Thursday, January 26, 2017

Two January Album Reviews

The Good Word - New Midwest Entertainment
(Genre: Hip Hop/Christian Rap/R&B)

New Midwest ENT has held a group of artists that I've always been a fan of. Over the past year though, they have gone through some changes in roster and general content. Therefore, I was interested to see what these events would yield. The occasional singles were signals of the new direction they were heading. This focus was more clearly Christian and the announcement of a new compilation intrigued me.

This new project delivers the usual standard of great lyricism now with God more in mind in the writing. The production still matches much of what contemporary music has to offer, along with a splash of G-Funk here and there. Each track presents one or more of the faces from the label and their synergy is honestly fluid in spite of the new additions. This presents the crew very well by allowing them to flex their individual styles and how they all can work together as well.

I, personally, have to say that my favorite tracks would be "B Loved", "Loss for Words", "Pray 4 My City", "Old School Love", "Blast Off", "Sacrifice" & "Tomorrow". In my opinion, some of the songs with the throwback G-Funk sound could come off dated at times though. In conclusion, I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys the Christian rap genre or hip hop in general. They may not vibe with every song, but there's definitely a good handful they'd be able to take away from it.

The Good Links:
Free Download (Datpiff link of the project)
Money Can't Buy You Everything (One of the singles w/ PeeBee)

Slow Love and Bangin' - Brian Puspos
(Genre: R&B)

Brian Puspos is someone I have been following for quite some time, but as a dancer. On occasion he would upload covers on his YouTube channel, but eventually he announced that he was going to release his own R&B project. This piqued my interest as I always believed he had a decent voice and I wondered what his own writing style would be like. Then the title dropped, Slow Love and Bangin', and it explained it all.

"Murder She Wrote" preceded the EP's release and I was instantly ready to see what else was in store. The Houston raised crooner brought a production style that is clearly influenced by the area. The writing spans a few different aspects of love and relationships from heartbreak to making up in just the six tracks offered. Brian's voice gets the job done as it's not entirely impressive, but easy on the ear akin to Justin Bieber & Chris Brown. This creates a project that's great to throw on to vibe to for a good 20 minutes.

My absolute favorite track is "Be Ready" with it's very smooth groove, yet dynamic progression. Each song is worth a listen if you enjoy contemporary R&B like Chris Brown and Trey Songz. It's banging production with an intent for seduction. Brian Puspos certainly shows that he can create the dope music to step to.

Bang these related links:
Starting Line (Official music video)
Murder She Wrote (Unplugged version)
Be Ready (My favorite)

Monday, January 23, 2017

Bonaventura Introduction

Hello all! I’m pleased to join this group of reviewers! You can call me Bonaventura, Good Adventure in Italian, and that’s exactly what I see this as. I love to read and I like to share my thoughts about what I read in the form of reviews on goodreads. I’m excited to extend my reviews to this medium as well!

I love horror and suspense movies but I don’t like gore or “torture porn.” Atmosphere is important to me and I much prefer to be creeped out than grossed out.

I also like terrible horror movies. You know, the ones that have half a star on Netflix. Thanks to streaming sites, the market is flooded with tons of cheap, dumb, and unintentionally hilarious horror movies. I look forward to sharing some of these special gems with you in the coming months.

Have any questions? Feel free to ask in the comments section.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Review: Suicide Squad: The Album

Various Artists - Suicide Squad: The Album (2016, USA)
Rating: 3/5
Favorite Tracks: Heathens, Standing in the Rain, Gangsta, Slippin' Into Darkness

After seeing Suicide Squad, a movie I've surprisingly haven't reviewed yet but will, I had to hear this awesome soundtrack everyone was talking about. It's not very often that I hear positive commentary about more mainstream movie soundtracks. It also helps that a certain little song I had been repeating a lot was on it and I wanted to own it. So, here we are with a soundtrack review for a movie I look forward to sharing my thoughts on...after I see that extended cut.

The first track on the album, "Purple Lamborghini" by Skrillex and Rick Ross, was a song I first heard on a Rap Critic review. Not being a big fan of either of them, I was curious what he had to say about the song, especially with a title like that. I also thought it was an interesting mash-up of talent, so that added to my curiosity. For an opening track, it definitely presents some good build up and energy to get you into the feel for the movie and the album. For the most part, I agree with Rap Critic's opinion on the content of this song. Rick Ross's lyrical content kinda doesn't understand its subject matter, but Skrillex's beat backs up Ross's cocky delivery with an intense fusion of hip-hop and almost grungy dubstep elements, especially when the beat drops and the chorus kicks in. Yeah, I totally understand that feeling of wanting to headbang to that; it's practically the best part of the song. I think without Skrillex's addicting beat, this song would've fell flat and simply be another brag rap with no connections to the movie. Of course, if you watch the music video, it does pull you into the moment of Joker in the club and being a boss for sure.

"Sucker for Pain" by Lil' Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Imagine Dragons, Logic, Ty Dolla $ign, and X Ambassadors is the next track on the album. Most of these artists I'm not that thrilled about, meaning I don't care for their music much. There are a couple I'm not familiar with, meanwhile one of them disappointed me quite a bit when I went to explore their sound beyond what was airing on the radio. Much like the first track, I was curious how all these different artists would sound like together. The song has a surprisingly smooth rock sound that doesn't overpower the rap verses from each rapper, but emphasizes the chorus sung by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds. The melody softens just enough during the verses, except a bit of the bass, but doesn't distract from the content. Paying attention a little more as I watch the music video for this review, some of the transitions in the later half of the song seem kinda off to my ears. After Lil' Wayne's verse, it goes to Wiz and it just sounds kinda off to me like something was cut to make the song shorter, then there's that last part that leads to the fade which seemed a bit random to me.

Now for the reason I really wanted to check out this album: Twenty One Pilots' "Heathens". Honestly, I think this is the first song I heard from the soundtrack and it made me really curious what this hot new-ish band had to offer and why they were so damn popular last year. All bias aside, I think this song represents a perfect balance of darkness and melancholy that the movie offers for certain characters. There's something about this song that just really knows what's appropriate for a movie. Even looking at the music video, it just matches it so perfectly. Not only is this song earwormy as hell like their other hit songs "Ride" and "Stressed Out", but for me being a new listener to the duo, it just seems like a slightly different side for them. I love the soft, uncertain vocal delivery and the nice balance between all the instruments. Clearly, a very solid song that you just can't get enough of.

Next up is "Standing in the Rain" by Action Bronson, Mark Ronson, and Dan Auerbach. I've heard of Action Bronson through best of lists by Rap Critic and commercials on Viceland, but never searched out his music, while Mark Ronson is someone who most people, including myself, have only heard of because of his collaboration with Bruno Mars. I've also haven't heard much from Dan Auerbach's group The Black Keys, but the little I've heard was alright. I must say the tone of this song kinda matches the feeling of the movie, like "Heathens". Action Bronson has a pretty confident and enjoyable flow to his words and I like the retro sound and perfectly balanced sample from Oran "Juice" Jones' "The Rain" I'm sure Ronson provided. I also enjoy the hard hitting sound of the verse transitioning to this Pulp Fiction-esque vibes I get from the vocals. It's really chill and I should probably listen to this song more often.

A surprising gem I've quickly grown to love quite easily was Kehlani's "Gangsta". Taking the role of Harley Quinn in the music video, I feel like this song is very appropriate for that point of view. I really love this music video and how it interlaces Kehlani's relationship with her mysterious gangsta with Harley and Joker. I feel like the tone of the song doesn't completely glorify this kind of relationship; it's almost like a dangerous addiction that she probably needs to get away from, but can't because it feels so right. I love the contrast of her confident vocals with the hard hitting trap beat during the verses and then it softens to this vulnerable, dream-like singing in the chorus. It's quite a treat that's definitely too short. Every time I listen to it, I keep wondering where's the rest of the song! The good thing about this song is that it made me check out more of Kehlani's work and I learned a little something about her from BlipMasta5 as well.

"You Don't Own Me" by Grace featuring G-Eazy is another sampled track featured on this album. I think the first time I listened to this song, I passively listened to it simply thinking it was a cover and kinda is. It has a few modern musical tweaks to it, adding more bass and vocal reverberations...oh yeah and unremarkable rapping by G-Eazy. Now I know what Todd in the Shadows meant in his Worst of list for last year. The video isn't anything special, just the two of them performing in a sound studio. Listening to this song for the second time and looking up to see that this video exists on YouTube made me understand why a no rap version exists. Grace's voice is quite pleasing to the to the ears. Her vocal styling is very similar to the original singer Lesley Gore, but she does manage to try to put a little of her own personality in it as well. In short, pretty good cover sans G-Eazy.

By using Grace's cover as a gateway or divider for new and old material, the album presents an Eminem gem from 2002. "Without Me" is a good song for chaotic superheroism, if you go back to the music video. It remains an enjoyable and amusing song from Eminem and gives me flashbacks of TRL and the days when MTV played music videos in the day time. I guess this could represent the fun vibes of the movie and the video does parody comics. I'm sure not many young people will understand some of the references in the lyrics or even the pop culture mockery in the video, but for people around my age will still find amusement and even a bit of nostalgia from listening to this off beat track from our favorite white rapper Eminem.

Next up is Skylar Grey's "Wreak Havoc" with a hard hitting electro-pop track. It definitely fits the chaotic and aggressive tone of the movie and kinda goes well with our first track. I've heard of Skylar, but I don't think I've explored her music very much. Judging by this one song, her voice is quite nice during the lead up to the instrumental chorus. I kinda like the chasing feeling she has to her voice in the verses. At times she kinda reminds me of Natalia Kills. The song has a very predatory feel to it and it makes me want to start a battle or something, which I think is appropriate for the soundtrack. Another female artist I'm somewhat familiar with, Grimes follows up with "Medieval Warfare". Unlike Skylar Grey, I have listened to her music beyond her contributions to this soundtrack album. I honestly should listen to more of her stuff beyond the few music videos I've watched on YouTube. Anyway, this song is a heart pounding electronic track with some very angelic and subtly haunting vocals from Grimes. I love the hurried feeling of the instrumental, the taunting guitar sounds, and the slight bump of bass. The song kinda gently pumps you up with the contrast of soft vocals and aggressive beat. I kinda wish I could hear more of her voice on top of this hard sound, but overall it's quite an enjoyable track.

I want to say that the cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Panic! At the Disco was used in some of the movie's promotional material, but it's possible that the original by Queen could've been used instead. I must say that this was very good cover to the iconic Queen track. Yes, cover, children! Panic! At the Disco did not write this song. Anyway, they did a very good job keep the integrity of the original while subtly making it their own, especially in the vocal department. Good job, guys!

Since this album wants to bring the old with the new, we have War's "Slippin' into Darkness". This was an almost surprising track to reminiscence on while listening to this album, but I could see this fitting with Deadshot or Killer Croc's characters to some extent. Of course, this song is a classic and I remember hearing this track as a kid. The funk soul beat never fails to make me feel like a badass from the 70's while walking down the street like Jackie Brown. Another oldie, but a goodie comes from Creedence Clearwater Revival with "Fortunate Son". This classic rock track always makes me think of dusty roads, motorcycles, and bar fights. I guess I could see this as a song for our squad to band together, getting ready for their fight, or Rick Flag gathering the squad together and shouting out orders. This short track is appropriately placed toward the end with the psychedelic funk that War has given us previously.

Lastly, the soundtrack closes out with "I Started a Joke" by ConfidentialMX featuring Becky Hanson, which I think is a cover from the Bee Gees. It's definitely a softer and more orchestral oriented version with Becky's vocals softly echoing throughout the song. Her voice is almost drowned out by the gentle swelling of the music, which is kinda unfortunate because her voice is quite nice. It doesn't quite mesh too well with the previous tracks sound wise, but as far as old songs and covers go, it does belong in this section of the album.

Suicide Squad: The Album is a pretty enjoyable soundtrack. I like that they divided the new from the old and gave people familiar with the older tracks some relief if they didn't enjoy some of the newer stuff. The collaborations featured on this album were very interesting and I can't see them working together outside of anything like this, in my opinion. They did manage to produce some quality tracks that I could mostly confidently recommend to my friends and family, but I know that there are some tracks I know I won't be returning to for a while. On the negative end of the spectrum, the rappers I'm familiar with musically that I don't care for produced the quality what I expected, but their collaborators made up for their flaws. Also, the couple tracks that I enjoyed musically, I wished didn't drain out their singers (i.e. Grimes and Skylar Grey). Nonetheless, I think the album fits the tone and attitude that is Suicide Squad.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Quick Anime Review

Food Wars: The Second Plate (2016) | Rating: 4/5

They gave us a second plate, guys! And I was very happy about that, since I really enjoyed the first season and I'm currently enjoying the manga as it is being published in America. The second season immediately picks up where the first season left off with the Fall Classic, which is pretty intense and well adapted from its source material. This second season stays consistent by being entertaining, funny, and a bit tense at times. The story also surprisingly doesn't become predictable for our main characters either, which is a nice change of pace. It still makes you want to root for the good guys and let the bad ones learn from their mistakes. Lastly, the character development is very steady as well, since I know some people feared that certain characters' growth would be stunted. I'm looking forward to delving more into the OVA, whenever they become available with subtitles, and hopefully a third plate.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (2016) | Rating: 3.5/5

Sadly, I have not had the pleasure of playing this mystery solving game, but I really want to at some point. I know when this show was airing, people had mixed opinions on it. Fans of the game felt like the anime was a bit of a disservice to the processing of investigating and interrogating and others, like myself, enjoyed following our main character from case to case. Sure, it felt like certain elements were kinda missing or weren't explained as well as it would in a video game, but I still found it amusing and entertaining to see the resolution of each case. As someone who relies on subtitles, I had issues with certain translations concerning character names. Sometimes the subtitles matched what was spoken when they needed Naruhodou and other times it was changed to Phoenix (or Nick). I know both names are right, but it annoyed me when it kept switching. Personally, I prefer the original Japanese names, but I guess the English names fit in with the comical aspects of the show as well. This show was fun, I was entertained, despite its imperfections, and it did make me want to play the game even more.

Death Parade (2015) | Rating: 4.5/5

Somehow I missed this gem in 2015, but I'm glad I added it to my list after hearing some reliable praises from a couple of my favorite YouTubers. I have not watched the short that it originated from, but I'm glad this has become the beauty of a series that it is. Without graphic imagery or excessive profanity, this is a series you can say isn't for children. It is a very mature and almost oddly colorful show that explores the life, death, and afterlife. You know, really deep subjects that'll keep you contemplating for a few hours. Of course the show and its characters keep you involved and invested in what's going on. Almost every episode explores a different pair of characters trying to figure out where they are and why they are there. It's an interesting character study of sorts that makes you self reflect on your own life. The story is really topnotch and handled the subject matter very well without giving one definite answer to their situation. Lastly, the animation is stunning and vibrate with just enough darkness. I love the various characters we meet and the spaces they occupy. I must admit it was really hard to finish the show because I enjoyed everything so much and that's saying something!

Cheer Danshi!! (2016) | Rating: 3/5

If you were ever wondering if I'm still watching sports anime, I'm sure this post would answer your question. I was a little skeptical about this one, much like a lot of characters in the show, but it ended up being fairly entertaining. Of course, in my top five list of sports anime, I don't think this would quite make it, but it wasn't terrible. This group of young men had a big obstacle to get over and the show focused more on their journey to become a strong team as opposed to working up to a tournament like Haikyuu!!, Kuroko no Basket, or the series below, Yowamushi Pedal. No, this show is about finding enough young men that are interested in and dedicated to all things cheerleading. There are plenty of ups and downs with this new bunch and it was fun watching each member grow and overcome their own obstacles. Although the team does participate in a tournament, it's kind of an afterthought in the end as their routine begins to fade into the credits.

Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road (2014) | Rating: 4/5

Since I enjoyed the first season so much, it was obvious I was going to jump into the second season. This show remains intense and entertaining. I love cheering on Souhoku and watching each member struggle through the long treacherous road together. Even though the race is stretched out for more than 30 episodes, the story and tension keeps things interesting by not always letting the main characters win. This factor also keeps the viewer on their toes and waiting to see what the final outcome of stage three may be. Aside from the story, the characters remain great and fleshed out. The story takes its time giving us background on everyone that matters and giving us enough information to work with for the viewer to gather opinions on them. I was surprised to see that there is a third season airing around this time and of course I'm going to be checking that out. I'm currently reading the manga and I must say that so far it's pretty faithful to the source material, granted I'm not as far as season two.

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

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Top 10 Recommended Music Videos

"DARK PANDA" by Hyolyn, Zico, & Paloalto
Being a long time Zico fan, I've been really enjoying everything he touched last year. He also introduced me to the talents of Paloalto through a little bit of Show Me the Money I saw and this song. I've also slowly fallen for Hyolyn's beautiful vocals last year. This smooth, subtle electro-hip-hop beat has just enough catchiness to make you want to rock your hips, especially around the chorus, and at the same time let's each vocal talent stand out on their own. I like the mysterious and sensual sound of this song and the abstract, dark visuals presented in the video. There's something charming and mature about this video that haven't seen in many Korean hip-hop videos and I like that. It features the usual hip-hop visuals of b-boying and gold, but intertwines it with artistic set pieces as well.

"Dumb Dumb" by Red Velvet
Say what you will about this group, but so far I'm enjoying the little bit of heard from them. This earworm of a song definitely stuck with me and solidified my intrigue with the group. Unfortunately, I still haven't listened to any of their album releases, but this single definitely made me excited to delve further into their budding catalog. I love the manufactured, vibrant, and creative visuals. It's definitely different than anything else SM Entertainment has put out since that point. The sound and style reminds me vaguely of f(x) and maybe a little bit of Orange Caramel, but it's different enough to peg this as a Red Velvet sound. Also, I love watching their 2x sped up version on Weekly Idol, which is a definite must see.

"Crazy For You" by G.Soul
The beginning of last year, I really wanted to make a post dedicated to JYP Entertainment winning 2015 among the Big 3. G.Soul was their ace in the hole as being an innovative and stand out performer for the label, at least for me. This soulful voice, quirky appearance, and deeply visual debut of a music video really stood out to me. The song is wonderfully delightful and I love rewatching and listening to every minute of this masterpiece. I almost want to say it's on caliber with Sunny Hill's production. I'm hoping that G.Soul's appearance isn't a brief one like San E's, but if his path leads to something bigger and better without JYPE's backing, then I'm all for it. I would love to see and hear more of this man's gorgeous vocals and seeing more unfiltered visuals stuffed with mesmerizing symbolism.

"So, Dangerous" by UP10TION
This group is one I really want to try to get into, but they really don't have anything that makes them stand out from the other rookies from the past couple years or so, which is quite unfortunate. Of course, I'll probably elaborate on this more in their own respective post of notable rookies for the fellas. The reason I'm putting his video on my list is for the killer choreography. Their moves are extremely mesmerizing and they know how to keep your gaze focused on every sharp and fluid movement they hit together and alone. The song is catchy in its own right and I enjoy the chorus quite a bit. It definitely fits with what's trending during these tie period, but it really doesn't stand out as anything special. Of course, that doesn't make them bad in the least, because the song is quite fun and I could see fans easily chanting/singing along to the chorus and swooning over those pretty faces.

"As Long As You're Not Crazy" by INFINITE H feat. Sanchez (Phantom)
This sub-unit was clearly a blessing for me as I feel like DongWoo needs more spotlight in my opinion. He's not my only bias in the group, but it just makes me happy to see more of him and hearing his vocal talents shine just a bit more, even though Infinite is very much a vocal group with ridiculously sharp choreography. But I digress. This song has easily became one of my favorite tracks from this mini-album. I love the melancholy R&B beat with just a hint of hip-hop/trap elements strategically placed throughout the song. I enjoy that the first verse is so effortlessly rapped and smoothly transitions to Sanchez's sweet voice. He was the perfect feature for this track, even though the video's title doesn't acknowledge him but I know those vocals from anywhere. As far as the video goes, it really matches the tone of the song and lyrics. It's black and white, full of melancholy, highlights each member in their own turmoil and tragic story of love and loss, and has some pretty fantastic and smooth choreography.

"Carousel" by Melanie Martinez
Sadly, I was late to the "pity party" and discovered Melanie's music last year. There's a very good chance that I'll delve into my discovery and full feelings about her in a promo post later, but for now I want to talk about one of my favorite music videos of hers. I had no idea that American Horror Story: Freakshow used this as part of their promotion, but it definitely fits the haunting mood with a hint of romance. I personally enjoy it for that very reason: the dark, melancholy, but morbid whimsy of the visuals and music. Melanie's soft, shy, and sorrowful vocals really match the tone of this missed opportunity of romance and youth. Out of her earlier videos, this one has easily become one of my favorites and definitely solidified my enjoyment of her as an artist and begging me to go down the rabbit hole of her music.

"Borders" by M.I.A.
Without getting too political, how appropriate is this song right now in America. Who would've thought that this would be so relevant globally right now. If I remember correctly, around this time Beyonce's "Lemonade" was being highly criticized for being "anti-police" and just all sorts of unnecessary controversy. Yet, this song and video does about the same thing, but with a different issue. Of course, M.I.A. is no stranger to taking world issues and causing controversy with how she expresses her opinion through her music videos. Keeping her sound consistent with mixing hip-hop and Middle Eastern elements, the song is easily a hit with me and I admit that I repeated this video a lot. I had to take in the catchy beat, then the lyrics, and finally the imagery. Once I got through all of that and combined all these great elements, I understood nearly every point she was trying to hit. So, I highly advise paying attention to those lyrics; it's more than just physical borders and walls separating people. Never change, M.I.A.!

"Enemiez" by Keke Palmer feat. Jeremih
As long as I've known of Keke's singing career during her True Jackson VP days, I never really checked it out until last year. The thumbnail to this video intrigued me, so I clicked it and I didn't regret it. The little bit I've heard of her voice, she has definitely matured and strengthened her range. I also never knew she was such a fierce dancer. If I knew that, I wouldn't have been as surprised about her being casted in that Lifetime TLC movie, which was actually not that bad considering. *coughs*Aaliyah*coughs* The song is an easily enjoyable pop/R&B fusion of sexual tension. Of course, visually it's not as obvious of an adult theme as the lyrics make it seem. I love watching Keke move along to the music, but I admit that her outfit is a little over the top for this story and her acting is...underwhelming. Fortunately, the music, vocal chemistry with Jeremih, and fierce choreography make up for that. Sidenote: I really love her hair!

"L.C.S." by FEMM
This duo of mannequins have been killing it with their catchy music and mesmerizing visuals, since their debut. This music video plays with the various options technology has to offer in the visual effects department. From deconstruction to manipulation, it really takes its liberties with the girls' bodies and choreography in this simplistic blank space. It's definitely a different way to utilize motion capture for sure. The beat and chorus is as catchy as ever and stays consistent with the duo's aesthetics by being playful, confident, and a bit assertive. I urge you not to skip out on this one and if you haven't done so already, check out more of FEMM because they're definitely a rising talent.

"Cry & Fight" by Daichi Miura
Daichi Miura never fails to excite and amaze me with each release he has, especially visually. I love seeing his sharp choreography and natural chemistry he has with his dancers. This time is a co-ed effort with some very smooth transitions between each set of dancers. Of course, the music never fails to put a smile on my face. Miura's voice remains alluring and powerful as it effortlessly echos during the bridge and pounds itself into your head during the chorus. This is definitely a video to be watched over and over for the amazing dance moves each performer displays and the infectious music.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Four More 2016 Reviews

4 Your Eyez Only - J. Cole
(Genre: Rap/Hip Hop)

Ever since 2014's Forest Hills Drive, I officially consider myself a fan of J. Cole. Born Sinner was the first project I felt warranted buying, but FHD was excellent from start to finish. Therefore once the two promo tracks, "Everybody Dies" & "False Prophets", along with the documentary, "Eyez", I was one of the many giddy with anticipation. I looked forward to seeing how all the live instrumentation and composition would lead to that was so heavily focused on in "Eyez". Yet, the final product surprised me.

4 Your Eyez Only is a generally soulful ride through the eyes of Cole and one of his close homies. The perspectives blur from time to time, but is easily forgivable by the production and flows that suck you in. The final title track really brings the purpose of the album to light by explaining how the LP is a message dedicated to the close friend's homie who he lost to the street life he couldn't escape. Though sometimes the lyrics can be polarizing by the word choices, the sentiments can be endearing enough to make it enjoyable. I, myself, like the project although I don't feel it topped his last major release nor met the expectations given from the promo singles. Regardless, I still have to recommend this to hip hop heads who dig the average man's story with soul. Personal favorite tracks include: "Immortal", "Ville Mentality", & "Neighbors".

Get Used to Me - T-Rell
(Genre: Rap/R&B)

T-Rell is an artist I have kept a slight eye on ever since I met him at an event he threw in my hometown. As a fellow Topekan, I felt obligated to give him a chance and I continued to keep tabs on him since I saw his talent as a singer. Many years after the event passed, I soon began to see his buzz rise and I finally understood where his creative direction was heading. Following the passing of his close friend in a car accident T-Rell survived in, it inspired the song that ignited his ambitions and popularity. "My Dawg" and its remix featuring Lil' Boosie was the indication of just what I could expect from the singer.

Get Used to Me is the confirmation of T-Rell's sound and mass appeal. The project is a compilation of tracks that embody his determination to make it in this industry for the sake of his kids and the love of creating music regardless of the naysayers. The feature list seems to prove he's well on his way to make it out of the city as he has many hood superstars supporting him (i.e. Boosie, Kevin Gates, Montana of 300, Kirko Bangz). The production is radio ready and could easily be spun on urban radio making his potential rather high. I would recommend giving this a listen if you're a fan of artists of the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, Tory Lanez, & PARTYNEXTDOOR. Unfortunately, this is a style that I don't listen to regularly unless I can find something I can relate to or find entertaining about it. In conclusion, many of these tracks have hit potential, but I personally would only return to "I Got To".

The Storm - Tech N9ne
(Genre: Rap/Alternative Hip Hop/Rock)

Tech N9ne is the independent juggernaut who many near the Kansas City area admire whether musically, business wise, or both. I'm no exception, being exposed to his music during my preteen years through Absolute Power. I reached the point to anticipate his yearly output once Everready dropped. Being one of the most consistent emcees, I continue to expect a certain level of lyricism, range of topics, and relative soundscape from Tech. This can be a turn off for some listeners, but I personally enjoy seeing the yearly expansion of experimentation in each project.

The Storm is no exception to this DLC-esque style of releases from Tech N9ne. With this album, Tech pushes his inventive flows and patterns over more hard hitting production whether it's haunting hardcore rap, metal influenced hip hop, club bangers, or hood hop. It's split into sections (a common Tech N9ne practice) starting with Kingdom going into Clown Town and ending at the G Zone. Each section transition without a hitch just as the eclectic mix of features also blend smoothly. The way Tech N9ne is able to be the true "Most Known Unknown" draws in names like Logic, Jonathan Davis of Korn, & even Boyz II Men.

Even though he is able to be sonically versatile, I still wouldn't recommend this to just anyone, because I also never like every single song on a Tech project due to his wide spectrum he explores. The Kingdom section will contain the most commercially viable tracks like "Erbody But Me" & "Get Off Me". Yet, his honesty lyrically might be what's appealing in songs such as "Starting to Turn" & "Poisoning the Well", both in the Clown Town portion. If you're into hood tracks then in the G Zone, your songs might be "Buss Serves" & "No Running to Your Mama". It all depends on your preferences, so I always say to go in with an open mind and then take your pick. Ultimately, my picks would be along the lines of "Godspeed", "I Get it Now", "The Needle", & "The Long Way" from the deluxe version.

RTJ3 - Run the Jewels
(Genre: Alternative Rap/Hip Hop)

The emergence of the Run the Jewels duo instantly had me hooked. The incredibly hard, yet unique beats El-P produced with him and Killer Mike trading bars over them were infectious. The first project had punchlines galore with impeccable flows. RTJ2 provided that alongside even more concepts. The anticipation of the third installation grew as we waited patiently for more of this duo's unmatched synergy.

Now that it's here, as it was dropped on Christmas as a surprise, us Jewel Runners all cheer in satisfaction. El-P and crew continued to bring instrumentals that is perfect for the festival energy they've started to become accustomed to. Yet, Killer Mike and El-P spread their sound to include more topics, namely socio-political statements due to the chaotic year 2016 has been for our society. This addition of serious subject matter is easily welcomed as it comes naturally for both emcees and never detracts from the energy their projects have managed to exude. The combination of both rappers differing, yet compatible styles is easily recommendable for those who love wittiness, banging beats, and an occasional conscious message. I wouldn't take away anything from the tracklist, but some standouts for me would be "Legend Has It", "Stay Gold", "Thieves! (Screamed the Ghost)", "Panther Like a Panther", & "Everybody Stay Calm".

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Movies Watched in 2017

Starting date: January 5, 2017
Finishing date: December 31, 2017

1. The Disappointments Room (2016, USA)
2. Going Clear: Scientology an the Prison of Belief (2015, USA)
3. Hidden Figures (2017, USA)
4. When the Bough Breaks (2016, USA)
5. Split (2017, USA)
6. The Accountant (2016, USA)
7. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016, USA)
8. Pet (2016, USA)
9. Goat (2016, USA)
10. Moonlight (2016, USA)
11. Viral (2016, USA)
12. Satanic (2016, USA)
13. Rings (2017, USA)
14. A Cure for Wellness (2017, USA)
15. Queen of Katwe (2016, USA)
16. Girl on the Train (2016, USA)
17. 31 (2016, USA)
18. Get Out (2017, USA)
19. The Beauty Inside (2015, South Korea)
20. The Great Hypnotist [Cui mian da shi] (2014, China)
21. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? [Ming tian ji de ai shang wo] (2013, Taiwan)
22. Shut In (2016, Canada)
23. Zoom (2015, Canada)
24. 5 Centimeters Per Second [Byôsoku 5 senchimêtoru] (2007, Japan)
25. Loving (2016, USA)
26. Fences (2016, USA)
27. Passengers (2016, USA)
28. Life (2017, USA)
29. Candiland (2016, Canada)
30. Nocturnal Animals (2016, USA)
31. Incarnate (2016, USA)
32. Logan (2017, USA)
33. Beauty and the Beast (2017, USA)
34. Don't Hang Up (2016, UK)
35. Unforgettable (2017, USA)
36. A Monster with a Thousand Heads [Un monstruo de mil cabezas] (2015, Mexico)
37. Blazing Saddles (1974, USA)
38. Young Frankenstein (1974, USA)
39. The Princess Bride (1987, USA)
40. The Edge of Seventeen (2016, USA)
41. The Bye Bye Man (2017, USA)
42. Abandoned Dead (2017, USA)
43. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017, USA)
44. Justice League Dark (2017, USA)
45. Fear, Inc. (2016, USA)
46. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016, USA)
47. Clown (2014, Canada)
48. The Void (2016, Canada)
49. I Am Not Your Negro (2016, USA)
50. xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017, USA)
51. A Kind of Murder (2016, USA)
52. Nurse 3D (2013, USA)
53. Sing (2016, USA)
54. Catfight (2016, USA)
55. John Wick Chapter 2 (2017, USA)
56. All Eyez On Me (2017, USA)
57. Detour (2016, USA)
58. Wonder Woman (2017, USA)
59. The Belko Experiment (2017, USA)
60. The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016, UK)
61. XX (2017, USA)
62. I Am Heath Ledger (2017, USA)
63. Sleepless (2017, USA)
64. Headshot (2016, Indonesia)
65. Anomaly (2016, USA)
66. Manhattan Night (2016, USA)
67. Before I Fall (2017, USA)
68. History of the World: Part I (1981, USA)
69. High Anxiety (1977, USA)
70. Airplane! (1980, USA)
71. Airplane II: The Sequel (1982, USA)
72. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988, USA)
73. 3 Beauties [3 Bellezas] (2014, Venezuela)
74. Wedding Doll [Hatuna MeNiyar] (2015, Israel)
75. The Blackcoat's Daughter (2015, Canada)
76. The Butterfly Effect (2004, USA)
77. Fifty Shades Darker (2017, USA)
78. Baby Driver (2017, USA)
79. The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (1991, USA)
80. The Entity [La Entidad] (2015, Peru)
81. House of Manson (2016, USA)
82. The Demolisher (2015, Canada)
83. The Great Wall (2917, USA)
84. Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994, USA)
85. Jesus Camp (2006, USA)
86. Tupac: Resurrection (2003, USA)
87. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017, USA)
88. Power Rangers (2017, USA)
89. Kong: Skull Island (2017, USA)
90. Ghost in the Shell (2017, USA)
91. Money (2016, Spain)
92. War for the Planet of the Apes (2017, USA)
93. Razors: The Return of Jack the Ripper (2016, UK)
94. Resident Evil: Vendetta (2017, Japan)
95. Phoenix Forgotten (2017, USA)
96. The Call (2013, USA)
97. Collide (2016, UK)
98. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017, USA)
99. Mirrors (2008, USA)
100. The Boss Baby (2017, USA)
101. Atomic Blonde (2017, USA)
102. A Girl Like Grace (2015, USA)
103. White Girl (2016, USA)
104. The LEGO Batman Movie (2017, USA)
105. Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017, USA)
106. Train to Busan (2016, South Korea)
107. Stray Bullets (2016, USA)
108. Opening Night (2016, USA)
109. The Circle (2017, USA)
110. Hairspray Live! (2016, USA)
111. Colossal (2016, Canada)
112. Assassination: Battle for Compton (2017, USA)
113. Hotel of the Damned (2016, USA)
114. House on Willow Street (2016, South Africa)
115. Shangri-La Suite (2016, USA)
116. Sugar Kisses [Besos de Azúcar] (2013, Mexico)
117. Annabelle: Creation (2017, USA)
118. The Devil in White (2014, USA)
119. Moth (2016, UK)
120. Beyond the Gates (2016, USA)
121. Everything, Everything (2017, USA)
122. Sleight (2016, USA)
123. Colonia (2015, Germany)
124. The Dinner (2017, USA)
125. How to Be a Latin Lover (2017, USA)
126. The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe (2015, USA)
127. The Host (2006, South Korea)
128. Hellraiser (1987, USA)
129. Valley of the Dolls (1967, USA)
130. The Handmaiden [Ah-ga-ssi] (2016, South Korea)
131. Counter Clockwise (2016, USA)
132. The Hollow One (2017, USA)
133. Devil in the Dark (2017, Canada)
134. Rough Night (2017, USA)
135. Alien (1979, USA)
136. It (2017, USA)
137. It Comes at Night (2017, USA)
138. The Mummy (2017, USA)
139. T2 Trainspotting (2017, UK)
140. Scherzo Diabolico (2015, Mexico)
141. The Devil's Candy (2017, USA)
142. Tales from Earthsea [Gedo senki] (2006, Japan)
143. Mother! (2017, USA)
144. Batman and Harley Quinn (2017, USA)
145. Baywatch (2017, USA)
146. A Dark Song (2016, Ireland)
147. #FollowFriday (2016, USA)
148. 47 Meters Down (2017, USA)
149. My Cousin Rachel (2017, UK)
150. Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017, USA)
151. Raw (2016, France)
152. The Big Sick (2017, USA)
153. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017, USA)
154. Happy Death Day (2017, USA)
155. The Book of Henry (2017, USA)
156. Gorenos (2016, USA)
157. Beatriz at Dinner (2017, USA)
158. The House (2017, USA)
159. Death Note (2017, USA)
160. ABCs of Death (2012, USA)
161. ABCs of Death 2 (2014, USA)
162. Jigsaw (2017, USA)
163. Girls Trip (2017, USA)
164. Kidnap (2017, USA)
165. Wish Upon (2017, USA)
166. The Dark Tower (2017, USA)
167. A Message From a Mistress (2017, USA)
168. The Hatred (2017, USA)
169. Thor: Ragnarok (2017, USA)
170. The Beguiled (2017, USA)
171. Ghost World (2001, USA)
172. Personal Shopper (2016, USA)
173. Murder on the Orient Express (2017, USA)
174. Ghost House (2017, USA)
175. Rupture (2016, Canada)
176. Miss Hokusaki (2015, Japan)
177. Planes, Trains, & Automobiles (1987, USA)
178. Addams Family Values (1993, USA)
179. Kristy (2015, USA)
180. By Any Means (2017, USA)
181. Crow (2016, UK)
182. The Intruders (2015, Canada)
183. Justice League (2017, USA)
184. Silent Movie (1976, USA)
185. Kubo and the Two Strings (2016, USA)
186. Berlin Syndrome (2017, Australia)
187. Sweet Bean (2015, Japan)
188. Awakening the Zodiac (2017, Canada)
189. My Life as a Zucchini [Ma vie de Courgette ] (2016, France)
190. The Hitman's Bodyguard (2017, USA)
191. Birth of the Dragon (2017, USA)
192. Elle (2016, France)
193. Coco (2017, USA)
194. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016, USA)
195. Hot Girls Wanted (2015, USA)
196. Beach Rats (2017, USA)
197. Lycan (2017, USA)
198. 2:22 (2017, Australia)
199. Detroit (2017, USA)
200. Frank & Lola (2016, USA)
201. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017, USA)
202. Front Cover (2015, USA)
203. Selena (1997, USA)
204. West Side Story (1961, USA)
205. A Lego Brickumentary (2014, USA)
206. Wizard Mode (2016, Canada)

Most Shocking/Disappointing/WTF Asian Music Moments of 2016

BLOOD STAIN CHILD Members Change...Again
I became aware of BSC's existance when they shared the stage with D at A-Kon 22. This was around the time their second vocalist Sophia joined the group. It was quite unfortunate to hear that she was leaving the group, but she remained active in the music scene and created SEASON OF GHOSTS, which I'll be putting up a concert report up eventually. ^^; They did make an appearance last year with their new vocalist Kiki at Oni-Con...another concert report that's pending. Unfortunately, a few months later, founding member and bassist RYO (also RYU's brother) and vocalist Kiki announced that they will be departing the band for one reason or another. As soon as this was posted on JAME, a new vocalist by the name of SAIKA and bassist Yakky joined the band and they released a new single, NEXUS. Despite the turn over of members, I'll still keep checking out their music and tracking their progression (or regression).

4Minute Disbands
Obviously, this news is not here for its shocking qualities, but more for its disappointing feeling for really the fans. For me, I honestly don't feel nothing towards this news. I do enjoy 4Minute's discography and "Hate" was a pretty banging track. I even enjoyed a couple of HyunA's solo songs from her last mini-album, but I normally enjoy about that same amount even though I don't care for her that much. Whether fans want to admit it or not, I'm sure they weren't that surprise to hear the news that everyone but HyunA renewed their contracts with Cube Entertainment. I mean the amount of publicity and promotion was very unbalanced for quite some time, which is really unfortunate. Whatever the members end up doing, I'll check it out if it presents itself in front of me.

Anzi leaves Matenrou Opera
It also sucks to hear a member leaving a band that's being around/together for more than five years. Despite me not keeping up with Matenrou Opera as much as when they debut, I tried my best to check out their newest PVs and listen to their singles when I had the time. From what I saw, things were looking pretty good and I was pleased with the growth and bond they had. Although, I admit that their sound/concepts felt a little stagnet after a while. Perhaps that was the reasoning behind Anzi's departure. I don't know; that quote just sounds like a fancy way of saying "musical differences". Nonetheless, I wish Anzi and the remaining members the best in 2017.

R-Shitei Banned from Nippon Budokan
Being part of a visual kei (and even just a musical act in Japan), most people's goal is to perform at the grand Nippon Budokan. Unfortunately, for this group, this dream may never happen unless the rules change. Honestly, this article/news appeared in the beginning of the year and I totally forgot about it. Fortunately, I had a link to the article saved to refresh my memory. The reasoning behind the ban was due to the band's inappropriate lyrical content, despite other bands performing similar controversial material on their stage. The article uses the example of Golden Bomber, which I know little about musically, but for me I thought of Dir en grey who have performed there countless times. So, I find it strange that this little band, who apparently is growing big enough for an 88 city tour and booking the stadium, is being denied this dream. Maybe R-Shitei fans can change things and give the band their dream.

DAIGO and Moon Hee Jun Get Married
...but not to each other. On January 11, Keiko Kitagawa announced that she was officially married to BREAKERZ's vocalist DAIGO. I don't actively follow DAIGO outside of BREAKERZ releases and even then I just enjoy the music; I don't go further than that. So, obviously, this was surprising, but good news to hear. Sometimes I wonder (and maybe a little bit of worry) about these older jrockers abstaining from love. On the other hand, they're very good at keeping their private lives private. DAIGO isn't your typical jrock star as he has crossed over to the mainstream, similar to Gackt, but that's old news for Japanese pop culture followers. H.O.T's Moon Hee Jun is someone I've come to accept in my introduction to kpop, in my earlier days. He was the exception of enjoyment for Korean rock and I still am quite fond of him, although I don't follow his activities constantly. Seeing the news on one of my favorite kpop sites, AsianJunkie, caught me off guard like the rest of the readers...except H.O.T fans. While the writer of the article was surprised and happy that the fans didn't rip apart Crayon Pop's Soyul for having a relationship with him, I was surprised no one made a big deal about the age gap (25 & 38), but maybe that's normal in Korea...or I'm just old fashion in some ways. Nonetheless, I wish these happy couples a wonderful and long marriage!

Jin Akanishi, Meisa Kuroki, Daichi Miura and Wife Expecting Children
The expansion of a family is always great news! Since 2012's list, Jin Akanishi and Meisa Kuroki have had rare mention on jpop news sites I follow. When I saw that they were expecting their second child, I was very happy for them. I haven't heard any scandals or rumors about the couple, which is even better. Although I would love to hear more music from the couple, I wish them the best with their marriage and the birth of their second child. Last year was a surprising announcement of Daichi Miura's marriage and now we have even more exciting news that he will be a father! Congratulations to the proud parents!

Dead Children, Sel'm, & HaKU Disband
I know there are other lesser known bands that disbanded this year and I will be mentioning some other slightly more major ones later in this list, but these three in particular are bands that I personally enjoy. So, once again, forgive me if I didn't mention your faves. Dead Children is a band that I wished I listened to more often, but I don't think I have a lot of their music...or maybe they just didn't release a lot of it. Nonetheless, they're a pretty cool little band and I would like to return to them on my iTunes in honor of their accomplishments. Sel'm, on the other hand, was a band I listened to for quite a few years and I remember enjoying and sharing them with my friends. As my library grew and grew, their music did get lost in the shuffle, but I would love to return to their hard, energetic sound and relive my high school days. And then there's HaKU, a non-visual kei band, that displayed a lot of talent for the jrock scene. I got into them at the same time as BLUE ENCOUNT and Jaweye about 3-4 years ago. I was quite surprised to hear that they were disbanding as I feel that non-visual kei bands have a longer shelf life, but I will be treasuring what music I have collected of theirs.

Hyunseung Withdraws From BEAST & BEAST Departs From Cube Entertainment
Since the beginning, I've been a fan of B2ST. I enjoy their sleek choreography and beautiful vocal harmonies. As timed went on, their releases kinda slowed a bit and some of the members dabbled in solo works and of course the most promoted Troublemaker duo with 4Minute's Hyuna. The little news I did hear about them that didn't pertain to their music were just little bits here and there that weren't all that noteworthy...until I saw the handful of posts of Hyunseung's uncaring attitude with his B2ST activities and negative response from fans. For the most part, I kinda shrugged it off as it didn't seem too out of character in my mind, but the unfortunate (or maybe fortunate) occurred when he decided to depart from the group. Unlike the rest of his group mates, he did keep his contract under Cube Entertainment as a solo artist. So, hopefully fans of TroubleMaker will receive more from the duo. On the other hand, B2ST have created Around US Entertainment and remain on good terms with Cube. Hopefully, things weren't too terrible between the rest of the group and Hyunseaung, but I really hope that the group starts to become more consistent with music releases again and perhaps get back on track with being the awesome group I loved when they hit their peak with "Fiction".

GANGLION Indefinite Hiatus
After seeing them live at Oni-Con in 2014, and yes, I'm still going to do a concert report for it, I was excited for this band's future. Much like a lot of female visual kei bands I followed, they seemed to have the making of being the next exist trace or perhaps a band that could make things better than them currently, in my opinion. It was very unfortunate news to see that this young band would most likely be concluding their journey as GANGLION. Of course, I would like to think they will come together once again and rock our worlds with high energy and passion. Nonetheless, whatever they decide to do, I will continue to support them the best I can.

SHOXX Publisher Files Bankruptcy
The magazine that helped make visual kei a household name 26 years ago declared bankruptcy and planned to seize publishing with its brethren Fool's Mate. The publishing company planned to release its final issue with SuG on the cover in September, was released with the renewal of their Twitter account that they'll be back in action in February 2017. How's that for a revival!

chariots and Lycaon Reborn
Ever since I saw Phantasmagoria live for the first time in 2005, I easily fell in love with their music, style, and stage presence. When they disbanded, I was very disappointed, but of course Kisaki wouldn't let go of Riku or the sound of Phantasmagoria. So, we ended up with chariots and Lin -the end of corruption world-...oh, and a bunch of post-Phantasmagoria compilations and DVDs. With the dissolution of UNDER CODE, Kisaki (and probably, Riku) struggled to keep these two bands afloat. So, the inevitable happened with disbandment and members leaving. Chariots has gone from the remnants of UNDER CODE bands to Riku's solo to silence...and then, here we are with the rebirth! I haven't listened to their limited live single, but I'm just excited to hear more of Riku's beautiful and unique voice. Last year, I mentioned that Lycaon, among others, were disbanding and I was very sadden as they were, in my eyes, improving in their sound and presence. Fortunately, the members stayed together to form intial'L. I'm looking forward to checking them out, comparing their old sound to their new style, and just overall enjoying them as a group again.

MY BACTERIA HEAT IsLAND Becomes TenTen's Solo Project
Similar to chariots to some extent, I've been following TenTen since his KuRt days and tried to keep up with his various bands and projects, but it becomes quite difficult when his musical track record falls into the annoying pattern of Kisaki's band history. *sighs* Nonetheless, I was sad to hear that all the members left the band and left TenTen behind. So, it seems that he has decided to turn this into a solo project and rename it to "Re:My BACTERIA HEAT IsLAND". Of course, he can't do it alone; he has to have some sort of support and he does. Whether these new members are simply on a trial basis to become permanent or not, I look forward to seeing how things will transition from band to solo and hearing TenTen's unusual vocals once more as well as his new band LACK-CO..

MeteoroiD Disbands
I was fortunate enough to see this band at Tokyo in Tulsa and I was very pumped to hear more of their music in the coming year. It was very shocking for me to hear that they would be disbanding. As a new fan, it kinda hits hard when the memories of seeing them live, meeting them, and creating awesome memories just to have that moment cut short with disbandment. I really hope the members find what they're looking for musically and reappear in the visual kei scene, because they're all very talented people.

Jia Departs From miss A
Contract expiration dates can be a nerveracking time for serious kpop fans and I find it interesting that such things are so public to the media and fans, but I guess that leaves the surprise of non-renewals to a minimum to some extent. Miss A is a group that I've loved since the beginning, but their video for "Only You" was quite underwhelming. It was inevitable that JYP's lack of attention would affect another talented group, but remained supportive of Jia's decision. Fortunately, Jia didn't waste anytime debuting as a solo artist and I'm looking forward to seeing my bias continue to do what she loves.

Lynch.'s Akinori's Arrest
In November, it was reported that lynch.'s bassist Akinori was arrested for "antisocial activity", which I (and many others in the visual kei community) honestly read as marajuana possession...or something related to the drug. While I'm not completely sure if I read somewhere confirming that that was the case, but Akinori was very cooperative with authorities and removed himself from the band. Hazuki, the vocalist, did comment on the situation and the band decided to cancel future activities and go on hiatus. Most importantly, they assured fans that they will return to their usual band activities.

BABYMETAL Train Still Going Strong
Like it or not, this trio of young ladies are still rocking our world. They started the year off strong with the release of their second full length album, their first North American tour, and making their debut appearance on The Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend any of the shows, but I heard for the most that it was a big success. Hopefully, that'll lead to more U.S. tour dates (y'know, somewhere closer to me =X). It was recently announced that they will be opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica on their respective tours/shows. Hopefully, the metal world will come to accept them in the same manner of respect as Rob Zombie. I look forward to more groundbreaking accomplishments from this group in 2017 and perhaps a break for them as well. I mean...they're still kids.

Dio - distraught overlord's Revival
From time to time disbanded bands will reunite for special occasions on a temporary basis. Even though I cannot attend any of these revival lives, it still excites me to see all the members come together on one stage and bring the passion and energy to their fans through their music. After their disbandment, I tried my best to keep track of all the members. I believe Kei retired from music, so there was no way to find out what he was up to. Mikaru put together BLACK LINE with Denka and did some solo activities under G.L.A.M.S, which included photography pieces I believe. Ivy joined Moran and is now currently in LACK-CO.. And Erina, I can only think of him being in VII-Sense until they decided to disband, but I feel like I'm forgetting something. Anyway, B7Klan was celebrating their 10th anniversary and the band, along with Dirtrunks, came together for a European tour. They also planned a limited revival in Japan and released a single. With a musical release, I hoped that this would be a full revival, but sadly I think this may be temporary. Nonetheless, I look forward to checking out LACK-CO. and more of Mikaru's solo work.

Lolita23q Come Out of Hiatus
Well, this is a name I haven't used since 2012 when the band announced their indefinite hiatus. I thought 2012 would be the end for them and I would just have to enjoy them separately, which was fine. I still have to listen to LOUD GRAPE, even though they disbanded in 2016. When I first saw the news, I thought it was simply a limited revival situation like many bands before, especially since Ryosuke's solo project WING WORKS gained great momentum and the original vocalist Sou was back on board. Upon reading and rereading this post, it looks like this is an actual comeback for the band to their original form. I'm really looking forward to what they have in store for us, but I also hope that Ryosuke and Ryuto don't burn themselves out between bands either.

BORN Disbands
BORN was band that I happened to stumble across at the right moment, because it was not too long before they announced their appearance at Oni-Con in Houston. The band has undergone so many changes over the years with each other from constant name changes, moving to a major label, and losing a member. Nonetheless, they continued to push on and create more music for their fans. I was devastated and even a bit unsurprised by the announcement. What was really depressing was hearing Ryouga being unmotivated and as much as I love that man it makes me want to cry and hug him. At the same time, Ray announced that BORN will be his final band. Fortunately, news appeared that Ryouga and some other familiar faces in the scene joined together to create RAZOR, which I'm looking forward to checking out. Hopefully, we will see K and Tomo appear in a new band some time soon.

D=OUT Leaves PS Company
It's another year of someone escaping PS Company and it seems like their roaster is getting smaller and smaller. Yes, it seems as though Kouki and the gang are taking the solo and band activities elsewhere and I'm stoked to see their style evolving even further. I've seen so much good after previous bands have left and even a few experimentations that were hit or miss. Nonetheless, I feel like the band can breath with their creativity and not become Kagrra, 2.0.

2NE1 Disbands
This was the year of CL and everyone knew it and was ready for it. As a former CL bias fan, I was both skeptical and a bit optimistic for her debut in the U.S. Although, I wasn't quite fond of majority of her material. While it was catchy, fun, and full of energy on stage, the quality was lacking. Time and time again YG teased BlackJacks with the promise of a comeback and even brought them together for 2015's MAMAs. But with all the focus on CL's endeavors, I'm guessing Minzy knew she could do so much better with her talent. It was a sad day for BlackJacks to hear that their fiery dancer was departing. I was saddened, but not completely surprised. YG continued to state that 2NE1 were coming back as a trio, but with much silence from the group and a lot of push for CL's first American tour, it wasn't surprising to see that 2NE1 was no more. It's really unfortunate how their fate was such a slow pull of a band-aid, but I really hope that Minzy and Dara (and I guess Bom) continue their journey in music.

Girugamesh and SCREW Disband
After twelve years of great music, memories, and just full on love, Girugamesh announced after their European tour that they would be disbanding. This news was very surprising for many, especially for myself. Their latest release felt like a return to their roots of their first and second albums and I was quite pumped to this growth and perhaps more experimentation with their sound. But here we are. Fortunately, one member, the band's drummer Яyo, is staying in the music scene through YouTube, which is pretty interesting and mesmerizing to watch. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the other members to resurface on the music scene and maybe a reunion appearance in the U.S. For many visual kei fans, hearing SCREW's disbandment around the same time made them skeptical whether the genre was dying or not. More disheartening than surprising, seeing the news of their disbandment seemed very unfortunate to me as I felt like the band never got to reach their full potential, especially under PS Company. Maybe if they had the chance to go to elsewhere, their music career would last a little longer and they would be able to grow more. But maybe there was more to it than the little I know as a fan/outsider. Nonetheless, just because these two bands who have been around for 10 years or more, it doesn't mean that visual kei is dead. #ResurrectVK

RAVE's Mikuru Passes Away
The really crappy part of these lists is including the decease. While I'm still a relatively new fan of RAVE, it was sad to see that one of their members departed from earth. Apparently, the guitarist had went on break to recover from an undisclosed illness. For now, it seems like the band has pushed forward despite the unfortunate situation and have released new material. RAVE have also announced a new album for 2017 while keeping the spirit of Mikuru's talent and passion laced through their music. I wish the remaining members luck for the new year and blessings on Mikuru's loved ones.