Rie fu – at Rie sessions

April 16, 2010 at 9:13 PM | Posted in Rie fu | 8 Comments
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

at Rie sessions is Rie fu’s 5th album and it was released on March 31, 2010. The album reached #73 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 1,940 copies. Also branded as a collaboration album, Rie fu worked with different artists on every track. Stay with me ~Renai Nante Himatsubushi~ was the main promotional track.

The cover is great. I wish I could say the same about the album…

♦ ♦ ♦

Tsk tsk. I was sorely disappointed by this album. When I wasn’t disappointed, I was probably falling asleep. Before you start calling me a bitter hater ~*~who can’t appreciate her music~*~, let me stop you right there.

First of all, at Rie sessions is a raw album that is pretty simplistic at times. It’s also self-produced and contains her most intimate material to date. However, just because it’s “raw” and “intimate” doesn’t mean it’s good. I thought the album was a huge downgrade compared to the likes of URBAN ROMANTIC and Tobira Album.

The album indeed has a “bare bones” feel and almost every track is slower paced in some way. When it comes to the music, it’s very acoustic and nothing much else. STAR and Sunshine Forehead are the only songs that sound remotely upbeat and different from the rest. Also 9 of the tracks feature guest artists and I only liked a couple of them. Besides these tracks being quite boring, she picked some funky people to collaborate with. For example, Stay with me ~Renai Nante Himatsubushi~ gets ruined by an awkward rapping section and the 2 chicks in Don’t Worry have funny voices.

Honestly, there was only ONE really good song and it was Bright Life. It has the classic Rie fu piano arrangement that makes it stand out. It also helps that it didn’t have a guest artist to mess things up (Gilles was the only other track). As for everything else on the album…they’re not worth mentioning. Sorry~

Yes, I understand the theme of the album but that’s no excuse. at Rie sessions was just so BLAND. I don’t mind the heavy acoustics or the minimal approach of the music but almost everything sounded so lifeless here. You’re better off listening to her debut album or ROSE ALBUM because you’ll hear the same thing but executed way better.

Pros: The album’s middle section and Bright Life. Oh and the cover art! XD
Cons: Uninteresting collaboration songs and an overall sleepy feeling. At least the songs are short?

BASICALLY…I’ll be listening to URBAN ROMANTIC some more.

Overall Rating

2½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Stay with me ~Renai Nante Himatsubushi~ (Stay with me~恋愛なんてヒマつぶし~)
    / Rie fu & Lily Franky feat. Bose (Schadaraparr)
2. Just Like You / Rie fu & LEO Imai
3. Irodotte (いろどって) / Rie fu & Mina Ganaha, Mayumix
4. Don’t Worry / Rie fu & KAT, YUKA (moumoon)
5. STAR / Rie fu & Sarasa Ifu, yuyu, Kenji Suzuki
6. Sunshine Forehead / Rie fu & Curly Giraffe
7. My Start / Rie fu & Kenichi Takemoto, Peter Kvint
8. Gilles / Rie fu & NAOTO (ORANGE RANGE), kohei (Hoi festa)
9. Laundry / Rie fu & YUI (RYTHEM), Akiko Nakashima
10. Bright Life / Rie fu & Honoka Sato (aluto)
11. Hitotsu Hitotsu (ひとつひとつ) / Rie fu & Seira, Shiina Junpei, Chris Tomoko, Saki

Note: Aren’t those just the ugliest tags you’ve ever seen? My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue.

Rie fu – URBAN ROMANTIC

May 17, 2009 at 8:44 PM | Posted in Rie fu | 5 Comments
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URBAN ROMANTIC is Rie fu’s 4th album and it was released on April 8, 2009. The album reached #30 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 2,886 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

Opening the album is the quirky and offbeat Something In My Head. This song is in English and features lyrics that introduce the album’s “romantic” theme. The music is filled with constant percussion and shrilly synth, showing off the song’s production value. It’s more involved than most of her other upbeat songs and that’s a good thing to me. I also like that it ends with a random 8-bit explosion sound.

Opening with upbeat bass and piano is Sunny Days. This song is under 3 minutes long so it goes by pretty fast but aside from that, it’s fun and carefree. The music quickly adds a little bit of synth and muffled beats once Rie fu starts singing too.

To me, the next track presented something different from Rie fu. Hey I’m Calling Up! (yes, there’s an exclaimation point at the end lol) features a nice, gritty beat along with other “urban” elements, so it’s good to know that she can experiment outside her comfort zone. Despite the frequent beats, the song maintains a serene aura around it.

Rie fu wants to party, everybody! Business is a cheery song that once again utilizes random synthetic components next to an upbeat electric guitar. The brief instrumental breaks between the singing are interesting and I liked the thudding sounds that were added. This song has a lot of character to it thanks to the lyrics.

Anata wo Omoeba Afureru Namida is more like Rie fu’s typical style but it’s a little less folkish at the same time. The arrangement uses piano during the quiter parts while the aggressive chorus features upbeat acoustics. There are also some random sequences where the music becomes muffled or the sounds of a cityscape come in (how urban of you, Rie fu!). It’s nice to see her being spontaneous for a change.

Ah, Romantic…the song that made a bunch of Rie fu purists throw a huge bitch fit. It’s still her most daring and different sounding song to date and honestly, I want more stuff like it. Produced by Taku Takahashi, the dance-like atmosphere of the music is great and I liked the combination of beats and distorted strings.

What do you expect from a song titled drummy? DRUMS DRUMS DRUMS! I actually think this song is pretty cool and I was digging its overall attitude. The drum and bass arrangement is smooth and Rie fu’s vocals play the part. It gets even better with the extra brass later on too. A stylish song, indeed.

Like Sunny Days, this next track is pretty short. She Can’t Say No ~No to Ienai Onna~is the shortest song on the album, but it’s an interesting listen. Mixing a somber piano with a simple beat, Rie fu sings about a love triangle where nobody can say “no” to each other. The random moment of this song is the sound of a Polaroid camera taking a picture!

Now we have the English version of Money Will Love You, a B-side from the Romantic single. I was hoping Rie fu would change a few things in the music like she did with the English version of decay, but it completely remains the same. Anyway, the song sounds better with the new English lyrics (there is still a verse that’s in Japanese).

I get a rustic, old fashioned feeling from Itsuka Kono Michi no Saki ni ~All The Way~. This song is on the acoustic side minus the breaks between the singing that include electric guitar. To me, this song and Money Will Love You are the most traditional sounding tracks on the album. You could easily see them on ROSE ALBUM or Tobira Album as well.

Next up is the tender ballad PRESENT. I looooove this song and I think it’s very touching, despite being kind of sad. The piano and strings are gorgeous and Rie fu’s vocals are at their best. The unique addition to the song is the strange muffled, yet somewhat inaudible beat.

A soft acoustic track follows and it’s very nice. SUKI is simple but nicely executed. Apart from the dominant acoustics, the very quiet placeholder beat and glittering chimes are a neat addition. I also like the English lyrics in the chorus, further implementing the album’s romantic theme.

For those bitches who complained about Romantic, you can sit down and shut up now. The Strings version removes all the synthetic elements of the original and you instead get a flowing strings section that goes very well with the added piano that now plays the main arrangement. Rie fu also redid the vocals and she sounds great, especially without the layering during the chorus. It’s a fantastic bonus track and if you were wondering what the song would be like without Taku Takahashi’s production, then here you go.

Pfffffft…URBAN ROMANTIC? More like SUBURBAN ROMANTIC. LOLOLOLOL
Sorry, but I just had to make that lame joke. ;D Seriously though, the more I listen to this album, the more it grows on me. I have to give credit to Rie fu trying out some new things for this album because it does contain some surprising material. Rie fu’s music has been orthodox folky pop for the most part, but she’s finally coming out of her shell with URBAN ROMANTIC. Slowly, but surely. I would like to see her branch out some more in the future, but what she’s doing right now is okay with me. The album is a good mix of past and current styles and it would be great if she added upon that for future releases.

Overall Rating

 4½ stars

Tracklisting

1. Something In My Head
2. Sunny Days
3. Hey I’m Calling Up!
4. Business (ビジネス)
5. Anata wo Omoeba Afureru Namida (あなたを想えばあふれる涙)
6. Romantic
7. drummy
8. She Can’t Say No ~No to Ienai Onna~ (She Can’t Say No~ノーと言えない女~)
9. Money Will Love You (English version)
10. Itsuka Kono Michi no Saki ni ~All The Way~ (いつかこの道の先に~All The Way~)
11. PRESENT
12. SUKI
13. Romantic (Strings version)

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

Rie fu – PRESENT

March 27, 2009 at 5:31 PM | Posted in Rie fu | 6 Comments
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Rie fu - PRESENTTracklisting
1. PRESENT
2. Time Traffic (Rie fu mix)
3. Douyara Kyou mo Shibuya Made
    (どうやら今日も渋谷まで)

This is Rie fu’s 12th single and it was released on February 25, 2009. The single reached #99 on the Oricon Weekly Charts.

I have always been a sucker for Rie fu’s ballads because they are so soothing and she is vocally at her best. She executes them quite well and PRESENT is another worthy addition to that list. I gotta say that this is a VERY pretty piano and strings based ballad with a deceptively simple, yet beautiful arrangement. The music is heartwarming and Rie fu’s rich vocals compliment that, giving the song a nostalgic feel. In the end, it’s very well done and I like it a lot now.

I thought it was nice to hear Rie fu try out an electronic sound again with Time Traffic. It’s not as aggressive as Romantic was but there is still a good amount of light synthetic beats in the music. The song is also a collaboration with LEO Imai, a singer of Japanese and Swedish heritage, and he does backup vocals during the chorus. I thought the chorus was pretty catchy and the two of them seem to harmonize well. If you’re interested, a new “Leo fu” mix will appear on Imai’s upcoming album Laser Rain.

The third track is of typical Rie fu flair, but with some beats thrown in. Douyara Kyou mo Shibuya Made has a calm and collected atmosphere set to an upbeat tempo. There are also some gentle acoustics but the beats dominate most of the arrangement. Like a lot of her songs, the chorus features memorable English lyrics.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Rie fu – Romantic

November 27, 2008 at 12:23 AM | Posted in Rie fu | 5 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. Romantic
2. In The Airplane
3. Money Will Love You

This is Rie fu’s 11th single and it was released on November 12, 2008. The single reached #100 on the Oricon Weekly Charts.

I was very surprised when I first heard Romantic because it is something completely different from Rie fu. Most people who have listened to Rie fu before know of her trademark folk pop and rock music, but Romantic was unexpected and just came out of nowhere. First all, the song is produced by Taku Takahashi from the popular hip hop group m-flo and is characterized by its dance-like electronic sound, stoic beats, and distorted stringwork. I actually think the arrangement is pretty cool when it mixes all of these unique elements together as the music progresses. Initially, my biggest concern about the song was how Rie fu would handle it vocally and she does pretty well, considering she’s performing out of her comfort zone. It makes me wonder if she will ultimately take a new direction with her music or if this was just a one-time experiment. Nonetheless, I was impressed by this song and its refreshing sound.

The first B-side is Rie fu’s signature style, but there is definitely a change in disposition when it comes to the music. In The Airplane presents a funkier, more aggressive Rie fu with an arrangement that comes off as psychedelic. I really like the band instruments in the song, especially the electric guitars, but the whacky use of a synthesizer was an interesting touch. They are most prominent during the bouncy chorus.

Now we have a mellow acoustic based song, something that Rie fu does quite well. Money Will Love You is uneventful but sweet at the same time. Next to the basic acoustic guitar, there are also some gentle piano chords and percussion which provide a some extra emphasis to the music. The melody of the chorus is the most memorable thing about the song as well. I have to admit that “money will love you” line is catchy.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Rie fu – Home

January 28, 2008 at 11:25 AM | Posted in Rie fu | 3 Comments
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Tracklisting
1. Home
2. Wait For Me
3. (They Long To Be) Close To You

This is Rie fu’s 10th single and it was released on January 23, 2008. The single reached #98 on the Oricon Weekly Charts. The title track was used as the theme song for the movie Koneko no Namida.

I wasn’t expecting a new single so soon, Rie fu! Home is one of those fluffy, innocent kind of love songs. Similar to the material off her latest album, the song features a lot instruments ranging to a gentle brass section, playful piano chords, and airy strings. The lyrics are very descriptive and just feel so wholesome and sweet. They definitely match the music’s bright and cheery atmosphere.

The next track, Wait For Me, is a simple acoustic and piano based song. Rie fu’s vocals are lovely, especially during the extremely heartwarming chorus. Just like Home, it has detailed lyrics about love, but the atmosphere feels more somber this time around. Somber, but still quite optimistic.

The Carpenters is one Rie fu’s favorite artists and her cover of (They Long To Be) Close To You is very similar to the original in terms of overall style. I wonder if she did it intentionally because she’s such a big fan of them. Accompanied by only the piano, she sings the classic tune very well. It doesn’t offer anything else though unfortunately.

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

Rie fu – Tobira Album

January 11, 2008 at 5:51 PM | Posted in Rie fu | 1 Comment
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Tobira Album is Rie fu’s 3rd album and it was released on November 21, 2007. The album reached #34 on the Oricon Weekly Charts.

♦ ♦ ♦

Opening the album in an upbeat fashion is a slightly tweaked version of 5000 Miles. Actually, I can’t really pinpoint any major differences from the single version. If there is something new, let me know since I didn’t notice anything. XD Oh well, it’s a great first track.

The new tracks on this album are very good and showcase a more upbeat, aggressive side of Rie fu. Come To My Door has pleasant electric guitar chords and drums that match Rie fu’s cheerful vocals. The chorus is my favorite part since it’s catchy and has a simple, yet memorable hook that includes English lyrics.

Mixing a folky atmosphere with sophisticated acoustics is Tsukiakari, one of my favorite songs off the album. The music is very tranquil and features gorgeous strings that have a traditional flair to them. I simply adore it.

My favorite new track on the album is Kimi ga Ukabu yo, a song that I find very charming. From the lyrics (Oh I see you everyday in everything) to the soothing piano and drum based arrangement, it just stuck with me. It helps that the catchy chorus, my favorite part of the song, is faster paced than the verses too.

This album is called Tobira Album, so I knew that tobira was going to be included. It’s too bad that I will always think of this song as perpetually boring. Being a bare bones acoustic track, it really doesn’t offer anything. It’s not bad…just extremely plain. It originally appeared as a B-side on the Until I Say single.

Here is something a lot better. On It’s Way starts off with acoustic guitar and light drums but it adds electric guitar as the music slowly progresses. This all accumulates to an upbeat chorus, which I felt was a nice change from the uneventful first verse. To me, this song is like a rockish version of I So Wanted (from her debut album).

Now we have Until I Say, a romantic song that was released as the album’s first single. I still really like this song because it’s very sweet and sincere with its message of love. Plus, the music is calming and radiates beautiful simplicity.

A cheery, uplifting song follows! SMILE has great piano chords that go very well with Rie fu’s upbeat vocals. Even though this is one of the album’s simpler songs in terms of arrangement, the music excels with its flow and overall melody. This track definitely stands out because of its positive attitude.

The next track is a comforting ballad. Feel The Same features a lovely piano arrangement and has a romantic air around it thanks to the lyrics. I’m glad some drums come in later to make the music more interesting as well since Rie fu’s vocals do become a little stronger. A welcome addition to the album, indeed.

dreams be has got to be one of Rie fu’s coolest tracks. This awesome song is in English and it has some top notch production. The electric guitars are more aggressive compared to past songs as well. If Rie fu wants to go folky pop route, she should make more songs like this one. It originally appeared as the B-side on the Tsukiakari single.

I was never really a fan of Sunshine of my day but this new studio live version has changed my mind. Instead of the acoustic sound of the original (it’s on the Until I Say single), this version completely overhauls the arrangement to include a live band. To me, this was a major improvement because the band instruments and Rie fu’s more enthusiastic vocals make the song a lot more interesting. Electric guitars and thumping percussion give a great deal of character to this otherwise average song.

London is one of Rie fu’s most endearing efforts when it comes to the lyrics. I love that she is singing about her experiences while being an art student in London. They are very descriptive since she describes street names and other features in the city from her own perspective. The music is an important factor as well and I liked how it speeds up or slows down depending on the situation she is describing. In the end, this is an incredibly vivid song that is very well done.

Ending the album is none other than Anata ga Koko ni Iru Riyuu, an absolutely gorgeous song and my favorite A-side. I’m glad it’s the final track because it’s a masterpiece of lyrics and composition that provides a feeling of closure for the album. Anyway, it’s the mix of gentle electric guitar and strings that gets me every time. Vocally, Rie fu is at her best too.

Personally, I think Tobira Album is Rie fu’s strongest album. She is finally making more upbeat and assertive songs this time around. I also noticed a focus on more involved arrangements, something that she adds upon in URBAN ROMANTIC, but she takes that first stepping stone here. There isn’t a bad song on this album and the new tracks are an excellent compliment to the previously released material since I thought the album contained her best A-sides. Even though I was a big fan of her first two albums, I was a little put off at the lack of variety and replay factor in both of them. Thankfully, Rie fu fixed those minor errors on Tobira Album.

Overall Rating

5 stars

Tracklisting

1. 5000 Miles~Album version (5000 マイル~Album version)
2. Come To My Door
3. Tsukiakari (ツキアカリ)
4. Kimi ga Ukabu yo (君が浮かぶよ)
5. tobira
6. On It’s Way
7. Until I Say
8. SMILE
9. Feel The Same
10. dreams be
11. Sunshine of my day~Live version
12. London
13. Anata ga Koko ni Iru Riyuu (あなたがここにいる理由)

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

Rie fu – Anata ga Koko ni Iru Riyuu

November 1, 2007 at 12:53 PM | Posted in Rie fu | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Anata ga Koko ni Iru Riyuu
    (あなたがここにいる理由)
2. Just the Kind of Thought
3. Anata ga Koko ni Iru Riyuu – Instrumental

This is Rie fu’s 9th single and it was released on October 24, 2007. The single reached #45 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 2,565 copies. The title track was used as the 5th ending theme song for the anime D.Gray-man.

Why does Rie fu always release consistently beautiful music? XDD
Anata ga Koko ni Iru Riyuu is similar to her song Tsukiakari, but uses new elements like gentle, but always present electric guitar chords. These chords really give the song a unique, almost alternative sound compared to her past works. The string arrangement is just plain gorgeous and it feels so epic. Her vocals are also at their best, especially during the chorus.

The B-side the upbeat and spunky Just the Kind of Thought. The song is in English and it has really playful, optimistic lyrics. Rie fu’s vocal style is a little messy and rushed at times, but they actually give the song some substance and personality. The music is the same too, but it’s still very fun nonetheless.

Overall Rating

4½ stars

Rie fu – 5000 Miles

September 19, 2007 at 7:58 PM | Posted in Rie fu | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. 5000 Miles (5000 マイル)
2. Aitai Toki ni Utau Uta (会いたいときに歌ううた)
3. Life is Like a Boat
    ~Tsukiakari Rie fu Live version~
   (Life is Like a Boat
   ~ツキアカリエフゥライブ version~)

This is Rie fu’s 8th single and it was released on September 5, 2007. The single reached #100 on the Oricon Weekly Charts.

I’m glad that Rie fu is doing more upbeat songs because 5000 Miles is exactly that. It’s a cute song with its cheerful piano chords and strings. The chorus is the focal point of the song and it’s charming and full of life. This is one of those songs that will put a smile on your face because of it has a happy, uplifting atmosphere.

The B-side is the very calm and relaxing Aitai Toki ni Utau Uta. The song has a simple acoustic guitar arrangement along with some low pitched strings. The music is classic Rie fu and it’s very pleasant to the ears.

I was so pleased to hear a live version of Life is Like a Boat on this single. This is THE song that made me a Rie fu fan and it’s probably her most well known track among the western J-pop community. If you ever watched the anime BLEACH, then you’ll know what I mean. The song’s original piano arrangement is gorgeous and along with the added strings in this live, it’s a wonderful listening experience.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Rie fu – Tsukiakari

June 9, 2007 at 7:56 PM | Posted in Rie fu | Leave a comment
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Tracklisting
1. Tsukiakari (ツキアカリ)
2. dreams be

This is Rie fu’s 7th single and it was released on May 25, 2007. The single reached #35 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 4,516 copies. The title track as used as the first ending theme song for the anime DARKER THAN BLACK -Kuro no Keiyakusha-.

I was VERY impressed with Tsukiakari. It’s a gentle song that features one of Rie fu’s best musical compositions to date. The underlying enka string arrangement is unique compared to her past songs as well. Rie fu’s vocals are at their best especially when she reaches the high notes during the chorus and the bridge.

Rie fu never fails to amaze me with her English songs. The lyrics of dreams be are poetic and not to mention mysterious. The music is upbeat and has rhythmic percussion and light electric guitar. I thought the bridge was great when the guitar riffs became stronger and more aggressive. I really hope that she makes more rockish songs like this in the future because she can really dish them out if she wanted to.

Overall Rating

5 stars

Rie fu – Until I Say

May 7, 2007 at 7:51 PM | Posted in Rie fu | Leave a comment
Tags:

Tracklisting
1. Until I Say
2. Sunshine Of My Day
3. tobira

This is Rie fu’s 6th single and it was released on July 19, 2006. The single reached #99 on the Oricon Weekly Charts. The title track was used as the theme song for the Japanese release of the British version of the movie Heidi

Until I Say is a very bilingual song. More than half of the song is in English, which is common for Rie fu so it was no surprise. To be honest, I think the song is very beautiful. The combination of piano and strings is amazing, especially towards the end of the song when percussion, brass, and a light electric guitar kick in. The English lyrics are very simple but they work. My favorite lyric from this song is from the chorus: Oh I think I’m living a dream come true. One more kiss and I will fall through. All I ever longed for was you.

The next track, Sunshine Of My Day, is completely in English. The song is very upbeat and it reminds me a lot of the songs from her second album ROSE ALBUM. This song would have been great as the A-side if Rie fu added some Japanese lyrics.

The final track, tobira, didn’t really impress me. It just kind of drags on but at least it’s short, similar to another Rie fu song I didn’t like: Tsuki no Ue.

Overall Rating 

3½ stars

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