On January 13th of this year, Maryland proto-punks and art-rock pioneers, Half Japanese, will release their sixteenth studio album to date since their inception during the mid-seventies. Hear the Lions Roar, is a sweeping landscape of messy noise mixed in with traditional song compositions all wrapped up in a forty-minute package that is sure to set the stage for 2017 in the best way possible.
Half Japanese, led by only original member Jad Fair, introduces the LP with three tracks heavily anchored in the band’s roots. Wherever We Are Led stands as the album’s most dynamic track with its chord-driven power whereas Attack of the Giant Leeches exemplifies Fair’s cheekier side with lyrics that take us on a noise rock yarn with a science fiction backdrop.
By the sixth song, On The Right Track, the mood mellows for a bit. Over an almost midi-synth instrumented melody, Fair spouts off optimistic quotes that draw the listener in closer so that the music feels like something that they own, not the band. “And don’t give up on the night, by morning the sun is shining bright, don’t give up you know it’s right” he calmly states and we believe him.
The next song to come on the thirteen track album is this writer’s personal favorite. Much like Attack of the Giant Leeches, The Preventers is a trashy, science fiction jam that warns against “Zombie Hippies” that can only be championed by the characters that the song gets its name from. The entire track stands out as a testament to the lower points of 2016. One of the best parts of the song, and the whole album for that matter, is at the end when there are no more lyrics and we are just left with the repetitive, dreary chord progression that brought us here in the first place to just look at the world no longer terrorized by zombie hippies but still affected by what they left for us to clean up like events from last year.
Over all, this album might not be a masterpiece to some but it does stand as a reminder to those who forgot why they love rock n’ roll in the first place. Jad Fair’s signature un-tuned guitar and imperfect voice is a mnemonic device for the no-rules attitude the genre seems to have lost years ago in certain realms.
Follow the link to listen to Attack of the Giant Leeches.
– By Mike Metcalf