left: Imaad Wasif, Lou Barlow and Russell Pollard|
recent months Japan has seen visits by lo-fi acts such as The White Stripes and
The Kills. In a sign of the continuing interest in lo-fi American indie-rock,
one of the key players of the '90s, Lou Barlow and his band Folk Implosion
conduct a one-week tour of Japan's smaller rock dives this week, with two
dates in Tokyo.
The tour is being organized by Japanese magazine Map as
part of its Channel series, which focuses on bringing over quality non-mainstream
acts at reasonable ticket prices.
The current edition of Barlow's band
is actually calling itself, on its eponymous February album, The New Folk Implosion.
The album marked the debut of the new lineup of the band, after co-founder John
Davis left in 2000. "John, upon his departure, said something to the effect
of 'go my friend, you have my blessing to continue the musical endeavors
of the mighty Folk Implosion without me,'" says Barlow on the band's
Barlow, a former bassist for Dinosaur Jr. and also leader of Sebadoh,
and Davis had formed the band in 1993 when Davis, a fellow Massachusetts singer-songwriter,
sent Barlow a tape of his home recordings. The pair teamed up as Folk Implosion-a
play on the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion-recording a self-titled, cassette-only
album in Davis' house that same year.
The band came to public attention
not through their early releases but through material they recorded in 1995 for
the soundtrack to Larry Clark's controversial film Kids. The film, which
depicted the depraved lifestyles of New York City youths, spawned the Top 40 hit
"Natural One," which atypically had Folk Implosion laying a slinky
bass line over a drum-machine groove.
The unlikely success of the song
(which enabled Davis to quit his day job as a librarian) brought Folk Implosion
to a wider audience than had been exposed to Sebadoh. They elected not to continue
exploring the electronic avenue they had taken on "Natural One,"
however, returning to a stripped down sound for 1997's Dare to Be Surprised.
electronically oriented One Part Lullaby saw Barlow taking most of the songwriting
credits, foreshadowing Davis' departure. The new Folk Implosion convened
in Los Angeles in 2001 when the Melvins asked Barlow to back them on tour, with
Alaska natives Russell Pollard on drums and Imaad Wasif on bass. Pollard was actually
the drummer on the last incarnation of Sebadoh, so the band could equally have
been called "The New Sebadoh."
The New Folk Implosion, meanwhile,
took the band back to their guitar-rock roots, with alt-rock and acid influences
pointing toward a new fusion of lo- and hi-fi sounds, and Barlow's well
of creativity as fertile as ever.
As an added bonus, Folk Implosion bring with
them experimental San Francisco band Deerhoof.
Implosion play Shibuya Nest on June 9 and 14. See listings for details.
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