Most of the reviews that I do are for groups that have come out with an album, but today I'll be writing about the summer special that LOEN Entertainment put out this year. This has a bunch of talented and well known artists from the same company collaborating with each other, so it's a refreshing change from the same artist doing lots of songs in a row. It's also a good way to get to know different musicians and get to know their voices a bit better. Now, let's get on to the review!
LOEN Tree's Summer Story, released August 6th 2012!
I like the idea behind the album. Take talented artists from the company, old and new, and put them together on an album to promote all of them and give fans something to listen to throughout the summer. Since summer will be ending soon, I wanted to make sure to write a review for this one. I love the concept, and how there aren't too many tracks, and the album artwork is also very simple and to the point. The potted "tree", along with the handwritten looking text, gives a homey feeling to the cover, and that's what the CD is really about.
As for short artist bios, I'll have to do quick ones for each artist at a time.
First, let's talk about "IU"! She is a Korean singer and actress, born in South Korea in 1993. Her given name is Lee Ji-eun, and she is known as "The Nations Little Sister", which makes sense because of her lovable and cute nature. She has a mature voice for her age and first debuted in 2008! She has done many duets and has recorded songs for different shows and dramas in Korea. Her most well known songs are probably "Good Day", "Someday", and "You & I". She is probably the most famous out of the artists, and is also the main or "title" singer for the album, you can read more on her bio Here.
Next, there's "GA-IN", also known as Son Ga-In. She is a member of Brown Eyed Girls (aka B.E.G.), and is probably the most popular member of the group (my favorite at least....). After she did not win in a reality series in South Korea, a manager came and invited her to join B.E.G! She later released her solo album, which included the tango-esc song and MV "Irreversible". Her solo career is through LOEN, and her group career is through Nega Network. She has incredible talent, and it's no wonder that she was chosen to help out with the album. You can also read more about her Here.
FIESTAR (Which is actually "Fiesta", as in Spanish for Party) is a new girl group that has yet to make their full debut (while I'm writing this), and the album is also meant to help promote them. The group consists of six members from Korea, China, and America, and the leader's name is Jae. I can't write too much about them, since they have yet to fully "come out". They are to be an extremely upbeat and fun band when they do release more music.
G.Gorila is the "veteran" artist of the band. He was a part of the band "Eve" which started performing in 1998, and released music up until 2010 and beyond. He has also done solo work and been in bands like Sprinkler and Angie. His voice is more mellow and gentle than most, which softens any song. You can see one of his music videos Here. (He is a tough person to find info on, sorry I didn't write much about him!)
ZiA is another ballad type artist, who officially started her career in 2008! She has done many Korean Drama songs, which is suited perfectly for her voice. She is a strong singer with a beautiful voice that portrays emotion wonderfully. She has been making music for a while, and even released some MVs, but she is not as well known as most other artists of her genre. Most people prefer upbeat, dance, pop music to emotional ballads, but she has such great talent and I'm glad she is on this album. You can read more about her Here.
Ra.D is a Korean singer-songwriter and producer. His given name is Lee Doo Hyun, and he was bron in 1980. He started his career in 2002, but went "missing" and didn't release anything again until 2008! He has been releasing songs lately, and is also on this album with IU and the others, so it's great to hear more from him. As for his music style, it leans more towards R&B, Soul, and Hip Hop. He has mainly been producing other artists and not promoting himself as much, and you can thank him for his work helping 2PM debut! He has won awards for his own work as well, though most people who are newer to the Korean Music scene do not know him very well. But he has worked with Wondergirls, Standing Egg, IU, and many other artists in the past. While R&B isn't really my thing, I still really respect him as a musician and love his voice. You can check out one of his music videos "So One" Here, and read more about him Here.
The final group featured on the album is Sunny Hill! Let me just say, they are one of my favorite bands! Up until recently they were a Co-ed band, but recently the male member, Janghyun, left to serve in the military and the group is currently all female. Sunny Hill has been putting out music since 2007 and is still making music, even with member changes. (You can learn more about them Here) My favorite K-Pop song of all time is done by them, which is The Grasshopper Song! They put out profound music which has morals and deeper meaning to them, while still having addictive lyrics and beats! Other videos/songs they have put out include Pray, Midnight Circus, and their recent release of Princess and Prince Charming. Even though the members have changed they have a consistent style. They have also worked with B.E.G. in the past, and really round out the talent on this album!
The last person to mention is Lee Min-Soo, who is a producer for the songs. They are a very famous producer and have worked for LOEN many times. You can read more about them Here.
Now we can move onto the album itself!
- Sea of Moonlight (달빛바다) , IU and FIESTAR
This song has a Music Video with a rich summer theme that matches the album. They play outside, paint each other's faces, build a fort, dress up, canoe, put on plays, have a BBQ, and do other typical summer activities. The video has a good balance of laid back fun shots and the posing and singing music shots. The film work, along with the type of filters and scenes, give the video a very nice feel. I love the ending when FIESTAR sails off on their lighted boats, the scene where the girl in a bear costume trips, and when the wiper makes a rainbow on the windshield! It's so playful and the song goes along with it perfectly! The song and video seem to mainly be about promoting their new group, FIESTAR, which is fine with me. I like hearing this new group and their ability before they "officially debut", and I think they match IU really well. Since I heard this song I have been looking forward to their first album, and before I heard this song I didn't really know they were coming out! They each blended and stood out properly, and it takes a good singer to be able to do that.
The music itself is upbeat and fun! It has a distinct '80s feel to it, and the intro reminds me of "Take on Me" by Aha (which happens to be one of my favorite songs)! It's really heavy with electronic and bass sounds, and softens up a bit more throughout the song, giving more room for the vocals. The harmonies and effects used are subtle, yet still add depth to the song. The voices in the song have a really innocent and pure tone to them, which suits the music. The whole video shows them going back to their childhood roots and being lively, so having a child-like tone isn't a bad thing at all for them! I found it refreshing and wanted to play it on repeat to keep myself chipper and optimistic throughout the day!
- Take Out , Ga-In and Ra.D
After an electronic heavy dance song, you move into an acoustic-jazz type song. This kind of music is always going to be my bias. Listening to complex, acoustic, music while drinking coffee is just something that I love! Not only is this song perfect to drink coffee (or various other hot beverages) with, but it's also about coffee, an obvious plus. The lyrics for the song are pretty clever. It's meant for a duet because it's a man and woman going back and forth, wanting to meet at a coffee shop. They both have things come up and get busy with other things, but still really want to see each other, and say many times "I'm a bit disappointed, but it's okay." They want to meet up on a nice summer afternoon, but aren't able to, so instead of having coffee together they end up getting "take out". (In Korea you literally say "Take Out" in English when it comes to coffee, though you say it in Korean for other situations, just a side note.)
Ga-In and Ra.D's voices suit one another very well, they both have more matured voices that have restraint, yet stand out and are strong at the same time. They make it sound easy because their tone is so laid back, but being able to sing this way is a real talent. Their smooth voices are really soothing and the music matches them perfectly. There's acoustic guitar, piano, maraca-type percussion, and very light editing effects and synth in the song that doesn't overwhelm the "live" instruments, and all of them blend together seamlessly. Like I said, I really love the acoustic-jazz influenced coffee shop vibe of this song. It has a kind of sweetness to it that I think suits summer perfectly. The last song suited going out with friends to have fun, but this one suits a lazy afternoon which you want to spend with your loved one. It's a great addition to the album, and I would buy it just for this song if I needed to.
- Brave Girls (용감한 그녀들) , Sunny Hill and ZiA
The song sounds like it's going to be softer like the previous one, but suddenly jumps into a more upbeat song. It sounds like "New York" or "The City" to me. From hearing the traffic outside in the beginning, to the song itself. The music reminds me of all the old detective shows based in LA and NY, with the brass section and the matching synth, sort of like songs by Huey Lewis. It's very retro and buoyant! This one is similar to the first song, but I think the distinct difference is that Sea of Moonlight is a outdoors-countryside summer, and this one is the summer of girls living in the city. I love the throwback sound of the music, and the pep in the vocals and lyrics.
I think that Sunny Hill was probably very excited to be able to work with an older and more experienced musician, and the song just feels like they are having fun! Their tone is really happy, as if they are going to start giggling at any moment, and that can't help but make you smile as you listen to it. While they do a good job blending their voices together with ZiA's, the bridge is distinctly Sunny Hill. The rapper of the group has a unique voice that is always easy to spot, for me at least, and I was glad to hear it in the spotlight for a moment in this song. This is the kind of song that I would to blast and sing along to in the car when I'm in California with my friends. It's fun, upbeat, and optimistic!
- Run to the Moon (달려라 달까지) , G.Gorilla (Feat. Kobo 코보)
I'll be honest, I could not find anything about Kobo anywhere... The only thing I know about Kobo is that they are featured on this song, and that's about it. If you know anything, please enlighten me, but I'm not going to pretend to know about someone when I really don't. Okay, now on to the song!
The song starts with a engine starting and an electric guitar riff, reminiscent of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", it has that kind of Stray Cats, Ska, Rock, feeling to it. (I really don't like comparing artists, but that's the only way I can describe some of these songs...) The mic/effects used in this song make it sounds older, it has that grainier quality to it, instead of the crystal clear "HD" kind of sound. I really like the song that way. It's not that it was recorded in bad quality, or that it sounds cheap or anything, it's that it sounds like it was recorded year back on purpose. And since G.Gorilla is an older artist, and is the oldest music veteran of the bunch, it makes sense. If you listen to "classic rock" you would probably like this track the most. I really like it, but I think that Take Out is still my favorite off the album. And as for the vocal of the song, they go together really well. I love the higher parts that overlap the lower vocals, and the different harmonies throughout the song. G.Gorilla has that type of old-school korean voice that I love, it has a kind of deeper tone and the singing style is very distinct. If you watch any movies, shows, or Animes from the early '90s, you'll know what I'm talking about.
- "Bonus Track" You & I (너랑나)- FPM TechnoOrchestra Mix , IU
This is exactly what the title says it is, it's a remix of IU's popular song You & I! I grew up on techno and DDR, so I really love this kind of music. I'm already of a fan of this song, so the remix is great. IU's voice is a great match for remixes. I love the skipping and effects used on her voice and breathes, and that it's a TechnoOrchestra, and not just synth and effects. The song was already done with strings and orchestral influences, so the remix makes sense. The track is like a futuristic version of her song, which I find kind of funny since it was already like an older, Steampunk, themed one, and now it's updated even more! I'm really happy that they added this bonus track to the album, and it's a great way to end the CD!
The whole album is really a "throwback", which is probably why they used experienced and newer artist for the project. It's like a picture of past summers and the summer of new generations. Each song interprets summer in it's own way, making for a rounded and well done album. I love getting all the different styles of music and vocals in one CD. The project album was a great idea, and I hope it will continue to be a success! I think it's important to get to know older bands along with newer ones, to really broaden your "musical horizons". From this album alone, I really hope that they release more "projects" in the future! LOEN Entertainment really got marks from me, and went up in my book, by releasing this. After competing with SM, JYP, and YG all the time, I think that putting this out was a smart move.
You can buy the physical CD Here, or on other online stores of your choice, for about $15-$17. You can also buy it digitally on iTunes for around $5! It's a great album to have, and I highly recommend that you at least listen to it this August! I know that it is on my wishlist and will be the first thing that I buy, once I have the funds that is! If you've listened to this album please let me know what you thought. I truly hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!
See you next time you jump down the Rabbit hole,