I tried reviving this blog, and I guess something just didn’t feel right to me…
So I started a new one. The URL’s a lot shorter too, so it’s not as much of a hassle to type out!
Also I am leaving “Yoruko” behind and using my new handle name, “Cybacle”.
Update your links (for those of you who still follow me) and come visit me at Iindesu yo. :)
…I don’t know, you tell me?
I stopped writing in this blog for over a year since I got bored of reviewing music and I felt like this blog was going nowhere.
I started my personal blog, Cosmic Soup, since I wanted to give non-music focused blogging a try. I guess in the end, music (and critiquing it) is such a big part of my life that I can’t help but return to it.
Until next time! :)
I usually don’t attend concerts unless I am very familiar with a large body of the performer’s work, but seeing how I had decided to go to Anime Expo for all four days this time around, I decided to live a little.
Nirgilis was never big on my anime song radar – they did the odd theme here or there that I liked, but as far as I was concerned didn’t exist outside of those songs. I downloaded their discography hoping to get into them more, but not much of their work stood out for me. Despite this, I was curious to see if they could pique my interest more in a live setting.
aozorafantasii – Flight
(released June 16th, 2010)
1. 旅 ~My Own Road~ [Tabi ~My Own Road~]
2. I’m Yours
3. Lonely City
4. ばらの花 [Bara no Hana]
5. You Don’t Know
6. Spell Left Unspoken
7. Sea of Stars
8. Across the Universe
aozorafantasii’s debut indies mini-album. Her real name is Lisa Qin, a Chinese American who studied at UC Berkeley, and then went to Japan to pursue her dream of becoming a singer. From what I gather, she teaches English there, holds street lives, and continues to upload her original songs on YouTube. I’ve been a fan of her since 2008, so I’m excited to review an actual CD release of hers.
The album opens appropriately with Tabi ~My Own Road~, a song about starting off on a new journey. This was a song I loved from her pre-debut YouTube/MySpace days, and it’s a mellow acoustic song with a melody that doesn’t really “peak” anywhere but gives that feeling of walking or traveling through a quiet countryside. Lisa’s voice is smooth and calming, and the editing makes her sound clearer and more polished without any obnoxious auto-tuning. I have serious issues with the mixing though – the guitar sounds way too subdued and limp and lacks the character of her rough YouTube version.
I’m relieved at least the guitar part wasn’t murdered in her cover of Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours. I always feel a bit weird about artists covering songs sung by other genders since the lyrics might feel mismatched, but it’s not that bad here. Still, it’s not the most remarkable cover of a pop song. It’s pretty, but not something I’d listen to again and again. I feel like her voice is a bit too calm for this song, and drags a little.
Lonely City is a Lisa original that actually benefited greatly from the processing. The guitar sounds much livelier and more rhythmic. The harmonies in some parts are improved on as well. This song is one of my favorites from her, as I can identify with the lyrics sometimes – feeling of being lonely in a busy city. Another reason is probably because the verse melodies remind me a bit of the catchy pre-chorus from Hilary Duff’s “Wake Up”, but I digress. Lisa also sounds a lot more heartfelt in this version. Lonely City is a beautiful, simple song that doesn’t get boring no matter how many times I listen to it.
Next we have a cover of Quruli’s Bara no Hana. Having never heard of the original before, I checked it out before listening to Lisa’s version. The original sounds like those Japanese rock bands my friend Steven loves, and Lisa’s rendition caters more to my taste. While the accompaniment is a bit plain and only has acoustic guitar (I miss the repeating loop in the original), Lisa’s voice gives the song a more bittersweet touch, and I definitely prefer her voice for this melody.
You Don’t Know is probably the closest she can get to mainstream American pop (think the more acoustic-based artists, like Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat). It’s one of her originals that’s completely in English, and it’s a breezy song about crushes and not being able to confess. It’s got a pleasant rhythm that makes me feel like tapping my foot along, and would be a great summer track. Definitely better than her YouTube version, since it’s faster and more lighthearted.
I was rather surprised that Lisa decided to cover a Vocaloid song, but Spell Left Unspoken hit a bit of a sour note with me. Being rather fond of the cute Megurine Luka original, this stripped down version just doesn’t cut it for me. Lisa’s voice is pretty as usual, but that’s all there is to this song. The guitar is really weak just like in Tabi, and this cover doesn’t seem to carry any of the life that made the original so charming. At least add some piano (the piano line in the Luka original was one of the highlights of the song)?
I remember Sea of Stars being that one song that was a departure from Lisa’s usual style, as it ditches the guitar completely and goes for more of an R&B-inspired sound, and I thoroughly loved it. This revamped version is even better – a more solid beat that could make this song border on danceable, synths to mimic the sound of the ocean, and the piano line made more prominent. Lisa’s voice slips smoothly into this type of song without any trouble and she handles both lower and higher registers with ease. Definitely the high point of the album, and here’s to hoping she’ll make more songs like this someday!
The album closes with a cover of The Beatles’ Across the Universe. Nothing can touch the classic, but this is a very good interpretation. Lisa’s voice hits all the right spots for me in this one and the delivery overall is excellent. While I love the guitar riff the original opens with, the brief a capella entrance was great. Both melody and backing were performed cleanly, and I liked the relaxed summer evening feel this cover gave.
Final Thoughts: Lisa’s definitely got talent in both singing and songwriting, but I don’t think she’s ready to make her mark on the scene yet. This album reminds me very much of Gregory & the Hawk’s “In Your Dreams” album, as both contain songs that are very skeletal, but Lisa needs something that will help her stand out more. Her songs would definitely do better a bit fleshed out, and I really wish she had put more of her originals on this album instead of padding them out with covers – what happened to Rainy, Goodbye Song, Ameagari, etc…? There are several songs that I thought should have made the cut, but that’s a rant for another day.
Favorite Track(s): Lonely City and Sea of Stars by a long stretch, and maybe Bara no Hana. I’m on the fence with that one.
Overall Grade: B+
yoshiki*lisa – Destin Histoire
(released March 2nd, 2011)
1. Destin Histoire
2. 限りある世界で [Kagiri Aru Sekai de]
3. Destin Histoire (instrumental)
4. 限りある世界で (instrumental)
yoshiki*lisa’s debut single. The title track is the long-anticipated opening theme for the anime series GOSICK. I almost thought the singer was a rocker (along the lines of Cherryblossom) from her stage name, but it turns out that she was a former gravure model known as Yoshiki Risa.
I loved Destin Histoire the moment I heard it play while watching GOSICK, and the full version does not disappoint. The track starts off with a brief piano intro and the guitars come in. yoshiki*lisa’s voice is thin and risks sounding nasal but it’s pleasant enough. The song’s melody and composition are probably the true gem – it’s just a simple pop-rock backing with a clean nostalgic melody and there’s just the right amount of hope and sadness. The bridge section was lovely as well. Ah, I really miss anime songs like this. I also liked the random French bits thrown in the lyrics, my favorite being “La clef à verité” (key of truth)
Kagiru Aru Sekai de sounds like it would make a good ending song – it’s pretty much the more relaxed counterpart to Destin Histoire. It’s got similar accompaniment and I definitely like the singer’s voice a lot more in this one, since her vocal delivery is a lot clearer and she doesn’t sound as strained when she’s belting. Though the song isn’t as memorable and lacks the emotional impact as the first track, it’s still a solid B-side. Overall, a good debut single.
Overall Grade: A-
Felt like procrastinating a bit.
|Ultimate Music Survey
Created by amp7325 and taken 13641 times on Bzoink
|What is your favorite genre of music?:||J-Pop|
|Why?:||has more variety than American pop|
|Name your favorite band(s):||Bump of Chicken, Kalafina, Paramore|
|Name your favorite solo artist(s):||Imogen Heap, Rurutia, Sakamoto Maaya|
|What is your favorite album?:||Sakamoto Maaya’s Shounen Alice|
|What is your favorite album cover?:||most of Rurutia’s CD covers|
|Name your favorite song(s):||yoshiki*lisa – Destin Histoire|
|Favorite CD you own:||Mizuki Nana’s Dream Skipper|
|Favorite song on your computer:||A-ha – Question of Lust (Depeche Mode cover)|
|Favorite song you DON’T have:||Selena Gomez – A Year Without Rain|
|Favorite lyrics:||Joanna Newsom – Peach, Plum, Pear|
|Favorite vocalist:||too many to name|
|Favorite guitarist:||no real preference|
|Favorite bassist:||Nikki Monninger of Silversun Pickups|
|Favorite drummer:||Kim Pine from Scott Pilgrim… lol|
|Favorite instrumentalist (any instrument not mentioned above):||Imogen Heap! such a talented multi-instrumentalist :)|
|Favorite classical / jazz composer:||Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky|
|Favorite rapper:||N/A… not a fan of rap in general|
|Favorite theatrical score:||Laputa: Castle in the Sky|
|Favorite of anything not mentioned:||Hilary Duff’s songs are my favorite guilty pleasure|
|The bad stuff|
|What’s your least favorite genre of music?:||Rap, lots of anime charasong stuff|
|Who’s your least favorite band?:||any super moe seiyuu unit|
|Who’s your least favorite solo artist?:||Hirano Aya|
|Who do you think is the most annoying musician?:||Miley Cyrus, for her public image more so than music|
|If you could shoot any “artist” or “band”, who would it be?:||Jason Derulo, for that “Whatcha Say” monstrosity|
|Who do you think is the least talented?:||there are too many to name as well|
|Least favorite song:||most of the generic pop crap in America|
|Most annoying song:||Toyosaki Aki – GO!GO!MANIAC|
|Most repetative song:||Eiffel 65 – Blue. Love that song though.|
|Last song to be stuck in your head:||Depeche Mode – Precious|
|Did this survey just get that song stuck in your head again? (sorry):||It’s not a bad song, so I don’t mind.|
|Worst band that used to be good?:||not a band, but… I prefer YUI’s older material a lot more|
|A good band that used to suck?:||fripSide. well, they were just kind of unmemorable before|
|Your musical backgroun|
|What was the first music you remember listening to?:||Swan Lake soundtrack|
|What type of music do your parents listen to?:||classical, some old Chinese pop from their generatioin|
|Do you play any musical instruments, or sing? If so, elaborate.:||I used to play viola & piano, and I sing a bit|
|Do you take lessons for instruments or voice? If so, for how long?:||piano – 4 years, viola – 5|
|Do you plan to / have you gone to college for music?:||nope!|
|Who are your musical inspirations?:||Vienna Teng, Gregory and the Hawk|
|Who was your first favorite band or artist?:||Avril Lavigne|
|Who is your most recent favorite band or artist?:||Takagaki Ayahi|
|What styles of music are you interested in learning about?:||I’m really open to most types…|
|What styles of music do you already know a lot about?:||J-Pop for listening, classical for playing|
|Do you know much about musical theory? If not, would you like to?:||decent, but I’m rusty|
|If you take lessons, do you like your teacher(s)?:||I liked most of my music teachers.|
|How many different music teachers do you have, or have you had?:||piano – at least 3?, viola – only 1|
|This or that|
|Classical or jazz?:||classical|
|Classic rock or modern rock?:||modern rock|
|Rock or Rap?:||rock|
|Emo or Punk?:||punk, but both are good if done correctly|
|Funk or Blues?:||neither, but leaning towards blues|
|Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin?:||neither|
|Bob Marley or Michael Franti?:||neither|
|Coldplay or Radiohead?:||on the fence with this one|
|Guster or Dispatch?:||don’t know|
|John Mayer or Jack Johnson?:||Jack Johnson|
|Eminem or 50 Cent?:||eh, neither|
|Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera?:||both|
|Backstreet Boys or N’SYNC?:||N’SYNC|
|The Beatles or the Rolling Stones?:||The Beatles|
|Beethoven or Mozart?:||both|
|Rachmaninoff or Debussy?:||hmm, depends…|
|Duke Ellington or Count Basie?:||don’t know|
|Electric or acoustic?:||acoustic|
|Mandolin or ukulele?:||ukulele|
|Saxophone or trumpet?:||saxophone|
|Why do you like music?:||it’s interesting and creative and fun. sorry I couldn’t give a better answer|
|When you’re angry, what type of music do you listen to?:||loud rock|
|Has music ever made you cry? When?:||yes, Gackt’s Last Song|
|Has music ever made you laugh? When?:||yes, at most of The Lonely Island’s songs|
|Do you like local music?:||haven’t checked out the scene yet|
|What is the best show you have ever been to?:||Vienna Teng’s live back in June 2009|
|Have you ever played in any shows?:||if you count being in orchestra in school|
|If so, what type of music was it?:||classical, contemporary instrumental|
|Do you enjoy being on stage?:||yes|
|Do you like to sing, even if you don’t consider yourself a singer?:||yes|
|If you could meet any musician and ask them for advice, who would it be?:||I’d like to ask many of my favorites for advice.|
|If you could just chill with any musician, who would it be?:||Marina & the diamonds. Would be a fun day|
|What instrument that you don’t play now would you like to learn next?:||harp|
|Do you like foreign types of music? If so, what types?:||huge fan of J-Pop <3|
|You’ve been totally Bzoink*d!
Take This Survey | Search Surveys | Create a Survey
I can’t remember the last time I anticipated a J-Pop song’s full release so much.
Destin Histoire, the opening to the anime GOSICK and the debut single of newcomer yoshiki*lisa (unless that’s just another name for a previously released singer) has been my obsession for the past two weeks.
The song reminds me of why I got into anime music in the first place, it’s everything an anime opening should be. It’s hard to describe, but it’s got the whole lighthearted opening/”welcoming you” feel with a slightly sad undertone. The melody is catchy with a nostalgic tint to it. The singer’s voice is not particularly amazing, but it suits the song well.
This is going to become one of those anime “classics” on my iPod in the years to come, by that I mean a song that I’ll never get tired of, a perennial favorite. There was Younha’s Houkiboshi in 2005, supercell’s Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari in 2009, and I’m pretty sure Destin Histoire will snag the 2011 spot.
Download the TV size here if you stumble upon this post after YouTube deletes the video. You’ll need an account, but the site is free.
The full single for Destin Histoire is out March 2nd.
Tomatsu Haruka – motto☆hade ni ne!
戸松遥 – motto☆派手にね!
(released October 29th, 2008)
1. motto☆派手にね! [motto☆hade ni ne!]
2. シアワセサガシ [Shiawase Sagashi]
3. motto☆派手にね! (TV edit)
4. motto☆派手にね! (instrumental)
Tomatsu Haruka’s 2nd single. The title track is the opening song of the anime series Kannagi, in which Tomatsu also voices the lead character Nagi.
motto☆hade ni ne! opens with a brass band-esque intro and is a cheery pop number. Tomatsu’s voice sounds rather strained in several parts, but her energy seems to make up for it. The chorus is infectious and catchy, which doesn’t hurt. The only part that didn’t quite sit right with me was the awkward bridge section. Overall, this track tends to have a “stage song” feel and I would love to see it performed live (with real backup singers, instead of the cheesy tinny backup vocals here).
I like the arrangement of Shiawase Sagashi much more, probably because it has a more organic sound. The same cheesy backup vocals from motto are still present, but this track is much more laid back. I feel like I’m taking a stroll through a park on a sunny day and a jazz band is lined up among the trees. Tomatsu’s singing in a cutesier voice here, but she doesn’t sound as forced, and I’m rather enjoying her “la la la” lines.
Finally, the single has the TV edit of motto☆hade ni ne!. It’s a decent cut, but I’m not sure I agree with just fading out with the vocal note at the end. It would have ended much better had the instrumentals played a bit after the chorus before fading out.
Favorite Track: Shiawase Sagashi
Overall Grade: B
Am I late jumping on the train or what? I’m sure those of you who are clued into the anime circuit remembered the hype of the cute 4th opening to Bakemonogatari – Renai Circulation by Hanazawa Kana.
And I’m pretty sure those of you who remember the song also associate it with the viral dance meme. However, what interested me wasn’t the various dance covers (often featuring awkward lumbering otaku pretending to be Japanese schoolgirls) but the vocal covers. It’s not too hard to wave your arms and jump up and down like a bear on hot coals, but to sing the cutesy melody and chatter away adorably at the equally cutesy rap section… I was curious to see who could pull it off.
Unfortunately, sifting through YouTube for vocal covers of a popular anime song is akin to thrifting – you have to go through a bunch of garbage before finding a few gems.
Luckily for you, Yoruko has endured the countless wannabe-J-Pop idols shrieking in her Sony MDR-NC7’s so you can just sit back and enjoy these three wonderful Renai Circulation song covers of varying nature.
HAN0N1viBritannia’s karaoke version
Props for actually doing the full version, most cover singers are usually too lazy and stop at TV-size. Her voice quality is like a softer rendition of Hanazawa’s, and while she isn’t a particularly strong singer and tends to mumble a bit, her adorable lisp has character. I just want to give that voice a tight hug :)
Osamurai-san & acane_madder’s acoustic version
Osamurai-san plays the guitar and harmonica in this, with acane_madder on vocals and piano. acane’s pitched this down a little and given the song a gentler, wispier tone. I’m a sucker for acoustic renditions and I honestly didn’t think one of Renai would have worked, but this cover convinced me otherwise. The rap section was done beautifully, and the instrumentation is great.
Male a capella version
This earns the gold medal due to sheer epicness. A male university a capella group covering this? So many things could have gone wrong, but they didn’t. The high voices are solid, and having the bass singers take the rap and chorus was an amusing spin on things. Also loved their vocal adaptation of the instrumentals. And you can’t forget their hilarious attempts to dance along. Viva otakus with good harmony!
…mmm that you only meant well…
Okay, so it’s mid-November already. I’m not dead, I promise! It’s just I needed to take this break so this semester would go well. It’s a crucial fifteen weeks that will decide the fate of the universe! (And I’m only partially kidding on this).
Music-wise, I’ve been getting reacquainted with Rurutia and Imogen Heap…I would love to see the latter live, but she’s touring the UK right now. Perhaps in the future she’ll grace the West Coast with her presence.
Anyhow, I came across this video a few weeks ago when I was actually looking up all the instruments Imogen Heap could play, and I must say I was very impressed. She’s not amazingly talented at every single one of them, but demonstrates adequate proficiency at most of them and is versatile and innovative about her instrumental use.
This video made me want learn how to play the array mbira, hang, and monome…
The live shown in the monome clip (her “First Train Home” performance on David Letterman) wasn’t the best quality, so check it out in its full glory here.