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Three Reviews In One: Berryz, C-ute and Kikka albums

So, time for me to start reviewing again I guess. It's been a while since I reviewed anything, and my mind is wanting to get some wordcount out. So I chose to waste it on yet another thing that isn't idol bodyparts. Even though those posts seem to get me the most views. But oh well, such is life.
So yes, the albums I'm going to review are the new Berryz album, the new C-ute album, and the Kikka album that came out in January that Pete and Dean have been telling me to listen to for ages.

Guess I'll get started then.

Berryz Koubou - Ai no Album 8


Preamble: Cover is a bit bright. Also not sure what those bowtie like things are about. Somewhat hoping they can get back more to the awesomeness of the 4th, 5th and 6th albums, rather than the somewhat meh-ness of 7th album.

1. Mythology~愛のアルバム~. Must say, this title is cool as fuck. Straight away into some old Motown beats and styling. Risako's voice seems to have matured a little. It's now in parmesan territory. Bassline is nice, I do like it. VSTs for the big band aren't amazing but I suppose they're better than some of the shit Tsunku's been using lately. The vocals are pretty strong for Berryz, though most of the time I'd prefer to see them than hear them. Little guitar accents are interesting, but it's just interesting to hear this type of Motown thing out of Tsunku after hearing so bloody many of them as AKB Bsides. Luckily Tsunku actually *shock* writes them better. Vocal melodies aren't that bad actually. Guitar solo at the end is pretty sexy, lots of little soloface orgasms. Shame it faded out instead of carrying on for ages. 8/10

2. 世の中薔薇色. Some punk now. Berryz seem to get one at least every album. The main riff is shit. I hate it. The chord progressions and bassline however are cool. Vocal melodies are also cool. The little bomb in the chorus with Tsunku yelling "bokan!" is quite funny. The lead guitar in the chorus sounds fine, so why does that shitty riff in the intro and interlude sound so shit? Get a decent amp preset plz. Voices again aren't strong, but this is punk, so strong voices are pretty much heresy anyway. Also, why the fuck are they signing about a jumping shoe? I don't even know. The middle-8 is a bit huh? The solo is cool again though, seems like Tsunku's trying to surpass C-ute's 6th as guitar album of H!P's century. Still, I like. Marks lost for that fucking riff. 7/10

3. Shy boy. Well, from punk to... this. Some dark urban stylings and interesting sounds at the beginning. Vocoder in the first bit isn't too bad. Then they start using actual autotune in the verse. Kill me now. Still not found a song I can stand autotune in. PREASE. PREASE. PREASE. Can't help but take the piss. These bassdrums have been EQ'd to shit. So's the bass vst. At least it's beefy and not annoying. Trying to focus on anything except the vocals to avoid suicide. Middle-8 is trying to switch up the beat but doesn't succeed at much, except giving me false hope that it's ended early. Buildup chorus is horrible simply for having the autotuned voices front and centre. This is basically shit. 2/10

4. Because Happiness. And now we go into breathy synths! Fucking hell Tsunku, you really make me want to hate this. But the irregular vocal placements actually make me enjoy it somewhat. The music in the verse is 90s as fuck, and makes me smile remembering my youth. Chorus is really quite catchy, but then the bloody breathy synths come back in. Luckily this has pace, a generally interesting bassline, and those verse melodies. Without them I could foresee it becoming another Seishun Collection. But it's overcome that quite easily, and indeed, most other Tsunku-penned breathy synth songs. The breathy synth solo is actually quite amusing, though Berryz will NEVER top C-ute's Kiss Me Aishiteru for synth spam solo. The random quote of Pachelbel's Canon in D was a bit of a mindfuck. Still... 6/10

5. 恋愛模様. More urban beats. But quite a slow and powerful one this time. Could Tsunku finally be trying something new in his Toni Braxton series? Indeed it seems so. Vocal melodies are interesting, chord progressions are standard, but the power in that bassline is hnnnngh. The guitar VST is pretty crap. Beat isn't amazing, it is basically the bass keeping this in line. But it's a good-ish one. Shame in the Tsunku ballad-canon this isn't even near the top 10. Or even top 20. Kibou no Yoru is still my favourite Berryz ballad. This doesn't even come close. Still, I don't mind it considering its urban stylings. 6/10

6. 愛の弾丸. I think when I did my Year in Review I thoroughly underestimated this song. Vocals are stronger than Berryz usually manage. Guitars and bass are strong as fuck. Drums aren't too bad. And in an mp3 I can actually hear the little trance-y synths hidden in the youtube soundquality. Riffs aren't bad, chord progressions are good. Plus the PV has them wearing fucking PVC. Phwoar. Eh. So yeah, gonna adjust my score a little for this one, because it's actually the best song on this album so far. Guitar solo's also quite worth a few strokes of the cock. Buildup chorus is also quite pounding. All in all, good. 9/10

7. 甘酸っぱい春にサクラサク. On the other hand, my score for this from the Year in Review doesn't budge one bit. Boring, uninspired, dull excuse for a Sakura song. Bassline is boring as fuck. Beat is shit. The melody line for the intro is boring. Vocal melodies aren't particularly inspiring either. Prechorus isn't as bad, but chorus is best part of the song. Even so, it's not amazing or particularly good. Even more outrageous is that it's on both the Berryz and C-ute albums. Saves me writing the same thing twice though I guess. Guitar "solo" is fucking dreadful. Really, I'm being nice with this rating. 4/10

8. 新しい日々. This is an interesting intro, sounded like it'd build up into something amazing. Instead it build up into something that sounds like it came off AKB's stage albums or something (one of the few songs from the stages I don't like, anyway). Really quite boring. Instrumentation is quite uninspired, the bass drum is way too loud. Bass VST sounds a bit like Tokyo Girls' Style's flatline bass. Vocal melodies are useless. The guitar solo is interesting, but it's over some weird as fuck beat, so it's no good. Really don't like this song. 3/10

9. ああ、夜が明ける. Not this again. Piano intro is decent, then we get another flatline bass that sounds like someone's jumping on it to produce sounds, rubbish drums, shitty string VSTs, and the voices are way too loud in the mix (and not even particularly strong). Chorus is really quite bad. Trying not to flame it more than I already have. Bandmate has put it better than I can. 3/10

10. 青春劇場(Berryz工房 Ver.). Ah, nice piano to start with, that's better. No flatline bass raping my ears. The male voice is too good to be Tsunku, surely. Not a bad ballad. The vocal melodies are nice. I like the cello too. On the other hand, the lack of distinction between phrases is disturbing. Chorus seems to be pretty similar to the verse, which is boring. Mid-8 is pretty boring too. Still, middlingly good. 5/10

Overall: Only ten tracks? Some kind of ripoff, surely. Not even 45 minutes worth of music. This album started quite well (except for the horrible Shy boy), but then faded off dramatically towards the end. Quite disappointed, ends up as the worst Berryz album I've ever reviewed. Still, hasn't quite plumbed the depths that Momusu (Fantasy), C-ute (Shocking 5) or Buono! (partenza) have charted yet. I suppose Berryz can take heart from that.

5.3/10

C-ute - Dainana Shou "Utsushikutte Gomen ne"


Preamble: Cover looks very bright. Colourful as hell seems to be the way for C-ute this time, after Chou Wonderful's robotic look of the future. So, how can the music stack up? I doubt it'll be anywhere near the heights Chou Wonderful achieved, but we shall see...

1. 桃色スパークリング. Happy happy happy happy happy. Not too bad a song, but it's just a bit too major key. Bit too nice. Lacks the edge that much of Chou Wonderful had. On the other hand, the instrumentation is better than most of the good songs on Berryz' album. Vocals are, to be honest, too high pitched for what is H!P's vocal powerhouse group. Chorus syncopation on the bass is annoying. Chuchuchuchuchuchuchuchuchuchuchu too much. Mid-8 isn't amazing. Or even good. Still, ranking this as C-ute instead of some random group I can't be too nice to it. It's not amazing for them. 6/10

2. ひとり占めしたかっただけなのに. Intro sounds cool, then doesn't disappoint me into the main body. Guitar and synths and interesting little beats, then dark bass synths and guitar sex with so much reverb and hnngh. This is what I like C-ute doing. Vocal melodies fit nicely over the music. Chisa's voice owns this song. Chorus is interesting and nice. These dark synths are doing nice things to my brain. Guitar bits are still winning. Mid-8 has some interesting little synths that build up into... prog metal? Or something akin to it. I do like it, but would have liked it longer and with a guitar solo. Still, this song is full of sex. 9/10

3. 行け!元気君. A C-ute album with no Airi or Maimi solos... this could be interesting. It has Maimai, Chisa and Nakky solos, which might also be interesting. This one is Maimai's. The intro riff isn't bad. Sounds like something The Possible would get. The pianos in the verse are cool. Maimai's vocals are still pretty weak. Tsunku isn't helpful. Still, the 50s surf-rock stylings are quite nice, especially the major key guitar licks. The walking bass isn't bad. Chorus isn't as anthemic as it seems to think it is. Still, nice and upbeat. Shame about her voice. Lyrics seem quite funny though. Not enough solo. 7/10

4. 世界一HAPPYな女の子. This opening bass is sex. The pace and major-keyness remind me of Momoiro Sparkling, but it's much better. Shows off their vocals better, the music has more cool elements. Harmonies gain many marks. Rapping bit in the prechorus is also quite cool. The structure of this song is quite interesting, as the Verse and Prechorus seem linked, yet are separated by the Preprechorus, which sounds more linked to the chorus. Odd choice, but all in all I think it works nicely to break the song up more. Good call Tsunku. Solo is pretty slow and not amazing, but it follows the music well enough and doesn't sound out of place. (copied and pasted most of that from Year Review but makes sense). 8/10

5. ズンタカマーチ~人らしく生きよう~. Silly title is silly. Song is odd. Vocal party basically. Chisa and Airi showing their chops off. The music is pretty boring. Supposed to be a march, but isn't until the "chorus". Might be the verse. The arrangement of this song is fucked up. Still, nice for hearing the girls voices clearly and some of what they can do. Shame the music is a bit naff. Chisa's growling and Airi's voice cracking are the obvious highlights. Still, because the music is pretty naff and all over the bloody place, can't give it an amazing rank. 6/10

6. 都会のネオンが驚くくらいの美しさがほしい. Chisa's solo. Quite dark and urban by the sounds of the start. Showing off some of her more midrange vocals here. Not a bad vocal performance, but the music doesn't do much. Chord progressions are rubbish. Vocal melodies are okay, but the bass is flatlining and meh. The best thing about this song is that it's the shortest on the album. Shame Chisa's been given this, she could have done with something darker, grimmer and allowing her to shine better. Plus there's autotune in it. Why is it needed in C-ute? I have no fucking idea. Could have been much much better. 4/10

7. 輝け!放課後. Nakky's solo. Some weird synth, but the bassline is quick and the tempo is good. Nakky can't sing nearly as well as anyone else in C-ute (even Maimai is better), but this song doesn't need skills really, just ability to have fun. And Nakky's no slouch at that. Bassline in the chorus is really quite cool. Not an amazing song, most of the marks will come from the bassline and the tempo, but it's a nice little happy song and I like it. Middle-8 is a bit naff, guitar solo is shit. Still, fun. 6/10

8. 幸せの途中. Last song on this album really, which means it was far too short. Still, piano ballad buildup is nice. Vocal melodies and harmonies are nice. C-ute are the only main group who can pull off harmonies nowadays. Miss the days when it was the norm rather than rare as hell. Chorus is nice and slow. Again, not the greatest ballad ever, but it's nice enough and a good way to see off the album before we get to the recycled crap. Mid-8 is pretty meh I must say. 8/10

9. 甘酸っぱい春にサクラサク. Not writing for this again. 4/10

10. 青春劇場(℃-ute Ver.). Not much to note here either except that the music is slightly better (addition of acoustic guitar helps) and that the vocals are (obviously) stronger. The bass is stronger, but the general basics are the same as the Berryz version, and it hasn't done enough to improve the score any. 5/10

Overall: Quite a comedown from Chou Wonderful. But not as bad as Shocking 5. Pretty close to the middle. Disappointed with the lack of effort put into both this and the Berryz album by Tsunku. Only ten songs on each of them, and only 6 new songs for each album, is quite rubbish. Could do with better next time plz.

6.3/10

Kikkawa Yuu - One For YOU!

 
Preamble: Absolutely no idea what to expect from this album, having not heard any of her singles and only one concert rip of a Bside from her first single (at least, I think that was it). So I'm a complete Kikkavirgin. Will it impress me, or will it leave me with the same impression as most of Manoeri's crap? We shall see.

1. ~Ignition~. Well, this is interesting, judging by the length it's just an intro track, don't see many of those on idol albums. The music, when it comes in is quite dark and dance-y and I like it. The snares speed up and it starts to crescendo into nothingness. 8/10

2. こんな私でよかったら. This starts out with an interesting beat. Reminds me briefly of salyu, but not quite insane enough. Her vocals are certainly stronger than Manoeri's, and far less boring. When the main bit of the music comes in it's quite upbeat and dance-y, not bad so far. Return to the piano and guitar for the verse, but with dance beat behind it is quite cool. Mid-8 is pretty much an extension of the chord prog of the chorus, then breaks down in to a keychange verse version and my brain is becoming interested. Then chorus again. This song seems longer than it actually is. Dunno if that's good considering usually I can listen to twenty minute long songs as if they're nothing. Oh well. 8/10

3. Sweetie. Well, this starts nicely, but when the fullscale stuff comes in it becomes worse. Kikka's voice sounds a bit worse in this song. Seems to be sitting too high above the music in the mix, and almost sounds as if they tried plugging it through a waveformer in order to add some fake-vibrato to it. The chorus is fun, and I like it. She's quite high pitched though. This is quite odd. Now they've ran her through a compressor. These engineers need to figure out what sounds good on her voice and stick with it. Not sure if I like it or not. 6/10

4. きっかけはYOU! Sounds like a clusterfuck at the beginning there. Hard to pick out the individual elements and doesn't sound particularly amazing. The vocal melodies aren't seeming too amazing either, but her voice fits more naturally in this song. The bassline is a bit bulky for the instrumentation though. Not quite flatlining, but about as close as you can get without it hurting the ears. Chorus vocal melodies are better. Having the string VST playing the same one note every crotchet irritates me in the intro and the interlude. Mix it up some please. Crotchet, minim, quaver, quaver maybe? Or, you know, change note. The mid-8 is okay, refrain vocal melodies the best in the whole song. Still, not overly impressed with this one. 6/10

5. Knight Flight. Starts off with some nice lounge-y piano, Kikka's voice fits over this nicely. Some quite interesting little barely noticeable key shifts in the chorus (I call it chorus, might not be). This has odd chord progressions anyway. Quite intriguing. Certainly better than the ballads I reviewed in C-ute and Berryz albums so far, just for throwing my brain into trying to identify the little mode and key switches. This actually reminds me of 9nine's first album a little. Not in terms of any of the songs on there, but just the approach to it, which seemed to consist of trying to alter the listener's brain quietly without them noticing. The guitar solo is restrained and not bad. I think I'll give this song a nice high mark. 10/10

6. Time to Zone. Acoustic indie guitar styling with some dance beats, and Kikka with some strong vocals over the top of it. Keeping the indie guitars going through the intro, through the verse and keeping going is silly. Chorus is nice though. Vocal melodies are quite good. Not an amazing song, quite bland actually, but the pace and energy keep it going above average. Mid-8 is actually cool as hell. Buildup chorus too. Another of those slightly-better-than-average songs. 7/10

7. 会いたくなったら. Starts off nicely with a very good vocal melody and piano bit, then the bass comes in and is also good. I like this. Midpaced, but musically quality. The little strings over the guitar are pretty, and put one in mind slightly of later-era Beatles. Just with a female singer and less drugs. Still, all is in place on this song and the only way to describe it is "nice." It's just a song that puts one in a slightly blissed out mood. It's also fucking long for Jpop. It's probably the closest Jpop song I've heard, stylistically, to Tabidachi no Uta by Buono. Of course, it's not quite that awesome. Nothing is. Still, this is awesome by any other measure. Mid-8 little synth solo is interrupted by Kikka singing, which is an interesting choice which works. Then an acoustic solo which is quite cool, not amazing but it works. Buildup chorus is sex. Another little acoustic solo on the outro is nice. One of the best ballads I've ever heard in Jpop. 10/10

8. 水色. Ooh, electric guitar. Good riff. And we're at rock. The bassline is cool, the drums are quite good. Her voice fits with rock too. So, rock and ballads, that should be her mission. Seems to suit her well. Nice when she goes into the falsetto. The chorus itself is cool. She's not quite as strong as Mana or Airi, but Kikka is actually impressing me with the strength of her vocals here. The mid-8 is a nice little break from the rock, then the buildup chorus is somewhat muffled before breaking through, which is a nice effect and works perfectly. 8/10

9. ヒラヒラ星. This intro is annoying. Too new age pad, doesn't sound natural enough. Song is pretty bland too. The ingredients are all there, but the speed isn't there to mix them in together properly. Might work at 30-40bpm higher. As it is, it's too slow, and thus seems lethargic. Drags, basically. Vocal melodies are pretty boring. Autotune is present, in small enough qualities and hidden far enough behind the music for me not to care too much. Plus it seems to fit in this kind of music. Plus the music's already pretty boring so taking more marks off for autotune seems a bit pointless. The stupid amount of room and reverb on the buildup chorus is ridiculous. Then key change, and even more autotune. Really, the worst on the album so far. 3/10

10. さよなら涙. Voice and piano intro again, with some minimal strings. Vocal melody is good, and this is quite cool, and has pace. Then slows down. Bassline is good. Vocals are good. The hammond organ is playing way too high. Guitars are quite buried in the mix but all works well together. Not the best song here, but certainly it's nice enough. Mid-8 is a nice little break up. Hardly anything to moan about. Buildup chorus has some interesting placement of rests and works well. 8/10

11. ありのままの I LOVE YOU! Odd beat at the start, and then some urban stuff. Luckily the bassline is good. The vocal melodies aren't particularly good. Chorus is more of the same, just the voice slips into doubletime or something. It's not a particularly good song. The beat is actually quite irritating, standing as it does higher in the mix than anything else. And being formed of a really terrible vst. Mid8 is horrible, to put it mildly. Didn't take long for a new worst on the album. Both marks are for the bassline. 2/10

12. ハピラピ~Sunrise~. So, one of the singles. At least, I think it was. It's already stupidly happy. The little happy-saw synth is amusing. The vocal melodies aren't bad, the instrumentation isn't bad, the pace isn't bad. But it's not amazing. Chorus isn't quite hooky enough. It's like they were so obsessed with making it more major key than anything should be and then didn't have enough time to think of a good hook. The bassline is quite good though. The happy-saw solo is actually pretty good. Buildup chorus is better than the normal chorus. Keychange is lol. More keychanges on this album than Westlife have. Still, average. 6/10

13. ハコの中のブルー. What the hell is this amazingness? Straight away sounds like an anime song. Good guitars and some little screaming, the keys are good, beat is good, bass is sitting in its rightful place at the feet of its guitar master. Kikka's vocals are good for this kind of thing. I like. Random switchup mid-chorus keeps it fresh. Second verse opening with cool strumming pattern. Drums are powerful and I like it. This is another of those nice little mindfucks that comes around once every so often. But this album has had two. Good stuff. Keychange, then breakdown, then buildup, then another keychange? This is just awesome. No cadence ftw. 10/10

14. Make YOU! This starts out odd but gets some guitars and becomes a bit nicer, but the beat is quite weedy and boring. Vocal melody is good though. Prechorus is better than the verse. Chorus is pretty meh though. Another that doesn't have a particularly good hook. Also, might just be me but her voice sounds weaker here than it does on most other songs where she isn't being run through random compression, echo, room, reverb or vocaloid software. Maybe they tried pushing her to sing a bit too high. Who knows. Not amazingly bad, but quite an average song. Guitar solo starts terrible, improves slightly, then gets good. Buildup chorus is pretty meh. 5/10.

Overall: A lot better than I expected actually. Not that I expected much at all. Some very good songs, along with a couple of shit ones, and a few boring middle-of-the-road ones. If this album had been a few bad songs shorter, it could have achieved a very respectable score. As it is, it'll have to settle for what it gets. Still, given me hope for her future, she's a decent vocalist, now she just needs a whole album of amazing material for her to belt over.

7/10

1 comments:

  1. good reviews dude, glad you took a chance on Kikka's album and was impressed she scored 3 songs rated 10 lol. Not heard the Berryz or C-ute yet but 10 songs is short by the usual standards

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