Thursday, May 11, 2017

Band Review: Shonen Knife

I've been familiar with the name Shonen Knife for many years. Back to the early days of the IMDB message boards (RIP), a common question would be what band was playing in a certain movie scene, and often the answer was Shonen Knife. That was all I knew until I recently saw a reference to them being influenced by the Ramones, and then I had to check them out.

That was initially not helpful. Listening to them cover Ramones songs on Osaka Ramones just reminded me that I like the Ramones better, until "We Want the Airwaves". I have to give credit where credit is due, and that is some good guitar on there. (Also "Chinese Rock" worked for me, because I don't think of that so much as a Ramones song as a "Who doesn't have a cover of it" song.)

Instruments are very respectable, but there is a softness in the vocal delivery that doesn't scream punk at me. Because of that, Shonen Knife works better for me when they are singing about food and animals, and just giving into the kawaii. "Like A Cat" really works. "I Wanna eat Cookies" is such a simple, relatable statement; how does the song turn so menacing? Is this the Black Sabbath version of Cookie Monster? It's genius. "Good Night" is very beautiful.

As easy as it is to sing along about barnacles and capybaras, one of my favorites was a cover, "When You Sleep". It is very distinct from the My Bloody Valentine original, incorporating some doo-wop elements. Hearing that delivery while thinking of a band named for a horror movie, well, I think I could really be down for an Osaka Misfits album. Or for them touring with Reggie and the Full Effect. Or both. They have been an active band since 1981 and are still going; there is room for a few more twists.

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