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SCANDAL – YELLOW (A J!-ENT World Groove Album Review)

February 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

【3.2】SCANDAL_AL_YELLOW_ESCL 4594_通常版

SAWA’s “I Can Fly” is a mini-album that is average at best boosted by its strong musical presence courtesy of collaborations with Yukihiro Fukutomi, note native and a few others.


 

BAND: SCANDAL

ALBUM: YELLOW

LABEL: Epic Records Japan

DURATION: 24:04

RELEASE DATE: March 2, 2016


 

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  1. Room No. 7
  2. Stamp!
  3. LOVE ME DO
  4. Morning Sun
  5. Sunday Drive
  6. 今夜はピザパーティー
  7. ヘブンな気分
  8. SUKI-SUKI
  9. LOVE
  10. Sisters
  11. Happy Birthday
  12. ちいさなほのお
  13. Your song – English ver.- (BONUS TRACK)

Listening to a review copy of SCANDAL’s “YELLOW”, the latest seventh album from the all-female rock group.

The album showcases not only musical maturity for the group, but featuring diverse tracks from their heavy hitting opening track “Room no. 7”, razor sharp melodic hooks with “Stamp!”, “Sunday Drive” and “Sisters, captivating ballads such as “Morning Sun”, “Chiisana Honoo” and the smooth, tropical “LOVE”, and staying consistent with fun tracks such as “Konya wa Pizza Party” and a solid English version of “Your song”.

After several repeats, I’m really digging this album so far! And I think SCANDAL fans will enjoy this album as well!

“YELLOW” from SCANDAL will be available on March 2nd.


 

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Bob Marley and the Wailers – Legend – 30th Anniversary Edition (a J!-ENT World Groove Album Review)

July 6, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

bobmarley-30-legend

For those who have never purchased “Legend” and are curious about “Legend 30th Anniversary Edition”, just know that “Legend” is an essential album for any music collector and reggae music fan. Highly recommended!

ARTIST: Bob Marley and the Wailers

TITLE: Legend – 30th Anniversary Edition

LABEL: Island Records/Tuff Gong / Universal Music Enterprises

DURATION: 68 minutes

CATALOG #: NKCD-6655

RELEASE DATE: July 1, 2014

  1. Is This Love
  2. No Woman No Cry (New – Studio Version)
  3. Could You Be Loved
  4. Three Little Birds
  5. Buffalo Soldier
  6. Get Up Stand Up
  7. Stir It Up
  8. Easy Skanking (New – Alternate Version)
  9. One Love/People Get Ready
  10. I Shot the Sheriff
  11. Waiting in Vain
  12. Redemption Song
  13. Satisfy My Soul
  14. Exodus
  15. Jamming
  16. Punky Reggae Party (New – Alternate Version)

bobmarley-30-legend-b

Photo CR: Adrian Boot – Fifty-Six Hope Road Music, Ltd.

Back in the early 1980’s, after discovering “Reggae Sunsplash” and being a grommet that would learning to surf thanks to my uncle, I was introduced to the music of the late Bob Marley.

And my first major reggae purchase on cassette would be “Legend”, a compilation album by Bob Marley and the Wailers released in 1984 by Island Records and is a greatest hits collection of singles.

The album would become the best-selling reggae album of all-time with 27 million copies sold worldwide and 15 million RIAA-certified copies in the U.S. alone.

The album has since been released several times with the original cassette having ten tracks and in 1990, a compact disc that wuld feature 14 tracks in their original album lengths and not the edited versions for single release.

In 2002, “Legend” would have an expanded 14-track edition release and would include a bonus disc with 1984-vintage remixes. To be followed up with a 2004 double CD release and would come with a music DVD.

In 2012, “Legend” would receive a high-fidelity release in various resolutions digitally.

But to celebrate the music of Bob Marley and the Wailers and the 30th Anniversary of “Legend”, Universal Music Enterprises will release “Legend 30th Anniversary Edition” as a CD/Blu-ray Pure Audio Disc combo set.

The combo set will include all tracks mixed in 5.1 by GRAMMY Award winning producer Bob Clearmountain on Blu-ray Pure Audio Disc and will include the original, early version of “No Woman No Cry”, replacing the previous live version.

Also, included are two previously unheard alternate versions of “Easy Skanking” and “Punky Reggae Party” which were recently discovered in the Marley vault.

The album would also include Marley’s hits such as “Three Little Birds”, “Get Up Stand Up”, “No Woman No Cry”, “I Shot the Sheriff”, “Jamming”, “Exodus”, “Redemption Song” and “Is This Love”.

Along with a 28-page, casebound book (or PDF if purchasing the album digitally) which features extended liner notes, unseen photos and forewards written by Sir Paul McCartney, Steview Wonder and liner notes by author Christopher Marley, who wrote the book “Marley”.

In addition to the CD+Blu-ray Pure Audio Disc release, “Legend 30th Anniversary Edition” will also be released on tri-color vinyl and pressed as a double gatefold LP allowing for a higher fidelity sound quality that is closer to the original source.

Listening to “Legend 30th Anniversary Edition”, while I’m unable to comment on the Blu-ray Pure Audio Disc and how the tracks sound via lossless 5.1 and how each channel is utilized for the music, I can say from the digital version, listening to the tracks today is just an enjoyable as it was back in the early ’80s.

While I do miss the live version of “No Woman No Cry” (it’s not a big loss as the track is easily available on previous albums),  I do enjoy the melodic and soothing flow of the studio version of “No Woman No Cry”.

And the addition of two new alternative tracks of “Easy Skanking” and “Punk Reggae Party” is a great addition to the best album.

As a person who has purchased the original cassette, the CD and the 2002 Definitive Remastered Edition, I know that for HD music enthusiasts, to listen to “Legend” in 5.1 lossless is a major plus to owning the album, especially to have the included booklet and additional tracks.

I spent many years of my life listening to “Legend” as a teenager with my Bob Marley t-shirt driving miles to go surf, a college student driving off to college and now as an adult and a parent, sharing my passion for Bob Marley and the Wailers and their music with my own family.  I literally grew up with this album and felt the music has always and consistently through the decades, continues to touch my soul.  The melodies, Bob Marley’s vocals, everything about his music is harmonious and wonderful.

For those who have never purchased “Legend” and are curious about “Legend 30th Anniversary Edition”, just know that “Legend” is an essential album for any music collector and reggae music fan.

Highly recommended!

Jasmine – Complexxx (a J!-ENT World Groove Album Review)

November 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

jasmine-complexxx

“Complexxx” is a good album from JASMINE, though a little bit inconsistent.  There is no need to take JASMINE to a Kana Nishino, Katy Perry or even Amuro-ish type of style.  JASMINE is an artist full of talent that could scope out her own style without needing to sound like anyone else.  But listening to this album, I felt there were too many hands stirring the pot of where to take her music and what direction. 

Image is courtesy of © 2013 Sony Music Associated Records, Inc.

ARTIST: Jasmine

TITLE: Complexxx

LABEL: Sony Music Associated Records, Inc.

CATALOG #: AICL-2578

DURATION: 52 minutes

RELEASE DATE: August 28, 2013

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  1. High Flying
  2. Best Partner
  3. Addicition
  4. Touch me on the Beach
  5. B*TCH*S
  6. I Hate You
  7. Weekend High
  8. ONLY YOU
  9. Realize
  10. ONE
  11. HERO
  12. I’ll be there

Back in 2009, R&B artist JASMINE was once called “the next Hikaru Utada”.

Having had success with her debut single “Sad to Say” (which was certified platinum for “full-length cellphone downloads” and repeated similar success with her second single “No More”.

In August 2013, JASMINE released her second full-length album “Complexxx” featuring her sixth through ninth singles which include “One”, “Only You”, “Best Partner”, “High Flying” and “Hero”.

There were two versions of “Complexxx” available. One with a DVD featuring the music videos for her five singles and the other version which is a normal version without a DVD.

The version I will be reviewing is the normal version of “Complexxx”.

The CD-insert is a seven-fold with photos of JASMINE on one side and production credits inside.  Included is a lyrics booklet and a promotional for JASMINE Monthly Live at Shibuya Womb and fan club news.

The single kicks off with her ninth single titled “High Flying” which she wrote and also composed the music (with KO-KI) and features a collaboration with UTA of TinyVoice Production.  An upbeat, catchy, addictive tracks with the slamming percussion and synth beats. Featuring solid vocals and arrangement, a solid single!

The second track on the album is her eighth single “Best Partner” which features lyrics written by JASMINE.   An upbeat pop track with catchy percussion, synth strings and a track that showcased JASMINE’s vocals with a more accessible pop style and definitely one of my favorite singles from her.

The third track on the album is “Addiction” featuring lyrics and music by JASMINE and Jeff Miyahara.  A quick upbeat pop track with punchy percussion and cool arrangement and had a touch of synth that is reminiscent of Amuro Namie’s “Hide & Seek”.

The fourth track is “Touch me on the Beach” written by JASMINE and is an upbeat summer track with cool dance beats.

The fifth track is titled “B*TCH*S” and features lyrics written by JASMINE and music written by JASMINE, Jeff Miyahara, Harambasic, Jenssen, Svendsen, Wik.  A track with a more experimental style with the synth and beats and comes off as a western style that sounds more Katy Perry-like, but it works on the album.

The sixth track is titled “I Hate You” and is a song written by Jasmine and features an experimental sound created by JASMINE and UTA.  A mid-tempo smooth song with quick upbeat transitions.

The seventh track is titled “Weekend High” written by JASMINE and features music by Jasmine and Tomokazu Matsuzawa and is a Friday night party song.  And it’s a song that also has a Katy Perry-vibe but it’s a fun upbeat track.

The eighth track on the album is JASMINE’s seventh single “Only You” and is written by Jasmine and features music by JASMINE and T.SK.  A smooth, upbeat ballad.

The ninth track on the album is “Realize” and is written by JASMINE and Miss art and is vocally sung well, but felt the arrangement was OK.  It just didn’t catch my attention all that much.

The tenth track on the album is “One”, JASMINE’s sixth single produced by Norwegian record producing and songwriting team Stargate (best known for producing and co-writing Ne-Yo’s “So Sick” and Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable”).  A pretty catch track and wished more tracks on the album were produced by Stargate.  It’s a pretty cool track overall!

The eleventh track “HERO” features a collaboration with Taku Takahashi of m-flo, who produced the single and features music by Taku and Minami of CREAM.  The inspirational track is about looking at one as a hero, believing in them and not losing hope in them.  The single is well-performed, upbeat and musically well-arranged.

The final twelfth track on the album is “I’ll be there” featuring lyrics by JASMINE and H.U.B. and is produced by Bachlogic.  It’s a mid-tempo ballad that features Jasmine’s awesome vocals and a pretty solid track overall.
Overall, JASMINE’s “Complexxx” is a cool sophomore album with a good mix of R&B and pop tracks.   Her single tracks are awesome and you have good upbeat tracks such as “Addiction” and then you have tracks that sound very Katy Perry-ish.  And while diverse musically, I feel that with as much talent that she has, there should be a good push for more collaborations.  This album was good for having JASMINE with Taku and Stargate but would love to see her teamed up with DJ’s, hip hop artists and even incorporating some Shibuya-kei ala Readymade and Cornelius or even bringing some experimentation that balances and compliments her vocals, not take away from it.

“Complexxx” is a good album from JASMINE, though a little bit inconsistent.  There is no need to take JASMINE to a Kana Nishino, Katy Perry or even Amuro-ish type of style.  JASMINE is an artist full of talent that could scope out her own style without needing to sound like anyone else.  But listening to this album, I felt there were too many hands stirring the pot of where to take her music and what direction.   It’s not bad to have a bit of musical diversity but if you’re going to do it, do it right.  It feels there was consistency with her singles but then with her non-single tracks, it was a bit more experimental to see Jasmine try out various styles.

And last, I don’t like to see the promotional effort of JASMINE slow down like it has.   She has way too much talent and potential and really needs a push by the label.  I would like to see more drama or even anime theme song collaborations in order to help get her name and music out there and her label has been very good at establishing that for many of their artists and bands.

Overall, “Complexxx” is a good second album for JASMINE, but I feel that it could be even better.

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LiSA – LANDSPACE (a J!-ENT World Groove Album Review)

October 31, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Unknown

The music on “LANDSPACE”, a lot of the tracks are upbeat, many songs that are inspirational and an album featuring 12 solid tracks worth listening to!  LiSA’s “LANDSPACE” is recommended!

Image is courtesy of © 2013 Aniplex Inc.

ARTIST: LiSA

TITLE: LANDSPACE

LABEL: Aniplex Inc.

CATALOG #: SVWC-7964

DURATION: 51 Minutes

RELEASE DATE: October 30, 2013

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1. Canvas boy x Palette girl
2. Cosmic Jet Coaster
3. crossing field (opening theme song for TV anime series “Sword Art Online”)
4. DOCTOR
5. Bokuno Kotobade
6. best day, best way
7. Hitori Waratte
8. say my name no kataomoi
9. Usotsuki no Namida
10. Gyakkou Orchestra
11. träumerei (opening theme song for TV anime series “Day Break Illusion”)
12. winding road

In 2010, the music artist LiSA made her major debut in the anime TV series “Angel Beats!”.

For anime fans, her music was featured on the series as part of the fictional in-story band Girls Dead Monster and music from this fictional band were released as singles through the label Key Sounds.  And her connection to the anime series would eventually lead to her first appearance at 2010 Animelo Summer Live.

In 2011, she would make her official solo debut under the Aniplex Inc. music label (under Sony Music Artists) with her mini-album “Letters to U” and her first solo single “Oath Sign” was used in the anime TV series “Fate/Zero” which would bring international attention to the music artist.

With her first full-length solo album “Lover”s”mile” released in 2012, LiSA would make her first U.S. debut with a concert at Anime Expo 2012 in Los Angeles.

But it’s her second single “Crossing Field”, used for the anime series “Sword Art Online” that would continue to bring international attention to the singer.    The single sold over 100,000 CD singles and received over 200,000 downloads in Japan.

In 2013, LiSA released two more singles.  Her third single “Best Day, Best Way” (April) debuted at #6 on the Oricon Singles Charts without any promotional tie-ins and her fourth single “Träumerei” (August), which was used for the anime series “Day Break Illusion”.

And these three singles are featured in her second full length album titled “LANDSPACE”, which was made available on iTunes in 40 countries internationally including the United States.  The album includes several songs with lyrics and music written by LiSA.

As for physical CD release, there will be two versions.  A normal CD version only and another which comes with a DVD.

The version that I am reviewing is the normal CD version which comes with a 16-page insert booklet with lyrics, production credits and photos of LiSA.  Also, included is a flyer promoting her acoustic mini-live performance on November 16th.

The single kicks off with the song “Canvas boy x Pallette girl”, an upbeat rock track.  A song that captures LiSA’s rock style with free rock style courtesy of akkin’s guitar-playing and solid vocals.

The second track is written by LiSA and is titled “Cosmic Jet Coaster” and an upbeat happy rock track with cool transitions of churning guitar and upbeat rock music.

The third track is LiSA’s hit single “crossing field” used as the opening theme for “Sword Art Online”.  A catchy, addictive song about wanting to forget the weakness and securities of one past and being with someone you love who gives you the strength to become even stronger.  A song that captures the main characters of the anime series.

The fourth track is “DOCTOR” written by LiSA and is an upbeat, rock track that showcases the guitars, bass and synth playing with LiSA’s smooth rock vocals.  A solid track and one of my favorite non-single tracks on the album.

The fifth track “Bokuno Kotobade” is a slow rock ballad by LiSA and a passionate and poetically written song by LiSA on the album!  Definitely one of the better non-single tracks on “LANDSPACE”.

The sixth track “best day, best way” is LiSA’s third single and is an upbeat track full of hope and inspiration.  A fun and happy track about believing in yourself and overcoming anything bad that have happened in the past and moving forward.

The seven track “Hitori Waratte” is a an interesting rock track that is more rock during its chorus but a song that features pretty cool piano with experimental grungy guitars playing softly in the background.   A darker track about crying alone, laughing alone after the end of one’s dream.  A pretty cool track and love the transitions in the song and great piano and guitars from wowaka!

The eighth track on the album is titled “say my name no kataomoi” and another song on the album written by LiSA.  Love the guitars for the song and it’s an upbeat rock track and is a song about wanting for a person to say your name and that person to realize how much she likes that person so much.  But for now it’s a one-sided love.

The ninth track is “Usotsuki no Namida” (Lying Tears) and a mid-tempo mellow track.  Another smooth and well-sung ballad by LiSA.

The tenth track on the album is “Gyakkou Orchestra” (Backlight Orchestra) and is an upbeat rock track with great guitar playing light and an interesting contrast to the eleventh track, LiSA’s fourth single “träumerei”, used for the anime series “Daybreak Illusion”.

I haven’t seen the anime yet but for the song itself, it’s another inspirational song about one losing the rhythm in their heart and is now on the road of loneliness, but still the person wants to pierce the sky with their own light, shatter the darkness and have a fresh new start in life.

The final track on the album is “winding road” with music and lyrics written by LiSA and is a mid-tempo rock track about missing someone and how that person will forever live in their heart.

Overall, “LANDSPACE” is an album that showcases LiSA’s diverse talents as a vocalist and songwriter, but also establishing her own style as a vocalist.  Whereas most female vocalist on the Anison circle tend to be vocalist known for their cuteness and sweet vocals.  But LiSA’s presence have shown a young woman with style, beautiful vocals and the ability to take on various musical styles, may it be happy, upbeat rock music or even something more darker.

But for the music on “LANDSPACE”, a lot of the tracks are upbeat, many songs that are inspirational and an album featuring 12 solid tracks worth listening to!  While most fans who are familiar with her singles, especially songs such as “crossing road” and “träumerei”, there are songs on this album that are non-singles and are very enjoyable.  Also, the music for these tracks are well-done, especially the guitar-playing which was a highlight for me, listening to the entire album.

If you are a fan of LiSA, her second album “LANDSPACE” is recommended!

BUY THIS ALBUM ON iTUNES USA

BUY THIS ALBUM from cdjapan.com:

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Epic: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Music by Danny Elfman (a J!-ENT World Groove Album Review)

June 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

stuckinlove

Another fantastic soundtrack in the musical oeuvre of Danny Elfman!  Fans of Elman’s style of music will no doubt enjoy “Epic: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Music by Danny Elfman”.  Recommended!

Image is courtesy of © 2013 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.  All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Epic: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Music by Danny Elfman

LABEL: Sony Classical

DURATION: 52:25

RELEASE DATE: May 28, 2013

  1. Leafmen
  2. Pursuit
  3. Tara’s Chamber
  4. Meet Dad
  5. Moonhaven Parade
  6. Alarms
  7. The Selection
  8. Ambush
  9. Tara’s Gift
  10. Small
  11. Girl Meets Boy
  12. Rings of Knowledge
  13. Antlers
  14. Kidnapped
  15. In the House
  16. Many Leaves
  17. Escape
  18. False Start
  19. Epic Final Confrontation
  20. Return
  21. Epic Finale

When it comes to television and movie soundtracks, Danny Elfman’s name is one of the names you will often seen listed.

Known for creating “The Simpsons” theme, creating music for Tim Burton’s “Batman”, “Corpse Bride”, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and most recently creating the music for “Men in Black 3”, “Frankenweenie”, “Hitchcock” and “Oz and the Great and Powerful”, to say that Danny Elfman is in demand as a composer is an understatement.

And for the Oingo Boingo lead vocalist turned prolific TV/film composer, Danny Elfman’s latest addition to his musical oeuvre is the 2013 American 3D computer animated epic fantasy-adventure-comedy drama, “Epic” based on William Joyce’s children’s book “The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs”.  An animated film produced by Blue Sky Studios, directed by Chris Wedge and features the voices of stars talents such as Amanda Seyfried, josh Hutcherson, Colin Farrell, Christoph Waltz, Aziz Ansari, Chris O’Dowd, Pitbull, Jason Sudeikis, Steven Tyler and Beyonce Knowles.

The film revolves around a teenage girl named Mary Katherine who moves in with her eccentric scientist father Professor Bomba, after the death of her mother.  She finds out that her father is looking for little tiny human soldiers, which she is quite skeptical and wishes her father would stop pursuing such work.

But the truth is Professor Bomba is correct and that these tiny humans known as “Leafmen” do in fact exist and their duty is to protect the forest from the evil Boggans and their leader Mandrake who are intent in destroying the forest.

One day, as Mary Katherine a.k.a. “M.K.” leaves home, annoyed by her father, the queen of the forest, Queen Tara is attacked by Bogans and is shot by Mandrake.  While looking for father’s dog Ozzie, she sees Queen Tara falling and Tara gives M.K. her leaf pod and uses her magic to shrink her.  Her final message to M.K. is to take the pod to a glowworm named Nim Galuu.

Now, knowing that her father research is true, M.K. with the help of the Leafmen try to reach to safety, knowing that Mandrake and the Boggans are out to kill them.

With this adventure and fantasy theme, Danny Elfmanworked with many musicians for this soundtrack.  From musicians who specialize in violins, violas, celli, bass, flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, French horns, trumpets, trombones, tubas, harps, percussion, timpani, piano and guitar.

brings a bit of an Irish style of fun and uplifting music for the first track “Leafmen”.  But manages to transition to the more serious and action-sequence of “Pursuit” which features Danny Elfman’s trademark style of action music.

His style is heard in “Tara’s Chamber” and to hear the vocal chorus employed in “Tara’s Chamber” reminds me of his work on “Batman”.  Ominous with a dab of playfulness, a beautiful track on this soundtrack!

For the fourth track “Meet Dad”, the soundtrack captures the playfulness and eccentric style of Professor Bomba, albeit a short :34 second track.

The fifth track “Moonnhaven Parade” is a beautiful track that utilizes harp and guitar with gentleness, while the short track “Alarms” utilizes strings to the track’s efficacy.  And once again, for the more magical track “The Selection”, a beautiful track that also captures the Elfman style!

“Ambush” is much more fiercer than “Pursuit”, a track that manages to blend in acoustic guitar with strings and percussion to create the sense of danger.

While the ninth track “Tara’s Gift” is moving and sad with strings that capture the death of Queen Tara with emotion and sadness and captures M.K.’s transformation to a shrunken version of herself.

The 10th track “Small”, similar to “Leafmen” is upbeat and has that Irish style and transitions to the moody “Girls Meets Boy” with a sense of pending danger.  While the 11th track “Rings of Knowledge” is a track that utilizes the flute, oboes, clarinets and strings.  A beautiful and whimsical track!

For the 13th track “Antlers”, Elfman creates a dreamy track in which the musicians produce magic and beautiful balance with strings, vocals and more!  But the gentleness of “Antlers”, easily transitions to a more threatening track with “Kidnapped”.

The 15th track titled “In the House” is another “in pursuit” style of track.  Ominous tones with an overcoming surge of energy as one is being pursued and the use of strings and flute is brilliantly used on this track.  The 16th track “Many Leaves” is under track that use the woodwind instruments rather nicely.  But as much as I enjoyed the track, it’s much too short and next thing you know, the next song, the 17th track titled “Escape” returns to the more ominous and darker sounds with fast strings creating the sounds of pending danger.

The 18th track “False Star” is a song that brings hope, with the magical vocal arrangement that blends nicely with the instruments.  A magical and beautiful track on this soundtrack!

For the climactic confrontation, the 19th track “Epic Final Confrontation” starts out gentle but then transitions to a more distressed and action-driven style that Danny Elfman always manages to pull off magnificently.

The 20th track “Return” is a song of hope, beauty and calm.  Great use of strings and brass and fine use of guitar in the transition.  And the final 21st track “Epic Finale” is a beautiful Flamenco style that combines the Irish style of music that is heard in “Leafmen” and “Small” for the final track.  Upbeat and a fascinating track overall.

“Epic: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Music by Danny Elfman” comes with an eight page booklet with images from the film and production credits.

Overall, “Epic: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Music by Danny Elfman” is another magnificent soundtrack that Danny Elfman fans will enjoy!

Whimsical, adventurous, enjoyable and recommended!

Stuck in Love: The Writers Playlist (a J!-ENT World Groove Album Review)

June 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

stuckinlove

“Stuck in Love: The Writers Playlist” is an enjoyable compilation of independent music and a soundtrack offering a solid variety of catchy, free flowing, smooth to heavy hitting music to compliment Josh Boone’s film!  Recommended!

Image is courtesy of © 2012 Madison Gate Records, Inc.

TITLE: Stuck in Love: The Writers Playlist

LABEL: Varese Sarabande

DURATION: 48:51

RELEASE DATE: June 11, 2013

  1. Nosebleed (Score)
  2. At Your Door by Nathaniel Walcott and Mike Mogis featuring Big Harp
  3. Peeping Tom (Score)
  4. You Are Your Mother’s Child by Conor OBerst
  5. American Man by Rio Bravo
  6. Polkadot by Like Pioneers
  7. Rusty Tucks Kate In (Score)
  8. Will You Be By Me by Wallpaper Airplanes
  9. Goodbye (Score)
  10. I Won’t Love You Any Less by Nat and Alex Wolff
  11. Between the Bars by Elliott Smith
  12. Bill Gets Dressed (Score)
  13. The Calendar Hunt Itslef by Bright Eyes
  14. Bill Tells Sam the Truth (Score)
  15. A Mountain, A Peak by Bill Ricchini
  16. Erica at the Door (Score)
  17. Somersaults in Spring by Friends of Gemini

Original soundtrack to the 2013 motion picture. The Stuck In Love score was composed, arranged, performed and produced by Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott (from Bright Eyes). The pop tracks on the soundtrack include three new songs: ‘At Your Door’ by Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott featuring Big Harp, ‘Somersaults In Spring’ by Friends Of Gemini (Mike Mogis, Nathaniel Walcott and Corina Figueroa Escamilla) and ‘You Are Your Mother’s Child’ by Conor Oberst. Other artists featured include Bright Eyes, Elliott Smith, Nat & Alex Wolff, Wallpaper Airplanes, Like Pioneers, Rio Bravo and Bill Ricchini.

In July 2013, the American independent drama “Stuck in Love” directed by Josh Boone is scheduled for a limited theatrical release.

The film stars Jennifer Connelly, Greg Kinnear, Kristin Bell, Lily Collins, Logan Lerman and Nat Wolff and a soundtrack with a score composed and performed by Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott (both composed the score for the 2008 film “Lovely, Still”).

The film revolves around the complications with a family which include a successful novelist named Bill (Kinnear), his ex-wife Erica (Connelly), his daughter in college (Collins) and their teenage son.

With his ex-wife marrying a younger man, the novelist becomes obsessed with on spying on his wife and her new husband, while he tries to keep cool that his daughter Sam’s first novel has been accepted for publication (without his help).  But despite Sam’s success, she was deeply wounded by her mother’s affair and it prevents her from finding love (and pursuing one-night stands) and also wanting to do anything with her mother.  But her classmate Lou (Lerman) tries to have a relationship with her, which she is not ready to have anything to do with him.

Meanwhile, Rusty (Wolff) is a romantic and a falls for Kate (Liana Liberato) who is dating an abusive boyfriend, which he wants to save her from.

With the theme of a family with dysfunctional problems and people, you expect a soundtrack that captures mystery, love, pain and chaos.

And with the soundtrack for “Stuck in Love: The Writers Playlist” (to be released on CD and vinyl on June 11th), you get a good balance of music from the original score composed and performed by Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott.  But also artists and bands such as Big Harp, Conor Oberst, Rio Bravo, Like Pioneers, Wallpaper Airplanes, Nat & Alex Wolff, Elliott Smith, Bright Eyes, Bill Ricchini and Friends of Gemini.

“My pipe dream was to have Bright Eyes, my favorite band, score the film,” said the film’s writer/director Josh Boone. Music supervisors Andy Ross and Laura Katz reached out to them.  “Not only did they make that happen, bringing the great Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott on board, but Conor Oberst generously contributed an original song that fit so perfectly into the fabric of the film that I still get goosebumps every time I hear it.”

“Music played an important role in the writing and making of Stuck in Love,” said Boone.  Most of the songs that are in the film were written into the script. Boone had created mix CDs for each of the cast members and gave them the CDs to use as inspiration. “I often saw them listening to their iPods between takes.”

“Music is one of the most powerful tools a filmmaker can use to evoke emotion,” Boone explained.  “I am forever indebted to the great musicians who lent us theirs to help bring this film to life.”

Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott’s compositions for “Nosebeleed” (and their other tracks on the album) is dreamy, American heartland with it’s electric guitar with ethereal synth and leads into the first major vocal track “At Your Door” by Nathaniel Walcott and Mike Mogis featuring Big Harp.  A rock track featuring great balance between its male and female vocalist.  Catchy, upbeat and enjoyable.

While the songs have its fair share of slow/mid-tempo, mellow tracks such as Elliot Smith’s “Between the Bars”, Bill Ricchini’s “A Mountain, A Peak” and the acoustic track “You Are Your Mother’s Child” by Conor Oberst, there are upbeat tracks such as the rock track “Polkadot” by Like Pioneers and “Will You Be By Me” by Wallpaper Airplanes.

One of my favorite tracks on the album was “The Calendar Hung Itself…” by Bright Eyes (Conor Oberst’s band along with Mike Mogis and Nathaniel Walcott).   I absolutely loved the musical arrangement and vocals and track that definitely stood out in the album.

And the final track is also one of my favorites on the album, “Somersaults in Spring” performed by Friends of Gemini.  Love the arrangement and the dreamy, smooth vocals.

Overall, “Stuck in Love: The Writers Playlist” is an enjoyable compilation of independent music and a soundtrack offering a solid variety of catchy, free flowing, smooth to heavy hitting music to compliment Josh Boone’s film!  Recommended!

AKB48 – 1830m (Theater Edition) (a J!-ENT World Groove Album Review)

August 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

stuckinlove

AKB48’s fourth full-length album “1830m” is simply fantastic!  A wonderful album featuring 30 tracks on two CD’s and more!  The best AKB48 album so far!  Highly recommended!

Image is courtesy of © 2012 King Records

GROUP: AKB48

TITLE: 1830m (Theater Edition)

LABEL: King Records

DURATION: Disc 1: 1:12:07, Disc 2: 57:41

RELEASE DATE: August 15, 2012

BUY THIS ALBUM from cdjapan.com:

or YesAsia.com

DISC 1:

  1. ファースト・ラビット
  2. 黄金センター
    3. ミニスカートの妖精 – AKB48 (伊豆田莉奈, サイード横田絵玲奈, 平田梨奈)
    4. 上からマリコ
    5. アンチ
    6. 檸檬の年頃
    7. 恋愛総選挙 – AKB48 (YM7)
    8. 野菜占い
    9. Everyday、カチューシャ
    10. 走れ!ペンギン
    11. ロマンスかくれんぼ  – 大森美優
    12. 蕾たち
    13. ユングやフロイトの場合
    14. フライングゲット
    15. 風は吹いている
    16. 桜の木になろう
    17. GIVE ME FIVE!

DISC 2:

  1. Hate – AKB48 (Team A)
    2. プラスティックの唇 – 篠田麻里子
    3. 思い出のほとんど – AKB48 (高橋みなみ, 前田敦子)
    4. 家出の夜 – AKB48 (Team K)
    5. スキャンダラスに行こう!  – AKB48 (小嶋陽菜, 大島優子)
    6. ノーカン  – AKB48 (Team B)
    7. アボガドじゃね~し…  – AKB48 (渡辺麻友, 指原莉乃)
    8. 直角Sunshine – AKB48 (Team 4)
    9. 僕たちは 今 話し合うべきなんだ – AKB48 (板野友美, 柏木由紀)
    10. さくらんぼと孤独  – AKB48 (Team 研究生)
    11. いつか見た海の底  – AKB48 (Up-and-coming girls)
    12. 青空よ 寂しくないか?  – AKB48 (AKB48 + SKE48 + NMB48 + HKT48)
    13. 桜の花びら ~前田敦子 solo ver.~ – 前田敦子

When it comes to highly anticipated albums, AKB4’s “1830m” is an album that fans have waited for.

The group’s fourth album, “1830m” features first time studio recordings, previous singles (from their 20th single “Sakura no Ki ni Naro” to their 25th single “Give Me Five!”) and also songs that will feature #1 ace center Atsuko Maeda one final time on an AKB48 album before she graduates from the group (her final day is on August 27th).

“1830m” which is “(1,830 meters) is the distance from AKB48 theater in Akihabara to Tokyo Dome, where AKB48 is set to perform on August 24-26 but also marks the first stadium where the group performed at.

The album debuted at #1 on the Oricon Album Music Charts and a million units were shipped to retailers.

There are two versions of the album that have been released.  The first features a box set which comes with two CD’s with 17 tracks and a DVD with short choreography clips and multiple angles for “Everyday, Katyusha”, “Flying Get”, “Kaze wa Fuiteiru” and “Ue Kara Mariko”.  The second version is a theater edition which features 17 tracks on the first CD and 13 tracks on the second CD and comes with no DVD but comes with nine photo printouts with members on both sides.

The version I am reviewing is the theater edition which come with the 10 double sided printout photos plus an insert which is 16-pages with lyrics and production credits.  Front cover features the AKB48 top 9 members of senbatsu,  back cover features the remaining 12 members of senbatsu, while Atsuko Maeda’s solo photo is featured on the back of the insert booklet.

The first disc kicks off with the track “First Rabbit”, a catchy upbeat pop song from the group that was never released as a single.  The song is used for the documentary “DOCUMENTARY of AKB48 Show must go on” and one of my favorite tracks on the album.  The song is about being the first rabbit to search for their own dream and no matter how many times one is hurt, you grow up and you may shed tears and you may be hurt but never give up your dream.

The second track “Ougon Center” (which translates to “Golden Center”) and is performed by the research students ala Team Kenkyuusei (which include Team 4 members).  A modern dance track with a disco synth vibe and do I hear the Morning Musume “ooh ooh”?  An inspirational song of one aiming for the center position and how there is always room for one to improve and beat one’s rivals and do what is possible to become center and for their fans to make her their #1 oshimen.

The third track “Miniskirt no Yosei” (which translates to “Miniskirted Fairy”) is performed by Rina Izuta, Erena Saeed Yokota and Rina Hirata and is a originally a song by Team A 6th Stage  and performed by the Zenza girls (Anna Mori, Miyu Takeuchi and Haruka Shimada).  So, this album version is a pretty cool onstage track from members that some may not be familiar with.  A very cute, sweet pop song.  Almost like a magical girl song about how one with the miniskirt can transform into a fairy and do their best during an audition and if they succeed, they can become a star.

The fourth track “Ue Kara Mariko” is the 24th single from AKB48 and a pretty cool tribute by Akimoto Yasushi for AKB48′s eldest member but also a fan favorite who is known as the 1.5 generation member because she got in by fan write-ins who voted the cafe staff member to become the next member of AKB48. It is said that Mariko had to learn 12 songs in four days and also the choreography and if she could do it, she would become a member of AKB48 and sure enough, she accomplished that feat.

So, in many ways, Mariko winning the Janken Taikai is a wonderful testament for the member who worked hard to get where she is. And as for the single, the song revolves around an older girl named Mariko and how she is a tease. Always teasing as if she wants to be kissed, but is it a joke or is she serious? A fun, upbeat song and while I’m not sure if Mariko is in fact “sadistic” or a “tease” as the lyrics show, it’s a fun upbeat track that Mariko Shinoda fans will surely enjoy.

The fifth track is another Team Kenkyuusei track titled “Anti” featuring an upbeat, catchy pop track from the four young ladies.  The song is about not giving up and how one must go through the pain and become stronger and endure the insults made by anti’s.

The Sixth track “Lemon no Toshigoro” (which translates to “Lemon Puberty”) is performed by up-and-coming AKB48 members Marina Kobayashi, Wakana Natori, Yukari Sasaki and Tomu Muto.  A sweet ballad that was originally sung by the Zenza girls for AKB48 Team K 6th Stage.  The song is about one wanting to give an unripe lemon and give it to someone, because love is like a lemon and one can’t go straight, they must go the long way (the oval shape of a lemon).

The seventh track is titled “Ren’ai Sosenkyou” (which translates to “General Election of Love”) by YM7 (performed by Aki Takajo, Tomomi Kasai, Mika Komori and Sumire Sato).  A song that I really enjoy on the first disc.  For those not familiar with YM7, “Weekly Young Jump” and “Young Magazine” chose 7 AKB48 members to form YJ7 and YM7 and they participated in a battle.  In the end, YM7 won and so the winners got to perform this song for the album.  The song is about a love election and who do people want to date and who is the most popular in the poll.

The eighth track is “Yasai Uranai” (Vegetable Fortune Telling) and is fun pop track performed by the Yasai Sisters (which translates to “Sisters of Vegetables”), a campaign for Kagome’s vegetable juice in which AKB48 members dress up as vegetables.  Similar to the “Yasai Sisters” song, it’s about vegetables and how people resemble vegetables.  One may have a personality of a tomato but can have a shape like a cabbage and a carrot mixed in.

The ninth track is AKB48’s 20th summer single “Everday, Katyusha” (which translates to “Everyday, headband”) and is a song about going with a friend to the beach and as the girl removes her headband (that she wears everyday), you see her release her hair into the wind.  A fun pop song!

The tenth track “Hashire! Penguin” which translates to “Run! Penguin” was originally supposed to be the main single release but was changed to be a coupling song to be sung by Team 4 for the theater edition of “Ue Kara Mariko”.

The single is an upbeat idol son about one having to compete with others for one’s affection. But that person is unable to break the ice and it seems hopeless. And the song refers to a penguin, to make a move and not be useless.

The eleventh track is performed by Miyu Omori and is titled “Romance Kakurenbo” (which translates to “Romance Hide-and-seek”).  Omori is an up-and-coming member of AKB48, daughter of retired Yomiuri Giants baseball player Takeshi Omori.  A gentle track that has a classic style for its arrangement and a lovely ballad.  The song is about one secretly in love and as much as she loves that person, she keeps her feelings hidden and it’s painful for her.

The 12th track is tilted “Tsubomitachi” (which translates to “Buds”) and is upbeat pop track performed by Team 4 and Kenkyuusei.  The song was featured in the “Kaze wa Fuiteiru” (Theater Edition) and is song about one wanting to be recognized.  As the other flower buds around her start to blossom, she asks to please make her look forward to the future and remember her name, even though she may not be well-known right now.

The 13th track was exclusive to the theater edition of “GIVE ME FIVE!” and is titled “Yungu ya Furoito no Baii” (which translates to “A Case for Jung or Freud”).  The track is a slow-tempo ballad about a person who dreams of the person they love who is shouting for them, but the person is unable to hear them because of the wind.  So, she asks the question if when Jung or Freud fell in love, what kind of dreams did they dream?

I actually found the song quite fascinating lyrically because for one, I would never imagine a song incorporating neurologists Carl Jung or Sigmund Freud.  But because the song is about observing dreams, what Freud and Jung did for a living, it was interesting but also intelligent songwriting that you just don’t see psychoanalysis mixed with an idol pop song.  It never happens!  So, I found that quite intriguing.  But overall, “Yungu ya Furoito no Baii” was a beautiful, melodic track.  And loved how everyone sung in unison for this track!

“Flying Get” is the 14th track on the album and is an upbeat pop/dance 22nd single from AKB48 that revolves around one being at the beach and wanting to “Flying Get” to obtain ones feelings, capture their heart and sensing one’s feelings beforehand.  Pretty much a song about one wanting to make a move towards the person they like and the person debating with themselves if they can do it or if they will stay silent.  A fun song that compliments the group quite well!

The 15th track and 23rd AKB48 single, “Kaze wa Fuiteiru” is a positive song of how people in despair, should have hope, should search for the light. Also, a song about rebuilding for the future and for one to continue living. How love and hope will continue and that the wind will continue to blow into the future.

My first time listening to the song and I was instantly hooked. The melody was captivating and I loved the harmony among the various members performing the song. But the positive message of hope is what I enjoyed most about this song.

The 16th track on the album and AKB48’s 20th single is “Sakura no Ki ni Narou”, a slow, melancholic track that can be interpreted in several ways. But with the lyrics, I tend to see it as a song about a departed parent or friend in spirit, who has seen their friend or child graduate and grow older. Remembering the past when the departed was with the person in their school uniform, graduation. But that spirit now has a cherry blossom tree in their place (note: In Japan, sometimes to celebrate one’s life of departed love one, a tree is planted) and in the context of this song, a cherry blossom tree is put into the place as a memory of that departed one. And that spirit which is now the sakura tree hopes that person will come back to the area to visit them and that even if the petals will fall, the branches will be extending out like arms. And no matter what happens, if one is trouble, that eternal cherry blossom tree will always be there.

This song is so touching and once you watch the music video, you will be captivated by the song. Which I will go into detail much more later in this review.

The 17th track and AKB48’s 25th CD single is “GIVE ME FIVE!” is am upbeat pop/rock track that is enhanced by brass instruments. The single is pretty much a graduation song that deals with friends preparing to say goodbye, but instead of a goodbye forever, they decide to give each other a high five. And move forward for a better tomorrow.

At first, the song took a while for me to get used to because of its musical style. But having seen the group perform this on television and seeing the music video, “Give Me Five!” has quickly become one of my favorite and most listened to AKB48 songs. Catchy and addictive!

For the second disc, I was pretty amazed by the songs presented.

“Hate” is performed by Team A and is a catchy, head bopping pop track that I absolutely love and aside from the six released singles featured on “1830m”, this track is my favorite song on the entire album.  The song is about a person that is lying and the person they are in a relationship is wanting to separate them and wishes they never met that person.  But as much as she wants to hate that person,that person knows they are iin love.

The second single is a solo track sung by Mariko Shinoda titled “Plastic no Kuchibiru” (which translates to “Plastic Lips”) and is a fantastic solo track for Mariko and it just makes me so happy to listen to, because it’s Mariko and no one else and it’s wonderful dance track!

The third track “Omoide no Hotondo” (which translates to “Most Memories”) is a song that is often performed by best friends Minami Takahashi and Atsuko Maeda, original members of AKB48 and a song that will signify their friendship together through AKB48.  A lovely ballad!

The song is about the memories two friends have shared together, talking on the phone for hours and having that person by your side.  But before they knew it, the future has come and now their time together has come to an end and you want that person to know that you are grateful for being there.

The fourth track is “Iede no Yoru” (which translates to “Night of Running Away from Home”) and is performed by Team K.  I was actually expecting a more upbeat dance track that Team K is known for but it’s a upbeat pop track.  The song is actually about a rebellious youth running away from home, not knowing where they want to go, for no true purpose but to get away.  And now that person wants to search for love.

The fifth track is the sexy upbeat “Scandalous ni Ikou” (which translates to “Go Scandalous”) performed by Haruna Kojima and Yuko Oshima.  The sixth track is “No Kan” (which means “No Count”) and is an upbeat synth pop track performed by Team B.  A song about two people wanting to live scandalously.  Experience things because you only live once.

The seventh track is “Abogado Ja ne Shi…” (which translates to “Not Abogado, Though”) and is a cute idol pop track performed by Mayu Watanabe and Rino Sashihara.  The eighth track is “Chokkaku Sunshine” (which translates to “Right Angle Sunshine”) performed by Team 4.  And I like this track a lot.  Love the harmony with this team!

The eighth track is “Bokutachi wa Ima Hanashiau Beki Nan Da” (which translates to “We Should Discuss it Now”) and is a beautiful ballad performed by Tomomi Itano and Yuki Kashiwagi.   A song about two classmates who are in love but are not communicating with each other in class.  And that person wants the other to know the real her.  No more holding on to feelings. They should be talking.  The ninth track is “Sakuranbo to Kodoku” (which translates to “Cherry Fruit and Solitude”) and is a mid-tempo track performed by Team Kenkyuusei.

The ninth track is “Itsuka Mita Umi no Soko” (which translates to Sea Bottom Seen Once”) and is a track that features a few of the Team 4 and SKE48 members and also Mayu Watanabe.  A pretty cool upbeat pop track that was quite interesting to see on this disc.

The tenth track titled “Aozora yo Sabishikunai Ka?” (which translates to “Aren’t You Lonely, Blue Sky?”) and performed by AKB48+SKE48+NMB48+HKT48 and is the only track featuring the members of multiple groups.  A beautifully sung ballad.

The final track is “Sakura no Hanabira” (Atsuko Maeda Solo Ver.) and a song that translates to “Sakura no Hanabira” and is AKB48’s debut single and a graduation song that is fitting for graduating member Atsuko Maeda.  Just a beautiful track that will no doubt bring Acchan fans to tears.

The song s a graduation song and remembering times with friends….times when they fought, cried or felt troubled.  But through happy and sad times, they were never alone.  And now, one pursues their own future, with wings on their backs.  Each time the cherry blossom petals bloom, someone is praying or hope’s bell rings.  The stair to adulthood is in front of their very eyes.

Overall, AKB48’s “1830m” (Theater Edition) is a fantastic album.  Yes, the regular edition comes with four more commercial tie-in tracks, DVD and photos but the theater edition is also fantastic.  Although, I tend to purchase CD+DVD versions, for this album, you are still getting quite a bit for your money for this much cheaper theater edition.  Two CD’s full of wonderful music including AKB48’s chart-topping hits and I have literally listened to this album dozens of times already. It’s that good!

If you are an AKB48 fan who has the budget only for the theater edition, just know that this album is wonderful and I highly recommend it!

 

BUY THIS ALBUM from cdjapan.com:

or YesAsia.com

The Dark Knight Rises: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (a J!-ENT World Groove Album Review)

August 6, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

“The Dark Knight Rises: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”  is a pretty exciting Hans Zimmer soundtrack that complimented the film amazingly well but listening to the soundtrack several times now, I started to feel that it was a bit too redundant for my taste and had only three tracks that I personally enjoyed and listened to most of the time.  Still, this was a good soundtrack but in my opinion, not as good as its previous two soundtracks for “Batman Begins” or “The Dark Knight”.

Image is courtesy of © 2012 Madison Gate Records, Inc.

TITLE: The Dark Knight Rises: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

LABEL: WaterTower Music

DURATION: 51:18

RELEASE DATE: July 17, 2012

A Storm Is Coming    1 of 15    0:37
On Thin Ice    2 of 15    2:55
Gotham’s Reckoning    3 of 15    4:08
Mind If I Cut In?    4 of 15    3:27
Underground Army    5 of 15    3:12
Born In Darkness    6 of 15    1:57
The Fire Rises    7 of 15    5:33
Nothing Out There    8 of 15    2:51
Despair    9 of 15    3:14
Fear Will Find You    10 of 15    3:08
Why Do We Fail?    11 of 15    2:03
Death By Exile    12 of 15    0:23
Imagine The Fire    13 of 15    7:25
Necessary Evil    14 of 15    3:16
Rise    15 of 15    7:16

Composer Hans Zimmer is known for amazing scores for films such as “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”, “The Lion King”, “Kunf Fu Panda”, “The Last Samurai”, “The Da Vinci Code” and many Hollywood blockbuster films.  Also, known for his collaboration with Christopher Nolan for “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight”.

With the release of “The Dark Knight Rises: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”, I must admit that I’m actually torn.  I felt that in the previous soundtracks, the collaboration with James Newton Howard led to wonderful music, this time around, “The Dark Knight” is a soundtrack that becomes too overly banal with the synth.

While tracks such as “Imagine the Fire” does stick out for its energy and you can feel the fluctuating degrees of rise and chaos with the synth and drums combined.  Interestingly, this track is its longest song in the entire soundtrack at over seven minutes long, along with its concluding track “Rise”.

While the soundtrack features 15 tracks, there are tracks that are only less than a minute long.  From its intro “A Storm is Coming” that is a 37-second transition to “On Thin Ice”, we get a breathy, dark track of “Death by Exile” which is a transition to “Imagine the Fire”.

There are tracks that fit the mood of the film perfectly such as “Underground Army” with its low synth keys and the exciting “The Fire Rises” featuring a slow transitions with frenetic Taikou-style drum playing.

Bane’s appearance can be heard with the use of chants and the theme of “The Dark Knight Rises” is prominent throughout the tracks.  There is really hardly any deviating from a certain musical style that Zimmer stays consistent with throughout the soundtrack and this may be good for others, while I like to hear things varied a bit.  There was a bit of an over-reliance of synth and percussion, which are the prevailing instruments in this soundtrack but I felt the balance that James Newton Howard would bring to previous soundtracks were more exciting and less redundant.

It’s important to note that if you buy the CD version of “The Dark Knight Rises: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”, you get a link to three tracks “Bombers Over Ibiza (Junkie XL Remix)”, “No Stone Unturned” and “Rise from the Darkness”, while the Deluxe Digital version includes “The Shadows Betray You” and “The End”.

Overall, “The Dark Knight Rises: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”  is a pretty exciting Hans Zimmer soundtrack that complimented the film amazingly well but listening to the soundtrack several times now, I started to feel that it was a bit too redundant for my taste and had only three tracks that I personally enjoyed and listened to most of the time.  Still, this was a good soundtrack but in my opinion, not as good as its previous two soundtracks for “Batman Begins” or “The Dark Knight”.

The Amazing Spider-Man: Music from the Original Soundtrack (a J!-ENT World Groove Album Review)

July 24, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

James Horner’s “The Amazing Spider-Man: Music from the Original Soundtrack” is not a soundtrack in which one track will stand out, but it is a soundtrack that is enjoyable when listened as a whole.  Beautiful music, wonderful piano playing and an emotional soundtrack worth recommending!

Image is courtesy of © 2012 Madison Gate Records, Inc.

TITLE: The Amazing Spider-Man: Music from the Original Soundtrack

LABEL: Sony Classical

DURATION: 1:16:53

RELEASE DATE: July 3, 2012

Main Title – Young Peter    1 of 20    4:55
Becoming Spider-Man    2 of 20    4:17
Playing Basketball    3 of 20    1:22
Hunting for Information    4 of 20
The Briefcase    5 of 20    3:15
The Spider Room – Rumble in the Subway    6 of 20    3:20
Secrets    7 of 20    2:30
The Equation    8 of 20    4:23
The Ganali Device    9 of 20    2:29
Ben’s Death    10 of 20    5:42
Metamorphosis    11 of 20    3:04
Rooftop Kiss    12 of 20    2:35
The Bridge    13 of 20    5:15
Peter’s Suspicions    14 of 20    3:02
Making a Silk Trap    15 of 20    2:52
Lizard at School!    16 of 20    2:58
Saving New York    17 of 20    7:52
Oscorp Tower    18 of 20    3:23
“I can’t see you anymore”    19 of 20    6:51
Promises – Spider-Man End Titles    20 of 20    4:53

While composer Danny Elfman was known for the work on the previous Spider-Man films, for “The Amazing Spider-Man”, with the reboot of the series and taking things onto a new direction.

From the look of Spider-Man, the talent, the overall feel of the superhero film but also its music.

So, what best than to feature of the most successful film composers out there to give a new musical feel for Marvel’s iconic character.

James Horner, known for his music on “Titanic”, “Avatar”, “Braveheart”, “Troy”, “The Karate Kid”, “A Beautiful Mind”, to name a few, had a pretty big task and that is to create a new style that was different from Danny Elfman’s work.

While the soundtrack was not as memorable, there are tracks that captivate you.

“Becoming Spider-Man” is an uplifting track with a good balance of orchestration and vocalists.  A song that showcases a young, naive Peter Parker.

“Playing Basketball” is another track that showcases the meek Peter Parker, with its playful use of horns.

Then you have the more haunting or emotional melodies such as “Secrets”,  the darker “Ben’s Death and the transitioning movements in “Metamorphosis”.

And then you have tracks that captivate you, such as the wonderful “The Ganali Device” which showcases James Horners piano playing,.

But you will also have the action-driven sequence  upbeat tracks such as “The Bridge”, “Lizard at School!”, “Saving New York” (which was an effective style of James Horner to use the piano in such a way).

For the most part, James Horner is a master in creating beautiful music, emotional music.  From his orchestral direction, his use of piano, voice utilization, the music for “The Amazing Spider-Man is original and manages to be different than Elfman’s “Spider-Man” compositions.

Similar to the film, the soundtrack for “The Amazing Spider-Man” is emotional and he builds upon each track that it begins to grow on you and you find yourself enjoying the soundtrack even more.

But I have to say that this is one of the most original soundtracks when it comes to how the piano is utilized.   But at the same time, aiming for beauty, aiming for emotion, there is not a score that  found that sticks out, a track that I found memorable.

If anything, “The Amazing Spider-Man: Music from the Original Soundtrack” is one of those soundtracks that you may want to listen to it as a whole, rather than listening to tracks independently.  It’s a different style of soundtrack, especially compared to other soundtracks that feature a heroic character which John Williams and Danny Elfman are both known for. In fact, it’s a bit different compared to other James Horner soundtracks as well.

In some way, I found a similarity to his older film “A Dangerous Mind” that featured beautiful music, but not one song that stood out.  And a soundtrack that I enjoyed as a whole, rather than listening to individual tracks.

But “The Amazing Spider-Man: Music from the Original Soundtrack” is a rewarding soundtrack, one that I found enjoyable to listen to.  I’m glad that James Horner was able to create a musical score different from other composers and aim for something outside of the box rather than sticking to an old formula used in superhero films.

“The Amazing Spider-Man: Music from the Original Soundtrack” is recommended!

 

To Rome with Love: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (a J!-ENT World Groove Album Review)

July 22, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A beautiful balance of Italian classic romantic tracks to operatic tracks by Fabio Armiliato, Woody Allen’s “To Rome with Love: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” is complimentary to his latest film but also to hopeless romantics who are passionate for Italian music.

Image is courtesy of © 2012 Madison Gate Records, Inc.

TITLE: To Rome with Love: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

LABEL: Sony Classical

DURATION: 48:59

RELEASE DATE: June 19, 2012

Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)    1 of 18    3:37    Domenico Modugno
Amada Mia, Amore Mio    2 of 18    3:22    Starlight Orchestra
Arrivederci Roma    3 of 18    1:03    Alfredo Messina
Ciribiribin    4 of 18    2:18    Angelo DiPippo
E Lucevan Le Stelle [From “Tosca”]    5 of 18    1:42    Fabio Armiliato
Nessun Dorma [From “Turandot”]    6 of 18    2:30    Fabio Armiliato
Mio Dolce Sogno    7 of 18    3:30    Butch Baldassari;Jeff Taylor;Jack Jezzro
Non Dimenticar Le Mie Parole    8 of 18    3:13    Emilio Livi;Trio Lescano
Libiamo Ne’lieti Calici [From “La Traviata”]    9 of 18    1:57    Angelo DiPippo
Amor Ti Vieta [From “Fedora”]    10 of 18    1:50    Fabio Armiliato
Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)    11 of 18    2:48    Angelo DiPippo
Studio 99    12 of 18    3:01    Adam Hamilton
Three Times Bossa    13 of 18    3:24    Mop Mop
When Your Lover Has Gone    14 of 18    3:27    Eddie Condon & His Orchestra
Son Qua, Son Qua [From Pagliacci]    15 of 18    2:38    Fabio Armiliato, Chorus & Orchestra
Vesti La Giubba [From “Pagliacci”]    16 of 18    3:47    Fabio Armiliato & Orchestra
Duetto E Finale [From “Pagliacci”]    17 of 18    2:34    Fabio Armiliato & Orchestra
Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)    18 of 18    2:28    Steven Bernstein’s Neapolitan Orchestra

For Woody Allen fans, one of the biggest treats when watching his films are the soundtracks.

While many films are jazz inspired and features Woody Allen and his band performing the songs, in the last ten years, we have seen Woody Allen taking his film outside of the U.S. with his last films “Midnight in Paris” being shot in France, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” in Spain and several films shot in Britain.

But this time, Allen received the opportunity from distributors from Rome to shoot a film in Rome and for the director who admired foreign films and had wanted to become a “foreign film director”, what a great experience would it be for Allen.

A film with four stories, about a worker who gains fame, an architect who returns to the place he grew up, a young couple on their honeymoon and a funeral director who loves to sing in the shower, “To Rome with Love” stars Woody Allen, Antonio Albanese, Fabio Armiliato, Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Alec Baldwin, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page and many more.

The music for the soundtrack definitely has the Italian feel of utilizing opera, popular 50’s Italian music and also a bit of modern music as well.

The soundtrack kicks off with the popular Domenico Modugno 1958 hit song “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)” which sets up the romantic mood for the film.

But the next song was an interesting transition as it goes to a remake of Paolo Zavallone (aka El Pasador) and a remake of his 1978 hit “Amada Mia, Amore Mio” redone by The Starlite Orchestra.  While the song incorporates the disco style of music that I grew up listening to as a child (which brought back memories of listening to disco versions of Beethoven and Mozart), the song is quite fun with the deep male vocal singing “Amada Mia, Amore Mio”.

The soundtrack then transitions back to two romantic Italian instrumentals.  “Arrivederci Roma” by Alredo Messina and “Ciribiribin” by Angelo DiPippo.  And you also get a few more instrumentals including DiPippo’s jazz version of “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)” and “Libiamo ne’lieti Calici (from “La Traviata”).  Also, a bossna nova instrumental by Mop Mop titled “Three Times Bossa” and ending with Steven Bernstein’s Neapolitan Orchestra’s version of “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)”.  And also the inclusion of the the somewhat out of place, synth pop instrumental “Studio 99” by Adam Hamilton.

As as the film is romantic to its core with instrumentals as part of one half of the soundtrack, you also get the gifted funeral director in the shower, played by  “the best Chénier of our time”, Fabio Armiliato.  A good number of opera tracks such as “E Lucevan Le Stelle [From “Tosca”]”, “Nessun Dorma [From “Turandot”]” and opera tracks from “Fedora” and “Pagliacci” to round out the soundtrack.

You do get a little of the Woody Allen style of music that fans are familiar with the inclusion of “When Your Lover Has Gone” by American Eddie Condon & His Orchestra and the track “When Your Lover Has Gone”.  You also get the ’40s “Non Dimenticar Le Mie Parole” by Emilio Livi and the Trio Lescano.

Overall, a beautiful balance of Italian classic romantic tracks to operatic tracks by Fabio Armiliato, Woody Allen’s “To Rome with Love: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” is complimentary to his latest film but also to hopeless romantics who are passionate for Italian music.

If you enjoyed the film and are passionate for different genres of Italian music, especially classic tracks to opera, definitely give “To Rome with Love: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” a chance!

 

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