Thursday, 12 January 2012

Concluding the musical year of 2011

Yeah it's a bit late, I know. But I got the idea to look over what kind of new artists and albums I came across and looked forward to in twenty-eleven. Simply because 2011 was a big year in music for me for many reasons. 2012 isn't even half as promising.
So let's start from the beginning.

Avril Lavigne. I was very curious about her new album; "Goodbye Lullaby". She had mentioned in interviews that it would be more toned down than "The Best Damn Thing" and largely acoustic, which sounded great to me. She released the first single from the album "What the Hell" on January 7th and the two other singles were "Smile" and "Wish You Were Here". I love this album! I love how it's fun and mellow at the same time. Judging by my 25 most played playlist on iTunes this album was a huge success with me; "What the Hell" 147 plays, "Wish You Were Here (acoustic)" 45 plays, and "Smile" 38 plays. One thing I love is that she has taken the success of older songs into account when making the videos. The video for "What the Hell" is similar to that of "Complicated". The video to "Smile" is similar to that of "He Wasn't", and the video for "Wish You Were Here" is similar to that of "When You're Gone".

Kamiki Aya. The Japanese version of Avril Lavigne. This rock chick never ceases to amaze me. Her sole new release of 2011, a mini-album called "EVILALIVE" wasn't the best she had done, but it was far from bad. "EVILALIVE", "crossover", "one week", "AGAIN", "Aria", "Japanese Rockin' Girls" and "YELL" are the songs off of this mini-album.

Panic! At the Disco. I loved "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out" then when they released "Pretty. Odd." I kind of lost faith in them. Their second album was slow, boring. On a whim I checked out their new release; "Vices & Virtues" and it's alright. I wasn't immediately hooked as I was when I heard "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" for the first time, but it's an okay record. I haven't listened that much to it yet due to a slight lack of interest and other, greater, releases taking up too much of my time. The singles off of the album are "The Ballad of Mona Lisa" and "Ready to Go (Get Me Out of My Mind)".

Within Temptation. I had been anticipating their new album; "The Unforgiving". The first time I listened through it I remained throughly unimpressed and somewhat disappointed. But the more I listened to it, the more some songs grew on me, especially the three singles "Faster", "Sinead" and "Shot in the Dark". "In the middle of the night" is also a song that gets stuck. This album grew even more on me after I went on the accompanying tour and saw the band live for the first time.

The Sounds. I don't like that they've grown more synth-y and less guitar-y. I haven't listened attentively to this album enough times to actually recall most of the songs. Unlike "Crossing the Rubicon" this album hasn't managed to grow on me. I was actually disappointed with this release. The singles are "Better Off Dead" and "Something to Die For".

miwa. This little singer-songwriting girl won me over with the first song I ever heard of her, which was her second single as a signed artist; "Little Girl". Her first album release "guitarissimo" was fantastic and it contained all of her previously released singles; "don't cry anymore", "Haru ni Nattara", "Otoshimono", "Change" and ofc "Little Girl". I was also very glad to find one of my favourite b-sides as a remastered version on the album; "Megurogawa (strings version)". She's amazing and the following two singles released last year; "441" and "FRIDAY-MA-MAGIC" made me love her even more. She's fantastic!

Dream Morning Musume. Just the formation of this group was a dream come true. Past members of Morning Musume coming together forming this group instead. All of these members were immensly popular during their time in MoMusu and they remain that way although it's now 3-10 years since they left the group. The members are: Nakazawa Yuko, Iida Kaori, Abe Natsumi, Yasuda Kei, Yaguchi Mari, Ishikawa Rika, Yoshizawa Hitomi, Ogawa Makoto, Fujimoto Miki and Kusumi Koharu. Their album "Dorimusu 1" contained lots of old classics re-recorded by the new group along with 2 new songs; "Atto Odoroku Mirai ga Yattekuru!" and "Koibito no You ni Kao wo Shite". I like that they made a new version of "Joshi Kashimashi Monogatari" introducing every member.

Simple Plan. I haven't really listened much to these guys since 2005. But on a whim I decided to check out their new album "Get Your Heart On!", and it was surprisingly good. Overall it was upbeat, fast and cocky, fitting the pop/punk/rock image they started out with at their first album, which then was overturned by the emo-fashion in 2004. I was positively surprised and I've listened to it a lot lately! The singles off of the album are: "Can't Keep My Hands Off You", "Jet Lag", "Astronaut" and "Summer Paradise". Another song off of the album that I like a lot is "This Song Saved My Life", which is kind of still on the emo path, but I guess I am somewhat there too, still.

Buono!. This group kept me interested from their 3rd throughout their 9th singles. Their first two albums were great as well. Then it was quiet around them for about a year. Then suddenly a new single emerged that was completely fantastic. This single "Zassou no Uta" along with its B-side "JUICY HE@RT" is on this mini-album, as well as the next single "Natsu Dakara!". But apart from those three songs the majority are weird electronica songs with strange rhythms which in my head turns into plain noise. I don't like it and I was so disappointed, cause I had been looking forward to more releases from them.

Hangry & Angry. Consisting of Ishikawa Rika and Yoshizawa Hitomi, two former Morning Musume members and being a rock group, this unit had me interested from the beginning. This group was formed to promote a gothic fashion brand with the same name as the group. Their first mini-album "Kill Me Kiss Me" was fantastic as well as their first single "Sadistic Dance". In 2011 it had been quiet around them since the end of 2009 and a new single release was extremely looked forward to! This single "Reconquista" is pretty awesome actually :) The B-sides of the single are one remix of "Renai Revolution 21" and one remix of "Sadistic Dance".

Edguy. I loved their last album "Tinnitus Sanctus" and I was curious about the new one and somewhat worried that it might be too much power metal for me. I alwasy worry about that when it comes to an Edguy release. "Age of the Joker" is power metal. The opening song "Robin Hood" was so much power metal that I didn't really have any will to listen to the rest afterwards. But I did to prepare for the concert. "Nobody's Hero" is alright and I vaguely remember liking "Rock of Cashel", "Pandora's Box" and "Fire on the Downline".

Alice Cooper. This! This. This was what I had been looking forward to for the entire year. A new Alice Cooper album! OMG I was so excited about this. It's called "Welcome 2 My Nightmare" and is the continuation of the immensly successful 1975 album "Welcome to My Nightmare". Only one single was released; "I'll Bite Your Face Off", which he promoted during the concert I went to. I like this album so much! I can have this album on repeat for a whole day and still not tire of it. It's amazingly fantastically wonderful! Yes, I'm fangirling here, don't mock me ;) My favourite songs are; "Last Man on Earth", "Ghouls Gone Wild", "Something to Remember Me By", "What Baby Wants" and "I Am Made of You". "What Baby Wants" features Ke$ha and I was seriously worried about that. Could she sing Cooper? But she pulls it off, surprisingly well and makes "What Baby Wants" into one of those Beauty and the Beast themed songs that I like. Picking those songs is hard cause in the end I do like the entire album, every bit of it. It's yet another one of Cooper's masterpieces!

The Phantom of the Opera 25th Anniversary. After seeing the musical at the cinema I got really interested and as I loved it I decided to buy the CD and the DVD from Amazon. I've seen the musical a shitload of times on the DVD and I haven't listened through the entire CD, just the songs I like. I like the first half of the musical better and my favourite songs are "Angel of Music", "Little Lotte/The Mirror", "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Music of the Night". The vocals of Ramin and Sierra are just perfect! I also love the ending of the DVD with the speech of Andrew Lloyd Webber and the performance of the 5 Phantoms!

Evanescence. I used to actually like this group. Well, I still do. I like their old stuff; "Fallen" is perfection and "The Open Door" is great too. This self-titled album is not that good. It's a little too much. Too much of everything. I'm quite fond of the first single "What You Want", but I only listened through the album once and was unimpressed and disappointed and therefore I don't really have an opinion of the second single "My Heart is Broken".

Morning Musume. They released their twelfth album last year and it was the first album for the four new members (first new members since 2008) and I was really excited about it. Of course the preceding singles are there "Maji desu ka SKA!", "Only You" and "Kono Chikyuu no Heiwa wa Honki de Negatteirun da yo!/Kare to Issho ni Omise ga Shitai!". Lately MoMusu's albums have been disappointments and therefore I haven't listened attentively to this one yet. But "Silver no Udedokei" is kind of nice to listen to. I also like "Kono Ai wo Kasanete" and the rocky "My Way ~Joshikou Hanamichi~" and "OK YEAH" kind of gets stuck in your head. It seems to have the makings for a great album so I gotta get a real listen-through ;)

Goto Maki. How I hated this girl while she was in Hello! Project, but since she switched to avex trax I've started to kind of like her. Great timing I have since she's going on an indefinate hiatus as of 2012. But last year she did release one last solo album and one colaboration single. The colaboration single is called "Non Stop Love Yoroshiku!" and I liked it as soon as I heard the 60 sec preview of the PV. It's fun, speedy and just so perfectly Japanese :D Her album, "Ai Kotoba (VOICE)" is proof of how much she has evolved as a singer-songwriter. She has written the song "Nee..." herself and that is the song I love the most. "Ashiato" is also a good song.

Shibata Ayumi. This girl was in the Hello! Project group Melon Kinenbi and always got the most screen time out of the four girls. When they split up I wondered whether she'd go on solo and I was right. Her first solo single "Believe" isn't that fantastic, but it's not bad either.

Disturbed. The announcement that they would go on a hiatus was awful, and all we got after that announcement was a compilation album of all the unreleased songs and B-sides. The album in itself is kind of nice, but the fact that I already had almost all the songs made the release a little less interesting. "Hell" was the only single from the album and that's the best song off of the album. Other good songs are "Monster", "Dehumanized" and the only really interesting song, the previously unreleased "3".

Nightwish. There we have it. This release along with the Cooper album was what I was looking forward to the most. This album that I had been waiting for practically since the concert in 2007. 5 years. "Imaginaerum" sounds like Nightwish so much that it annoys me even more when fans still complain that Anette isn't Tarja. No she isn't, but this album was made with Anette in mind and it sounds absolutely fabulous and it still sounds like Nightwish used to. The release of the preceding single "Storytime" had me on clouds all day. I loved the video and I loved the song. It felt like a big lump of anxiety disappeared when I heard the piano intro and realised that yes, this is Nightwish. It's still Tuomas and I still love his genius. I haven't listened much to the album yet, haven't really had the time and I was still in the Cooper period. But another song that I immediately liked was "I Want My Tears Back". The upcoming single is "The Crow, the Owl and the Dove" which also is a great song. I need to listen through this album properly by April when I'm going to their concert in Copenhagen :D

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