At this point, I should probably re-evaluate every band that I’ve ever written off.
That’s the lesson that I’ve slowly grasped during the past year or so of listening to new music from bands I’d previously discarded.
The latest retrieval from the trash heap is Japandroids, a punk/pop-rock duo from Vancouver.
I’m not sure if I was confusing them with Japanther or I just heard the wrong song, but I definitely had them pegged as nothing more a couple of loud, somewhat abrasive hacks attempting to play rock but failing.
Turns out, they’re actually pretty solid, particularly on their latest release, Celebration Rock, which came out early last month.
Their 2009 debut, Post-Nothing, was a slightly lighter attempt at garage/pop-punk, with every song coated in distortion. Most of the songs sound pretty similar, but the few that stand out are “Young Hearts Spark Fire”, “Rockers East Vancouver” and “Sovereignty”.
There was also a release in 2010, No Singles, which was just a compilation of a couple of EPs.
The more important album is Celebration Rock, which tones down the distortion greatly, tightens the guitar work and produces songs that are far more accessible.
At several points throughout the album — such as “Adrenaline Nightshift”, “Younger Us” and “The House That Heaven Built” — the Canucks start to channel The Gaslight Anthem, but without all of the Springsteen worship.
The above song is easily the best on the album. But there are a couple more worth noting — “Fire’s Highway” and “Continuous Thunder”. Maybe it’s because I just listened to a bunch of Guided By Voices the other day at work, but “Continuous Thunder” reminds me of Robert Pollard’s crew — but with more distortion.
By the way, if you haven’t already heard it before, Japandroids have a pretty interesting back story. Including the fact that they were all but disbanded when they finally got their big break.