May J. – Shiny Sky

June 26, 2010 at 9:32 AM | Posted in May J. | Leave a comment
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The cover of the first press CD only edition

Shiny Sky is May J.’s 4th single and it was released on June 9, 2010. The single reached #54 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 1,668 copies.

I love her smile. It’s beautiful.

♦ ♦ ♦

According to her official site, the first three tracks of the single represent ~*peace, love, and sunshine*~. D’aaaaw, isn’t that cute (and a little cheesy)? These songs remind me of the material off her last album for you since they’re less R&B and more sugary pop. Kicking things off is Shiny Sky, a bright and upbeat song with quick beats and brass. May J.’s vocals are very vibrant, especially during the catchy chorus.

The next two tracks feature the same positive atmosphere as the A-side. Believe is also upbeat and on the acoustic side with the guitars and piano. The chorus is wonderful as well. DISTANCE is slower paced but features heavier beats and synth compared to the last 2 tracks. Like I said before, I don’t mind that she’s went the pop route because these songs are well done. They have grown on me a lot as well.

But wait there’s more! Also included on the single is a Japanese version of littlestar. The original English version is on the HOUSE NATION 3rd Anniversary album if you want to check it out. As you would expect from HOUSE NATION, the song is club oriented but it still has an organic side with the piano (similar to DAISHI DANCE’s stuff). Lastly, the first pressings of the single come with a remix of Kaze ni Naritai feat. CHRIS & BUZZER BEATS. This was one of my favorite tracks off the for you album and I liked electronic elements layered on top of the festive mood of the original.

Pros: Once again, this was another amazingly consistent release.
Cons: The first 3 tracks are a little similar but don’t let that discourage you.

BASICALLY…a great summer single. Give it a try!

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting

1. Shiny Sky
2. Believe
3. DISTANCE
4. littlestar -Japanese edition-
5. Kaze ni Naritai feat. CHRIS & BUZZER BEATS <Festival Dance Remix> (風になりたい)
    [First pressing bonus track]

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May J. – for you

February 28, 2010 at 3:36 PM | Posted in May J. | Leave a comment
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

for you is May J.’s 3rd album and it was released on February 17, 2010. The album reached #9 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 10,976 copies. Be mine ~Kimi ga Suki da yo~ and Sing for you were the main promotional tracks.

May J. fully sheds her tanned, scantily clad Baby Girl look with this cover…but I’m not complaining.

♦ ♦ ♦

Ever since May J.’s switch from Sony Records to rhythm zone, her music has been sort of different. You could definitely label her as an “urban artist” from listening to her debut album Baby Girl and when she released her 2nd album (and 1st with rhythm zone) FAMILY, the R&B sound was still there but the songs were noticably more “pop”.

We get more of that with this new album. If her last album left you with a lingering feeling, for you definitely fills that void. FAMILY was good but with only 10 tracks (2 of them being interludes), it was fairly short. In this aspect, for you is more complete but it also improves upon the sound of FAMILY. Also, there aren’t any corny interludes to deal with! I’ll go over some of the highlights of the album.

There’s a good balance of upbeat tracks, mellow jams, and ballads that flow well together. Upbeat songs like I’m yours, Kimi ga Ite, and Beautiful Days are all cheery and positive. The 2 main promotional tracks Be mine ~Kimi ga Suki da yo~ and Sing for you (a duet with MAY’S) are pretty mid-tempo numbers that feature strong vocals. Suki to Iwasete and Arigatou were also great slower paced songs.

Most of the tracks feature the standard pop/R&B sound but there were some nice twists. You get the occasional breezy, island themed song with nice acoustics, too. My Sunshine and Kaze ni Naritai feat. CHRIS & BUZZER BEATS (one of my favorite tracks) mixed things up a bit. I do wonder why her cover of Garden was included on this album (it was the first track on FAMILY). Oh well, at least there’s a DAISHI DANCE remix of the song set to English lyrics as a bonus track.

Overall, for you is an even bigger departure from her debut material than FAMILY was. With the label switch came a more mainstream “user-friendly” sound but I think that this album is on the same level as the last two. Personally, I think that her music has been consistently good so that’s why I haven’t been bitching. XD Since this album is longer, some tracks might take longer to sink in.

Pros: This is an enjoyable album that’s sure to lift your spirits. There’s lots of “feel good” stuff on here.
Cons: Some tracks blend into one another.

BASICALLY…the following rating is ~for you~, May J.! Nice work!

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting

1. Be mine ~Kimi ga Suki da yo~ (Be mine ~君が好きだよ~)
2. I’m yours
3. My Sunshine
4. Sing for you / May J. × MAY’S
5. Suki to Iwasete (好きと言わせて)
6. Beautiful Days
7. Kaze ni Naritai feat. CHRIS & BUZZER BEATS (風になりたい)
8. Kimi ga Ite (君がいて)
9. WISH
10. Te wo Tsunaide (手をつないで)
11. Garden feat. DJ KAORI, Diggy-MO’, Clench & Blistah
12. Arigatou (ありがとう)
13. for you
14. Garden (CLASSIC HOUSE ANTHEM) -English ver.- / May J. × DAISHI DANCE

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

May J. – FAMILY

June 26, 2009 at 11:38 PM | Posted in May J. | 1 Comment
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

FAMILY is May J.’s 2nd album and it was released on May 27, 2009. The album reached #4 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 69,153 copies. It’s also her first album released under the rhythm zone label.

♦ ♦ ♦

There weren’t any singles released prior to the album, but the first 3 tracks served as the promotional material. Starting things off is Garden, a cheery R&B track that is a cover of a Sugar Soul song. It features 4 different people as well. DJ KAORI, as her name indicates, remixed the track and it includes more frequent beats than the original while still maintaining those looping piano chords and strings. The rappers include Diggy-MO’ (from SOUL’d OUT) and the duo Clench & Blistah, who each have their respective solo lines. Personally, I liked Clench & Blistah’s parts more since Diggy-MO’ has a funky voice. Anyway, it’s a good opening track.

The next song is something that is more on the acoustic side. Moshi Kimi to… is pretty upbeat as well and it features the duo Kimaguren, who remind me of Spontania but with acoustic guitars. Next to May J.’s strong vocals, the two guys of Kimaguren have nice solo lines and I liked their harmonizations during the chorus. This is another great collaboration and I liked it a little bit more than Garden.

Okay, here’s a song with just May J.! Tabidatsu Kimi ni is the album’s pivotal track because of its theme relating to people who stick together because they are family. It is a lovely song and the music is filled with light beats, piano, and sweeping strings. May J’s vocals are at their best as well and she displays great control of her voice.

The album includes 2 short tracks that consist of just a simple piano with May J. talking in English. In FAMILY -Interlude-, May J. talks about what a family is and how important it can be for somebody. Being an interlude, it provides a transition into the next track and the album’s pop phase.

The next track is a little slower but has heavier beats. The music in Story of Love doesn’t have much variety since it’s mostly just a looping harp with detached beats. I got bored with this song pretty quickly and it was one of the album’s least memorable tracks for me. Let’s move on, shall we?

The interlude makes more sense since Give my heart is quite different from the previous tracks. This song is upbeat, cute, and definitely within the realm of pop. There is a lot of high pitched synth and rhythmic beats in the music. I don’t think this is a bad thing for May J. though since she can pull off less R&B oriented material. The chorus is a good example because she sounds great and not forced at all.

Sayonara no Hoka ni is also much better. It’s a sweet mid-tempo song with cute chimes and fingersnap beats. It starts off pleasant enough but the chorus is especially good since it’s catchy and adds gentle strings in the background. May J. performs the high notes very well in this song too.

May J. collaborates with Clench & Blistah again for Remember, a laid back song with a steady, thumping beat. The additional acoustics and synth were a nice touch as well since they make the music more interesting. I thought the rapping in this song was pretty good and Clench & Blistah are a great R&B duo. They both have sleek, fluid voices that compliment the tone of the music. I can add them to the list of Japanese rappers that I like!

Here is the other short track and it serves as the album’s “outro”. Unity is also longer than the “FAMILY” interlude and it has brighter piano chords. In this track, May J. talks about how war, hate, and discrimination are things that will break us apart. After a pleasant solo, she goes on to say that love, music, and passion will unite us. A little corny, but I understand the message behind it. I’m not hating! =x

Ending the album is the DAISHI DANCE remix of Crescent Moon, the English version of Tabidatsu Kimi ni. I love me some DAISHI DANCE remixes so I was really pleased with this track. I just enjoy how he transform songs to have an amazing neoclassical sound and that’s exactly what he does here. The English lyrics, penned by May J. herself, are nice too.

It’s true that FAMILY is a lot less “urban” than May J.’s debut album Baby Girl, but I wasn’t disappointed. Honestly, I don’t mind the overall pop sensibility of this album and she has released a solid sophomore effort. Almost all of the songs were executed with a good amount of production value and I liked most of them. Overall, her vocals were better too. On a final note, I thought the album’s main theme surrounding the importance of the family was great and it presented a positive, uplifting message. For that, I applaud her.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting

1. Garden feat. DJ KAORI, Diggy-MO’, Clench & Blistah
     (Garden feat. DJ KAORI, Diggy-MO’, クレンチ&ブリスタ)
2. Moshi Kimi to… with Kimaguren (もし君と・・・ with キマグレン)
3. Tabidatsu Kimi ni (旅立つ君に)
4. FAMILY -Interlude-
5. Story of Love
6. Give my heart
7. Sayonara no Hoka ni (サヨナラの他に)
8. Remember feat. Clench & Blistah (Remember feat. クレンチ&ブリスタ)
9. Unity -Outro-
10. Crescent Moon -DAISHI DANCE remix-

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

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