star 196X~" by SHOW-YA
I totally did not know that these ladies had something new out until I was working on a meme on my LJ. They still look as lovely as ever and their music is still beyond amazing. They haven't changed a bit, except become a little more awesome over the years. The video is fresh and exciting by mixing actual music video elements that centers around the band, then pulls us into the live performance with all the fans following along with the high energy. I can't wait to listen to GENUINE DIAMOND when I get a chance.

"SECOND" by Dazzle Vision
The last time I listened to this band, I saw so many comments saying that they missed Dazzle Vision's harsh sounds and I think they went back to that here. I love Maiko's new appearance and she hasn't lost her special vocal range of angelic singing and demonic growls. The music is very catchy and has some great transitions to it. I also enjoy the simplistic band centric setting for this PV with a few editing effects that just enhance the experience.

"Blood For Poppies" by Garbage
Yes, more female rock! Garbage is back in action and they still sound amazing. It's great that they haven't lost their sound just tweaked it enough to make it sound new and interesting yet keep Garbage fans interested. The video is very retro, black and white, but it fits this sophisticated band very well. The members still look good, especially Shirley. It seems like the 90s is slowly making a comeback on the music scene.

"R.I.P" by Rita Ora feat. Tempah
I know I posted her last time, but she released a new video recently that must be shared. Thanks to The Prophet Blog, I watched and shared this little gem. It's not extremely exciting or flashy, but it's just enough to admire Rita's natural, alluring aura. I can understand the comparison's to Rihanna, but Rita was first and I think she's actually better than Rihanna. Maybe people will get over it and give Rita the recognition she deserves to make her rise in the States. Also, I like this version more than Drake's.

"Into the New World" by SNSD
This'll probably never happen again, but I actually...legitimately like this song. This does not change my feelings toward the girls at all, but this isn't that bad. I came across this video on a Seoul Beats discussion on debuts and I clicked out of curiosity. The girls' voices were pretty strong, the choreography's decent, and the video is kinda cute. The whole feeling I get is total jpop! You can't not see that. What happened to them!?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Second Chances: Kiryu

Every now and then, I seek out j-indies bands to try out and Kiryu was one of them, upon their debut. Their visuals were beautiful and their sound was nice. When I listened to their first single, I believed they had potential to grow into something great.

When I got around to cleaning my collection, sometimes I back track to those j-indies bands I hardly listen to to see if I still have interest in them. I only have so much space on my external drive and I don't like wasting it on things I'm not going to keep up with. Apparently when I relistened to them on iTunes, I no longer heard talent in Kiryu. The vocals needed some work and their PVs were a bit dull despite their costumes being beautiful. So, I don't listen to them anymore and I tried to find some good from them now, but no luck.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Live: Bad Blood Tour

Bad Blood Tour
[2012.03.16] Trees in Dallas, TX
featuring: The Orange, FANTASMA, One-Eyed Doll, & Orgy

The Orange

I remember looking these groups up months before the show, but for the life of me I couldn't remember what they sounded like. I just remember a vague impression about them, but mainly I focused on how excited I was to see Orgy live...despite the drama with their original members. Anyway, The Orange was a pretty good band. They had this mellow, relaxing, fun rock to them like maybe...Maroon 5, but not quite. They are a five piece band, but one of their members played tambourine. I thought he was pretty cute, but I think he's gay. =X My friend was quite fond of the vocalist, but he reminded me of Craig from Degrassi. Nonetheless, we both enjoyed the music a lot, the vocals were nice, and I liked the whole tambourine addition to a rock band. We were moving throughout their whole set. Their final song, I believe, the tambourine guy went off stage and they brought out a special guest. It was an older gentleman with a harmonica who toured with BB King (and some other people, I guess they weren't worth mentioning =X) and they really got down with their sound. Great collaboration!


Before they started their set, I admitted to my friend that there has be one bad band out of the openers and I predicted they would be it. I was completely judging by the name and I remember liking One-Eyed Doll even though I didn't remember what they sounded like. The curtains opened and the stage had minimal lighting to it. It was a four member band and the vocalist played some sort of drum for a couple songs for emphasize, but it seemed pointless as it was drowned out by the other instruments. My friend and I couldn't help but be distracted by the sexy guitarist. He was quite a sight for sore eyes and he was on our side of the stage too. When he smiled, omg, we melted like a bunch of fangirls at a Super Junior concert. The music wasn't that bad, we liked it, but the vocals we could've lived without. In some places with the growling, it felt like he was trying too hard to be dark and live up to their band name. On the other hand, I enjoyed the vocalist's personality. He seemed very friendly on stage and had this Tron looking light up jacket, which I didn't get the whole point of it. There were a couple unnecessary effects: the jacket was one and the strobe/laser lights. They were kinda cool, but didn't look as great when you're really close to the stage. Somewhere in the second half of their set, this woman in practically lingerie jumped on stage (same side as our sexy tatted guitarist) and started dancing. I totally wanted to unsee all of that. I noticed her in the audience before she joined the band and pointed her out to my friend. She had a hot body, but she had way too much make up on. It made her look like she was in her mid-40s or something. My friend guessed that she might be connected to our guitarist crush in some way, but we really hoped not. He could do better!

One-Eyed Doll

With my vague memory of this band, I remembered there weren't a lot of members, I liked what I heard or at least thought they sounded interesting, they were female fronted, and I enjoyed their concept...whatever it was. I told my friend my thoughts about them and soon the curtains opened. Kimberley had the cutest voice. It was like storytime for little kindergartners or something. She started off wearing this Mary Poppins hat and introduced herself all happy like like "My name is Kimberley" and the audience would reply "Hi, Kimberley~" with a big'o wave, then she would do the same for the drummer. She opened up with a song dedicated to all the crazy people out there called "Committed". It sounded odd at first, then she growled and black hair was flying every where. Unfortunately, they had some technical difficulties from the start and she re-did everything, joking about the equipment handling and lack of funds. Despite that, they made it up with their energy and uniqueness. It was like Ariel from The Little Mermaid and some goth rock. 'Twas awesome! She would tell us a story with a different hat between each song and really interacted with the audience more than the previous two bands. We even had a little sing-along with "Be My Friend" which was cute, but creepily fun. Since I'm not completely familiar with all of their material, here's some of the songs they played:
Be My Friend
Plumes of Death


Looking back at the audience, I noticed the venue was filled out and there was no turning back. Not that we wanted to, but we were tempted to switch sides. It felt like forever, but they finally made it on the stage and crowd went wild when Jay graced his presence on the stage like the cocky bastard he is. There were these LED or something lights in the background making these cool effects with each song. They had a couple level issues with the microphones, but it didn't take away too much from the show, even though Jay seemed a bit frustrated in the beginning. They brought a lot of energy for being the new generation of Orgy. One of their members couldn't make it due to personal issues, but I think one member on our side of the stage took up two parts to balance it out. I'm glad my friend and I didn't switch sides either, because we had the most interaction from the members. The farthest guitarist was pretty cute and Jay looked better in person than in pictures I've seen on Tumblr. I'm not sure if they threw in some new material or not, but there were some songs I didn't recognize yet people knew the words to. I'm glad they played a lot of songs from Candyass. Good mixture of everything with great presentation, attitude, and energy. The crowd was just as energetic. Sure, there were a couple assholes wanting to mosh, but failed because no one would let them have the "fun". I think I got grinded on by someone's girlfriend 'cause we got smushed toward the end, especially when they started playing "Stitches". One guy before her tried to use me for jumping purposes which ended quickly. He disappeared somewhere. The encore song was their debut/cover song "Blue Monday" with a mixture of "Spin Me Right Round". Jay decided to jump into the audience and let us sing most of the song which became chaotic, but still enjoyable. You'll see the chaos in the video and I apologize for the lack of steadiness. Lastly, here's my fail attempt of a setlist:

[no particular order]

Blue Monday/Spin Me Right Round
The Obvious
Fiction (Dreams in Digital)
Chasing Sirens

"Stitches" | a song I can never get tired of

"Blue Monday" | as mentioned before, the crowd was pretty rowdy, so excuse the shakiness

Overall, I had a lot of fun that night. The opening bands were good and One-Eyed Doll represented Austin very well. Orgy didn't make my top 5 of lives, but I'm still willing to see them again if given the chance. I'm glad I went and had such good company, it made the night a great one despite the unfortunate events going home.

FANTASMA's Handsome Guitarist

Monday, April 2, 2012

V-log: March Maintence & Film Inspiration Question

No annotations this time around. It seemed a bit unnecessary since I didn't really ramble as much as I normal do. No worries, I did with my Miko 101 question of the week (or whatever weird pattern I choose). If you didn't know, you can always send me stuff like requests, questions, suggestions to use at zetsu_nightmare2.0.9[at]hotmail[dot]com. I read everything you guys leave and I appreciate every bit.

+ Miko 101 - Film Inspiration

Top 5 Recommended Music Videos

"French Virgin Party + Battaille!" by Glen Check
Who needs fancy sets and vibrant clothes when you can do some clever furniture tricks, get a blank screen, and use some retro 90s lighting effects while the band members jam out. Yes, I found this through the k-indie playlist brought to you by EatYourKimchi. Occasionally, they pick some good ones. This mixes retro electronic sounds and good old lounge rock together. It starts off as one simple song with a drum machine, drums, and good old bass notes, then the party really kicks off when the title screen shows up. It's really catchy, simple, and easy to listen as well as move around to.

"Painkiller" by SPICA
Have I mentioned how much I love this group already? There's been some comparisons to 2NE1's "Ugly" (or maybe it's "Lonely"), either way I think this way better than both of those songs combined. Just a little reminder, I wasn't very fond of either of those anyway. This song has a powerful R&B beat that really emphasizes the emotion of this song and the vocals are astounding! The girls aren't the most flashiest of dancers, but I think it worked well for this song. Even if there wasn't any choreography, this video would still be amazing. I think I have a little crush on Boa Kim. Keep going strong, ladies!

"Hot Right Now" by DJ Fresh feat. Rita Ora
Throw in some retro 80s gear, street tagged scenery, and the most simplest form of dance music and you have this song. It has a little reggae thrown in there too, but the lyrics pretty much sum a lot of how music fans are when it comes mainstream music. This is a nice feel good, dance song which could be borderline generic but still enjoyable. Rita Ora is quite a pretty young woman and I'm curious what the rest of her material sounds like in the future.

"Platinum Shoes" by NOISEMAKER
I discovered this band on my Facebook feed from a friend. I clicked on it and I liked it, so I checked out their mini album. Pure love! I believe it's on my list of reviews. Hopefully, I'll be back in the groove of dishing those out to you guys. Anyway, this is one those generic warehouse settings, but they throw in a couple outdoor shots and keep the warehouse scene interesting with some clever camera angles. The music is very familiar and people who don't normally listen to jrock can easily appreciate the sounds these guys are putting out. I also really enjoy this guy's voice as well. It kinda reminds me of ROACH's Taama in ways, but softer.

"RUN" by Mizu Natsuki
[If embed does not work, click here to watch]
This video was introduced to me by a very good friend and I wish I could find the mp3. ;~; Anyway, this former Takarazuka actor kills her audience with her amazing voice, great, simple choreography, and powerful personality and charisma. I love seeing women in such androgynous roles, but still maintain their femininity in subtle ways. This song is very dramatic in music, setting, and vocal arrangement that it leaves you in awe by the seemingly effortless theatrics.

"Baby I'm Sorry" by B1A4
*sings* "I'm so curious, yeah~" *clears throat* Not a fan of this group in the least. A lot of their songs (at least ones that have videos) lack punch and just remind me of a lesser Block B, but this song and video is actually pretty good. The music is nice, even when it breaks down to the simplest form as generic as it sounds. The vocals are really good as well. Although, I wish there was less autotune. It would've made the song better...unless the guy really has some bad vocals, I don't know. The video is pretty interesting as well more than their past stuff, but I wish it was less recycled shots and scenery from other kpop groups. Maybe next time?