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SINGLE REVIEW: WaT- Yume no Tochuu

WaT- Yume no Tochuu

I have long been awaiting this WaT single, for it marks their fresh start (after about a year of solitary work) as a duo in the Japanese music industry. I don’t quite know what to expect, but I’m hoping for their traditional sound, maybe with a new twist. WaT managed to scrape two promotional videos out of their label on this single, though I’m not sure why since the B-Side’s apparently doesn’t air anywhere. I havent seen either, but I’m excited to do so. Well, let’s get started WaT’s ‘Yume no Tochuu’.

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The title track, Yume no Tochuu, is thankfully similar to WaT’s old work. It annoyed me that the song began with the chorus, but I did really get into the WaT-esque full band arrangement. The chorus is fast and loud, featuring daring strings, percussion, and guitar, whereas the verses are slow and feature only acoustic guitar. WaT gives a great duo performance, and I’m glad that they decided to give the first solo verse to Wentz, because it made him sound like a larger part of the song, even though Teppei’s vocals were louder in the duo parts. I liked the sound of the overall song, and I especially liked the electric guitar solo that came towards the end. Although it’s kind of just another cute WaT song, it’s refreshing to hear both of their voices again in the same song. The delivery of the vocals is well done, and I’m glad to hear that they haven’t lost their ability to harmonize.

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

Overall Grade: A+

The second track on the single, which was the e2 by skapaa commercial song, is surprisingly a lot more interesting. TOKIMEKI☆DooBeeDoo starts with interesting percussion and brass instruments which lead to a very unique melody during the verses. The song has a very WaT-ish meaning, but I really find it a fun listen. The overall feeling is so… I almost want to say parade-performance pop that it’s fun to listen to. The song is mostly brass and percussion, which is probably which makes it so celebratory sounding. I have to admit that the song is really entertaining, despite that it’s so childish. The atmosphere is refreshing, and it actually works. I liked Wentz’ speaking thing that he does near the middle, because he has one of those voices that isn’t awkward to listen to. Now just watch the promotional video. You will be on the floor laughing like I was.

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

Overall Grade: A+

SINGLE GRADE: A+

(I know there aren’t download links up yet. I can’t get mediafire to work at the moment. I’ll have them soon)

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ALBUM REVIEW: WaT’s ‘WaT Collection’

I’m very happy that I finally get the chance to review some of WaT’s discography. WaT is a male duo that consists of Teppei Koike and Eiji Wentz. Teppei is full Japanese, born in Osaka, and Wentz is Japanese/German-American, born in Tokyo. Neither are fluent in English, despite the fact that most of Wentz’s immediate family is. At first I was upset about the fact that they were coming out with a compilation album filled with previous songs, but the idea has kind of grown on me, as WaT Collection kind of serves as a fresh start. Reminding everyone of the past and welcoming the future. I was initially worried that this would be the end of WaT somewhat short career, but I was thankfully wrong. There has already been a December single announced, which I am now just patiently waiting for. I think I can call myself a WaT fan, though I haven’t followed them from the beginning. I didn’t actually get into WaT until just before Teppei’s solo album, but after I went back and listened to their music I became a fan. Onto the review.

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The song starts off in a fantastic way with WaT’s most… inspirational song to date Ready Go!. I really like the powerful atmosphere of this song because it promotes an air of fun. This song was used for the Japanese broadcast of the World Volleyball Championships. Musically this song is very different from the typical strings that WaT composes with as it features some really well-done brass instruments. Ready Go! is a great song to listen to, and the chorus is very infectious. I was glad that WaT managed to pull off the small amount of English used in this song because inability to understand what people are saying always bugs me. The thing I love about this song is that Wentz and Teppei’s vocals are of equal volume. In a lot of songs Teppei’s vocals will dominate Wentz’s in volume, and vice versa. When they’re voices are completely blended it sounds great.

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

Overall Grade: A

The second song on the album is Natsubi, a track off their debut album Sotsugyou TIME ~Bokura no Hajimari~. I loved the echo effect during the chorus that was used on their voices. The song is upbeat and doesn’t get old like a lot of the songs I’ve heard from other artists. The music is really nice because of the light percussion mixed in with cymbals and WaT’s typical guitar. It makes for a very original song and easily one of my favorites (of many) off of their debut album. Teppei’s vocals are dominant on this track, and when they sing together I can’t really hear Wentz. Teppei’s solo parts in this song are stronger than Wentz’s however, which may have contributed to the imbalance. Wentz’s voice is shaky on his solo parts (which aren’t very frequent), and Teppei outperformed him in that respect. Wentz’s solos later in the song were improved, but still a bit below average.

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

Overall Grade: A-

The third track on this album, and one of WaT’s best, is Boku no Kimochi, their debut single. This song was what brought WaT into the mainstream music scene, and really showed what they were capable of. In WaT’s blended parts, again, Teppei’s vocals dominate. This song does however feature some of the best harmonization I’ve heard from WaT. I really like it when they sing different lyrics at the same time. It makes the song sounds more complicated and thus more interesting. Though Wentz’s vocals are somewhat drowned out in this song, he gives a very pleasing vocal performance which is equal with Teppei’s. The song may have been even better if their vocals had been blended more evenly, but it’s good the way it is as well. I like that this song features both piano and guitar. The musical aspect of the song was certainly well done, though I forgot there was even music going during the verses because their vocals were drawing my attention. This song was definitely a great debut and WaT made no errors in creating it. They obviously wanted the perfect song to start with.

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

Overall Grade: A+

Wentz’s vocals in their most recent single’s B-Side Jitensha are finally a bit more apparent. Though it seemed like he was trying to drown out Teppei, he didn’t manage to do it completely. It may be that Teppei just has more distinct vocals, but it seems that I can always hear him. Wentz’s vocals are easily drowned out by Teppei’s, but it appears that the converse isn’t necessarily true. Anyway, the vocal performance in this song is wonderful and WaT does what they do best. I liked the violin and other various strings in the background a lot because they blended well with the quiet percussion and soft vocals of the duo. I noticed that towards the end Teppei’s vocals began to reassert their dominance, which I guess was okay since it balanced the song out. I liked the quiet, slow ending of the song, and I’m so far really liking the flow of this album.

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

Overall Grade: A

The guitar chords in the fifth track Bokura no Ibasho sound kind of strange. Almost too clear, I suppose. However, the harmonica in the song is really pretty and gives the music a very unique feeling. The piano and guitar once again blended make for a smooth and calm listen, and the also strangely clear vocals fit right in. This song has a unique feeling to it, though I can’t quite put my finger on the anomaly that is making it sound so different. Anyway, the song is well done, and it sticks out as one of the more unique songs on the album. WaT’s discography, though similar in some respects, is quite diverse as far as different paces and instruments. Bokura no Ibasho is another case of Teppei overpowering Wentz, but I suppose it isn’t too bad. I can still hear Wentz to some degree.

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

Overall Grade: A-

The only new song on the entire WaT Collection album is this track, reStart. The song kind of started off on the wrong foot for me because of the awkward introduction, but I quickly changed my mind as it got rolling. WaT vocals have definitely become more powerful during this year of inactivity, and they work just as well, if not better, together as they did before. This song is of the same nature as Bokura no Love Story in the sense that WaT does the overlapping lyric thing where one of them will sing, and the other will start before the other is finished. Musically the song is made up of guitar, percussion, and an assortment of other instruments used more minorly. WaT’s vocals are really improved, and I can hear the difference between their old songs and this one. At first the song sounds childish, but as it continues you can hear maturity. There might be something just generally off in the song, but I can’t figure it out. There’s something that’s holding me back from exclaiming about it, but I can’t put my finger on it. Possibly it’s that it has an odd composition, but I’m not sure. Whatever it is, it isn’t a huge problem. The song is really good, just something is off.

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

Overall Grade: A+

The seventh track on WaT Collection is the A-Side of WaT’s second single 5 Senchi. This was the first of WaT’s singles I heard that was so heavy on the harmonica, which I actually liked. It’s a bit more upbeat than most of WaT’s songs, and the overall feel is faster paced. The quick percussion and guitar make the song pleasurable, and I think that WaT’s vocals are well done. This song once again relys on Teppei’s voice for the most part. I liked the way that the song ended because of the somewhat speedy but slowed guitar chords and soft vocals of the duo.

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

Overall Grade: A-

Next is Teppei’s solo song from off the Sotsugyou Time ~Bokura no Hajimari~, I Will Get a Dream. I can hear that Teppei recorded this song simply for the fact that his vocals switch too quickly from one level to another. It’s not bad, because one would expect him to record it part by part, it’s just obvious. I really like the contrast between verses and chorus because of the dramatic change in feeling. The flucutating guitar chords are really nice, and I’m glad he stuck with traditional Teppei style for this song. My only problem is that I don’t like the way he sings when he’s trying to put power behind his voice because it sounds off. I perfer his calm vocals, which I think he could have used more in this song. Generally it’s a strong song, only really pulled down by slightly odd vocals. If you listen to one of his recent solo songs, you’ll hear the oddity that I’m talking about.

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

Overall Grade: A-

Ninth on this album is the song with the obonoxiously long name that I used to forget a lot, Hajimete Umi wo Mita Toki. When I first listened to this song, I didn’t realize what ‘hajimete’ meant in any other situation than a command to begin, so I couldn’t figure out a good portion of the chorus on this song. I now know that it means ‘The first time I saw the sea’, so it’s much easier for me to remember. I actually really like this song, and the calm relaxed multiple guitar parts are quite pleasant to listen to. This is the B-Side to the Hava Rava single, and a good one at that. The music may be the most impressive part of this song, but the vocals are well done too. Teppei is dominant once more, but I’ve gotten over it by now. I don’t think it will change, but I’m just going to have to live with it. The entire vocal performance is very clear and understandable (always a plus for me), and the did a great job as far as the manner in which they sang.

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

Overall Grade: A

The next, tenth, song on the WaT Collection album is the gorgeous Hadaka. With a name meaning naked, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this song when I first listened to it on the Sotsugyou Time ~Bokura no Hajimari~ album, but it was a pleasant surprise. This song has precisely five hundred and twenty seven plays on my iTunes, and it’s safe to say that this is in my top five favorite songs of all time. Wentz’s vocals are absolutely flawless, and I can’t understand why he isn’t more apparent in their music. He composed and wrote this song himself, and I can really tell why he’s in the profession he is. Everything about this song is amazing, and it embodies everything I like in a song. Soft controlled vocals, beautiful piano accompanied by occasional (probably keyboard created) violin. I love relaxing music, and Hadaka has served well in that department. I sang this song in front of my Japanese class once, for a Karaoke project, and I made an entire posterboard about WaT to go with it. That’s how much I like this song.

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

Overall Grade: A+

When I first listened to the eleventh album track, Hava Rava, I was saying to myself ‘Why is a song with this name so slow’. Yes, the intro decieved me for it’s entire twenty seconds, though I became suspicious of the tempo around the fifteen mark. The song begins with mid-slow tempo guitar that is accompanied by equally relaxed vocals, it had me going, but once Wentz hit his final note, my maybe-existing suspicions melted away and I realized that it was just an intro. Hava Rava is really upbeat, probably their most upbeat,  and I actually like it more than I thought I would. They control their vocals surprisingly well, which I guess isn’t unusual since they always do a good job of that, and the music is great. It’s a very fun song and everything about it sounds summery and uplifting. It’s pretty unique for WaT since they stick mostly to mid-tempo pop, but they still stay true to their style.

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

Overall Grade: A

I’ve never been a huge fan of the music on WaT’s debut single and the twelfth track on this album, Sotsugyou TIME. I think the vocals definitely show that this was an indies single since they sound a bit immature, but I do like that Wentz and Teppei are sharing vocal volume. The song is composed of guitar and some odd sound that kind of fluctuates in the beginning, which I can’t name. I just don’t care for the constant and repetetive nature of the music, although it is a decent song. They’ve released this song three times now on different CDs, and I guess I can see why. The song definitely has its redeeming qualities, and there are parts where WaT does really cool things with their voices in the background while the other is singing. It was their debut as singers, so I understand their attachment. I’m praying that this is it’s last releases because I’m sure three is enough. I’m hoping it doesn’t show up for a long time, because if it does it would have to be on another compilation or best album, which I just don’t want.

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

Overall Grade: B+

The thirteenth song on the album is the Boku no Kimochi single’s B-Side, Ano Hi. I always really liked this song because it kind of examplifies WaT’s music. The quiet and pretty guitar chords accompanied by harmonica really set the tone of the song, and both Teppei and Wentz’s vocals blend nicely together. Everything about the song seems to flow together perfectly, and although it’s not the most impressive of daring song, it really makes for a pleasant relaxing song that will keep you entertained for the entirety of its five minute length. My only issue is that Wentz is like barely even in this track with the exception of his verses, which is kind of odd. I think there’s an odd focus of attention on Teppei in a lot of their music, but I feel that they’re equally talented which makes me think that they should really share the song a bit more. Oh well, besides that it’s a great song, just like all the songs on this album.

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

Overall Grade: A-

Coming in as the fourteenth track on the Wat Collection album is one of my favorite songs by the duo, and their most recent single as a pair, Bokura no Love Story. I like that the song focuses on both of them, but I also love that their vocals are so heartfelt and powerful. This song is absolutely the model of how I like their voices to blend, because if you listen to the background, you can hear Teppei singing the same lyrics at a different pace behind Wentz, and vice versa. Not only that, but the dramatic quality to this song and how well the two convey it is astounding. The music is gorgeous percussion, guitar, piano, and bells which just make me love it even more. I have to say that this song is quite possibly my favorite winter time song along with BoA’s Winter Love. It shows so much skill on both of their parts, and is easily my one of my favorite songs from both of them. The atmosphere is just flawless.

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

Overall Grade: A+

The next, and second to last, song on the album is the incredibly out of place but oddly refreshing Awaking Emotion 8/5. At first I didn’t know what to say about this song. This was Wentz’s first serious solo single, and it was certainly a step out of the ordinary. With furious guitar riffs that just don’t stop, this song is quite the kick in the teeth that the album had been missing. Wentz’s vocals take on a more mature tone, and by god he actually pulls off this random rock single. The song is quite poetic, and it just screams unique. WaT’s discography has absolutely nothing like this. The harsh nature of the song actually works well, and shockingly, I enjoyed listening to it. The music video and cover were… Well, I thought it was a great concept but it was very hard to take it seriously. I think he did a good job, it’s just very out of character. I was surprised at how well he managed to control his vocals in such a style, and I’m impressed. I dont’ think Teppei could ever pull off something like this, and I applaud Wentz for a step out of the box.

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

Overall Grade: A

The final song on WaT’s latest album is Teppei’s first solo song Kimi ni Okuru Uta. I really liked Teppei’s vocal performance in this song, and although it was not as daring as Awaking Emotion 8/5, it was certainly a pleasure to listen to. It’s a typical WaT style song, which I think is probably Teppei’s limit, and it was certainly well done. Teppei’s vocals seem oddly high without Wentz to back him up, but the the guitar and violin featured in the music aspect were refreshing. Teppei’s vocals really are well done in this song, and he definitely has a good voice. Kimi ni Okuru Uta is a cute song, which is good. Sticking true to WaT’s usual is fine with me, and since the song is well done, I really have no complaints.

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

Overall Grade: A-

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On a final note, I would like to express my overall feeling on the album. WaT is really, in my opinion, the most real and talented male duo in the Japanese industry at the moment. The KinKi Kids are good, Tackey & Tsubasa are good, Kobukuro is good, but WaT simply takes the cake. Their music is versatile and shows that they can make good music while being both cute and serious. This album was a great way to remind everyone of WaT’s past while welcoming the future. I don’t think there is a WaT song that I geniunely don’t like, and I hope it remains that way. I’m now just left to anticipate the arrival of their coming single Yume no Tochuu, and hope that it’s going to be as amazing as all of their music has been thus far. There isn’t a song by them that would recieve anything less than a B+ (<– ‘More, Sotsugyou TIME’), and I really don’t feel like I went easy on them at all. It is my opinion that almost all of the songs on this album are of A quality, and I highly reccomend every single one. Don’t let their appearances fool you, their music is a lot more down to earth than one would think. One a side note, the booklet to this album is really cute, so I gathered the full sized scans from WaT International Forum and zipped them up for you here.

ALBUM GRADE: A

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WaT- Reunion Press Conference

Finally, after 9 long and painful months of separation since the release of ‘Bokura no Love Story’ laster year, our dear WaT are back together. The coming release of their new/old compilation album ‘WaT Collection’ has brought them back into the spot light as a duo. It is even announced that there is to be a brand new single coming out in December. I’m certainly glad for this news because I’m tired of their solo work. They’re clearly at their best when they’re together. Here are the pictures of the press conference, and here is a download able file containing all of the pictures seen below if you’d rather.

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