I log onto MyAnimeList every day to organise my anime and discover new ones to watch. So, when I logged on one day to make an amendment, I didn’t plan to discover a new album. But that’s exactly what happened.

The album in question is the new album of Ohashi Trio, a Japanese singer-songwriter and composer. Yet, from what I can tell, he’s far from your typical image of a singer-songwriter. His talents know no limits, for he can play the guitar, bass, piano and drums. His music is all based around jazz and acoustic music and he’s been featured in various different dramas and advertisements.

So, if that’s the case, how did I find him on MAL?

A lot of the lyric videos for his new album, STEREO, feature animation and, although it’s fairly minimal and not exactly typical of ‘anime’, apparently this is more than enough for him to feature on the website. Hey, I’m not complaining. I found a great album because of this.

So, what’s the music on his album like?

VENUS starts off with an anime OP vibe, before slowly transitioning into a more alternative-sound. Ohashi Trio’s vocals are simple, almost a complete opposite to the melodic rhythms that you hear throughout the track. From my perspective, the lyrics talk about an unrequited love, with Ohashi attempting to lure the woman in question out and experience some fun with him, something dangerous. Personally, I love the guitar solo in this song. It’s not the most extravagant of solos, but it certainly adds to the simplicity of the rest of the song. VENUS throughout is a song that you can nod your head to or tap your toes to. It is certainly a nice song to open the album with.

Embark is the first song on the album whose chorus is prominently sung in English. With a typical rock-pop vibe to it, the song is about going for the things we want to do. “Why are we standing still?” asks Ohashi within the song. The rock-pop vibe I previously mentioned is quite typical-sounding to British pop in the 90s, so it’s probably no surprise to anyone that this one is one of my favourites on the album. It is quite repetitive, but that just makes the lyrics a little easier to remember, right? It is the longest song on the album, coming in at just over six minutes, but with so many elements to admire in the song, there’s little chance for you to become bored.

タイミング  (which I believe translates to “Timing” in English, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong!) is a lot simpler than VENUS. Its rhythm is one that frequently reminds me of the OST from the Love Live! mobile game, but this certainly isn’t a bad thing for me. The instrumental itself is more Motown-sounding, with the guitars in the song reminding me of the likes of Nile Rodgers. For this track, the lyrics are more to do with missing opportunities and the slower tempo and less complicated instrumental compared to the previous tracks certainly have this reminiscent tone, whilst maintaining the same joyfulness in some sort of weird antithesis.

面白きかな人生 (in English called “Interesting Life”) is one of the more joyful tracks of the album and without a doubt one of my favourites. There’s just something about the track that not only reminds me of classic children’s cartoon Spongebob Squarepants, but it also makes me smile and click my fingers alongside the beat. The keys make a jazzy appearance in a lovely key solo which features plenty of glissandos. As a pianist myself, this makes me super happy to hear, if not a little biased! Interesting Life is certainly a lovely little track to listen to on a nice summer or spring evening.

Despite it being a somewhat cringey or stereotypical statement, SHE would be the track off of this album I’d pick if I had to pick one to be on an anime OST. It starts with a male chorus, which is again prominent in the chorus, but transitions in an acoustic verse in which Ohashi sings by himself. The lyrics are somewhat quite sad, for in them Ohashi sings about remembering a relationship. To my interpretation, he sings about a relationship where he might have not put in enough effort, however, like all lyrics, it’s all interpreted differently by different people. SHE isn’t spectacular in terms of being unique, but it’s certainly a nice track to listen to.

双子の約束  (“Twin Promise”) isn’t exaclty my favourite on the album, but I do have to comment on the unusual instrumentation it has at times, particularly in the instrumental part in between the chorus and verse. The keys in particular stand out, bringing a more vintage or retro sound to the track. I do feel at times that they keys are more prominent than they should be, but this is personal taste more than anything.

birth (sic.) is certainly one of the darker tracks on the album. It sounds almost melancholic with everything at a lower pitch than the rest of the albun. However, with no lyrics to interpret, it’s hard to say what the actual words are and whether it is appropriately darker than the rest of the album. Of course, despite the darker tone, it’s still nice to listen to and its tone shouldn’t put you off from having a listen.

STEREO is the titular track on the album. It’s intro reminds me somewhat of perhaps an Elton John track, but Ohasi’s vocals washes that away and he makes it his own. Similarly to Embark, Ohashi uses English lyrics, however STEREO is completely sang in English. There is no Japanese within this track. In the lyrics, Ohashi speaks of missing someone he was presumably in a couple with. The instrumentation within this track is arguably the simplest on the album, but it without a doubt makes a lovely impression and turns the track into a lovely love song.

スノーマン  (literally Snowman) is one of the more emotional tracks on the album. Despite having no lyrics online, translated or otherwise, with the title of the song, the piano being as dominant in the song as it is, and the slow tempo, anyone could interpret this song to be about leaving someone, or someone leaving you, even with a lack of Japanese knowledge. It’s certainly a nice ballad to listen to with a couple of guitar solos, but its nothing really spectacular.

鳥のように (or Like A Bird) is certainly a pretty song despite how simple it is. The song has the same guitar riff playing throughout the entire song. The simplicity transitions into a more peaceful, tropical vibe about halfway through the song, giving it a rather summery feel, particularly with the various different flutes playing in the background and the tambourines that you can faintly hear. The lyrics go on to express adventure, with Ohashi saying “Do not have a map; we will continue our journey; just like a bird.”

The remix of SHE, the last track of the album, would be far from being featured in an anime OST. In fact, although I like the newly found tempo, the remix does make it sound a little messy in places. What I do like, however, is the rap that features in it. SIRUP – the musician who remixed the track – usually specialises in R&B and Rap and you can certainly hear the R&B influences in this track. SIRUP adding his own rap to the track certainly makes it and definitely ties the messiness together a little. I do prefer the original of SHE if I’m completely honest, but it’s certainly not a bad remix… And I learnt about SIRUP at the same time!

Coming across Ohashi Trio the way I did was certainly unique, but not as unique as his music. It’s simple by all means, but you can hear his emotion in every song, which is something that often goes amiss by a lot of artists. Stumbling across an artist like this doesn’t happen all too often, which is why I’d share his music with you guys today! I recommend listening to this album whilst you study, write or simply relax with a glass of wine. It’s certainly an album I’m glad I’ve discovered and it’s one that I’ll keep listening to every so often.

Rating: 8/10

You can listen to STEREO by Ohashi Trio on Spotify and Apple Music!

Love the album? You can buy it here: CDJapan // Ohashi Trio Official Website


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