album review–TWIN GATE (exist†trace)

twin_gate

Dear exist†trace,

Since you are recycling tracks from VANGUARD –of the muses- and Ambivalent Symphony anyway, how come you did not include Lost in Helix and ROUGE? Those two are far much better than KNIFE and most of the new material in TWIN GATE.

My layman ears tell me that there’s not much difference between the original versions of オルレアンの少女, VANGUARD, RESONANCE 「終わりのない世界」and their current incarnations in TWIN GATE. KNIFE, despite the ‘album mix’ tag, remains dull as ever.

Of the previous unreleased tracks, only 1 stood out for me. I like unforgive you for its melodic appeal but it’s just a sliver away from sounding tried and tested like the rest. Cradle is a different story.

Your attempt at the symphonic caught me off guard. Cradle is a good song and if sung by more gifted singer, perhaps even epic. Don’t get me wrong though. Jyou did an excellent job in singing it. She sounded so frail especially when her voice almost falters during the song’s final lines.

Like the gentlest of lullabies, Cradle is soft on the ears yet hits the heart like a battering ram. Cradle is exist†trace getting in touch with your vulnerability – and in doing this, y0u are also at your toughest.

Best regards,

kenryoku

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maxi-single review–棘-toge (Sadie)

Great anime songs are aplenty. I should know as anime introduced me to jrock. However, I’ve been immersed in the scene long enough to know that being featured in an anime does not necessarily mean that the song is great.

Case in point: Sadie’s latest release, 棘-toge.

I can sense the attempt to appeal to a broader audience in the title track. What resulted though is a song that is utterly lacking in ambition. 棘-toge strikes me as akin to fireworks that just wouldn’t take off. The fire is there and we hear the hiss then the pffttt… but we never get to the BOOM! And another thing, why is it that Mao sings as if he’s constipated? An instrumental version of 棘-toge is mercifully included but it only underlines how hackneyed the song really is.

And then we have GREEDY EMOTION. In fairness to the band, the song sounds as if they really put an effort into it. The first minute with the electronica intro and Mao “rapping” in the first verse is novel enough for one to give GREEDY EMOTION a chance. The energy plateaus a bit during the chorus but the solos afterwards are commendable. This portion is best appreciated in the instrumental version of the song as it allows better appreciation of the build-up and the nice interplay of all the instruments.

Final verdict? 棘-toge is Sadie being complacent. The spikes are there, only they could hardly cause a splinter.

single review–Stargazer (Alice Nine)

Stargazer_cover (1)

One fine day, the Alice Nine boys were all taking a breather in their office. While they are still riding high on the warm welcome received by Senkou, the boys were tired and close to burn out due to touring and preparations for their big concert at Nippon Budokan.

Then suddenly, Big Bad Record Executive made a grand entrance and broke the serene mood (Let’s hide him under the name, Mr. Satoh).

“Alright, boys” exclaimed the very giddy Mr. Satoh. “I say we strike while the iron is hot. We need to release another single soon.”

“But Satoh-sama,” pouted Shou “we’ve been extremely busy and hadn’t had time to create new material.”

Mr. Satoh became very livid causing both Shou and Hiroto to cower. Saga retreated in a corner, pretending to lick clean his bass guitar. Tora and Nao seemed unaffected.

“Preposterous! I know fully well that you have a stash of unreleased songs stored somewhere.” said Mr. Satoh. “Or you could very well start writing new ones. Think boys. Think! Or have the hair dyes finally seeped to your brains?”

All eyes were then directed to band leader Nao who first cleared his throat before muttering, “Well, I guess we could release Karma as a single. It was supposed to be on Vandalize but we had to let it go when we were told to trim down the tracklist.”

“But MUCC is already working on an album called Karma!” exclaimed the now-blonde Hiroto who has been fussing on his hair since Mr, Satoh remarked about the hair dye.

Mr. Satoh walked back and forth, “Don’t you have anything upbeat? Something fun and positive?”

Shou finally had the courage to speak up again, “How about STARLIGHT? We initially wrote it as the theme for Doraemon but the producers thought it was cheesy. Funny, the people behind Digimon said the same thing for Shinkirou.”

“STARLIGHT?” The wheels inside Mr. Satoh’s head seemed to be spinning on hyper mode. “That could work. But change the title to.. to Stargazer! Flower names as titles are a charm. Just think how many jrocks songs are named after that weed freesia.”

Shou was just about to protest on the name change but Mr. Satoh was already busy on the phone.

“Alright boys,” repeated the once again giddy Mr. Satoh. “Stargazer will be your new single. We’ll even add that Karma and that Shinkirou for good measure. Announcements are being posted online as we speak.”

And that, my friends, is the story of how Alice Nine’s Stargazer, undoubtedly one of the most disappointing and insipid releases of the year, came to be.

THE END

note: This work is entirely pure fiction, of course. In one interview, Shou shares that Stargazer was written with performing in Budokan in mind. However, as I was listening to the entire single, I can’t help but think of children’s anime hence the reference to Doreamon and Digimon.

I initially didn’t want to review the single but I needed to block out a very devastating news so I came up with this. I eschewed my usual way of reviewing but I believe the above still gets my point across.

NUlogy: Farewell to the home of nu (new) rock

good-bye NU

I interrupt our jrock revelry to bid good-bye to the radio station that has helped mold my musical preference.

As I begin typing this, NU107 is 30 minutes away from playing its swan song. The home of new rock, the ONLY radio station in the Philippines to feature an all-rock music programming is finally shutting its doors after 23 glorious years.

Speculations are rife that the station will soon resurface with a new format, a new sound that will cater to more mainstream fare, in other words, pop music.

This is indeed a lamentable moment. And the weight of matter feels heavier as I listen to each radio jock whose voices had accompanied me through numerous up and downs say their final words.

The folks at peyups.com summed it right: it’s the end of the world as we know it. FM radio will never be the same again.

In saying that though, I can’t help but feel a little guilty. And maybe a bit hypocritical.

To be honest, I have not tuned in to NU in a long, long time. Or to be more precise, I have not listened to the radio in a long, long time. It’s not that I have sworn off music for good. On the contrary, music has become an even more vital part of my existence with the passing of the time. What has changed though is that whenever I feel the need to block out the world, I reach for, not the radio but for my mp3 player.

Gone were the days when I had to wait for Remote Control Weekend just so I can be assured that my favorite song will be playing. Now, if I’m in the mood for some Stone Temple Pilots or Pearl Jam, all I have to do is tap a few keys.

That experience is clearly lost on today’s young music fan, who in the age of iTunes, Bit Torrent, and iPods, is more likely to be doing their homework with an IM app in a window, while listening to mp3′s of their favorite band, and viewing the band’s Facebook page in a browser, all at the same time. With all this going on, who has the time to listen to the radio? – Jim Ayson of The Ayson Chronicles

My sentiments exactly. So while NU107’s decision to re-format came as a big shock, it is not entirely a surprise. Noble as their cause may be, a radio station is still bound by the rules of economics. As mentioned by broadcaster Mike Pedero: “Radio is a business and if for several years, you just keep on losing and pumping in money without returns, until when are you willing to do it?”

NU107, for a time, was the embodiment of the anti-popular. It wasn’t just another radio station playing alternative songs. NU107 was THE alternative. But by being exactly that, it has limited its listeners to all but a chosen few. So now in order to stay afloat, major changes has to be done.

Reality just sucks like that.

Still, it was a good run. Heck, it was a marvelous run. You didn’t let us down, NU. Rather, it was the other way around. So here I am remorseful and at the same time, thankful.

Thank you for bannering Pinoy rock. Thank you for Stairway to 7. Thank you for Against the Flow. Thank you for the In the Raw. Thank you for Remote Control Weekend. Thank you for the Rock Awards. But most importantly, thank you for rocking it out like no other motherfucker could.