Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Best Practical Joke You've Ever Heard

"Does anyone here remember laughter?!"

I suppose we're due for a new post here, but I'm feeling a bit lazy, so reproduced below is my review of the Ging Nang Boyz' major-label debut that the good folks at TMT printed last week. I realize what an e-faux-pas it may be to quote myself so extensively, but to heighten the experience, I've included the two songs discussed in the review. Enjoy, and say goodbye to your eardrums.

"Baby Baby" - Ging Nang Boyz
"Nipponjin" - Ging Nang Boyz

I’d resigned myself to an evening indoors watching TV when my channel-surfing crested on MTV Japan. Under the caffeinated chatter of the obese greaser VJ chugged some J-pop power ballad, shellacked in enough gloss to make My Chemical Romance sound “raw.” As I vegetated in front of the screen, my attention was seduced by the gliding melodies and rolling chord changes. There was something perennial about the chorus as it blossomed in my ears, full of doe-eyed romance and teenage histrionics. This was classic doo-wop dressed in distortion, a pop vocal standard channeled by kids in ripped jeans. This was a catchy song! A subtitle below the VJ’s belly revealed that it was “Baby Baby” from the recent release by the Ging Nang Boyz.

A short while later, I sat with the CD in my hands. Sure enough, staring back from the album cover was the caricature of a sapphire-eyed, ruby-lipped blonde, the Excalibur of every teenage boy. “Let’s hope these lads write as well as they play lovesick,” I thought as I turned on my stereo. No more than three words escaped the singer’s velvet throat before he screamed like he was deep-throating a chainsaw and the band came crashing in with the subtlety of a blitzkireg. Technical accuracy, rhythmic durability, harmony, and dignity all leapt out the window, screaming and hopeless. This ninety-second opening salvo, “Nipponjin,” put a shotgun to the head of everything the Berklee College of Music teaches, an unapologetic orgy of anti-music.

I’d been punked. And I couldn’t have laughed harder.

Any guilt my inner Avant-Snob felt for picking up a pop-punk band was quickly allayed. Butchered chords, unplanned tempo shifts, and hopelessly unhinged vocals riddled the record. Magnifying the mess was the deliberately rough production, bloating and scorching the songs like a marshmallow left in a microwave. The three “ballads” (“Baby Baby,” “Drifting Classroom,” and an acoustic number) stick out like bone china in a sink of dirty dishes, but they proved the band’s competence. When Ging Nang Boyz bothered to hit their marks, they were capable of crafting memorable melodies and superb pop songs. This hidden knack for hooks rendered the record wholly listenable, an album both Burt Bacharach and Bad Brains could enjoy. Granted, at 14 songs, some fat could have been trimmed from the tracklist, but hey, there are certain pop-punk acts who by rights shouldn’t exist at all.

And to think I owe this discovery to MTV. Laugh if you like, but that’s the last time I judge a band by its single.

(Courtesy of myself and Tiny Mix Tapes)


mo said... said it perfectly. Hard to even believe those two tracks are even from the same band.

Thanks again for the mp3's I got a good chuckle.

Maryellen said...

ahh, music
I teach middle school on an Indian Reservation in the good ol' USA. My kids are very interested in anything Japanese.
I wonder what they would think about Japanese music? mostly they like punk/rap
their folks like country and western (can't figure why Indians like cowboy music so much), their elders go for flutes and drums...wonder what the up and coming generations will tune into.