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Friday, October 23, 2015

IU - Twenty-Three

IU is certainly one of Korea's most beloved artists. She doesn't have quite the same cache internationally, most likely due to her subdued, lyrical style and lack of ongoing music promotions. She's an artist I've always wished I was more into, but most of her previous work just seemed not to align with my personal taste. I did fall for her on this summer's Infinity Challenge music festival, and absolutely loved the lively, fun song she contributed, but I was almost certain that this new single would bring us back to her mellow, acoustic guitar-driven side. I was thrilled, then,to discover that Twenty-Three is as close to dance pop as she gets, and catchy from the get go. Add a fun, Alice In Wonderland-inspired music video, and you've got a song that may just turn me into an official fan.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Arashi - Kokoro no Sora (Heart of the Sky)

Japan's biggest boy band (man band?) Arashi is back with a new album, Japonism. At twenty-one tracks, it's a bit of a behemoth. I gave it a listen last night and, other than the singles, I can't say much stood out to me. Based on the title, I was hoping that more songs would sound like this one, using traditional instrumentation and melodies and fusing it with something new. I did hear a bit of that in some tracks, but overall it kind of blended together into one boring slog. I think I need to explore some more, particularly since I loved their last album. This new single, however, is fantastic. Yes, it's pretty cheesy and gimmicky, but what a fun gimmick it is. The first time through, I thought the hook was a bit much, but I loved the drums and guitars. Now that I understand what the song's meant to be, I absolutely love every bit of it. Fun fact: the prominent guitar is played by Hotei Tomoyasu, the same legend who collaborated with Infinite for their excellent Dilemma at the end of the last year!

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Reece Mastin - Heartache Blues

Australia's Reece Mastin, now an independent artist, released his new album earlier this month. It took me awhile to finally get around to listening to it, but Reece has never steered me wrong before so it definitely remained on my list. Having given the album a spin this weekend, it's a solid collection of the kind of straight-ahead rock music that we don't hear nearly enough of these days. The song that stood out most to me on first listen was Heartache Blues. Honestly, I'm not a fan of the blues genre in general, so the title itself didn't necessarily draw me in. But, the sound is much more feel-good 80's-tinged rock than I'd expected. It's totally the type of drive-around-with-the-top-down song that tends to fit well with the summer. The lack of a truly impactful chorus lets it down just a bit, but the verses are incredible. It sounds a lot of something that would've been on Brandon Flowers' current (excellent) album.