Review: ayumi melody – Froh Flow

Ayumi melody is the frontwoman for indie rock/folk band A Month of Sundays and also of the short-lived all girls rock band Lily Rose, which broke up last year. Half-Japanese and half-British and bilingual in Japanese and English, she sings in a mixture of both languages with a strong, distinctive voice. This is her first solo album and it was released on the Hana to Pops label which specializes in independent, female musicians.

ayumi-froh

Track List

  1. Hitori no tsubu (ひかりのつぶ)
  2. Together
  3. Midori no sheets (みどりのシーツ)
  4. Shigatsu no tawagoto (四月のたわごと)
  5. Lychee (ライチ)

Each track on this album is beautiful and emotional, simply arranged on piano and acoustic guitar. The opening track is incredibly striking with a multi-tracked choral arrangement of ayumi’s vocals over piano. The lyrics on the CD conjure up sweet or bittersweet memories, with sounds that somehow evoke simpler days. Acoustic guitar and some backing vocals were provided by her bandsmates from A Month of Sunday.

The title of the CD, Froh Flow, comes from the German word froh meaning “glad” and the English word flow, so a “flow of happiness” or something similar. I don’t listen to acoustic music often, but this CD has been getting some good play time since I bought it. It’s incredibly relaxing.

Standout Tracks

  • Hitori no tsubu – A short, two-minute song that leaves a lasting impression
  • Shigatsu no tawagoto – The melody and lyrics of this song are both superb, and while I like the band arrangement a tad better, this acoustic version is lovely

My Favorite Music Videos of 2015

These are all music videos that were enjoyable or memorable to me from the past year. Not necessarily my favorite songs (although I certainly like them all) and not necessarily the most impressive videos, but just what caught my attention. In no particular order:

Sheena Ringo (椎名林檎) – Nagaku Mijikai Matsuri (長く短い祭)

From the pop queen herself, a duet with Ukigumo with autotune done right and a disturbing video.

 

Yubisaki nohaku (指先ノハク) – Nanigashi (なにがし)

An extremely fun music video with a song of when communication just isn’t working right. One of my favorite songs of the year as well.

 

Milkyway (みるきーうぇい) – Shinitaku Naru Hodo Suki Datta (死にたくなるほど好きだった。)

A moving story music video and the sequel to this MV from last year. With a song called “I Loved You So Much I Want to Die,” Milkyway really has the best emo lyrics.

 

Chirinuruwowaka (チリヌルヲワカ) – Awoawo (アヲアヲ)

This video is really simply but I love how well it fits the chill song. It’s also always enjoyable to watch videos where you can actually see the musicians play.

 

A Month of Sundays – Shigatu no Tawagoto (四月のたわごと)

Another very simple music video that just fits the music perfectly. I love the vintage camera touch and this is just one of my very favorite songs of the year.

 

Lily Rose (リリーローズ) – I Know

Simple and sexy. Same singer as the above video.

 

Suiyoubi no Campanella (水曜日のカンパネラ) – Medusa (メデューサ)

It wouldn’t be a best MV list without at least one Suikan song. While it wasn’t their flashiest video of the year, it was the most charming.

2015 Band Breakup Blues Part 1

Bands breaking up is one of those inevitable facts of life that comes with liking music. Only so many groups are going to go the distance. There’s just too many things that can go wrong. Band members end up fighting. They get sick of doing all the hard work that goes into a band. Then there’s the disillusionment that comes with realizing that they’re not going to make it big. Whatever the reason, something is going cause most groups to eventually throw in the towel. That being said, it still hits you like a ton of bricks when a band that you love announces their breakup. Or just as bad — that they’re going on “hiatus.” For me, 2015 has had a surprising number of tragedies, to put it as over-dramatically as I can. Maybe it’s just that now there are so many bands that have caught my eye. In any case, here’s a little tribute to this year’s fallen.

Merpeoples

This New Wave-inspired pop group broke up in April. They were a four-piece band with smooth vocals and nice interplay between sharp Rickenbacker tones and synth/organ keyboards. Merpeoples’ sound was rounded out with a punchy bass and snare-focused drumming. Shiori, the second permanent drummer, left the band in spring of 2014 to focus on other projects including support drumming for Mayu. Merpeoples continued on for one more year before their final show at Shimokitazawa Reg. Singer and guitarist Charlotte has started a solo project  and has released one mini album, featuring a more mainstream pop sound.

Zaien Lily

A four-piece band (vocals and occasional keys, guitar, bass, drums) with a fairly standard Japanese indie rock sound. Measured, slightly theatrical singing set them apart from the crowd. Zaien Lily went on hiatus in November. However, the guitarist Suzuki has publicly announced his departure from the band. Drummer Nakamura followed suit. With only half the songs written by Suzuki and the rest written by singer Naomi, a relatively similar Zaien Lily could arise from the ashes eventually.

Genshou (現象)

Almost as soon as I had discovered Genshou, they announced that they were breaking up. The sudden notice came this month in December. Genshou was a incredibly energetic band that combined Red Hot Chili Peppers-style rock and traditional Japanese music.

Lily Rose

The powerful voice of half-British singer Ayumi Melody flies high over the mix of keyboard, guitar, bass, and drums in this dramatic four-piece Brit rock-inspired  all-female band. Formed only two years ago, the band entered an unannounced hiatus in September. This came as quite a surprise as Lily Rose had already gained a large following and had just received great reception to their first music video (directed by drummer Haru). Last month, they official confirmed their hiatus, stating that the future of the band would be announced at a later date.