Senior Official Reviewers
  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


fitear1590 last won the day on January 28 2015

fitear1590 had the most liked content!

About fitear1590

  • Rank
    Hizaki's Weave
  • Birthday 01/05/90

Contact Methods

  • Website URL

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location

Recent Profile Visitors

4611 profile views
  1. Last call for end-of-the-year (EOTY) lists! Get them posted in the review forum today. Staff will begin voting tomorrow. 


  2. Another reminder: finish up your EOTY lists in by Sunday, January 15 to compete in the Staff Spotlight Contest. Three lucky winners will get their own banners advertising their lists! More details in this thread.


    1. Zeus


      so far these members are in the running for the contest. each of these members have put out unique lists and i have had a blast reading each of them even if i haven't commented. come join the fun!

      @Lestat @yakihiko @The Reverend @chemicalpictures @hiroki@DarkWater

  3. Same, but maybe more like 95% for me! It's a shame!
  4. So, what does everyone think? I'm really disappointed that they've done the obnoxious treble synth kei thing again, to an even stronger extent than in "DATURA". Plus, the melodies are just messy.
  5. I wonder if we'll get a PV or something soon... One can hope!
  6.  ayy happy birthday, Fitz! °˖✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧˖°

    1. fitear1590


      Thanks, saishuu!

  7. Happy Birthday, Fitz!! Hope you have a brilliant day! :lolita_love:

    1. fitear1590


      Aww, thanks, d00d! :D

  8. happy birthday fitooo! i wonder what band i should convert you to this year muhahahaha

    1. fitear1590


      Thank you! ;) Choose wisely!

  9. -Runner-Up International Releases- XI. Ópalo Negro by PAPA TOPO Sample 1 / Sample 2 / Sample 3 Summary: A fun debut album of camp, horror, and disco pop. Characters: Irreverent Mallorcan band who never take themselves too awful seriously. Analysis: Four years ago, Papa Topo was a duet who made cheeky indie pop. After losing one vocalist, leader Adrià regrouped and returned with a full band. This year, the quartet released their first full album and it was worth the wait. Ópalo Negro convincingly weaves together the band's love of kitsch and B-movie horror with ballads and orchestral pop. At 14 tracks, the album traverses many styles and even briefly slips between languages (the Mallorquin dialect of "Davall ses flors des taronger" is a particular treat). XII. Waste by Ulzzang Pistol Sample 1 / Sample 2 / Sample 3 Summary: An outsider's mellow, but compelling take on K-pop. Characters: A gas mask-clad Filipino Koreaboo with a harem of vocal collaborators. Analysis: Everything about Ulzzang Pistol's music is dripping with 21st century digital aesthetics. Even without the album art, if one were to visualize his music, you might imagine cyberspace shrouded in pastel haze. His programming is always lush, but my favorite thing about his sound is his buoyant, sublime work on the keys, as in "화장 재료/Paint." The featured vocalists are well-chosen, sometimes adding to the cutesy atmosphere, while others like Yukari ("Long Distance") add a more mature influence. Overall, this is an improvement over his first album, Girlfriend. XIII. Under the Influence by Steady Holiday Sample 1 / Sample 2 / Sample 3 Summary: Meticulously-crafted, hypnotic baroque pop. Characters: The inner workings of somber solo chanteuse Dre Babinski. Analysis: This one was a pretty late discovery in the year, but what a goldmine! Steady Holiday's music is like a fine art exhibit, with everything adorned with exquisite detail, but god forbid anyone touch anything! But if this is how Babinski works alone, I'm all for her continuing to revel as a solo artist. Her music and soft lullaby vocals are tantalizing and, at times, such as on "Your Version of Me," damn near sinister. XIV. House of Souls by Tele Novella Sample 1 / Sample 2 / Sample 3 Summary: Retro. Wild West. Psychedelic. Halloween. Characters: A hodgepodge of indie veterans from one of my consistently favorite scenes: Austin, Texas Analysis: This stunning debut album seamlessly blends the band's diverse influences. Listening to House of Souls conjures up images of tumbleweed blowing through a deserted town at sunset. Or should I say, a 'ghost' town, because the band is all about the spooky synths of a Halloween soundtrack. Echoes of the members' previous bands are apparent in the psychedelic tinge. The glue that holds it all together is Natalie Ribbons's husky voice and alluring lyrics. -International Release of the Year- XV. All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend [Deluxe Version] by AURORA Sample 1 / Sample 2 / Sample 3 Summary: Ethereal, introspective, epic; a debut pop record for the ages. Characters: A young, eccentric Norwegian introvert who comes alive when she takes the mic. Analysis: At just 19 during the release of the album (and surely younger during the recording/writing of the album), AURORA is a creative force to be reckoned with. Most of her tracks feature slick production with sumptuous synth arrangements. Sia may be a much stronger technical vocalist, but AURORA's focus on dark, personal lyrics and less conventional take on pop music lead me to see a bit of a connection between the two artists. They're both quirky in certain ways, but AURORA has more of a dreamlike quality to her. The deluxe version of the album will bewitch you for over an hour and is preferred to the standard version, which omits the superior acoustic version of "Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1)" or the hauntingly chilling "Wisdom Cries". Moreover, the bleak fantasy aesthetic in her videos/imagery is all part of the experience. What finally sealed the deal for me was seeing her perform live, so if you enjoy her on record, I hope you'll also get the chance to see her in concert! -Japanese Artist of the Year- XVI. クウチュウ戦 (koochewsen) Sample 1 / Sample 2 / Sample 3 Summary: With two kick-ass mini-albums and endless PV entertainment, Koochewsen are the clear winners of 2016 for me. Characters: A ragtag, virtuoso quartet who can prog or pop with the best of them. Analysis: Throughout this year, Koochewsen has sky-rocketed to become a new favorite of mine. It appears that they're slowly weaning us off their extra progressive sound, but trust me, they're not boarding the shuttle to Genericville by any means. Overall, Koochewsen had a stellar year, with two successful mini-albums (and five PVs!). Sukoshi Fushigi opens with "光線 (kousen)," exhibiting a kind of off-kilter wackiness, before moving into an extremely groovy verse. Vocalist Riyo also has an intriguing style, at once raspy and breathy, proving to be a surprisingly strong singer. But changing gears, they sound just as apt doing a more relaxed tune like "雨模様です (amamoyou desu)." On 超能力セレナーデ (chounouryoku serenade), the opening track "ぼくのことすき (boku no koto suki)" is a noisy helping of power pop. Plus, I always appreciate a band that can fuse talent and a good sense of humor--a combination that Koochewsen are currently killing. Their PVs are a blast--just check out "インドのタクシー (indo no taxi)" if you need proof. One of my favorite tracks, however, is "お願いUFO (onegai UFO)" which shows that the band still get their prog juices flowing now and again. Slow, creeping verses build into mighty choruses that split the sky wide open just long enough for a UFO to zip down to our stratosphere and abduct us. And lawd, is it glorious. As a cooldown, the track graces us with a killer organ breakdown and a face-melting guitar solo. Let's hope 2017 brings even more tunes from these surprisingly accessible, psychedelic weirdos. -Bonus- "欲望の歌 (yokubou no uta)" by ゴールデンボンバー (Golden Bomber) Summary: For once, they don't bomb; parody VK band produces PV gold! Characters: MALICE MIZER/LAREINE/X-JAPAN/Dir en grey cosplayers. Analysis: Oh. My. God. I think we collectively shit ourselves when known troll band Golden Bomber released this PV masterpiece. Whether it's chubby-faced Gacktmijo with braces or playing with the 'PV white girl' trope by having fake-Klaha chase her through the forest while striking vanity poses, the video is just a blast for long-time VK fans. I never found the appeal of this group, but I am absolutely down for this kind of hilarity.
  10. -Surprising Releases- I. 「むくあ」("mukua") by PIGLOW in GLOOMY Sample Summary: They've got the looks, the music, and the name. What more can you ask for from a new VK band? Characters: Randos, unless you listened their ex-band (Axia) Analysis: I love to download a release at random and be pleasantly surprised. That was absolutely the case with PIGLOW in GLOOMY. I'm particularly drawn to their dynamic compositions, which are writhing, atmospheric, and appropriately heavy. Plus, the vocalist gives me light 己龍 (Kiryu) vibes! I might have a new fave on my hands! II. Chapters by Yuna Sample 1 / Sample 2 Summary: The chill version of Yuna you didn't know you needed. Characters: Malaysian singer-songwriter, plus some features by Usher and Jhené Aiko. Analysis: Yuna is a bit of a curious one. I adore her Malaysian discography, which is filled with vibrant folk pop tracks. For some reason, this energy literally has not translated to her international (English-language) discography. But with her latest album, she has undergone a metamorphosis. As a fan of laid-back 'chill' music, I was flabbergasted to hear her put out a song like "Crush." Overall, I still prefer Malaysian-language Yuna, but this is definitely a nice change of pace for her international sound. III. YAMINABE by そこに鳴る (sokoninaru) Sample 1 / Sample 2 Summary: Miles ahead of their first EP ~OTT titles notwithstanding~. Characters: Former ling tosite sigure worshippers stepping into their own. Analysis: Last year, I reviewed sokoninaru's debut EP I'm NOT a pirolian. On YAMINABE, the band has streamlined many of perceived 'gimmicks' of pirolian's PV track "pirorhythm stabilizer 〜only your world〜," but vocalist/guitarist Suzuki does squeeze in a rad solo, as he's known to do. Overall, the mini is closer in style to “夏の落とし物 (natsu no otoshimono)," which was my favorite from their first EP, so no complaints here. As far as I'm concerned, they work best when they're just a little less frantic. The mini generally follows in this vein and seems a lot less 'try-hard' than their first EP. Without much else to impress me, this was honestly one of the stronger J-indie releases of the year and certainly one that came out of nowhere. More, please! And dat album artwork. -Unforgettable Music Videos- IV. "Everybody Wants To Love You" by Japanese Breakfast Summary: 'Wait, why is it Japanese Breakfast if she's wearing a hanbok?' Shut up and let her guitar solo! Character: Michelle Zauner, a Korean-American musician juggling penchants for the likes of riot grrrl, Grimes, and Wong Kar Wai Analysis: How badass is this video? Zauner's project is heavily based in subversion, so forget everything you've heard about the demure Asian stereotype. She's gonna shotgun a beer, even while looking glamorous af. "Everybody Wants to Love You" is Japanese Breakfast at her most playful, so check out her full album, Psychopomp, for dream pop and grittier tracks. V. "Dove" by Pillar Point Summary: See fabulous dancer Kia Labeija strut her stuff through the streets of Bogotá. Character: Synth-pop solo man Scott Reitherman. Analysis: I remember the first time I watched this music video, just being spellbound by Labeija's vitality and dancing prowess. I want to believe that some people truly glide through the market like a catwalk, just like she does. Pillar Point chose the perfect 'face' for the indisputable standout track of their album. IV. "Happy" by Mitski Summary: A tragic affair, decked out in Mad Men-era aesthetics, ends with a violent twist. Character: An angsty, yet unpredictable Japanese-American indie rocker. Analysis: The video's YouTube description simply says 'Trigger Warning: Gore' and yet, the ending shocks people every time. Structurally, it could easily be an award-winning horror short, but the costumes of yesteryear and the subtext of the critic of reigning Western beauty standards make it all the more fascinating. Mitski is already topping all kinds of prominent EOTY lists, so we'll probably be seeing a lot more of her! Check out her album, Puberty 2, if you haven't already. -Outstanding Tracks- VII. "Room 314 feat. Mark Redito" by Neon Bunny 야광토끼 YouTube Link Summary: Like a kaleidoscope dream, perfectly cycling between upbeat and down-tempo. Characters: Korean solo artist, backed by the charismatic production of the man formerly known as Spazzkid. Analysis: With programmed chimes, strums, and 'Woo,' "Room 314" is a classic Mark Redito arrangement. Neon Bunny's delicate vocals are the perfect match and as a bilingual performer, she moves in and out of Korean and English. While neither artist's music is amped up enough to be mainstream dance music, I can still see "Room 314" lighting up the dance floor! Even if you aren't a fan of mainstream K-pop, don't rule out Neon Bunny. For more tunes, check out her awesome Stay Gold album. VIII. "She'll Never Forgive To Be Insulted." by a crowd of rebellion YouTube Link Summary: Real talk, heavy kei fans, is there any reason you're not on the acor train yet? Characters: The extremes of dueling vocals. Analysis: Their 2016 album Xanthium wasn't my favorite, but lord, the song "She'll Never Forgive to Be Insulted." brings back the crazy from some of their prior releases in full force. The track is a blazing mess, in the best way. As I've written previously, there's something uncannily VK about acor's creative take on post-hardcore composition. In this track, they mix NOCTURNAL BLOODLUST levels of harsh vocal brutality with Kiryu-esque traditional Japanese kookiness. And somehow, it works! It's always neat to see bands with crossover potential and I think acor has what it takes to reach out to a certain sect of VK fans. IX. "さようなら僕だけの人 (sayounara boku dake no hito)" by ベル (Belle) YouTube Link Summary: 0 parts brutal-kei, 0 parts treble synth kei; Belle does their own thing in contemporary VK! Characters: Yumehito (ex-AYABIE/彩冷える-ayabie-, そろばん [soroban]) and some slept-on peeps. Analysis: Since their debut in late 2014, they mostly flew under my radar, first sparking my interest last fall with their "ビードロ (vidro)" video, which harkened back to some late 90s/early 2000s white kei guitar tones! While that song was good, this PV track from their first full album is perfucktion. The band reminds me of カルペディエム (Carpe diem) with their beautiful sense of melody and tastefully exaggerated vocals. And again, Yumehito's airy guitar tones are just lovely. There's something quintessentially VK about this band, and yet, they don't subscribe to the trends of really any other band at the moment. Carry on, guys! X. "煌々と輝く (koukou to kagayaku)" by 神はサイコロを振らない (kami wa saikoro wo furanai) YouTube Link Summary: If Kamisai play their cards (or roll their dice) right, they can make it big! Characters: Honestly, who are these talented J-indie boyz? Analysis: Back in March's Recommended Tracks, saishuu introduced us to a very special band in the indie scene, kami wa saikoro wo furanai. Their polished math-rock riffs and warm, soulful vocals (pretty uncharacteristic for a scene dominated by high-pitched, shrill, and/or nasal singers) set them apart from the average newcomers. The entire mini-album sadly didn't reach the levels of this track, but man, the potential is undoubtedly here! I hope they make some strides in 2017!
  11. fitear1590's Musical CliffNotes to This Dumpster Fire of a Year (2016) From disgraceful political developments to an endless stream of unexpected celebrity deaths (including Mariah Carey's career on New Year's Eve), a lot of people are deeming 2016 to be one of the worst years yet. Will we look back and see it as exaggeration? Who knows. In any case, other media like music and film can usually be beacons of hope, but unfortunately for me, 2016 has been one of the most ho-hum years in music since I've started doing these more in-depth end-of-the-year lists. I had to start streamlining the format of my list last year to account for the fact that I was working with a small amount of EOTY-worthy releases. However, 2015 was different, because I was dealing with a series of disappointments from some of my faves, which isn't so much the case this time around. Looks like I'm going back to the drawing board this year, so let's try a format highlighting 16 different artists/works (you know, for 2016? Get it???). While it's been the second disheartening musical year in a row for me, I want to be fair to the few releases that nonetheless shined! In order to ensure the most breadth and variety, I made sure that there were no repeat selections throughout the various sections. I hope you'll find this guide helpful and I look forward to seeing your feedback! Table of Contents -Surprising Releases- I. 「むくあ」("mukua") by PIGLOW in GLOOMY II. Chapters by Yuna III. YAMINABE by そこに鳴る (sokoninaru) -Unforgettable Music Videos- IV. "Everybody Wants To Love You" by Japanese Breakfast V. "Dove" by Pillar Point VI. "Happy" by Mitski -Outstanding Tracks- VII. "Room 314 feat. Mark Redito" by Neon Bunny 야광토끼 VIII. "She'll Never Forgive To Be Insulted." by a crowd of rebellion IX. "さようなら僕だけの人 (sayounara boku dake no hito)" by ベル (belle) X. "煌々と輝く (koukou to kagayaku)" by 神はサイコロを振らない (kami wa saikoro wo furanai) -Runner-Up International Releases- XI. Ópalo Negro by PAPA TOPO XII. Waste by Ulzzang Pistol XIII. Under the Influence by Steady Holiday XIV. House of Souls by Tele Novella -International Release of the Year- XV. All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend by AURORA -Japanese Artist of the Year- XVI. クウチュウ戦 (koochewsen) -Bonus- "欲望の歌 (yokubou no uta)" by ゴールデンボンバー (Golden Bomber)
  12. Wow, thanks so much for the in-depth review, plastic_rainbow! I really appreciate your critiques! (Have you ever considered applying to join ORZ???) Especia was definitely a risky choice that flopped, but I’m glad some of the other outliers on the mix (Camera Obscura, Astrud Gilberto, The Bilinda Butchers) paid off for you, because they are strong reflections of my general taste in music. And hey, I’m glad you 5 starred Carpe diem! If you enjoyed that song, I highly recommend their self-titled album—you should find lots more to love there in the same vein. Anyway, here is my review of your Buried Under Your Footprints mix! I knew Radiohead’s and ling tosite sigure’s songs before and I was somewhat familiar with all bands except sora and Desktop Error, but it was still 10 songs I’d never heard before. Buried Under Your Footprints y by plastic_rainbow 1. kannivalism - Sugar rainy Excellent opening gambit! I am living for that blissful guitar riff around 1:05 (and its repeats). Plus, there is gorgeous ‘art kei’ basswork throughout. I think it lives up to the paradoxical song title, combining melancholia ('rainy') and a brighter tone ('sugar'). After multiple listens, hands-down, my favorite on the mix and it’s evident that I need to check out more kannivalism. Any recommendations on where to start? 9/10 2. baroque – exit This one opens up with elegant jangly guitar riffs, which I can never shut up about, haha. It’s slow and meandering, but I don’t mean that in a pejorative way—it fits. There’s an abrupt change at 3:00, but I do prefer the more textured first half of the song. 7/10 3. cocklobin – IKAROS Interesting rhythmic percussion and lively bass in the first half of the song. The second half gets a little more aggressive, but I don’t love the vocals, especially the falsettos... 6/10 4. Radiohead - High and Dry I’m generally not much of a Radiohead fan, but songs like this (mostly, from The Bends and OK Computer) are my favorites—nice choice! Simple and beautiful acoustic track, with a light 90s indie rock tinge. 8/10 5. sora - 月は静かに Never heard them before, but judging by the vocals (which I'm not crazy about here), they aren’t a VK band. Having said that, they fit right in with other bands on the mix like baroque or deadman. I enjoy getting the chance to hear interesting cross-scene juxtapositions like that. It's a bit of a drawn-out track, but I can dig the instrumentals. 6/10 6. NoGoD - 輪廻天昇 I’ve heard various NoGoD tracks throughout the years (mostly their singles and more upbeat/progtastic tracks), but never one as slow and wistful as this one—very interesting! I rather like this more restrained version of Danchou’s vocals! Am I missing out on other such NoGod ballads? 8/10 7. deadman - Additional Cause for Sorrow aie’s guitar goodness just dominates, no matter what band he’s playing in. But, sacrilegious as this is, I’m not too keen on Mako's vocals here... 6/10 8. Sel'm - 影 Here, we have a minimalist acoustic ballad. Building on the Nagoya/art-kei vibe your mix has established, it reminds me very much of Yuki Amano’s (of DIMMDIVISION, Strangersaid, etc.) solo project, even in the vocals. Just lovely! 9/10 9. Envy - Pure Birth and Loneliness A great drum beat and high pitched melodic guitar create a stunning post-rock atmosphere—that’s saying something, as someone who’s not much of a fan of the genre. I’m not digging the bursts of harsh vocals, unfortunately, but the spoken word bits are a nice touch! 7/10 10. 凛として時雨 - moment A rhythm (short ver.) I’ve heard (and enjoyed) this track before, but having it in this new mix context provides a revitalized listening experience. The twangy guitar with bass/sparse drumming fits impeccably well with a mix that seemingly shares little with ling tosite sigure’s more typical frantic sound. Nice job coaxing that out of them! 8/10 11. Plastic Tree - 記憶行き Never heard this kind of song in my (admittedly limited) encounters with Plastic Tree. It definitely has potential as a ballad, with its simple heartfelt melody, but it feels a bit too one-note. I need more of a build-up or the introduction of more varied instrumentation or something. Plus, I think along with Radiohead, this song felt the most out-of-place within the context of this mix. 5/10 12. Desktop Error – น้ำค้าง Beautiful shoegaze with a chorus effect? I likey! I’ve never heard of this Thai band before, but this is great stuff. I feel like I’m submerged in a sea of euphoric guitars. A very worthy caboose to your FEELS train. 8/10 You said it—we definitely have different interpretations of FEELS, but it’s also a good thing! There are a few things that I see differing from my own mix in Buried Under Your Footprints. With the exception of Radiohead, which doesn’t fit quite as well sora or this particular ling tosite sigure song, you’ve crafted a pretty convincing cocktail of VK/art-kei/Nagoya kei with some j-indie (and Thai) stuff! While you had some ballads and slower tracks, you incorporated a number of tracks with aggression. This is a lack I’m consciously aware of in my own music taste, especially when I start compiling for my end-of-the-year lists. Finally, your mix allows breathing room. With a number of tracks touching the six and seven minute marks, it grows into the 70 minute runtime, rather than filling it to the brim like mine did. I’m always very neurotic about these mixes/tradeoffs, thinking that I’ll more effectively achieve whatever sound I'm going for, if I can just show a little more variety in the tracklist. I don’t know if one way is more or less successful, but it’s clear that we both have varying approaches! Anyway, it was a pleasure doing this mix with you! I definitely want to check out more from kannivalism and Desktop Error. Happy New Year!
  13. I agree that they are fairly same-y, but "new place" is one of my favorite songs from 2015! Still spin that one occasionally. What are your fave tracks?