Greetings denizens of The Fan! Musikal Makinations makes a quick return from hiatus and a trip to Las Vegas to bring you a review of a new EP from a band whose previous release, Heart Attack, was also reviewed by yours truly!
What was I doing in Las Vegas you ask? You know what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!
Anyway, now that you’ve read up a bit about Akai Sky (stylized: akai SKY) through our previous review (you did read it right!? GO READ IT!), let’s revisit them for a bit before heading to the EP review
Akai Sky are:
It looks like the deluxe edition contains some nice goodies like photo prints, karaoke versions of the songs from the EP, behind the scenes video, and the music video for Marionette.
We were lucky enough to get our hands on the regular album prior to release thanks to the band!
So let’s get to the review!
The video for Marionette, by the way, was really good! The artwork and animation style reminded me of the old Twisted Metal 2 cutscenes with the way the static figures would be moved from frame to frame. The dark undertones were evident and gave a different perspective of the song than I would have had just listening to the song alone. It fit perfectly with the song. Nice job!
Ok, ok, on to the review!!
When Marionette started, I didn’t know what to expect. The xylophone and violin created a curious calmness. More like the calm before the storm as the song jumps right into the rock mode that Akai Sky does best. I admit, I love a good opening and Marionette did not disappoint from the moment all of the instruments jumped to life. The harmony was wonderful. It had a feel of one of otetsu’s Vocaloid rock songs among other bands. The harmony fades away and we get a chance to clearly hear Ryuusei’s vocals as he’s being wonderfully accompanied by Umi’s bass while Hayashi and Jinra softly help with keeping the pace. The transition really worked nicely between verse and chorus. Ryuusei sings in Japanese during the softer verse sections and switches to English for the chorus sections. This was a really nice idea and worked well for the song. The end of the second verse (around the 2 minute mark) transitioned to a section that didn’t really work for me. The wail/howl, or whatever you want to call it just didn’t fit with the rest of the song, but quickly transitioned away to a mini guitar solo which was nice. Really great opening track! (8/10)
2) Fight On
For as calm as the beginning of Marionette was, Fight On kicks right into rock mode and stays that way throughout the entire song. Once again, I’m a fan of a good opening and Fight On delivers. As a fellow bass player (though nowhere near as talented!), I have to admit that my ear initially gravitated towards Umi’s entire bass track. But as I listened to Fight On a few times over, that beginning sequence grew and grew on me in its entirety. Once again, really great mix of bass, guitar and Jinra’s drums keeping everything in sync. Fight On has a Sebadoh, Nada Surf feel to it. The mix of the main vocal and backup vocal sounded great! Again a mix of Japanese and English lyrics was done very nicely. The flow of the song was really good. I can’t say I liked the way that the title “Fight On” was chanted in the background during the chorus sections. It took a bit away from the main vocals during the sequences. The guitar solo was nice, maybe not their best, but it was good and fit the feel of the song. I liked the abrupt ending. Nice touch. Fight On is reminiscent of Break Down from their previous EP, Heart Attack. This is Akai Sky at its best! (8/10)
After two upbeat rock tracks, Moonfall slows things down a bit, but not too much to call it a ballad track, which is a good thing. I feel Akai Sky’s best music comes from their mid to fast paced tracks. Moonfall is not as gritty rock as the first two tracks. There is a somberness that is intertwined nicely in the lyrics but not to a point where it undermines the overall feel and pace to the song. As a switch, the verses in Moonfall are sung in English and the chorus in Japanese. I can’t say if this method of singing is unique to Akai Sky, but they do it very well! The guitar solos in Moonfall are wonderful. Especially liked the harmonized guitar between Ryuusei and Hayashi towards the end of the song! This might be one of their best overall songs across all of their releases.(9/10)
4) On My Way
On My Way is a departure from the rest of the album. It has a much more pop sound to it with bits of rock. The music and lyrics have a laid back feel to them. Like Moonfall, the lyrics in the verses are sung in English and chorus in Japanese and it works just fine for this song too. I can’t say that this is a favorite style of mine for Akai Sky, but they do a decent job with the song for what it is. There is very good harmony between the guitars and bass. The only flaw I can find is the end, which is doesn’t fade out very well. It could use another second or two of fade out. That issue aside, the consistent pacing of the song keeps the laid back vibe going through most of the song. I could see On My Way as a nice road trip song or maybe a song to listen to while out on the town. I just keep picturing the open road while listening to this song. Maybe I need another road trip vacation!! (7/10)
Overall, I give Akai Sky’s Chasing Lights EP a solid 8/10. It’s hard to believe they’ve been making music for 10 years already! This latest effort really shows that they’ve been steadily honing their craft. In many ways Chasing Lights is an improvement over Heart Attack, but there are some elements in Heart Attack that would have been nice to hear in Chasing Lights…Umi bass solo bias!! (Mugen is still one of my favorites for that reason alone!) But even so, it’s great to see that they have been able to continue to pursue their dreams of making music while bringing a bit of Americana to Japanese rock music. Let’s hope for another 10 years of great music by the American J-Rock band known as Akai Sky!
To find out more about Akai Sky, follow them on social media and get their music and merchandise through the following sites:
Well, that’s all for this special edition of Musikal Makinations! As always, thanks for taking the time to read the article. Please post your comments, suggestions, gripes, etc. so I can fine tune my future reviews!
I’m not sure when we’ll be back to a regular monthly schedule, but am looking forward to getting back into the swing of things soon! Hopefully in a month or so!!
Until then, stay tuned to 91.8 The Fan, where you get Everything You Want, and Nothing You Don’t!