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Archive for the ‘Kobukuro’ Category

[Album] Kobukuro’s 5296

ALBUM REVIEW: Kobukuro- 5296

Kobukuro- 5296

I’ve been very excited for the release of this album since I heard of it, since both Aoku Yasashiku and Tsubomi were such gorgeous singles. Kobokuro, though not the most physically attractive of singers, have beautiful voices and I defnitely consider myself a fan. I love their style, and I can’t wait to hear this album. Everything leading up to it has put it on pedestal, and I really hope it turns out as good as it feels like it will. I can’t wait any longer, here we go– Kobukuro’s ‘5296’.

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We all know how much I loved Aoku Yasashiku. The fantastically simple and catchy guitar in the background flowed so perfectly with their flawlessly controlled vocals, I couldn’t help but enjoy it. The thing that I really loved about the song was the great dramatic quality that they kept up by adding a dash of power into their voices. I love how down to earth their music is, and I’m glad that they’re doing so well for themselves. The strong notes in this song really add the icing to the cake, as the build up is just amazing. Listening to this song always relaxes me, and I think that it’s a really great way to start off the album. From beginning to end the song will keep you engaged, which is really what makes it as good as it is.

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

Overall Grade: A+

I was really confused when I first listened to the album because I didn’t know iTunes was on shuffle, and so when Aoku Yasashiku ended, Crystal Kay’s No More Blue Christmas’ came on, and I totally thought Kobukuro was going to start singing until the vocals actually started… I’m an idiot. Well, Koin (Coin?) takes a jump in tempo, and features classical feel-good music with a somewhat catchy beat. It made me laugh when they said kura kura for some reason. I guess Japanese onomatopoeia just makes me laugh (Ha, they just said wara wara too… I’m pathetic…). The music is basically harmonica and guitar, so it is very Kobukuro-esque. My only complaint is that the composition was kind of boring, so it made the song hard to listen to over and over again. Kobukuro performs it quite well, I’m just not that into the sound of everything. There isn’t anything stand out in the composition. I have to say that the music itself was very well done, and if it had been played up in a more powerful manner it could have been a fantastic song. Also, I’m really impressed by Kobukuro’s vocal range, which they show off quite well in this song. Another little thing that annoyed me, is that there was a section in the song were this telephone-ish sound was going, and I thought my cellphone was going off. It wasn’t until I found my cell phone that I realized it was the song. Kind of random.

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

Overall Grade: B+

Next is the first song I heard after getting back into Jpop around March of this year. Tsubomi is quite possibly Kobukuro’s best song to date, and if I had listened to any other song to start out, I might not be fluent in Japanese, I might not have this blog, I might not even like Japan as much as I do. It sounds dramatic, and it is, but I think it’s true. Everything about this song is beautiful. The epic music of the chorus, the powerful vocals of Kobukuro, the serenity of the verses, it all flows together into one gorgeous piece of heaven. This song is definitely on my list of favorite songs of all time, and I don’t think it will ever be removed. The piano and guitar of the music blend together in a way you don’t hear done so well very often, and the astounding composition is pure genius. The way the song finishes is just as attractive as how it begins, and every increase and decrease in volume works out. This emobides everything I like in a ballad. I don’t know what more to say. Just listen to it.

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

Overall Grade: A+

The next song on this so far very well done album is Donna Sora de mo. I was really annoyed when the acapella part of the song which it opens with ended because it was so much better than the rest. The starts out in a beautiful acapella duet manner where both men perform fantastically. It soon moves on and the instruments kick in, which are classic Kobukuro strings, percussion, harmonica, cymbals, etc. I have to say that though I really loved the intro, the rest of the song is certainly good too. It’s classic Kobukuro sound, but performed so well that you can’t help but love it. Vocally impeccable and musically attractive, Kobukuro really did well here. I even liked the full chorus effect near the end where Kobukuro’s vocals were backed by a crowd of people singing along. It’s really a cute and uniquely inspirational song. It’s quite infectious over time. I really didn’t want to stop listening…

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

Overall Grade: A+

Kobukuro’s song naming never made any sense to me. This next song is called ‘Wings Called You’, or Kimi to iu na no tsubasa, which is composed of piano and a tamborine beat (guitar added later) that flows wonderfully with quick paced vocals from Kobukuro. I’m glad that Kentaro’s vocals were showed off in this track because he really does a great job with controlling his voice. He holds his notes beautifully and really gives a satisfying and engaging performance. He does the guitar for all the tracks, which is just an additonal area for me to respect him in. Kobukuro’s falsettos are really quite strong, and this song makes me glad that they use them frequently. I like the way that they seem to just take off at the end of their notes.

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

Overall Grade: A

WHITE DAYS is a soft ballad that begins with very simple vocals by Shunsuke, but progresses and gains power. The song remains relaxed, and really has a great atmosphere. Both members give an outstanding performance technically; great control and tone. The song is mostly piano during the verses, but guitar and percussion is added later on. The lyrics are sweet, and the song really turned out nicely. Among Kobukuro ballads, it isn’t really stand out, which is it’s only flaw. The good thing is that among ballads in general, it’s fantastic.

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

Overall Grade: A

After the quiet ballad WHITE DAYS, Kimi Iro makes a loud entrance in all of it’s unoriginal and boring glory. It’s really not a bad song, it’s just so boring and sounds like a bad rendition of classic Kobukuro style. The song opens with electric guitar and unorganized percussion, and it just seems to drag on without any interesting direction. The composition is pretty much one boring transition after another. I’m sure there are people that like this song, but to me it just doesn’t present anything of interest. Usually there’s something really special in each Kobukuro song, even if it’s like another, that makes me like it, but it’s just not here in Kimi Iro, which is yet again another wierd title. ‘You Color’? I don’t get it.

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

Overall Grade: B

Now that I’m done being bored, we can move on to Suimen no Chou. I don’t have any idea what Suimen means, I suppose I should go get my translator… Apparently it means ‘water’s surface’. Butterfly of the Water’s Surface? Umm… I guess that’s… poetic… Oh well. It’s better than a wierd english title that makes no sense. Despite the odd name, Suimen no Chou is actually quite the unique song. It starts out with cymbals and a really cool vocal composition which Kobukuro, obviously, performed well. The song is pretty loud for them with crashing percussion and electric guitar. At least they put out a loud performance to match. I run out of things to say about Kobukuro’s songs because they’re all good. There’s a nice electric guitar solo that adds some nice flavor to the song, and I guess this is pretty unique for Kobukuro. Well done. Not much to say about it.

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

Overall Grade: A

Moving on, Kaze no Naka wo really involkes a country-esque side of Kobukuro. I think I actually hear banjo playing in the background music. If not, I at least hear harmonica the whole time. It’s quite the interesting listen, but it does get boring after you listen to it enough. I can’t tell if there is synthetic strings in the background, or if I’m actually hearing accordian. Someone tell me what they think. I can’t be sure. If it is accordian, then I applaud them. This is quite the musically unique track. I like the guitar chords, and since Kobukuro gives another good vocal performance, I really once again am left with little to say. I liked the echo effects that appeared occasionally, it almost sounded like a chorus of Shunsukes singing in the background.

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

Overall Grade: A+

The previous unique track is followed by a realitvely uneventful song called Gekkou. It sounds like a fast version of Kimi Iro, and it’s really nothing special. The song is once again electric guitar and percussion, and basically has nothing really unique or special to offer. I like towards the end when the guitar disappears and you get Kobukuro’s vocals backed by constant percussion. It sounded very interesting, but it was short and disappeared quickly. It was performed well, but just lacked anything powerful to put it up in the leauge of great Kobukuro songs. This is probably the weakest song on the album just for sheer repetetiveness and the fact that Kobukuro performed every other song better. They didn’t perform this song badly, they just performed better in the others.

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

Overall Grade: B

I had to look up the meaning of Kazamidori too, since I didn’t know the last kanji. I guess it means ‘Weather Vane’. Odd name. Again. However, even with a strange name Kobukuro manages to make attractive music. This song consists of beautiful piano and synthetic violins fronted by soft and compelling vocals courtesy of both members. I think that though the music to this song is really fantastically done, the vocals are what makes it memorable and repeatable. Kobukuro has a powerful presence, and I love the dramatic quality of this song, as well as the wondrous atmosphere it creates. A great listen if you’re going to sleep. It’s also their harmonization. They sing together in a great way. They’re obviously the perfect partner choice, and I can’t think of a duo with stronger vocals. Kentaro’s power note is executed gorgeously, which really pulls the song up into Kobukuro’s level. This song is right up there with Tsubomi, and is very impressive.

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

Overall Grade: A+

The second to last song is Diary, which has an interesting musical aspect because it mixes electric guitar with twinkling piano that would alone give a very young and femenine feel to the song. However, Kobukuro throws a layer of manly over it and manages to make it their own (Umm… yeah…). This is one of the more pop-ish tracks on the album, but Kobukuro puts their own little twist on it. The percussion and cymbals in the background are very classic Kobukuro (since they’re in like every song…), and the vocals are, of course, executed in a way that stays true to their style. It’s a cute song, but I can’t say that it’s really that amazing. Nice, but not that memorable. There are some good notes, but the composition isn’t interesting enough to make it fantastic.

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

Overall Grade: A-

The final track is Fragile mind, which starts out slow but gains in power as it progresses. I like that this song has a very definite direction, and I like the uniqueness of the music. As usual, the percussion and cymbals are there, but the guitar score, especially in the beginning, throughout is quite impressive. I don’t know if Kentaro wrote it, but whoever did is quite good. I liked the mood of the song, and it’s a nice way to end the album. Kobukuro, as expected, executes everything very well and gives it their all. I loved the electric guitar solo, since it added some variety to the song.

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

Overall Grade: A+

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As I expected, this album ended up being fantasatic. I highly reccomend Tsubomi, Kazamidori, and Donna Sora de mo if you want to hear the best songs, though I suggest you listen to the whole thing. There were only a few tracks that I didn’t care for, and Kobukuro did what they do best and then some. If you like almost always perfect vocals and fairly varied music, Kobukuro may just be what you’re looking for. Wow, I could sell them.

ALBUM GRADE: A+

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SINGLE REVIEW: Kobukuro’s ‘Aoku Yasashiku’

Kobukuro- Aoku Yasashiku

I haven’t reviewed a Kobukuro single since I started Highway-Chance, so it’s been a long time coming since they are one of my favorite duos. I laugh every time I see them in person because of the dramatic height difference, but I don’t let it taint my opinion of their music, which is undeniably amazing. They have quite possibly the best harmonization and partnering skills of any of the two person groups I review here, and their voices are so pleasant to litsen to. I can’t wait to review this latest addition to their discography ‘Aoku Yasashiku’.

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Oh wow. Aoku Yasashiku starts off in possibly the greatest way ever. Theres sort of an ambient build up which suddenly cuts off just before they begin singing, and I absolutely loved it. It really set the dramatic mood for the rest of the song. I was equally impressed with the fantastic crisp quality of Kobukuro’s vocals not just in the beginning, but throughout the whole song. The guitar chords were wonderful, and I’m just finding myself very happy with this song. Kobukuro doesn’t deliver a lot of variety in their music, but somehow every song manages to sound different, and is distinct and well done enough that it will remain in my mind. As I assumed, Kobukuro’s harmonization is top notch and really just raises the bar for groups like WaT and KinKi Kids. If any other group came out with a song this sweepingly dramatic and powerful, I would be very, very impressed.

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

Overall Grade: A+

The second song on the single, Kimi iro, picks up pace with some fairly gentle guitar riffs. Generally, it wasn’t as good as Aoku Yasashiku, which is to be expected since it is a B-Side. Kobukuro’s vocals are okay, and the song is technically pretty good, but the overall feeling is simply not as good as the A-Side. What little actual harmonization there is in this song is well done, but I’m reasonably certain that if the two are singing together, it will sound harmonous. Their voices just blend together so perfectly, which is ironic considering how different they are when you actually see them. The music in this song was a bit awkward, which I think may have contributed to my lack of strong interest in it. Kimi Iro is by no means a bad song, but simply less interesting than the previous track.

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

Overall Grade: B+

SINGLE GRADE: A

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