Aya Matsuura – Chocolate Damashii

March 1, 2009 at 9:03 AM | Posted in Aya Matsuura | 2 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. Chocolate Damashii (チョコレート魂)
2. Gatsun (ガツン)
3. Chocolate Damashii (Instrumental)

This is Aya Matsuura’s 21st single and it was released on February 11, 2009. The single reached #19 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 4,795 copies.

Described as a “Valentine’s Day gift”, Chocolate Damashii is Aya Matsuura’s first upbeat A-side in a long time. I actually think that this is a pretty good pop song and I’m quite fond of it now. The music does have a cute and overly sweet atmosphere to it, but it doesn’t go overboard with its instruments so I liked that aspect of the song as well. With her current vocals, Matsuura sings pretty well and the lyrics are catchy, especially that infectious “fu fu fu fu” part.

The B-side is pretty similar to Chocolate Damashii in that it features an upbeat sound with a mixture of cute synth and percussion. Gatsun is nice but it doesn’t offer any variety since it is pretty much a continuation of the A-side. At least Matsuura’s vocals are good though.

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

Aya Matsuura – Omoi Afurete

February 1, 2009 at 1:01 AM | Posted in Aya Matsuura | 5 Comments
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Omoi Afurete (想いあふれて) is Aya Matsuura’s 5th studio album and it was released on January 21, 2009. That’s right, bitches. I said it’s her FIFTH because Naked Songs doesn’t count! The album reached #29 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 5,821 copies. Also, it’s her final album as a Hello!Project artist.

♦ ♦ ♦

Starting things off for this album is Kekkon Shinai Futari, a bouncy song that uses some jazz elements. It’s a pleasant track and I especially liked the charming verses where Matsuura’s vocals become more rhythmic as the chorus draws closer. Speaking of the chorus, it’s quite nice too. Most of the tracks on the album comprise of sophisticated pop songs that have an adult contemporary sound to them, so get ready for a different side of Ayaya.

The next track is a relaxing tune titled Nanakai Utau to Ii Koto ga Aru Uta. Utilizing a calm piano next to vibrant strings and woodwinds, this is a very pretty song arrangement wise. The music does pick up for the fantastic chorus with some brass and then it reaches a high point during the bridge. Matsuura displays wonderful vocals too.

Luckily, the album does have its share of upbeat songs and beautiful day is one of them. The music has a nice beat that’s pretty consistent throughout the entire song but the bridge has a soothing electric guitar solo to provide some variety. I liked the catchy chorus and Matsuura sounded great while singing the positive lyrics.

Adding a little bit of ethnic flavor to the mix is boomboomboom. This is the most upbeat song on the album as well as the most diverse sounding. Once again, brass plays a big part in the music but other elements like whistles, light drums, and chimes are included as well.

By far the best song on the album is Omoi Afurete. It is a gorgeous ballad and I absolutely loved it. Featuring beautiful piano chords and strings, the song is brimming with amazing simplicity. The arrangement just seems to flow so smoothly and gracefully, especially next to Matsuura’s calming vocals. While I think the entire song is excellent, the chorus and the bridge are big highlights.

I have also grown to love the next track too. There is something about Rescue! Rescue! that I find really appealing. Whether it be the music’s cheery atmosphere or the extremely catchy chorus, Matsuura has a winner right here. Along with Omoi Afurete, this song is a personal favorite of mine.

Now we have Chuuou Kaisatsu, a sleepy song that just kind of slinks on by. The arrangement is piano based and there’s nothing really distinctive about it, making the entire song sound quite monotonous. At least Matsuura’s vocals are somewhat nice, but only during the chorus.

A more lively song is up next, but I unfortunately didn’t find it all that interesting. Shinju comprises of background vocals going “doot doot doot”, upbeat piano, and of course…lots of brass. Compared to the other tracks, this song is not that good and definitely not as memorable.

Fallin’ is a little better, despite having an equally lazy arrangement. At least the music has some flair to it and the chorus is charming. The chorus has some repetition in it but I thought Matsuura’s repeating of the words was catchy nonetheless.

Only one single was released prior to this album and it serves as the final track. I still like Kizuna even though I don’t think it’s as good as her previous singles. The song is actually a fitting end for this album because of its overall theme that involves bonds and being thankful towards others.

I’m not gonna lie, I enjoyed Omoi Afurete for what it was: EASY LISTENING. The album definitely contains her most laid back and reserved material to date, but she does manage to pull it off. I thought these slower paced songs went very well with her voice and she has never sounded better. I’m probably in the minority on this but I personally prefer her more recent pop ballads over her “idol” oriented music of the past. I do think she’s a great singer and she has the potential to be even better if given the chance. In the case of Omoi Afurete, the first half of the album is awesome and even though it begins to fall flat after Rescue! Rescue!, it’s still pretty solid. If you liked her previous album Double Rainbow, which was pretty similar as a whole, then Omoi Afurete is worth a try.

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Kekkon Shinai Futari (結婚しない二人)
2. Nanakai Utau to Ii Koto ga Aru Uta (七回歌うといいことがある歌)
3. beautiful day
4. boomboomboom
5. Omoi Afurete (想いあふれて)
6. Rescue! Rescue! (レスキュー! レスキュー!)
7. Chuuou Kaisatsu (中央改札)
8. Shinju (真珠)
9. Fallin’
10. Kizuna (きずな)

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

Aya Matsuura – Kizuna

June 14, 2008 at 11:48 AM | Posted in Aya Matsuura | 1 Comment
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Tracklisting
1. Kizuna (きずな)
2. Hitori (single version) (ひとり)
3. Kizuna (Instrumental)

This is Aya Matsuura’s 20th single and it was released on May 21, 2008. The single reached #20 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 7,623 copies.

Kizuna is another pleasant offering from Aya Matsuura, musically and vocally. The song is a little more upbeat than her previous singles so it’s not exactly a ballad. This is more of a light pop track because of the frequent use light percussion, chimes, and the organ. While the verses remain pretty laid back, the chorus is stronger when Matsuura’s vocals begin to elevate and a backtrack appears.

Originally appearing on her concept album Naked Songs, there is a new version of Hitori. It’s another gentle pop song that teeters on the edge of becoming a ballad. It’s similar to Kizuna in these aspects, but it features more organic sounds like strings and drums. I also thought Matsuura’s vocals were better in this song as well, especially during the enchanting chorus.

Overall Rating

4 stars

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