Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Poll Winners and Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations TOKYO GIRLS' STYLE!

Tokyo Girls' Style absolutely raked in the first poll. Gaining 48% of the vote. The second place getter was PASSPO* with 25%, SUPER*GIRLS got 12%, Afilia Saga East got 9% and Dorothy Little Happy got 3%. Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku didn't get any votes, but I am sure they will gain more popularity in the future!

I can see why Tokyo Girls' Style got so many votes, they have undeniable talent and their songs just keep getting better and better. They are young so they may have many years ahead of them (so long as Avex doesn't screw them over like they did with SweetS >.>) and they can only improve over the years.

Please vote on the NEW Poll!


Congratulations Amiga Pobre!

What an inspirational and lovely entry you had about AKB48's leader Minami Takahashi.

You have won the giveaway! Please contact me with your name and address so I can send your official copy of Pareo wa Emerald Limited C by SKE48!

Thank you everyone for entering and look out for another giveaway this time next month!

Monday, 26 September 2011

Galileo Galilei [Parade Review]

Galileo Galilei are a Japanese rock band from Hokkaido that were formed in 2007. Currently signed to SME records who hold some very big artists such as Mika Nakashima and Ikimono Gakari, hopefully this means we will hear more from them in the future.

This debut album 'Parade' is very, very good and excellently performed. It is also hotly anticipated, as it has been a long time in the making. I only have praise for this band as there really is nothing bad about this album. It's acoustic rock, with a really smooth and professional edge. I hope this gets the publicity it deserves as their visit to London approaches.

It seems they are very in-tune with each other, and the music just seems to flow with a great ease,

Checking their band's info page, I couldn't believe how young they were, as they have such a mature and old-world sound. Each page I have is giving me differing information on which order the tracks go in, so I am using Amazon's guide.

Track by Track breakdown

1. Kanseitou (acoustic version) - A lovely relaxing way to start the album and to introduce you to Galileo Galilei if you have never heard them. The strong yet gentle vocals complement the flawless acoustic backing perfectly. The breaks and crescendos that flow in this track give it a perfect 'winding down' kind of feel. Definitely an anytime track, although giving this album a second listen, I could say that every track is.

2. Flappy - A really unique and uplifting song, which uses traditional sounding instruments throughout. The soft guitar and It also shows off the vocal range of Yuuki, whose voice is smooth and hits all the right notes. There are some very poetic and poignant lyrics in this song too. 'The heart is a boring song' is an interesting lyric. 'My flappy is a cute flappy', I am assuming this is either a bird or a metaphor for someone you love.

3. Boku kara no Kimi e - A more rock sounding song with a fantastic drum beat, it also brings out synthesized keyboards that give it a slight 80's twist. Yuuki, being the versatile and diverse lead vocalist, can make you feel emotion even if you cannot understand Japanese. The seeping bass and heightening guitar makes it an exciting song to listen to. As a person learning Japanese, it's also fun to hear a lot of familiar phrases and words.

4. Wakannai- A song dedicated to 3/4 band members home town, Wakannai, in the very north of Hokkaido. It has an affectionate feel that comes through the music and passionate singing. Hometowns are very important in Japanese culture, and the unique blend of instruments really works. Yuuki sounds fantastic and the ending minute or so includes other instruments such as trumpets and triangles. A great song!

5. 18 - Another song that is more rock sounding. The guitar is the most prominent instrument here, and while it pretty much drowns out the other instruments, the riff absolutely suits Yuuki's voice, his range is on show here in the most extravagent way as he hits falsettos that some female singers could only dream of. It could have been a minute longer, as once you find that you're hooked, it ends.

6. Yoru no Madobeto Yotsubano Clover - A soft, accoustic sounding song that uses a female backing singer quite prominently. It's a really well put together and lovely track. Slow and relaxing, it uses what sounds like an electronic keyboard halfway through, giving it a really unique sound. A good night-time relax track!

7. Dou demo ii - A really interesting and different sounding song, that I feel is influenced by funk. Yuuki's vocals are really prominent here, being in front of the music more so than any other song on this album. This is a fast paced and danceable song, the background vocals really add a layer to the song that gives it more depth. The talented musicians in this band really show off their skills in this one, as it's a really impressive track.

8. Yotsuba Sagashi No Tabibito - A track where the drums feature, giving it a really energetic and lively sound. This has a classic rock feel. With feeling of the 70's that flows through it, but giving it a modern twist. Every instrument is perfectly in line with each other, and there's a slick, stylistic feel to this, though the rustic feel also comes through.

9. Natsuzora - Jumping straight into the vocals about the summer sky, this is a really 'sunndy-day' track. Upbeat and inspiring, with a recognizable beat, this track is reminiscent of summer and makes you hope that perhaps it will last a little longer this year!

10. Hamanasu no Hana - A really great pop/rock song that has harkings of Tomoko Kawase's rock material. The drums make it a really 'nod your head' sounding track, and I can only praise Yuuki yet again, as he really is a brilliant vocalist, the entire band come together and the song flows effortlessly.

11. S I R E N - A darker sounding track right from the first beat, built up slowly with snare and guitar, Yuuki's vocals break through the slower beginning, and then it breaks into a fast riff, which then stops, and slows down again, a really fantastic track, as it is very unpredictable. It's also the longest track on the album at 6 minutes 52 seconds. It works being so long though as there are quite a few instrumental breaks. Finishing on a simple strum of the guitar ends this album perfectly.

This album gives a very positive first impression, but an even better second impression. This is also a great album to introduce someone to Japanese music, as it's so laid back and calm, while also being memorable.


Official Website

Amazon page (with sample tracks)

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

SKE48 Love [and Giveaway!]

SKE48 were formed in 2008 after Yasushi Akimoto saw how high AKB48's star was climbing, the concept was to have an idol group in a lot of different regional areas. Their home base is the Sunshine Theatre in Sakae, Nagoya.

SKE differs from AKB in a few ways. I personally see them as a breath of fresh air. Their members, as a whole, are energetic and full of life, and since they have only been around for a short amount of time, they still have a new quality to them.

Their songs are fantastic, performed with vigour and passion, and their skill is held up to the bar by the dearest front girl in the ...48 family, Jurina Matsui. An extremely hardworking and dedicated girl of just 14.

Jurina starred in AKB48's PV 'Oogoe Diamond', before SKE48 had even released their debut single, and at the age of only 11. Her serene disposition and mature looks could have you mistaking her for much older though. This is a girl who knows what she wants and goes for it. She takes everything in a cool stride. I respect her very much.

SKE48's single releases are always fun, their 6th and latest single 'Pareo wa Emerald' shows this. An upbeat, summery song with a PV to match. This is SKE48 at their best. With an addictive dance and pretty, floaty outfits, this release is a total hit.

They are standing aside from AKB with this single, and even though we see Jurina and Rena in most AKB releases, they fit in and shine much more in their own group. There also seems to be less rivalry and more friendship in SKE. Which I may be taking purely at face value but I think it is important. Quoting Ayaka Umeda from AKB48's Team K 'You shouldn't see friends as rivals, good friendship means you shouldn't have to worry about that' - from a TV program that revealed a lot about different members' personalities.

But back to SKE48, the main reason I like them is their energy, their freshness and that I really want to learn more about them. I will be a fan for years to come.

Official website


Official Youtube

Beep! Now to the Giveaway! You MUST be a follower of my blog to enter, and please spread the word! The more entrants the better!

You have to comment on this blog with a good answer to this question:

'Who is your favourite member of the ...48 family and why?'

Get creative but don't go overboard on the word count! You could WIN a Limited C version of Pareo wa Emerald by SKE48! The winner will be announced two weeks from now! [Worldwide entries welcome!]

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Passage Book Review

I do not usually write book reviews for this blog. It's true, but this particular story was so amazing that I had to include it not only on my goodreads profile, but here on my blog, among all the idol rambling!

Do not read this if you prefer to know nothing about books you wish to read. It doesn't contain spoilers per se, but it does talk about the plot and characters.

Justin Cronin's 'The Passage' was published in 2010, among the fantasy sector, which seems to have exploded in the last few years, it certainly stands out.

The first thing you notice is the cover, a mysterious looking young girl. She looks like she knows something you don't. This is a great cover and will entrance you to pick the book up like it did with me. The next thing that is obvious is the size, a chunky thing, going for over 900 pages. This would intimidate some people. Not me. The longer a book is, the more I want to challenge myself to read it.

From the first page I was hooked, you couldn't tear me away from it if you tried. The story starts with the background of Amy, the main character, and how she came to be about. Before the not-too-distant future spirals out of control.

This is a vampire story, make no mistake. But it is not your 'Vamps fall in love too' kind of tale. No, these creatures have been engineered and created from normal human beings. What could that have possibly achieved in the first place? The answer, getting people off death row, and conducting extensive scientific experiments on them.

The Twelve were rapists, murderers and perpetrators of horrific crimes, but whatever they did before, what they are now is much worse.

North America falls into disarray in the space of one year. Colonies are set up with high walls and people employed as 'watchers' - checking the outside for what they call 'virals' 24/7. If one creature gets in, the whole of the community would be doomed. 92 years after the main attack, in what was previously the Republic of California, at first colony, the lights that help protect them at night from invasion are about to go out, and engineer Michael knows it.

A crew that is formed of friends and family, and they plan to escape the colony after Amy finds them. To the right people, Amy represents hope. After all the sorrow they have endured, her arrival and meaning is seen as a blessing. However some see her as representing death, the outside world, fear. This divides the community, and starts civil unrest.

Cronin's examples of the 'mob mind' are excellent, and show how one person can stir up a whole community of people with the right words and actions.

The adventure that a small amount of the colony take, after they find a map directing them to where it all began, in Colorado, is inspired. Cronin's use of human emotions is deep and truthful.

The virals are extremely mysterious. Nothing solid is revealed about them until near the end. Even though they were created by humans, seem to be evolving and changing as the years pass.

And who is Amy? This quiet, precocious child who seems to live forever. She protects the group outside the colony, and never gets attacked herself. The virals seem to hear her thoughts. As do the humans.

The character development is fantastic, it flows effortlessly and stays true to that particular characters personality at all times. Amazingly accurate and believable circuitry and machinery descriptions really add to the story and are a big part of Michael's character.

As it moves along, the story gives little tidbits of future plot lines that are perfect for keeping you interested. There is an amazing, descriptive narrative that pulls you in and holds you there.

Even though the virals are the enemy, Cronin has a way of portraying them so they still have remnants of human quality. That even the main characters sometimes empathize for them.

As the group of people from first colony make their way across North America, they find pieces of what they call 'the time before' - cars, buses, photo's and more. The way they deal with what we know as everyday objects is just what you want to see. Wonder and curiosity.

Cronin's replacement of language, such as 'flyers!' instead of 'jesus christ!', 'littles' instead of 'children' is great. The loss of religion, because nobody remembers it, save for a few individuals, is also poignant.

'The Passage' is so engrossing that you don't want to stop reading it, but you need to take a break at times to let the massive amount of information sink in. It helps to flick back and re-read sections just to understand the whole thing better.

There are twists and turns in the plot that you just do not see coming, and things that initially seemed like they had a very clear meaning, end up meaning something completely different. Cronin's incredibly storytelling quality makes it easy to follow too. Even with the multitude of characters and stories.

I felt stunned, absorbed, in a state of perpetual dreaming. This book, this incredible story, transports you utterly, wholly and completely.

This book is about perseverance, unfaltering comradery and a dystopian future. Above all things though, it is about hope. Never-fading hope that can conquer all things.

This is my favourite book that I have read in 2011. 5/5 stars. I highly recommend this book.

What is your favourite book you have read this year?