CROSS GENE – TIMELESS:BEGIN (2012, South Korea) Rating: 2.5/5
Favorite Tracks: La-Di-Da-Di, My Lady
"One Way Love" sounds like your typical dance track that I can hear Pitbull using and tainting it with nonsensical brag lyrics or Enrique Iglesias. I guess it's a good beginning track to get you alert and moving, but it brings nothing new to the table. "Sky High" is typical as well with its recycled David Guetta beat and similar lyrical structure as the previous track. It does keep the energy up from the first track, but yet again nothing really new. "For This Love" builds up to the dance sound that it has created from the start, but doesn't bring anything new either. The repeated words of the title seem slightly out place...as well as just the whole vocal track. It seems like an after thought or something. "La-Di-Da-Di" is the only reason I bothered with this mini-album. Sure, it follows the same generic sound as the other tracks, but it actually has some life and cohesion between the vocals and music. I can enjoy this track without any guilt or remorse. Plus the video is pretty cool too. "My Lady" closes off the mini with something soft and vocal driven. It does showcase that the boys do have some talent and shouldn't have to depend on generic upbeat music...although, this music is generic as a ballad. It's still pretty and worth listening to. The final track is an instrumental of "La-Di-Da-Di". I want to note to not let my negative tone toward of the genericness of this mini-album steer you away. Please check it out and have fun with it!
T-ARA – DAY BY DAY (2012, South Korea) Rating: 2/5
Favorite Tracks: DAY BY DAY, 떠나지마
"DAY BY DAY" is a nice, refreshing break from the usual electro-pop dance tracks that T-ara has been doing. There's nothing wrong with that, but I like the variety and reminder that these girls do have good vocals and don't have to rely on catchy hooks. Although, this song's chorus is pretty memorable. "HOLIDAY" sounds like a slightly weaker rehash of the title track. It's kinda boring and lacks the little bit of heart and feeling "DAY BY DAY" has. The vocal melodies sound a bit lazy to my ears too and the chorus is awkwardly constructed. "떠나지마" brings back the group's electro-pop sound with a slower, dramatic tempo than usual. At times, the beat sounds a little weird in areas due to the beautiful vocals and I think the rap could've been left out completely as it distracts from the somber tone. "HUE" gives us a break from the slow tracks to dance a little. The vocals are still at this soft level as the previous songs, even though it's upbeat. It doesn't carry the same joy and fun as "Lovey Dovey" or "Yayaya". "사랑놀이" has a washed out vintage electro-pop sound and a little more lively vocals than "HUE". If they were trying to cover the internal struggles within the group while recording, I don't think they did a very good job of it through the rest of the single. It's not terrible, but it lacks life and heart.
EvoL – Let Me Explode (2012, South Korea) Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: I'm sorry, 우린 좀 달라
"폭파해줘" is a decent introduction to EvoL's debut release. It has a simple beat and gives each member a chance to weigh in vocally with their various skills. It's a fun, repetitive song that effectively gets the energy up. "I'm sorry" could've gone either direction of generic, rehash of 2NE1 or something impressive. Although the music isn't all that special, the vocals make up for it. This is a different, slightly softer side to the girls' vocals and I appreciate it. Even the rap section works out effortlessly. "Magnet" was a track that was kinda put out there for the fans through a dance video and it's really good. The beat doesn't stand out that much, but this feels like a track for the rapper(s) to stand out more than anything. "우린 좀 달라" was what led me to check out more of this group. The song is kinda generic electro-pop, but the vocals are very explosive and I really love the energy that this song brings. It's definitely a track I could listen to over and over again.
D-Unit – Welcome to Business (2012, South Korea) Rating: 3.5/5
Favorite Tracks: I'm Missin' You, 늦잠, Stereo, Luv Vision
"Crush" features Dok2 in an electro-pop song with a couple vocal distortions here and there. It's nothing new, but it is easily enjoyable. Each girl gets a chance to sing and it's a good introduction song to their debut album. "I'm Missin' You" was an interesting choice of a debut song, but it was what got me listening to these girls in the first place. It's nothing you can't get from 2NE1's "I Don't Care", but it's a little more upbeat and there's a little more interesting musical transitions in it. The vocals are nice, but I wish there was less auto-tune as the girls have pretty good voices. "늦잠" is a slower track with very impressive vocals and smooth, easy R&B beat. Honestly, I like this track more than "I'm Missin' You" and I hope people who accuse them of being 2NE1 copycats check out this track as well as the rest of the album. "Turn the Lights On" is a bit on the generic side with a simple dance beat that pounds the speakers. It's kinda downtempo in the vocal area, but it's not that bad of a song. They really need to lay off the auto-tune. Fortunately, "Stereo" does everything the previous track tried to do. The vocals are more lively and the music flows more easily. It's simply a fun track you can dance to. "Good Bye Tata" keeps the energy up with another fun track. There's more electronics and bloops and bleeps in this one than "Stereo". Like "늦잠", "Luv Vision" is another wonderful treat for the ears. It has a smooth R&B beat and beautiful vocals. Between the two, I think this is the best display of their vocal abilities. I really love this song! "기념일" is a slightly more upbeat acoustic fused electro-pop song. The vocals are a tiny bit strained in places, but it's a pretty basic song. "주말이 오기전에" closes off this debut album with electro-pop club vibe with an announcer and everything. It's definitely a party track. Unfortunately, the music kinda drowns out the verses here and there.
Block B - Blockbuster (2012, South Korea) Rating: 2.5/5
Favorite Tracks: 닐리리맘보, 장난없다 (No Joke), Halo
Before the big label scandal, Block B released an album. The album starts off with a booming R&B influenced track, "11:30". It has a unique sound mixing said R&B influenced elements and horns, but the pounding beat is a little distracting from the well tamed vocals. Then there's this unnecessary "Interlude" leading to "닐리리맘보". This song got me pretty pumped for this album. It has an interesting pace as the vocals and the backing melody are fast pace, but the forefront sound is a little slower. Either way, it's pretty interesting and has an addictive chorus. "Mental Breaker" continues that steady hip-hop influenced sounds from the previous tracks and makes it a little more minimalistic during the verses, focusing on bass guitar and a simple drum beat until the chorus. This definitely has a fun little chorus that has an interesting gentle electro-pop build up. "장난없다 (No Joke)" doesn't quite flow right after a fun track like "Mental Breaker", but meh, I really like this track. While "11:30" gave the singers a chance, "장난없다 (No Joke)" showcases the rappers in this bombastic, bass driven track. "Movie's Over" slows down the tempo a little and mixes both vocal styles together in his soft hip-hop track. "넌 어디에" feeds all those ballad lovers with piano, violin, and beautiful singing. "로맨틱하게" brings the tempo up a little with slight jazz lounge tone. It has a tiny hint of fun and a good light-hearted vocal delivery. "했어 안했어" is a mix of electronic elements and hip-hop. It has a nice transition of softness in the verses, then picks up during the chorus. "Halo" is one of my favorite tracks from New Kids on the Block and the perfect introduction to their mini-album. In this instance, it is the last lyric track on the album. It's still an enjoyable song, but I think the track arrangement overall could've been organized better. The final two tracks are instrumentals of "닐리리맘보" and "Mental Breaker".
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