Monday, 15 February 2010


Details have emerged regarding L'Arc~en~Ciel's upcoming Best Of collection. Quadrinity features 4 discs, one for each member to select their favourites of their own compositions.

The tracklist is as follows:

DISC 1 hyde best
Music all composed by hyde
Mastered by Ian Cooper (Metropolis, LONDON)
1. I’m so happy
3. flower
4. さようなら (Sayonara)
5. Anemone
6. いばらの涙 (Ibara no Namida)
7. In the Air

DISC 2 tetsuya best
Music all composed by tetsuya
Mastered by Tom Coyne (Sterling Sound, NYC)
2. Blame
3. Time goes on
5. 砂時計 (Sunadokei)
6. Link -KISS Mix-
7. あなた (Anata)

DISC 3 ken best
Music all composed by ken
Mastered by Howie Weinberg (Masterdisk, NYC)
1. 花葬 (Kasou)
2. ガラス玉 (Glass Dama)
4. Coming Closer
5. 真実と幻想と (Shinjitsu to Gensou to)
6. the silver shining
7. 虹 (Album Version) (Niji)

DISC 4 yukihiro best
Music all composed by yukihiro
Mastered by Ted Jensen (Sterling Sound, NYC)
1. a swell in the sun
2. cradle
3. drink it down
4. get out from the shell -asian version-
5. new world
6. revelation
7. trick

Comments: I am fairly happy with this selection! I think Hyde and Ken's discs are the strongest, ken's in particular. I knew his selections were going to be awesome and he definitely doesn't disappoint: Kasou, MHDAD, the silver shining! Brilliant choices. Hyde also goes for some great picks: a couple of awesome B-Sides, the beautiful Anemone, and of course Ibara...
Tetsuya should be slapped for picking the dreadful READY STEADY GO but kudos for picking DIVE TO BLUE and I suppose he had to include anata. Yuki's obviously had less songs to pick from but he makes the most of his selctions with the amazing cradle and the recent smash drink it down. It's darker and more industrial than the other discs and a nice alternative to the regular L'Arc sound.

Limited Edition comes with a L'Arquiz. Sounds fun! Roll on March!

Sunday, 14 February 2010


Masashi Hamauzu takes over the reigns from Hitoshi Sakimoto as composer for the much-hyped and long awaited thirteenth installment of Final Fantasy. The soundtrack for Final Fantasy XII was markedly different from the works of previous Final Fantasy stalwart Nobuo Uematsu and as such was judged perhaps too harshly by critics who felt it too far removed from the formula. Still, it was a rich and compelling listen with lush themes and movements. XIII is no different. Hamauzu has crafted a darker score, peppered with electronic tracks that add a pop element not seen since Uematsu's Final Fantasy X score (which Hamauzu contributed to).
At over 4 hours and spanning 4 cds, it is just as epic in length as previous Final Fantasies. It's a lot of music to take in and I mention this because until the game is released (March 9th for us Western folk) I won't be able to judge it in its proper context. That being said, as a standalone album of classic, electronic and pop music it's fantastic. "Snow's Theme" for example is a slow rock track which easily conveys the coolness of the character. Similarly the choral piece "Ragnarok" is almost effortlessly majestic. It sounds like a track from a Halo soundtrack but with much grander overtones.
The main battle theme "Flash" is a wonderfully crafted merging of all the styles on the album capturing the mood of the game completely. It's one of the finest FF battle themes in the whole series. It appears again in piano form during main character "Lightning's Theme" which is perfectly moody yet wistful, showcasing the duality of the character. "Afro Blues" is an unusual track, a swampy harmonica and guitar drawl that makes for a nice break from the orchestrated drama of the overall album.
It's a fantastic score from Hamauzu and hopefully the game is deserving of such grand music.
For the iPod playlist: "Snow's Theme", "Eternal Oath", "Flash", "Lighning's Theme", "Fang's Theme"
Verdict: ***** (5/5)

Thursday, 28 January 2010


I really like this single from L'Arc. It harkens back to the days of True / Heart, with a smile-inducing melody and the orchestrated arrangement of "Anata". It's a really nice start to what is looking like an otherwise L'Arc-less year (the band aren't due to reconvene til late 2010/early 2011).
The obligatory P'UNK~en~Ciel B-Side is quite cool this time too, a revamped, harder-rocking "Route 666" from 2000's Real. There's not really too much to say save that it's a pleasant single and knowing L'Arc~en~Ciel are at least still floating in the ether is comforting. Roll on 2010!
Verdict: **** (4/5)

Tuesday, 29 December 2009


Avenged Sevenfold (A7X) drummer James "The Rev" Sullivan was found dead yesterday (Dec 28th) at his home. He was 28. In a statement released today, the band said:

"It is with great sadness and heavy hearts that we tell you of the passing today of Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan. Jimmy was not only one of the world's best drummers, but more importantly, he was our best friend and brother. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jimmy's family and we hope that you will respect their privacy during this difficult time."

This is a real shock to me and the entire music scene. The Rev was a hell of a drummer and his presence will be missed for a long time. Two of my cousins are Avenged die-hards and they are both devastated. Rest in piece dude.

I think i'll spin some A7X out of respect.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009


Drum roll please! I spent aaaaaages thinking about this list and finally, out of the hundred or so albums I looked at, these are my favourite albums of the past ten years. These are the albums you owe it to yourself to listen to. They are in no particular order so lets start with:

L'Arc~en~Ciel - Awake (2005)

Possibly my second favourite Laraku album, (after Ray), Awake is full of wonderful songs spanning all areas of the emotional register. Darker than most L'Arc~en~Ciel albums, it was accompanied by the anti-war themed Awake Tour 2005 which served to open the album up in new and breath-taking ways. From the beautiful simplicity of "My Dear" and sweeping "Jojoushi" to the huge catharsis of "Hoshizora", Awake is L'Arc~en~Ciel on top form.

Luna Sea - Lunacy (2000)

The final album from Luna Sea was a stunning full stop on a legendary discography. "Sweetest Coma Again", "4:00AM", "Tonight", the astounding "Gravity", Lunacy is testament to the remarkable consistency of one of Japan's kings of rock. Even X Japan can't compare in terms of regular, high-quality output.

Tool - Lateralus (2001)

The prog-metal heavyweights could easily have two albums on this list but I thought it best to restrict the list to one entry per band. Lateralus, released five years after the stunning Aenima was conclusive evidence that Tool were not one-hit wonders. The complexity and intensity of each track on the album is like an emotional sucker-punch. Tracks like "Schism", "Parabola" and the third act "trilogy" of "Disposition", "Reflection" and "Triad" are some of the greatest experimental metal tracks of all time.

Buck-Tick - Kyokuto, I Love You (2002)

This could have been 2003's Mona Lisa Overdrive or 2000's One Life, One Death so groundbreaking was Buck-Tick's music in the early noughties. Mixing alt-rock, industrial, goth, electro, acoustic, pop... Kyokuto, I Love You makes it onto the list for one song alone: "Long Distance Call", a song written by Atsushi for his dead mother, describing one of their final phone calls. Absolutely heart-breaking.

Death Cab For Cutie - Transatlanticism (2003)

No-one does heart-ache like Ben Gibbard. An album charting the highs and lows of a long-distance relationship, it starts of with the crashing percussion of "The New Year" before shifting gears eventually slowing to a halt mid-way through the album with the gloomy "Tiny Vessels". From here, Death Cab emerge with the title track, one of the most gorgeous lighter-in-the-air songs of the decade, an anthem that cements Gibbard as the voice of indie. Transatlanticism is a masterpiece.

My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade (2006)

A fucking rock juggernaut. That is how I describe The Black Parade. A concept album, it tells the story of "The Patient", a cancer victim and his experience of death. Shattering the conceptions of MCR, they escape the emo tag in a hail of 70's style rock with soaring Queen-esque guitars and glam theatrics. The musicianship is also superb throughout. Another album that will live on for years to come.

Sigur Rós - ( ) (2002)

( ) is a genuinely harrowing album. It shouldn't work; it has gibberish lyrics, long periods of musical reptition and the pace of a brick but once it grabs you, it tears your emotions to shreds. the nurturing, melancholic first half of the album gives way to an underlying anger, climaxing with a song so searingly vicious for Sigur Rós , it will haunt you for days. It's dark, it's depressing but it's unrelentingly magnificent.

Linkin Park - Meteora (2003)

Linkin Park perfected their sound with this, their sophomore release. Equal parts rough and smooth, the album hurtles through it's 39minute run-time, bombarding the listener with chugging guitars, hip-hop grooves and digital wizardry as well as introducing new elements such as piano and strings, all of which combine to make a scintillating record. Meteora gave us the singles "Somewhere I Belong", "Faint", "Breaking The Habit" and probably their biggest ever hit: "Numb".

Radiohead - Kid A (2000)

What can you really say about Kid A that hasn't been said already? Kid A is when the world realised Radiohead is the greatest band of this generation. The polar opposite of Ok Computer, Kid A is a bleak, synthesized electro-rock album bristling with eccentricities. Divisive among critics and fans alike when it was first released, it now sits amongst the great albums of all time. Jaw-dropping.

and lastly...

Dir en grey - Withering to death. (2005)

I could have picked Macabre (2000), Kisou (2002), Vulgar (2003), Uroboros (2008), such is the caliber of Diru's back-catalogue, but it was 2005's Withering to death that saw Dir en grey catapult into worldwide success. Leaner than Vulgar but heavier and more melodic, it is an album of lyrical and musical brilliance, screaming at you through your speakers with killer songs such as "The Final", "Kodou" and "Saku" which famously won MTV'S Headbanger's Ball 2006.

Sunday, 20 December 2009


I love Bon Jovi. Let's just get that out of the way. I will admit that some times they bore me to tears (and I can't stand bland country-rock either) but when they get it right, they really get it right. I didn't listen to Lost Highway. The reported Nashville-ness of it left me cold so I never coughed up the cash for it.

When I heard that Bon Jovi were "going back to the rock" with their new album I was more relieved than anything else. Having seen Bon Jovi in top form at Croker a few years ago, I know they can rock a stadium and desperately wanted another album to reflect that. The good news is that The Circle is indeed filled with anthemic songs bristling with blue-collar earnestness and lighter in the air moments. Lead single "We Weren't Born To Follow" is good, if a little lazy. How come all their lead singles seem to "go out" to someone? "Tommy & Gina", "The ones who stood their ground"... I could go on.

But i digress. there are some stellar JBJ songs on this. "Live Before You Die" and "Brokenpromiseland" in particular stand out. It's safe, unassuming stadium pop-rock but I'll be damned if they arent the best at it.

Verdict: **** (4/5)

Monday, 26 October 2009


There's different things to like about this soundtrack. Released over a month before the film's release date (due to "over-whelming demand"), it is for the most part a well chosen compilation mixing acoustic gloom with indie pop, a far cry from the emo-ness of the previous film. That being said, there are moments of oddness that don't sit well. No matter how much like Muse, their inclusion on this album is strained. They didn't fit on the last soundtrack, they certainly don't now. The song in question is "I Belong To You" and despite the remix toning down the baroque eccentricity, it grates with every listen. The expected big hitters: Death Cab For Cutie, Thom Yorke, The Killers, deliver understated, unusual but effective contributions but the highlights are the Lykke Li's "Possibility" and Anya Marina's "Satellite Heart". The album finishes with a sample of Alexandre Desplat's melancholic score called "The Meadow". The score disc isn't out til November but it's a nice, piano driven piece and I'll review it hopefully nearer the time.

Undoubtedly it will asuage the bloodlust of all the Twi-hards (is that it?) out there. For everyone else, it's a relatively safe, radio-friendly indie soundtrack from respectable artists. Nothing more, nothing less.

For the iPod playlist: "Meet Me On The Equinox", "Possibility", "Satellite Heart".

Verdict: *** (3/5)

Wednesday, 7 October 2009


A soild, if unremarkable single from the GazettE. "Before I Decay" is fast and angry with some awesome riffage but is it really a glorified B-side from the DIM recording sessions? It's out a bit too quickly for my liking. There is a nice middle-8 section but as much as I like the chorus, it's admittedly a bit samey from the GazettE. It's like Leech but darker.
The B-Side is "Mayakashi", a groovier, more melodic song. It's almost a Kagrra, song. It is also rightly a B-Side as it doesn't stand out in anyway.
Overall "Before I Decay" is good but they should take more time working on their songs. After the success of DIM, the next single could have been a belter. As it stands, it's more an afterthought.
Verdict: *** (3/5)


Y'know I'm genuinely thrilled to report that Paramore's new album brand new eyes is a resounding triumph for the Franklin five-piece. They have matured, and as much as I hate how much of a cop-out that word is when describing a band, there is no better way to describe them. Musically they are tighter and more comfortable experimenting with their sound (such as acoustic tinkering on a couple of tracks) and there are no superlatives grand enough to describe the powerhouse vocal performance of flame-haired vocalist Hayley Williams.
For a band in danger of being, according to themselves, the "Twilight house band", it is admirable that they have stuck to their guns and produced an album that rarely touches the angst of last year's "Decode" (although the song appears in "Bonus Track" form no doubt to please fans and record label bosses). Instead we get a propulsive mix of attitude-glazed pop-punk and quiet bittersweet melodies where the traditional whiney emo topics are subverted and the songs lyrically deal with being a stronger person and growing up.
Perhaps most importantly, brand new eyes is fun. It's both danceable and comforting. Paramore have hit the big time and in a scene currently devoid of heavyweights My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy, this is their time to grip the throne and never let go. They have every chance now.
For the iPod playlist: "Careful", "Turn It Off", "The Only Exception".
Verdict: **** (4/5)

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


Dir en grey have announced a new single via their OHP. The single will be called Hageshi sato, kono mune no naka de karamitsui ta shakunetsu no yami and will be released on December 2nd.


It's hard to find words to describe just how epic some of the songs on the new Muse album sound. One track, "United States of Eurasia (+Collateral Damage)" is a mix of piano ballad, Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", the score of Lawrence of Arabia and Chopin's "Nocturne". Another track, or rather, the last three tracks, are a three-part symphony entitled "Exogenesis".
Despite all the odds, Muse have somehow skyrocketed far beyond even their own high levels of pomp and absurdity but when it works, it's a masterpiece.

Some things don't work though. "Guiding Light" rubs me the wrong way. It seems far too synthed and cold as a result. "I Belong To You" on the otherhand is a misplaced Maroon 5 song that for all it's grandeur suffers from being just too odd. The french vocals and (Sweet Lord) the clarinet solo are both horribly misjudged. The song just doesn't fit in.

That said, the album is constantly intriguing. As a concept it's ingenious, in execution, not without its flaws. It's difficult to predict where Muse will go from here. They seem to have reached the pinacle of epic space-rock with The Resistance and all that such a feat entails, for good and bad.

For the iPod Playlist: "United States of Eurasia", "Exogenesis - Symphony Parts I,II & III"

Verdict: **** (4/5)

Monday, 14 September 2009


Did South Park not teach you anything, Kanye? When will you learn that everyone thinks you are an asshole? You ruined everybody's night at the VMAs.