Monday, 28 July 2008

CD検討: GWAVE's 2007 2nd Drivers + SuperFeature's vol.9

Somehow these completely slipped under my radar, but GWAVE recently released two albums; one of which should be especially noteworthy to those of you looking for new denpa sensations. But since this is the first time they are covered on 電波の世界, maybe they should be introduced a bit. If you're not familiar with the group, you should take a quick look at their impressive discography and then browse their equally well-designed website, which stunningly includes insightful commentary on all of their songs. Just like I've Sound, they are a major competitor in the eroge theme song arena of doom but despite their ginormous amount of songs, they aren't as popular as they lack star power and prime time partnerships. A strong percentage of their compositions can be considered denpa, but they also delve heavily in pop, light rock and the occasional ballad/weird track.

They have two main product lines, one being the relatively recent (2005) 「GWAVE Super features」 and the other a bi-annual compilation of all of their game themes that hasn't skipped a beat since 2003. That's right! These guys don't mess around with expensive singles. So far, they have kept up with the impressive cadence of releasing these comps in June and December (which is why I said I was surprised I missed this). To this day, there are 9 SuperFeature's and 10 game song compilations, with different subtitles each year (Drivers, Beat, Strike, Impact...) A slightly confusing aspect is that the SuperFeature's albums can also contain game theme songs, but substantially less often so. In contrast, they allow GWAVE to take musical liberties or introduce new themes. It is also within the context of this series that guest artists appear, Sakakibara Yui and OdiakeS (Key founding member) come to mind. Are we good now? 良かった.

Album: GWAVE 2007 2nd Drivers
Release Date: 2008年06月27日
Performed by: Too many to list
Complete Info: VGMDB, GWAVE

Now that introductions are out of the way, the first order of business today is the June 27 2008-released 「2007 2nd Drivers」. Confused? This is a 2008 release of all theme songs released in the second half of 2007, as the first half was taken care of in 「2007 1st Drivers」 which was released in December 2007. Ahh, now you get it. This is how it's always been with GWAVE. About the music itself, you'd think that with so many releases each year, the quality must take quite a dive. You'd be right if this was a review of the first couple years GWAVE were around, but luckily they've since developed a knack for making each and every single one of their songs stand out. From the pedal-to-the-metal-denpa 「1×8ラブ?バレット」 (井上みゆ) to the mysterious 「Adenium」 (Rita), every possible genre that can be applicable to game intros is covered here. There's some pretty powerful indie rock sounding stuff in here like 「夢のスガタ」 from 神村ひな. 「HappyLeap」, sung by 榊原ゆい (Sakakibara Yui) sounds like the lovely songs ROUND TABLE usually provide us with. Fans will be glad to know she contributes three of the album's 16 tracks. And I'll be damned if Rita's orgy of blast beats 「Sugar+Spice!」 is not a thousand times more punk than all of the mainstream poser bullshit that comes out these days, unless we're talking about the venerable Bad Religion of course. Overall, compared to previous "Main Series" offerings, this one ranks quite high. In fact, I daresay there's not a single track that's not worth your time.

Album: GWAVE SuperFeature's vol.9 U☆MYSTAR -Frontwing Complete Best!!!-
Release Date: 2008年05月26日
Performed by: U(ユウ)
Complete Info: VGMDB

The other series, SuperFeature's (their spelling, not mine) is GWAVE's way of branching out into themes. Volumes 2 【Ultra:U】 and 4 【U☆TOPIA】 were entirely devoted to (and mostly composed by) U, a denpa-oriented vocalist who then changed her artist name to Yuu and lately seems to be using the two together. If you ask me, both are utterly stupid in the first place, but that's just my worthless opinion. The big draw here as you probably imagine is that this is GWAVE's denpa series-within-a-series. But don't walk in here expecting to hear the next MOSAIC.WAV challenger, neither composers nor performers involved on U songs could hold their ground in front of the Akiba giants. Not that there's a huge difference in quality, just that they aren't necessarily shooting for the same thing. Useless comparisons aside, there are some absolutely solid tunes to be enjoyed. As the title implies, this is a compilation album specifically for all FrontWing related tunes. MOSAIC.WAV also worked with them in the form of the batshit insane きみはぐ OP. They are a highly regarded game company, so this means sales for this compilation should be strong.

Much like 2nd Drivers, there are no poor tracks on here and it should serve as a perfect introduction to U if you've never heard her before. You should still be on the lookout for her previous albums if only for the fast and furious 「なの☆なの」 which will be right up your alley if, like me, you eat up everything that's punk-rock paced. An interesting point about U is that she writes and composes the majority of her songs. Of course she also does a lot of collaborations, notably with KOIKE-aniki on her previous albums, whom is said to have taught her quite a few guitar lessons. Perhaps the most interesting track on Vol. 9 is 2003's 「ONLY YOUR WITCH」 which serves up dope denpa-infused surfer rock that isn't without similitude to Momo-i's 「Romantic Summer」. You also have the slower paced 「CHANGE OF LIFE」 which hits you with a solid 8bit-flavored arrangement. The last three songs are brand new and absolutely epic, which bides very well for GWAVE's future. 「S・O・S ラヴ」 might clearly be modeled after Perfume's most successful tunes, but that didn't take anything away from my appreciation. Clearly, this is one of the top denpa albums to be released this year, so please look for it. In fact, this is more of a preview than a review, so I'll definitely come back with a complete track-by-track analysis in the future.

But I don't think I'll ever review most of GWAVE's back catalog other than U's stuff. Even though they're doing pretty well these days, the fact remains that some of their older work completely sucks. But at this rate they're sure to become a household name in no time, if only out of respect for their outstanding work ethic. It took them a while but they never gave up and you gotta respect that. These two new albums completely won me over, so I think you should check them out or at least give them a second chance if they didn't impress you the first time around!


電波の世界 said...

Fuck Internet Explorer with a spiked baseball bat up the ass, three times. I was forced to use it when putting up this article and it completely ruined the formatting, twice. Not to mention that I don't have access to an English or Japanese keyboard right now. All this to say that if you see any formatting slipups, please point them out.

Rant aside, I really hope people start looking for U's CDs and singles. She hasn't written a single poor song so far and while she's rarely pushing denpa to the next level, there's nothing inconsequential about her compositions. Rest assured you'll read plenty more about her.

Anonymous said...


I actually had no idea that Sugar+Spice was done by the same production group behind U's extensive and largely frightening back catalogue. Guess this means I should start looking into more GWAVE, because that title theme kicked the crap out of many of I've Sound's similar attempts at punk-infused denpa... Can't touch Princess Brave, sure, but I don't think anything really can.

Nadirah said...

For some reason I'm having the darndest time trying to find the second album. Still downloading the first one (internet connection! I've missed you!) and I'm eager to listen to it. I think I'll take your advice and try to seek out those U CDs and singles.