Shaenon gets competitive with the fan-favorite card-flinging romance manga Chihayafuru.
Sound Decision The Pillows
by Jonathan Mays, Aug 17th 2005
FLCL #3 —Geneon
History lesson: when Geneon issued the second FLCL soundtrack about a year ago, there was no third soundtrack and, since the miniseries wrapped up six years ago, certainly no plans for one. But once the sales figures were in, the combined success of the two FLCL discs compelled Geneon to A) drag the Pillows over here for a concert tour and B) make another FLCL soundtrack.
Three CDs for 150 minutes of animation...sound a little crazy to you? Maybe, but before you accuse FLCL of doing its best Evangelion impression, behold: vocals! Believe me, I was skeptical when I saw "Sad Sad Kiddie - 3:12" and recalled "Sad Sad Kiddie - 2:03." But Sawao Yamanaka's "hang ten" 'tude makes all the difference. From "Nightmare" to "Funny Bunny," these are brand new songs, which is more than we could say for Evangelion remix #82.
And the CD is kiwi green. Looks tasty.
The Pillows: Penalty Life —Geneon
The Pillows are like...Puffy AmiYumi for the male population. Sure, one group has 65 years of rock experience between them, and the other co-hosts a kiddie cartoon with dialogue like "Bai-Bai-Buuu!" But both share something rare (besides their success in America): they're all about pure, unpretentious fun.
Not that they lack in appearance or talent or creativity; they just have other priorities. In fact, I'd say the Pillows are far more fun than Puffy. That may be because I would feel slightly uncomfortable at a SoCal gig with two pink pixy sticks singing the Scooby Doo 2 theme to a crowd of little girls who stayed out on a school night just so they could tell their friends how kawaii! and sugoi!! their idols are.
As for the actual music, a single chord progression is the usual formula for Sawao and company. If you play guitar, you've probably played the same chords, and you've definitely played some of the same notes. The difference between you and them is that they've been doing this for a combined 65 years, so they know how to add spark and snap that you could never pull off so naturally. And they harmonize like the Beach Boys.
Well, not really.
Of all the above-average Beach Boys vocal imitators out there, Sawao is one of them. But hey, it's all about having fun, and the Pillows have fun about as well as anybody.
T.M.Revolution: Vestige —Sony (2005-08-17)
T.M.Revolution's "Vertical Infinity" just arrived in America a couple of weeks ago (review coming as soon as I get a copy). It may be several months later than the Japanese release, but with a new single as abysmal as "Vestige," it's probably better that most of us will overlook this one.
For starters, the title track just isn't T.M.R's style; he struggles to find a comfortable spot for the end of nearly every phrase, and he is particularly shaky in the first part of the chorus. There's no way he should have to hang on such a bad note for so long. Vibrato has never been his forte—why drive the point home every 20 seconds?
"Crosswise" is a more typical T.M.R song, with super-amplified guitars and vocal passages that crack like a whip. The key change right before the chorus is sort of interesting, but then the song falls into one of those themes that's just memorable enough to induce a faint case of déjà vu. I'd love to see the coarse, overpowering backbeat thrown behind a more inspired melody.
In short: nothing much to see here, but that's okay. We have better, cheaper T.M.R choices closer to home.
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