Staff Selections: September 2015


SawanoHiroyuki[nZk] – o1

I had known and appreciated Hiroyuki Sawano for his soundtracks but when he released his single “X.U. | scaPEGoat” earlier this year, my interest in his music became stronger. All the vocalists he chose to work with for “o1” are, in my opinion, very skilled. My favorite songs on this album is probably “scaPEGoat” featuring Survive Said The Prophet vocalist Yosh Morita. The chorus is sung in a more aggressive voice while the verses are sung in a mellow tone. This alternation works really well with Yosh’s voice. Other highlights are “&Z” and “A/Z” featuring mizuki as the vocalist. I’m not a fan of mizuki’s English pronounciation but the arrangement is what really stands out in these two songs and gives them a really pleasant atmosphere. A look at the lyrics reveals that some songs are influenced by the anime series they were used in. “X.U.” and “scaPEGoat” (used as the opening and ending songs for “Owari no Seraph”) for example share the same bridge and make a lot of references to the series and its characters. Overall, “o1” is a solid pop/anisong album with a lot of variety and interesting lyrics that you should check out!


Thelma Aoyama – GRAY SMOKE

Ugh. Thelma Aoyama is one of those people in the J-Pop world who have an amazing voice but are well underappreciated (except for “Soba ni iru ne”, obviously). This collaboration EP starts off with “stay” featuring Shota Shimizu. It’s simple, a bit cheesy but not boring. Their voices work together well but for most of the song’s run time, they alternate, which is a bit disappointing. What I really don’t get are the dramatic strings at the end. Did they put them in to be arty? Other than that, there isn’t much to complain about on this six track EP. “Heartbreaker” featuring SWAY is the standout track in my opinion.


indigo la End – Shizuku ni Koishite / Wasurete Hanataba

The first A-side “Shizuku ni Koishite” took me some time to get into, but now I really like it. It’s really relaxing and melancholic and this mood reflects in the lyrics, vocals and arrangement. “Wasurete Hanataba” is more experimental than the first A-side. I’m getting that typical indie feeling from it and there’s a lot happening in it. The songs fit together well and it’s no surprise that indigo la End are getting more and more attention. With each release, they show a new side of themselves.



The biggest surprise for me in the Japanese entertainment world this year are SEKAI NO OWARI’s two songs they provided for “Attack on Titan” (“ANTI-HERO” and “SOS”). I casually listened to some of their songs but these two songs are what really got me hooked. “SOS” is the complete opposite of “ANTI-HERO”, lyrically and musically. I never really liked the piano in their songs but in this song, it fits in perfectly. Fukase uses his voice very skillfully in this song and I get the feeling that he worked on his English as well. The only thing to nag about would probably be the song’s length. As nice as it is, I would have probably liked it better if it was just a tad shorter. “Present” however, is just another song. There isn’t much to say about it other that I neither really like nor dislike it. Anyways, if you have avoided SEKAI NO OWARI before for their carnival sound, maybe you’ll actually like “SOS” and their previous single.

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