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Open The Mouth Mighty Atom!
Amazon Saliva

Well lookie here, yet another example of the bizarre cross-pollination that happens routinely in the J-underground. Take one Tabata (ex-Boredoms, ex-Zeni Geva, now Acid Mothers Temple and the Cosmic Inferno), one NANI (from Ruins worshipers Zuinosin) and one Hide (Ultra Bide); mix well and stand back. Starters ‘Chicken Man’ and ‘Loco Weed’ come off sort of like a fuzzed-out Shonen Knife tribute, while ‘When Taking A Nap On The Green Couch’ brings in a drum machine for a sort of lo-fi electronica shredded by psychedelic guitar screech. ‘Stuck In Your Nose’ is a grungy trip-hop number that had me thinking Public Image Ltd. tribute, while ‘We Attack One More Thing ‘GO EAST” sounds a bit like the Final Fantasy soundtrack (no shit). Things head back to the rockin’ side for ‘Kevin Says!’ and with ‘Kintaloid/Yakuza Na Punker’ the early DEVO comparisons finally become crystal clear. It’s all sloppy as hell, the occasional English lyrics are patently retarded and the mix of styles is bewildering to say the least. But is it good? Oh yes, very… and only ¥1000, to boot. Better check their website, coz this baby could be difficult to track down…


St. Wonder
Kotori Punk

Ah, how could a heavy metal side project of Buffalo Daughter and DMBQ ever go wrong? Not this way, it couldn’t. St. Wonder is Metalchicks’ sophomore outing, and everything about it shows marked improvement over its predecessor. ‘Eye of Evil’s’ starts off on a deceptively stoney note, sounding suspiciously like an Electric Wizard or Pelican outtake. But with the ‘St. Wonder’ theme, suddenly (wtf?) we have Philip Glass-esque orchestral keyboard loops and angelic vocals! Then the guitars kick in and we get to what Metalchicks is all about: dance metal. For the most part it’s a pogofest from there, riding the crests of the technofied ‘Power to Girls’ and the anthemic ‘We Are The Warriors’ until the strangely jazzy ‘Tears for Fears/Conspiracy’ and the beautiful ambient electronics of ‘Unbreakable Bond That Ties Two’ wind things up. It’s anybody’s guess why suGar and Yuka have taken Metalchicks beyond vanity project status (although Yuka’s apparent retirement from DMBQ may have something to do with it), but it’s certainly a welcome addition to any BD fan’s collection, and may very well gain new converts from rivetheads and headbangers alike.


You Are There
Human Highway

It is well nigh impossible to do justice in words to ‘The Flames Beyond the Cold Mountain’ and ‘Moonlight’, the opening and closing tracks on You Are There. Imagine a frozen sonic landscape, echo-laden guitars making a quiet entrance. Then the most delicate of Ennio Morricone-esque melodies, a soundtrack to a spaghetti western noir.  Slowly the guitars build louder and louder over an excruciating interval, lifting your emotions further and further to heaven, culminating in a nearly impenetrable crescendo of white noise. And then the slow descent to a wasted Earth, spiraling like Icarus back towards these tiny islands. Sure, Mono have already drunk deep from this quiet-to-loud-to-quiet-again post-rock well, and things seem a bit more clinical and orchestrated than some of their earlier, rawer work. And, sure, the other tracks are basically filler in comparison. But that doesn’t lessen the power and emotional kick of this amazing album (produced by Steve Albini, no less). Be warned though: if you’re a Mogwai or Godspeed! fan, your roomies may be scraping your remains off the ceiling by the time you finish You Are There.