Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Review: Maboroshi

Artist: Joe Inoue / 井上ジョー
Single (Maboroshi only): Maboroshi / 幻 / Illusion / Vision

Joe Inoue's 3rd single, Maboroshi, is by far his best and prettiest song. It's his first ballad, and I hope he does more because this song is the most beautiful song I've heard in 2009 so far. I was excited when I discovered Joe Inoue several months ago, because he is Japanese, but grew up in California, and is therefore fluent in English.
However, I was underwhelmed by his earlier songs. They just didn't work for me. Maboroshi, though, has stunned me with its elegance.
The song is illustrated with violins and cellos in the background, and Joe has switched from the electric guitar to the acousitc, played with assuming softness, which together with his soft, gentle vocals has really won me over. Joe manages to keep his voice emotional and soft without losing strength or coming across as whiny. I also really like the melody! I can't say much about the lyrics at the moment, but from what I can understand, I'm touched.

Watch the beautiful promotional video on YouTube!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Review: LEECH

Artist: The GazettE
Single: LEECH [Auditory Impression]

03. HOLE (available only on the Auditory Impression version of LEECH.)

The song starts off very strong, with powerful chords coming from Aoi, one of two guitarists, and it stays just as strong for the entire song. It's fast-paced song, with extremely energetic drumming. Just as with some songs on their last album, Stacked Rubbish, and on the Guren single, this song contains some female vocals. I think they work nicely with the chorus and the general feel of the song. They sound kind of bitter and sour.
I'm impressed by the guitars in this song. They're not only busy, but they're both interesting. (Aoi's guitar comes out of the left speaker, and Uruha's out of the right. So if you want to listen to just one of them, all you have to do is concentrate on one speaker.)
LEECH reminds me a little bit of their earlier works, except that all of the members have gotten much better since then. Vocalwise, the song has a mix of everything - from what almost sounds like rap, to screaming, to a slow, powerful chorus.
The lyrics are a mix of Japanese and English and if you listen very, very hard, it's possible to make out most of what Ruki is saying in English. (Usually this is very difficult if not impossible because he switches from proper English pronunciation to simplified Japanese pronunciation. Or he just doesn't pronounce things as they're meant to be at all.)
The bass is also good in this song, although I don't notice it as much as the other instruments. In terms of production I think this is the cleanest track on the single.
Overall I'd give the song four and a half stars out of five. It's not their greatest work, but it rocks.

Another very strong song. It starts off with a guitar, then the drums are added in, and then finally the bass and guitars, signaled by a short scream by Ruki. This song is almost entirely in English, but it's hard to understand. The word that sticks out the most is "Coward", which is repeated in the chorus (and admittedly one of the high points in the song).
There is more screaming and less singing in this one. Once the song starts, it doesn't let up until the end. I love some of their older, heavier songs, but this one I'm not too fond of. Two and half stars out of five.

First of all this song is only available on the Auditory Impression version of the single (which is, as you can see, the one I am reviewing. The Optical Impression contains only two songs and the music video for LEECH).
I almost like this song better than the title track LEECH. I like the melody over the entire song a little better, but the main reason is the bass. It's definitely one of the best bass lines they've ever written (I'm assuming Reita writes them, but I don't know that for a fact).
The song starts and ends with that stellar bass line. In fact, it's so good that I give this song five stars out of five. And it's because of this song that I highly recommend the Auditory Impression over the Optical Impression. If you're a fan of Reita, then you'll really enjoy this one.

Watch the LEECH PV (Promotional Video) on YouTube!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

About Bubblegum Heaven

The Paradise of Bubblegum! It's Bubblegum Heaven.

The point of this blog will be simply this: Review music from Japan and Korea ( and occasionally Taiwan or maybe even the U.S. ), manga, books, movies, or whatever I feel deserves a review. I am passionate about Japanese music in particular, and I want to share my passion by writing about it. I may decide to post news about upcoming music in the future, but for now, I'll be sticking to reviews.

I hope that if you're looking for information on the songs I review, this will be useful to you. Personally, I love reviews. If I can help you to decide whether to buy a CD, manga, or book or not I'll be delighted.

So....please enjoy!! Questions, comments, or feedback are always welcome.

Sometime in the future, I will create some drawings to embellish this blog layout with. =^^=

Review: Bolero / Kiss the Baby Sky / 忘れないで

Track List:
01. Bolero
02. Kiss the Baby Sky
03. 忘れないで (Wasurenaide / Don't Forget)
04. どうして君を好きになってしまったんだろう? (Why Did I Fall in Love With You?) -Royal Mirrorball Mix-
05-07. Instrumental tracks for 01-03.

The main track of the single. It's going to be used in an upcoming Japanese movie called Subaru, which is about a ballerina and based off a manga of the same name.
This song is unlike anything else Tohoshinki has done before. It still contains the same feeling as other Tohoshinki songs, but the closest track to Bolero in their previous works would have to be Forever Love (from their album "T"), and even that doesn't resemble it that closely. This, I think, is a good thing, because if they started to have a lot of redundancy in their songs I would be upset.
Their vocals are, as always, stuning. There's an especially nice rift in this song in which Micky Yoochun hits a very long and high note. Xiah Junsu and Hero Jejung also shine in this song, although it gives all of the members their own time to impress us.
The song is very slow and peaceful, with a sense of underlying tension. Personally it isn't one of my favorites, but it can't be denied that it's beautiful. The song is driven by stirring strings and classical instruments such as claronets (I'm pretty sure) and a harp. If you can imagine it, the best way to describe Bolero in a nut shell would have to be it sounds like winter.

Kiss the Baby Sky
Well, first of all, I think this song deserves a nod because Micky Yoochun wrote everything himself, including the lyrics...perhaps especially the lyrics. This song showcases, once again, Micky's atrophied English. Still, the way he's lined up English with Japanese sounds kind of charming, and whether you're a fan or not, you should be able to look past the odd title and enjoy the gem of a song that this is.
Firstly, I love the pre-chorus melody. It flows very easily and Jejung and Junsu's voices are sublime in it. The chorus is interesting, because all of the members are singing falsetto. Doesn't happen too often, huh!
One other vocal note is that Micky talks throughout this song. An example of what he says is: "How you guys doin' so far? You guys with me?"
What really impresses me about this song is the instrumental. It works perfectly with the vocals and is interesting in its own right. It's simple, but I like it.

忘れないで / Don't Forget
The music was written by Hero Jejung and a Korean man who, I am ashamed to say, I do not know the name of. The lyrics were written by Jejung.
Another slow ballad...which is what we'll mostly be seeing from Jejung, I think. This song is very heavy on the strings, almost annoyingly so. They're pretty, but a bit too present I think. The melody is pretty, simple, and a bit melancholic, with a nice emphasis on the word "Wasurenaide" at the end of the chorus. ("Wasurenaide" meaning "Don't forget")
I don't like this song nearly as much as the other two, mainly because of the strings. They almost resemble the stirngs in "Balloons" (from their third Korean album), but they're out of place in this wistful song.

どうして君を好きになってしまったんだろう? / Why Did I Fall in Love With You? -Royal Mirrorball Mix-
I don't understand what the remixer was trying to do, or if he understood Japanese at all. The lyrics to this song are quite sad, as they're about being unable to tell the person you love that you love them, and finally giving them up as they're going to get married to someone else.
But if you don't understand Japanese, and you're unfamiliar with the (beautiful) original song, you might think this song was about catching butterflies in the park. It's upbeat, with joyful piano, harp, and other sparkly sounds. This also resembles "Balloons"!
I don't even enjoy the irony of the happy sound with the sad lyrics. It's just completely out of place ( and the remix itself isn't even that great, regardless of the lyrics! )

All in all, I very much enjoyed this single. If you want to buy it, it's available on (although if I were you, I'd buy their upcoming album, The Secret Code, instead, because all three original tracks will be on it...those cheapskates!)

Watch the Bolero promotional video
on YouTube!