Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Quick Music Review

MADEMOISELLE YULIA - MADEMOWORLD (2011, Japan) Rating: 3.5/5

“GIMME GIMME” is what interested me in checking out this album. It has a Sleigh Bells sound to it, from what little I know about the group. It has a simple beat with little clashing noises in the background, but it fits the atmosphere of Harajuku. “BAM ME” has a cutesy, vintage sound that differs a little from the first track. The chorus is a little annoying to me, but I can admit the song is okay for such a short track. “LUXURY OF YOU” has an electro-pop sound that could be found in lesser known European artists. It’s a good, simple club song and I really like. “WAO” is another simplistic track, but more electronic than poppy. This also works very well with YULIA’s vocals and VERBAL’s input isn’t too out of place either. “DOWN DOWN” steps out of the club and into the lounge setting with snapping, piano, and trombone, I believe. It’s a good toe tapping song that showcases a different side from the DJ. “ZODIAC GOLD” smoothly keeps the slight touches of vintage and lounge with some heavy drums and a soft touch of electronics. “REPLAY” returns the modern club sound for a fun little dance track. Nothing new, but not bad. “YOU CAN’T HAVE ME THAT WAY” breaks out of the standard sounds of electro-pop just a bit. At least, this track sounds more interesting and has some dimension from the up and down musical progressions. “CHRONIC” is partially stripped down to some vulnerable vocal layering and piano which is surprisingly very beautiful. I can admit that YULIA doesn’t have this perfectly trained vocals or anything, but with such a vulnerable track, it still gets its emotion across successfully. “MIDNIGHT EXPRESS” brings us back to a catchy electro-pop song that I can see Lady Gaga using. That’s a compliment, btw. “DON’T STOP THE MUSIC” is a standard Europop dance track. Usual beats, vocal stutters, and noises, but still enjoyable for a typical dance song. “TOUCH ME” concludes the album with some orchestral sounds mixed with a familiar, steady R&B beat. It’s pretty smooth and suits YULIA’s voice, surprisingly. It makes for a good dance track too without being overwhelming electro-pop dance.

JASMINE - Best Partner (2012, Japan) Rating: 4.5/5
Favorite Tracks: Best Partner, B*TCH*S

“Best Partner” starts off with some beautiful violins, piano, and a simple R&B beat, then JASMINE’s passionate vocals kick for the verse. This title is nothing less than I expected from the vocalist. It’s not overly complicated and gets its point across with the lyrics and the simplistic musical arrangement. “B*TCH*S” takes a different tone than the title and gives off a more confident sound with booming bass and underlying R&B elements as JASMINE taunts with her vocal delivery while maintaining her beauty. “Touch me on the beach” is obviously a summer song. It’s a fun little track that sounds like something Christina Aguilera would pull out. It has some soft sexual aggression while still being pure and catchy with a slight reggae sound and powerful vocals.

the GazettE - TOXIC (2011, Japan) Rating: 3/5

“INFUSE INTO” starts off with light bits of dubstep and a simple starter beat for this introduction. “VENOMOUS SPIDER'S WEB” continues that electronic sound and speech pattern from the introduction, then leads off to some heavy bass and distant, distorted vocal. It surprisingly sounds like something from NIL in its musical arrangement and high energy. “SLUDGY CULT” has a very speedy drum and continues on that old sound. I can’t help but think of “Muddy Cult” though with the name. The vocals still sound a little distorted like it’s coming from a megaphone and there’s band member participation too that works better in Gazette’s music than BORN’s. “RED” brings us to the present sound of the band of that seemingly recycled musical and vocal arrangement with tiny changes. Not a bad song, but nothing fresh. “THE SUICIDE CIRCUS” was used for initial promotion. The video was kinda boring, but I really did like the song. Although the sound has been used before by the band, it was still enjoyable. I like the quiet moments and how it gradually built up to the bridge and chorus, which reminds me of the dramatics from “The Invisible Wall”. “SHIVER” sounds very generic…like “I’ve heard this song before…on Stacked Rubbish.” It’s just very standard. “MY DEVIL ON THE BED” begins with some odd noises, then the drums and bass kick in with megaphone vocals, which is a little annoying now. The music is something different though and reminds me of a couple songs from J. “UNTITLED” was the most talked about track when this album was released and I was skeptical, until it started. This is a very good track and I wish I heard this level of greatness more often from the GazettE. I probably should like “PLEDGE”, but for some reason it reminds me too much of “Cassis”…and I really dislike that song. I do like this a little more though for chorus part mostly, but there’s better slow songs by them. “RUTHLESS DEED” satisfies the heaviness I crave from time to time. It kinda awakens that old comparison to Dir en grey, but I consider that a compliment. I love the straying guitar in the background, the deep bass, and the heart pounding drums while Ruki’s vocals goes from soft to rough with ease. “PSYCHOPATH” continues on that heavy path and leads onto something somewhat chaotic like “DISCHARGE”, but a little more mature in some ways. It incorporates the chaos of “DISCHARGE” and the new elements that the band has picked up. “VORTEX” is slightly heavy like the previous tracks, but it brings back those electronic elements and auto-tune, distorted vocals. The arrangement is a little lost in places and the vocal distortions are a little annoying. They should just leave Ruki’s vocals alone. “TOMORROW NEVER DIES” tries to bring a little bit of Disorder back into their sound while keeping those silly auto-tune vocals. The song isn’t that bad, but maybe they should stay away from the vocal effects. “OMEGA” is simply an outro track to this album, which is surprisingly a slight step up from the previous albums since NIL.

12012 - DEICIDA OF SILENCE (2013, Japan) Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: 身千切りの莟、奇しくも恍惚の桜, DEICIDA OF SILENCE

The band has changed since they moved to different labels and lost a member. Not sure if that was off putting for the fans, but here’s their follow up to 12012 album. “身千切りの莟、奇しくも恍惚の桜” starts off pretty dramatic with piano, a steady drum beat, somewhat quick guitar, and Wataru’s voice just leading the melody along with his soft vocals. It kinda reminds me of Dir en grey’s “Dozing Green” and “VINUSHKA” mixed together. “DEICIDA OF SILENCE” continues the growling vocals and heaviness introduced to us from the previous album, but this has a little more singing in it. I’m still not used to this Dir en grey-esque sound coming from the band and please hold onto your rocks with that comparison. It’s not a negative, simply an adjustment. “CHABOO-CHABOO” has a weird title, but it’s an…interesting track. It really doesn’t sound like anything the band has done in any aspect of the song. It’s probably the heaviest song on the mini-album, so a good track to headbang and just thrash to. “夢喰い” is a little softer than the previous two tracks, but still has a heaviness to it. There’s a little less screaming and more singing. “DOOR TO THE SKY” doesn’t let go of the heavy, pounding sounds, but it does have a nice melodic moment between the guitar and the vocals. I have a feeling that 12012 are still trying to find themselves, but I have faith in them still.

exist†trace - Virgin (2012, Japan) Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: あなた, Daybreak ~13月の色彩~, 契約, シグナル

Here with another old request! “WONDERLAND” begins with some haunting organs then bursts through with some powerful guitar melodies and drums. Definitely a different and slightly subdued version of the band, but a good introduction to the album without being overwhelmingly heavy. “Daybreak ~13月の色彩~” was one of the promotional tracks and I really love this song. It’s catchy, has a good melody, and a great dual guitar solo. Also the PV’s pretty cool too. “HONEY” comes in with hard driving guitars and a determined drum beat. It’s a little more restrained than the previous track and has a lighter, upbeat sound. “GINGER” is a track that made me nervous about this album. It was used for promotion and has a jazz sound to it that works better with Nightmare and Acid Black Cherry. This was the introduction to what we now know as the dual vocals with guitarist Miko. This sound really doesn’t suit the band at all and Miko’s voice isn’t the best. It’s too high and doesn’t mesh well with Jyou’s on the forefront. “契約” steadily moves along with a set drum and bass beat with guitar chords come in and out as Jyou’s voice orchestrates the tone of the song. It’s an experimental track that works with the softer, tamer tone of Jyou’s vocals. “リトル・メアリーと美しき憎しみのドナウ” starts off with a cutesy singing voice and circus-like sound. I’m not sure if it’s some kid singing, but I’m gonna bet that it’s actually Miko. It’s a little irritating in this minimalistic song with only drums, accordion, and a few other small instruments. “シグナル” brings back the heavy rock that the girls are known for. There’s a good fast pace and tons of attitude in Jyou’s delivery. “TRUE” was another promotional track and brings in a faster musical pace with enough aggression to leave a nice impression in your ears. The vocals have a subtle gentleness while maintaining the usual confidence Jyou brings to songs like this. “二つの声” brings something different from the band. It has a nice arrangement of being in your face with hard hitting dreams and loud guitars, then reels it in enough to highlight Jyou’s vocals in the verses and chorus. “あなた” comes in slowly with soft drums, careful vocals, and a deep bass line. It’s almost haunting, but beautifully enough that it lingers in the air. It has some experimental vocal choices that remind me a little Dir en grey’s “ZAN” and “Obscure”. “KISS IN THE DARK” is a return to the unfitting jazzy lounge sound, but it works a little better than “GINGER”. The sound still doesn’t quite suit the band, but it’s less forced in this track. “I feel you” is a speedy rock track with strong emphasis on the guitars, but doesn’t drown out Jyou’s vocals. “SORA” slows down the rush of the previous track to a pretty basic rock song. Jyou’s voice is pretty in it and the music is quite constrained compared to the previous material. This was new, experimental direction for the band and it feels like they’re trying to figure out what to do with it.

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