As I delve deeper into the wild & weird world of J-Rock, more and more worthwhile discoveries are being made. I finally got my hands on an album by UFO Or Die, the legendary late-'80s noisecore outfit featuring Boredoms braintrust Eye and Yoshimi. A friend recommended I check out the Steve Reich-ian spin of computer compositions by Nobukazu Takemura, so I've been exploring his catalogue. Yesterday, I turned on the TV and saw the Zazen Boys, a relatively new act whose sound isn't unlike a very, very angry XTC.
The Zazen Boys rose from the ashes of a wildly popular punk band called Number Girl. I've not heard Number Girl yet, but I have heard of them via their guitarist's current act, the Bloodthirsty Butchers. Leading the Japanese post-hardcore pack since 1987, the Bloodthirsty Butchers just released their twelth (count it, twelth) album, Banging the Drum, and it rocks... oh so hard. Hell, it's got to be good to feature artwork by Yoshitomo Nara (whose work we last saw wrapping the new Fantomas record).
Like innumerable other bands, the Butchers draw heavily from Fugazi's sonic template, jackhammering out craggy guitar riffs with locomotive rhythm. What sets the Butcher's apart is a certain crowd-pleasing professionalism in their performance. While contemporaries like Shakuhachi Surprise sound like every other sloppy, stop-starting, Sonic Youthanising punk band, the Butchers understand that only a well-oiled machine can run at top speed and keep their playing whip-bound tight. They also have an affinity for arena-ready bombast. This occasionally leads to uninspired songwriting, but puts some spurs on the band's boots, so that when they kick, you feel it.
The song posted here is, in fact, off of last year's Birdy, an album less dynamic than Banging the Drum but a good chunk of rock nonetheless.