Half Japanese - Boo! [VINYL] - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Half Japanese - Boo! [VINYL]

by Andy Brown Rating:8 Release Date:2015-10-23

Boo! Don’t get too scared now, it’s only Jad Fair’s seminal lo-fi indie heroes Half Japanese. Getting a re-release just in time for Halloween and coming with a removable mask, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the album was a novelty, ‘spooky’ record (which would be no bad thing in my book). Yet beyond the title and a song about Frankenstein it really isn’t that at all.

It is however a superb record and a handy introduction for any newcomers to the bands off-kilter, punkified indie. The album is a 24 song live document of the bands 1992 European tour, including snapshots of performances in Switzerland, Holland and Germany.  The recordings are raw and untamed, reminding me what a fantastic party band Half Japanese are.

There’s not many songs that stretch much beyond the 2 minute mark and it’s an adrenaline soaked, electrified gallop from the get go. Take the opening gambit of ‘Open Your Eyes’ and ‘Big Mistake’, guitars crackle and fizz as Fair rants and reminds us that “dreams really do come true”.

Stone cold classics such as ‘I’ll Change My Style’, ‘Charmed Life’ and Daniel Johnston’s ‘King Kong’ sound as if they’re on the edge of collapse, a beautiful, frantic mess of discordance. The band’s loose, instinctive style turns the songs from pop gems to noise within the space of a few notes. The likes of 'Fire in the Sky' and 'Frankenstein Must Die!' will satisfy anyone looking for avant-garde, Truman's Water levels of noise and chaos too. 

Always the hopeless romantic the band reveal their soft underbelly with a few of their finest slow-burners, the best of which has to be the swooning ‘Silver and Katherine’. It’s hard not to be affected when Fair sings, “I never once lost hope, at least not for very long”. There’s a genuine openness and honesty to Fair’s songwriting that sits in perfect/imperfect harmony with his love of noisy rock 'n' roll.

Although the press release mentions the bands famous fans  (Sonic Youth and Nirvana amongst them) Half Japanese are and always were in a field of their own. Happy making a harsh, unravelling racket as well as crafting some of the sweetest songs you could hope to hear; Half Japanese are the perfect showcase for Jad Fair’s unique songwriting and approach to music. All this and you get the barnstorming, drunken-funk of ‘Sex at Your Parents House’. What more could you ask for this Halloween?

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