Tag Archives: Japanese

Album Review: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – Sing In Japanese

Leave it to punk-rock-superstar-cover-project-extraordinaires Me First and the Gimme Gimmes to make America look good.  Usually us U.S. folk will see Japanese bands covering American tunes, but when is the last time you saw someone from the states actually take the time to cover a Japanese pop song as well as turn it into a punk rock jam?

The Gimmes have been making covering songs cool since the 90s with help from Fat Wreck Chords.  Featuring members of NOFX, Swingin’ Utters and even Foo Fighters, the Gimmes are not your Friday night hole-in-the-wall cover band.  By taking tracks your parents and probably grandparents listened to before you were accidentally conceived, the Gimmes add a punk rock style and make the songs tolerable.  I remember the first time I heard the Gimmes cover  Elton John’s”Rocket Man”.  I found the track on a free comp CD I snagged at a Warped Tour in ’96 and I was hooked instantly.

On the bands newest EP Sing In Japanese, the Gimmes decided to cover a new territory of music and once again add their own punk rock flair while doing so.  Having covered many different genres of music in the past (including country, Broadway tunes and adult contemporary), it was no surprise the the boys in the Gimmes would eventually try something a tad more challenging.  The result is a catchy culture crossing take on songs more likely sung along to in the bars of Japan.

“Hero” started off the EP with the Gimmes covering a Kai Band song.  Lead vocalist Spike Slawson did not hesitate at all while singing this track in Japanese.  While listening I read the band’s bio for this release and learned that Spike actually learned Japanese phonetically thanks to a friend of Fat Mike.  I have to admit, I was impressed to learn that.

With a clever Social D “Story Of My Life” intro, the cover of the 70’s hit “Kekkon Shiyou Yo” (“Let’s Get Married”) by Takuro Yoshida was actually a lot of fun to listen to.

“C-C-C” mixed in Japanese and English lyrics into the song originally recorded by the early 70s Beatles-inspired band called The Tigers.  The track, although I could only understand 50% of it, it was my favorite track on the EP.

“Linda Linda” ended the six song EP with a more ska-punk feel.  With trumpets supplied by Brad Magers and Keith Douglas of Mariachi El Bronx, the song was indeed a genre bender of a track.

This is not the first time the Gimmies have played a songs in different language as previously heard in their only live album to date Ruin Jonny’s Bar Mitzvah. Ok, it was just “Hava Nagila”, and yes, they were at a Bar Mitzvah.  Still, NOFX has covered the classic French tune “Champs Elysées” before, and they nailed it.  The point I am trying to make is that the Gimmes are more talented than many may think.

So why did they do a Japanese EP full of songs you probably have never heard of in your life?  Simple…because they can.

The band will be touring Japan shortly and I am sure that had something to do with which culture they decided to cover.  Just like the band’s last EP Go Down Under (they toured Australia upon releasing the EP), the band threw together a bunch of songs together just in time to tour.  I really would like to think that this was a little more involved than a couple of jam sessions as Spike really does a hell of a job singing the lyrics of each track in Japanese.  Funny thing about this concept is that the band plans on releasing future EPs in Spanish, German, and even French.  Is it wrong of me to be excited about this world tour of covering?

I can not say I knew any of these songs by heart nor have I the slightest clue what they were about, but I enjoyed what I heard.  The Gimmies could play Jesus Christ Superstar in its entirety for all I care and I am sure I would say the same thing.  I love these guys.

Me First and the Gimme Gimmes “Hero” by Fat Wreck Chords

Polysics @ Musica – Akron, OH – 02/12/2010 – Concert Review

Culture was shocked in Akron last night thanks to Tokyo, Japan’s Polysics making a special appearance at Musica.  The orange jumpsuit wearing foursome traveled half way around the world to perform their Devo inspired music to a packed club on what normally would have been just another regular Friday evening.  Scenesters as well as a couple punk rockers and plenty of proud geeks piled into the quaint club in downtown Akron with perfect knowledge of what would soon progress.

Polysics is best defined as a pop power punk electronica experimental new wave outfit or “technicolor pogo punk” as they dub themselves.  Think heavy synthesizers and guitar matched over insane voice altering vocals as well as a very energetic male lead vocalist Hiroyuki Hayashi (Hiro – and yes, he sounds like Hiro from the TV show Heros) who blasts out English, Japanese, and gibberish lyrics.  Formed in 1997 out of the pure love for Devo as well as The Tubes the band is an underground sensation thanks to their extremely energetic live shows and of course their orange jumpsuits and straight bar-style sunglasses.

Opening the evening was a band called Stiletto hailing from Kent, OH.  The band reminded me of Bedlight For Blue Eyes and Roses Are Red with their slight heavy rock sound.  The lead singer had a good voice and when the band had it together they sounded fine.  They sadly kept having issues starting their songs and it became apparent that they needed some more practice as it became downright annoying to some of the crowd.  Still, they did well and get props from me when the lead signer quoted Tupac but really did not match up to the headliner at all.

Armed with my trusty camera I really thought upon entering Musica that I was going to grab some photos during Polysics’ set but while inside the venue I saw this:

That really was something I did not want to see.  I respected the artist though and did not shoot anything until the very end of the show because who am I kidding…I need at least one shot.

Good thing I did not take photos as there was a dual braided memory card deleting bandit who was part of the Polysics crew.  I understand the premise of his doings but you should have seen this guy.  He stood upon a stool and the moment a flash went off he was bolting over to that non-sign reading schmo and erasing any Polysics related photo from their camera.  Seeing what this guy was all about I really did not want him touching my gear so I parked the camera to my side and just enjoyed the show.

Hands were about the entire evening.  It was a party.
Hands were about the entire evening. It was a party.

You know a crowd is excited to see a band when they cheer insanely as the band is setting up their gear on stage.  Things just got better when the band actually took the stage and just started hammering out songs.  The songs they played ranged from almost industrial heavy pieces to absolute insanity jump-all-over-the-place songs.

Still a novice to this band I just started with amazement throughout their set not having any idea what was going on other than a damn good time. The couple songs I did recognized were “Young OH! OH!”, “Fire Bison”, and just amazing “Shout Aloud!”

As entertaining as Hiro was throughout the night (especially when he screamed “you gruys awre awresoooooome!!!”) I absolutely adored the straight faced Kayo on the synthesizer and vocoder.  I could not help but envision the scene in Revenge Of The Nerds II when the nerds played the concert at Hotel Coral Essex.

According the band’s MySpace page Kayo will be parting ways with the band after the tour so I am pretty psyched I was able to the original line-up.  The whole night was a party with Polysics controlling it.  Fans danced and tossed their hands about to the music.  It was indeed a interesting and fun evening.  If I had to describe the evening I would have to say just imagine Daft Punk, Devo, and the Teen Titans humanized and in orange jumpsuits and you might have some idea what happened.  It was amazing.

Polysics – Young OH! OH!

POLYSICS | MySpace Music Videos

Pretty Good

POLYSICS | MySpace Music Videos

Polysics – Moog Is Love

POLYSICS | MySpace Music Videos

I had to throw this in too…

The Awesome: Japan’s Polysics

I am sitting here trying to think of something clever to say about the experimental pop act Polysics but my mind is blank.

It would be all too easy to say they are the modern day Japanese version of Devo…just look at their outfits.  Truth is they are Devo but mixed with some Daft Punk and even some of the more experimental Kraftwerk.

The Japanese new wave, electronic, punk rock act has actually been around since 1997 and started “in the spirit of Devo” according to Hyroyuki Hayashi, the band’s vocalist / guitarist.  They even wear Devo-like jump suits with the letter “P” on them.  The foursome recently released their tenth album entitled Absolute Polysics on MySpace Records (US Release).

I have only heard a sample of songs but I can tell you that they are a ton of fun and an absolute riot to listen to even if I can not understand all of their lyrics. For you people who like your music weird and of the wall, this is the band for you. To support my statement, both Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips and Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo have raved about Absolute Polysics.  That right there proves there is something special about this band.

Next month (Feb 12th) Polysics are making a stop at Musica in Akron, OH and I think it is safe to say that it will be a show not to miss.  I myself plan on being there and you should too!

Polysics – Young OH! OH!

POLYSICS | MySpace Music Videos