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Monday, June 19, 2017

Diaura Universe Review

Popular Japanese Visual Kei band, Diaura, came out with a new song in February, called Universe.  Diaura has made a name for themselves among the visual kei music scene in Japan with songs such as Trigger, Lily, and their biggest hit, Lost November.  Many people have considered Diaura one of the most popular bands of the visual kei music scene in Japan.  With all that, lets see how good Universe is,

Musically, Diaura continues with the heavy melodic metal sound that the band is known for.  The first thing I would like to recognize is the melodic guitar work of Kei.  Kei does great melodic guitar soloing in this song that is superb and adds a good emotional feel to the song.  He also busts out some good heavy riffs in the songs verse that really adds to the energy.  It seems to me that with each new release for Diaura, Kei keeps on getting better as a guitar player and in this song he demonstrates it very well. Yo-ka does great vocal work in this song as usual.  His deep, melodic voice is very unique and really plays a huge part in what make this band unique and great.  

Lyrically, the band continues their deep emotional message of sticking together through hard times.  The band does a great job with these lyrics and communicates the message very well.  However, this is a message the band does a lot and as a result it feels a little generic and not unique anymore.  To be clear, the lyrics are not bad, but they are safe, the band didn't really venture into new territory with this song, lyrically.  

While the song isn't new lyrically, the music is great.  The band continues to progress musically while staying true to their core sound.  Kei seems to be getting better at his instrument and Yo-ka continues to display amazing vocal talent.  This is a song you should check out if you are a fan of Diaura and visual kei.  If you are a metal fan looking for some new music, this song is defiantly something you should check out.  With great music that show the bands progression I give Universe a 4 out of 5.  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Top 5 War Movie Soundtracks

I love to watch a good war movie.  When it is done right, war movies are some of the most emotional and intense movie experiences ever.  War movies also have some of the best movie soundtracks I have ever heard.  Typically containing a great orchestra composition and arrangement that gives each movie soundtrack it's unique sound.  Here are the top 5 war movie soundtracks.

5.  The Alamo (1960)

This movie alone was really great and I highly recommend it to anybody.  John Wayne did a great job directing the movie and acting as the legendary Davy Crockett.  However, the soundtrack composed and arranged by Dimitri Tiomkin is also very amazing.  He does a great job of not just making great music, but really capturing the atmosphere and the time period the movie takes place in.  When you listen to it you feel like your in Texas in the early 1800's when it was still a Mexican territory.  He also does a great job of matching each song to the scene it was being used for.  If it was a battle scene the music is fast pace and intense.  If it is a soft emotional scene, the music was toned down perfectly to match it.  With a soundtrack that captures each scene of the movie it is attached to, it is no wonder that this would be one of the top movie soundtracks of 1960. This soundtrack is available on ITunes and you can also get a physical copy on Amazon or Ebay if you choose. Get it how you wish but buy it and listen to it.

4.  Braveheart

Braveheart is without a doubt one of the most legendary movies ever made. Mel Gibson did a great job directing and acting in it and as a result it is considered on of the best movies in history.  One of the biggest factors to the movies success is the soundtrack composed by James Horner.  James Horner does a great job of creating great music with a good Scottish feel to it.  He also creates some of the most catchy music that really helps the movie to stick to people after they are done watching.  Along with all that, Braveheart has one of the most emotional soundtracks I have every heard.  Every song you hear really connects you to the emotion in the movie and it really sticks with you.  The soundtrack is available on ITunes, and Amazon, don't think twice, get it.

3.  Glory

Glory is a great American Civil War movie that touches on  African Americans during the war.  This soundtrack is another James Horner master piece.  In this movie, Horner decided to do an orchestra and quire vocal combination that is delivered very well.  While there are not vocals in every song on the soundtrack, it really sticks out when it appears.  The best example is the Assault on Fort Wagner song.  The use of the vocals in this song really adds to the intensity of the battle taking place and it really gets you more engaged in the scene.  When you are not watching the moving, this song is still able to communicate that feeling very well and that is what makes a great movie soundtrack.  Don't overlook the orchestra though.  James Horner did a great job composing the music and each orchestra piece sounds amazing.  This soundtrack is not available on ITunes, but you can buy a physical copy on Amazon and Ebay.  Trust me, it is worth buying.

2.  The Patriot

The Patriot is great movie about the American Revolution.  This movie is another Mel Gibson master piece, great acting, and great directing from him.  This movie was fortunate to have the great John Williams compose and arrange the music on it.  John Williams did fantastic work with movies like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Jurassic Park.  He continues to carry that into The Patriot.  John Williams does a great job of  using great orchestra music, as he has done for most of his movies, and also making music that really captures the time period.  When you listen to some of these songs, you feel like your in the 1700's and in the Revolutionary war.  Along with all this, John Williams manages to compose music that fits each scene in the movie and really captures what scene is about.  Sadly, only the theme song is available on ITunes.  However,  you can buy a physical copy on Amazon or Ebay, and I highly recommend you do.

1.  Gettysburg

Gettysburg is one of my one of my favorite war movies.  It does a great job of telling the story of the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War.  I can't recommend this one enough.  Along with that is the amazing work of composer Randy Edelman.  Randy Edelman composes some of the most intense and impressive orchestra music I have heard in a war movie.  Every battle song feels intense and makes you think your in the action, while there are plenty of good soft songs that make you lay back and think.  Edelman also has some good songs that capture the time period with the use of acoustic guitar and banjo in some songs.  This soundtrack also has a good inspirational, driven feel to it.  Almost every song has an inspiration feel that makes you want to press on no matter the obstacle.  One song that comes to mind the March of Mortality song.  It makes you feel like no matter what the situation is you need to try.  This is one movie soundtrack that I like every song on and I cannot recommend it enough.  The soundtrack is available on Itunes, Amazon, and Ebay.  Do whatever it takes, but buy it, listen to it, and enjoy it.  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Minori Chihara Kyoukai No Kanta (Beyond the Boundary) Review

Minori Chihara has made a name for herself in Japan as a famous voice actress and singer.  She has been featured in countless anime shows and has become a house hold name in Japan.  Her music career has been very successful as well.  Starting her music career in 2005, she has reached arena level fame in Japan, playing in from of thousands of people regularly.  Her music came on my radar back in 2013 with her song Kyoukai No Kanta, Beyond the Boundary in English, for the anime under the same name.  

Musically, the song is a good combination of soft rock, piano, and soft orchestra. This is a very common music formula in Jpop, and is one I wish American pop  would use more often.  The piano and guitar take turns being the lead instrument and that is very well executed.  Sometimes, when you have more then one lead instrument that is not in a songs solo section, you can have a song that sounds sloppy and all over the place.  This song does is right and as a result gives good variety, musically.  Minori has a pretty high, unique voice.  One thing I have heard people critique her for, is that some times she tries too hard to go in a vocal direction her voice can't go in.  However, in this song she sounds excellent.  Her voice sounds smooth, she hits the right notes, and delivers a very great performance.   

Lyrically, the song is a love song about longing to be with the right person and searching for that someone.  Like I said in the beginning, this song was written for the anime with with same name as the song.  These lyrics capture the mood of that anime perfectly.  The lyrics establish that this anime is about someone who is longing for that perfect relationship and trying very hard to find it.  

Musically, the song is great and well composed.  The piano and guitar taking turns with lead is well executed.  Minori's voice sounds amazing in this song and she carries it perfectly.  The lyrics serve their purpose of establishing the anime they are based on perfectly.  I give Kyoukai No Kanta a 4 out of 5.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

Fantasmic, a Disney Master Piece

Disney has done a great job through out its history of composing great music, not just for the movies, but for the live shows as well.  One of the shows that always sticks out in my mind would be Fantasmic.  While Fantasmic is certainly a visual master piece, it is visuals that are driven by the music it is part of.  Without good music, Fantasmic wouldn't be able to flow well and as a result not be appealing.  Fortunately, this an area that Disney executed very well. 

The credit for the composition and arrangement of Fantasmic's music goes to Bruce Healey.  Bruce joined Disney back in 1973, and has since written music, not just for Fantasmic, but for many areas of Disneyland and Disneyland Tokyo.  Bruce was born in St. Louis Missouri on March 11, 1950, shortly after that his family moved to Southern California where he grew up.  Growing up, he learned everything about music he could, from learning to play instruments such as keyboards and percussion, to learning composition and arrangement.  Then finally in 1973, he landed a career of being a composer for Disney.  Ever since then, he has composed music for Disney theme parks, and some sing along songs.  

Fantasmic has many stand outs, musically, that are very impressive.  One of the most noticeable ones is the Fantasmic theme song itself.  The intro is very catchy and energetic and as a result gets you hooked into the show right away.  Another great music stand out is the rock twist on the heffalumps and woozles song from Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day.  The guitar in that song is great and does a great job of creating a new take on it, while at the same time staying true to the original.  One of my personal favorites is the entire villain section.  Bruce does a great job on putting his own twists on certain songs that really makes them stand out.  The way he arranges that section is also worth noting.  Everything sounds smooth and every transition sounds spot on and not out of sync.  

Out of all the shows in Disneyland, Fantasmic is a must.  Not only is it visually impressive, but the music is some of the best that Disneyland has to offer. If you take a trip to Disneyland you have to check Fantasmic out.  Sadly, you cannot get the entire show in recorded format.  However, the theme song is available on ITunes.  You can also get the theme song by buying one of the Disney Classic Music Collections.  

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Queensryche, Operation Mindcrime, a Concept Masterpiece

When it comes to concept records, few have made the impact that Operation Mindcrime had.  Recorded by Queensryche, Operation Mindcrime tells the story of a man who gets caught up in a terrorist organization and wanting out of it.  The album got released in 1988 and has since gone on to be one of the most classic concept records in music history.  

The album kicks off with Remember Now, an mysterious intro with the main character stating he remembers what he did.  Then we get hit the the rockin instrumental intro, Anarchy X.  This is a short, but great rock intro to the rest of the album.  Then, we finally get the first vocal song on the album with Revolution Calling.  Chris DeGarmo gives a great intro guitar solo to the song which is followed by the amazing voice of Geoff Tate, as seen in the highlighted  link below.
Revolution Calling

Christ Degarmo

Geoff Tate

The album goes on with a nice flow from song to song that is amazing and very ground breaking for its time.  The transitions are smooth and never sound out of place which is very hard to pull off, but Queensryche pulled it off very effectively.  Some transitions that stick out most in my mind are when Break the Silence goes into I Don't Believe in Love and when My Empty Room goes into Eyes of a Stranger.  The transitions set up the next songs perfectly and really get you excited for them.  

The songs themselves are fantastic.  They are all well composed and every musician in the band gives it their all to make every song unique and great to listen to.  Some of my favorite song on the album include Suite Sister Mary, I Don't Believe in Love, and Eyes of a Stranger.  Suite Sister Mary has a great mysterious sound to it that I haven't heard often in metal.  I Don't Believe in Love has amazing guitar work, great bass work, and fantastic vocals.  Similar thing with Eyes of a Stranger, Chris Degarmo does great guitar work and Geoff Tate's vocals are very unique and stand out.  Check out all three songs by clicking the highlighted links below.  

With a great concept, an amazing flow, and fantastic songs, Operation Mindcrime is a must have album.  Even if you are not a huge metal fan I still highly recommend you buy this album.  You can preview this album by listening to it on Spotify, and if you like it you can get it on ITunes, Amazon, or Ebay.  I personally recommend getting a physical copy of the album.  Trust me, it is one album you will want to add to either your CD collection, or vinyl, if you can get one.  Operation Mindcrime, listen to it, love it, buy it.  

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Noisycell Lily Review

Noisycell is an indie rock band out of Japan that is slowly starting to gain more and more fame.  They have achieved some success with their song, Last Theater, featured as the ending song for the anime, Death Parade.  Since then, the band has gained a good cult size following.  Recently, the band put out a newer song, Lily.  

Musically, the song is pretty good and energetic.  While it certainly has a ballad feel to it, it is still got a good heavy energy to it.  The fast drum work and fast guitar playing really contribute to that energy, especially in the songs intro.  The verse for the most part keeps that energy going with a slight break in the pre chorus before bringing it back in the main chorus.  It is a good transition to use the pre chorus to get the listener ready for the main chorus and this band executes that very well.  Vocally, the song is very good as well.  The Woo Woo at the beginning of the song gives a very good boost to the songs energy.  The melodic vocals Ryosuke are very impressive.  While I wouldn't say he's the greatest singer I have ever heard, he does a great job carrying the song vocally and the melodic style he uses is very effective.  

Lyrically, the song is basically about a break up in a relationship, and the complex feeling of that.  The lyrics are not bad and the message is good.  However, this is a message that has been done many times in music and every person is sure to have heard it 100 times.  However, the music and vocals communicate the song's message effectively and that is very important and helps to save the song.  

Noisycell is a talented band that looks to have a bright future ahead of them.  This song displays the bands talent very well and shows they got a good chance to make it.  The music is very good and while the lyrics are nothing new, the vocals really communicate the message well and sounds great. For having great music and great vocals I give this song a 3.5 out of 5. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

2NE1 Goodbye Review

Out of all the KPop girl groups that have tried to make headway in the world, few did as well as 2NE1. Many people consider 2NE1 the second biggest girl group in KPop, with only Girls Generation surpassing them.  Sadly, to the shock of many KPop fans, 2NE1 disbanded at the end of 2016.  With Minzy leaving the group and Bom having health issues, YG Entertainment decided to end the group.  However, before they disbanded they put out one of the most deepest, real, honest songs I have ever heard, Goodbye.

Musically, this song is simple, but fantastic, the acoustic guitar sets the sad mood the song is going for perfectly.  It is not complex or tricky but for a song like this, that is fine, it still sounds good and plays a huge part in getting the songs message across. All three girls sound great in this song.  Every one carries their sections perfectly and drives the lyrical meaning to the point that you really feel the sadness they feel about disbanding. 

Lyrically, this is one of the most honest and real songs I have ever heard.  CL did a great job of writing lyrics that are communicating their hurt to the audience.  They don't hold back their feelings, and this is the kind of lyric writing I love seeing.  They don't try to be overly fancy or cool sounding, they choose to be real, and that is what I admire.  

I am not the biggest 2NE1 fan, but I have to admit that they did a fantastic farewell song here.  The message is communicated clearly, the melody is great, and the simple acoustic guitar creates a very great song that makes even someone like me, who is not a huge fan of 2NE1, feel bad that they are disbanding.  When you have a song that does that you have done something right.  I wish all the members of 2NE1 the best and hope they are all very successful in their future careers.  For having not just a good sounding song, but a very honest song, I give Goodbye a 5 out of 5.