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Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Here is a review I wrote of Japanther, which I may or may not add to later.

Japanther - Leather Wings

Here is the formula for a Japanther song: one found-sound sample; one incessant, up-front fuzz-bass playing sixteenth-note riffs; one muddy 2-bar drum part, possibly canned; and vocals mixed low, sung/shouted through a telephone (not one of those digital telephone filters--actual analogue handsets!). With little low-end and less treble, their wash of midrange recalls Belle & Sebastian's "Electric Renaissance" without the songwriting, and absent songwriting--not a bad thing, necessarily--we've got the sound. While Brooklyn's Japanther seem to have absorbed the lessons of scene progenitors Deerhoof better than their contemporaries, they're at right angles both to Deerhoof's rapturous production gleam (preferring a DI-heavy demo sound, even live, where they play to a backing) and their "I'm-happy-and-angry!" start/stop arrangements (preferring a steady, occasionally annoying, pound). They're actually pretty damn enjoyable on an album level--credit their coherent sound--but on a song-by-song basis they could stand to learn a bit more from the 'Hoof and let their oft-sublime bass riffs complement actual vocal melodies and bigger drums. If this formula, plus the occasional keyboard, sounds like something you might like, "sample" some tracks and see Japanther live, where they're most comfortable. Hopefully one of their subsequent discs will deliver on this one's potential.