Japanese Fighting Fish: Day Bombs

pic by Scot Salt.

pic by Scot Salt.

Ever since Just Before We Go MAD tantalised and teased the ear back in 2011, an eager soft spot for UK taunters Japanese Fighting Fish has been waiting patiently for the band to bring forth some more of their devilry to devour and lust quietly over. Now the Leeds hailing, London based quartet return with their second album Day Bombs and quite simply it far surpasses hopes and expectations bred during the wait. Consisting of ten unique and inventive temptations, the album is pure refreshment to the ear and the UK alternative rock scene, so much so that it is almost a swipe at the lack of ambition fuelling the efforts of so many other bands. Boldly adventurous and unashamedly refusing to conform, the release is a scintillating mischievous triumph and poised to steal album of the year awards.

With two of its members swimming away (sorry could not resist) to join a samba band in Brazil, the remaining pair of Karlost and Gareth Mochizuki Ellmer from watching ‘a documentary on how the Foo Fighters recorded their last album in what effectively was a high-end studio in Dave Grohl’s garage’, decided to go down the same road with this their second album. Using several ‘skuzzy’ garages in Leeds and London on limited funds, the band with Joe John Flannery and Phil Keating now enlisted, went to work creating Day Bombs, eventually shooting over to New York for its final mixing in a studio built in an old taxi repair shop by a friend of the album’s producer. The result is a masterpiece of imagination and contagious sonic belligerence crafted into one of the most riveting and expressive joys this year.

Whereas their debut  had a Latin temperament and carnivalesque vaunt to its theatre, Day Bombs unleashes a punk and noise rock clad 1069396_10153078929340226_618406295_nfire to its breath and sound, sinews and rhythmic enslaving as potent as the at times caustic but always tempting melodic flames which lick at senses and thoughts throughout the individual dramas. Vocalist Karlost returns with his expected one of a kind tone and delivery yet also has a greater control of its intent and flavoursome incitement.  From the moment opener Bloody Fingers starts tempting the ear with a dance of rhythmic enticement around a great throaty bass lure attention is alert and licking lips, especially once Karlost offers his almost theatrical delivery. Immediately the sense of something different is rife, the guitars riling against thoughts with hungry riffs whilst a sonic siren call flirts through the feisty surface and touch of the song. Firm without being aggressive and heavy without bludgeoning down doors it is an impressive and stirring introduction to the album.

Whereas there is a touch of Engerica and The Dropper’s Neck to the track the following He Doesn’t Know What He Wants walks in with a swagger not out of place on a Mike Patton composition. With electro kisses playing on the muscular yet respectful canvas and the bass especially gracious with its predatory voice, blazes of sonic fire and melodic raucousness stir the track into a sensational wash of creative knavery and primal seduction.

The two singles from the album approach to lay down their traps for the passions next. First up is the exceptional Greatest Escape with its Foo Fighters like whisper within a sinisterly romantic narrative, though whether it is supposed to have that menace we will have to learn. With a Slavic lilt to the band vocals and Cossack like bounce to its gait, the song is an irrepressible lead into the album for newcomers backed up just as potently by They Lie. Starting like Mud meets the Sex Pistols but soon unravelling its own form of diablerie as Karlost arguably for the first time on the album fully unveils his melodramatic mischief, the song is a gem and challenges He Doesn’t Know What He Wants as the pinnacle of the album. By its departure there is the shadowed roguery of an Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster adding extra pleasure and might to ensure you just need to have one more listen before moving on.

Both Flick The King and Ben stretch the album and passions further, the first with its discord laced sabre like riffs and mesmeric rhythms casting a rich hue around the ever enthralling vocals before they all unite into an infection causing stomp and its successor through a noir coloured venture of musical and lyrical intrigue and impossibly magnetic ingenuity, a noise driven Melvins or The Fat Dukes Of Fuck like bait adding extra flavour.

A Queens Of The Stone Age attitude and sultriness gently coaxes Legs to add more variation and exploration to its fertile trickery, song and vocals grazing and antagonising with resourceful inspiration whilst So Drunk And Wasted takes a louder essence of Homme and co with a touch of Therapy? into the overall maniacal brilliance of Day Bombs.

The Vandal Records release takes its leave with firstly the so–so Mister Mandolin, a gentle acoustic/vocal song which is so low in sound and production that it barely makes an impression sadly and the sizzling closer Senses. A burning furnace of noxious sonic intent and raw ear scorching intensity which almost suffocates the vocals of Karlost at times, it without finding the heights of the previous tracks is still a tempest of a conclusion to a simply cracking release.

If you were won over by Just Before We Go MAD, you will pee your panties as Day Bombs makes that victory seem barely an appetiser to this sensational alchemy.

http://www.japanesefightingfish.co.uk/

9.5/10

RingMaster 05/09/2013

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Maia: Pepper Stars

   Pepper Stars the second album from UK band Maia is one of those little treats you cannot help smiling over whilst in its company and long after its departure. As eclectic as the smells of summer and just as invitingly warm, the album takes the listener of travels which are celestial and inciting with a whisper of invigorating abrasive spice. Personal tastes dictates that the album is arguably a little undulating, but when it flicks on all the passions it is a mighty pleasure giving accomplice and when it misses some triggers it is still an enthralling and engaging companion.

Since forming the Huddersfield quartet of Tom Clegg (guitar/ ukulele/vocals), Joe Haig (piano/ trumpet/vocals, Simon Robinson (guitar/banjo/ mandolin /vocals), and Will Fletcher (drums/cajon/percussion), has released a well-received self-titled debut album and the equally successful  Alligator EP, as well as making a critically acclaimed appearance at the 2011 Cambridge Folk Festival, headlining The Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre on New Year’s Eve the same year, and sharing stages with the likes of Anais Mitchell, The Hut People, and Jamie Smith’s Mabon, not forgetting a past year of impressive festival performances. The band is on a certain rise which the new album will surely accelerate as more people are elevated into a peaceful existence by their self tagged sci-fi Folk.

The album begins with distance disruptions of space and air at the beginning of Alien, the intrigue growing with the inviting guitar caresses and equally tender vocals and harmonies. The song builds to heated crescendos with eager beats and strolling melodies, swapping them often and fluidly with the slow wraps of beauty. The song is like looking up at the night sky, an expansive calm energised by striking movement and aural colour.

Leading to the album release the band has released a trio of acclaimed singles, all included on the album with the first following the great start. Zuma Aluma is simply glorious, an infectious soak of bewitching harmonies and refreshing melodies all delivered with a swing and loving swagger. It is a dessert of pop grandeur held in a precise and under indulgent weave of imagination. If you are not swaying and joining in with the chorus by the midway of the song than you just might be dead inside.

The diversity of the album is as impressive as the creativity, the collection of songs an ever evolving presence for thoughts and senses to devour with ease. Songs like Alright Adventures, a stunning rolling sea of unpredictable sounds and harmonic genius with a wonderful touch of thrilling discord to its climax whilst sounding like a striking mix of Talking Heads and XTC, and the slowly kissing title track with the falsetto group vocals which mark the band and delicate guitar touches siren like, both bringing new worlds and breaths to an already diverse trip for the heart.

As mentioned at the start not all songs quite ignite the same mighty flames inspired by others, but without debate tracks like Dear Lo, Where Else On Earth, and Sundown leave mesmeric warmth inside with their presence which moves through sultry and sensual to angelic and celebratory. As ever it is just personal taste but there is not a moment on Pepper Stars where you will be looking forward to the next song whilst in the arms of another.

Further pinnacles on the release come in current single The Grandfather Plan, a seductive mariachi coated dance for the senses, and the equally ‘wanton’ Living In The Alligator. Both hypnotise with melodic beauty fused to fiery horn teasing, the first a gentle walk of smouldering heat like a golden sunset and the other a folk dance which just cannot not sit still beneath the again sensational harmonies and electrified disturbances which line the sky of the song. It is the jazzy feistiness which steals the show though, adding another thrilling proposition from a mighty song. Arguable the loftiest plateau is found with More Strangely Than The Moon, the track another glorious confrontation for the passions, its southern twang and again mariachi/fiesta swing a contagion just impossible to resist.

Released via Vandal Records, Pepper Stars is a fourteen song delight which despite its size just flies by, its compelling and ravishing company seemingly a mere few minutes of your life offered up eagerly. It and Maia are treats to heat the coming winter months and spice the lives of all, an essential investigation for all at the very least.

http://maiatheband.com/

RingMaster 26/11/2012

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