Japanese Motors – Japanese Motors
Record Label: Vice
Release Date: October 7, 2008
Since I’m always checking out new music, I’ve come to find that I’d rather completely hate an album than be stuck in the middle about it; meaning, it’s these kinds of ‘A for effort’ albums that drive me the craziest. I feel like I want to like it a little more than I actually do. You get the feeling that Japanese Motors has it in them to make something great, but they just won’t strap down and do it. The worst part is it feels unfair to judge a group like this so harshly, because they can rule, damnit! I know they can. But this batch of songs is just incapable of catching your ear.
The reason why you feel they’ve got these capabilities is their immediate 60’s surf vibe. You can’t go wrong picking up sounds from the era of trip, right? Wrong, if the listener can hear that your motives are more gimmick than musical expression. There’s no real feeling to it. Instead, what Japanese Motors sound like is an homage to Phantom Planet, who were paying homage to The Strokes, who were paying homage to whatever. What you’ve got here is about as watered down as music gets.
An advantage to this music is that at least it has guitar solos in it, but these solos are about as lame as the term “solo” can by definition express. Listen to the one in “Better Trends” – one note (not one cool Neil Young note either), and then a little slide around the fret board. Look, I don’t routinely pull apart guitar solos but when you feel a trick being phoned in, it’s got to be called out. You can go see any bar band do a better take on the ‘60s.
The real tragedy of Japanese Motors is that it was released in 2008. It would have got its fair share of the spotlight (however undeserved) a couple years ago, when all things needed to sound at least a certain amount like Franz Ferdinand to make it onto the radio. Franz Ferdinand do make their influential show here, on the awkward disco rock of “Crooked Gun”, and guess how much I liked it.
If I attacked the solo in “Better Trends”, at least the song has got a catchy riff. This really would be the song to listen to from this album. But mostly I’d say the track is notable for its title, which points to what this band should have followed: better trends. I mean, I don’t really know how they could have updated themselves to the here and now; breakdowns? No way. But Japanese Motors, you’ve got to be yourselves! Leave all the phony shit in 2004 and move on.
Don’t Believe Me? www.myspace.com/thejapanesemotors
Recommended If You Like:
Phantom Planet, Strokes, Franz Ferdinand