Posts Tagged ‘ Japandroids

Record Review: Japandroids – “Celebration Rock”

This review originally appeared at

Second time around, Vancouver, BC duo Japandroids come out swinging, creating a record that’s harder, better, faster and stronger than their excellent debut, 2009’s Post Nothing.

Anyone expecting sweeping changes to the duo’s sound – big anthems filtered through Hüsker Dü’s New Day Rising – will be disappointed, as the record lives up to its title, delivering pedal to the metal rock throughout its eight tracks. However, they’d also be missing the point – one listen to barnstorming first single “The House that Heaven Built” and it’s clear that Japandroids aren’t interested in crafting artful soundscapes. Rather, they focus on walls of guitar and big sing-alongs.

A return to the Hive Creative Labs, with producer Jesse Gander, ensures that the band’s second record won’t stray too far from their first, but their songwriting has improved. Where Brian King used to rely on repeated mantras to get his lyrical ideas across,Celebration Rock sees the singer/guitarist fleshing out his notions, as he does on “Younger Us,” which first appeared as part of the act’s seven-inch series back in 2010.

Bookended by crackling fireworks,Celebration Rock is Japandroids’ declaration that they’re here for a good time. Let’s hope they’re here for a long time as well.

Live Review – Japandroids/Love is All @ Horseshoe Tavern 04/03/10

This review originally appeared at

Torontonians got a double dose of energized indie rock, with extra emphasis on the rock, thanks to the ingenious pairing of Polyvinyl label-mates Love Is All and Japandroids. The two bands have little in common — one, a poppy five-piece from Sweden; the other, a hard-rocking duo from Vancouver — but the diversity in their sounds was part of what made the two groups such a great pair. Of course, that both are excellent live performers didn’t hurt either.

After Toronto’s Two Koreas warmed up the crowd with some Wire meets Les Savvy Fav post-punk, Sweden’s Love Is All took the stage, crowding the space with a couple of keyboards and a saxophonist to complement the standard guitar-drums-bass set-up. Over the course of their short career, the quintet have morphed from spazzy no-wave punks into hooky indie pop rockers. Similarly, they’ve honed their live show, finding a comfortable pocket in their ever-increasing groove.

Love Is All kicked things off with “Bigger Bolder” from the recently released Two Thousand and Ten Injuries then dipped back to their two previous efforts for “Talk, Talk, Talk, Talk” and “Wishing Well,” displaying the usual exuberance that brings a nice bounce to their tunes. The band’s short set kept the focus squarely on their new record, with its tracks making up half their set. While there were few complaints from the crowd, it was obvious that the night’s headliners were the main attraction.

Kicking off with some slow riffing, Japandroids chatted up the crowd and bemoaned their upcoming U.S. tour before exploding into their two-man wall of sound with “The Boys Are Leaving Town.” They followed up with start-stop rocker “Art Czars,” then “Rockers East Vancouver.” The duo — guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse — truly feed off each other’s energy, as each song they played became more furious. The crowd reciprocated singing along and even crowd surfing throughout the set.

King introduced “Wet Hair” by explaining that the band had never played the song live in Canada before, a dubious claim given that the song is such a highlight of their record, Post-Nothing. Regardless, the crowd went nuts, and did so again when the set peaked with “Young Hearts Spark Fire.”

Japandroids tried to finish with slow-jam “I Quit Girls” but decided to give the packed crowed two more songs, including a cover of Big Black’s “Racer X.” It was a bit anti-climactic, making a strong argument for the pair to start writing Post-Nothing‘s follow-up. But when the encore’s weak because the main set was so awesome, you know a band’s doing something right.

Favourite Albums of 2009 (Better late than never)

My good friend Godfre recently reminded me that, although I contributed to several publication’s year end polls, I never posted my own favourites here. You can check out Godfre’s picks here.

This list is more what I listened to a lot rather than who made the greatest artistic statement and so such. Also, I had to commute a lot this year, which I personally believe led to the up swing in hardcore and metal on this year’s list…

10. Gallows – Grey Britain (Warner Bros.)

9. Said the Whale – Islands Disappear (Hidden Pony)

8. The Lytics – The Lytics (Independent)

7.Baroness – Blue Record (Relapse)

6. Japandroids – Post Nothing (Unfamiliar)

5. Animal Collective – Merriweather Postpavillion (Domino Records)

4. Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca (Domino)

3. Converge – Axe to Fall (Epitaph)

2. Pink Mountaintops – Outside Love (Jagjaguwar)

1. Pains of Being Pure at Heart – S/T (Slumberland)

Polaris Prize long list announced, if the music… weighs in

polaris490ac7The long list of 40 nominees for this year’s Polaris Prize were announced on Monday and in keeping with this blog’s long tradition of being a few days behind the competition, I was both out of town (in America!) and blissfully forgetful of the release date (yo publicists – send press releases to Still, that’s not going to stop me from weighing in with my thoughts on the matter.

As usual there are several artists on the list that I haven’t heard of (La Patere Rose, Coeur de Pirate) so its great that they’re getting some exposure from outside of what I assume is Quebec. There’s also a lot of records that I haven’t heard yet on the list. Personally I’m surprised to see Beast on the list, since I thought that record was fairly dull and I’ve never been much of a fan of Metric so obviously I’m not pulling for their VERY new disc Fantasies. I love Joel Plaskett but I just don’t think Three, despite it’s ambition, lives up to past nominee Ashtray Rock. Ditto to the new Junior Boys. And there’s still an utter dearth of hip hop on the list – K-Os and K’Naan are both perfectly fine, but they’re the token Canadian rappers rock fans dig. What was wrong with Classified‘s latest?

So who do I like to go the distance? I was stoked to see Bison BC on the list, but I have a feeling the thrash metal group will quickly get the boot when the shortlist is released. I’m pulling for Pink Mountaintops, Japandroids and Fucked Up though I have a weird feeling something more safely abstract, like Charles Spearin‘s The Happiness Project or (and this is where I’d put my money) Chad Vangaalen‘s Soft Airplane will win. But seriously, what other record subverted it’s genre more brilliantly than The Chemistry of Common Life?