Archive for the 'Nichika' Category

Nichika: Aijou

Aijou, Nichika1. Aijou

2. A Happy New Day

Aijou is Nichika’s fourth single, released on November 26th, 2008. It most likely failed to chart.

Edelweiss can be seen as a gentle introduction to the music of Nichika, considering it has all the base elements: several intertwined layers of a melody that create a mesmerizing effect, a beautiful voice, and a gorgeous sound. Genius Party is one of Nichika’s more distinct songs, with its bizarre lyrics and its grungy sound. Atarashii Mizu (new water) was what Nichika really excels at; it’s a more complete version of Edelweiss, with fantastic lyrics, moving vocals and music, and a powerful mesmerizing melody. And Aijou (love) continues that in many ways: the vocal style, a similar pattern, and other elements make this song a sort of Atarashii Mizu – Part 2 –. I don’t think it’s quite as good as their previous single, but I’m positive that it’s pretty close. It’s a gorgeous song which, without referring to the lyrics, seems to describe both the joys and pains of love. The verses are more calm and joyful, while the way she pronounces the title during the chorus is heartbreaking every time I hear it.

A Happy New Day is another mind-blowingly fantastic B-Side of A-Side quality by Nichika. It’s very similar to the A-Side, not only structurally, but also melodically. The line kyou, kimi to suteki na yuuyake wo mita (I saw a beautiful sunset with you today) is just as gorgeous, perhaps even more, than the way Issui pronounces the title of the A-Side. I hope that for their second album they add the B-Sides, because this song is really good. The only bad thing about this song is the length (it’s seven minutes), and the instrumental section at the end lasts over a minute.

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Nichika: Nichika

Atarashii Mizu

Cream Soda

Lucy in the Sky with Parasol

Genius Party

Parallel

Painful

Edelweiss

Rye Mugibatake de Choushoku wo/Sugar Cube

Garage (Album Mix)

Aozora, Naita (Album Mix)

Akichi

Snow Hug

*****

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.

*****

Nichika is Nichika’s debut album, released on June 18th, 2008. The name Nichika means “two thousand flowers”, and is formed of a vocalist, Miyamoto Issui, and a pianist/guitarist/composer Nomura Yoichiro.

Open the album is the band’s best single, and by far their most well-written one: Atarashii Mizu (new water—single originally released on May 21st, 2008). This song made me call this band the Japanese Coldplay; just remove the U2 inspiration and add a Japanese vocalist with a beautiful, mesmerizing voice, and voilà! you have Nichika. The combination of a relaxing yet fast piano in the back with a gentle beat, added to Issui’s beautiful voice make the verses very catchy, in a distinct way. When it comes to the chorus, it’s Coldplay full throttle. The almost psychedelic base guitar is very nice and the blurred strings section adds to the mesmerizing effect of this song. About the lyrics, I don’t really know what they mean, although I caught a few sentences. If the music video is true to the general content of the song, then this song presents a descriptive criticism of racism as well as a description of solitude and rejection through that description. The music video, if you get a chance to see it, may be boring, but is actually quite smart.

Continuing the greatness of Atarashii Mizu is somewhat of a continuation of the single, Cream Soda, the best album song. It opens with some very light synth beats in the back and a relaxing acoustic guitar. Then comes a series of canons which makes this song very Joni Mitchell-like. Cream Soda has the same effect on me as Atarashii Mizu: it’s mesmerizing. Cream Soda is a perfect example of a combination of regular instruments and synth.

Lucy in the Sky with Parasol, obviously a pun on the Beatles song, but without all the drug references. It does have that moderately gritty Beatles feel to it, and brings us back to the rock of the previous musical eras. The drum beats could’ve been lighter, but otherwise, this song is enjoyable, especially the catchy chorus, which sort of surprised me.

Genius Party (single originally released on August 4th, 2007) is Nichika’s venture into alternative rock with the habitual mesmerizing effect. The vocals in the chorus are too powerful, so that should have been worked on, but the general image of the song is nonetheless left unscarred, aided by the awesome guitar solo.

Next comes the rap-y Parallel, with rap-type ad-libbing in the back. It remains relatively un-evident that there’s rapping being done in the back for the verses, which is good, since I hate rap, and the chorus drops the entire thing and makes a perfectly-executed transition into alternative.

Painful reminds me of Atarashii Mizu with the predominant piano, the relaxing drum beats, and Issui’s nice vocals. It features elements of techno, notably synth at certain parts, altering of the instruments through a computer and heavy beats during the chorus, and such maintains what Nichika has been doing so far: experimenting mixing genres with piano rock.

Their first single, Edelweiss (single originally released on February 14th, 2008) is not as good as the two singles to come, but it’s still very good. This is a rock song in the jazzy style, with a slight infusion of very silent, comupter-manipulated orgels in the background for the verses.

Rye Mugibatake de Choushoku wo/Sugar Cube (breakfast in the rye wheat field/sugar cube) is another venture into alternative rock, with the addition of Yoichiro’s piano. It was featured as the B-Side on Atarashii Mizu. Although the verses seem to be boring, the chorus makes up for that and creates an enjoyable, catchy song.

Next is the B-Side on Genius Party, Garage. It’s more gritty rock, drawing from 90s rock during the verses, with a powerful guitar riff solo which the song could’ve well done without. The rest of the song is very nice; the vocals that Issui shows on Garage demonstrate her ability to adapt her voice.

The last prerecorded song on this album, the B-Side on Edelweiss, Aozora, Naita (the blue sky cried), also features more aggressive guitar riffs, and is actually better than the A-Side with a fast-paced, Nichika-flavored chorus with Issui’s trademark moving vocals, which never cease to amaze me, making every song many, many more times better.

Akichi (empty land) is a short, relaxing interlude of less than a minute and makes the album sound like it’s going to end now, but before that, they still have the catchy, wintery Snow Hug. The repetitive, powerful beat makes even the verses catchy, but Issui’s vocal work could’ve been better for the verses. The chorus draw from 80s and 90s pop and rock, and the extended notes at the end of the chorus serve as the cherry on the perfect cake.

Nichika is absolutely amazing. I don’t think there was a single weak track on this album. I particularly liked how every track experimented with different ways of adding one genre to piano rock. Issui’s vocals are always a pleasure to hear in compound with Yoichiro’s excellent instrumental work. It’s really a shame that their two most recent single didn’t chart, even though they were both a few steps up from Edelweiss. Nonetheless, and although I may think that Nichika will probably never make it to great fame, this band has huge, really, really huge talent and potential. This is one of the world’s best albums ever.

Nichika: Atarashii Mizu

1. Atarashii Mizu

2. Rye Mugibatake de Choushoku wo/Sugar Cube (Bedroom Mix)

Atarashii Mizu is Nichika’s third single, released on May 21st, 2008. Like their previous single, it failed to chart.

I have absolutely no idea why Atarashii Mizu (new water) would fail to chart. It’s such a good song, not to mention the one that got me to love this band. Just the opening instrumental was enough to hypnotize me. Yoichiro proves his instrumental genius with this song, and Issui’s voice is as good as ever. The first thing that struck me when I heard this song was: COLDPLAY! This song sounds exactly like my favorite English-language band, just make it more gritty and remove the whole U2 imitation syndrome Coldplay has caught.

It’s too bad this is the Bedroom Mix, not the original, featured on the album, since that one is better. Nonetheless, the electronic version of Rye Mugibatake de Choushoku wo/Sugar Cude (breakfast in the rye field/sugar cube) is pretty decent, especially the chorus.

Nichika: Genius Party

1. Genius Party

2. Garage

3. NOBODY’S OFF THE HOOK

Genius Party is Nichika’s second single, released on July 4th, 2007. It failed to chart.

Genius Party is more upbeat, more well-defined and well-rounded, and just a step up from Edelweiss for Nichika, not that I disliked that song or anything. Genius Party is far more gritty and guitar-centered than their previous single, and also makes it better. But, here again, the vocals are the defining part of the song, as they are another characteristic of alternative rock. (Don’t you just love Nichika’s covers? They’re better than alan’s and AJIKAN’s combined!)

Yet another really great B-Side from Nichika: Garage sounds sort of retro and is slower than the A-Side. The first few lines don’t express themselves too much, but when the rest of the instrumentals kick in, the song becomes a lot better. It’s not that great a song, but it’s nice, and another above average B-Side.

NOBODY’S OFF THE HOOK is a cover of Rufus Wainwright’s song from his album Release the Stars. I don’t really like our homie (he’s Canadian, you see), but I like what Nichika, in particular Issui, did to it. Maybe I’ll give this song another chance, since my parents have a copy of the album.

Nichika: Edelweiss

1. Edelweiss

2. Barbie

3. Aozora, Naita

Edelweiss is Nichika’s debut single, released on February 14th, 2007. It reached #120 on Oricon, and was used as the ending theme for the weekly TV show CDTV.

Edelweiss is a very powerful debut single. It drags you in with Issui’s hazy voice and the great instrumentals provided by Yoichiro. Whereas the verses are calm, the electric guitar adds grit to the comparatively low-key chorus. Issui’s voice is a never-ceasing source of amazement for me, and it allows me to enjoy their music much, much more.

Barbie is a cover of the same song from the KT Tunstall album Black Horse and the Cherry Tree. The music is enjoyable yet tremendously bizarre. I have to say that, for someone who probably doesn’t know all that much of English, Issui does very well on pronouncing the English.

Aozora, Naita (the blue sky cried) is actually better than Edelweiss and Barbie, and makes for an overly decent B-Side. Here again, the verses are good and chorus is low-key if compared to the verses. Issui’s voice during the chorus is particularly moving and beautiful.