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» » » » » » » » Mid-Year Reality Check: 5 Albums in 2014 to Check Out

2014 so far has been a year that has truly expanded my horizons. Thanks to schoolwork, my eyebags have a total surface area of 50cm² now, a size I previously thought would never become reality. My 64GB iPhone 5s also maxed out its storage space for the first time ever, which has, of course, sent me into an indefinite period of depression.

I also got to hear some pretty good J-music as of recent times, so here are 5 of the most kickass albums I've heard this year that I feel are worth listening, which I hope will help you tide over whichever sort of depression you're experiencing too. And if you thought 2013 was bad, these albums only solidify that fact further.


FOLKS - NEWTOWN


Genre: indie pop / rock, electronic, alternative

FOLKS is a 5-member band that is a Google disaster. The only way I got to know about them was through Galileo Galilei, and that band is a Google disaster in itself too. But thank god I discovered them anyway, because this EP is the shit.

The vocalist doesn't sound terrible, their songs are catchy and these 7 songs make a great balance between the upbeat and soothing tracks, each carrying its own uniqueness without venturing too far out the indie electronic sphere. Even my indie-loving friends who once found Japanese music dubious dig this EP.

Album highlights: Everything is Alone, Two young, Good-bye, friends, You're right




JASMINE - Welcome to Jas Vegas


Genre: dance, pop

I was skeptical about this EP after seeing the assumably shitass budget for the visuals and questionable typing style for the song titles, but I was pleasantly surprised after reading raving reviews of this online, because damn right they were. This is literally the opposite of everything I said in my Complexxx review. If JASMINE wants to create a pop record, this really represents her in that element. Life is a party in Jas Vegas. I love it.

Album highlights: Where U @, Handz Up !, #AGARU, Dearest




Koda Kumi - Bon Voyage


Genre: pop, R&B, hip-hop

Bon Voyage is not only one of the hottest records of 2014 so far, but probably one of the best albums in Koda Kumi's entire discography too. It's a solid, cohesive pop record that doesn't try hard to be anything else. Koda Kumi's bidding Bon Voyage to the other J-hoes' careers, sinking them one ship at a time while shimmying her tits.

Read full review here

Album highlights: SHOW ME YOUR HOLLA, Loaded feat. Sean Paul, Winner Girls, LALALALALA, Let's show tonight, TOUCH DOWN, Dreaming Now!, On Your Side, U KNOW




m-flo - FUTURE IS WOW


Genre: EDM, electropop

2 years ago, SQUARE ONE was a huge mess. Last year, NEVEN had some pretty good tracks, but overall proved to be lacking that WOW factor. FUTURE IS WOW is the album that they finally got right, kind of like how Complexxx was to JASMINE; works in progress. Maybe they decided to finally show the names of the collaborating artists because they are works that are actually good.

Aside from the terribly-autotuned SOL in Go Crazy and Yoohei Kawakami's ear-grating vocals in FLY, most of the other collaborations are gold, and the sound is overall more polished compared to their last 2 albums. Even ayumi hamasaki doesn't sound like crap here.

Album highlights: Spark, My Way, Young & Restless, IRONY, d.w.m, FIND A WAY




MISIA - NEW MORNING


Genre: pop, ballad, R&B

SOUL QUEST really was MISIA going on a quest to find soul for the album's music. Clearly, she didn't make it back in time for its release date.

But 3 years on, MISIA has gotten her act together. NEW MORNING is one hell of a masterpiece. I'm not joking when I say every track on this album is mastered to perfection. They've balanced the shit out of every single instrument, and every time MISIA belts out a note, it doesn't overly stand out amongst the grandeur of the arrangement. This is MISIA's maturest studio effort to date, and shows that she truly has grown as an artist.

Album highlights: Boku wa Pegasus Kimi wa Polaris, Aoi Tsukikage, Ai wo Shiru Sekai, Especially for me, Shiawase wo Forever, Re-Brain, DEEPNESS (Live)

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