Category Archives: Album Review

miwa – guitarissimo

There are a few things, musically, I’m prone to loving. First is genki idol music – like Guru Guru Jump by Momusu, and most of Momoiro Clover’s singles, second is American Pop-Punk, and thirdly, it’s a girl with a guitar. So, as it hits #3 – miwa’s “guitarissimo” has been my latest guilty pleasure.

 

Miwa debued last year, and her singles, hadn’t, for some reason, piqued my interest, but sometimes you have to hear songs within a context of an album to realise why they’re special – or even have the right setting around you. Picture this – a sunny Friday afternoon, walking home from work, and her latest album shuffles on through pure coincidence.

 

Oh miwa, how could I have overlooked you before? Pop-rock guitar and light vocals, you’ll make even the K-ON! girls jealous.

 

miwa will probably be best known outside of Japan as singing the 12billionth opening to BLEACH – chAngE, which although I don’t think is the best song on this album, is pretty damn catchy. This album has a lot of energy, it starts off with the rocking “Arienai!” which sounds like a mad mash of a PUFFY song with YUKI’s vocals. miwa doesn’t just do bubbly pop-punk however, she covers a range of rocky styles and seems to be a pop-rock chamelon, easily flitting between various styles (check out the vocals on hys and the beautiful ballad, Otoshimono). However, miwa’s vocals are something unbelieable – her range is not only on the “high” side, but she also has the ability to hit all the notes perfectly, without screeching (Don’t cry anymore is a good example of this). She’s also not part of that high pitched whiny singing circle which seems popular in Japan, and something which puts me off listening to full albums of high ranged vocalists.

 

The album overall is well balanced, opening on a powerful, fun song, and ending on the ballad Tsuyoku Naritai (I want to become strong), which I personally thought to be a nice touch. I have to admit, the singles are the strongest songs of the album, however, considering the majority of them weren’t massive hits (well, maybe with the exception of Don’t cry anymore which did quite well in digital sales), the album tracks definetly glue the album together.

 

A strong debut album is always a good foothold of success in Japan, as it could possibly be your only notable album. Miwa’s cracked it, and hopefully, she’ll be back sooner than later with another helping of warm summery guitar pop.

 

Recommended if you like: YUI, SCANDAL, Stereopony, YUKI

 

  1. Arienai!!
  2. Don’t Cry Anymore
  3. Friend ~Kimi ga Waraeba~
  4. Haru ni Nattara
  5. hys~
  6. Otoshimono
  7. Dear Days
  8. Samenai Yume
  9. chAngE
  10. Megurogawa
  11. Hatsu Natsu
  12. Little Girl
  13. Bokura no Mirai
  14. Tsuyoku Naritai

 

Does anyone else find the cat on album cover a bit too big and creepy by the way?

 

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BoA – Hurricane Venus

Since BoA‘s career started in the early 00’s, K-Pop and J-Pop diverged in to two very different directions, where J-Pop didn’t change much from its late 90’s RnB influence, and K-Pop began to develop more in line with modern Western Pop and RnB. So over the last few years, it’s been difficult for BoA to translate her music over both industries as she did early in her career.

So if you’re a fan of her more mellow Japanese work, Hurricane Venus provides a stark contrast of electrified Korean Pop closer in line to the American album BoA put out last year. Although this album isn’t a dance-a-thon of semi-serious tracks, it follows the template of homogenous synthy RnB-dance-pop that has taken hold in Korea, with a large number of ballads thrown in for contrast. Some of the dance tracks are absolutely fantastic piece of pop (Hurricane Venus) with fantastic hooks, but unfortunately the rest mish-mash into an electro storm of forgettable songs.

Hurricane Venus also lacks direction or feeling as an album. One minute we’re being romanced by a sweet ballad, the next it sounds like a Nuclear apocalypse siren is starting up. It’s also very noticeable that the only musical area where K-Pop seems to be stuck in… well the early nineties, to be quite honest, is with the ballads, which really adds another level of oddness to the album make up. Don’t get me wrong, thank goodness BoA has figured out how to switch the vocalizer off – but her ballads sound so dated against her raunchy electro numbers. They also cover a variety styles, with Don’t know what to say having a distinct Motown vibe, and Romance sounding like a swing/easy listening classic.

Tracklist

  1. GAME
  2. Hurricane Venus
  3. DANGEROUS
  4. Stand By
  5. M.E.O (My Electric Piano)
  6. LET ME
  7. Implode
  8. ANDRENALINE
  9. Ordinary Day
  10. Don’t Know What To Say
  11. Romance

Deathloop: Hurricane Venus (an amazing piece of modern K-Pop), Implode (Probably the best Ballad I’ve heard BoA sing), M.E.P. (My Electric Piano) (really nice contrast to all the other songs)

Overal: B-

BoA, you have a lovely voice, we don’t need you to sound like a robot. Come back with some of this energy and attitude to Japan and release an album, then we’ll be talking!