We are very late with this article due to being busier with real life than usual. This is a combination of what we like in April and May, so this will be a somewhat long read.
Looking back at April, a lot was going on. I didn’t think there was much that I enjoyed that month, but apparently, that assumption was wrong.
Kwon Eunbi – Color
Kwon Eunbi’s second release of 2022 is her second E.P. titled Color. For this outing, she shows more of her colors, taking genres such as 2-Step/House (GLITCH) and Hip-Pop (Magnetic). I also found this album easier to digest than OPEN, probably because the types of songs on Color are more catered to the types of music I like.
IVE – Love Dive
IVE’s second single, LOVE DIVE, drops the ethnic leaning sounds of ELEVEN and is instead a straight-up pop banger. However, the b-side ROYAL is equally banging, making it my favourite Korean release in April.
Red Velvet – Bloom
Red Velvet’s first Japanese album is a continuation of their Korean releases. As a result, many fall into the dance/pop R&B hybrid, a staple of Red Velvet’s two most recent albums.
And I find nothing wrong with that particular type of sound generally caters more to the tastes of Japanese listeners a little more. Regardless, the entire album is excellent, making it my favourite Japanese release in April.
ITZY – Voltage
ITZY’s Japanese debut is a pretty good song. It’s not as bombastic as their Korean material, but the qualities tied in with ITZY’s identity are still there.
I wasn’t expecting much from this release, so this was a pleasant surprise when it turned out to be comparable to ITZY’s Korean songs.
STU48 – Hana wa Dare no Mono
I have been slowly withdrawing from the 48 universe as the members I like have disappeared from the group, and I have no interest in what is left. Also, the quality of their songs has dipped significantly as well.
But every once in a while, the collective drops something that reminds me of the music I liked from the 48s. That is the case with all the songs on this single from STU48.
BPM15Q – Kyo You Mu
When CY8ER disbanded, it sucked, but out of their ashes came the reformation of BPM15Q. It was great news to me as I felt no one would fill in the gap left in their absence.
This song is great.
SoYou – Day & Night
The first mini-album from Soyou is unlike the others on this list for April. It sounds like grown-ass people’s music rather than idol fodder. This is the type of music I listened to before I got into idols of any kind. So it’s a nice throwback to a simpler time in life.
Philosophy no Dance – Philosophy of Love
I don’t actively seek new Japanese idol groups to listen to anymore. I have my favourites and tend to stick to them closely. I find a group fresh to my ears because they’re on a random J-Pop playlist I’m listening to on Apple Music.
That is what happened with Philosophy no Dance. I know nothing about them, but their sound is enticing to my ears. I may dig deeper into their discography from what I have heard on this album.
May was busy mainly because I was prepping to travel again after two years of sitting at home. But once I returned from my short trip, I could catch up on things. So here is what I liked from May.
Le Sserafim – Fearless
HYBE’s newest girl group had a lot of hype behind them. Featuring former IZ*ONE members Kim Chaewon and Miyawaki Sakura and Produce 48 standout Huh Yunjin, there was a lot of anticipation for this group.
They debuted under some controversy with the revelation of Kim Garam’s school bullying and love of male genitalia and, to a lesser extent, the reconstruction of Sakura’s face making her unrecognizable.
Even with all that background noise, I believe HYBE delivered and that Le Sserafim was worth the wait.
tofubeats feat. Kaho Nakamura – Reflection
Of all the songs on tofubeats’ recent album REFLECTION, the title track stood out the most. I like some of that Drum and Bass every once in a while.
GOT7 – GOT7
I don’t listen to K-Pop dude groups that often. They’re just not my thing. But when they do R&B, I tend to give them more of a chance. Albums like this reminded me of the 90s and early 2000s in North America when male vocal groups were the hot shit.
It may sound weird coming from me since, generally, I’m not too fond of that many dude group releases, but this was my favourite release of May.
LIGHTSUM – Into The Light
After an okay debut single (Vanilla) and a much better follow-up (VIVACE), LIGHTSUM released their first E.P. called Into The Light in May. While it’s not perfect, it does showcase the potential of this group a little more than their first two releases.
CLASS:y – LIVES ACROSS
I never watched the competition show that showed the formation of this group, and I don’t plan to go back and watch it. However, since I know nothing about them, I went in blind on their music and am satisfied with their material so far.
LIVES ACROSS is CLASS:y’s second E.P. It contains some fairly decent stuff. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but the songs are catchy enough to keep my attention for a few spins of the album.
TWICE 4th World Tour III Encore
After being unable to attend the first round of TWICE’s U.S. dates in February due to COVID restrictions in Canada, I was not a happy camper. But when they announced they were coming back, I jumped at the chance to see them both nights, no matter the cost.
Although it temporarily hurt my wallet, it was worth it as I saw only my second solo concert by a K-Pop group. (The first being the Wonder Girls when they were promoting their 2 Different Tears album)
A TWICE show is hard to put into words; it is an experience that captures you from beginning to end. Incredibly, four hours can go by so fast, but the show’s pacing is so good that you don’t even notice the concert is over until the members say their final goodbyes.
I tried to put a few thoughts in an article I wrote shortly after coming back from L.A. Still, I think the experience is better explained in our upcoming podcast, which I’m currently editing and will publish soon, hopefully.
It’s been a busy few months, with anime conventions slowly returning to life. Among the most exciting things happening in weeb land are as follows:
Oshi no Ko: English release and anime announcement
Perhaps one of my favourite series of the past couple of years, Oshi no Ko finally got an English release through the Shonen Jump+ website in April, with a stunning anime announcement in early June. I highly recommend anyone who is a fan of drama series to read this fantastic work which has continued to top manga rankings in Japan yearly.
Solo Leveling Vol 4 Enters the Top Rankings in the U.S.
Heralding a shift in the things people have been reading, Solo Leveling volume 4’s physical release entered the top 10 best-selling series for May in the U.S., which has grown to become the world’s largest export market (in dollar terms) in the world.
VTuber Legend: How I Went Viral after Forgetting to Turn Off My Stream Volume 1 – a vtuber fan addict would recommend a series about a vtuber becoming a viral sensation. True to web novel form, it features all the best gimmicks: escapism (the main character is a wage slave turned vtuber), moe blob characters (it’s a vtuber, look at that art!) and of course, characters that can do no wrong. What’s not to love?
The Most Heretical Last Boss Queen, Volume 1 – this villainess series has all the makings of your typical shonen action classic. It features an overpowered main character, reincarnation, video game gimmicks, and a gripping plot. The only downside is there is one is that it also has the makings of A Certain Magical Index type 15-year work – complete with 900+ chapters in its web novel form. But, at least it makes for some entertaining reading?
I am Blue, in Pain and Fragile – on a more serious (if there even is such a thing for light novels?) note, the novel behind the 2020 movie Blue, Painful, Fragile is finally in print in English. Yoru Sumino probably writes some of the best light novels out there closest to literary fiction, and this newest release does not disappoint.
Takopi’s Original Sin – an overnight sensation, this much more elementary school-ified version of Oyasumi Punpun became a viral sensation on the Shonen Jump+ platform. While it isn’t the most serious work out there, its short length makes for a fun read.
This will, unfortunately, be light as yours truly was getting destroyed at work and vtubers, but hopefully, this will suffice!