Since I’ve gotten into Japanese music, I’ve essentially been closely tied almost exclusively to Hello! Project. I’ve branched out on rare occasion, but they have ultimately been the essence of everything I listen to. When I discover another group that legitimately catches my attention, then it is definitely worthy of mention. callme is one of those groups.
Having just formed this year, they released their first album on the 28th of October: Who is callme? The album opens up with a track that serves as an intro to callme in the form of a report. It then leads straight into the only song on the album to get a music video, ‘step by step’. This is a great and catchy song that is a great way to kick off their debut album. The song flows very smoothly and is the kind of song you could bob your head to as you feel at peace. Their vocals are mostly soft and help induce a mood of calm happiness. It’s a very pleasant song that retains just enough of a pop that it still feels really catchy. Having started off with something a little stimulating, ‘My affection’ helps to maintain this mood with a sense of stability. It doesn’t offer anything entirely enticing but is a very nice and calm follow up to the album’s starter. It feels a bit monotonous, which is great with the progression of the album. This leads into ‘Oh yeah!’ which hits the spirit a bit harder. The song itself starts off relatively calm and goes into a beat that more involved and exciting. The song ends in a fade out, thus ending what I like to consider the first act of the album.
‘Precious’ is a song that contains a lot of English. In fact the whole song is almost exclusively sung in English. It contains a very simple beat to follow, and is led by the rap-style instead. It helps to create a completely different setting that is more personal, telling a more intimate story than what was present in the first act. The next song, ‘Falling for you’, evolves with a more hip beat and tone. It’s not as exciting as the previous songs, but it helps evolve the mood that is developing. ‘game is mine’ is the kind of song I would expect to see as the intro for a super-stylish anime with a lot of fight scenes. It kicks off with a strong sound and follows through with it all the way to the end, attacking your ears with a steady stream of music. Having just had a tough journey, we conclude the second act with ‘For you’. It feels like an appropriate way to add a sense of closure to the first half of the album. Playing off the theme of the previous song, it feels like it’s representing a final fight before a much needed rest.
Appropriately enough, this leads into an interlude track, which makes one feel like they are going on a walk to progress forward on a trip. It then goes straight into the third act with a strong feeling. I especially enjoyed ‘I’m alone’, with its piano-centric sound. It has very smooth yet drastic transitions. Based on the story this album tells, this would be the climax of the album, where everything comes together before it leads into the final act. It’s very catchy and invigorating. ‘Like a breeze feels like a direct extension of ‘I’m alone’, continuing the same aural story into a sort of conclusion.
Thus ends the third act and leads into another interlude. The final three songs, ‘Be myself’, ‘My Style’ and ‘just trust’, feel like a farewell. The first song is catchy and upbeat, sounding like a sort of celebration. The second song expresses a feeling of victory. Like we went on a really long journey and are finally on our way home. Nothing can keep us from getting home, now that we’ve accomplished whatever goals we set out for. The final song is almost like a goodbye. It’s very calming and reassuring. It holds your hand as you relax and calm down before the album ends, and thus ends the story.
Rather than focusing on the specific musical quality of this album, I chose to focus on what it does best: take you on a journey. It’s the kind of album you want to listen to in one sitting the first time, to fully absorb the emotions it expresses and the way it progresses from beginning to end. The music itself tells a very compelling story that is very unique to most of the music I have listened to, and is a very welcome and fresh thing in this world of instant gratification. It keeps a very prominent theme of serenity throughout, while still being able change with each song. It’s quite beautiful how it all falls together.
Having just graduated from Dorothy Little Happy earlier this year, they’ve worked hard to build this self-produced album. It took them a four months of hard work to create ‘Who is callme?’ The meaning behind the title is more than just an introduction, but also a questioning of who they are as a new group, says Ruuna. “Our members and staff put in a lot of effort to bring this piece together. We want people to simply listen to our music without any prejudice and ask this same question.” I agree with Ruuna’s statement completely, and an appreciation can come through absorbing the album as it is. There aren’t many groups that completely produce their own music, and this is especially unheard of in the Japanese idol scene. That’s truly special.
Mimori composes the music; Koumi does the dance choreography and is also good at English; Ruuna is the leader; they all write the lyrics together. As a result of this approach, it has a much more personal touch since each of the girls is directly invested in each song, rather than having an overseeing figure who does most the hard work like most J-pop acts. This is one group I’ll be keeping my eyes on for the foreseeable future and I recommend you do the same. If they keep up with this type of quality, they will be a very fresh and welcome addition to the J-pop scene.
Their first single (To Shine) and their first album (Who is callme?) are both available in iTunes. If you prefer physical copies, you can also buy them on cdjapan. Check them out!
- Teepu (Bowser05)
- Akimoto Ruuna (秋元瑠海)
- Tominaga Mimori (富永美杜)
- Hayasaka Koumi (早坂香美)
For More Information:
callme’s Official Site: http://avex.jp/callme/
callme’s Official Twitter: https://twitter.com/callme_official
callme’s Official Instagram: https://instagram.com/callme_official/
callme on mumo Shop: http://shop.mu-mo.net/avx/sv/list1?jsiteid=MSW&artist_id=CALLM
callme on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/callme/id968272102
callme on cdjapan: http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/person/700706365
All photos courtesy of avex.
◆ Rin Rigoni