March 29, 2012 at 7:38 pm (Onitsuka Chihiro) (, )

  1. Sweet Rosemary
  2. Aoi Tori (青い鳥; Blue Bird)
  3. everyhome
  4. Kohaku no Yuki (琥珀の雪; Amber Snow)
  5. Time After Time(Cyndi Lauper cover)
  6. The Rose(Bette Midler cover)
  7. Hotaru (蛍; Firefly)
  8. Arashi ga Oka (嵐ヶ丘; Wuthering Heights)
  10. Watashi to Waltz wo (私とワルツを; Waltz with Me)
  11. Storyteller (ストーリーテラー)
  13. Beautiful Fighter

It’s more or less pretty well known that Onitsuka Chihiro’s condition is deteriorating, and fast. Despite having regained control of her voice after her vocal surgery after what must have been years of tough vocal training, she seems to have lost much of the power in her voice leaving her with a wispy shadow of what it once was. Her most recent album, Ken to Kaede featured interesting new styles from Chihiro, some of which were not amazingly well received by fans. Despite these, Chihiro announced that she would embark on a three-date tour; the first she’s held in ten years. HOTEL MURDERESS OF ARIZONA was advertised as having a full band led by her producer Sakamoto. Later, “ACOUSTIC SHOW” was tagged on to the end of the title, leaving just Chihiro to sing with Sakamoto on piano. This relieved some of the fears about some of the strange antics she might have displayed with a band, but it also raised other concerns about what might have caused the change. Regardless, Chihiro went into the tour with heavy expectations from fans.

The three dates were moderately received. Some fans raved about the performances, while others seemed to have been completely horrified by her performance due to her vocals, forgetfulness of lyrics, and her…well, antics. The songlist was also quite short, leaving much to be desired in that aspect. Still, the DVD was announced at the dates (original having the title HOTEL MURDERESS OF ARIZONA VOLUME OF MY GUN), although it was later delayed for a month past its original release date.

Now that the DVD is out, what do I think of it?

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namie amuro LIVE STYLE 2011

March 29, 2012 at 1:21 pm (Amuro Namie) (, )


  1. NAKED
  2. Bad Habit
  3. HELLO
  5. make it happen
  7. WHAT A FEELING(Live Remix)
  8. #1
  9. No(Live Remix)
  10. Top Secret
  11. Tempest
  12. Get Myself Back
  13. Uh..Uh..
  15. Defend Love
  16. Break It
  17. Wonder Woman
  18. Hide&Seek
  19. Queen of Hip-Pop
  20. ROCK U
  22. Higher
  24. Fight Together
  25. arigatou

I’ve really come to like Namie Amuro. When I was first introduced to her, she came off as a lazy dancer who didn’t seem to enjoy performing, and she seemed to lack creative musical talent entirely. Sure, her later albums were quite catchy and had good production, but she wasn’t the highest on my radar.

Checkmate! came out, and I was only somewhat interested in it. The new songs seemed alright, but I can only handle so much R&B. I decided to abstain from the album. Then LIVE STYLE 2011 was announced, and having largely ignored the album, I decided to mostly ignore this tour as well.

The release of the DVD sort of snuck up on me, and I was introduced to it by a few leaked clips. And, as usual, they ended up making me want to buy the DVD right away.

What did I think when I got it?

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Nier Piano Collections – USTREAM Report

March 20, 2012 at 5:52 am (Soundtracks) (, , )

1. Song of the Ancients
2. Emil
3. Hills of Radiant Wind
4. Gods Bound By Rules
5. Grandma
6. Kaine

I hold the Nier soundtrack in pretty high esteem. I hold the Piano Collections series in even higher esteem. What do I do when there is a mash-up of the two? Wake up at 4:30a.m. on a school day for a live streaming of the album, no questions asked.

Well alright, maybe a few questions asked. Leading up to the night, there were a good number of previews available for listening on the main website for the album. Was I impressed? Undoubtedly the pieces were as emotional as ever, but they were certainly not as complex or as varied as the piano collections arrangements I’ve come to know. Indeed, almost all of the previews sounded like their OST counterparts transcribed note for note to piano. Would that make some people happy? Certainly.

But not me. I wanted to hear improvisations on the themes that would bring new life to the pieces. The two piano tracks were heard on the 15 Nightmares arranged album was a perfect example of what I was looking for. I still hold that not matter how good this piano collections may turn out, the sheet music book should still contain as a bonus the sheets for those songs as well. They are GORGEOUS.

Despite the shortcomings of the samples for the Nier Piano Collections album, I still decided to brave the early hours of dawn to hear them played. What did I think?

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Akira Yoshida – Uta Utai Uta Utau

July 2, 2011 at 5:22 pm (Akira Yoshida) (, )

1. Turquoise Blue
2. Ice Cream
4. Hajimatta Bakari
5. Melody
6. Inochi wo Asobu
7. Ami ni mo Makezu
9. Kimi ni Sasagu

I came across this album quite accidentally in the iTunes store while browsing for something completely unrelated. On a whim, I previewed the opening track.  Intrigued, I previewed another. And then I was hooked.

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ayumi hamasaki – Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus Tour FINAL ~7days Special~ 3DVD

June 25, 2011 at 2:54 pm (ayumi hamasaki) (, , )

0. circus
1. THE introduction
2. Microphone
3. Last angel
4. About You
5. solitude
6. rainy day
9. Rimbaud
10. count down
11. Memorial address
12. Virgin Road
13. memories
14. Don’t look back
16. Because of You
18. Sexy little things
19. STEP you
20. Jump!
21. Lady Dynamite
22. until that Day…
23. SURREAL ~ evolution ~ SURREAL
Disc 2
24. Humming 7/4
25. Boys & Girls
26. Sweet Season
Disc 3
MC Collection
SHU-YA no Buyaki

I didn’t think I would get this tour, since I already owned many of the songs on it (and I’m so stingy with my money, after all). When it was released though, many fans were raving about how this was one of her most spectacular tours since 2006, and her voice had improved massively since the mess that was Arena Tour 2009 ~NEXT LEVEL~. I gave myself a gander at a few performances: “BALLAD”, “Microphone”, and “Last angel”. Needless to say, I decided to get it right there and then.

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Getting more out of music

June 15, 2011 at 6:29 pm (Editorials) (, )

For me, there are lots of different types of songs. Songs that I can have on repeat day after day. Songs I can only listen to in certain moods. Songs that I overplay. Songs I would never listen to, given the choice. Any given album will come with all of these songs, and you have to deal with the good and the bad. First impressions are often the deciding factor, but they’re often deceptive. I’ve assembled a few points here that I thought were important in getting the most out of all of the songs on any album that I get, physical or otherwise.

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ayumi hamasaki – Love songs DVD

June 14, 2011 at 5:29 pm (ayumi hamasaki) (, , )

2. blossom (director’s cut)
3. crossroad
4. Sweet Season
5. Virgin Road
6. Last Angel
7. Love song
8. do it again
9. MOON (making-of)
10. crossroad (making-of)
11. Sweet Season (making-of)
12. Virgin Road (making-of)
13. Last angel & Love song (making-of part 1)
14. Last angel & Love song (making-of part 2)
15. do it again (making-of)

At this point in Hamasaki’s career, one must wonder how creative the producers can get. Love songs as an album played it rather safe, and featured little experimentation compared to her last two albums. What can we expect of her music videos?

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ayumi hamasaki – Love songs

June 13, 2011 at 6:16 pm (ayumi hamasaki) (, , )

1. Love song
2. crossroad
4. sending mail
5. Last angel
6. insomnia
7. Like a doll
8. Aria
9. blossom
10. Thank U
11. Sweet Season
12. overture
13. do it again
14. November
15. Virgin Road
16. SEVEN DAYS WAR (bonus track)

Like the last ayu album, I told myself at release that I would never buy this album. Absolutely none of the singles appealed to me, and the album tracks sounder even weaker. Not to mention the cheesy title and awful looking cover (well, the CD+DVD version at least).

I was surprised though, at the way the album was received. Most fans noted the album’s great cohesiveness and flow, which seemed to elevate some of the weaker single tracks. Further, the previews had apparently done none of the songs any justice, some of which were incredibly epic or complex. I was still skeptical, but after time I came to like “Last angel” (due to its performance at AT10), so I decided to pick it up alongside AT10’s DVD.

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Why I buy my music

June 13, 2011 at 7:33 am (Editorials) (, , , )

I used to enjoy music a lot as a child. I played piano, and I often sang songs that I saw on TV, especially all those Vietnamese ones my parents listened to. After a while though, I seemed to grow out of music, and didn’t really listen to much until my early teenage years. At that point, I had discovered Dance Dance Revolution, which resparked my appreciation for the subject, although my tastes had changed considerably from listening to pretty much everything to just what was in DDR. It was my first exposure to the world of J-pop and trance and the like, and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t long before I discovered mainstream J-Pop stars Utada Hikaru and Koda Kumi (from Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy X-2, respectively). The problem was, there was no way for me to get my hands on this kind of music unless I paid inordinate amounts of money for importing, and that wasn’t an option at my young jobless age. And so I did what most others did. I downloaded.

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NieR Gestalt & Replicant – 15 Nightmares & Arrange Tracks

June 6, 2011 at 7:51 pm (Soundtracks) (, , , )

1. Song of the Ancients (Lost Androids Mixuxux)
2. Blu-bird (Hansel and Gretel)
3. Shadowlord’s Castle (Iron First mix feat. DJ-BKO)
4. Emil (Ultimate Weapon No.7)
5. Shadowlord (Crying Yonah version)
6. Emil (Piano Version)
7. Kaine (Duet Version)
8. The Wretched Automatons (A Cappella)
9. Song of the Ancients (Piano Version)
10. Shadowlord (Music Box Version)
11. The Legend of NieR: 8-bit Heroes

After a stellar Original Soundtrack that captivated me despite not having played the game, I was greatly anticipating this release. NieR 15 Nightmares & Arrange Tracks came out not long after the game did, and features a handful of arranged tracks as well as remixes found in the “15 Nightmares” DLC content (or “The World of Recycled Vessel” in America). It was also streamed live at release (almost at the same time as Utada Hikaru’s WILD LIFE concert, and I’m convinced they delayed the album stream by an hour so it wouldn’t overlap). At the end of the stream, there was also a special performance of a piano arranged version of “Shadowlord(?)” that has not been released elsewhere. Nice little touch.

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