Album review: “LANDSPACE” by LiSA

LiSA is a Japanese pop-rock singer signed to Sony Music Entertainment. LANDSPACE is her second album.

Release date: 30th of October, 2013

Track list:
1. Canvas boy × Palette girl
2. Cosmic Jet Coaster
3. crossing field
4. DOCTOR
5. Boku no Kotoba de
6. best day, best way
7. Hitori Waratte
8. say my name no Kataomoi
9. Usotsuki no Namida
10. Gyakkou Orchestra
11. träumerei
12. winding road

Moira: Regular
Austin: Georgia

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Single review: “X-encounter” by Maon Kurosaki

Release date: 6th of November, 2013

Track list:
1. X-encounter
2. unchain.
3. X-encounter (Instrumental)
4. unchain. (Instrumental)

Moira: Regular
Austin: Georgia

1. X-encounter
A layer of pulsating synths and distorted guitars open the track, and before long, are joined by a powerful digital beat to welcome Maon’s filtered vocals. Hooray for muffled vocals! (In a good way) Filtering the vocals to make it sound distorted goes hand in hand with the arrangement of the song, which is filled to the brim with synths and dubstep-like beats. The arrangement is heavily electronic with rock influences; it sounds like what you would get if you mixed Minori Chihara’s Usotsuki ParADox with any Maon rock song, especially something from H.O.T.D.. The chorus is the sharp part of the song, with Maon’s strong and clear vocals paired up with that piano and the techno rhythm creates an engaging and powerful set-up. What I really liked about this song was that everything seemed to go well with each other. The heavy, trance-inducing synths are the main rhythm, while the guitars are the instrumental backbone that complimented the vocals. At the same time, the electronic beat pushes the song along, and piano is used sparingly for some variety as well. I’m pretty sure I can say that we both like X-encounter quite a lot.

2. unchain.
An explosion of electric guitars, synths, drums, and bass guitars creates the opening here. Already present in the beginning of the song are some edgy lead guitar lines, which makes you wonder what else this song has in store. The verses are fairly plain but satisfactory, mostly just there to serve as a build-up to the chorus instead of being anything that special. Maon retains the same register with her vocals throughout the song. Just like the verses, the chorus is quite plain. It feels as if her voice is riding on the coetails of the instruments to get through the chorus and verses, but there are times where she stands out by bringing on a high note. The whole sound of the song is something I’m sure Maon fans have grown accustomed to, especially since it’s quite reminiscent of previous songs like Sen no Homura and Distrigger. This fact is even evident in her vocal register, as she uses her head voice and hits a number of high notes like in the aforementioned songs. Everything considered, this song is still quite enjoyable because… It’s what Maon fans would expect from her, a song that is similar to previous tracks that uses her headstrong vocals.

This single offered us an excellent electronic-styled anime opening, as well as an up-to-standard, rock-based B-side. Both are entertaining, however X-encounter was the stronger track overall. Moira summed it up pretty well there… Fans of Maon should be definitely happy with this single, just like how we are.

Rating: 4/5

Single review: “träumerei” by LiSA

LiSA is a Japanese pop-rock singer signed to Sony Music Entertainment. träumerei is her fourth single.

Release date: 7th of August, 2013

Track list:
1. träumerei
2. I doubt it
3. SPiCE [Regular and Limited edition]
3. Yuuyake Nostalgia [Anime edition]
4. träumerei (Instrumental) [Regular and Limited edition]
4. träumerei (TV size) [Anime edition]

Moira: Regular
Austin: Georgia

1. träumerei
LiSA continues to amaze me with her fast-paced songs with catchy tunes. But, I’m still confused on how you say the title to this song. The instrumental arrangements really bring out LiSA’s vocals and bring out the ‘wow’ parts in the song. It speeds up towards the chorus, sometimes it slows down so that LiSA can shine, it all just works really well. I’m having trouble on deciding on which is better between this and ‘crossing field’. The arrangement is classic ani-rock, made up of edgy electric guitars and drums of course, but despite this familiarity, such is made use of very well, quite frankly. LiSA’s colorful vocals bring out the best in the arrangement, complementing one another to create a wonderfully entertaining song. Yup, it sure is wonderfully entertaining. Something just keeps it exhilarating and keeps you in its grip wanting more. Everything seems to go hand in hand with each other, one keeping you entertained and engaged, while the other keeps increasing the ‘awesomeness’ in this song.

2. I doubt it
A barrage of drums and some guitar riffs is what starts off this song. LiSA soon joins in the fray in a very dramatic sounding way, similar to the previous, on how the instruments die down allowing LiSA to show off her skills. (Which is really working for me.) The B-side of the single is introduced with slow guitar before we are hit with a song with more rock and less anison influences. The instruments used are rough and forceful, and LiSA brings a lower vocal register during the verses to match. Quick transitions to the chorus reveal a much more aggressive side to the song, with the drums furiously pounding and guitars boldly pulling riffs here and there. I do have to agree with you with it being aggressive and fierce, and that’s what makes this song spectacular, continuously ramming you with strong and relentless assaults. But together, the composure is brilliant. This is just as good as the A-side for me, considering how much I love rock (: I assume it’s the same way for Austin.

3. SPiCE (AKA Mr.Toaster)
It’s awfully happy, and I’m not being mean when I say that. It’s a good happy! The instrumentals play in a certain way that just radiates with happiness, the way they are all placed together along with LiSA’s vocals just scream with joy. This song has LiSA written all over it because, not only is the title composed of all capitals with that trademark lowercase i, fun pop-rock is what we have mostly heard from her, particularly with the songs in her debut album. With vocals with as much energy as hers, fun pop-rock is one of the things she does best! I think that’s why this was included in the regular and limited editions, and not the anime edition. Even so, it’s a bit difficult to successfully compare this to another song in her repertoire, as SPiCE is actually quite unique in its own right. I guess you’re right about it being something that she’s really good at. You can just feel her energy behind her vocals which really works well with this song, like it could just pull you out of the dumps (provided you like this sort of music). On a side note, check out the lyrics for this if you get the chance to… you’ll find that there’s a fair amount of Engrish and you’ll see why Austin has put ‘AKA Mr.Toaster’ on. ;)

3. Yuuyake Nostalgia
LiSA’s vocals slowly introduces the song, in a very calm way. It all seems very serene, well, that’s what this song is. Well, not entirely. It’s much more slower and calmer than the previous songs, but LiSA somehow makes the song feel calm, but not exactly. After a few moments, the beat picks up with the addition of drums and guitars, all while LiSA continues to reach the high notes in the song. Yeah, it definitely starts off slow, but it gradually becomes another upbeat pop-rock track, but certainly with less energy than SPiCE. Repetitive guitar riffs after each chorus make me think that the guitar is the main focus of the song, with almost every other aspect being quite ordinary. Even LiSA doesn’t sound completely into the song, if you take into account her vocal capabilities. It’s like Nana-chan-kami-sama’s ‘Darling Plastic’ when compared to every other song in ‘ROCKBOUND NEIGHBORS’. I guess it doesn’t shine as much as compared to the other songs, but it’s an okay in my opinion. Although, I wouldn’t be listening to it repeatedly, it’s just okay.

LiSA continues to impress us with her amazing songs, I’m pretty sure the both of us loved träumerei the most. I know Moira doesn’t exactly like Yuuyake Nostalgia (It’s pretty meh for me, okay?), but I’m fine with it. Overall, it’s a pretty good (correction: great) single and it must be listened to! ‘träumerei’ is my probably new favorite from LiSA. I’m still stuck on the fence between ‘crossing field’ and ‘träumerei’, but both are amazing!

TL;DR: Listen for some of the best that LiSA has to offer, and tie-in or no tie-in, all songs here (unfortunately, with the exception of Yuuyake Nostalgia) are incredible.

Rating: 4/5

Single review: “Hanayui no Uta” by Maon Kurosaki & Ray

Maon Kurosaki is a female Japanese singer-songwriter from Tokyo signed to Geneon Universal Entertainment. Ray is a female Japanese singer from Hokkaido, also signed to Geneon Universal Entertainment. Hanayui no Uta is their second special collaboration single.

Release date: 31st of July, 2013

Track list:
1. Sen no Homura
2. Hikari
3. Hajimari no
4. Sen no Homura (Instrumental)
5. Hikari (Instrumental)
6. Hajimari no (Instrumental)

Moira: Regular
Austin: Georgia

1. Sen no Homura
Such a traditional and old sounding start. After a few moments enjoying this aged tune, Maon’s vocals soon come in to the fold. ‘Sen no Homura’ is the opening theme for the PSP game ‘Juu Oni no Kizuna Hanamusubi Tsudzuri’, and with this being closely related to Maon’s ‘Juu Oni no Kizuna’ from the same game franchise, we can’t help but compare the two. Anyway, ‘Sen no Homura’ is the type of song that I like, it’s upbeat, and rock…. Plus it’s Maon. For some reason, I feel like this song is more similar to ‘Distrigger’, with both arrangements using a ‘softer’ electric guitar sound, as well as a more tame drum beat compared to ‘Juu Oni no Kizuna’, which puts the emphasis on the power of the drums and utilises dramatic-sounding strings. I was actually hoping for something like that instead, actually. The use of the instruments in this song, really goes well with her vocals and the way she sings, to me, it really brings out this songs potential. I am, however, concerned with her really high notes in the chorus, which she seems to be struggling with, even if only a bit. Regardless, with its ethnic undertones and rock stylings, ‘Sen no Homura’ is a great addition to Maon’s discography, and we even have the opportunity to hear her using a very high vocal register for a few moments throughout the song.

2. Hikari
Wow, this song makes me sleepy, not in the bad way though. It’s really peaceful and just keeps my mind at ease, I just feel so calm listening throughout the entire song. The arrangements isn’t full on mind-blowing, it’s simple and clear, allowing it to be really soothing for the listeners. ‘Hikari’ begins with a relaxing piano melody, and with a slight pause, it’s as if we are being prepared for the emotional quality of the song, and then we start to hear Ray’s soft vocals, pleasantly blending in with the simple instrumentation. This is a pretty powerful yet subtle song, it’s pleasant and calm but it still has a huge effect on me. So much aspects of the song contributes even though it sounds like there isn’t much to listen to. I seem to hear a bit of vibrato, and I think that adds a noteworthy nostalgic touch to the song. The background vocals during the chorus nicely support Ray’s main vocals, producing a tender, emotive effect. Like I said before, this is a pretty powerful song but it’s still, but still calm and subtle, which I like very much. Somehow, this song can make me both smile and tear up, because it is very soft and sentimental, but also has this moving, heartwarming characteristic!

3. Hajimari no
Yet another tranquil song to play on the mind… Although, this one seems to have a much more serious side to it in my opinion. Ray’s vocals continue to play in calm, yet she connects to a side of the song which makes us see a different perspective of the song, it’s somehow mysterious and deep. I agree; ‘Hajimari no’ conveys a solemn yet intense mood, which I find really interesting. The instruments play a more significant part here than in ‘Hikari’, as the strings are presented in a tense, stirring fashion in some parts of the song, and are played over airy background vocals, as well as a steady beat and twinkling piano. It plays on emotions, and it’s a complex song overall, so while the style is odd, I do enjoy the song. I enjoy it to some extent too; it brings me back to when I first heard PHANTASM’s ‘Euphoria ~Tsugunai no Requiem~’, and I get similar vibes between the two songs. Not that they are similar in structure, but they are, personally, similar in atmosphere, though Ray’s vocals are more expressive. Although this isn’t a genre I’m used to, and it’s new in a way, I find that I’m quite fond of this song, even though I’m still leaning towards the other ballad, ‘Hikari’.

It’s a pretty good single in my opinion, and my ranking of the songs, are as follows: ‘Hikari’, closely followed by ‘Sen no Homura’, and lastly, ‘Hajimari no’. I have to agree with you on that, because as much as I love Maon, I think Hikari had a profound impact on me.

Rating: 3.5/5

TL;DR: Check out this single for an upbeat, rock-based song that would sound familiar for Maon fans; a soft, moving ballad, as well as solemn, mysterious-sounding ballad, all guaranteed to draw in and interest listeners in some way.

Single review: “wonder fang” by Faylan

Faylan is a female Japanese singer from Saitama, Japan, who has had many of her songs appear in video games and anime. wonder fang is her 18th single.

Release date: 24th of July, 2013

Track list:
1. wonder fang
2. Blue sanction
3. wonder fang (off Vocal)
4. Blue sanction (off Vocal)

Moira: Regular
Austin: Georgia

1. wonder fang
Wow, that’s a very impressive start to the song. It starts off with the type of vocals we know Faylan by. Hoorayyyyy! ‘wonder fang’ immediately begins with a short, violent guitar sequence right before Faylan appears with strained vocals, almost sounding like she has phlegm in her throat or something. That’s not very nice Moira, I don’t mind her vocals, I find it quite normal. But they do seem right for this kind of music… Enough about that, moving on!! The verses before the chorus (pre-chorus?) have a nice dark, energetic energy to it that sounds really good. Although, I do admit that I’m not a huge fan about how she drags out the ‘fang’ in the chorus’. Most of the track is made up of aggressive electric guitars, and powerful drums, but that’s pretty much it. The only thing noteworthy about the arrangement is its forceful nature, but there is really nothing else worth mentioning about it. I guess I’d have to agree with you there, but it is a pretty good song all in all in my opinion. Yes, as a whole, it’s pretty good, but it’s probably not something, out of her whole discography, that I’d keep coming back to.

2. Blue sanction
Hooray for a BlazBlue song!! I have to love this one, which I do. It starts off with a sort of mysterious tone to it, with of course some heavy drums and electric guitars added too. The first few seconds during the first listen already made me think that this would be the better song of the single. Her vocals in this do not sound strained, unlike in the A-side, and the arrangement utilizes synths and the usual strong rock instrumentation to produce an engaging combination that plays well with Faylan’s voice. The chorus in this is much more better than the previous, it’s got more of a gripping arrangement in it that really just grabs my attention. It’s fast, it has a strong rock tone in it, dark-ish vocals from Faylan, what more could you ask for?? Complex vocal melodies make this song that much more appealing, and I feel as if Faylan is putting more effort into this than wonder fang. I’ve got to say, it’s got an odd ending, (It ends as it begins!) nevertheless, it’s still a very impressive song, it’s got pretty much everything I love, plus a game tie-in too!

We get everything we expect from Faylan, dark vocals with some powerful instruments. It’s everything I love (as stated before). Once again, the song with the BlazBlue tie-in is better than the song with the anime tie-in… BlazBlue always has awesome tie-ins, (Like how you like Asami Imai) This single is a treat for everyone who knows Faylan’s songs and it something very awesome for people who are new to it, well it’s awesome for everyone. Unless you don’t like rock or anison… But if you do, here you go! :D

Rating: 3.5/5

Album review: “Butterfly Effect” by Maon Kurosaki

Maon Kurosaki is a female Japanese singer-songwriter from Tokyo signed to Geneon Universal Entertainment. Butterfly Effect is her first album.

Release date: November 30, 2011

Track List:
1. Ichihiki no Chou ga Habataku Shunkan
2. VANISHING POINT
3. Magic∞world
4. Emergence!
5. LOVE 〇 JETCOASTER
6. SCARS
7. Glanz -Chinmoku no Yuki-
8. Lisianthus.
9. Baby☆maybe
10. ANSWER
11. screaming! shouting loudly!
12. Memories Last
13. hear..

Regular: Moira
Italics: Austin

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