Pon De Way Way Way

Music Reviews & (occasional) Original Tunes

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Tokyo!

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 ^_^

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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)

 

Wonder Girls Why So Lonely Album Cover


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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

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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

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B2ST: Highlight – First-listen Review

B2ST have had a difficult 2016 but an album that matches their previous best could put all that behind them. Is Highlight that album?

b2st highlight teaser 1To say there’s a lot riding on Highlight, B2ST’s third full-length album and eleventh Korean release overall, isn’t an understatement. 2015’s Ordinary mini-album saw their lowest album sales in five years and its singles failed to achieve even half the sales of their 2014 releases.  A commercial success with Highlight would allow B2ST to reclaim their position at K-Pop’s top table and it would help their company, CUBE Entertainment, who have had a disastrous year (or more) with the disbandment of their successful, long-running girl group 4Minute. However, for the fans, there’s something more riding on this release. The recent departure of Jang Hyunseung makes Highlight the first album to not feature all the original members since their debut release in 2009. His exit stirred up a lot of unpleasantness in the fandom and B2ST caught a lot of flak for Hyunseung’s supposedly “bad attitude” before his departure; an album that returns B2ST to the heights they’ve previously scaled would make it so much easier to move on from that difficult period. Continue reading


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The Best of 2016 So Far: EPs and Tracks

A second look back at January-June 2016, with a handful of EPs and Twenty diverse tracks.

(Read part 1, counting down some of my favourite albums from the first half of 2016, here) Continue reading

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B2ST: Butterfly – Track Review

New music from B2ST, one of the first K-Pop bands I fell for and until very recently my favourite boy-band, is always something I look forward to but this time around I had my reservations before I’d even heard the song. Continue reading

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Luna: Free Somebody – Mini-Album Review

The multi-talented singer delivers a strong first solo effort that lives up to her work as a member of f(x).

Though they’ve yet to achieve the same status, in my eyes, as K-Pop goddesses Brown Eyed Girls, f(x) have proven to be one of the most consistently exciting and experimental pop groups in the world today. f(x) Luna Solo Free SomebodyThey’ve had their ups and downs in terms of their musical output – from the fantastic pop confection of Pink Tape to the daring but uneven Red Light – the low point of which, for me, was Amber’s hugely disappointing solo mini-album. Led by an annoying title-track it was a release without any of the redeeming moments that saved even f(x)’s weakest group efforts. Needless to say this first endeavour did not endear me to the idea of any further solo releases from the f(x) girls.

However, after Luna and Amber’s enjoyable collaboration for SM Station I was quietly optimistic for Luna’s mini-album (not to mention she is one of my favourite K-Pop Idols). When I first heard the title track I was impressed  but the rest of the album didn’t blow me away; it was nice. My reaction to f(x)’ most recent album, 4 Walls, was similar and like that album (which I now consider to be their best so far) the album has grown on me considerably. In the intervening weeks it has become a constant fixture on my stereo and it may just be one of the year’s best K-Pop releases. Continue reading

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