Shonen Knife - Overdrive

by Jeff Penczak Rating:9 Release Date:2014-04-14

Three-and-a-half decades, two dozen albums, several tribute albums (both to and, as their alter egos Osaka Ramones, by them), and a couple of DVDs later, these Go Go Go Girls return with their heaviest album to date. Founding member, songwriter, and singing guitarist Yamano Naoko is the lone mainstay throughout the band’s lengthy career, and this time out she focuses on her love of 70s hard, metallic rock, particularly the snarly, sweaty big-balled beats of the likes of Kiss, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Motörhead. Even the album title is pure Lemmy!

This makes other heavy metal maidens (sorry!) like Girlschool and Lita Ford natural signposts, but Yamano can’t hide her predisposition to bubblegum pop, so the band’s trademark pogo beats and giddy, boop-oop-e-doop vocals are still dripping off every lyric. You might be able to take the girls away from the J-pop, but you can’t take the J-pop out of the girls. They’re not quite AKB48, but they’re just as cuddly and cute. The tunes and party atmosphere are there but they still rock hard as hell.

‘Black Crow’ stomps all over the stage like a fire-breathing dragon. while ‘Dance to the Rock’ reveals their Ramonesian DNA is still intact, and their lyrics still revolve around perennial favourite subjects like food (‘Ramen Rock’, ‘Green Tea’, ‘Fortune Cookie’), animals (‘Black Crow’, ‘Like a Cat’), and their Nipponese heritage (see food). But then they surprise us with the ZZ Top-inspired boogie-oogie-oogie of the incessantly catchy ‘Shopping’ and the Buzzcock-esque, anime soundtrack-friendly ‘Like a Cat’ (complete with “meow, meow, meow”s, of course!) ‘Robots From Hell’ turns up the Sabbath wattage, and the set concludes with ‘Jet Shot’s for everyone, which suggests a David Gedge fascination. Like, who knew?!

The trio perform live on Marc Riley’s BBC 6 Music show on April 30 before heading over later that night to the Ruby Lounge (Manchester) to kick off a three-week UK/Ireland tour. Don’t miss ‘em!

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