Tuesday, June 1, 2010

All those albums I've missed

More to come soon...? Or not.

March 24, 2010

Salyu, "MAIDEN VOYAGE" (Toy's Factory, 2010)

Salyu has been quite impressive as of late. Since the release of her best album "Merkmal" in 2008, she has been churning out quality single after quality single, and all of them come together to shine in this new album. This new album, co-produced by Salyu herself and famed producer Kobayashi Takeshi 小林武史, continues to be marked by obscure and eclectic pop sounds, combined with Salyu's intentionally overly pronounced and overly emphatic vocals. If there is a change from her past songs, it may be perhaps that she tones down the eccentricity of past albums: many songs on this album have catchy pop melodies designed specifically to capture a more mainstream market. In the case of Salyu, that might not actually be a bad thing. Hopefully this album will allow her music to reach a much broader audience.

April 20, 2010

Tokunaga Hideaki 徳永英明, "VOCALIST 4" (Universal Sigma, 2010)

I've always been a fan of the VOCALIST series. There's nothing like having Tokunaga Hideaki belt out the "I'm just a woman" from Kobayashi Akiko's 小林明子 "Koi ni ochite -Fall in Love- 恋におちて -Fall in Love-" on VOCALIST 3 to make you feel like you've arrived in magical fantasy land. This project, which has since culminated in this album, purported to be the last in the series, is conceived as one in which Tokunaga Hideaki covers many famous songs by female singers. The series has been incredibly successful in Japan, and it's hard not to see why, as Tokunaga's adult contemporary-influenced ballad vocals blend incredibly well with the light classical arrangements provided by Sakamoto Masayuki, who registers on my radar for being the current producer of Onitsuka Chihiro 鬼束ちひろ. Perhaps because of this connection, Tokunaga covers Onitsuka's "gekkou 月光" on this album. The album feels rather completionist; it is as if with the knowledge that this is the last album in the series, there is an impetus to get the remaining famous ballad songs recorded. As such, this album contains covers of some songs that, looking back, come as a surprise that they haven't been covered yet. Such songs include the top song, Teresa Teng's テレサ・テン "toki no nagare ni mi wo makase 時の流れに身をまかせ," Matsuda Seiko's 松田聖子 "akai SUIITOPII 赤いスイートピー" and Utada Hikaru's 宇多田ヒカル "First Love." Covers of Matsutouya Yumi 松任谷由実, Nakajima Miyuki 中島みゆき, DREAMS COME TRUE and others round out the album. Not a bad album to check, although admittedly this album is probably not the definitive album of the series for me (VOCALIST 3 would be). If you haven't tried the VOCALIST series, I'd give this album a listen and see if it takes.

April 28, 2010

Onitsuka Chihiro 鬼束ちひろ, ""ONE OF PILLARS" ~BEST OF CHIHIRO ONITSUKA 2000-2010~" (UNIVERSAL SIGMA, 2010)

A pleasant and surprising best album outing from Onitsuka Chihiro. What makes this album interesting is that it is a rather broad best, pulling songs from Onitsuka's Toshiba EMI days, complete with arrangements by Haketa Takefumi 羽毛田武史. This album is particularly interesting to examine in order to view the subtle changes in Onitsuka's songwriting style, as well as the differences in production style as the album traces her work with initial producer Haketa Takefumi to Kobayashi Takeshi to currently Sakamoto Masayuki. The album is not comprehensive, and so there is always the usual quibbling over which songs are and are not included, but overall it's a rather good and well-balanced selection, and the unproduced song, "wakusei no mori 惑星の森" is good B-side quality work. Worth your valuable money if you haven't bought an Onitsuka album yet.