Archive for December 7th, 2007

[Single] Keisuke Kuwata – Darling

『ダーリン』桑田佳祐
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~Tracklist~
1. Darling (ダーリン)
2. gendai toukyou ki tan (現代東京奇譚)
3. THE COMMON BLUES ~ tsukinami na buruusu (月並みなブルース)〜

~Single Review~
“Darling” was released on December 5, 2007 and debuted at number 1 on the Oricon daily chart, where it stayed the week.

“Darling” is a jazzy number with snapping backing up a bongo like percussion, with lounge-like instrumentation by keyboards backed by strings at times. The song starts well and Keisuke Kuwata’s voice comes in, fitting in well with the ambiance. The song is relaxed and cool, nothing too stressed. The bridge picks the song’s pace up a bit going into the emotional chorus which features a memorable melody. Despite Keisuke’s voice being fairly weak, it has a lot of character, which works well in this particular atmosphere. It is a superb lead track.

“gendai toukyou ki tan” is a ballad, which is another one of Keisuke’s strengths. His voice really shines through during the chorus of the song, backed by haunting violins and a happy flute. The tune during the chorus is memorable and as you reach the crescendo, the song powers up, featuring a beautiful harp. The power isn’t taken in by Keisuke (he does for one moment let his voice build before a big finale), but the instrumentation is top notch. This B-side could easily be the second A-side on the single. It’s well produced.

“THE COMMON BLUES ~ tsukinami na buruusu ~” is jazzy, perhaps overly so at times. A whole bridge is dedicated to a saxophone solo, whereas Keisuke’s voice is very gritty and low. This song is far from flattering despite being different. It provides the single with diversity alongside a solid instrumental, but besides that, the vocal performance leaves much to be desired.

Over all, Keisuke Kuwata did well with this single. His tracks are well produced, and his voice shines through on the songs with emotion. Compared to his past singles this year, however, this is not his best work. Still, you can’t ignore the first two tracks on this single, they’re nice and passionated, both in their own way.

87% B

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[Album] B’z – ACTION

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~Tracklist~
1. Junjou ACTION
2. Kuroi Seishun
3. SUPER LOVE SONG
4. Mangetsu yo Terase
5. Perfect Life
6. Isshunfuran
7. FRICTION -LAP 2-
8. ONE ON ONE
9. Boku ni wa Kimi ga Iru
10. Nan to I Shiawase
11. Warui Yume
12. HOMETOWN BOYS’ MARCH
13. Koubou
14. Traveling Man no Theme
15. Ore to Omae no Atarashii Kisetsu
16. Eien no Tsubasa
17. BUDDY

~Album Review~
Reluctantly, and with a time constraint, we review B’z’s newest album, “ACTION” which upon release on December 5, 2007, hit number one on the Oricon Chart.

“Jounjou ACTION” has a good hook and a good ending, over all, not a bad rock track. It flows well into the next track, “Kuroi Seishun,” which is a bit overwhelming; the song is emo and finishes with the lead vocalist yelling. “SUPER LOVE SONG” keeps the momentum going, rocking out with a poppy hook that’s sure to get a lot of listeners. The chorus and finale are the strength of the song, and make it a great listen for fans of J-rock. “Mangetsu yo Terase” is a bit slower and less memorable, feeling a bit bland, but still giving off some depth and emotion through the lead vocals. The next track, “Perfect Life,” is still ’emo’ sounding, but features a faster rythym. It crescendoes well, but the yelling sprinkled throughout the song might alienate a large number of listeners. “Isshunfuran” is probably the most pop-rock out of all of the songs and is very easy to get into because of it. Sadly, the track lacks the polish of, say, “SUPER LOVE SONG” and fades away, even after a few listens. “FRICTION -LAP 2-” is one of the faster paced tracks on the album so far and expresses desperation through the harder rock. The vocals are top notch (there is very little yelling present besides the extro) and the English pronunciation is good.

At this point, the album’s feel had a distinct shift with “ONE ON ONE,” where the electric guitar takes back seat to the piano. A slower paced track, that despite changing things up, feels a bit average. “Boku ni wa Kimi ga Iru” continues the slower pace of the album, with more guitar and stronger drums, leading to the feeling of more pure, unrefined emotion on the track, making it a great transition to the next track. “Nan to Iu Shiawase”‘s tempo is slow, but the song possesses a lot of power, with electric guitar and the organ giving the song a different passion then we’ve seen. The extro is a nice touch as well, making this song a notable change from earlier songs. The tempo of the album begins to pick back up with “Warui Yume,” which features good choruses and an extro based off of repetition; the final bridge is quite well arranged, too. The next track, “HOMETOWN BOYS’ MARCH” sounds silly, mainly because, well, it sounds like a marching band song. It’s different, but easily passable considering the depth many of the other songs have.

“Koubou” shifts the tone right back away from light to dark as we approach the end of the album. The song itself moves between power and soft instrumentation, well accompanied by changes in vocals. “Traveling Man no Theme” is a short song that feels light-hearted and poppy, which makes it feel really flimsy compared to other album tracks. “Ore to Omae no Atarashii Kisetsu” incorporates a poppy beat and guitar alongside rock elements, creating a song that can stand alongside earlier album tracks. “Eien no Tsubasa” is an orchestra backed song with plenty of emotion, but with vocals that I’m skeptical of (mainly because of the strain in them, when there should be none). Still, this arguably one of the better songs on the album, definitely worth a listen. “BUDDY” is a good upbeat end to the album, not much more. But is that a bad thing?

B’z’s latest album, “ACTION” is a respectable effort with many good J-rock songs. However, if you are more of a J-pop person, this album is not for you at all. Many of the songs edge towards hard rock, while others might be a bit laughable. Still, the album flows and has good production values, with many gems amongst the staggering seventeen -full- tracks. There’s no denying it’s a good listen, but B’z fans will be the people who enjoy this album the most – by far.

87 % B


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