Pon De Way Way Way

Music Reviews & (occasional) Original Tunes

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I’m Back! and I didn’t make an album (but here are two tracks anyway)

Is anyone really surprised? I’m not.

Although I only managed to produce 2 songs (3 if you can’t the one I don’t like) of the 14 required for FAWM, I did find it to be a very useful experience for me and, in the long run, I think I’ll be creating more music as a result of this.

(Click through to hear two new tracks) Continue reading


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I’m Back! and making an album

Wow… it’s been a long time. Too long I think!

I’d always planned to keep up with this blog when I moved to Japan but, between studying Japanese and working a full-time job, that’s proven rather difficult.

However, I really miss posting here so I’m going to make a concerted effort from now on to update at least semi-regularly. To kick things off (and kick myself up the butt) I’m going to do do something I’ve wanted to do for a while; take part in February Album Writing Month. Continue reading

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EXO: The War – Album Review

The K-Pop giants latest is a fine addition to their catalogue; with one glaring flaw.

It’s been a while since I’ve uploaded here (my apologies) but as my EXO reviews have always been so warmly received I thought I’d put in the effort to do a release-day review.

On the surface The War (the fourth full-length album from the EXO boys) looks like a big change: their logo, once again, has been reinvented (the floral design is far removed from the geometric designs they’ve favoured up to now); it’s the first full album to not feature a title based off their group name (see: XOXO, EXODUS, and EX’ACT); and , most noticeably, it’s the first album not to feature the last remaining Chinese member, Lay.

Suho-2So, going into this album I was expecting something new, and whilst I always look forward to a group trying something unexpected I didn’t want to see a complete overhaul. Since their inception EXO have slowly pursued their own style and they’ve done so with more success and experimentation since 2014’s Overdose mini-album. Last year’s EX’ACT was a fine pop album by any measure and their best work so far. I’ll applaud experimentation and innovation but I hope they haven’t thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Continue reading

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Highlight: Can You Feel It? – First Mini-Album Review

Their first offering since departing Cube Entertainment reaffirms the group’s status as a singular talent in the K-Pop world.

For as long as I have been a fan of Beast (now using the name Highlight due to a messy separating with their former label) I have touted them as an exceptional group in the K-Pop world. This largely comes down to the fact that they have managed to cast off the manufactured stigma of K-Pop through constant involvement in their music (band member Yong Junghyung has produced and written almost all of their output since 2013’s Hard to Love, How to Love).

This also goes someway to explaining their almost anomalous new incarnation as an indie-band. With the exception of Jang Hyunseung (who was also absent on their last album with their former label) the band has struck out on their own as AroundUs Entertainment. But how has the group, and their musical style, handled this transition?

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Perfume: Tokyo Girl – Track Review

The J-Pop Trios’ First Single of 2017 (and their first in 15 months) is their best A-Side in Years.

Perfume’s fifth album (last year’s Cosmic Explorer) turned out to be another solid slice of pristine pop from my favourite J-Pop performers. However, it was certainly one of their weakest albums to date and the lead up to the album’s release had been a bumpy road. Sweet Refrain was an enjoyable but unadventurous single, Cling Cling tried a little harder but relegated its best material to B-Side status, and Star Train was resoundingly disappointing. The best single of the Cosmic Explorer era was Pick Me Up and, for me, Tokyo Girl is not dissimilar. Continue reading


Utada Hikaru: Fantôme – Album Review

The Japanese Mega-star’s First Album in Eight Years May be a Highly Anticipated Release but Fantôme Doesn’t Sound Like an Album Forged Under Pressure; In Fact, it Sends the 33 Year Old Soaring to New Heights.

In the three years I’ve spent blogging about music I’ve devoted a fair few words to the music of Utada Hikaru. Despite being one of my favourite pop stars every review has been tinged with the thought that each album failed to live up to the potential of its best tracks. Exodus is my favourite of all her albums and even that release’s bold experimentation and lyrical curve balls were undercut by some seriously middling RnB at the album’s end. To me Utada always sounded like a hugely talented artist that was always second guessing herself. Utada’s hiatus may have been painful for fans but it’s clearly done wonders for her. Fantôme never sounds like the work of anyone other than Utada and that is its greatest asset. It may not match her previous efforts for hit potential or experimentation but it’s her most cohesive and immersive album to date. Continue reading

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This is a sooner update than I expected but while the WiFi is free I thought I should make use of it.

Tokyo is a wonderfully insane place and even having spent only a few hours here there is so much I could say; but when it comes to records there is only one thing to say: Tower Records. My goodness! My brief visit to the Shibuya store was far too short and overwhelming (9 floors of music + jet lag: can you blame me?) so tonight I went looking for the Shinjuku store near my hotel. 10PM on a Monday was much quieter than a Sunday at 2PM but four floors of records is still a wonderful thing.

Remembering the Japanese alphabet made finding particular artists a little tricky (though I found all my favourites: Shiina, Perfume, etc.) but once I made a beeline for the K-Pop section it was easier to navigate – mainly because there seemed to be no order and the eye-catching packaging was more than enough to get by.

I should probably feel guilty that my first musical purchase in Japan was by a K-Pop band, B2ST, but it was their latest Japanese language release so I guess that’s not so bad ^_^


B2ST – Day and Night: Yoseob versions because Hyunseung has departed 😥 (feat. generic hotel carpet)

(My next update may truly be a long way off now but I will be back… at some point.)

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My Two Year Wordpress Anniversary

Yep, hard to believe, I know, but two years ago today I uploaded my first post on WordPress: a review of Perfume’s Complete Best. I’ve gone on to review every one of Perfume’s albums (one of them twice) and some of their singles. And I’ve branched out; reviewing some J-Rock , a lot of K-Pop, every single Tori Amos album (that was a hard month, I tell you), some weird electronica, and a whole lot more.

Through it all there have been two things that kept me posting:

  1. My love of music. Hard to believe I didn’t care for music at all until I was about 15/16 years old because now it is a massive part of my life that I wouldn’t want to be without.
  2. You. Anyone who has ever read my posts and (I don’t want to play favourites but these people encourage me more) those who stop by to leave a comment and have a little chat. These discussions are why I started blogging about music to begin with and they’re what keep me coming back. (Seriously, I was so pleased when one of my latest reviews garnered 6 comments – plus another 6 when I replied to all of those ^_^).

But, alongside this, there has been a third common theme through many of my posts. It’s not a motivation like the previous two but my love of Japanese music (primarily J-Pop I will concede, but I’ve branched out) should be apparent to anyone who’s perused these pages. That’s a thread that runs right back to that first post and has, today, proven to be bizarrely serendipitous.

As I mentioned in a previous post I’m moving to Japan – in fact, when this posts I’ll be in the air en route to Tokyo. Now, this is obviously something I’m very excited about and, in the long run, I hope it will be good for the blog – providing me many new things to talk about (and easier access to Japanese CDs no more month long wait for new Perfume) but for the immediate future I’m going to be entirely absent. I will be back, I just don’t know when and in what way. I’m sure music will remain a key part of the blog but with such a big change happening in the rest of my life I imagine the blog will change too.

Please keep reading and commenting whilst I’m gone because, when I have a reliable internet connection and life’s got a little less crazy, I will be back to discuss music once again.

Thank you for the last two years everyone. Thanks in advance for many more

Oh, as breaking new ground seems to be the order of the day here’s Cosmic Explorer (a fitting song for today, I like to think)


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Wonder Girls: Why So Lonely – Single Album Review

Wonder Girls are an inconic K-Pop group. They predate many K-Pop fans, myself included, and because of this I’m not familiar with their earlier work (their smash-hit, Nobody, was released three years before K-Pop really grabbed my attention), but I am aware of them and their recent switch from straight-up idol group to an actual band. I previously reviewed Yenny’s solo release as HA:TFELT (it was one of my favourites of 2014) but it wasn’t until last year’s Reboot album that Wonder Girls, as a group, caught my eye. Despite coming back as a band, the girls carried on the retro concept they’ve been known for, and have continued to do so. Reboot, and its superb title-track I Feel You, borrowed heavily from 80’s pop hits (Tiffany’s I Think We’re Alone Now springs to mind) and my love of that era’s cheesy pop hits endeared Wonder Girls last comeback to meWhy So Lonely was a harder sell – the reggae-influenced title-track rang alarm bells for me as I do not like reggae even when it’s done well and K-Pop groups never do it well.

I gave it a cursory listen, and that was it, so I’m glad one of my readers requested I do this review because that made me listen properly to Wonder Girls new single album and, I have to say, they’ve concocted some of the year’s best tunes with these three tracks. Continue reading


SM Station: My Top Picks

One of the first things I discovered when I became a K-Pop convert 5 years ago was that, of the Big Three (entertainment companies in Korea), YG was the one for me: 2NE1 were exciting (and at the time active) kinda-newcomers to the scene and BIGBANG were an established act with a whole stable of hits. Some of JYP’s artists (another of the Big Three) caught my eye occasionally – I was partial to a few of Miss A and 2PM’s better offerings – but aside from the undeniable classics that Girls’ Generation (Gee) and Super Junior (Sorry Sorry) had to their name – SM Entertainment failed to pique my interest.

In some ways that has changed completely nowadays: my love of YG has waned incredibly since 2NE1 all but disappeared from the scene (a void easily filled by my continued adoration of B2ST and my recent discovery of BTS) and my increased interest in SM is solely down to f(x), who have established themselves as one of my favourite girl groups (second only to the peerless BEG). In most other ways though, SM Entertainment is still uninteresting to me. I’ll admit that SHINee have some very good work to their name but they’re not a group that really draws me in and whilst newcomers NCT have shown some promise, their flash-in-the-pan style as is dull to me as the proven yet safe sound of their seniors: Girls’ Generation and Super Junior. f(x)’s impressive run since 2013’s Pink Tape meant I couldn’t discount SM’s musical output entirely but I was always hoping there would be something else that I could praise them for. In SM Station they might just have found that something else. Continue reading