2018/04/22

20. Resonancia (2002.05.22)


01. Carnaval

Great start to this album...and one that sets the tone immediately. The title is also a bit of a giveaway... Yep, this is largely a Latin-themed album. This song in particular is quick and features the usual intense strings and clapping. We're off to a steady start.

02. Eyes on you

A pop song that is a little bit on the quicker side. I could be entirely mistaken, but I believe this song features the first male vocals in a Nakamori song (provided by Ken Hirai). It's a nice little song that is fitting from her first album on this side of the year 2000.

03. Carmesi

More full-on Latin pop. I love the beat of this one. The flow is tight and Nakamori handles it like a champ...are you surprised?

04. The Heat ~musica fiesta~ (Album Version)

This is the album version of the lone single from this album. Well...kinda. I'll explain later.

It's a catchy song, but I'm not entirely sold on this version of it. Sometimes album versions go again the laser-focus of what makes a single version a hit. The extended bits are just...there. As for the song itself, it's not my favorite single...and probably not the song from this album I would have chosen to be the single. It did well, though, peaking at number 20 on the Oricon weekly chart.

Oh, and the rap break-down actually isn't horribly cringe like it tends to be in a lot of Japanese songs. It's largely in English and sung by X-LARGE from Korea. Not a bad song...and it's certainly catchy, but not one I seek out very much.

05. missed U

Oh Jesus... Early 2000s drivel with a fake-ass Timbaland beat. Yeah, I don't really dig this one. It's alright and certainly a good reminder of how bad we had it fifteen years ago...

06. Resonancia (Interlude)

I nice little instrumental interlude...

07. Kaze to Taiyo

A pretty good track of more Latin pop, but doesn't really have much to stick out from the tracks before it. Really, just a solid groove.

08. ibiza

Some great horn work on this track. The name should be a dead giveaway at what type of song this is. This one would have made a decent single to be perfectly honest. It's super-slick and really has those driving horns to give it a strong presence.

09. Deseo

Ehhh...this one is more early 2000s weirdness. Overbearing beat over some random loops. It doesn't really take off or go anywhere...it just maintains.

10. Lost words

A slow-mid song with a questionable choice of piano tone. It's not a bad song, though...just a little bit unusual. Heh.

11. Siesta (Interlude)

Another nice little instrumental interlude. It's incredibly short...

12. It's brand new day (URU Latin Mix)

Ah, so remember how I mentioned I would get back to talking about singles from this album? Well, It's brand new day was actually released independently as a digital single in 2001. Yeah, it was pretty experimental at the time...especially in Japan. It was later given a physical release, but this is notable for being the first song from Nakamori in the 2000s.

This is actually a remix version as the name suggests. It's a very crisp song that was modified slightly to fit the tone of the album. Incredibly chill...it's a really good song.

13. Bonita terra

A nice acoustic song to bring this album to a close.

OVERALL: This album was clearing the slate once again for Nakamori. She had left Tokuma in 2000 and was now signed with Universal Music, which is where she is still signed to this day. The album is definitely fresh and exciting, if not a little bit dated sounding. The heavy use of featured male artists is a little bit unusual, but look at music today. It feels like every pop song is X featuring Y and Z.

I love the energy of the album and the freshness of it. When you look at Nakamori's full catalog, Fushigi is the mysterious haze and Resonancia is the hot and sunny vacation getaway to Spain. The vocals are incredibly prominent and not very deep. Extra points for some extreme consistency.

I don't listen to this one all that often because I think I really have to be in the mood for it. It's still Winter when I'm writing this, so I guess I'm at the wrong end of the calendar. It's a good album...maybe give a little during warmer days, though.

PREVIOUS: will
NEXT: I hope so

HOME

2018/04/21

19. will (1999.12.01)


01. tobira ~OVERTURE

A cool instrumental piece...

02. garnet

An mid-speed and jazzy first *real* track to this album. The synth tone chosen is a tad questionable, but I enjoy the speed of this one.

03. Trust Me ~all espanola

Hey now. Trust Me has a weird story... I'll probably talk more about it when we get to this album's hidden track. This, however, is a remix of it. A good one. It has a really good Latin sound versus the more pop sound of the regular version.

04. Pretend

This song is kinda mid-speed. It isn't bad. I wouldn't say it's as good as garnet, but it does the job well. I like Nakamori's sweet voice. It's nice whenever it makes an appearance.

05. Arashi no nakade ~misterioso "A"

A mid-speed remix of the song of the same name from SPOON. Quite the improvement. It works really well at the speed.

06. Genwaku ~amabile "A"

Same thing here--this is a faster and better remix of Genwaku from SPOON. I liked that song on SPOON, but this one definitely has some really good additions to it.

07. Kisei ~Never Forget~ Taste "A" Version

This is almost shaping up to be a remix album, eh? Between the two previous tracks and the Trust Me remix, you'd really think so. These remixes really do bring these songs to life. This one, however, I kinda prefer the slick and mysterious tone of the original. This is fun, but maybe it didn't need fixing all that much. It was a single, after all.

08. Kon'nanimo...

Now back to the regular album...

A nice song on the jazzier side. Mid-speed, naturally. I like this one, though it sounds a little bit generic.

09. Tsukino hohoemi ~Acoustic Version

This song is actually from a video game soundtrack. The game in question is called Wizardry ~DIMGUIL~ for the Song Playstation. There are actually three other versions of this song, but they only ever existed on the game soundtrack. Maybe I'll hunt it down someday...it's pretty rare...but I like a challenge.

Given that this is an acoustic version, it's pretty straightforward on what it's going to sound like. Nakamori does her usual great job.

10. will

Brief little acoustic instrumental piece. Unless you're paying attention you'll just think it was part of the previous song.

11. Tomadoi

More of a light-rock ballad type song. It's really, really good though. Nakamori does some nice little jumps with lyrics during the chorus. Plus it has that killer guitar solo. Thumbs up from me!

12. Ophelia

Technically the final track of the album and also a single track. This one has an inescapably slick beat coupled with a catchy chorus. Definitely a worthy track of single status...and a good track to go out with.

13. -Trust Me (Hidden Track)-

As I mentioned previously, Trust Me is a weird story. This song is a single and a FRIGGIN RARE ONE. When I was working on my collection of Akina Nakamori singles, this one eluded me for the longest time. It was released in a plain sleeve and peaked at fifty-seven on the Oricon chart. The odd thing is that I have other singles from different artists from Tokuma that have this generic/blank cover art. Was this single only released to DJs and Rental stores? It had *some* kind of release for it to chart, but it really just died...

The song itself it really good. It sounds a little bit like MOONLIGHT SHADOW, but it good on it's own as well. As I mentioned during the remix, this is the more polished version of the song. It features some guitars where the remix has more of a Latin groove.

It's a shame this song really went nowhere for whatever reason. I actually really dig it. In my years of collecting I've usually dreaded rare CD/items. There is usually a reason for rarity (the reason being...it sucks). This one kinda miffed me. It's a great song...

OVERALL: The short-lived GAUSS/Tokuma era of Nakamori's career has already come to an end. Two albums and a handful of singles. Based on the drop in sales, I don't think Tokuma was taking her very seriously. It's a shame for this album in particular since it's actually quite good. The awful album cover coupled with the murky story behind the singles kinda sealed it's fate.

I'll recommend it, though. Check this album out for a good time and chance to hear some better versions of some songs from the previous album.

PREVIOUS: SPOON
NEXT: Resonancia

HOME

2018/04/20

18. SPOON (1998.06.17)


01. Your Birthday

An odd choice for an opening track, but it's a great song. It's on the softer side, but it's actually really catchy. I can't help but think that it sounds kinda familiar, though. Someone out there will probably be able to figure out what song I'm thinking of...

02. Ame no hi wa ningyo

Another slower song, but this one isn't sung as sweetly as the previous track. Good, but just a little bit too generic.

03. Rakuen no megami

A more upbeat song, and a pretty decent one. It isn't the greatest production, but the singing is as good as you can expect it to be. An enjoyable track, for sure.

04. Kon'ya, nagareboshi

The second single from this album. This is a slow song, which is largely uncharacteristic of Nakamori's 90s singles. I think she may have missed out by not releasing more singles like this during the decade. Sales would tell another tale, though. This only peaked at Number sixty six on the Oricon singles chart. It's a shame because it's reminiscent of her earlier successful singles done with some much better singing.

05. Kisei ~Never Forget~

Here is the lead single from the album. It's very good, but fairly slower. I don't know exactly how to describe this one other than...very 90s and very Nakamori. I like it a lot.

06. Shukufuku

Not sure I dig this one too much. It's a slower song with a pretty lame choice of piano tone. We get Nakamori's sweet voice once again here at least. It's always nice when that shows up. It was pretty common around this time it seems.

07. Yuki no hana ~White X'mas~

I'm not entirely sure why this song is on this album given it's June release...but here we are. I should also mention that an alternate version of it appears on the single for Trust Me in 1999. I wonder what the deal was. A very slow song with almost haunting vocals. It does lighten up a little bit at least...and it isn't a bad song either.

08. Arashi no nakade

The B-Side to Kon'ya, nagareboshi. Really good song, but it's on the slower side like everything else on this album. It was a great pairing for the single needless to say.

09. Genwaku

Another slow song, but definitely one that you can groove to. Some great structure and equally as strong singing to go a long with it. It's dreamy in a really good way.

10. BLOWING FROM THE SUN

Very slow song. I mean...do I really have to say it at this point? It's good in it's simplicity. Just a light music track and Nakamori singing.

11. Hanakumori

This is a slow one, which is fine, but the lousy piano choice from Shukufuku is back. It at least feels like an outro song, which is nice.

OVERALL: There are two things I should probably mention before I really give an opinion about this album. One: Nakamori produced this herself and I give her credit for the consistency of music on this album. Two: Another record label change. Yep, Nakamori was done with MCA Victor and was now signed with THIS ONE...which was a subsidiary of GAUSS Entertainment...which was a subsidiary of Tokuma Japan Communications. I know the US music industry was awash with sub-labels within sub-labels in the 90s but I didn't realize that it was a thing in Japan as well.

There isn't much of a pulse in this album, but it definitely isn't bad. It's just not one for my tastes. I kinda feel like the variety and liveliness of the previous two albums were kinda the result of Nakamori finally being able to branch away from Warner and do new stuff at her own pace with names that she previously weren't able to work with. This almost feels like a return to the Warner days...and that isn't bad thing. I might not be the biggest fan of this album, but it sold pretty well.

PREVIOUS: SHAKER
NEXT: will

HOME

2018/04/19

17. SHAKER (1997.03.21)


01. Mangetsu

A great lead-in song. The gradual build-up leads into a really chill song. I can't quite put my finger on why I like this song so much, but the combination of it's elements make for such a smooth track.

02. Spicy Heart

Strange title aside, this one is alright. It's just a little bit on the disjointed side. I enjoy the singing and some of the more subtle elements, but the bass and some of the random sounds are just a little bit too distracting. Not good or bad...totally listenable.

03. Yoru no nioi

I like this one. It's a little bit on the funkier side, but the breathy vocals don't kind line up with what the music is doing. It's a well-made song.

04. Oishi mizu

This one gets it all right. Everything lines up perfectly. This is a jazzier song that has a pretty decent pulse to it. It's only crime may be that it doesn't do much to stand out. Does that matter too much on an album, though?

05. MOONLIGHT SHADOW -Tsukini hoero (Album Mix)

Awwww yeah. So you may remember my excitement for the Akina Nakamori X Tetsuya Komuro pairing on UNBALANCE + BALANCE. Well he's back! For one song only. This happens to be the lead single from this album and naturally it's quite a bit different from the single version.

Killer song. Admittedly I didn't think too much of it at first because TK was kinda running out of steam at this point of the 90s. The repetition kinda makes this evident. It grew on me, though...and when you have different versions it kinda helps flesh it out a little bit.

It's definitely more of a dance hit than what we heard previously on this album. Naturally...it's what TK was doing during the decade. He got some great vocals out of Nakamori here. The album version has a lot more variety than the single version. The extended intro and outro here are the biggest clues, but there are a lot of little subtle differences peppered in.

06. Akai bara ga yureta

Another dance song. The 180 that this album took is really weird. That said...great song!! The music is on point and Nakamori does an awesome job. Jump ahead to my review of Cage... I feel a rant coming on when I get to a particular track on that album.

07. APPETITE ~HORROR PLANTS BENJAMIN

Another great song. This is the remix version of APPETITE, which was the second single from this album.

The horns! While MOONLIGHT SHADOW is an awesome song and the better single, this one will get stuck in your head. It's a jazz track that gains some additional pep at times...but the horns!

Really, this is a crazy catchy song. I kinda prefer the single version, though, since it skips out on some of the lazy remix elements that kinda stick out here. It isn't messed with too much...but you can tell when it has been.

08. Yumemiru youni nemuritai

While this is a lighter song, it's certainly much quicker. It also has a nice Latin sound blended it. Good song with some excellent singing, but this is the second change of pace that this album has undergone.

09. Sakura (biya ku)

The title kinda reflects the song. It's a slow song and one that is sung very well. It hardly sounds like Nakamori. Sure there are some minor tells, but this is some serious effort. Very good.

10. Kaze o dakishimete

A jazzier song that is more on par with some of the earlier tracks on the album. Incredibly chill. I like this one as well.

11. Tsuki wa aoku

I know I've long stated that I love Nakamori's albums that go out with a bang, but this one ends on a great ballad...chilling almost.

OVERALL: Akina Nakamori's 90s albums are criminally overlooked. This one is no exception. I liken this album a lot to UNBALANCE + BALANCE. A wonderful album full of great songs...that is just a little too scatter-brained for it's own good. A lot of people worked on it and it was recorded in a lot of places over a long period of time. Seriously...it's lead single, MOONLIGHT SHADOW, was released a full nine months before the album's release.

A *very* worthwhile listen, but I tend to still steer myself to la alteración for some 90s Nakamori goodness. Give this one a shot. It's very broad in it's appeal.

PREVIOUS: la alteración
NEXT: SPOON

HOME

2018/04/18

16. la alteración (1995.07.21)


01. GAIA ~Chikyu no sasayaki~

Awesome, awesome, awesome opening track.

After a prolonged intro, the song finally kicks in...and it's a rockin' tune with a surf tinge to it. It's just another one of those things that makes more sense than it should. Akina Nakamori singing over surf music. You can give her any type of song and she just kills it.

02. Sunflower

Another incredibly solid track. The layered music almost clashes with the singing, but it all just kinda works in a really wonderful way. This one is upbeat jazz with a vocal track more suited for something much slower. It's a very good song.

03. Genshi, onna wa taiyo datta

This one is actually a single...and the only one directly from this album. In this case, however, this is the album version. The single edit has different vocals.

Intensely catchy is a good way to describe it. There is probably a good reason for that as this track is heavy on the fast strings and faux-claps. Yep. This one is a Latin themed song. I love it! Nakamori has done some of her finest work with the genre.

04. TSURAI • TSURAI

A upbeat jazzy track that probably would have fit in just as well on UNBALANCE + BALANCE. 1995 is probably the very last year something like this could have been pulled off. That said, it's muuuuch better than some of the lesser tracks on UNBALANCE + BALANCE.

05. Shitataru jonetsu

Following a pretty epic sounding intro, this is a pretty chill jazz track. It's great...but the beginning is kinda bigger than the song that follows it. When the music from the intro picks up in the middle, it's just as weird.

06. Itai koi o shita

This one is a slow song. Getting back to Sunflower, this is the type of song that the vocals would sound more at home at in mind. Maybe if it were a little more lively. Kinda weird, right? When I sit here and think about it...it kinda works.

07. Necessary

This one is another slow song. I actually prefer this one over Itai koi o shita, though. It's like a 90s version of one of her 80s songs. The saxophone is the giveaway.

08. Muku

A lively song with a lot of the sunshine that permeated in the earlier songs on this album. The biggest strengths this album has it with it's brass and it's bass. Muku has it all on display. Great song.

09. Dakara nan'na no

A great rock song to go out on. It's a bit too bright to compare it to anything on STOCK, but it's just as peppy.

OVERALL: While UNBALANCE + BALANCE has some incredible songs on it...THIS is return of Akina Nakamori. It has all of the hallmarks of her 80s album (great intro/outro, varied mix of styles) while being definitively 90s. I highly recommend this album. It's very well put together if just a little bit short. If you're fortunate enough, you might be able to score the "+4" version, which includes both singles of the era...one of which is the awesome Tokyo Rose. Can't wait to talk about that single someday...

PREVIOUS: UNBALANCE + BALANCE
NEXT: SHAKER

HOME

2018/04/17

15. UNBALANCE + BALANCE (1993.09.22)


01. Eien no tobira

This track is entirely reminiscent of some of her work a decade prior. The orchestra backing the light strings is a winning combination. The big difference this time around is the experience in Nakamori's voice. A incredibly beautiful song to start off with, but it may not be the power-track that a lot of her previous albums launch with. For that we have...

02. Aibu

Yes! This is Nakamori's first collaboration with super-producer Tetsuya Komuro of TM Network/TMN/90s JPOP fame. I would also consider myself a super-fan of Komuro's work, so this is a match made in heaven.

TK provided a pretty solid dance track for Nakamori as well. Granted, his songs tend to sound alike a lot of the time, but I absolutely love this one. The funny thing is, the two of them made a TV appearance to perform this song...and it's somehow even better than this album/single version. The TV version is just a little bit more complete. TK even provides some backing vocals.

Goddamn...I wish Nakamori and Komuro worked more together. Up until very recently it could have been a possibility. Tetsuya Komuro announced his retirement in January 2018.

Seriously, this is a solid song. The beat is just so slick, Nakamori is her usual perfection, and it has the usual TK over-production. I wouldn't say that this is my favorite single of Nakamori's from the 90s (this was a Double A-Side with Kataomoi), but it's waaaay up there.

03. Kuroshoubi

This is the type of song that I figured would dominate this album. It's 1993 and everyone was into this soft jazz that only required 50% real instruments. It's great, though. It's certainly much livelier than anything from CRUISE.

04. YOU ARE EVERYTHING

Here is another type of sound that I thought would dominate this album. The uptempo jazz diddy. Great song...and totally of it's time. It's kinda surprising that this album was actually recorded in Japan... It kinda has more of that New York sound that Nakamori had relied on more than once in the past without ever leaving the country on this track.

05. Hikari no nai mangekyou

Very short track with...not much to it. Just some brief choir-esque singing.

06. Nemuru yori nakitai yoru ni

Another slick jazz track. While it would have been a little more pliable with some more real instruments...it's of the time. I can't fault it for that. That said, I like it a lot.

07. NORMA JEAN

An almost remix of Aibu. I like the music on this one, but the singing is just a little bit flat. It sounds like a lost TM Network song. Yeah, Tetsuya Komuro is back on this one obviously. I'm going to go on a limb and say that the lashes of Aibu were intentional. Then again...TK did repeat himself a lot.

08. NOT CRAZY TO ME (LP Edit)

Behind Aibu, this might be the stand out track on the album. NOT CRAZY TO ME is just a jam. I'm sorry, TK, but this beat is just a little bit too laser tight. The producer in question on this track is Ryuichi Sakamoto who is...legendary. Without rattling off any of his work, I can say that you've probably heard or seen his work in some capacity. I mean, he even showed up in a Gaki no Tsukai Batsu Game where Hamada has to go to NYC to retrieve a pen from him that he borrowed from Matsumoto. Heh. Good times...and I may have gotten off track just a bit...

I highly recommend this track is you really want just a solid song to kick back to. It's just structured so perfectly...

You may notice that this is an "LP Edit". Not a whole lot was added over the single version. The beat was filled out just a little bit more along with some smatterings of vocalization.

09. Kagerou

This album kinda ends on the same note that it began. This is the only truly mellow song on the album, though.

There is a little bit of a hidden track tacked on to this. It's the music box version of Kuroshoubi.

OVERALL: While I love basically all of the songs on this album...it's kind of a mess thematically. At only nine tracks, it's also criminally short. This is Nakamori's first album after signing with Victor, and one that she produced herself. I actually have a lot of faith in her as a producer, but this is just a little bit too random. To make things weirder, there were more songs to add. The awesome, awesome EVERLASTING LOVE is absent and the subtle changes to NOT CRAZY TO ME weren't really necessary.

I should also say that the particular copy of this album that I own is the UNBALANCE + BALANCE +6. It features singles and their B Sides from the era. I probably wouldn't have been thrilled with the brief nine-track version of this album in 1993. It is full of good music, though, and is a fantastic return to music for Nakamori.

PREVIOUS: CRUISE
NEXT: la alteración

HOME

2018/04/16

14. CRUISE (1989.07.25)


01. URAGIRI

Jesus. The title alone should give us a clue about what type of album we're in for. It's even written as URAGIRI in romaji.

Despite being a bit of a downer, this song is a pretty solid start to what was the final album from her days at Warner/Pioneer and nearly her life in general.

02. Akai fushigi (Mystery)

Another slow one, but this one has some nice tricks to it. The music is well put together and, of course, the singing is on point. This is reminiscent of 1983/84 Nakamori.

03. Sayonaraja owaranai

A bit on the soft side, but a decent track nonetheless. It kinda reminds me of OH NO, OH YES! without the catchy hook.

04. LIAR

Ooof. I did talk about this one previously in my Singles 1982-1991 review. I like the song, but as I have been clamoring for songs to be singles from the last few albums, this had to be the first one since 1985 to appear on an album and single?? It was a number one song, though. What do I know?

On the serious, I like the song...but I kinda don't like the circumstance behind it's likely selection.

05. Ranka

This one is an old-school slow song. Again, this is very reminiscent of some of her early work--just with some slight updates.

06. Close Your Eyes

A slick little jazz number that is a much welcome change of pace. The fake drumbeat is kinda on the blah side, but I actually dig this song as a whole. The singing isn't unlike what was heard on CRIMSON.

07. Standing in Blue

I like this one too. It's on the light side, but has enough chops to be unique. The underlying horns and weird, umm, piano "chop" effect make it just a little more memorable than it could have been.

08. Kaze wa sora no kanata

A slow song that is closer to being a concept song than anything else. There are some odd fragments spaced throughout. It's a good song, if a little disjointed. The singing is great, though.

09. SINGER

For me, this is probably the standout song on the album. I know it mostly from it's use during the Yume Live 1991 tour. It's a great jazz number.

10. Ame ga futteta...

A slow song, but it does have some life to it. I suppose compared to a lot of the normal fare on this album, this is probably the best choice for the closing track. As it ventures more into the ballad territory, it's also a little bit of a throwback. The use of an orchestra kinda brings that point home.

OVERALL: This album, while definitely not a favorite of mine, actually remains a popular one among fans. As I mentioned earlier, this was her final album released at Warner. I suppose going out on this note is a little more fitting rather than rocking the house with Stock or confusing the fans with Fushigi. The writing was on the wall. Eerily enough, this album was recorded in Hit Factory in New York City. Famous for many things, chief among which is that it was the last place that John Lennon was said to have recorded before his death.

Nakamori was in full breakdown mode right around the time this album was released, and only three more single would be released before the economic bubble burst. Anyone who had a career in 1991 suddenly didn't by 1992.

Next time I explore the first release of post-bubble Nakamori. She'll have a new label, a new team, and a new sound...maybe.

PREVIOUS: Femme Fatale
NEXT: UNBALANCE + BALANCE

HOME