CD SALE! - $12.00
Here is the indie-rock legends' follow-up to 1997's out-of-print Bonehead. It features 17 songs (a few less on vinyl) and boats lots of cool original Jad Fair artwork.
Recorded in Toronto, Canada in 2000, Hello features the normal line-up with some additional help from Jason Willett. Quirked chord-digressed pop; cotton-candied love songs and geek-anthemic punk diatribes. Jad - I think I love you!! Hellllllooooo!!!!
"Hello" is quite an apt name for the new Half Japanese album considering it has been 4 years since their last album. But, it hasn't been a complete absence since their driving force and principle songwriter Jad Fair has released a dozen new albums in that time under different monikers or together with different bands, such as Jad Fair & Yo La Tengo, Adult Rodeo, Jad & Jason, Strobe, Jad & Kramer, and soon after this release we put out the excellent Jad Fair & Teenage Fanclub record!
Jad Fair is an international ambassador of rock'n'roll. He is constantly zipping around the world to Switzerland, Canada, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, where he records with friends. And his main band, Half Japanese - that he formed with his brother David over 20 years - is continually listed high in the "all time cult bands" charts and is touted internationally. There is even a documentary about the band well worth checking out entitled "The Band That Would Be King".
"Home" is an excellent mix of what Half Japanese are all about : eclectic indie-rock maliciously deviating from standard chord structures, nerd-punk diatribes, and beautiful love songs dripping in maple syrup.
The line-up this time features : John Sluggett - guitar, keyboards; Gilles Rieder - drums; Jason Willett - bass, guitar, keyboards; Rob Erickson - guitar, backing vocals; Dallas Good - guitar; Jad Fair - vocals, guitar. It was recorded in Toronto at Hallamusic by Nick Holmes.
The LP has a few less songs than the CD version due to time limitations. Artwork is original Jad Fair work. All of these songs are new and are exclusive to this album. (One song "temptation" is also on our recent compilation The Ecstasy Of The Agony)
\"This is wicked excellent love.\"
How can you hold anything against a guy murmuring that into your ear so sincerely, yet with a voice of wisdom that knows when love is not wicked excellent? Maybe you can, but you\'re a big stinky meanie. Jad Fair and this year\'s Half Japanese rock out here and there, Jad shouting out his words like some punk badass, but right beneath it is a river of gooey loooooove. Half Japanese are the Hello Kitty of punk rock... or whatever they call it these days.
Late in the album, \"some loudmouth\" makes Jad want to sock him, but he\'s too busy \"rocking on the side of good\" to really be concerned. Much like Jonathan Richman, who\'s certainly an influence on the proceedings, these songs are about the simple, profound joys of turning an amp up or smooching amongst fireflies in July. Along the way the band visit a bunch of different towns just for crazy kicks, like neo-garage stomp in \"Best Of The Best\" and downcast emo anxiety in \"No Doubt,\" all the while singing of maple syrup and kisses that send one airborne.
Okay, so Half Japanese are clever and goofy, clap... clap. But wait! It actually works. Granted, Fair\'s nasally, disjointed phrasing might be too much for some. But if that\'s not the case, this is golden scattershot pop made with childish glee, but lacking the self-conscious grating cuteness that some younger folks have drowned their music in, and without seeming, go ahead and shudder, ironic. And as previously mentioned, they like to kick out the jams too. To put it simply, Hello asks \"what if Pavement became Beat Happening?\"
Like the idea? Then have at it. (P.O. Box 419092, San Francisco, CA 94141-9092)
Everybody needs an anthem, something to which you can pump your fist and
shout. Something that makes you jump up and down, want to start a band, and
scream at the top of your lungs. Something so mindlessly glorious that you
can\'t help but think how kind and benign the world is because it\'s capable of
producing such a work. A three-minute blurt of simple-minded, uni-directional
rock-and-roll flameout. Happily, such an anthem doesn\'t have to remain
constant. Your anthem of choice can change from moment to moment, year to
year, mood to mood.
For the moment, \"Patty,\" from Hello, seems like a perfectly serviceable
personal anthem. A heartfelt, plainspoken song about overwrought, decent,
all-American lust for a person with the titular name, \"Patty\" overflows with
riffs, keyboard twiddles and frantic, propulsive rhythms. It\'s direct, silly
and noisy enough to ring from sea to shining sea as a pounding rock track
utterly worthy of anthemhood.
Even better, Half Japanese aren\'t really the sort of band inclined to produce
anthems in the first place. A rotating lineup of sidemen backing Jad and David
Fair, these guys have been around for decades, authoring affable little
garage-rock haiku. On the band\'s early records, much of this work was composed
of twiddling guitars and Jad\'s nasal talk-sing. Most songs finished in little
more than a minute, sounded largely improvised, and involved Frankenstein as a
lyrical leitmotif. Virtually every song served as a poignant metaphor for
personal and social disaffection, as Jad\'s narrators struggled against cowboys,
monsters and his own crippling shyness. And in most of these pitched battles,
he found himself on the losing side.
Frankenstein\'s still around, happily, but Hello distinctly falls into
the more recent, relatively relaxed region of Half Japanese\'s discography.
Backed by an able rhythm section, Jad goes it alone this time, pounding out
developed, somewhat nuanced rock songs that never give up his musical
adolescence\'s charming na´vetÚ and idiosyncrasy. Though the opener, \"All the
Angels Said Go to Her,\" musters an almost-soulful groove, it still nicely
complements Jad\'s loopy lyrical vision and the inimitable whine of his vocals.
Not unlike something from his collaboration with Yo La Tengo, where he pieced
together spoken-word narratives out of tabloid headlines, Fair sounds less
agitated and better adjusted than on past works, instead writing (gasp!) an
anxiety-free love song.
For a great one-two punch, the band follows the track with the awesome,
aforementioned \"Patty,\" which continues the party in fine form. And
\"Temptation\" seals the deal with a discordant scrawl reminiscent of Japanese
discs past. In fact, most of Hello\'s length is composed of such
pleasures-- wall-to-wall guitar fuzz backing up Fair\'s endearing little
Anyone following Half Japanese\'s albums over their long stay in the rock arena
has to enjoy the project\'s increasing comfortableness with complexity and
craft. Hello demonstrates this sophistication to terrific effect,
letting Jad\'s charming quirks take flight with more complex backgrounds. It\'s
the sort of development that deserves its own anthem. Good thing the boys were
smart enough to write one.