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Archive for June, 2009

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After their performances over the weekend on the main Korean networks came to an end, SNSD’s 2nd mini-album delayed on controversial choices for the album cover, is finally released to the public with a brand-spankin’ new, somewhat revised album cover. (switch between the post earlier and this one).

Overall impressions on this mini-album is quite positive. I’ve already reviewed the title track, Genie in my previous post, so onto the track #2 Etude. It’s somewhat reminiscent of Baby Baby – very light-hearted with just a bit more punch. Track #3, 남자친구 (Boyfriend) starts up fast with some interesting lyrics said real fast in English:

So many boys wanna give it to me
But I want you boy give it to me
Cause Im so ready for give it to me
So many boys wanna give it to me
But I want you boy give it to me
Cause Im so ready for give it to me

Jokingly, how it was sung it instantly reminded me of Sisqo’s unforgettable-forgettable hit, Thong Song to the part where he says, “…Ooh that dress so scandalous…”. Despite the underlying cheesyness of that, It’s a great pick-up track after the somewhat slowdown from etude. Track #4, 동화 (My Child) is almost something out of a Disney movie — the instrumentation anyway. The harmonies are delivered effortlessly. In terms of rhythm, we’re on some sort of roller coaster, up, down, up, down; which leads us to the 5th track, 여자친구 (Girlfriend). The pace is picked up again, with a bit of an 80s flair; though sounds like a softer version of 힘내! (Way To Go), from the first mini-album. Solid track. Now for the final track, 1년 後 (One Year Later) we take it very slow with a duet from Jessica and SHINee’s Onew. Now, this isn’t the first time a duet made it onto a SNSD album; on the debut album Taeyeon paired with Kangta for the song 7989, which I reluctantly decided not to listen (as of now, still has 1 play according to iTunes). However this duet of Jess and Onew is a different story; my favourite member of SNSD singing with a member from SHINee. I warmed up to it easily and is one of the surprise tracks off that album. This was a chance to show off the vocal range of Jessica (and by extention, Onew) and both certainly did not disappoint. It is quite ballady (think Jonghyun’s solo song, 혜야 (Y Si Fuera Ella) from SHINee’s album The SHINee World) but it really compliments both vocals.

Overall just a solid effort from the Girls. We all hope to see a 2nd full album in the not to distant future. Tracklist as follows:

  1. 소원을 말해봐(Genie)
  2. Etude
  3. 남자친구 (Boyfriend)
  4. 동화 (My Child)
  5. 여자친구 (Girlfriend)
  6. 1년 後 (One Year Later)

Release Date: 2009-06-29 (originally 06-25)
.zip file, 48MB (files @ 320kbps)
mp3 files properly tagged with album art
link via Mediafire

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The comeback performances from SNSD over the weekend are nothing short of amazing! Combining both Etude and Genie for the MBC Music Core and SBS Inkigayo performances is simply a double treat, but I’m sure, like Gee, Genie will be performed alone in future TV appearances (although we hope to see standalone etude performances too). Something which caught my eye was the jelly-legged dance during the chorus; a bit mesmerizing to say the least^_^
Here’s the perfomance from June 27th Music Core on MBC and see if you notice it too:

The mini-album, which was delayed a few more days on account of some controversy regarding the original album cover should be out today in Korea.

Sticking with KPop, Wonder Girls have begun touring stateside, opening for Jonas Brothers; and most recently re-released their hit single, “Nobody” completely in English. Now, when it comes to artists in Japan or Korea making the move to sing in English in America, reaction is mixed; even now, from my opinion, JPop singer Utada Hikaru (aptly known as Utada outside of Japan) really isn’t showing her true potential with her 2 full English releases. She doesn’t fit the urban bill and it seems that’s what Island Def Jam (her label in America) keeps pushing for. Wonder Girls however seemed to make a seamless transition from Korean to English, simply by English-izing an already popular song in “Nobody”. The group already fits that type of sound and while it seems to have been a safe bet to re-release “Nobody” in English, there is a better chance of a good reception in their debut; as most fans would welcome them singing in English; particularly if it happens to be really catchy. From what I gather, they also plan to re-release Irony as well as Tell Me in English.
You be the judge, here’s the English version of Nobody:

Keeping up with reviews is becoming a bit difficult, that’s also the same for maintaining this blog. At times I do neglect it in favour of the main blog, but I do try to update it whenever I can, and I finally got around to doing so. In light of SNSD’s comeback the header and song reflect it. I hope to get more input back from the JPop side, as a few songs and artists have caught my eye. More to come

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SNSDgenie

Just a quick thing about the upcoming single by Girls’ Generation, now out before their comeback performances. It’s very reminiscent of Rihanna’s “Don’t Stop the Music”. Much like Gee, it’s instantly catchy; already amassed close to 100 plays according to my iTunes since late Tuesday.

The mini-album was supposed to be released on the 25th, but been pushed back to the 29th on account of the controversy surrounding the original cover art. A review for that will soon follow. Their comeback performance is on the 26th on KBS2’s Music Bank.

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Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G
Updating the Photography page was the one last thing to fully get my blog back up to date again. As you can see above is probably my last lens purchase for a while — the Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED. I was in a stalemate a few months ago whether to buy either this or the AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED. I would be happy with either, but with careful persuasion by friends and reading reviews, it would not only be more practical to get the 24-70/2.8G, I’d certainly get far more usage from it as well as it covers a decent focal length. My initial impressions on it after using it for almost 2 weeks is that it’s incredibly sharp and just well built. I absolutely love this lens. Weighing a hair less than 2lbs it’s still a great walkaround lens…but considering the body itself and the MB-D10 vertical grip/battery pack attached underneath (bought the same day), it’s now close to 6lb. To combat that, I bought the Lowepro Voyager C neckstrap. It’s far more comfortable than the stock D300-branded neckstrap Nikon provides. Most definitely the next thing on my list is a hotshoe flash — the SB-600 (since the SB-800 is discontinued).

Somewhat related is a minor name change for my flickr page. The URL remains the same, but I’ve changed the screen name — from YGC Photo to Yume Photo. The reason for the change is the usage of the word Yume (夢), meaning “Dream” is used many times for me as a constant phrase (“itsumo yume”-always dream) as well as the sub-phrase for the blog itself. Only fitting that I’d input it somehow for my works on flickr. The YGC Photo watermark, however, will remain on any new photos uploaded to flickr until further notice (which means when I get around to changing it). Archived photos will be left unchanged.

The flagship YGC blog is now fully updated, I need to focus on YGCtunes again. ’till then.

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Since returning to Vancouver 2 weeks ago, I’m happy to announce during that week of stasis for the figurines packed in my luggage, none were damaged from the flight — bubblewrap certainly works wonders. Before taking off to Canada on my last week in Japan, I could only afford to buy one last figure: the Hiiragi Tsukasa Figma. This week, thanks to Danny Choo I found a great Japanese hobby shop (aptly named “JHobby”) in Metro Vancouver that sells a variety of Figurines, mecha warriors, the whole nine. A little slice of Akihabara in Canada; there I picked up a Haruhi Suzumiya figurine. You can guarantee I’ll frequent that shop every chance I get!

Galleries for Tsukasa and Haruhi are found below:
Hiiragi Tsukasa (柊つかさ)
Hiiragi Tsukasa (柊つかさ)

Suzumiya Haruhi (涼宮ハルヒ)
Suzumiya Haruhi (涼宮ハルヒ) – 学ラン Ver

More to come.

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Kotojitoro Lantern (徽軫灯籠)

Although it appears from the first few posts on this blog, it was going to be a long few months. The way I see it now are hurdles to overcome — nothing I’ve experienced back in Vancouver. I would’ve easily given up by December if I thought all this negativity, and just bad luck kept raining down on me (on top of the actual crummy weather at the time). I’d say the turning point in the trip would be first week of December, at our area meeting. The after meeting dinner, where a few colleagues told me put your mind on something else; more or less like a distraction. There I also met who turned out to be one of my best friends on the trip. He re-introduced me into photography in a more serious way.

There is also living by yourself for that span of time. A few things were prominent when I was living alone, talking to myself became quite evident and losing count on how many times you’ve made ramen or yakisoba is kinda scary.

Acquiring the D300 and bringing my camera everywhere I went made me feel like I had no prior problems on the trip. It also opens my eyes to such amazing beauty around me, no matter how insignificant it is. I’ve since upgraded my gear, added a new battery grip and fantastic new lens. I’ve pursued to taking courses to better understand and acquire new skills.

Most importantly was the friendship, the comradery was so strong. Since some of the teachers lived in the same city, we’d always hang out practically every day. The times spent with them I’ll never forget

To close, if anyone is actually reading this, and decide to take a trip as this, do it. There will be rough patches but the overall experience and friendship you’ll make will greatly outweigh any hardship.

This blog itself will stay active as much as possible, now transferring Japan life to life back home, which includes a major update on the figurine and photography fronts.

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Peeking Through

Well, just under a week since arriving back home, I have yet to gather my thoughts on the trip as a whole. A few things are prominent in the back of my mind every time I see something either built or even just noticing something old for the first time is that I see things in a different perspective, be that from being away from home for so long or from a photographer standpoint, anything at home just seems a whole lot interesting, even if I’d be the only one who thinks so. But anyway, this blog is in dire need of updating; so much has happened in the past 2 weeks or so on all fronts of the blog; figurines and photography related. Well, actually just the entire look of the blog is in a need for a shakeup. I have this enormous amount of time in-between jobs I figured I should.

As for reflections, give it more time. cheers!

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