NANO-MUGEN COMPILATION 2006 / July 05, 2006
01. Jyuni Shinhou no Yukei / 07. Have you ever Seen the Stars?
11. I am for you

Every summer NANO-MUGEN compilations are released as ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION go on tour with a few other bands (I say every year like this has been going on for decades; this is only the second one). I don’t remember how it worked last year, but this year a few well-known American bands are featured.

The first song of interest to me was the new original song by AK-FG…which sounds exactly like every other one of their songs. I know I said I sort of liked this because I like their sound and a few more in minimal varying degrees is alright with me, but I’ve decided to change my mind. They are in serious danger here if this continues.

A lot of the songs on the compilation sound much like this first song; upbeat pop rock, with a few harder exceptions. I liked the songs by Beat Crusaders, Dream State, Mo’osome Tonebender, and Waking Ashland (I am such a sucker for piano). But other than that, even this disc is expendable, though more welcome than CONNECTION ’06. Which just goes to show: mix CDs are always best done first-hand.


Midpoint of 2006: Time to play catch up

A lot of really awesome stuff has been released this year that I’ve been too lazy/busy to review. Here are some of the year’s personal highlights I missed:

Ayumi Hamasaki – (miss)understood: This CD was packed with so many songs (16) and bonus material (a large photobook and DVD filled with music videos and behind the scenes footage) it was almost ridiculous. Ridiculously awesome. However, it failed to meet my expectations, bearing a sad stamp of quantity over quality. Plus, Sweetbox ruined it. Although I will say this; “is this LOVE?” is one of the greatest B-sides ever written and probably the greatest music video of all time. Also, I applaud Ayumi for staying true to her eclectic genre distribution ratio; it’s hard to believe the rock songs “alterna” and “(miss)understood” are nestled among “fairyland,” “In The Corner,” and “Beautiful Day.” But they are. And though I don’t necessarily love those frivolous pop songs, I love their presence. In the end, I’m half and half on this album although “rainy day” almost makes up for all of that as the beat ticks to the tune of years rolling down your cheeks in it beautiful sadness. Almost.

ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION – FANCLUB: More bad than good. Between the fantastic tracks “Angou no Waltz'” and “TIGHTROPE” lays a band that has reached the point of monotone redundancy. Most of the good songs were previously released singles so the new material didn’t really hold up. If I was a teacher I would give them a C. But I’m not, so I’ll give them a hug and another chance instead.

Lacuna Coil – Karmacode: Surprisingly, I still have not gotten around to buying this CD yet, so I don’t know what it sounds like. However, I did hear “Enjoy the Silence” and as a huge Depeche Mode fan, I was surprised to find it a very well done cover song. “Enjoy the Silence” is one of those songs that is so good, you couldn’t imagine anyone ever being able to redo it on the same level, but it’s pretty damn good and about five million times better than that sad In Flames cover, although between you and me, I refuse to acknowledge its existence. That particular cover is dead to me.

T.M.Revolution – UNDER:COVER: The last time I spoke of T.M.Revolution, I spoke of his dwindling career. The last I heard of him, he was performing at nerd-tastic anime cons in the United States and sporting two tones in his longish mane of hair that oh so subtly split down the middle of his hairline. I was all set to mock this man and make fun of my previous obsession with him and his music, but god damnit, then he put out this album, which could very well be the best cover album ever produced. Anyone can cover Beatles’ songs or Bloc Party songs, but who the Hell has the balls to cover their own songs? Takanori Nishikawa, that’s who. For this album, he basically went back to the dusty archives of his discography and remade old singles and popular songs with so much energy and soul, you can’t even really tell they’re old songs they so sound so fantastically new. And delicious. Mm mmm. From the hard rock of “Joker” (this was once a pop song?) to the simple piano backing of “THUNDERBIRD,” to the rock orchestrated “Yume no Shizuka” to all the other songs on this CD, the songs grab hold of you, and by George, they will not let go. Not that you would want them to. Taka, you have made me proud to be a fan once again. I will no longer mock you for singing at the anime cons. All is forgiven.

Mindless Self Indulgence – Straight To Video: Awesome, awesome single. I already wrote somewhat of their single in a previous article devoted solely to them, but it’s worth repeating; buy this CD if only to own that Birthday Massacre masterpiece of a remix. Sure, the tune gets redundant after a while and the song is so catchy it almost hurts, but among the many remixes of the title track lays precise and deliberate melodies that without their parent tune, would still be free-roaming, brilliant arrangements. Well done, my dirty, Mindless & co.


AK-FG / WORLD APART / February 15, 2006
01. WORLD APART / 02. Eternally / 03. WONDERLAND

The newest ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION is typical AK-FG stuff. There’s no innovation, which usually isn’t too much of a problem, but even the standard sound of AK-FG is pretty bleak on this single. The first song is a semi-upbeat rock song, but somewhere around the guitar solo, it has a tendency to lose your interest. Even Gotoh’s voice in this song is boring, if that makes sense; it’s incredibly monotone. The same applies to the second song on the single. Absolutely nothing special.

It wasn’t until the third and final song on the single (“WONDERLAND”) that my ears perked up. That cannot be Gotoh singing and yet, I have no idea who it is, another band member perhaps? The funny part is that the vocals do not fit at all; it has a strong falsetto quality to it that doesn’t mesh with the guitar riffs, but in such an odd way, that it does. That could be just because the vocals threw me off completely, but I somehow ended up loving the song. It’s short (2:29), sweet, catchy, and to the point. It’s the only song I would truly reccommend you give a listen to off of this single.

In other news, AK-FG is coming out with a new album on March 15 entitled FAN CLUB. This will be their first album release since late 2004’s Sol-fa. Based on the past seven or so songs they have released, I’m preparing myself to be disappointed; I only liked two or three of them and I doubt anything can top Sol-fa.

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