Introducing Music-Knob, my new site where I will continue posting from here on out!!

I am so excited that I actually went through with this. Still in the middle of figuring things out but for the meantime, hope you enjoy the new look of my site! It's been a long time making.

Looking forward to many more years of blogging and music reviewing! :)

callme is a electronic pop girls trio. No, they're not the next Perfume. Musically, they're different. And they're a force to be reckoned with because they produce actually great music. Their music ranges from bubblegum pop (Can not change nothing) to electro jazz (Sing along) to electro art pop groove (In my dream).

Formed on December 30th, 2014 under Avex, this trio isn't your average girls' unit. With coordinated performances and self-produced music, the three all contribute to the group. RUUNA is the leader, KOUMI creates the dances, and MIMORI is charge of the music. All are from Miyagi prefecture and as of 2016, only 19 years old! That's amazing talent for such a young age.

Let me tell you all about their second album, This is callme. It's a fantastic, solid album full of hidden electropop gems. You want Perfume but with less auto tune, more piano jazz riffs without sacrificing any electronic goodness? Listen to callme. You'll expect good ol' jpop but get so much more. A beautiful and strong addition to the jpop community.

Their second album coupled with singles "Can not change nothing" and "Confession". This is callme is the  answer to their first album, Who is callme?. I'm equally interested in how their third album will be titled.

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Official Site // Youtube // CDJapan
"A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world." - John le Carre
For the past two years, MKNB has been my little spot in the internet. This changed when I decided to take a step outside this little circle. My main reasoning for joining an online news site was to challenge myself. As much fun as it's been, it's really been quite the challenge. Writing for such a large audience, using a different writing style, researching about various topics, keeping up to date with the latest news, communicating with the community....I've been learning so many things! I worry and mess up sometimes...but you live and you learn!

Sometimes to cheer myself up, all I need is a catchy pop song. It helps if it's one with dancing lamas....

  1. daydream by Aimer
  1. (I'm) Home by Fullkawa Honpo

  1. In My Head by GROWN KIDS
  2. Bright Stars by GROWN KIDS ft Aimer 
  3. happiness ~ shiwase no oto ~ by HaKU
  4. Stay With Me by give me wallets
  5. Color Variation by Ketsumeishi
  6. Haru no by Fullkawa Honpo ft. Otsubo Kana of Spangle call Lilli line
  7. Storywriter by Fullkawa Honpo
  8. 2 Jikan no Vacance by Utada Hikaru ft Shiina Ringo
  9. For You by Dan Phillipson
  10. Imagine Anything by Dan Phillipson
  11. Galaxy by THIS IS JAPAN 
  12. Memories by Petit Biscuit 
  13. Night and Day by Kafuka
  14. Taking Off by One Ok Rock
  15. Synchronize by Leo Imai

daydream is Aimer's best and most important album yet. This fourth album is a piece of work. I'm impressed by the art work, shifting from the night scenery to bright daylight. I'm impressed at what each guest musician brought to the table, pushing Aimer to new heights. I'm impressed at the staff behind the album, introducing world class composers and producers and musicians.

Most of all, I'm impressed at Aimer's growth as a singer. She delivers a killer vocal performance, shows incredible control and growth as an singer. She mastered the art of conveying different tones and emotions.  It's amazing how she balances a hard rock piece with a hushed honeyed performance. It really works!

The only factor bringing this incredible album down is the order. It's all over the place. Jumping from fast paced tracks to quirky tracks to slow tracks. The album isn't meant to tell a story. Because daydream is just a compilation of unique songs, it difficult to unify all the various contributing artists to stick to one theme. Each contributor's style is too distinct from the other. The tracks clash against each other. There's no proper transition.

I have unchanging opinions for insane dream and us since my review. Though now I realize the significance of these two songs. Even if the results weren't on par, the process was the important part. Both tracks exemplified an image change and offered disparate sounds exploring what Aimer is capable of. Chou Chou Musubi  is another unchanging opinion. I think I said all I had to said in my previous review.

ninelie is a song I haven't gotten to reviewing yet. It's a good song. Very typical of Sawano Hiroyuki but still, pretty good. Ethereal piano repetitions and fluttery electronic waves, accompanied by the harmonious duo of chelly and Aimer.  My favourite part is when the chorus first comes in. You get a taste of the song's core without the complexities of the backtrack. Sawano Hiroyuki should do that more often. 

twoface begins with bass slaps and hi hats. Steady before the action explodes with old school guitar grooves, jazzy piano schemes, and electric noise tunings. I wouldn't expect anything less from the vocalist of androp.

To bring things down, the albums shifts to Higher Ground. How appropriately named. Filled with folk and country inspired acoustic chords, the song is a nice, simple break from all the rush. It's never too slow thanks to the bass drum resonances and hoarse croons and hums.

for Lonely with Abe Mao was a B-side on Dare ka, Umi wo. I'm surprised to see it on an album. No complaints because it deserves more recognition. I underestimated Abe's ability in this phenomenal track. A skilled singer holds their own while allowing others to shine. Abe demonstrated she is more than capable. The evidence is very subtle in Abe's vocals and composition. When dissecting the production, I noticed the stereo panning. The higher ranged guitar riff are more prominent on the left speaker. Lower ranged on the right speaker. And the water drop-like echos were a beautiful touch.

Kataomoi is an instant winner. This piece stole my heart, right at the second the rhythmic snaps and laid back guitar strums entered the room. I’m adoring how spaced out and connected Aimer’s voice sounds. Each note is pronounced distinctly and trails onto the next note. The simple melody is the real gem, supported by balmy strings, chime tings, and backing vocals from Uchisawa Takahito.

What a colourful and fun song Hz is! The four guitar chords beam a constant ray of bubbly pop cheer.  The jazz piano pops in and out playfully. The wavering notes in the chorus are fantastic. It's so infectious you can't help but sing along! (Or attempt to sing...tone-deaf me don't care!) 

TK composed Kowairo, a chilling and majestic work of art. The strings wane hauntingly and the keys ground all the elements together. The song is very accessible to the average listener while offering a glimpse of TK’s obscure sound through the distortions and wails from the electric guitar near the end.

closer has a sweetness to its punk rock beat. The alien distortions catch your attention immediately. Surprisingly the hard hits of percussion don't take over the vocals.  Even with the amplified electric guitar, the song maintains a balanced level of intensity.

Falling Alone got me banging my head back and forth. I’m amazed my neck is still in tact. A dark rock number contrasted with its long-winded tempo and gorgeous vocals. I prefer this style as the clarity of her voice shines through the amplified guitar backtrack. The piano endbit elucidates the simple nature of the song.

Stars in the rain is the typical rock ballad you'd expect from pop-punk-rock specialist Taka. I appreciate the incorporation of English, even though I find the title a little cheesy. One by one the instrumentals fade out, foreshadowing for the gradual end. You start the album with Taka and end with him, great way to tie all things together.

I said it before and I'll say it again. This is Aimer's most important album yet. Nothing will possibly beat Sleepless Nights on its emotional pull, vivid musical imagery, and near-perfect transitioning. That said, daydream offers things past albums lacked. It's her top album in terms of technique and variety.

Aimer is transforming herself. The reason I had a hard time accepting her more recent songs (insane dream, us etc) is because she had found and perfected a niche sound with the night trilogy of Sleepness Nights, Midnight Sun, and Dawn. Now, she’s establishing herself as a diverse artist who isn’t afraid to explore and experiment sounds. This is critical in maintaining relevance and in nuturing artistic creativity.

Honestly, with the signing of OOR to Fueled by Ramen, I won't be surprised if Aimer tries her shot at the international market. She's already done successful sold out appearances in Singapore, Taiwan, and more. Plus her radio and tv appearances have increased a great deal. She's collaborated with a growing number of artists, even being featured on the new GROUND KIDS album. If there's any chance Aimer or her management is reading this, I know you'll capable of amazing things and I can't wait to see what you have in store.

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(C) Sony Music
Support Aimer Through CDJapan

Fullkawa Honpo is a former vocaloid producer and all-out brilliant musician. His career contains many experiences, jumping from a metal visual kei band in his youth to a diversified musician in the current. He's got 4 studio albums, tons of EPs, and a myriad of vocaloid tracks under his belt.

His music isn't the type to hit you at full force. You don't realize the exact moment the music has enwrapped you. His hushed vocals breathe in a fond mellowness while the lyrics breathe out a heavy coldness. I love the striking sadness behind the slow tempos and soft vocals.

(I'm) Home is my soundtrack for rainy days when I seem to be complementing about nothing and everything in particular. (Which happens often lately.) The first half of that EP on repeat sends me into a hollow daze, an introspective state.

One of the most intriguing things is Honpo and a couple others joined to make an independent label, Ballroom, with the intention to increase opportunities for online musicians. Their mission strikes a chord because everyone deserves a chance to be heard. 

At the end of 2015, he revealed his desires to stop releasing under Fullkawa Honpo. He's come to an end with this self-titled project. Hopefully this implies the start of something new musically. Whether he's going to stay with Space Shower Music or move onto other things, I'll respect his wishes.

I'll treasure all the music he's given. It will be a shame if I didn't.
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"It's time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad and I'd much rather say hello." -Ernie Harwell
I'm back in Canada after spending a year living out my dream. I honestly never really thought things would change so fast. One moment I'm in Japan and another I'm in Canada. Back to school, back to my regular life. Sometimes I feel like I've taken a step back and a step forward. I ran back to my old life but at the same time I took the initiative to apply for a graduate program (and miraculously got in!) If there's anything I learned from my journey abroad, it's to follow your heart.

As cliché as it sounds, if there's something you really have to do in order to live, do it. You'll be surprised how willing you are to fight for your dreams. Once you realize there's something you really want to do, you'll find the strength and will to do so. Even if not everyone in your life will support you. Even if the goal seems so far away. Even if everything doesn't seem that way now. Things will work out.

I'm not sure if I did the "right" thing but someone told me, "It's okay. There is no right or wrong choice." Whatever I choose, it was the decision I made at that time, given the circumstances. It just felt right even though it really hurt as well. Moving back was simply a decision I made. I wonder what my next decision will be....

  1. Seikatsu by Wakareno Kana
  2. Tokyo by Fiima 
  3. Let It Fly by Leola
  4. Hallelujah / Elegy by Do As Infinity 

  1. Follow Through by Freelance Whales
  2. Chou Chou Musubi by Aimer 
  3. Toudai by Kuroki Nagisa
  4. Michishirube by Wada Akiko
  5. Pin to Ameri by Ishizaki Huwie

The moment I found out Yojiro Noda of Radwimps was going to create a song for Aimer, I knew it was going to be something else. His style of writing is ideal for her voice. The soft instrumentals would really bring out the warmth, raspiness, and richness of her voice. Compared to Taka from ONE OK ROCK or TK from Ling Tosite Sigure, I believed that Noda would produce a piece similar to her older sound.

The result was Chou Chou Musubi. It's a strong single, very slow and building in its pace yet very simple and complex in its construction. Opening the track are pleasant sound distortions, flicks of notes, vocal practices. It sounds as if the instruments are being tuned and vocals are being prepped before the main performance. Then, Aimer comes in against the light piano accompaniment. The soft cracks and breaks in her voice appear like gentle waves crashing in periodically.  With a quiet strength, she swirls around the listener in a whirlwind of warm tones, dragging them in the eye of the storm. There they stay, captivated. Unable to move. Only there to enjoy the beauty and scenery of the world the song has transported you to.

The simplicity of tying a knot in contrast to the formation of a relationship is such a plain idea but so straightforward in its narration, it feels like anyone could relate to it. Whatever type of relationship the two people in the song have formed, I believe that any listener can relate to the difficulties of forming a relationship with another person.  When you find a connection with someone -whether it be romantic or platonic or something entirely else, it's a special one. The fact that both of you found a common ground, chose to put effort into learning to understand one another. In spite of how easy it may seem to make a butterfly knot, it's harder to make one that lasts. Maybe relationships are the same way. They are as easy to form just as they can become undone.

Natsukusa ni Kimi wo Omou (briefly translated to Summer Grass Reminds Me of You) was going to be the best song on the single. That's what I thought when I heard the preview featuring the chorus. The melody was amazingly and vividly beautiful. The chorus was warm and inviting but had a dark, lonely aftertaste to it, as if the summer sun was occasionally being covered by bypassing clouds. I felt the chorus came in a bit too quickly; I would have liked the verses to repeat once more to create a build up. However, I do enjoy this kind of song from Aimer.

September-San is a cover of Radwimps'. It's a fun song full of cheery beats. Yet its electric energy has a softness to it that it never really quite overwhelms your ears with too much. Compared to the original, the backtrack has more layers. The strings smooth out the edgy electronic elements. The stringing of the guitar and the ever-present kick blend nicely along with the piano in the backdrop. However, the melody is so distinctly Radwimps' it never really feels like Aimer's song.

Chou Chou Musubi is an important single. Not only because the single is so strong, not only because it did really well in sales. Along with her previous single insane dream/us, it signifies a turning point for Aimer. She showcases how much she changed. Her vocals have become better, her techniques sharper. She is no longer this small little indie artist. She always had her fan base and she was always relatively successful. But I think her upcoming album, daydream, will emphasize her growth as an artist and her change in her image.  She is no longer this mysterious figure behind this incredible voice. With strategic publicity choices such as appearing on Music Station and collaborating with famous artists such as Radwimps, I can only believe bigger things are on the road for this lovely singer.

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