Tales of the Abyss – Episode 2

logo01It feels like another introduction episode, but it finally starts to pick up the pace near the end.

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Tales of the Abyss – Episode 1

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I needed something to watch, so I thought that this may be good. Yukana is in here, after all.

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Ito Yuna – trust you

Release Date: March 4, 2009

coveraTracklist:

1. trust you
2. Brand New World
3. koi wa groovy×2 -dj-passion More Passion Remix-
4. trust you -GUNDAM00 Ver.-
5. trust you -instrumental-

trust you is the newest Gundam 00 ED. Unlike your typical techo-like Gundam songs, this song is more of a typical ballad, complete with the strings. Ito seems to have more matured and stronger vocals from her older stuff (which I have on my iPod for some reason). The melody for the chorus is catchy, yet quite beautiful at the same time (the English seems out of place though…). When she reaches for the higher notes near the end of the chorus, she has so much power behind her voice and hits them perfectly (seriously, she improved so much since her 2007 stuff). The song ends with a different and longer version of the chorus, and a nice piano solo.

The B-side, Brand New World, brings us back into more Gundam like music (despite this not being part of the Gundam franchise). This song is more of the typical happy Ito style: the strong beats, fast-paced lyrics, and cheerful melody. Unlike the previous song, she seems to have more trouble reaching the higher notes, but that may be because of the sound effects. This sounds like Beuatiful World for some reason.

Though I’ve never heard the original koi wa groovy, the ×2 -dj-passion More Passion Remix- sounds really Mexican. It has the feel of a dance track (I think that’s what Ito wanted it to be). The bongo drums really bring out the party aspect out of it. I don’t think this is a song meant to be seriously listened to, but just heard while partying. Personally, it’s not my favourite song.

The Gundam 00 version of trust you is basically a TV size version.

Overall Rating:
4/5


Ikimono Gakari – My song Your song

Release Date: December 24, 2008

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Tracklist:

1. Planetarium
2. Kimagure Romantic
3. Bluebird
4. Spice・Magic
5. Kage Boushi
6. Kaeri Taku Natta yo
7. message
8. Happy Smile Again
9. Kuchizuke
10. Boku wa Koko ni Iru
11. Pugi Ugi
12. Maboroshi
13. Kokoro no Hana wo Sakaseyou
14. Kaeri Taku Natta yo -acoustic version- (Bonus Track)

Ikimono Gakari’s third mainstream album begins with the single Planetarium sets the tone very nicely. It’s very typical IG, so it allows the listeners to know what they’re going to hear in this album. Continuing the trend is Kimagure Romantic, another typical song from Ikimono Gakari.

I know that Bluebird is a single, but I never got around to reviewing it for some reason. Guess I’ll start now! This song sets a more mellow tone from the previous singles, but it’s still rather…chirpy. It has a fast paced beat, creating a sense of urgency at times.  The melody is very nice though, I must admit, though the background music doesn’t really seem to match with it. It reminds me of a Gundam song, for some reason…especially the toned down bridge near the end, before the final chorus.

Next up is the first album-exclusive track, Spice・Magic. This one has more of a calming feel to it, compared to the ‘happy happy happy’ songs previously. How do I say it…it has a more natural feeling to it. I personally am liking this song very much at the moment. It’s a very different sound from we expect from Ikimono Gakari, and it’s doing well so far. Something to note: the harmonica is missing in this song.

Ooooohhhhh, Kage Boushi also has a very different sound. It’s happy, but with a bit more edge to it, and also a bit simplier than the usual Ikimono Gakari. The melody soars in this song, something that is lacking in the usual IG songs. This really fits with the previous track; both are different sounds that the listener doesn’t expect to hear. I love the a capella part near the end; it emphasizes the main melody and creates an impact.

After two album-only tracks, we go into another single, Kaeri Taku Natta yo. It was smart of them to put this one in after the previous songs, since they have around the same sound: less typical Ikimono Gakari. After that, message brings us back into typical IG, which is slightly disappointing. Happy Smile Again is the last single of the album, and is also typical IG…

Kuchizuke has a more rock-ish feel to it, compared to Ikimono Gakari’s previous works. It has a really different sound, and it’s not a bad sound. The drums have more of a presence in this song, and the melody is edgier, with a sense of urgency. Also, the harmonica makes an appearance in this song once more…I don’t know if I should miss it or be glad it wasn’t there for a while. The guitar solo is pretty nice though, even though it is accompanied by the harmonica.

We go back into a calmer feeling with Boku wa Koko ni Iru. Unlike the previous song, this song uses the acoustic guitar and mainly focuses on Yoshioka’s vocals. The melody is more like Ikimono Gakari’s ballads, with a soaring melody, and calmer background music. Although, there is a guitar solo…not as impressive as the one in the last song though.

Drums start off the next song, Pugi Ugi. Unlike Ikimono Gakari’s previous works, this seems more rock-oriented and synth-like. It’s almost like those songs that you would hear in a movie when the people were traveling. The song is repetitive, and catchy in a way. Its tone is almost like a children’s song…I swear it’s a Japanese version of a Dora the Explorer song… Yoshioka’s vocals seemed covered up by the instrumentals though.

We slip back into a ballad with Maboroshi. I love the opening instrumentals; it just really sets a beautiful tone. The melody is smooth and very pretty; the little breaks in between the phrases suits the mood nicely. My favourite part has to be the melody in the chorus; it just brings a lot of power into the song, and just also has a jazz-like feeling to it. I think this is my favourite album-exclusive song…or maybe I’m just biased towards ballads (xD). Yoshioka’s voice seems to lose its strength on the higher notes though.

Kokoro no Hana wo Sakaseyou continues the calming feel of the previous track, but also brings back the guitar and the overall Ikimono Gakari style. Ahhhh~ the melody in the chorus is so pretty and uplifting! I think this song could be classified as a ballad too, but not as mellow as the song before it. Yoshioka’s vocals are stronger here, and she seems more in her element singing these kind of songs.

The last track of the album is Kaeri Taku Natta yo -acoustic version-. As the name states, it’s an acoustic version of one of Ikimono Gakari’s singles. I feel it loses the power behind the original, but it may be just the ‘first-time’ bias happening here.

Overall Rating:
3.5/5

Utada Hikaru – Flavor of Life

Release Date: February 28, 2007

flavor_of_lifeTracklist:

1. Flavor Of Life
2. Flavor Of Life -Ballad Version-
3. Flavor Of Life (Original Karaoke)
4. Flavor Of Life -Ballad Version- (Original Karaoke)
5. Flavor Of Life -Antidote Mix- (CD Only Bonus Track)

I am a bit biased toward the ballad version, but Flavor Of Life seems a bit too upbeat and fast for me. The background music is quite synth-like; it’s similar to her Ultra Blue music. Yes, it’s complete with the drumline and the electric…music stuff. The background vocals in the bridge are interesting though, since they aren’t in the ballad version. Also, the strain in her voice is less obvious than it is in the ballad version. The ending bridge sequence also has a more echo-y feel to it.

Flavor Of Life -Ballad Version- is the first version of the song that I heard (Hana Yori Dango!). This version is more mellow than the original, which suits the lyrics and the mood of the drama better. The background music is more acoustic, with the occasional string instruments in the background. Hikki’s voice is straining so much on the higher notes though; then again, it was recorded after her Utada United tour (singing live for 3 hours for a few months is really bad for the voice…). The ballad version just invokes more emotion.

Overall Rating:
4.5/5

I don’t really like remixes. 😀

alan – Genjou no Tani

Release Date: Feburary 4, 2008

cover1Tracklist:

1. Genjou no Tani
2. Genjou no Tani (Acoustic Version)
3. Genjou no Tani (Instrumental)
4. Genjou no Tani (Acoustic Version-Instrumental)cover

Genjou no Tani starts off with a calm introduction before the Gundam-like background music come crashing in. It actually reminds of Kaze no Tegami somehow. alan’s vocals don’t seem as strong as usual, as I can hear her falling off some of the phrases. Her calling-thingies are always a nice addition to the song though. Although, I must admit her high notes are pretty good, especially the ones in her head voice. This song gives off a really natural and green feel for some reason, but other than that, the song is nothing spectacular.

The acoustic version is, well, obvious calmer, but I like it better. It just emphasizes the naturalness and beauty of the song better. The flute was a wise choice of instruments (I just love the lower register of the flute <3).

Overall Rating:
4/5

Angela Aki – Kiss Me Good-bye

Release Date: March 16, 2006

kissmegoodbyeff12Tracklist:

1. Kiss Me Good-Bye
2. Santa Fé
3. Aoi Kage
4. Kiss Me Good-Bye -featured in FINAL FANTASY XII-

Another Final Fantasy theme song! Kiss Me Good-Bye is the vocal theme song of Final Fantasy XII (the second newest title to this cash cow franchise). This song begins with a keyboard introduction (strings accompany it) before Aki’s vocals come in. Her voice is rather soothing, and she has a nice vibrato. I feel at times she holding back on her vibrato though. Also, she doesn’t pick very good breathing spots at times. I can hear her breathing deeply in the second verse, for example. Kiss Me Good-Bye is your typical power ballad in many ways, but I still like it (stupid cash cow FF).

Next up is Santa Fé, a song sung in English. Maybe it’s just me, but singers who make it big in Japan, and then sing in English always have songs that are suggestive. Nonetheless, this song brings the edge to Aki’s voice as she sings in a slurrier way. I love the ostinato in the piano accompaniment; it brings a nice jazzy feel into Santa Fé. She seems more in style in this song; I wonder if her usual genre is like this.

Aoi Kage is a cover on some song by a British band, I believe. Can’t remember the orginal song’s name, but whatever. This song begins with a calm piano introduction (I’m starting to see a pattern here…) and it continues into the song, even as Aki’s vocals come in. It’s the only source of accompaniment, actually. Her vibrato is lacking in this song; there are places where I expected her to use it, but she sings the note flat instead. This song has a more soaring melody than the title song (the other ballad in this single too).

Kiss Me Good-Bye -featured in FINAL FANTASY XII- is the English version of the original one, as you can probably guess. This version has a calmer accompaniment; it’s just the piano and her voice in here at the beginning. I wonder who wrote the lyrics, because they don’t really connect at places.

Overall Rating:
3.5/5