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coverpic flag Japan - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 4 - 02/22/97

Garlic Boys
Poem
Epic/Sony Japan ESCA 6611

This latest release from Japanese hardcore "oyajis" (uncles in Japanese) sees them exploring into previous unknown regions. This second major release from Epic/Sony (their first was the well-received Hustle) features 14 tracks. Garlic Boys consists of brothers Peta and Larry on vocals and guitar respec- tively, plus Kyo on bass and Kobayan on drums. The have been on the forefront of the new-school Japanese hardcore scene for quite sometime now, and they were previously under the well-known (sellout?) indie label, Howling Bull Productions. They signed with Epic/Sony last year to release their previous album, and the professionalism in production and sound shows.

This album (called Poem for reasons unknown to me) features some pretty interesting tracks. The album opens with Anta Tobashi-sugi which means you are overdoing it in Japanese which basically takes a sarcastic look at the common Japanese tradition of "ikki" i.e. drinking liquor in one gulp. (They do this to show loyalty and courage, it seems) The basic Garlic Boys' trademark of searing guitars and high-speed drumming is still here, completed by the awesome "guy next door" vocals of Peta. As a rule, they ALWAYS sing in Japanese which seperates them quite obviously from other Japanese hardcore-wannabees. My favorite song from this album is track 2, called Matsunaga-san, which is some sort of homage to their ex-roadie, Matsunaga. The chorus goes something like this, albeit in Japanese: "MATSUNAGA-SAN! Lend me yer handphone! NO NO! MATSUNAGA-SAN! Are you drinking?! NOT AT ALL." Needless to say much bullying from the Garlic Boys makes Matsunaga an ex-roadie now (he was kinda nerdy when I met him). This song also features some cool flamenco-style guitars, something they'd never do 5 years ago.

Listening thru the whole album one will undoubtedly notice some major changes in their sound. Sure, the trademark sound it there, but Larry the guitarist seems to favour the English guitar-pop sound that is common nowadays. I wonder why.

They got quite a bit of a lambasting when they signed with Epic/Sony, with people saying that they're major sellouts bla bla bla and they even appeared on MTV!! Other bands namely Nunchaku, Hi-Standard and Super Junky Monkey (all cool underground bands, WHEN they WERE underground) seems to be headed towards the same ground. It seems going "major" and making your own music video for Empty-Vee is the "in" thing among Japanese indies band, an indication which I think is not healthy for this scene. They still produce some good sounds, but you don't need to be under the corporate grip of major labels to do that. Where the Japanese scene is going I still don't know, but there are still a lot of cool bands out here to be discovered.

All in all, just "another" Garlic Boys release, this time with a promotion schedule backed by a major label. A good introduction to Japanese hardcore though.

Copyright © 1997 Irman Hilmi

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