Songs That Make Me Say “Aw!” #1

Yes the title is a little dumb, but anyway here is yet another list.

1. Ni Oh! by Sodagreen (蘇打綠)

Sodagreen is a wonderful Indie pop/rock band from Taiwan. They have six band members, in my opinion, that’s a lot but they are the ones who make a refreshing sound in the Chinese music industry with their brit-rock inspired pop rock, folk rock, and ballads. The singer, Qing Feng, is well known for his high pitched, innocent, and slightly effeminate singing voice. His wide vocal range is what gives Sodagreen’s unique music a dreamy sound and innocent sound. For some reason, one of the bands members are missing in the music video.

2. Yong Bao by Mayday (五月天)

A sweet love song by the awesome Taiwanese pop rock band, Wu Yue Tian, which is Mayday.

3.  House of Cards by Radiohead

Radiohead doesn’t write cute songs but they do occasionally write sweet love songs.

4. 沒時間 by Milk@Coffee

These guys always make sweet and cute songs about life. (I reviewed one of their albums months ago.)

P.S. This is the list of list series I’m making so far:

Beautiful Songs (#2 coming up)

Covers (Covers vs Originals) (#2 coming up)

Songs That Make Me Say “Aw” (1 so far)

Triple Reviews (#2 coming up)

Best of Chinese Albums (1 so far)

Awesome Music Videos (1 so far)

Advertisements

Beautiful Songs #1

So here is a blog series. These are songs that touch my heart. I haven’t had much inspiration to write lengthy album reviews so I’m continuing with the lists.

1. Glass Skin by Dir en grey

By the way, there is an English version and a Japanese version.

2. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel

3.  一絲不掛 by Eason Chan

4. Jòga by Björk

5.  Dee, It May All End Tomorrow by My Little Airport

6. Ain’t Afraid to Die by Dir en grey

7. After the Gold Rush by Neil Young

Now that’s an odd number to end a list with.

Occasionally, I Enjoy Metal or Hard Rock.

I was never really a huge crazy fan of metal, but lately I have really enjoyed it. The many sub genres of metal makes it a very diverse genre, so you can always find a metal band to enjoy no matter what. So here are some of my favorite metal albums (in no particular order).

1. UROBOROS by DIR EN GREY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes guys, the title of the band and the album are written in capital letters. Dir en grey is a Japanese experimental metal band from Osaka (or originated from Osaka). They were originally a visual kei band but later changed out of the image and left the scene in recent years. Although Dir en grey will always be a metal band, visual kei or not. What I love about this album is pretty much everything, the guitar work of Kaoru and Die are just wonderful, I love the middle eastern theme that was going on through the album. There was also some of Toshiya’s jazzy sounding bass here and there and the usual pounding drums of Shinya. Kyo’s voice was also beautiful, he does everything, from the whispery falsettos to the powerful vibrattos to the growling, and screaming, he even sang in a way that resembled scat singing (RED SOIL anyone?). The album had plenty of headbanging songs and of course a beautiful ballad (GLASS SKIN) to show Kyo’s emotional side (well he puts emotion into everything really, his voice and his lyrics). Dir en grey is actually one of the bands that got me into metal music.

2. An Ocean Between Us by As I Lay Dying

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I lay Dying is a metalcore band from San Diego, California. I hate to say it, but I can’t really describe this album very much other than the fact that the songs are really catchy and there is a lovely mixture of harsh and clean vocals. Some of the songs are actually really touching and this is the first album I heard by this band. I’m still pretty new to this band. Dir en grey and X Japan are actually one of the first metal bands I enjoyed and I knew about them for quite a long time.

3. The Discovery by Born of Osiris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Born of Osiris is a progressive deathcore band from Chicago. The album has a beautiful mixture of crunchy guitar and dreamy ambient synthesizers. Oh by the way I really really love the synthesizers. I also love that funky guitar riff in “Recreate”. The album kinda has a fantasy atmosphere to it.

4. Kongoukyuubi by Onmyo-Za

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japan has a lot of awesome rock bands, just letting you know that.  Onmyo-za are a Japanese heavy metal band known for wearing traditional kimonos that were worn during the Heian period.  Their music is a lovely combination of fast driven heavy metal songs, reminiscent of metal bands from the 80s, that sometimes verge on to symphonic metal due to the keyboards. The singer, Kuroneko, is the only female, she is the main singer while occasionally one of the guitarists joins in (I forgot his name). The two vocalists give variety to the sound, Kuroneko sings like a lot of females in symphonic metal bands. The two vocalist sound great together though, I love when they sing duets. The fast metal songs are catchy and have awesome guitar solos and the ballads are beautiful and emotional. The album art contains Kuroneko with fox tails. Oh and here’s a fun fact, Kuroneko means black cat.

5. to the next by Dazzle Vision

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dazzle Vision is another Japanese band with a female vocalist. Their music often verges on to hard rock or metalcore. The singer is what makes the album unique, her death vocals are awesome but her clean vocals are kinda shaky. Her shaky vocals remind of Nana Kitade, but I don’t mean this in a bad way because she sounds drastically different from your typical Japanese pop idol female singer.  Her voice contains power but the power occasionally makes her clean vocals shaky. But i do love the combination of metalcore and pop, the music fits the singer quite well without trying to be cute.

Private/Public by Takagi Masakatsu

So, I haven’t been here for awhile and I will probably come here more often since it’s summer. Takagi Masakatsu is a Japanese visual artist, pianist, and musician from Kyoto. Not only is his artwork beautifully dreamy and delicate, his music also contains the same elements. Private/Public has a variety of rich sounds. The smooth string orchestras that seems to be heavy with cello and violin has a sound that for some reason gives me a sense of nostalgia, they send shivers down my spine. You will also hear women chanting words that are barely audible but if you listen closely in the song “Any”, you will hear them chanting what sounds like “anywhere,anytime, any choice”. Other than the chanting and the strings, you will also hear a lot of percussion that gives the album a sort of tribal sound to it. The album is mainly contemporary classical music with the piano echoing through and the strings gliding through the songs, but you will also hear the sounds of thunder and a sound effect that resembles water, and you will hear guitar. The song “Exit/Delete” is one of the sons that isn’t fully instrumental, it’s actually a ballad with poetic lyrics, telling a sad story of a lonely woman. The woman singing the song seems to have an accent (which isn’t a bad thing of course). “Mio Panto” actually comes before “Exit/Delete” and it contains a woman singing in an operatic voice and singing “Mio Panto” with Takagi slamming chords and scales down the piano keyboard (which he does throughout the album). “Watch the World” also has vocals but with an acoustic guitar in the background.  “Girls” is one of Takagi’s most popular song, it is rather upbeat piano solo piece that contains a  wonderful ” spiraling” sound. Private/Delete is a beautiful album that gives you the sound of nature and emotions.

Here is some of his beautiful artwork

Credit: Takagi Masakatsu

Silence by Faith Yang (楊乃文) (1999)

1. Silence

2. 不要告别

3. 静止

4. 那天

5. Fear

6. Monster

7. 我给的爱

8. 空气

9. 固执

10. 不要来找我

11. Somebody

Faith Yang is a Taiwanese Rock musician who grew up in Sydney, Australia. Her first two albums “One” and ” Silence” are influenced by the Australian pub rock style with traces of goth rock. Her other albums adopted a soft pop sound to it (more ballads) but still contained some of the anger and goth rock influence.  “Silence” is Faith’s second album and my favorite by her. The album is bittersweet, it doesn’t try too hard to be angry or too sugary, it has an equal amount. I also love how there is a good amount of rock with a few beautiful ballads to soften it down. Faith’s singing voice is deep, mature, raw, and just utterly terrific. “Silence” is an all out  head banging goth rock track that ends with Faith releasing her anger. The music video of “Silence” seems to be inspired by the Velvet Underground’s hit “Bittersweet Symphony” music video. The second track which I believe is ” Bu Yao Gao Bei” written in English is Faith’s usual soft love song ballads but, like in her rock songs, she still shows off her vocal range. The third track “Jing Zhi” is a happy upbeat rock song that makes you want to skip around or move your head in your state of joy. Track 4 ” Na Tian” is nothing really special, it a simple melody on acoustic guitar with Faith singing in a way that reminds me of a lullaby. It’s as if she wants to lull somebody to sleep (not in a bad way of course). “Fear” is a another rock song but it’s a little softer than the other songs, but this song has a very angst feeling to it. In the chorus she sings “Asking you to stay, asking you to leave” and you can actually hear a guy singing in the background (most likely one of her band members from her band Monster). “Monster” is another rock song that kind of has a punk sound to it but it  retains the goth sound, I also hear some synthesizers creeping in the background. Although it can get a little repetitive since the chorus has her repeating “Here Comes the Monster” over and over again.Track 7 “Wo Gei De Ai” is another beautiful ballad where Faith shows off her sentimental side. Track 8 “Kong Qi” is another hard hitting rock song but unlike the other rock songs, it kinda has a middle eastern sound to it, for some reason I think of deserts when I hear this song. “Kong Qi” is probably the darkest song on this album other than “Silence” and “Fear”. Track 9 “Gu Zhi” is another ballad, this ballad has a very different sound compared to the other ballads on this album. The guitars, bass, and drums were replaced with an ambient beat and strings. “Gu Zhi” has a very dreamy atmosphere, you feel like floating through space. Faith’s voice is also very soft and delicate in this song.Track 10 “Bu Yao Lai Zhao Wo” is another rock song, it’s really nothing special to me, but it’s really catchy and it kinda reminds me of an old song that I can’t remember the name of. “Somebody” is the last song of the album, it’s a ballad that’s driven on the piano. It’s soft and soothing and it’s a perfect ending for the album. Silence is a solid album full of catchy rock songs and beautiful ballads. Faith Yang’s singing is absolutely wonderful and the songs are pretty much solid. The album is terrific and I completely understand why Faith won the Taiwan Golden Music Awards. Faith Yang is probably one of the few female rock musicians in Taiwan that can actually rock out without over doing it. This is probably the  longest review that I have done in a while and I’m  proud of that.

How I Learned to See In the Dark by Chris Pureka


1. Wrecking Ball

2. Hangman

3. Shipwreck

4. Barn Song

5. Broken Clock

6. Landlocked

7. Song For November

8. Lowlands

9. Time Is the Anchor

10. Damage Control (Prelude)

11. Damage Control

12. August 28th

Chris Pureka is an American Folk/Folk Rock singer/songwriter from Northampton, Massachusetts. She is well known for her acoustic sound with her husky voice. “Wrecking Ball” is the first song by Chris Pureka that I have heard and I later listened to the whole album. This album is fantastic, I hear some Neil Young influence and she is often compared to Bruce Springsteen, Ryan Adams, Patty Griffin, etc. What I love about the album is the very “folky” sound to it, I have a hard time describing this album, but I just love the strumming of Chris’ guitar, the melancholic violin, and Chris’ slightly whispery and moaning singing voice. The album also has a theme of boats, barns, and time. How I Learned to See In the Dark is a beautiful and melancholic folk album.

Best of Chinese albums

So here are some Chinese/Taiwanese albums that I really like.

1. the ok thing to do on sunday afternoon is to toddle in the zoo by My Little Airport

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Probably one of the best indie pop albums. The cutest thing I’ve ever heard.

2. Time Flies by Eason Chan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A wonderful mix of sadness and happiness.

3.  To Love by Faye Wong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Love is a breathe of fresh air when it comes to the Chinese pop music scene with it’s combination of dreamy electronic pop,string orchestras,  Faye’s airy voice, beautiful ballads, and lyrics of war and love.

4. The Opposite Me by Zhang Yun Jing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credits to Chinese Album Art Website (sorry guys I couldn’t help but put both of the covers)

Jing stands out with her powerful voice and her Brit-rock influenced sound. She even has one of her own compositions on the album, unfortunately, she had to change the lyrics multiple times to appeal to the mainstream.

5. 夢境 by Niki Fan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I guess I can say that Niki is a newcomer, it’s very rare to hear a jazz album in the Chinese music scene.