Articles - Obsessive/Compulsive Rock N Roll - Special: Japanese Freakout! - 12.29.03

***First, a pre-drool note to the losers.  My deepest, sexiest apologies for not doing an OC-Rocker last update.  I won’t bore you with excuses, but I will say that I think the hiatus did all of us good.  With your pleasure glands going full steam ahead, here’s a SPECIAL FUCKING EDITION of O/C-RNR!  While the majority of what you’ll be reading this month was previously published in MRR, I think much of what was initially written still applies/appeals to the stupid, non-sentimental webzine readers out there in BG land.  Besides, I added stuff!  It should also be mentioned that since this particular audience happens to be the most clued-in bunch of fuckers on the planet, you probably already know where to score this muck.  You know I love you.  Thanks for scrolling!***
 
I’d like to mix things up this month and focus on Japan.  Perhaps this is my way of justifying the outrageous lengths I will go to for good records, but I think there’s a bigger issue at hand.  Based on the quality of the current Japanese punk product, (not to mention the difficulty there is in getting the records here in the U.S.), I feel like an expose is in order.  You just don’t see these records trickle over to the U.S. in the amounts that they did 10 years ago or so (with the exception of Japanese hardcore records).  However, that doesn’t mean Japan has stopped producing.  Far from it!  While a couple of the 90s heavy-hitters are still kicking around with varying degrees of success, there are a number of new Japanese bands out there worthy of obsessing over. 
 
The Sneeze – “Chronic Wave” 7”EP
The first band I’d like to bring to your attention is THE SNEEZE.  Their Chronic Wave 7”EP is the best Japanese single I’ve heard in quite some time.  Although it might not be any more apparent in The Sneeze’s case than in any other, this single truly shows just how infatuated Japanese bands are with late 70’s/early 80s punk from across the globe.  This record sounds like something that placed in a time capsule in 1978, no fucking joke.  What’s strange is that you can’t really pin them down into any specific genre, as they have elements of pure punk, mod and power pop in their sound.  The title track is a pure UK-inspired punk anthem, which features something that can only be described as melodic snarl.  It’s pogo-inducing and almost confrontational, yet it’s got a hook that never lets up.  “They Were Not Here” takes a new-wave stance with the chorus’ repetitive drone, but the shift isn’t abrupt enough to stop the groove.  The single concludes with “Something Against You”, which immediately brings to mind “16 Wires” era REGISTRATORS.  Needless to say, the pop has finally arrived and the single concludes with the fullest tune.  I have no idea what it means when they sing “I just Chronic Wave myself”…but I like it!
(Needle Records, Usui-House 2F, 3-22-8 Kouenji-Kita, Suginami-Ku, Tokyo 166-0002 JAPAN)
           
Random Hearts – “Deadly Generation” b/w “No Reason Why You Cry” 7”
While The Sneeze’s sound is all over the place, there’s no confusion over the sound of RANDOM HEARTS.  Orchard Records has released their great 45, “Deadly Generation” b/w “No Reason Why You Cry”, which looks and sounds just like a Detour Records reissue.  What you have here some fantastic Mod/Power-Pop that sounds like it’s straight out of the UK circa 1979.  It’s pure ear candy and very strong rhythmically…it must be mod!  If you are a pop fan, look no further
(Orchard Records, no address.  E-mail:  orchard@k2.dion.ne.jp)
 
Frantic Stuffs – “Break Loose” b/w “Boring Town” 7”
There’s an interesting story behind this one.  I actually met a couple of members of this band at the second Las Vegas Shakedown!  How I even remembered this is beyond me.  It probably had something to do with the incredibly odd band name.  Anyway, I’m proud to say that my memory totally paid off (for once)!  Of all the recent Japanese singles I got, this is the one that sounds like it’s straight out of the 90s boom.  I’m immediately reminded of that GIMMIES Screaming Apple release (stop your hissing!), but they also sound like a speed freak REAL KIDS.  I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that they’ve pissed off a few Japanese club owners.  One listen will make this perfectly clear.  Like it says on the sleeve:  “REAL PUNK ROCK”.
(M.F.F.M. Records, no address.  E-Mail: mffm@tcct.zaq.ne.jp)    
 
Zymotics – “Watch The Worm” b/w “I Get To Be Hell” 7”
Might as well end this article with a bang.  This single was a total fucking shock to any hypothesis I might have had regarding current Japanese bands.  “Oh, they’re all going for that power-pop sound, going soft, etc”.  WRONG!  Keen followers of Japanese punk should immediately recognize Zymotics.  From their great first single on the Answer label to their tracks on Mangrove’s Ad Vice compilation, they’ve impressed me every time.  As great as their previous output was, their new 45, “Watch The Worm” b/w “I Get To Be Hell”, is far better than their other outings.  By a fucking mile!  They’ve gone for a total art punk sound, similar to that of KARATE PARTY and A-FRAMES (reeeeeeeeeeeally similar!).  And their Japanese!  What the fuck?  You have to realize that this is the same place that gave us THE STALIN, so anything goes!  This runs neck and neck with The Sneeze as my fave of the batch.  If I was a betting man, I’d say that 9 out 10 Blank Generation devotees would lose their shit over this single.  Yes, it’s that fucking good.
(Needle Records, Usui-House 2F, 3-22-8 Kouenji-Kita, Suginami-Ku, Tokyo 166-0002 JAPAN)
 
A Japanese Edition of…QUICKIES!!!!
The Sprouts – “Pins And Glasses” 7”EP (A must for Jellyroll Rockheads fans!)
(Sound Pollution Records, P.O. Box 17742, Covington, KY 41017)
D.S.B. – “No Fight, No Get” 7”EP (One of the best Japanese HC bands!)
(Deranged Records, P.O. Box 543, STN.P Toronto, ON, M5S-2T1 CANADA)
The HaveNots/The Soviettes – “Split” 7”EP (Best HaveNots material yet!)
(Nice & Neat Records, P.O.Box 14177, Minneapolis, MN 55414)
 
Until next time………………..
 
Mitch Cardwell
P.O. Box 23882
Oakland, CA 94623
U.S.A.
E-mail:  letsgethurt@yahoo.com

 
 
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