Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Shonen Knife – Super Group

To twist an already twisted album title even further, every Shonen Knife has a blog who loves them. Seriously – how can you not love Shonen Knife? Since 1980 the all-girl Japanese band’s blissfully catchy lo-fi punk-pop has been a fixture of college radio playlists and party mixes around the world. They even toured with that annoying, doomed grunge band who started the fad, and blew that band off the stage night after night. This new album, just out on Good Charamel, finds the band as fun as ever. Say what you want about their wobbly tempos (on this record, they’re actually pretty good), the fact that after all these years, nobody in the band has been able to master the English language, or that guitarist/bandleader Naoko’s chops have always been just barely sufficient to play what she writes. But she’s a walking encyclopedia of rock. There doesn’t seem to be a style she can’t lovingly appropriate and make her own, especially when she’s making fun of it. Punk pop, janglerock, psychedelia, metal, country, you name it, she puts her own devious spin on it. This new edition of the band features Naoko and drummer Etsuko joined by touring bassist Ritsuko who is now a full-fledged member of this Super Group.

As usual, the lyrics aren’t the easiest to understand, with characteristically Satie-esque song titles and even stranger subject matter. The title track is a characteristically sunny punk-pop number, Ritsuko nicking a familiar Bruce Foxton bassline – they’re all excited because their favorite band’s coming to town! The second cut has a garage punk feel: the Slug in the title has escaped his plastic bag. “Oh my goodness!” A Sabbath parody, the third track isn’t as laugh-out-loud funny as the classic Buddha’s Face (from the Brand New Knife album), but it’s still great. What’s most striking is how sincere and smart Naoko’s solo is – until she decides to make it hilarious.

Deer Biscuits aren’t something you step on – they’re what you feed to the deer at the park. This one’s a country song, but through the prism of the Beatles (think Act Naturally), stiff and completely tongue-in-cheek – it is impossible to hear this song and keep a straight face. Other songs return to the garage rock vibe, evoke the Smiths and then revisit the band’s trademark punk-pop. And their cover of Jet by Wings beats the original hands-down, right down to Naoko’s perfect replication of Jimmy McCullough’s silly solo. When the band sings “I thought the major was a lady suffer-a-gette,” it’s obvious that they don’t know what that means any more than the guy who wrote it. The best cut on the album is actually the bonus track at the end, Evil Birds, a strikingly bracing, eerie psych-pop number. The whole thing is a party in a box, and a great present for someone who thinks they know a lot about music – they’ll know more after they hear this.

Upcoming New York dates are at Santos Party House on Oct 16 and Brooklyn Bowl on Nov 17. Here’s the rest of the tour schedule:

10.17.2009 –

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

10.18.2009 –

Horseshoe Tavern

Toronto, ON

10.19.2009 –

Magic Stick

Detroit, MI

10.20.2009 –

Bottom Lounge

Chicago, IL

10.21.2009 –

First Avenue & 7th St Entry

Minneapolis, MN

10.23.2009 –

The Badlander

Missoula, MT

10.24.2009 –

Tractor Tavern

Seattle, WA

10.25.2009 –

Biltmore Cabaret

Vancouver, BC

10.26.2009 –

The Nightlight

Bellingham, WA

10.27.2009 –

Doug Fir Lounge

Portland, OR

10.29.2009 –

Rickshaw Stop

San Francisco, CA

10.30.2009 –

Blank Club

San Jose, CA

10.31.2009 –

The Cellar Door

Visalia, CA

11.01.2009 –

Uptown

Oakland, CA

11.02.2009 –

Echo

Los Angeles, CA

11.03.2009 –

Casbah

San Diego, CA

11.04.2009 –

Plush

Tucson, AZ

11.06.2009 –

Sam’s Burger Joint

San Antonio, TX

11.07.2009 –

Fun Fun Fun Festival

Austin, TX

11.08.2009 –

Numbers Nightclub

Houston, TX

11.10.2009 –

Spanish Moon

Baton Rouge, LA

11.11.2009 –

Hi Tone

Memphis, TN

11.12.2009 –

The E.A.R.L.

Atlanta, GA

11.13.2009 –

Plaza Bowl

Richmond, VA

11.14.2009 –

Maxwells

Hoboken, NJ

11.15.2009 –

Great Scotts

Allston, MA

11.16.2009 – 8:00 pm

Johnny Brenda’s, 21+

Philadelphia, PA

buy tickets

11.17.2009 –

Brooklyn Bowl

Brooklyn, NY

11.18.2009 –

Mohawk Place

Buffalo, NY

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September 7, 2009 - Posted by | Music, music, concert, Reviews, Science | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Nice to see a Baton Rouge date listed!

    Comment by David Michaels | September 9, 2009 | Reply

  2. Very nice review. I think the title track is my favourite, but ‘Evil Birds’ is a close second!

    I wrote a review too: http://www.nipponrock.net/2009/09/11/review-shonen-knife-super-group/

    Comment by Jack | September 11, 2009 | Reply


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