Ayumi Hamasaki – MY STORY

About you
2.5
GAME
3.5
my name’s WOMEN
2.5
Liar
2.5
HOPE or PAIN
2.5
HAPPY ENDING
3.5
Moments
3.5
walking proud
2.5
INSPIRE
3.5
HONEY
2.5
Replace
3.5
winding road
3.5

thoughts. B+.
This is the point where in concern to Ayumi’s albums I started liking them and not dismissing them. I am not saying that I don’t like her earlier albums, but I resonate better with her albums starting with this one; her sixth album, MY STORY which was on a more personal level concerning different facets of her life. I actually prefer her latter albums with the exception of Rock ‘n Roll Circus, Party Queen and to some extent LOVE again. I’m not saying MY STORY is great, it’s just good. It’s what I wish I am… and RAINBOW would have striven for. The only song I can say that really didn’t do anything for me is my names WOMEN. It’s start’s off strong with About You, followed by GAME which makes me think of another track I really like from her, Alterna or even ourselves. Liar is a pretty underrated track from her but sounds like a better version of Over. HOPE or PAIN is a decent track and bleeds well into HAPPY ENDING, another track from her in which I think is underrated. I ADORE Moments, its such an unpolished jewel of a song. I felt like I should have liked walking proud more, but it’s always been a pretty hit or miss track for me. INSPIRE is very interesting and catchy. HONEY reminds me of a more lackluster Angels Song for some reason. Replace is a great concert closer of a track and winding road has to be one of the most underrated songs ever from her, right up there with FRIEND and It was. Great track to end the album on. A lot of people say their love for Ayumi started with her LOVEppears album; for me it started with MY STORY.

  • favorite track – Moments
    least favorite track – my name’s WOMEN
    guilty pleasure track – INSPIRE
    under rated track – winding road

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Ayumi Hamasaki – RAINBOW

WE WISH
2.5
Real Me
2.5
Free & Easy
2.5
Heartplace
2.5
Over
2.5
HANABI
2.5
Everywhere Nowhere
2.5
July 1st
3.5
Dolls
2.5
Voyage
3.5
Close to you
3.5

thoughts. B-.
I haven’t been this underwhelmed with an Ayumi Hamasaki album since A Song for xx, possibly (I didn’t really care for Duty or I am… either). It’s weird how people dislike her more recent albums when her earlier albums were dull as fuck. RAINBOW is Ayumi’s fifth album and I don’t remember ever liking this album this little. It’s almost astonishing how forgettable this album is to me. RAINBOW is one of her ‘messy’ albums as I would say. It just seemed like she was playing around with sounds and just threw them on the album. Real Me is not bad but it is a hot mess, with the terrible engrish. I feel like I should have liked Free & Easy, HANABI and Dolls more. Over and WE WISH aren’t bad, just seem oddly out of place and I can say the same with Heartplace, because I’m just not feeling it as much as I once did. Everywhere Nowhere is the most forgettable track on the album. The bright spots are of course July 1st, Voyage and Close to you; they actually save this album from falling into the C category. I’m also miffed that she didn’t put RAINBOW on here… seriously, the name of the album is RAINBOW and she leaves that off the album. Fail.

  • favorite track – Voyage
    least favorite track – Everywhere Nowhere
    guilty pleasure track – July 1st
    under rated track – Close to you

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Ayaka Hirahara – The Four L’s

Oath 
3.5
Circle Game 
3.5
Reset
2.5
I will be with you
2.5
WILL
2.5
Start Line
2.5
The Wind of the Beginning
2.5
The Star of Aries
2.5
The Future of Us
2.5
Eternally
2.5
Music
2.5

thoughts. C.
I remember liking Ayaka Hirahara’s third album The Four L’s a lot more than I do now; it’s actually pretty boring. This is the main reason why I like to re-listen to albums before I review them, because to me once I get rid of the songs I don’t like I’m able to give the album an honest review based on the ones I do like. Ayaka’s voice is great as usual in the album starts off really strong with Oath and Circle Game, however after those two tracks it’s just a bunch of average sounding tracks. I’m actually surprised that aside from Oath, none of the other single releases stood out to me. This is a very interesting result because I remember being really into this album when I first heard it years ago.

  • favorite track – Oath
    least favorite track – WILL
    guilty pleasure track – Circle Game
    under rated track – I will be with you

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ayaka – The beginning

Time To Start
2.5
Hello
2.5
Red Sky
2.5
The beginning
3.5
LIGHT
2.5
I Beg The Sky
3.5
Tsunagaru Kokoro
2.5
THIS IS THE TIME
2.5
I’ll Walk There
2.5
Smile Canvas
3.5
Magic Mind
3.5
To You
2.5
Gentle Blue
2.5

thoughts. B+.
When I first listened to ayaka’s third album after her long hiatus due to her illness, I felt a bit indifferent toward it. However, re-listening to The beginning for this review; it actually plays a lot better. Despite my average/fair rating of most of the tracks on this album, I would honestly recommend this over her debut album any-day. It’s one of those albums you can put on and just listen to straight through. The only song I suppose I didn’t really like all that much is maybe Red Sky, but that is still loads better than anything you will hear on First Message save for I Believe and Mikazuki. I really dug the title track an I Beg The Sky, Smile Canvas and Magic Mind are all surprisingly good tracks, especially the latter two. Smile Canvas really standing out. Ayaka’s voice is good as usual, and I think it’s what saved this album from mediocrity. It’s a complete 180 from Sing to the Sky, but it definitely stands on his own and is a pretty solid comeback album from her.

  • favorite track – The beginning
    least favorite track – Red Sky
    guilty pleasure track – Smile Canvas
    under rated track – I Beg The Sky

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ARASHI – How’s it going?

Tomadoi Nagara -album version-
3.5
Lucky Man
2.5
Couple Without Size Difference
3.5
ONLY LOVE
2.5
Silence Before The Storm
2.5
Blue
2.5
Walking In The Rain
2.5
Paletto
2.5
Only Possible
2.5
Te Agero
2.5
15th Moon
2.5

thoughts. B.
ARASHI’s third album blandly titled How’s it going? is like their previous; not bad but not particularly good either. I found that I enjoyed their first album more than I thought I would, but this one was just all right. It was kinda like a mixed bag of average sounding sounds with: Tomadoi Nagara -album version- and Couple Without Size Difference being the only two stand out tracks, even though ONLY LOVE isn’t a bad track either. ARASHIto be a Johnny’s boy group have some really decent voices, so How’s it going? is one of those albums that you can throw on and listen to as like background noise or something. Even so sometimes they can sound a bit obnoxious with songs like Te Agero; I am partial to that song though. I mean that’s the thing with ARASHI, they have some really obnoxious sounding tracks that I shouldn’t like but I do. So, I get why they’re so popular. They’re a guilty pleasure group for me.

  • favorite track – Tomadoi Nagara -album version-
    least favorite track – Te Agero
    guilty pleasure track – Lucky Man
    under rated track – Couple Without Size Difference

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Ami Suzuki – INFINITY EIGHTEEN Vol.2

Let me talk about my history one more time
2.5
Infinity 18 Vol. 2
3.5
THANK YOU 4 EVERY DAY, EVERY BODY
3.5
DRIVE ME CRAZY
2.5
Down Beat
2.5
Make a Move
2.5
STEP
2.5
289
3.5

thoughts. B.
I believe INFINITY EIGHTEEN Vol.2, Ami Suzuki’s third album was her last really popular album before she got blacklisted. I actually like this album loads better than volume 1. It’s weird because I liked more tracks on the first one, yet the tracks on this album were just better. I was touched by songs like THANK YOU 4 EVERY DAY, EVERY BODY and 289. And I love the infectious catchyness of Infinity 18 Vol. 2. This is not a great album by any means, none of her earlier albums are. They have that generic-ness to them that doesn’t age well, also this in vol. 1 just felt rushed to me; even so, she did it a lot better with INFINITY EIGHTEEN Vol.2. It’s cute and has charm. Ami comes across as genuinely grateful for her success and I like that. So, it’s just sad what happened after this album was released, an how the subsequent events derailed her career. Her DOLCE (can’t wait to review that) album is one of my favorite Japanese albums. So, I’m still waiting for another release from her, whenever or if ever she decides to grace us with one.

  • favorite track – Infinity 18 Vol. II
    least favorite track – Down Beat
    guilty pleasure track – THANK YOU 4 EVERY DAY, EVERY BODY
    under rated track – 289

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Akina Nakamori – NEW AKINA Etranger

Sayonara ne
2.5
Venus Tanjo
2.5
Sukoshi dake Scandal
2.5
Kanshokiko
3.5
Renaissance -Yasashisa de Kaete-
2.5
Mon Amour -Glass ni Hanbun no Tasogare-
2.5
Stripe
2.5
Wakurabairo no Kaze -Love Song-
2.5
Kakugo no Aki
2.5

thoughts. C.
I think I may like Akina’s fourth album NEW AKINA Etranger, but then again maybe not. I believe that even though I forgot the songs on her previous album once it was over, I do feel as if they popped out at me more. Akina’s voice is good on here, but none of the tracks really jump out at me. I wasn’t particularly wowed by any single track on this album, despite finding Akina’s vocals as pleasant as they always are. The only track I guess that really did anything for me was the ballad Kanshokiko, however that isn’t really saying much. I just really liked her vocals on that track; Venus Tanjo as well. It’s an all right, but somewhat forgettable album.

  • favorite track – Kanshokiko
    least favorite track – Renaissance -Yasashisa de Kaete-
    guilty pleasure track – Sayonara ne
    under rated track – Venus Tanjo

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Akina Nakamori – Fantasy ~Gensoukyoku~

Ruri-iro no Yoru e
3.5
Aventure
2.5
Nigiwai no Kisetsuhe
3.5
Kizudarake no Love
3.5
Mewotojite Excursion
2.5
Second Love
2.5
Shishunki
2.5
More Motto Koishite
2.5
Aitsu wa Joke
2.5

thoughts. B.
As I have said before Akina Nakamori has a slew of albums, so sometimes it’s going to be a bit difficult to differentiate. I will do my best though. Fantasy ~Gensoukyoku~ is her third album and it’s actually pretty good and stands out a lot more than her previous two albums which didn’t seem to have much of a presence to me. The exception being the really good track Image no Kakeri. Akina’s voice is really niceobviously, this album has that 80’s vibe that I actually surprisingly like. I love how she was the anti-thesis to pop, it made her very interesting. The album isn’t anything special, it’s a pretty standard album with a few good tracks: Ruri-iro no Yoru e, Nigiwai no Kisetsuhe and Kizudarake no Love to name a few. It fades after a listen, but I do like it more than her previous two albums.

  • favorite track – Ruri-iro no Yoru e
    least favorite track – Second Love
    guilty pleasure track – Nigiwai no Kisetsuhe
    under rated track – Kizudarake no Love

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Akeboshi – After the rain clouds go

Usual life
3.5
Beat the snow
2.5
Tiny Rainbow
2.5
Drifting sounds
2.5
Fragments of memory
3.5
Meltwater
2.5
Kumori Yozora
3.5
Break the spell
2.5
Muchuu de Yume no Uchi
2.5
Standing on the line
2.5
Messed up mind
3.5

thoughts. B-.
After the rain clouds go is the last album, as of now, released by Akeboshi. It’s a real shame to, because I love his calm and melancholy approach to music. It’s very hit or miss and not always in-between. He has some really emotionally moving in thought provoking songs, so I do hope he releases another album in the near future. This album pretty much plays like the previous two, it doesn’t stand out and it doesn’t try to. You will either like it or you won’t, in this case I do. Akeboshi oddly doesn’t have any tracks that jump out and cling to me like on his previous two albums, but the songs I did find myself really liking are: Usual Life, Fragments of Memory, Kumori Yuzora and Messed up mind. Akeboshi’s albums aren’t great and can be boring as his style is not to everyone’s taste, but I’d buy them.

  • favorite track – Usual Life
    least favorite track – Meltwater
    guilty pleasure track – Messed up mind
    under-rated track – Kumori Yuzora

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Ailee – A Doll’s House

U & I
2.5
No No No
2.5
Rainy Day
3.5
How Could You Do This To Me
3.5
Scandal
3.5
I’ll Be OK
3.5

thoughts. B.
A Doll’s House is Ailee’s second Korean mini album and I wasn’t really feeling it all that much. U & I and No No No aren’t bad songs; she delivers decent vocal performances for both of them, it’s just that aside from that they didn’t really stay with me once they were over. Rainy Day is where the album really comes into it’s own, an even though I didn’t instantly like Scandal or I’ll Be OK the first go around, I really got into them once I stopped and really gave them a listen. Ailee has a great voice, sometimes I can’t decide on whose voice I like more between her or IU. I do prefer IU, though only because I’ve been a fan of her longer. Anyway, this is a better and more stand out mini than her previous one. Even though they both seemed to contain the same formula for the most part.

  • favorite track – How Could You Do This To Me?
    least favorite track – U & I
    guilty pleasure track – Scandal
    under-rated track – I’ll Be OK

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