Wednesday, February 18, 2009

SXSW '09 Pick #5: Detroit7


Thirds Star From the Earth and other material
Rudie Records

Japanese rock, no matter what kind of style it is, whether punk, pop, garage, etc. is an animal unto itself. The Japanese seem to take any American cultural phenomenon and then add something to it that gives it more energy that makes it more fun. Japan's Detroit7 is no exception. Although the real exciting part of Japanese rock and roll is a live performance, this band sounds great recorded too. Unfortunately, the language barrier has alway been an obstacle for great bands who either don't sing in English or when they do, it's hard to decipher. That's unfortunate for us but also unfair for them, considering American and English bands are popular all over the world and people in non-English speaking countries will sing along to every word from a band who might only know English. However, not knowing the language also leaves one's ears open to really listen to the music. "Owari wa Hajimari" has a Stooges influence but has the organ addition, which works well. Detroit7 just rocks. It's loud, fully of choppy riffs and great attitude. The band's name definitely applies. The songs have a heavy Stooges influence. Everything is loud and cranked all the way, but the Japanese sensibility puts it all up a new notch and into its own place. It doesn't matter when you can't decipher most of the words to "Raise High" except those two words when it's a feedback laden guitar assault with a fast, tight, but complex beat and Kotajima's bass line that's both subtle but not basic.

One could probably never imagine themselves nodding along to a loud, nasty track that has a chorus of "We're gonna lay in the sunshine," but one just might sing along once they hear it after noticing how tight but original Miyoko's drumming is. "Akai hana" is a great song that makes one think of The Pretenders' more melodic work but with a heavier feel. The only word I could pick up from the song is "Arigato", but the melody and structure are enough to let one know it's a lament that has a universal emotional appeal, although one also hears influences from '90s indie rock in the song. Lead singer/guitarist Nabana has both a great wail and a narrative tone that gives one a strong confidence in her role as front of the band. When she sings "Don't feel so blue, I've got your blessing" and then wails on the guitar in "Beautful Song," one only comes to realize that Detroit7 are the real thing: a great, loud, rock band that stands equal to some of your favorite garage influenced rock bands that really deserve to be BOTH seen and heard.

It's quite a task to review a band when you're not able to understand them, but as cheesy as it may sound, a love of great rock 'n roll is universal. If it weren't, American and British bands would not have a worldwide following, but we'd also not have such influential rock acts from Scandinavia or other places like we do. A lot of us love to see Japanese rock 'n roll bands because they bring an energy and enthusiasm that almost flatters us since they're doing something in a musical language that we can understand but is new to us since we're not familiar with it. Unfortunately, that makes some great bands seem like novelty acts to us. Detroit7 is not a novelty: They're a great band with great music and talented people who stand up and rock equally, if not better to many of our favorites. They really deserve a listen.

SXSW Schedule:

Friday, March 20 1:00 a.m. Elysium (705 Red River St)

Akai Hana

Courtesy of zlobnij

Beautiful Song

Courtesy of kuchiburu3

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