YUKINO: RANTIKI

By Paris365 on February 22, 2013

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Release Date

2/6/13

Genre

J-Music

Label

Columbia Music Entertainment

The last thing that I recall hearing by Yukino was an R&B single called "You Make Me Blue." Which is funny because R&B is the one thing "RanTiKi" isn't. And I do mean the *one* thing. It begins with Yukino singing along to loud, clattering drums that more or less sound like tin cans. But glorious horns quickly enter the picture and then it shifts into what I'm going to call a jazz/pop hybrid. Literally. You have jazz piano and jazz drums and jazz horns and jazz (upright) bass, but the tempo is totally upbeat pop and the same goes for her vocals. But once you've wrapped your head around that it rocks out with an electric guitar solo and then it briefly turns into a jazz piano ballad. Following that, the jazz drums are replaced by rock drums. Then it kind of turns into something of a swing song at the end. Suffice to say it's kind of hard to wrap your head around. Honestly, it was driving me batshit crazy when I was trying too hard to analyze it. But once I stopped trying to figure out what genre it was it totally hooked me and I had to listen to it four times in a row. So, forget about genre distinctions -- just call it a mold-breaker -- and listen to it and let it hook you. It shouldn't be difficult because it is, in fact, packed with hooks. (I should probably also mention that it's the opening theme for the anime Bakumatsu Gijinden, though it really doesn't have that theme song kind of vibe. Which is a good thing in this case.)

The first B-side is a tune called "Miserable Rain," which starts off as a straightforward, jazzy piano ballad. But then the tempo picks up and it ends up having all sorts of sweeping strings that give it much more of an upbeat vibe than you'd expect from the title. It proves to be rather epic, too. And Yukino is given the opportunity to show off the full extent of her wide range, something she really couldn't do during "RanTiKi." Suffice to say it's an enjoyable track. The second B-side, a cover of Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called To Say I Love You," is a more difficult listen. She does it as a jazzy piano ballad, which isn't necessarily a bad idea, but she just doesn't sing it very well, if I'm being perfectly honest. That could be because they stray from the melody and tempo of the original version of the song at times, but I just feel like she phoned this one in. It sounds like they just recorded it live in the studio in one take. I imagine that serious Stevie Wonder fans would be rather insulted by it. It's so bad that it borders on disrespectful. But, hey, it's only a B-side and the first two tracks are great so don't let that prevent you from checking it out. -Michael McCarthy

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