Music Reviews

Half Japanese


Alternative Tentacles

Y’know, I have this pal Chris, and I’ve been trying to turn him on to as much music as humanly possible since we were in high school. I got him into Skinny Puppy, Helloween, Death, Obituary, Cathedral, Morbid Angel, Carcass, Godflesh, Tricky, whatever. So here’s the deal, I see him for the second time in forever, sit him down, and I’m all excited cuz I want him to watch The Band Who Would Be King, and he fucking sits there snickering the whole time, questioning Jad Fair’s sanity and masculinity! Whattacock! If it weren’t for fucking Korn and Hed(pelrkjelrj), he wouldn’t be acting like this. Fuck them. Jad Fair’ll show them all.

As if on cue, Hello seems more gnarled and blues-y, jettisoning a lot of the open-eyed naivete of earlier recordings. Jad is totally turning into what Lou Reed should be today, if ole Lou hadn’t become a pompous, empty scarecrow, that is, a drone-voiced master of two-chord amphetamine-blues. Yee-esss. Like on “Best of the Best,” mod hand claps, infectious geetar crunch, and Jad yelping on top of the whole thing. Half Japanese is so fucking awesome because they are a blueprint for the path that rock and roll should have taken. So you can watch (we’re talking temporal peers here) Aerosmith act like the “cool dad” and get skin flakes all over N’Sync, or you can listen to kick-fucking-ass albums like this one. Um, yeah, Half Japanese are superior peers of Aerosmith.

Easily, Half Japanese are near the top of the rock stomp altar of greatness. “Patty” is awesome, like the second coming of “Moving On Up,” with a timeless Ready! Steady! Go! feel. “The Legend of Hillbilly John” mines their rich tradition of monster songs, and hits the aural vein of pure White Light, White Heat. “No Doubt” and “Red Sun” are so fragile and yearning that you could crush them if you looked at ‘em the wrong way. Oh yeaaah, that’s how a love song should be. “The Good Side” sees Jad offering to take “loudmouths” out and slap ‘em around over a brutal Stones-y riff. Closer “Happyland” is too perfect; it nicks a riff from somewhere, and I can’t remember where, but it crawls along beautifully, like a glass snake, and Jad swoons and mumbles along. Goddamn, there are seventeen transcendent songs on this record, I can’t get to them all! Very highly recommended! Fuck you, Chris.

Alternative Tentacles, Box 419092, San Francisco, CA 94141

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