Some of my co-workers and I have been sharing some of our favorite music, rating them, reviewing them and sharing those reviews with one another. I thought I’d share my thoughts on their suggestions (and their thoughts on mine) with you here.
This week took on a rather international flare with two Russian bands and a Japanese band. At least, it’s not American, British or Australian as has been the majority of things covered so far. Although, I guess there has been some French, German, Hebrew, Norwegian, Spanish and Swedish music before….
Anyway, thanks to friends who lived in both countries, I know phrases in both Russian and Japanese. But couldn’t hold a conversation in either, so song lyrics are beyond me.
Here’s how I rate things. If I give something one star, it means I don’t think it qualifies as music. Five stars mean I wish I wrote the thing. Most music for me is a three.
Distemper – Ska Punk Moscow (2004)
These guys are from Russia. And I have no idea what they’re singing about. But the vocalist seems to take inspiration from the Mighty Mighty BossToneS. Musically, these guys remind me of the Mad Caddies. Or Spain’s Ska-P.
Maybe it would be different if I understood what they were saying, but it did feel like a lot of the same. They’re probably great mixed in with a playlist. They’re probably a lot of fun live. But a whole album? There were some songs that stood out, like Inzident and Moscow Reggae. I’d give this a 3/5. It’s enjoyable, but I’ll need it mixed in with other stuff.
Thee Michelle Gun Elephant – Grateful Triad Years 1998-2002 (2002, duh)
This is the second half of a greatest hits album. The first five tracks are from their 1998 Gear Blues album, the next four from 2000’s Cassanova Snake, and the last six from 2001’s Rodeo Tandem Beat Spector.
The band is from Japan. They’re punk rockabilly. They broke up in 2003, and the singer died in 2009. That’s pretty much all I know about them.
Apparently in Japanese, it’s very rude and aggressive to roll your r’s when speaking or singing. TMGE do it constantly. So, even though you might not understand much more than the occasional English words or phrases that appear throughout, you’ll definitely get a sense of this band’s attitude.
My biggest problem with their whole sound is the really fuzzy bass. It sounds like their bass player blew a speaker. Other than that, it’s pretty good, aggressive garage rock. I really liked Out Blues, Smokin’ Billy, and Bird Cindy Land. But the best of the bunch were Killer Beach and Musashino Elegy. There were other songs I liked, but those two were probably the best thing shared with me this week. The one song I got Chris to translate for me (Musashino Elegy) seemed oddly personal, which wasn’t what I expected from them. Or from the style of the music.
But like Distemper, I think I’d need this mixed in with other stuff. Just this is a little too much. A little too abrasive. 3/5
Red Elvises – I Wanna See You Bellydance (1998)
These guys are from Russia and they play ‘50s-inspired surf rock. So their English is not so good. And they in no way take themselves too seriously. They’re just out to have fun. Sometimes they throw in some reggae or ‘80s slow jams for good measure.
You have to be a little careful, because there is also a version of this album in Russian but it doesn’t have quite the same track listing. Specifically, you’d be missing out on my favorite track, Stewardess in Red. I’m not a very good drummer. Mostly because I don’t have a kit to practice on. But when I do get the chance, I throw on a playlist to drum along with. Until the other guys I’m jamming with are ready to start. It’s a playlist of songs with my favorite drum beats/tracks, and Stewardess in Red is on there, along with Matisyahu.