Shambling dissonant geek-rock/fidelity-eschewing godheads Half Japanese shock the indie world with their first new studio album in 13 years. Always an acquired, divisive taste, this brother-led band of envelope-pushing ragamuffins nevertheless are hugely influential on the US underground and way beyond. This is a real treat for haters of contemporary music who yearn for the brighter, less studious days. The thinking man's GBV are back! Get involved. Yes, we know Kurt adored them yada-yada. Judge them on their own merits though.
LP £14.49 JNR151LP
LP on Joyful Noise.
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CD £11.99 JNR151CD
CD on Joyful Noise.
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I've always struggled a little with Half Japanese, be it the semi-unlistenable guff that forms half their back-catalogue or that man’s voice. You know that voice. Jad Fair often deploys one of the most bleared nasally, yelpy cartoon American voices ever, falling somewhere between Fred Schneider, Jonathan Richman, Darren Hayman and Bob Pollard. On silly pills. It's not as annoying as it used to be. This is the first album I've sat through by them in donkey's and on second listen it's making quite an impression on me. I didn't like it much when it was played at work. I think that's 'cause work smells. They're sounding more in the vein of Guided By Voices these days. Old hands just waiting to roll up their sleeves and make a bent-out-of-shape shambling indie rock weird-out.
'Eye Of The Hurricane' is my favourite auld track by them but the loose ragged Red Krayola-ish rock of 'Meant To Be That Way', the stoned baggy fuzz of 'Brave Enough', the grinding art-wibble psycho-rock inherent in 'Do It Nation or the lovely languid Lapse-tinged 'The Time is Now' would suggest a different band were it not for Jad's inimitable tonsils. Moving on, 'Our Love' is reminiscent of a cracking lost Magazine track, then the thoroughly brilliant 'Shining Star' hits - this lairy bitch is right up there with GBV at their best. An edgy, casual wiry punky beaut with a thrillingly authentic Stooges-esque swagger. Onwards into 'Each Other's Arms', a relatively downbeat drinker's song with scratchy guitar, wry humour and undeniable panache. There's other tunes too. Do you want me to sing them to you?
This is their first new album blah de blah for many aeons. Buy it, it's a "Joyful Noise" and could well be my album of the week. Super art as always from this lovely old madhead. So glad to have them back. Here comes the humble pie eating when I re-investigate their back catalogue and enjoy it loads more than I did when I was 18.
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