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The Weekly Download: flumpool: Hana ni Nare
This song is offered for download for sampling purposes only. If you like the song, I highly encourage you to buy this album.

18.02.2009
 
  Shinshoku Dolce
Kanon Wakeshima
  River’s Edge
Nichika
  milk/Nageki no Kiss
aiko
  AwakEVE
UVERworld
  ChaNge the WoRLd
MiChi
 
 
25.02.2008
 
  Rule/Sparkle
Ayumi Hamasaki
  Bye-Bye (recut single)
Ai Otsuka
    Reincarnation
Ami Suzuki
  Hoshi ni Negai wo
flumpool
  ANSWER
Angela Aki
  PRESENT
Rie fu

*Note about the banner | Because I’ve highly disappointed myself with the two banners I made to promote Mika Nakashima as my featured artist, I am currently reverting to Rie fu’s banner until I can make something better. Mika Nakashima is still the featured artist, though.

Notice to All Those Who Still Have “www.stylejapan.wordpress.com” on Their Blogrolls

It’s just about time you figured out that StyleJapan has moved here, yes, there’s a difference between the two, and if you had a link to the StyleJapan Report, that’s here. If you still haven’t changed your link, please do it now

StyleJapan Moves

Bye bye WordPress, hello unchained.nu! pengie kindly offered to give me space on her server, and now it has come true: StyleJapan and the StyleJapan Report have moved: new StyleJapan and new StyleJapan Report.

Change Has Come

No, I am not having a Barack Obama moment, nor am I feeling inspired by peace and change. Right now the issue would be the format of my writings and the fact that I am S-I-C-K A-N-D T-I-R-E-D of them. There you go. I’ve said it now. Track-by-track reviews are only fun to write when I actually feel terribly inspired, and that’s not exactly too often. It’s hard to express my feelings about entire albums in the short block I give the overall review at the end; the only advantage I could give the TBT format would be that I can hate songs that I hated when I first heard them even more because reviewing them makes me so entirely sick of them it makes me want to click on the little “x” on the side of the tab’s name and switch to Facebook or some other meaningless waste of time.

So now that I’ve ranted it about it and made myself a little bit irritable, I make the official proclamation: from now on, posts on StyleJapan will be written under the original reviewing format, as text, and I will simultaneously work on changing the format of any previous reviews. The order of switching reviews I have no idea of, and I will proceed to change reviews randomly. There will be a sidebar to notify you on any redone reviews. This is an irrevocable decision; I don’t care what you think about it.

MiChi: PROMiSE

PROMiSE, MiChi1. PROMiSE

2. HEy GirL

3. Sk8er Boi

4. Fuck You And Your Money (ED BANGER ALL STARS remix)

PROMiSE is MiChi’s debut single, released on October 22nd, 2008. It reached #12 on Oricon and has sold 24 783 copies.

PROMiSE definitely goes into my list of best debut singles. I’m not exactly sure where to classify this song, but I’d call it synth pop-rock with the distinct British punk element, which makes MiChi one of the more extravagant J-Pop artists out there. The overwhelming feeling I get from MiChi’s songs is the happiness, despite the fact that I don’t think PROMiSE is that happy a song. The song is insanely addictive, and I think MiChi’s voice is noteworthy.

As much as I think PROMiSE is a good song, HEy GirL beats it, even if just barely. I can hear some island influences, but what’s prominent is the really catchy chorus, which totally makes up for the lack of perk found in the verses.

MiChi’s cover of Avril Lavigne’s Sk8er Boi is interesting… but I have to admit I was never a fan of Avril Lavigne in the first place, so I’m not exactly thrilled by it being present on the single. But if looked at objectively, MiChi’s cover is quite worthy and good MiChi-style interpretation of the song.

Finally comes a remix of a track which appeared on MiChi’s mini-album, MiChi MadNesS. The original was quite nice, but you immediately notice the difference between the more punk stuff featured on her mini-album and the stuff she’s doing now. As usual, the remix has a few flaws, but it’s a nice addition to the single.

Utada: Come Back to Me

Come Back to Me, Utada1. Come Back to Me

Come Back to Me is Utada’s fourth English single, released on February 9th, 2009. It reached #28 on Billboard’s Japan Hot 100 Singles.

If you were looking for a catapult ride back to First Love, Come Back to Me is exactly that. The only difference is that I actually like this song. I’m not one to like R&B, but I absolutely love this song. Utada bias? Perhaps. But I am definitely fond of this song. It may the most mainstream song Utada ever wrote, it may be nothing quite like Easy Breezy, Exodus ’04 and You make me want to be a man, it remains better than half of the songs on EXODUS. I’m surprised it failed to chart, but with the only promotion being her MySpace site, things are clearer. Although she may have better chance than with her previous English album if she continues with this type of song. Come Back to Me is a mellow R&B ballad that jumps out of a classical piano piece played both at the beginning and at ending. The lyrics are substandard for Utada Hikaru, but I guess they’ll do for an American-style song. All this song needs is more exposure, and I’m sure it would’ve been really popular.

FLOW: #5

#5, FLOW

WORLD END

HEAVENLY STARS

PULSE

SNOW FLAKE – Kioku no Koshuu - (Album Version)

ANTHEM

BRAND-NEW DAY

Akai Siren

Antares

MUSIC

WORD OF THE VOICE

Butterfly

Rakuen Tengoku (Bonus Track)

*****

Songs in bold are previously released singles. Songs in blue (with a link) have already been reviewed. Those songs will, however, be reviewed in context of the album once more.

*****

#5 is FLOW’s sixth album, released on January 28th, 2009. It reached #19 on Oricon. The title refers to the end of their fifth year in the music business.

With the three singles released in this era being a chain, I was expecting them to follow each other, but apparently that was only for the PVs. Nonetheless, the ambience of WORLD END, despite such a depressive name, is perfect to open the album. I think this was the best A-Side of the era, even though SNOW FLAKE – Kioku no Koshiuu - is pretty close to that, and the mix of aggressive guitars and calming sequences make a unique song.

HEAVENLY STARS is somewhat a more aggressive version of the previous song; but the vocals, distinctly apart while usually the two vocalists tend to blend their voice together or sing one sequence after the other, make this song little of an enjoyment. This is a train ride to FLOW’s past work, when their music was more optimistic and, well, immature.

Next comes PULSE, the aggressive second A-Side on the last single of the era. I’ve come to like it a lot more, even though the chorus still annoys me a little bi, but the aggressive guitar riffs at the end of the chorus tend to just let the entire song collapse. Otherwise, the verses are nice and calming, but not enough to make up for the rest of the song.

I liked SNOW FLAKE – Kioku no Koshiuu - (the persistence of memories) when I first heard it, but, much like a lot of the songs on this album, I’ve come to like it even more after a few listens. After the two more powerful singles, this song finally introduced a ballad into the era. It’s very well made and the strings are very nice. The combination of the two vocalists’ voices is at its peak here, and I think it’s FLOW’s most powerful attribute in general. The Album Version extends it a little bit, although I see very little difference.

ANTHEM is one of my favorite new tracks on the album. This song is pretty much a direct confrontation to the overall, more sad, tone of the previous song. The verses could have been better, the problem being the same as with HEAVENLY STARS, the vocals are distinctly apart, but the chorus flows nicely and gives me a feeling of hope and bliss.

The next track is another ride back to FLOW’s earlier stuff, although I think they executed it a lot better than HEAVENLY STARS. BRAND-NEW DAY is another very positive song. The pattern is similar to the previous track, and it has the same problems: the verses could have required some help, but the chorus is catchy.

Akai Siren (red siren) is the more hardcore song on this album, and also one of the worse songs on it. The verses are pretty boring, and the chorus really does nothing for me. It’s one of those songs that has a lot of potential but doesn’t draw that forward.

Next comes a highly contrasting song: Antares is a bizarre mixture of several traditional music styles, one of them is definitely Spain, which is noticeable by the vocals. It’s another of my favorites on this album, in part because it’s one of FLOW’s most unique songs ever.

MUSIC is quite similar to Akai Siren in that it’s quite aggressive, and in this case we have something even worse than Akai Siren. I really think FLOW should stick with songs that are more low-key than this like WORLD END or WORD OF THE VOICE, because it’s what they do best. When they go all-out, it creates pretty annoying songs that hard to sit through.

WORD OF THE VOICE now seems like the worst single of the era, but that’s not that bad considering the other two were amazing. It’s a perfect example of what FLOW are good at and this is a song that I find very easy to listen to because it’s very soothing despite being so instrumentally powerful.

The last song on the album is Butterfly, a song that reminds me a lot of punk bands here in the West. It’s a great way to end the album because it has this feeling of “closing the curtains”, “end of the story”. And here again, we have a song that is powerful but soothing.

The bonus track is little to fret over, because it’s the ridiculously circus-like Rakuen Tengoku (Eden Paradise). It reminds me of Okuru Kotoba (their debut single) in the worst possible of ways and frankly, this song is just a little bonus added to make the CD+DVD version seem a little bit special.

I found #5 to be very enjoyable, in various ways. For one, I think it’s FLOW’s best album to date, as well as their most mature work. It’s a fun album that skips from more nostalgic tracks like SNOW FLAKE – Kioku no Koshuu - and WORD OF THE VOICE to songs that are more on the happy side, like Butterfly and ANTHEM. With the exception of the two more hardcore tracks on this album, Akai Siren and MUSIC, all the new tracks offer something enjoyable even if only a little bit, and I hope that FLOW continues to create stuff like this. It’s not perfect, but I still recommend listening this album to anyone who enjoys rock, even in the slightest bit.

News: the StyleJapan Report

I’ve been holding back on this since there isn’t all that much news to write about, but I’ve now made it come true. I just started a blog called the StyleJapan Report (horrible name, sorry), which will have the most recent news on the artists featured on this blog. The blog isn’t even an hour old as I write this, so I’ve only written one article, but there will be more coming. Go see…

I’m going to delete the “artist news” posts on this blog soon enough, and I will not transfer them. There will be weekly PVs, artist spotlights (so biographies of some sort), discussion posts, and more, in all to make the site more diverse than this one. I think I can make this blog into something good, so if you check this site every once in a while, please do the same for the other blog. Thank you for your support!



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