Review | Naosuke Oyama “citrine×emerald”

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VAZZROCK

Naosuke Oyama brings a balanced mix of pop-rock, funk and disco to the spotlight with “citrine×emerald”.

VAZZY consists of Tarusuke Shingaki (leader), Yusuke Kobayashi, Masahiro Yamanaka, Yusuke Shirai, Tsubasa Sasa, Shun Horie.

ROCK DOWN consists of Yukitoshi Kikuchi (leader), Yoshiaki Hasegawa, Takuya Sato, Taito Ban,Takuya Masumoto, Keisuke Koumoto.


Title: 大山直助-citrine×emerald-
Label: Tsukipro/Movic 
Release date: 29/10/2021
Genre: Pop-rock / Funk / Disco

Tracklist:

1 - ドラマ「猫になる」
2 - ドラマ「猫を洗う」
3 - Beyond Imagination
4 - Changing!Changing!Now!
5 - Beyond Imagination -off vocal- 
6 - Changing!Changing!Now! -off vocal-

Track by track analysis:

3 – Beyond Imagination

Distorted piano melodies lead the way for “Beyond Imagination”. Slowly, high-pitched strings join in, setting the stage for the traditional rock quartet to make its entrance.

Bassy drums – with a lower tuned snare -, a punchy bassline, and mid-tempo electric guitar riffs paint this bright and upbeat soundscape, taking you to the chorus.

The chorus takes those emotions and cranks them up, spreading good vibes with its balance between delicate strings and piano and the intensity and depth in the rock side of the instrumental. On top of all that, Tsubasa Sasa’s vocals add a bit of energy and excitement to the performance.

Solid introduction to this release.

4 – Changing!Changing!Now!

This is the type of song in which you don’t need more than a couple of seconds into it to know it is all about its groovy basslines and funk sound.

Insanely funky guitar riffs and a mid-tempo bass-drum beat set a mature, playful tone to “Changing!Changing!Now!”. The verses nod to 70s disco and funk however with a contemporary twist to it – especially noticeable in the choice of synths – but the bassline is exactly what you’d expect from funk from that era, keeping things simple and effective.

As a result, the verses are as bouncy as you can get, making you want to dance along to it. Strings join in as accents in this song, serving as the perfect contrast to all the bass goodness going on in the instrumental.

Now, the chorus is, easily, among the catchiest in the VAZZROCK franchise. The bassline cranks up, getting even punchier, the drums have the bass accentuated in post-production, the guitars keep on delivering funky riff after funky riff and those strings + brass + synths combo is a pure delight to listen to.

On top of all that is none other than Tsubasa Sasa’s gentle mid-toned vocals and Takuya Sato’s mature, bass vocals.

With all the bass going on in the instrumental, in the verses, especially in the first couple of seconds, it doesn’t sound like Sato is actually the one paired up with Sasa. However, as the song progresses, Sato goes full blast with his powerful vibrato and suggestive lower tones – a trademark of his -, and that’s when you know that yes, this duet shows a lot of promise right off the bat.

And when that chorus kicks in, the contrast between Sasa’s gentle, mellow baritone vocals shines, with Takuya Sato’s vocals complementing him where he lacks in the vocal range. As a result, you have one of the grooviest performances and one of the most addictive instrumentals so far in the 3rd season of the bi-color CD series.


Final considerations

Naosuke Oyama’s entries in the bi-color CD series are always something I look forward to because of 2 things: Tsubasa Sasa is a good singer – underrated within the VAZZROCK franchise – and Oyama always brings a little bit of dance/funk to the spotlight, something other characters in this franchise don’t dare to do.

“citrine×emerald” is no exception. This is a groovy CD with a perfect balance between being energetic + hopeful and mature + entertaining.

Beyond Imagination” isn’t a particularly groundbreaking song but its inspiring vibe will certainly catch your attention.

If you’re the type of person that loves uplifting songs but want those to have a softer sound, Oyama has an easy-listening rock sound waiting for you. Tsubasa Sasa approached this song with a hopeful edge in his vocals, enhancing the inspiring tone in the song.

Changing!Changing!Now!” adds funk to the 3rd season of the bi-color CD series. Now, this song is all about its groove, having an old-school – or should I say, “purist” – approach to funk and disco music.

Strings and brass take over this instrumental, adding that old-school factor to this song, with funky guitar riffs and a punchy bassline adding the final touches to what is the catchiest song released so far in this season.

Tsubasa Sasa and Takuya Sato teamed up for this song and let me tell you: it’s bloody awesome. Sasa is really comfortable in that mid-range, having a higher twist to his baritone vocals whereas Sato goes all out in the higher range in his vocals (high bass) but with a mature twist given to the performance – especially noticeable in the chorus -, bringing his alluring bassy vocals to the spotlight.

Sasa and Sato’s vocals ended up covering quite a bit of range, most of the instrumental, ending up enhancing the bass and mid-range while leaving the stage open for those playful brass and strings combo.

A bundle of fun to listen to, Naosuke Oyama’s “citrine×emerald” is filled with inspirational moments and addictive funk/disco music that will make you want to dance to no end.


citrine×emerald is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.


REVIEW OVERVIEW

Beyond Imagination
Changing!Changing!Now!

SUMMARY

Naosuke Oyama's CDs in the bi-color series are always a treat to listen to and "citrine×emerald" is no exception. From motivating - and putting a smile on your face - and inspiring the listener in "Beyond Imagination" to the mature and addictive danceable sound in "Changing!Changing!Now!", there is no shortage of good moments or catchy choruses or fancy performances. If you're looking for a "softer" take on rock music and fancy funk and disco, this is an entry you must check in this 3rd season of the bi-color CD series.
Vanessa Silva
Vanessa Silvahttps://www.handthatfeedshq.com
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder, content creator, and music reviewer. Basically, the only person managing everything at The Hand That Feeds HQ. Stumbling upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus" in 2011 was the start of this journey. If music is thought-provoking or deep, you may find her writing almost essays (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). She's the producer and host of the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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Naosuke Oyama's CDs in the bi-color series are always a treat to listen to and "citrine×emerald" is no exception. From motivating - and putting a smile on your face - and inspiring the listener in "Beyond Imagination" to the mature and addictive danceable sound in "Changing!Changing!Now!", there is no shortage of good moments or catchy choruses or fancy performances. If you're looking for a "softer" take on rock music and fancy funk and disco, this is an entry you must check in this 3rd season of the bi-color CD series.Review | Naosuke Oyama "citrine×emerald"