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SHIROI HEYA
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NOTICE
We're currently accepting guest reviews, news, and/or articles. If you would like to share or participate, please contact MS:

Email: r a z z y r a i n at y a h o o dot c o m (remove ALL spaces, use common sense)
AIM guitarnoslave

THANK YOU!

CURRENT LAYOUT
Featuring hide of X/X Japan, in time for the 7th anniversary of his passing. Stay free my misery.

JROCK BIRTHDAYS
JULY BIRTHDAYS

7/4 GACKT
[Malice Mizer/solo, vocal]
7/6 GARA
[Merry, vocal]
7/8 SUGIZO
[Luna Sea, guitar]
7/11 JUN
[The Brilliant Green, bass]
7/11 TAKEO
[Pierrot, drums]
7/11 YUKI
[Raphael, vocal]
7/14 KENICHI
[Merry, guitar]
7/15 MAKOTO
[/\ucifer, vocal]
7/19 HITOKI
[Kuroyume, bass]
7/19 KAMIJO
[Lareine/New Sodmy, vocal]
7/24 YOU
[Janne da Arc, guitar]
7/25 RYO
[Transtic Nerve, bass]
7/31 ZERO
[D'espairsRay, bass]

JROCK TRIVIA
THE JROCK FAMILY TREE

If you've ever wondered who was in what band with who and performed where with what, here it is. This is nowhere near complete and I'm sure that there are thousands of little ties that we left out, but here are the main connections between people in the jrock world.

NEW RELEASE MP3
Spotlight on recently released songs. This is a rotating mp3 list and will be changed regularly to make room for newer songs, so get 'em while you can!

Hyde - Season's Call
[ Buy / Download ]

BOOK TRANSLATIONS
Translations of jrock books by Gerald.

Jihaku [Gackt]
X no Sei to Shi [Taiji] Tetsugaku [Tetsu]

Coming soon:
Requiem (Moon Child novel) [Gackt]

LINK TO US
http://jrock.pitas.com




RECOMMENDED SITES
7th Sense [Nanase]
Amethyst Purple
The Ark [Laruku]
As It Is [Siam Shade]
Be With Glay
Bois de Merveilles
Bonjour Honey [Lareine]
B'z Online Music Site
Cherry Blossoms Romance [Kagrra]
Chris and Katrin's X Japan Page
Cool Like Plastic [Gackt]
Fallen Angel
Fourth Avenue Cafe [Laruku]
FUCTRACK 6 [hide]
Fukuyama Yoshiki
Glad to be Glay
God Save the Rock and Roll [Takui]
Guilty Pain [JDA]
In Forest [La'cryma]
J-ENT!
Japanese Channel
Jrocker.com
JRock Dimension
Jrock NYC
Jrock Sphere
Kurai's Translations
Lighter Shade of Black
Luna Sea Enterprise
Night in Girl [Miyavi]
Pierrot HQ
Project J
Sakura Tokyo
Sawasdee Gackt
Secret World of Malice Mizer
Stare [Janne da Arc]
Tattered Cloth [DEG]
Terra Firma [BuriGuri]

Thursday, July 13, 2006

NEWS: DIR EN GREY / MIYAVI / GLAY

A day or so ago, a friend mentioned that Inoue (Dir en grey's manager) said that they were taking a while filming the new PV because they could only do it at midnight. I see why.

凌辱の雨 PV (Streaming)
Credit: ijiwaru @ Batsu

I have not watched the PV in full- only snippets- so I can't say too much about it. I love the dog at the end, mainly because it's so random.

I WILL say is the guitarwork on this single is SUPERB. I'm not technical enough to know what manner of effects and distortions were used but the sound is fantastic and definitely a new experiment for them. CDJapan lists the composer for this song as Die- if it IS him (and not another artist named DIE), GYAH. I am absolutely excited that he can come up with something like this. It's been a while since I've heard a song he's composed in its entirety, as opposed to a collaboration with one of the others.

If this is part of the direction Dir en grey's exploring next, I can't wait to be part of the ride.

Single Information
凌辱の雨
Release Date: 2006/07/26
Catalog No.: SFCD-42 (Limited Edition)
Catalog No.: SFCD-43 (Regular Edition)
Price: 1200yen

Buy @ CD Japan: Limited Edition / Regular Edition

Miyavi has TWO albums coming out within the next few months, one of which I'm ABSOLUTELY EXCITED about. I think the boy is extremely talented, the things he can do with a guitar are amazing, but his albums so far sadly have not emphasized that enough. I've been disappointed by his last few releases to be honest.

This new one though is supposed to be "dokuso (solo)" style, meaning ALL-ACOUSTIC with light drums. I'm praying it'll finally show off what I know he can do, what I've seen him do in concert performances and on shows. He's not a trained monkey, he's a musician. I hope this album gives us more of a taste of that.

Album Information
Miyaviuta - Dokuso
Release Date: 2006/09/13
Catalog No.: UPCH-1516
Price: 2913yen

Buy @ CD Japan: First Press Available

Formal reviews coming soon. I expect the Dir en grey single along with Glay's newest offering, G4 will make it into my mailbox within a few weeks.

Speaking of Glay, they collaborated with Kyosuke Himuro for a single, also to be released next month. o.o Check it out!

I'm still looking for guest reviewers. I know you're out there! Email me! ^_~

- MS -

- Comment -
Die mopped the decks at 10:45 a.m..

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

ALBUM: AWAKE [L'ARC~EN~CIEL]
review by Xing

Strolling the streets in Asia last July, I happened upon a small music shop in a mall while visiting my grandparents. Deprived of all music that consisted to driving guitar licks, deep basslines and crazy rhythms, the giant L'Arc~en~Ciel (Laruku) poster proved to be my oasis, though I had not listened to them for almost 2 years. Perhaps it was the 叙情詩 promotional video that I saw playing in the television sets hanging in the store or it was the silver colored album accented by the white peace sign and black and white portraits of the band members, nonetheless curiosity struck the cat. Since I liked what I heard (which consisted to one ballad and one pop rock song from the album), I bought「AWAKE」 with the intention of giving it to my sister, after I sampled the music first.

I have to say, I was caught off guard with the sound in this album. This has to be one of their best albums since「Ark」and 「Ray」. Which now that I think about it, weren't too many albums ago, though I have to say, it has been quite a few years since I have been impressed with a release from L'Arc~en~Ciel.

Going in and knowing that 自由への招待, Killing Me and 叙情詩 were songs in the album, I expected the album that would be a lot like 「SMILE」: full of pop-rock songs with a couple guitar or drum heavy songs and a couple ballads thrown in. I was wrong. This album definitely had the cohesion that the previous album lacked (the previous one, as new of a sound as it was, had some weird transitions between songs).

Perhaps it is because this is a review coming to you in the wee hours of the morning. One month overdue.

Either way, on with the review.

[1] New World (4:07)
music: Yukihiro and Hyde lyrics: Yukihiro

Out of the whole album, this song was one of my favorites because of its dynamics and the way it draws the listener in and propels them forward into the album. When L'Arc~en~Ciel decided to start off the album with this, it seemed like they wanted to launch the listener into the album. I felt like I got strapped to a rocket and launched into outer space when Yukihiro's intense drumming (the rhythm intensified by Tetsu's ever-so-melodic, rapid and smooth bass playing) builds on Ken's guitar progressions at the opening of the song. Even without Hyde's voice, I felt like I was speeding down a freeway. Overall though, this song has a simple sound (seeing that it was written by Yukihiro, I didn't really expect it to have overcomplicated solos that would drown out the nice and polished sound of this song). Sometimes, simplicity is the most beautiful and to me, New World was definitely an example of this.

[2] LOST HEAVEN (4:36)
music: Ken lyrics: Hyde

After the first track sucks you in and gets you hooked, the second one seems to try to get your heart to slow down in preparation for the nice and slow song that's coming up after this track. Unfortunately, the transition appeared to be a bit awkward to me because New World was a lot heavier and fast-paced than LOST HEAVEN. It is almost like you are speeding at 100 km per hour and then press on the brakes a little too hard too fast, though, though it transitions better into 叙情詩. Transitions aside, when I heard this song, I could almost see Ken sitting at the synthesizer with a cigarette in his mouth, periodically playing this patch over and over again until one of his bandmates threatened to kill him. For some reason, the feeling of this song is very familiar to Time Goes On from 「SMILE」, probably due to fact that synthesizers were one of the main instruments in the songs. Aside from fact that the synthesizers that play repeatedly during the chorus and that Hyde seems to miss his notes as he gets louder and higher up in the register, this is definitely more polished than similar songs in the past. LOST HEAVEN disappointed me a little, I guess part of it was because I felt that this song started off strong and then just fell off halfway through.

[3] 叙情詩 [jojoushi / poem] (5:10)
music: Ken lyrics: Hyde

叙情詩 mostly just showcases Hyde's voice, though the full orchestra behind him also helps set the mood. I have to say that there were a few points where he sounded strained when he was reaching for a note in the higher register or swung his notes to reach a higher note. It sounded like Hyde was using his chest voice to muscle his way up when the song builds up in intensity, which sounded a bit sloppy. Other than that, the emotions that he put into the song, mixed with the building intensity and the beautiful orchestral instrumental backing him up, Hyde really sounded like he reached his zenith in this track. (I would say that just listening this song blew me away - though I have to say I cheated by listening to the older L'Arc~en~Ciel songs).

Aside from 瞳の住人, I believe that this is L'Arc~en~Ciel's first time they experienced playing with a full orchestra in one of their songs. They should do it more often! If there is any such thing as ear candy, this is definitely the finest of them all. Ballads do not usually speak to me, but the way the intensity built up to the chorus and then transitioned back to the verses sounded euphoric to my ears. This song is a must for audiophiles that happen to be L'Arc~en~Ciel fans (and those that aren't, trust me, the exception is worth it).

[4] TRUST (4:29)
music: Tetsu lyrics: Hyde

For those that kind of missed the old school L'Arc~en~Ciel, the band definitely kept you in mind when they made this album. When I first heard this song, the first thing I thought of was old school L'Arc~en~Ciel, back when Hyde dressed like a gypsy and the rest of the band wore lipstick. In fact, imagine a more polished indies Hyde singing this. See how it works? Hyde even sings in a manner similar to the indies days as well - there is a lot of straining, swinging of notes and what I suppose one can call growling. I have to admit that this song did not really do much for me because in terms of works, since this was a dominant sound during the 「DUNE」 days.

[5] Killing Me (4:01)
music: Hyde lyrics: Hyde

Whenever I think of pop rock, I think of this type of a sound. You have the fast steady beat, the bouncy bassline that seems to make you want to just smile even when there is a nasty storm outside. The song just picks you up and takes you for a spin. When I first heard the music, the first thing I thought skaters on the beachwalk during a nice sunny day. This song has a really catchy, upbeat sound to it; as the title suggests, the lyrics are anything but that. There are plenty translations of the lyrics out there if you can't understand Japanese (see link at the bottom of this review). So, it's one of those songs that make you jump around really happily, even though the song itself isn't about something happy. I have to say though, this is quite a different sound for L'Arc~en~Ciel and though it is a bit harder of a sound for them, it has less of a choppy feel to it like 神食~lose control.

[6] AS ONE (3:44)
music: Hyde lyrics: Hyde

When I heard the opening, I did not really recognize that it was L'Arc~en~Ciel since this sound is more characteristic of their other band, P'unk~en~Ciel. This is probably the most political I have heard L'Arc~en~Ciel go so far. As the hardest track in the album, I suppose it would be appropriate that Hyde would write one song that speaks out against the recent developments our world has taken recently. The driving guitar sound pretty much sets the atmosphere for this song and emphasizes Hyde's angry sounding voice in this song. At around the 1:00 mark, the song lightens up a bit as Hyde goes into the chorus where Hyde belts out the English chorus. This song does not really emphasize on the artist's skills since it gets really repetitive after the second verse, but the message is the important thing in this song in a similar way that REVELATION from 「SMILE」 did.

[7] My Dear (5:09)
music: Hyde lyrics: Hyde

This would be the calming song that comes halfway in the album. The harpsichord opening is a bit weird, but the first minute mostly comprises of the instrument and Hyde singing, with Tetsu harmonizing. Then at the 1:30 mark, the bass comes in with the drums following softly. The fact that this song is so soft, I almost want to go to sleep when I hear it, especially after listening to AS ONE. Not counting 叙情詩, I would say that My Dear is the ballad of the album. The instrumentals are so soft, it's almost as if Hyde is singing a cappella.

[7] EXISTENCE (4:08)
music: Ken lyrics: Hyde

Just as you feel like you're relaxing to My Dear, L'Arc~en~Ciel grabs you and hits you with the signature choppy rock sound they have been sporting lately, though this time it's not Tetsu that's dragging you to the car and making you do the freeway drive. It's Ken. The main distinguishing feature of the song is the computerized voice that plays underneath Hyde's singing, which keeps saying, "You will not be able to sleep, why don't you... just stay awake?" It adds to the intense, eerie feeling of the song, which only intensifies as the voice continues to talk and leads into the guitar solo. For the most part, you hear the signature guitar solo at around 2:13. It's very similar to the one from 虹, only played at a faster pace. Though this has the same sound as a lot of L'Arc~en~Ciel's other songs, but the fact that the atmosphere of the song is a bit intense and somewhat tweaked makes this song sound fresh.

[9] 自由への招待 [jiyuu he no shoutai/ invitation to freedom] (3:59)
music: Tetsu lyrics: Hyde

I believed that almost everyone and their grandmother saw this promotional video or has heard it, since it was released almost a year and a half before the album release. To me, if you throw New World and Driver's High into a blender, you would get 自由への招待. It's not that I dislike the song, but it seems to have EVERY part of the equation that gives you the formula of Tetsu's songs: a popish melody, a really fast and moving bassline that makes you feel like you're speeding down a highway and a bridge that brings Hyde's voice to the near edge of his range. In fact, the very formula made me feel like I was listening to a remix of Driver's High, only with a more American rock sound to it.

I have to say though, I felt that Hyde's singing was a lot cleaner in this and his falsetto had a purer sound than most of the songs in this track, such as when he sang the chorus. In addition to that, Ken's solo at about 2:39 is worth listening to. Though it is not the most complicated I have heard him play, the way he moves up and down the scale makes it fitting for this song. The song was not too revolutionary for me, but it had a refreshing sound.

[10] Ophelia (5:09)
music: Hyde lyrics: Hyde

Gershwin was the first thing I thought of when I heard the opening of this song because of the piano chord progression. In a way, this song seems a bit similar to 叙情詩, even though this song has a jazz sound to it. Since I haven't heard L'Arc~en~Ciel use the piano as a major instrument in their songs since Sell My Soul, I was excited to hear them bring it back. In addition to that, the saxophone, Spanish guitar that played alongside the bass guitar and drums created a new sound that L'Arc~en~Ciel had not really tried out in the past. To be honest, I like Hyde's voice best when he sings songs with jazz or blues overtones because it is rather husky and strained. It works for this song especially when he reaches the climax of the song. If I had to pick another favorite out of this CD, I would definitely pick this one. It shows how versatile L'Arc~en~Ciel is in terms of their ability to incorporate different genres of music and keeps their sound fresh and popular.

[11] 星空[hoshi sora / stars] (5:36) music: Hyde lyrics: Hyde

There is not too much to say about this song. If 「AWAKE」 was a movie, 星空 would be the ending credits with the electrical guitar playing giving off a lullaby style. It is one of those songs that you hear at the end of a movie that leaves you either in a state of shock or numbness. Reverting to a style that is caught between the transition of the L'Arc~en~Ciel prior to and after 1997, the song is pretty mellow. Hyde's voice starts out soft as if murmuring before he takes off during the chorus. The song fades off with Hyde singing the chorus as if it is leading to the next number...

[12] twinkle, twinkle (5:12)
music: Ken lyrics: Ken

If 星空 was the ending credits song, then twinkle, twinkle is definitely the pop song that comes after, giving a more upbeat feeling to the audience before they leave the theater. Ken opens up with some nice power chords and it seems that once again, the main focuses are on Hyde's voice, though Ken jumps in from time to time. Hyde sounds a bit off in parts when he is transitioning between notes. The short guitar solo that Ken around 1:49 is noteworthy because it gives the song a bit of texture. At 3:30, Ken throws in another solo that I would have to say is one of the best ones that I've heard on this album. It's more complex than some of the other stuff that I have heard Ken play (noted, Ken's solos are not easy as 1, 2, 3, but he deserves recognition as a good guitarist). Then, Hyde leaves you with the upbeat "here we go... nothing to fear..." message, causing the listener to develop a warm fuzzy feeling as the guitar slides into silence.

For a band that has been around for 13 years, regardless of the drummer changes and the time span that they have been in the industry, I felt that L'Arc~en~Ciel was a band that tended have a pop music flavor to their music. Even 死の灰, a song that was as versatile as it was, had this popish flavor to it. Where am I going with this? 「AWAKE」 was a well put together album, had a cohesive message and a great sound. I think that L'Arc~en~Ciel went through a metamorphosis with this new album and proved to the world that they are still a rock band, down to the last note.

English translations of the lyrics found here.

Rating: 9/10

ALBUM INFORMATION
AWAKE
Release date: 22.06.2005
Catalogue #: KSCL-837
Price: 2,913yen tax out

Buy: CD Japan - Japanese Version
Buy: Amazon - US Version

- MS -

- Comment -
Die mopped the decks at 09:48 a.m..

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

LIVE REPORT: HYDE
House of Blues - Anaheim, CA
2006.07.02

I should sooo be asleep but I didn't want to put off writing this any longer and risk forgetting something so here it is. ^^

Enjoy?

PS. I have a review for L'Arc~en~Ciel's Awake coming up soon done by one of our wonderful readers. Be on the watch for it!

- MS -

- Comment -
Die mopped the decks at 03:12 a.m..

ARCHIVES
For older archives please go to the Shiroi Heya Archives page.
2006: March 26-May 22
Highlights
  • Live Report: Dir en grey
  • Overseas Live News: Dir en grey, Hyde, Penicillin NANO, Moi Dix Mois
  • Album: Kozi: Loki n' Roll
  • Pierrot Disbands
  • 2005: June 4-26
    Highlights
  • Live Report: D'esparisRay
  • Overseas Live News: Dir en grey
  • Live Report: Takui
  • 2005: February 13-May 1
    Highlights
  • Overseas Live News: Pata/Ra:IN, Dir en grey, D'esparisRay, Eve of Destiny, Kagerou, MUCC
  • Album: Dir en grey - Withering to Death
  • 2004-2005: December 2-2005 February 11
    Highlights
  • Live Report: Pierrot
  • Reviews: Gackt, JDA, Laruku, Takui
  • Live Report: Dizzy Drive
  • Album: The Boom: Okinawa ~watashi no shima~
  • 2004 Redux
  • 2004: September 22-November 27
    Highlights
  • Album: Takui: Vivarock
  • Wyse Disbands
  • Masa leaves Spiky
  • 2004: September 29-October 20
    Highlights
  • Music Station Special Report
  • Video: Dir en grey: The Code of Vulgar[ism]
  • Live Report: Eve of Destiny
  • 2004: July 13-August 22
    Highlights
  • Preview: Dir en grey: Machiavellism
  • Album: Tak Matsumoto: The Hit Parade
  • Live Report(s): L'Arc~en~Ciel
  • 2004: May 23-June 27
    Highlights
  • Live Report: Gackt
  • Misc News for Overseas Fans
  • June 21: Kami Remembered
  • 2004: April 22-May 15
    Highlights
  • Review:
    Plastic Tree: Harusaki Sentimental
  • Album:
    Buck-Tick: Sexual XXXXX!
  • May 2: hide Remembered
  • 2003: November 15-26
    Highlights
  • Review: Glay: Beautiful Dreamer
  • BuriGuri members marry
  • 2003: December 5-12
    Highlights
  • Album: Gackt: Crescent
  • The 12Gatsu Project
  • Live Report:
    Eve of Destiny
  • 2003-2004: December 20-January 30
    Highlights
  • Random Jrock Convo #235646
  • Review:
    Buck-Tick: Gensou no Hana
  • Live Report:
    Applause Records Epilogue 2003
  • Must Hear: L'Arc~en~Ciel #1
  • 2004: February 14-March 30
    Highlights
  • Album:
    Glay: The Frustrated
  • Must Hear: L'Arc~en~Ciel #2
  • Review: Shiina Ringo: Ringo no Uta
  • Preview:
    Dir en Grey: The Final
  • 2004: April 2-18
    Highlights
  • Live report:Hyde
  • Parody: Xja Pan Part VI
  • Album:
    Takui: Power to the Music
  • Live report: Dir en grey
  • 2003: September 27-October 30
    Highlights
  • B'z live reports
  • Album: B'z: Big Machine
  • Artist: Pierrot
  • 2003: September 11-24
    Highlights
  • Album: Dir en grey: Vulgar
  • B'z Alone bass tabs
  • New release info
  • Gackt on Heyx3
  • 2003: August 23-24
    Highlights
  • Album: Camino: Arise
  • Raphael's Yukito under arrest
  • 2003: July 24-August 9
    Highlights
  • Review: Takui: Re-set
  • News and New Release
  • Acoustic Feature
  • Must Hear: Bump of Chicken
  • 2003: July 7-20
    Highlights
  • Parody: Xja Pan Part V
  • Live Report: Moi Dix Mois
  • Must Hear: Dir en Grey #2
  • Janne da Arc Another Story essay part 2
  • Live Report: BLOOD
  • Site Content ゥ Gerald Tarrant & Moonsong. All Rights Reserved.
    Weblog courtesy of Pitas.Com.
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