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Archive for the ‘EXILE’ Category

ALBUM REVIEW: EXILE- EXILE LOVE

EXILE- EXILE LOVE

I’ve recently got into EXILE after hearing their Toki no Kakera single last year. I never listened to EXILE before because I judged them by the way they looked (I’m a bad person), and assumed they rapped. I was partially right, but mostly wrong. EXILE actually sings some pretty decent pop. I honestly prefer their ballads and upbeat songs because of how unique they sound, but their pop isn’t bad, though it is a bit generic sounding. EXILE can really stand up to the plate when necessary, and they certainly are not talentless. I thought this album was a best because of the name, but I guess I was wrong. I actually haven’t listened to an EXILE album before, so I guess EXILE love is about to deflower me and a few of you… yeah… Here we go.

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The first track is a very interesting ethereal and gently mid-tempo song that uses unique music, violin and fleeting synthetic sounds, to shed the poppy-ness that would infect it without them. I actually really like What Is Love because of the vocal composition and the way that they matched it up with the music. It’s pretty upbeat, and it really shows me an interesting side of the group. I thought that the whole spelling out love thing was a bit stupid, but I can’t blame them really since they’re foreign (actually I can, but I won’t because I like the way it sounds). I’ve noticed that EXILE is good at not singing from their noses. They do however have two distinctly different vocal forms, which are their chest voices and their throat voices. Both work incredibly well. The higher they get, the more they drift to the latter of their vocal styles, and I really don’t mind. As long is they don’t go nasally, they really manage to execute every note quite well.

Vocal Performance Grade: A+ — Musical Performance Grade: A+ — Composition Grade: A+ — Harmonization Grade: A+

Next up is EXILE’s latest single I Believe. This song is obviously meant to usher in the Christmas season, and it serves that purpose very well. The constant percussion combined with bells and chimes worked out well, and overall the song is entertaining, though a tad bit uninteresting in the long run. EXILE’s two lead singers give an outstanding performance, and I like the background vocals because they really complete the song and give it a feeling of fullness. The song has a nice consistency to it, though there is a bit of repetitiveness. I like the fact that the lead singer (I can never remember their names) wrote the lyrics to and composed the song by himself. It gives me another level to respect him on.

Vocal Performance Grade: A — Musical Performance Grade: A- — Composition Grade:B+ — Harmonization Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

Beautiful is really just a generic pop song that kind of feels like a last ditch effort to fill empty space in the album. The song starts off with percussion and faint, occasional chimes. The tune of the verses and chorus might change a little bit, but everything really sounds the same, and the song just kind of trudges along at a middle pace. The performances by both vocalists and instrumentalists are fine, but the composition is boring to the point of no return. The song has some redeeming qualities, such as the bridge, but other than that there isn’t anything particularly engaging about it. If this song wasn’t on the album, I wouldn’t miss it.

Vocal Performance Grade: A — Musical Performance Grade: A — Composition Grade: C — Harmonization Grade: A

Overall Grade: C+

The next song is a very attractive ballad called Hibiki~HIBIKI~. Uhh, the name is a bit odd, though I suppose you wouldn’t know that if you didn’t speak both Japanese and English. EXILE once again invokes the great range granted by their throat voices and delivers a great performance. I love the way they sing 「星に願う」/’Hoshi ni Negau’ (I guess in English that’s ‘Wish Upon a Star’ or literally ‘Request at Stars’) because of how fantastic the high note is. EXILE’s vocals, when put with the right composition, are really impressive among all-male groups, and I have to say that they have, vocally, become one of my favorites. Musically, this song is composed of a percussion (someone listen to this and tell me if it’s a click track. I don’t really know what that is, but people keep telling me about it. I think it’s just pre-recorded percussion that repeats itself throughout the song. Not sure) track that continues constantly, and some other various sounds. I really like how this song turned out.

Vocal Performance Grade: A+ — Musical Performance Grade: A — Composition Grade: A — Harmonization Grade: A+

Overall Grade: A+

Following the previous impressive ballad is a song of similar nature called Kimi ga Iru kara. This song first appeared on their I Believe single, and I loved it then. I still find it very powerful, and I love the calm backing piano and percussion. This song has a certain quality of strength that some of EXILE’s ballads lack, which really keeps it from being too generic. The final note of this song is gorgeous thanks to a lot of control, and I was impressed from the beginning because of how well they managed to execute their vocals. EXILE has grown on me, and they’re really doing quite fantastically thus far. The flow of the album is working out really well, despite a dip of weakness.

Vocal Performance Grade: A+ — Musical Performance Grade: A — Composition Grade: A — Harmonization Grade: A

Overall Grade: A+

Make Love is an incredibly interesting song, and easily my favorite song off the album yet, right up there with What is Love. The very middle eastern vocal effects combined with amazing execution make the song unique and engaging. This is the first upbeat song on the album, and I’m really glad that it has finally come. The background vocals by both the men and women are great, and I really just can’t find anything about this song I don’t like. The music is fantastic and really pulls you in. The song is a bit blatantly sexual, but I’m no conservative, so it doesn’t bother me. The synthetic music, percussion and electronic beats, really complimented the feel of the song well and this song really seems to have everything going for it.

Vocal Performance Grade: A+ — Musical Performance Grade: A+ — Composition Grade: A+ — Harmonization Grade: A+

Although I didn’t want to move on, I had to get to SUMMER TIME LOVE. The song really takes it’s name to heart and not only starts out with those exact lyrics, but maintains a summery pop feel throughout. The brass and piano saves this song from being generic EXILE pop, which is I’m glad about. It’s hard to create diverse pop music since it all has similar styles, but EXILE does a great job by shifting over to the other side of the pop spectrum, musically. I don’t have much to say about EXILE’s vocals. As usual they are fantastically executed. They are one of those groups that (thank the lord) settles for nothing less than perfect vocals, and it shows.

Vocal Performance Grade: A — Musical Performance Grade: A — Composition Grade: A — Harmonization Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

Yet another pop song appears in the form of Sora kara Ochite kuru JAZZ. I was really confused by the name because there is definitely not a hint of jazz in the song. I liked the beginning of the song, but I can’t say I liked the percussion that appeared after a short while. It sounded like a galloping horse, and I was turned off by the atmosphere it created. It sounded like something more island-ish, not at all jazzy. This song’s main problem is boring composition which pretty much ruins my ability to enjoy it. There were no powerful notes to be hit and no musical build up. Performance-wise it was up to par with other excellent EXILE songs, but everything was just so boring.

Vocal Performance Grade: A- — Musical Performance Grade: A- — Composition Grade: C+ — Harmonization Grade: B+

Overall Grade: B

I liked the use of guitar in love combined with the R&B-ish synthetic beats. The pace of this song is pretty slow, but it is a bit upbeat to be a ballad. I have to say that this is another fairly uneventful song. Vocally it’s decent, musically it’s okay, but the composition is uninteresting and nothing really happens in the song except EXILE makes some noise. EXILE does well with their vocals, but there just isn’t enough for them to do. The song really isn’t bad, just pretty draggy and lacking in direction.

Vocal Performance Grade: A- — Musical Performance Grade: B+ — Composition Grade:B- — Harmonization Grade: B

Overall Grade: B

I much prefer the following track, sayonara. This song also features guitar, but has a more heartfelt composition and attractive tune. Even though it’s pretty quiet, the ambient background effects and slowly building percussion work out really well. EXILE, once again, delivers flawless vocals and executes everything very well. The flow of this song is definitely what makes it a good listen, because if it didn’t all run together so smoothly then it would be another bore-fest. I like the strength behind EXILE’s vocals in this song; they’re really what keep the song in the realm of listenability. This isn’t an astounding song, and lined up with their other ballads not even that impressive, but it’s not bad.

Vocal Performance: A — Musical Performance Grade: A — Composition Grade: A- — Harmonization Grade: A

Overall Grade: A-

Up next is a more R&B influenced song featuring fluctuating synthetic beats and that snap track that often appears in EXILE songs called Kawaranai mono. This song has a better composition than both of the previous songs combined, and is basically all around more interesting. This kind of ballad is more suited to EXILE in my opinion because of the non-traditional sound and atmosphere it has about it. The vocals are also stronger than the previous tracks, and the overlapping effects, occasional background vocals, etc. make everything sound so much more thought out. The song isn’t quite a ballad, but features a somewhat slow tempo and a relaxed feeling about it. Overall, this is a good rise from the quality of the previous couple songs, which is a relief.

Vocal Performance Grade: A+ — Musical Performance Grade: A+ — Composition Grade: A — Harmonization Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

Up next is a pure pop track, and also the single before EXILE’s latest, Toki no Kakera~Toki no Kakera~. I still don’t understand the entrance since it doesn’t have anything to do with the rest of the song, but I’m going to let it go. EXILE’s vocal performance and the unique mixed beats really save this song from mediocrity and bring it into the realm of decent pop music, which thankfully lets it escape manufactured status. With a definite up-tempo musical aspect, I’m glad EXILE chose to feature such a variety of sounds that it makes it interesting to listen to. Even if you get bored of the vocals, sitting there and trying to pick out all the instruments and sounds in the background is actually oddly satisfactory. Their vocal performance is top notch too, and this song has definitely grown on me since I listened to it as a single.

Vocal Performance Grade: A — Musical Performance Grade: A — Composition Grade: A — Harmonization Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

Next up, the second to last song on the album, is Touch The Sky, which features a person/band I’m not familiar with called Bach Logic. I’m so glad that we’ve finally reached this stage in the album, because I’ve basically been waiting for it since Sora Kara Uchite Kuru JAZZ. EXILE finally brings in some upbeat dance music and I love it. EXILE is good at fast paced vocals, which makes this song enjoyable. They fluctuate notes quite a lot in one breath, which I’ve always found a bit more impressive than it really is. I guess Bach Logic appears in the form of a rap placed towards the beginning of the third of three sections of the song. I didn’t mind the rap because it was well done, though I didn’t think it was all that necessary. However, I will admit that it brought a little bit of flavor to the song and actually made it a bit better. It kept repetitiveness to a minimal.

Vocal Performance Grade: A+ — Musical Performance Grade: A+ — Composition Grade: A+ — Harmonization Grade: A

Overall Grade: A+

The final track on the album is one of my favorites from EXILE, which was originally a three-way collaboration between EXILE, Sowelu, and Doberman Inc.: 24karats -type EX-. This song is stronger than the previous because the rap is better and the vocals are edgier to match the pace of the song. I found it interesting that they said ‘Touch the Sky‘ in English in this song, for obvious reasons. I like the beats in this song more as well; they seem to compliment their voices more consistently. As i’ve grown into a fan of EXILE, I find their old songs more pleasing than I did when I first listened to them. This is the strongest track of the hardcore dance songs on the track, though Make Love‘s unique perspective makes it unforgettable.

Vocal Performance Grade: A+ — Musical Performance Grade: A+ — Composition Grade: A+ — Harmonization Grade: A+

Overall Grade: A+

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It’s no wonder that this album has sold more than a million copies, because it’s very strong. It certainly surpassed all expectations I had of it, and then some. Although most of the songs has a similar EXILE-esque perspective, they managed to sound diverse in their own ways. The number of weak tracks was thankfully small, and the number of strong ones were wonderfully plentiful. Thought it isn’t perfect, it deserves all the praise it’s getting.

ALBUM GRADE: A

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[Single] EXILE’s ‘I Believe’

SINGLE REVIEW: EXILE- I Believe

EXILE- I Believe

It make me laugh how every one of their single covers look like a Japanese GQ advertizement, but their music really doesn’t match. Don’t be fooled by the covers… It’s mostly pop. Haha, I was fooled at first to, but after listening to their previous single Toki no Kakera, I’ve been turned. I really like the sound of all their voices, even though they pretty much sound the same, and they seem capable of making some good music. So, here’s their most recent single ‘I Believe’.

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The first track on the single is, as expected, I Believe. Apparently the lead singer actually wrote the song himself, so I have to say that I’m pretty impressed. It’s definitely pop, but it has great qualities. It appears as though the song is intended to be a Christmas song, as it features jingle bells. I guess the Japanese must look at Chirstmas as less of a reverent time than us Americans, as their Christmas music isn’t exactly… touching? Anyway, EXILE’s vocals are soft and well-done. I like their harmonization in this song once more because of how well the back-up singers do creating a great atmosphere with light background vocalizations. The music consists of constant percussion, some christmasy synth, and of course, jingle bells. The song serves it’s purpose well, and I can see myself listening to it through the season.

Vocal Grade: A — Musical Grade: A- — Consistency Grade: A — Harmonization Grade: A+

Overall Grade: A

The second song on the single, Kimi ga Iru kara, is a side of EXILE that I had not seen yet. It features quiet pianos and fantastic vocals from the lead singer. There are some snapping beats in the background, which really adds to the soulful atmosphere. I definitely like this song more than any I’ve reviewed from EXILE thus far, and I’m really feeling the entire thing. The power behind the vocals really surprised me (I think that one’s Hiro?), but in a pleasant way. He sang with a great intent behind his voice, and he clearly deserves the record deal that he has. Tempo-wise, this song is quite a few steps down from anything on any of EXILE’s latest two singles, but it’s great to know that they can pull off such a beautiful song. There is a very interesting guitar segment near the two-thirds mark, and it really added to the flavor of the song. There is more of EXILE’s fantastic support of the lead singer happening in this song, and I absolutely love it.

Vocal Grade: A+ — Musical Grade: A+ — Consistency Grade: A — Harmonization Grade: A+

Overall Grade: A+

The last song on the single is a mid-tempo song called HERO. The song is composed really well, and I like the way that the vocals were applied to the music, because it works out wonderfully. My only problem with this song is that it isn’t really engaging, and I found myself losing focus on it while listening. It has an interesting beat that appears occasionally, formed more of what I think is bass guitar, though there’s a great probability that I’m wrong. Mostly the song is percussion and and some strings thrown in randomly. I hear the occasional brass as well, but it’s pretty rare. The vocal performance is good, but kind of bland. This song is good, but just lacks the umph that would make it great.

Vocal Grade: A- — Musical Grade: A- — Consistency Grade: B+

Overall Grade: B+

SINGLE GRADE: A

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SINGLE REVIEW: EXILE- Toki no Kakera

EXILE- Toki no Kakera

I don’t know what’s up with me and boy bands lately, but I’ve suddenly found a few worth reviewing, I guess. Now, as we all know, I hate rap. All forms, I just can’t stand it. If I wanted to listen to people talk, I’d go talk to the eighty year old woman who lives in my neighborhood. She could talk all day about how she walked to school and played outside. I don’t know if EXILE does any rap, but I think they might. However, I have heard a few songs from them {ballads, mid-tempo pop} that are actually pretty well done. I originally just judged them by what they looked like, which was a rap group. But since I’ve heard some decent stuff from them, I decided I’d give them a try. Here’s EXILE’s latest single ‘Toki no Kakera’.

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I was pleasantly surprised once the first twelve seconds of the song ended and a greatly appreciated pop sound took over. The introduction to the song was not only obnoxious and badly done, but I thought it was random compared to the rest of the song. Basically a mid-tempo pop song, Toki no Kakera was a great way for me to start off with EXILE. Despite their looks, their music doesn’t really have any of the rap influences that their style does. EXILE’s vocal performance was good, though I’ve heard better. EXILE does well when it comes to harmonization, though it’s hard to tell since they all kind of sound the same. Or… Maybe it’s just one person and the others are dancers… Wow, I really hope I’m not that wrong… Anyway, the music part of the song is fun, and it adds to the happiness of the song which I thought was nice. Though the song in general isn’t really very impressive in the sense that it’s not stand out among recent releases, but it is well done, and I’m glad that I gave EXILE a chance.

Vocal Grade: B+ — Musical Grade: A- — Consistency Grade: B+ — Harmonization Grade: A-

Overall Grade: B+

Oh lord… As much as it goes against everything that I say about rap, I actually liked 24Karats -Type EX-. The rap parts weren’t exactly my favorite but I really liked the parts where they actually sang. This is definitely more of an upbeat song than Toki no Kakera, but it is really enjoyable. This is the kind of music I expected when I looked at the cover, and I’m glad that this is on here. I don’t know much about the collaboration this song is from, but I’m pretty sure that the girl singing in here is Sowelu, an artists I’ve heard of but never listened to. She does pretty well in this song, but her vocals aren’t anything super impressive. This upbeat B-Side is certainly worth listening to, and as far as interest factor, is much more engaging than Toki no Kakera. The beats make it easy to dance to the song, and the vocals (even during the rap) are actually really well done. Not just that, but I should mention that EXILE has some great harmonization in the sense that their vocals blend really well together.

Vocal Grade: A — Musical Grade: A — Consistency Grade: A — Harmonization Grade: A

Overall Grade: A

The last song on the single is the slower, more Toki no Kakera-ish track Together. This was by far my least favorite song on the single. It’s pretty boring and the only redeeming and interesting part of the song is the chorus. EXILE’s vocals are pretty good, but they’re just lacking. It’s really not EXILE’s performance that makes the song boring, it’s just that everything is very laid back and typical. Anyone could pull off this song, which is something that makes a song interesting. I like it when I listen to songs like Angela Aki’s Moral no Soushiki and think ‘Only she could pull this off…’. I don’t mind the song, it’s certainly not badly done, but it’s just lackluster and quite average. I don’t really care for the way the music is done, and the general feeling is just a turn off because of how unoriginal it is. Good thing the other two tracks are fun to listen to.

Vocal Grade: B- — Musical Grade: B- — Consistency Grade: B — Harmonization Grade: A-

Overall Grade: B-

SINGLE GRADE: B+

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