[A3!] Autumn Troupe “Blooming AUTUMN” (Review)

Autumn troupe

The Autumn Troupe set the bar incredibly high with the impressive release of “Blooming AUTUMN“.

For those unfamiliar with the troupe, you can find a full breakdown about A3! and its units HERE. The Autumn troupe counts with: Shunsuke Takeuchi, Chiharu Sawashiro, Kento Hama, Kentaro Kumagai and Yuichi Jose.

Title: Blooming AUTUMN
Label: Pony Canyon
Release date: 01/11/2017
Genre: J-Rock/Jazz

Tracklist:

1. Just For Myself (Kento Hama & Kentaro Kumagai)
2. BUZAMA(Yuichi Jose & Shunsuke Takeuchi)
3. Living The Dream (Kento Hama)
4. ファインダー越しの絆(Kentaro Kumagai)
5. 雨のモノローグ(Yuichi Jose)
6. Just For Myself (off vocal)
7. BUZAMA (off vocal)
8. Living The Dream (off vocal)
9. ファインダー越しの絆 (off vocal)
10. 雨のモノローグ (off vocal)

Track by track analysis:

1. Just For Myself

What a way to kick off this mini-album! The imposing intro already shows everyone that no one is playing around for this performance. “Just For Myself” has everything a rock fan loves. With heavy instrumentalization leading the way, quickly a dark vibe takes over. If you’re a fan of hard rock songs in which the drums work is aggressive and technical – with lots of double bass sections and cymbals work -, slap bass and a mix of melodic and powerful guitar riffs, then this song not only will be an instant favorite of yours but will also have you headbanging to it in no time. The pacing is everything for this song. We have quiet sections in the verses – a good example is the initial synth and minimal dubstep-ish percussion imbued verse -, that part alone helped setting that dark vibe we’ve been talking about since the beginning. The pace quickens after that but it isn’t in a dramatic way. The chorus isn’t necessarily uptempo – it might seem like it because of the hi-hat and bass drums speed, but everything else is on a controlled mid-tempo. The instrumental’s powerful sound is due mainly to the heavy bass core of the instrumental, with the drums and bass playing an important role into shaping the whole vibe about this song. The vocal performances were surprisingly good. We weren’t expecting such a edgy and raw performance coming from Hama and Kumagai. A top performance on both ends. 5/5

2. BUZAMA

BUZAMA is the polar opposite of the previous track. Classier and investing on a melodic sound, this song will have you reach out for dancing shoes or a drink. It has a jazz bar vibe with some dance touches on it,responsible for that danceable vibe are the washy synthetic drums. Add some minimal synth parts, a bass, jazzy piano and guitars and you’ll have a full fledged “mafia” inspired instrumental piece – for those playing the game, this makes a whole lot of sense. BUZAMA not only is an interesting song but it also has an extremely rich instrumental – takes a few listens to notice every element on it. On the vocal department we find Yuichi Jose and Shunsuke Takeuchi, an unusual but extremely effective duo. Takeuchi‘s versatile low vocals and Jose‘s melodic mid-tones work completly in sync. Another quality performance. 5/5

3. Living The Dream

Picking up the pace we’re presented with the punk-rock tune “Living The Dream“. The instrumental is rather simple for this song, just the typical punk-rock ensemble: guitar, bass and drums, nothing more is needed for a song like this. Even if the instrumentalization is simple the song isn’t bland or anything of the sort, it just lacks the excitement that both previous songs had – which is not a major issue. This is the first solo track on this mini-album. On vocal duty we find Kento Hama, owner of an interesting singing color. For a first time listening to him, we find a trained singer with a solid falsetto and good control over his vocals. His energetic performance won us over. 4.5/5

4. ファインダー越しの絆

Another rock song joins the lineup.  ファインダー越しの絆 slows down a bit the tempo to deliver us a laidback rock tune with plenty of highlights on it. As the longest song on this release – over 5 minutes – there are challenges to keep it interesting to the listener, especially after the 3 minute mark. Thankfully, this instrumental keeps everything interesting for us. There are differences in instrumentalization between verses. Some start off quietly, others don’t and that is interleaved between the various parts of this song. A side note: we love that The Cure vibe that the guitar and drums gave to this instrumental. Kentaro Kumagai is one of the members of the Autumn troupe that has a good control over his low registry but can also go high on the scale if needed. And he’s got on his arsenal both vibrato and falsetto, two valuable weapons to tackle this song in great style. 4.5/5

5. 雨のモノローグ

To complete this release we’re graced with a golden jazz tune. Grab your glass of whiskey, sit comfortably on your seat and listen to this song in a classy fashion. You’re taken to a jazz bar/lounge atmosphere with this instrumental. The instrumentalization for this song is just as rich as almost all songs on this mini-album. Making his appearance for the first time for this Blooming CD is the contrabass. Those rich, low notes mixed with a rhodes piano, slow paced ride driven drums and blues-y guitar riffs are a delight to listen to. Also, the acoustic guitar solo was such a nice touch to this instrumental. Yuichi Jose tackles this song by himself and does a pretty good job at it. After so many energetic, high throttle songs, this one felt just right. A nice, refined way to close this mini-album. 4.5/5

Final rating:

Blooming AUTUMN is such a fantastic release. Consistency was key for this mini-album. Also, everything about it is rock driven and we loved it. Hard rock songs made their entrance in the A3! franchise in the best possible way. There’s not much we can add about it besides the fact that “Just For Myself” is an anthem, its instrumentalization left us wanting more and the Hama x Kumagai duo delivered the best performance on this release.

BUZAMA and 雨のモノローグ brought to the table jazz music, one of them with some elements of it, the other being a full out take on the music genre. BUZAMA showcased the unexpected chemistry between Jose and Takeuchi. Their vocals worked so well together as well as with the danceable “mafia” themed instrumental.

The solo songs had a little bit of everything: from Hama‘s punk-rock-ish Living The Dream to Kumagai‘s laidback rock tune ファインダー越しの絆 and Jose‘s jazzy goodness, 雨のモノローグ. This mini-album is filled with quality instrumentals with befitting, high quality performances.

The Autumn troupe has set the bar incredibly high for upcoming releases after this one. “Blooming AUTUMN” is a must listen release.

Blooming AUTUMN is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.

 

Vanessa Silvahttps://www.handthatfeedshq.com
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder and music reviewer writing about Japanese music since 2010. Also, the only person managing everything The Hand That Feeds HQ related. In 2011, I stumbled upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus". Since then I have been writing about male seiyuu music. You may find me writing almost essays whenever music is really good (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). I also host the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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