Reiji Amaha “emerald” (Review)

VAZZROCK‘s bi-color series is in its 9th entry however, the quality continues as high as ever. ROCK DOWN‘s Reiji Amaha is a solid entry in the series that brings to the spotlight jazz-rock and a nostalgic 80’s pop sound.

Title:  天羽玲司-emerald-
Label: Tsukipro/Movic
Release date: 26/10/2018
Genre: Jazz-Rock / City Pop

Tracklist:

1 - DRAMA「ちょっとは距離を縮めよう」
2 - DRAMA「ありがとう」
3 - Rendez-vous
4 - 純情グラフィティ (duet with Taito Ban)
5 - Rendez-vous -off vocal-
6 - 純情グラフィティ -off vocal-

Track by track analysis:

3 – Rendez-vous

Rendez-vous brings the flamboyance of jazz-rock back to the spotlight. Everything about this instrumental is upbeat. VAZZROCK has had several jazz-rock entries in this bi-color series, however this song doesn’t sound anything alike those. Jazz’s trademark splashy drums and fast paced beats are a must to not only create an entertaining tempo for this song, but also to take the listener to a jazz club soundscape. At the same time playful organ melodies, a groovy bass line and blues-y guitar licks and riffs make it impossible to ignore this song.

Takuya Sato delivered an entertaining performance, grabbing the listener’s attention in the chorus.  With his sweet low toned vocals and control, he is a perfect fit for this classy jazz-rock tune. Solid opening song. 4.5/5

4 – 純情グラフィティ (duet with Taito Ban)

Junjou Graffiti‘s instrumental, counting with old school synths, fancy piano melodies, a simple drum machine beat,  a groovy bass line, strings and a whole lot of atmospheric synth hits, is an ode to 80’s Japanese pop. Although City pop is slowly being brought back to the spotlight, it has been a while since we’ve listened to such a good rendition of that nostalgic 80’s pop sound.

This duet features Takuya Sato and Taito Ban. Now, as far as singing goes, everyone knows Sato‘s worth as a singer, he’s proven it multiple times across several music projects. He’s a talented singer that can adapt well to other singers and has a lot of confidence and control over his low and mid registers. The question, however, was how would his counterpart, Taito Ban fare. Ban surprises with a solid performance. His singing tone is a bit nasal yet, at the same time, it is incredibly smooth. He balanced well with Sato‘s sweet mid-tones. The duo’s performance flowed well and fit the instrumental’s vibe. Junjou Graffiti is a throwback song like no other throwback song. 5/5

Final rating:

As we approach the end of VAZZROCK‘s bi-color series, the quality continues as high as ever. ROCK DOWN‘s members continue as well to show their unique colors and bring interesting music to the table.

This release put emphasis on a fun and upbeat sound that easily captures the listener’s attention. Simple melodies, catchy hooks and funky instrumentalization are some of the things that stand out when listening to this release.

There is the flamboyance of jazz-rock found in the melodies of Rendez-vous and nostalgic City pop in Junjou Graffiti. Now, the later was something unexpected. In past bi-color releases, there have been several throwback songs released. However, none of those really embraced City pop, music genre (or sub-genre of pop music) that originated in Japan in the 80’s. Up until recently, that unique sound had been a thing of the past. Its simplicity, energy and groove are slowly making their return, either by being incorporated in a variety of music genres or by modern performances with the genre. This song follows the later. The instrumental might be of higher quality in comparison with songs of the genre released 30 years ago but this is, in my opinion, how and what City pop would sound like if it had been produced with today’s high fidelity gear.

Takuya Sato‘s performance in Rendez-vous was energetic but there was something lacking in the verses – as opposed to the flair that he brought to the chorus – that made it sound like he was shying away in his performance. It is still a solid performance but one that doesn’t stand out in this release. On the other hand, Junjou Graffiti continues VAZZROCK’s trend of all duets stealing the show. Taito Ban‘s vocals might not be among the best in this franchise but those are certainly interesting and with a lot of room for improvement. He showed a good control over his tone and that he can harmonize as well as contribute with smooth mid-tones. Sato and Ban’s singing tones don’t overlap which gave them more than enough room to shine. Their performance is one of the reasons why Junjou Graffiti is the best song in this release.

All in all, Reiji Amaha’s “emerald” might have failed to hit the mark, especially with a bit of shyness on the vocal end, however its entertaining tunes and consistent performances make this release another solid entry in the bi-color series.

VAZZROCK” bi-color Series (9) “Reiji Amaha – emerald –” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

"VAZZROCK" bi-color Series / Reiji Amaha (Takuya Sato) & Ayumu Tachibana Ayumu (Taito Ban)
Reiji Amaha (Takuya Sato) & Ayumu Tachibana Ayumu (Taito Ban)

 

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