Ayano Kaneko – 祝祭 ひとりでに (Shukusai Hitorideni) album

Oh Ayano, you really are the best around. While I tirelessly continue to jam to Ayano Kaneko’s 2nd full-length CD – Shukusai, which came out in April, much to my excitement the album got an acoustic rework recently. This new version is re-titled as 祝祭 ひとりでに (Shukusai hitorideni) – Festival alone(?) – as in, it’s a completely stripped down release, with Ayano singing and playing the acoustic guitar by herself. All the songs from the original Shukusai re-appear, and as I’m actually learning to play the guitar since October last year, these rearrangements motivate me real hard (though I still suck). Continue reading →

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Dance the Night Away with TWICE and the KPOP Summer 2018 (short) Summary

Barely 3 months after What is Love, TWICE reissued the EP in July, rebranding it as Summer Nights, and now that the summer is coming to an end, I’m finally getting round to write about it. Only three new songs appeared, including the main track – Dance the Night Away. The upbeat, EDM-y song did not completely win me over, though when you accept it for what it is – a light summer party banger, then I guess it’s decent? The visuals of the girls were stunning (no surprise there), the MV is enjoyable and despite the fact that the band did not promote for a long time on music shows, they continued to garner wins and got another deserved popularity boost. Continue reading →

Ayano Kaneko 2018 update – Shukusai – 2nd full-length album

The second update post about my (currently) favorite Japanese singer. The singer-songwriter/girl with an acoustic guitar shtick isn’t anything groundbreaking, as there are many artists like that in Japan (and in the Western side of things Joni Mitchell or Emmylou Harris have been doing that decades ago). Yet, while listening to Ayano Kaneko I get the feeling she’s a real talent, there’s something special about her music. Her releases continue to bring a smile on my face and the songs make me tap my feet, and that’s what counts, right? A week and a half ago 祝祭 (Shukusai – Festival) came out, which is Kaneko’s second full-length album, following 恋する惑星 (Koisuru Wakusei – Love Planet) from 2015. Continue reading →

What is Love? TWICE is.

JYP sure has struck gold with TWICE. The band’s brand of bubbly pop, sugary voices and smiley faces sells ridiculously well, while the views on Youtube reach some crazy new heights (TT is at 350 million, while the newest song is already at 74 million).
The band made a comeback earlier in April with a new EP entitled ‘What Is Love?’. The title track doesn’t really bring to the table anything groundbreaking stylistically – it’s exactly what one would expect from a hit made by Twice, and apparently, it’s exactly what the masses want, as the girls have won on most of the Korean music shows over the last few weeks. I’m kind of picky when it comes to TWICE songs – I’m constantly rocking to TT, Like Ooh AAh, and last year’s Signal and Likey, but my response to Knock Knock was lukewarm at best, and Heart Shaker is way too cringy for me (‘yeah yeah no no’) – What is Love? fits into the first group of tunes, as the song is the right sort of catchy and the music video is really cool. Continue reading →

Shiina Ringo 2017 update and Reimport vol. 2 album

I haven’t written about Shiina Ringo, my favorite Japanese female artist in a while. There wasn’t that much going on around her, and the recent years showed that cashing in on CM music is the thing she’s focused on the most. And that’s coming from a guy who thinks that Sunny (Hi Izuro Tokoro) was a decent album, Nippon is corny, but acceptable, and Ringo Expo ’14 was an enjoyable hot concert recording (a bit of a mess at times, but a hot one). 逆輸入 ~港湾局~ (Gyakuyunyū: Kōwankyoku, ‘Reimport: Ports and Harbours Bureau’), the self-covers CD, which came in 2014 was pretty cool as well. Finally, three years since the aforementioned Reimport and Sunny albums, we got a new record this December – and guess what, it’s the vol. 2 of Reimport. Continue reading →

Out of the black, into the blue – Lana Del Rey’s Lust for Life

Lana Del Fuckin’ Rey did it again. She released a new album and it’s a bewitching, breathtaking audiovisual journey as usual. The work is called Lust for Life (it rolls off the tongue well), and it already sounded like a change in artistic direction for Del Rey. No more gloom and sadness? While dark Hollywood tales still have their room on the new record, the singer seems to have accepted fame and the shit it comes with, but also she accepted herself. Familiar love stories are included, but at some  Lust for Life surprisingly gets political too, and the issues she’s trying to raise are well-thought out. Lana Del Rey is fully grown now. ‘Gone is the burden’, she says. It’s like taking off the weighted clothing in Dragon Ball Z, making your power levels spike. Continue reading →