Tag Archives: Japandroids

I Don’t Wanna Worry About Dying

If Greg asks, the show was terrible. Flat, uninspired and certainly not life affirming.

Not in the slightest.

Greg’s my friend who bought the tickets. Just before Japandroids start tuning up, he gets an SOS text from his wife to come home and help with their very newborn son.

Selfless Greg hops in a cab and does his dad duty. (awww, right?)

So let’s please pretend this brilliant Vancouver punk duo didn’t slay the sold-out crowd at Lincoln Hall — at least half of whom are 30-something rocker dads themselves.

The appeal for aging punks is clear. Like no other band, Brian King and David Prowse of Japandroids are aware time is running out. They famously were calling it quits before 2009’s Post-Nothing broke through with the P-Fork crowd. Their label literally had to call them out of retirement to tour.

As a retired rock critic myself, maybe this hit me extra hard, but it’s a second chance the boys don’t seem to expect to last and they throw everything they have into the set.

They open with fuzzy Springsteen ramp-up of “The Boys Are Leaving Town.” Guitarist/singer Brian trembles joyfully on his stick-skinny legs like a mad skeleton. Drummer David dials in his fury, cracking a stick right away.

From there we dive into the new stuff. The songs on Celebration Rock, their just released album, crackle like summer fireworks: brief and radiant. Everyone all knows the shout-along choruses of “Fire’s Highways” and “The House that Heaven Built.”

Japandroids bring the rock to Lincoln Hall

A mosh pit opens. No really. A big friendly one, well padded with the beer guts of balding guys in thick glasses. It’s a beautiful, silly response that indie acts never inspire anymore.

Maybe we get into it because the Japandroids play facing each other, David’s kit turned sideways on the stage. It’s quirk that sums up what’s to love about this wild, sloppy band. A real human connection trumps everything. They play for their own bliss, not lasting glory. It’s infectious.

They charge through all of Celebration: The fist-pumping abandon of “Adrenaline Nightshift” and the moody build of “Continuous Thunder.”  So what if old favorites “Young Hearts Spark Fire” and “Wet Hair” hit slightly harder. These guys are at their peak.

They aren’t the Black Keys, still digging up the blues to make hits. They aren’t No Age, carving out damaged art noise to make something new. They aren’t the sexy slumming of the Kills or Death From Above 1979. They’re charming Canadian dorks, apologizing for playing so hard Brian constantly has to retune his battle-scarred guitar.

Promising they don’t do encores, they close with their reckless, pounding cover of Gun Club’s “For the Love of Ivy.” The place erupts because everybody is acutely aware this is it.

The Heat have already won. Brian’s old fucked Fender is falling apart. Somewhere mighty Greg is cruising around Evanston with his wife and baby sleeping in the backseat.

Staring down the barrel

“It’s this or fucking nothing,” Brian says. If you hold back because the end is nigh, it only goes faster.

There are no encores.

* All photos by Andrew Sommerfeld

Japandroids – Celebration Rock

JapandroidsCelebration Rock (Polyvinyl)

The most frustrating thing about Japandroids is that there is barely a hint of complexity, and within the first minute or so of any random song of theirs–be it from Post Nothing or their new sophomore effort Celebration Rock–you’ll have these guys completely figured out. Distorted guitars, driving drums, anthemic chorus, and repeat. There should be no reason within the band’s recorded grooves to cause much of an internal commotion.

Yet here I am, trying to put that surprise outburst to words, struggling to find the appropriate weight of just how good Japandroids second album is, particularly since this tasty apple doesn’t fall that far from the branches of their debut.

It’s better than Post Nothing because it’s a step further. Each song sounds epic enough that the fact they’re a duo doesn’t even enter the equation. They all tend to get louder the farther into the song you get and with each increase, the listener tends to get even more worked up. By the end of Celebration Rock, I had an uncontrollable urge to look for their tour schedule. Because if they can stir up that kind of adrenaline rush, sitting complacently on my couch, then being in the same room of other devotes would most certainly feel revolutionary.

It’s also better because they’re older. Droids Brian Smith (guitar) and David Prowse (drums) are getting ready to hit thirty soon, but they’ve thankfully seen what’s coming with their encroaching middle age and have decided to enter it kicking and screaming. Lucky for us, Celebration Rock lets us live vicariously through that realization, and best of all they’ve made the chord structures easy enough for all of us to learn.

Wanna know their trick? Great songs. Japandroids not only subscribe to the less is more formula in terms of membership, they’ve trimmed the fat so much that the record is a blast–both literally and figuratively–clocking in at a mere thirty-five minutes in Celebration Rock’s eight songs.

Celebration Rock marks the very rare occasion when the middle-age contrarians knee deep in their own nostalgic fog can co-mingle with the dwindling youth who still think rock and roll is worth a damn. It’s an exuberant reminder of the genre’s strength, particularly when it’s fueled with nothing more than a pair of young men with full hearts, a few drinks and some instruments to help translate their angst.

MP3: Japandroids – “The House That Heaven Built” (Via Epitonic)

Japandroids – Post-Nothing

Japandroids - Post-NothingJapandroidsPost-Nothing (Polyvinyl)

One would think that the rock and roll duo is creatively tapped out. From the Everly Brothers to the Carpenters, from the White Stripes to Hella, it seems that every nuance should be explored by now, every conceivable idea exploited.

I suppose that you could further break down bands with only two members into two distinctive categories: duos that are so talented that they really don’t need any additional members because they’re already awesome enough and duos that are just so excited to play as soon as they can that they couldn’t be bother with bass player auditions.

Japandroids fit in the latter category, with such infectious enthusiasm that you can understand why they laid down a few tracks and said, “I think we’re good here,” thereby keeping the door take at an even fifty/fifty.

Continue reading Japandroids – Post-Nothing