The V-Rock Disney Lowdown

The week’s excitement, and the summer’s bewilderment, can both be attributed to the announcement, and now the release, of one of the most confusing compilations of late: V-Rock Disney. The reception of the album’s release-announcement earlier this summer seemed to be a mixed bag of reactions, ranging from brain leaking out of fan’s ears as their minds were blown, to the general headdesking of skeptics who already had the album cut out to be more beast than beauty.

Well, finally the anticipatory months have come to their close, and at last, the album is in our hands. Honestly, these are kind of the best albums to look forward to. I like watching the build up peak and blossom into a myriad of reviews all over the blogsphere; to see the difference in reactions among listeners. I like these, these albums that have as much potential to completely pitfall into failure and utter disappointment as they do to produce aurally induced nirvana.

When I first heard about the album, I decided to remain neutral, and I’ve been on the fence about it since. I generally approved of the artists chosen (not too many big-hitters, but not too obscure, either), but I had issues with some of the songs. I could see, for example, some of these bands belting out Jafar’s Song, but my brain was simply not able to compute Mary Poppins and Cinderella (I mean really? Really?). But in the end, it would seem, the proof was in the pudding, and I would just have to eat it before I could formulate a real opinion.

 The album opens with two tracks from Nightmare— a Fantasia intro to set the pace that quickly dives right into the classic, heavy-shredding style of Nightmare‘s work. A strong opener, I appreciated the even balance of Disney melody and standard Visual Kei guitar-work. However, Nightmare’s brilliant ability to cover a song isn’t revealed until the second track, Aladdin‘s Friend Like Me.

An instant winner, Friend Like Me is really fun and funky with all the deep bassy lurch of Nightmare working harmoniously alongside the percussive lilt of the classic genie anthem. At first I thought the heavily slurred English (is it even actually in English?) of the song made for too muddy of an overall sound, but the more times I listened to the track, the more I decided that the slurred quality complemented (or was inseparable from, or maybe thanks to) Yomi’s thick vocals and the overall funky vibe of the track. As I mentioned previously, at first I thought What? to the song selection, but if the rest of the album can follow Nightmare‘s bold opening tracks, we’re good.

Beauty And The Beast was destined to be a winner for me from the moment I saw who was covering it. Thankfully this one was allowed to be in Japanese, and the resulting flow of the lyrics paired with Kawamura’s vocals is really elegant. Nobody was better suited to sing this than Kawamura Ryuuichi, and he pulls it off incredibly well. Even the weird electronica that comes in and brings us back to modern day rock’n’roll is impossible to dislike, however incongruous it seemed at first.

Honestly I didn’t even realize Penicillin was still making music. Although not crazy about the song itself, the feel of the band’s cover is solid, and the obnoxious punk pace is kept up well, halfway convincing me that I’m still listening to Jrock. Seriously, Penicillin is so annoying to listen to, and yet the song satisfies at the same time. Thanks to them, my sinus headache is now amplified ten-fold.

 Chim Chim Chimeree is a nice R&R sesh after the hectic aural bludgeoning of Lilo’s world as interpreted by Penicillin. Slow and moody, something to throw onto late-night mixes for winding down from days as chaotic as the preceding song…

I almost feel like not mentioning the next song at all, seeing that it was a given that it would be one of the album’s crowning glories. Sadie always kills it, but they really did a number on This Is Halloween. The grungy opening guitar chords. The opening vocals. From the moment the track-list was released, this match-up was the one that made the most sense to me. The screamo, the darkness, it really works. Sadie pulls it off with all kinds of nightmarish panache.

I read and heard a few rather harsh reviews, one of which gave Aoi’s rendition of Can You Feel The Love Tonight something of a brutal beating. My question for the reviewer would be, what exactly is wrong with the song? Although never a huge follower of Ayabie, my biggest complaints towards the band were based around how underplayed Aoi’s vocals felt on every release. They’ve found center-stage here, and they do the song justice. The electronicky, Ayabie--oops, I mean Aoi– feel of the piece is undeniably catchy. His voice works well with the feel of the song. As a huge sentimental bastard and sucker for the sappy Disney ballads, I applaud Aoi’s melancholy, aching vocal work on the track.

The Kiddie‘s rendition of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious — which I can’t even spell, let alone expect this kid to be able to pronounce– is one of those experiences where you feel like you just ate too much sugar and want to vomit. By the first listen-through I expected a unicorn horn to sprout out of my forehead, and rainbows to pour from my ears by the third replay.I’m surprised that this didn’t make me dropkick an innocent kitten right into orbit. That being said, some sick, cheerful, masochistic part of me actually listens to this song.

Someone please sue them for being so cheerful

Another slow piece with When You Wish Upon a Star. Not crazy about this song even in the Disney world, and the cover didn’t change my mind.

Cascades Heigh Ho actually did inspire me to commit extreme acts of violence and vandalism. Heigh Ho is such a profoundly obnoxious song that I want to do horrible things to the producer’s dog, grandma, and next-door-neighbor just in an attempt to avenge those forever lost 4 minutes of my life. To their credit, he does sound like a dwarf. I plan on never listening to this song ever again, unless to employ it as a perverse weapon of psychological warfare.

And it’s over all too soon. You’ll be In My Heart, already covered nicely for the Japanese dub of Tarzan has a precedent set for quality and elegance. Nothing else need be said. I just need to figure out whether I like this version or the original cover better. As a side note,I do like the Visual Kei “edge” to his vocals here, where the original cover was smoother and more regular.

In Conclusion

 Overall, although I’m aware that a lot of people will hate this album, I honestly can’t pinpoint any fundamental issues with it. Well organized, well produced, well-arranged songs; the lyrics were tastefully done, and the ratio of English – Japanese was nicely moderated.

I wasn’t sure how much of the lyrics would be in Japanese, but in the end I was pleased with the arrangements. It was more or less balanced–overall, I liked the songs with Japanese lyrics the best, but had no issues with the English tracks particularly. I enjoy how the Japanese feels with the flow of the melodies, in the same way I’m enjoying the chemistry between the hard-rock and the Disney tones.

I thought the album was a really fun change of pace from the super serious race for quality and marketable creations. An extremely dedicated fanservice offering, I wonder how seriously anyone can actually take this release… And remember, your opinion is your own, but if you didn’t give this release two thumbs up, you not only completely fail as a Disney fan, but your life as a Visualist is also futile.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

Sounds Like Gackt – Before All Caps

Let’s not even go into detail about this– let’s just jump right to the review, shall we? I don’t want to embarrass myself by explaining why it’s taken so long for this to get posted. In any case, GACKT’s latest, and 39th, single, July’s Episode .0, is one of those weird cover/collab things he releases spontaneously from time to time. This time around, the origins of this single show just how used to Japan I’ve become over the years: Episode .0 and Paranoid Doll are vocaloid covers….

I don’t really know that much about vocaloids, except they’re allowed to have concerts now, and people actually go to them. My closest encounter with them is all the multitudes of cute girls who cosplay as this Hatsune Miku creature and post pictures of themselves all over the internet and wander around conventions trailing blue hair.

The songs on the single were originally released for Kamui Gakupo (GACKT’s vocaloid character), a lanky bishounen samurai person with long blue/purple hair (pictured below).

The artwork for the single also depicted this character for the limited edition, and GACKT affected an imitation of what Gakupo might look like in real life for the regular edition of Episode.0.

Although GACKT didn’t actually compose the songs for his 39th, this fact doesn’t concern me in the slightest. Jrockers are incredible talents when it comes to covering songs or working with other composers. Just think about the Kamen Rider releases (which were mostly good) and his Gundam covers. Great performances of great songs. GACKT also produced the entire single, which definitely contributed to the retention of all the flavor of his work. Actually, on that note, this single sounds the most like “him” that I’ve heard in a long time, and I bloody well like to hear those nuances back in his music.

There’s no lag-time: when Episode.0 starts, it starts, and it grabs you from the opening chords. The sound is all around solid and incredibly fresh. A mid-tempo track, the pacing and organization of the song felt like his more recent work, but the production of the vocals was definitely original Gackt–before all caps.

The quality of the music for both tracks is digitized and eclectic, which I think is a cool homage to the vocaloid origins. Also appreciated the koto elements in Paranoid Doll. They brought the samurai thing full-circle and also reminded me of The End of Silence and ZAN, and seeing as I thought that was a brilliant single, it’s a good association.

Actually the thing I liked the best about the songs on Episode.0 was simply the quality of GACKT’s vocals. With vocals like that, the background music could be blips and bloops for all I would know or care (but for the sake of the review, I listened intently, I swear). GACKT was so so on-top of his game for this, so brilliantly produced, and just, well, quite awesome. I feel like it’s been a while since that falsetto was showcased, and it seems like he really implemented a lot of the ornamentation and stylistic twists that were prominent in his old work. That “sound” being something I’ve missed in his new stuff, it felt really amazing to be hearing it again. Don’t mind me while I gush a little bit.

All in all, this is a very solid single. The tracks were cohesive, yet completely distinctive. The actual compositions were brilliantly written, totally refreshing and yet they were completely well suited to GACKT’s style. The blend of nostalgia and energy captured in the 2 songs will definitely put Episode.0 among some of my favorites from hereon out.

If you haven’t picked up your copy of Episode.0 yet, I absolutely recommend doing so. Great compositions, great performances, and great production have come together to make a great single.

exist trace Major Debut: TRUE

1. TRUE
2. 本能 (Honnou)
3. 常闇の夜明け (Tokoyami no Yoake)
4. KISS IN THE DARK
5. 自由の空、地上の歌 (Jiyuu no Sora, Chijou no Uta)

 After passing up single Knife and album TWIN GATE simply due to lack of feeling like previews of either releases struck me like a lightning bolt, and trading the chance to see the babes live in Seattle in order to see girugamesh in Boston, I think my frosty misogyny is finally melting under the spell of exist trace‘s honest-to-goodness Visual Kei. …My negligence didn’t have anything to do with Jyou’s inexcusably butch hairstyle. Honest.

   Don’t get me wrong, I’ve known from the first time I heard them that they were, and were going to continue to be, spectacular. The way they have never had to use their gender to prove themselves or establish a place– they have been able to crack open a gender-generalized genre while keeping their integrity, sincerity, and badassness intact. This, I think, is a commendable feat. The best part? Half the dude-groups can’t even rock this hard anymore.

 It was a subtle nudge that drew me back to exist trace– an alert somewhere notifying me of the release of their major-label debut EP and the fact that Jyou grew out her hair, and then, a few days ago, that nudge shoved me onto Youtube and straight into the PV for title track TRUE.

 

 The track starts off with wicked solid metal riffs, plunging right into the soulful wails of the vocal melody. The construction of the song is great. The instrumentals are impressive, grungy, and heavy, charging along at a fast pace without feeling rushed. Instrumental/guitar solo is quite badass and may or may not definitely induce headbanging.
Jyou’s vocals soar as always, and the melodic-metal-type vocal line is pretty sweet. One thing I’ve always appreciated about the vocals in exist trace songs are the even balance Jyou finds between growling/screaming and melodic warbling. I often find “melodic metal” to be preachy, presumptuous, and often just plain boring, but exist trace finds a great middle-ground, keeping everything conscious, concise, and creative. Great track, and great opening for the EP.

Next song is Honnou. Electronic effects open the piece, with some ampy-distortion, and the surly, girly voice that says Shall we dance? Which, while seeming like a minor detail, actually sets up for more of the song than one might expect. Less soaring/melodic than its predecessor, Honnou gets down and dirty, staying grungy, while bringing in a poppish chorus line. I enjoy the combination of pop and metal flavors throughout the song. I did feel like they downplayed the vocals somewhat during the verses, and they were almost too quiet. The electronica was well-utilized, and the bass solo around the 2:30 mark was a great intro for a great instrumental break that I can’t really count as a guitar solo, since the guitars didn’t do anything particularly memorable, and if they did, it was hidden by a muddy pool of electronic effects. So I give this one up to Naoto.

 Tokoyami no Yoake brings everything down several levels. Jyou’s vocals are in the spotlight more than anything, backed by simple details and a spacious, elegant bass-line. I enjoyed the song a lot, and I thought the verses, instrumental and vocal bridges were quite beautiful, although I feel like they could have been more inventive with the chorus. Choruses have really been a pet-peeve for me with most releases. I just can’t help thinking many of these groups use the same freaking chorus in every song, and it’s starting to get to me.

KISS IN THE DARK brings in some carnival sounds, opening to a neat funk line which I didn’t see coming from exist trace. Although this kind of song is pretty common fair in Visual Kei– you know, “piero”s taking over all the lyrics (creepy clowns)–, and Jyou’s vocals felt out of placed when I was all geared up for Yomi to start droning along. I guess it’s good they tried something kind of different…for them, anyway. Although I think Visual Kei could use some new locales, you know, like we’re allowed to go to carnivals, vampire castles, and…Versailles. Right. I’ll let someone else try and come up with an explanation for that. Like, seriously. When is a Visual Kei song going to have traffic sounds, or rain forest sounds or something in it? Are Visualists exiled from those places or something? And what am I supposed to do when I finally come out of denial and realize I sleep in a coffin and my windows are curtained by roses, and I leave the front foyer unfurnished in case Versailles PQ wants to film their next 10 minute long PV there?

Anyway…I enjoyed how the past couple of songs showcased Naoto, the bassist. They do a good job of sharing the spotlight– you don’t ever feel like you’re straining to hear one or the other members, the instruments are clearly defined while staying busy, and they spread it out through each of the songs so that it’s not just guitars shred shred shred shred shredding incessantly. Really nice attribute. Probably my least favorite song on the album so far, the highlight of KISS IN THE DARK was when they transpose everything at around the 3:15 mark. Aside from that segment and the bass work, it was forgettable.

 I thought Jiyuu no Sora, Chijou no Uta has a nice structure. The instrumentals carry the piece along, but the verse was thoroughly enjoyable– one of the highlights of the 5 tracks, I would say, and Jyou even took the time to write a new chorus. Good for her. The track wound things down nicely, and I liked the way they ended it with the final chord fading out, simple but nice. However, I felt like the transition from KISS IN THE DARK (which, in retrospect was stressful) to Jiyuu no Sora, Chijou no Uta seemed hurried. My elite expectations would probably have been better satisfied had they slipped a mediating track between the two, giving a little more time to come down from our thoughtful, “Huh…” into that release of compositional tension that has buoyed us from the elation of the EP’s beginning to its final seconds that ease into silence. I suppose the challenge of the EP vs. the single, is that, like an album it has to have a beginning, a middle, and an end– but unlike an album, you don’t really have the 10-15 songs it can often take to really get all the loose ends tied up and the character arcs resolved.

Limited edition includes the same tracks, and a DVD with the TRUE PV and Special Movie.

My only real complaints about the EP, which seem to be strangely common complaints to have about major debuts, was that it lacked edge. Remember when you played Judea for your metal-head [male] friends and they all cried? Yeah. Me too. So although I like the music, I like the songs, I like their look, and I think the PV is baller, I sure as hell hope they don’t lose that je nes se quai that makes them stand out amidst the babbling oshare babies as one of the few bands that can really, honestly, and wicked sickly rock.

All in all I think that TRUE hits the spot, with my picks off the tracklist being TRUE, Tokoyami no Yoake, and Jiyuu no Sora, Chijou no Uta. The instrumentals were really good, the compositions strong, and the vocals, although a little lacking at times, really pulled through, especially given these hard times we live in, full of recycled choruses and regurgitated chord-progressions. I definitely think exist trace is one of the better bands still making the rounds in the popular scene, and while they may not always be perfect, their songs always feel new.

 

Auditory Impression: Vortex

Auditory Impression

Released in two versions, dubbed “Optical Impression” and “Auditory Impression”, I enjoyed the concept for Vortex a lot more than, well, most of their other covers for singles. The covers are clean, totally clutter-free, and artistic. They also bring in a sense of modernity with the use of a microphone and headphones, rather than some impaled skull or white people (not impaled) that would ring of typical metal-head album concept work. The splash of color on the bright white/chrome center-piece is a nice touch. I like the way it could be blood, paint, or even a liquidized, stylistic portrayal of fire. Very cool.

Optical Impression

The Optical Impression version includes songs Vortex and Uncertain Sense, and making-of and music clip DVD. Auditory Impression version comes with 3 songs, Vortex, Uncertain Sense, and BREAK ME.

I’ll admit, I have been less than impressed by any of The GazettE‘s recent releases, leaving me more of a critic-in-passing than a dedicated fan. I’ll watch the MVs, prod their singles with a ten-foot-pole, as it were, but I have to say it, the thing that most interests me about the band these days is the adventures in outfitting Kai. He goes from catering-staff to feudal-era princess to gauntletted ninja, all in about 2 seasons. Whereas their music goes from Red to Red to oh, fancy that, I feel like I’m listening to Red again. Don’t know about you, but I’ve got my priorities straight.

 That being said, after seeing their new look, and the cover of the single, I decided to give PSC’s sullen badboys another chance, and check out Vortex.

I must say, I really liked the song. The construction of the piece felt less and less hectic the more times I listened through, and I thought the verse was at least one note different from the rest of their increasingly more redundant signature chord progressions, although it wouldn’t be a GazettE song if Ruki didn’t hit that one particular note. Come on, you all know the one.

 The screaming wasn’t overbearing, And although I could almost lean toward having left it out entirely, in the end I decided that I’m glad they put it in there. A fast-paced song, Vortex is like running-through-a-daisy-filled-field-at-noon soundtrack music for angry Visualist types, and I felt like the screaming was….upbeat? And added a….put…a…smile…on your face kind of cheerful…..No, I can’t do this.

 Some highlights of the song were the little bridge parts, one at about the 1:20 mark, and another about 20 seconds later right before the guitar solo, which turned out to be another highlight. Another great section was post-guitar-solo, which is the part where you’re meant to start headbanging. I liked how this transitioned smoothly back into the bridge and verses.

I’ve noticed quite a few complaints around the web in regards to the use of “autotune” in the song. He’s actually not really using autotune, and you will notice that he uses it only selectively throughout the song. I think what he’s using is more of a vocoder overlay effect. In any case, let’s talk about this.

Obviously the vocalist’s natural voice is what we want to hear, but I think you gotta realize that, like any other effects used to produce a song, autotune is just another tool available for the musicians to use. In the same way that a guitarist or bassist will use an effects pedal to alter the sound of his instrument, so will the vocalist (who is also a musician, simply one who uses his voice as his instrument) sometimes wish to alter his instrument by using vocoder.
In the (not-verbatim) words of Khatzumoto of the website AJATT (which I highly recommend to any and all Japanese language students), “…the decision to use or not to use [kanji] should be made out of stylistic preference, rather than ignorance.” I tend to feel the same about the use of autotune/vocoder in music. I find the occasional use of vocoder to be acceptable as long as the band is making the decision to use it out of a stylistic preference, rather than a way of covering up sloppy or lackluster vocals.

Since we all know Ruki has nothing to hide, I actually rather enjoyed the use of “autotune” in Vortex. They really didn’t over-do it, and the result was edgy and had a little “pop” to it. It jumped off the page a little more– and actually I enjoyed the way it took me by surprise.

Their music has been so b-average throughout so many consecutive releases that I think they can really risk trying some new things– and we all know they have a natural tendency toward random electronic effects and unnecessary gangsterness coughstackedrubbishcough. Being one of the few Visualists I know who has always enjoyed use of rap and electronica in Visual Kei, though, I am generally more accepting of these things.

By the way, he says “I don’t wanna become the fuckin’ garbage like you”, but I heard the lyrics as: “I want to become the funky garbage like you”. Made sure to look that up before I commended his creative compositional concepts…

Second song on the single, Uncertain Sense, has a slower BPM, heavier riff, and opens to a brilliant replica of the Cassis vocal melody. Just kidding. Kind of. The heavy, steady instrumental backing is really quite good, and I enjoyed the screamy vocals. The vocal melody was also good, except for the parts when it goes into GazettE Medley mode. Barely good 30 seconds shorter than the title track, Uncertain Sense somehow felt like it cropped kinda short, but I feel like short and sweet is better than a long meandering perambulation through snippets of their entire discography. Generally, I liked Uncertain Sense, although I do wish they would take notes on their keys and chord progressions to avoid too much recycling. There were sections in the song, especially in the beginning, that were particularly memorable, and altogether the song came together into a satisfying, heavy half-ballad. Approve.

I instinctively don’t trust songs that begin with the sound of clapping hands. BREAK ME begins with clapping hands, and works its way into faded out vocals– that kind of sultry drawl found often in GazettE‘s repertoire. The song is pretty solid, although I feel like how BREAK ME is repeated so frequently in the lyrics gets old…pet-peeve, I guess. All nit-picking aside, I thought BREAK ME was a decent close to the single, and ended up complementing the other songs and rounding the whole thing off nicely.

All in all, Vortex came out a surprisingly pleasant ray of sunshine after many singles-worth of rain. I actually made it through not only the title track, but also 2 whole B-sides, and am even inspired to keep the single on rotation, rather than open that secret trap-door behind my CD-case where the occasional reject single gets hidden away, lest someone should think I actually listen to it. Whether The GazettE are starting to step their game up and feel a little more inspired (keep workin’ at those vocal melodies, Ruki. I know you’ve got at least one more unique chord prog up your velour sleeve), or I’m just starting to take it all a little less seriously and just enjoy the music more, either way I think I can actually say I appreciated these tracks and even, gasp, recommend the single to both fans, and drop-out fans alike.

girugamesh Prays for Japan

“If you find yourself feel lonely, and you’re crying in your heart, remember you are not alone …”

On March 11th when the 9.0 magnitude quake hit the Tohoku region of Japan, girugamesh was in Germany where they had a scheduled live in Berlin. In a situation where they were really helpless to assist their people and nation, according to a message released to fans early on Wednesday the 13th,  girugamesh did the only thing they could do, and the only thing most of us can still do: pray for Japan. On the 13th, they made their sentiments heard by Visualists worldwide with the release of charity single, pray.

~To the fans ~
On the day the Northeast Japan Earthquake happened, girugamesh was on tour in Europe. We continued the tour despite being very distraught, but we were encouraged by the support and loving words of all our fans. In a situation where all we could do was pray, we put our thoughts into lyrics and returned to Japan.

‎ There we saw with our own eyes the situation, and started thinking about what we could do to help. As musicians, what could we do? So we wrote the song “pray.” The lyrics are about the “praying” we did in Europe and the “hopes” we had after returning to Japan. We want to give hope to as many people as possible and to let the world know about the reality of the situation.

‎That’s what this song is about. So let’s all hold hands, become one and help out! Pray for Japan!

girugamesh

Available for download only via iTunes Store Japan and U.S., and all profits from sales will be donated to areas affected by the earthquake through the “JACK IN THE BOX Donation Project”. 

Pray was released in both a Japanese version and an English version, which, as I see it, seems like a not-so-symbolic expression of the sense of unity mankind needs, both within their own nations, and in relation to all the countries around the globe. It’s certainly not just the Japanese sending home, or sending out, prayers– and the bi-lingual set struck me as an acknowledgment and appreciation of that.

Although I already make a point of purchasing all of my music, I also make a point of not trying to force my own beliefs on those who stand by acquiring their tracks by other means. However, right now I will say this: however it is that you usually go about getting your track-fix, I will put out the sincere request that Visualists step up and purchase Pray as a way of both supporting girugamesh‘s beliefs and sentiments, and as a donation to disaster-relief in Japan.

[iTunes Store U.S.]
pray http://itunes.apple.com/jp/album/id431235821
pray (English ver.) http://itunes.apple.com/jp/album/id431236302

Also, today, April 15th girugamesh will make an appearance on USTREAM, for a special program they will be holding called “pray for Japan”. The program will start at 10:30 PM (Japanese Standard Time), and can be accessed via the links below:

http://www.myspace.com/syncmusicjapan
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nexus-aid

[“pray for Japan” by girugamesh]
Airing time: 2011/04/15 from 22:30 (JST)
URL: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nexus-aid
For Twitter Users: Official Program Hashtag: #girugamesh_pray

Tomorrow girugamesh will make another appearance online via their program hosted by MusicJapanPlus+, “girugamesh TV”.

[girugamesh TV]
Airing time: 2011/04/16 from 21:00 (JST)
Airing Place: MJP (musicJAPANplus) top page (http://www.musicjapanplus.jp/)
Secondary: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/girugamesh-tv
※The airing at 21:00 will be live

If you have a Twitter account, you can participate in the program by using the hash tag “#girugameshTV”. You can follow MusicJapan+’s official English twitter here: http://twitter.com/musicJAPANplus. If everything goes according to plan, I will be tuned in and commenting, and you can connect with me by following @gacktpause, or via the sidebar icon.

Pray

If you find yourself feel lonely And you’re crying in your heart
Hold my hand I’ll be on your side And carry on

When you look upon the sky I wonder if you cry
All I do is pray and kneel Just tell me what you feel
So a wish goes over the seas and the stars though you can’t see
It is true that only love can make the world go around

You know a little piece of light might seem so weak but never lose your hope
Now I got the flood of lights here in my hands

If you find yourself feel lonely And you’re crying in your heart
Remember you are not alone You and me There’s something in between
And I bring your smile back for you Don’t forget I’m here with you
Hold my hand I’ll be on your side And carry on

I wonder how long will it take Till the freezing rain to stop
I’ve got nothing I can give But at least the starry sky

I can only pray and wish for you And then my days are passing by
All the thoughts can’t go nowhere float in the air

If you are lost in the silence On the night when you can’t sleep
You don’t know what you should believe Then I want you to listen to this song
Never let your hand off on mine So that I can keep you warm
Hold my hand I’ll be on your side And carry on

Now, the world becomes one

All the voice and sounds are fading away Can you still hear what I say
But I know everything is gonna be alright ’Cause we know love

If you find yourself feel lonely And you’re crying in your heart
Remember you are not alone ’Cause you and me There’s something in between
And I bring your smile back for you Don’t forget I’m here with you
Hold my hand I’ll be on your side And carry on

Pray was written to be something of a musical beacon of hope and encouragement, and the sentiment runs strong not only in the lyrics, but in the overall feel of the piece as well. And as the lyrics go,

If you are lost in the silence On the night when you can’t sleep
You don’t know what you should believe Then I want you to listen to this song

I think I can say that I will.

pray (English ver.) lyrics: Satoshi translation: Kota music: girugamesh /
information and  lyrics – girugamesh official Facebook

Ustream event information- MusicJapan+

Story Time With Lc5

Having an acute case of osharephobia, my AnCafe awareness phase hit me during my angsty early days, back before I became jaded enough to have opinions and a sense of distinction about what I listened to. My appreciation for the hyperactive, affectedly-nasal, stressful listening experience was, needless to say, short-lived. Although I never came to dislike the band, and will still even admit to enjoying a few songs (Ryuusei Rocket and Snow Scene pop up on shuffle from time to time and don’t get skipped), I stopped following them or listening actively.

That is, until last year when vocalist miku finally won his battle against the chronic sinus-infection that seemed to last, oh bloody hell, like 6 years (poor guy), put the whole project on hiatus, and went off to develop his ennui and strip down to monochrome for the debut of side-project Lc5 and their fresh-faced new-born first single, Loveless. My first impression of them being somewhat in the gray zone, I put them on the short-list and moved on…until the time was right, and I picked up their second single, Story.

First of all, the concept for the single is pretty sweet. I’m down with the contrast of density and spaciousness, light and dark. Also, the way they worked the cold, clean lines of the background and the soft furs and miku’s mellow expression. Simple and striking, it’s classy and understated.

The titular track, Story, opens with a clean piano line and straight guitar chords that flow neatly into a concise, heartfelt rock piece. The vocals are light and low, and play crisply on the airy highnotes of emotion that prove miku can express elegantly without a stuffy nose. The verses are sweetly satisfying, and the chorus stays out of your face while still being catchy. Like the cover, the title track is all clean lines and soft depth, a sweet rock ballad with a good vocal break and a versatile feel. My favorite part of the song has to be the last third of the track, when they transpose keys, switch up the vocal breaks, and throw in a whammy-riding guitar solo to fade out a well-rounded rock ballad.

Story fades into Deeper Than Fate, the meat of the single. Cruising and rocking from the onset, the bassy track is a great middle-ground between tender Story and heavier DIRTY STAR. miku’s vocals ring strongly of Hyde back in his early L’arc days of melodic emo wails. In fact, the whole sound of Lc5 does follow on L’arc‘s heels somewhat, creating a strong, classic sound that makes for quality Jrock like bands were putting out in the early 00’s before everyone started experimenting with electronic samples and live mixing (I blame [thank] Toshiyuki Kishi for this). The guitar solos are solid, the bass is well-equalized, the riffs are well-put-together, and everything is orderly and very easy on the ears.

The single finishes off with DIRTY STAR, the title of which doesn’t really some congruous, but the actual song is really decent. The jazzy, bassy opening with the airy vocal overlay feels fresh and new, while the vocals spin through another classic Jrock track. The details of the track are great, and I enjoyed the effects they layered on the vocals throughout, mixing things up a bit. The “and”-beat feel of the lead into the chorus creates a trip-up sort of feel that I thought was pretty cool.

All in all the single is a really solid piece of work, and I have to say that I am impressed by what Lc5 has put out so far. The entire single is classy and elegant, with some nice detailing and a strong foundation. The arrangement of all 3 pieces is well-done, and they felt congruous as a set, while at the same time able to hold their own if separated out…

I will certainly be following Lc5 more closely from now on, and should they [not] surprise us with a full-length album this year, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick it up or recommend others to do the same.