Music Reviews

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Labels and artists interested in being featured here may contact Michael McCarthy at cinema365@gmail.com. Follow Michael on Twitter https://twitter.com/paris365.

AKB48: 心のプラカード (Kokoro no Purakado)

AKB48's latest single is "心のプラカード," which Google translates as "Placard of Mind." Perhaps it is in spite of its title, then, that the song is mindless J-Pop fodder. But that's not such a bad thing. When most people listen to pop songs, they just want to be entertained. And "心のプラカード " does entertain for all of its approximately four minutes. What it doesn't do is break the AKB48 mold. You have a fast tempo, blaring horns, soaring strings, jittery piano and a seemingly infinite number of girls harmonizing together. Not bad. Or is it?


September 02, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
GARNIDELIA: GRILLETTO

Garnidelia is a duo consisting of Maria [@MARiA_GRND] and Toku [@toku_grnd].  Their first single, "ambiguous," was released in March with their new, second single, "Grilletto," released on July 30th, 2014.  Only Maria appears on their album -- er, single -- covers, so I'm assuming this is one of those deals where the woman is the singer and face of the duo while the guy handles the music and stays behind the scenes.


August 25, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
MOUMOON: I'M SCARLET

Are you having a bad day? If so, moumoon's "I'm Scarlet" is just the song to elevate your spirits. And if you're having a good day, why not make it a great day? What if you're having a great day already, you ask? Well, then you should download this digital single and save it for a rainy day. After all, it's moumoon and they don't really make depressing songs.


August 21, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
LEO IEIRI: JUNJO

Singer/songwriter Leo Ieiri's new single, "純情," or "Junjo," finds her doing what she does best: blasting out a colorful and passionate pop rock tune. On her last album, she did a lot of piano-led tracks and they were gorgeous, but they didn't have the vigor and bounciness of the songs on her previous albums, which were bursting with kinetic energy. Fortunately, "Junjo" is among her most vibrant and infectious tunes to date, which is surely why it's being used as the ending theme for the new Dragonball Kai anime series.


August 17, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
PAIPAI DEKAMI: レッツドリーム小学校 [Let's Dream Shogakko]

This one really surprised me, not unlike half of the stuff I listen to in the interest of reviewing it for you. I thought for sure that this was going to be silly bubble-gum pop. More specifically, I thought it might sound like AKB48. I even found myself wondering if she was a member of the group or a former member. But after listening to the album, all of my preconceived notions leapt out the window and crashed to the pavement, dying when their necks were all but shattered.


August 13, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
ZIGZO: FOREVER YOUNG

Forever Young is ZIGZO's way of celebrating their 15th anniversary. It's also a great hits compilation that's also noteworthy because it includes a re-recording of their 1999 single "Himawari." Who the hell are ZIGZO? According to Wiki, they're a Japanese rock supergroup, featuring members of various popular groups. They were formed in 1999 and broke up in 2002, presumably due to musical differences. But Wiki later indicates that they reformed the group on November 20, 2011 and have since released a mini-album called True Impulse.


August 11, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
MOTOHIRO HATA: ひまわりの約束 [Himawari No Yakusoku]

I know I review more female artists than male artists here. It's been that way from day one. Why? Because I like to write about what I enjoy and I was already an active fan of many of the female artists I regularly cover before I even started writing reviews for Otaku. So, I came into this from day one with an idea of who most of the artists I'd be covering would be and most of them were female. I do try to cover some male artists though. I have nothing against male artists. I really don't. It just seems like there are less males doing pop music and rock music than females.


August 06, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
PUFFY: 秘密のギミーキャット ~うふふ 本当よ~

Puffy, known as Puffy Amiyumi here in the States, have always been known for doing zany stuff. You never know what to expect from them. I don't think they've ever done rap, but it wouldn't surprise me one bit if that's what their next album is. When I tried to translate the title of this song with Google translate it spit out: "~ I really Ufufu Gimme Cat-secret." All I can say about that is that there is a no cat thing on the cover.


August 05, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
RED VELVET: HAPPINESS

This morning I posted a Tweet from my personal account (not Otaku or Love is Pop) stating that "Red Velvet Pop Tarts are so fucking addictive." Of course, I was talking about Pop Tarts toaster pastries. But one of my Otaku readers tweeted that he thought I was talking about the new SM group for a second. And, to tell you the truth, I wasn't sure what he was talking about, having been very busy the past few days -- saw Katy Perry (awesome) -- for one thing. Meanwhile, I've had some eye strain headaches. So, no, I hadn't heard about Red Velvet yet.


August 03, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
ELVA HSIAO: SHUT UP & KISS ME [3 PRE-ORDER TRACKS]

Taiwan's Elva Hsiao returns with her first music since she signed with Sony in 2013, three pre-order tracks from her new album, Shut Up & Kiss Me, which is due out on August 22nd. And if these tracks are any indication, it's going to be her best album to date.


July 31, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
FAR EAST MENTION MANNEQUIN'S: FXXK BOYZ GET MONEY

Apparently, this often dubbed "plastic" duo -- also known as FEMM -- is a serious Youtube sensation. To that end, they have several singles available in the iTunes U.S. store. But their new single "FXXK BOYZ GET MONEY" is the first time I've come across them. Why, who knows... While I do tend to cover certain artists over and over again, I also keep my eyes and ears open for new artists, so I should have heard of these girls sooner. But I didn't, and for that I apologize because you deserve to hear them, as they're quite good!


July 30, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
RIHWA: CHOU CREAM

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Rihwa begins her new series of singles, following the recent release of her under-rated album Borderless, with "Chou Cream." Whether you're a Rihwa fan or naysayer, chances are you have a certain sort of song pop into your head when you hear her name. Me, well, I expected this to be a melodious, acoustic-based pop song. I was wrong. In a very refreshing way, Rihwa has apparently hit the restart button on her career, releasing a tune with some blazing electric guitars. The opening is especially raw, almost aggressive.


July 28, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
GIRL'S DAY: GIRL`S DAY EVERYDAY #4

The new Girl's Day mini-album is called Girl's Day Everyday #4, but there's a slight problem with that, which is that the mini-album is oh so very summer-themed. The sort of release that you'll play all summer then ditch in the fall and maybe play again starting halfway through next spring. To that end, I wonder why they didn't release this in June and give it another month of shelf-life instead of putting it out in mid-July.


July 24, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
FLOWER: Nettaigyo no Namida

Flower is a sub-unit of E-Girls, the massive J-Pop group that also includes every member of Dream, Happiness, Bunny and EGD. The funny thing about this is that Flower are consistently releasing music that is far superior to the music of E-Girls.


July 23, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
Mika Nakashima X Miliyah Kato: FIGHTER / GIFT

Mika Nakashima and Miliyah Kato have joined forces with producer/arranger DJ Taku of m-flo for the Japanese theme song of The Amazing Spider-man 2, "Fighter," and it's a rather heavy rock tune. In fact, it borders on heavy metal. Nice and raw, edgy heavy metal. Kind of like Babymetal but without the death metal style vocals. And without the kid's vocals. You get the idea. It's like Babymetal-styled music paired with vocals from two of J-pop/J-rock's best superstars ever. They've got that fighting spirit and they will NOT be defeated. OK, so that's a cliche, but you know what?


July 15, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
f(x): 3집 THE THIRD ALBUM: RED LIGHT

f(x)'s last album -- Pink Tape -- was one of my favorite albums of 2013. I hadn't heard them prior to that release, but I loved it from the very first time I listened to it and I knew I was always going to be a fan from that point on, just as other groups like 2NE1 and Girls' Generation previously made me a fan from the first time I heard them. Suffice to say that I was excited when I learned they were releasing a new album for summer 2014.


July 09, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
TOP.IC: SEE YOU AGAIN

These days digital singles are dropping every other day in the Asian pop world, and especially so in the K-Pop realm. It seems that labels are signing more and more artists in part because they can easily release a digital single without spending nearly what it costs to press CDs that nobody might buy. Granted, making videos for these singles can cost millions, but they can also be done on the cheap, which was probably the case with TOP.IC's video for "See Ya," the first track on their single release See You Again.


July 07, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
HYOMIN: MAKE UP

Make Up is Hyomin of T-ARA's first mini-album. The lead single is a track called "Nice Body." And it's highly offensive. I don't even know where to begin. It's just wrong on so many levels. In the video, we see an obese woman binge eating donuts. Then she sees a golden donut roll across the floor. So, of course, she picks it up from the floor and eats it. And, guess what? She turns into Hyomin, who is, as I'm sure you're aware, quite thin. I have a problem with that because it's like saying all overweight people binge eat donuts.


July 01, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
FLASHE: HEY YOU

"Hey you, hey you, hey you, wake up in the star," sing the girls of Flashe in English during their new tune "Hey You." Doesn't really make a whole lot of sense, does it? So, there's one reason not to like Flashe's "Hey You." But, hey you, lots of K-Pop songs have lyrics that don't quite add up when you really think about them. I don't understand why these record labels don't have people who are fluent in English review these song lyrics when their artists are going to sing in English.


June 30, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
LiSA: RISING HOPE

It's been nearly a year since I last reviewed a release by LiSA, so I suppose I should give a little re-cap about who she is? Here goes: LiSA is a Japanese pop rock singer/songwriter who's actually named Risa Oribe. In addition to being a solo artist, she's been involved in various other projects over the years and one of them was a band called LiSA, which is an acronym for Love is Same All. (I still don't know if that's partially a gay rights/marriage equality thing.) Clearly, she liked the acronym so much that she decided to take it as her stage name and she's been using it ever since.


June 25, 2014 / by Paris365 / Read More >
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