Slacker rock rules!
While the world's music press currently seems consumed
by the neo-garage movement spearheaded by The White Stripes
and The Strokes et al., the alt-rock explosion of the '90s
is showing a surprising second wind. Innovators Jane's
Addiction are back on the charts, and a number of second-generation
artists are on the move.
This week, for example, sees three self-deprecating, sensitive-white-guys-with-guitars
acts coming to Japan in rapid succession.
Eels, a band formed around the central character of Mark Everett,
usually known as "E," bring their new album,
Shootenanny!, to Tokyo for their first "official"
Japan tour following an appearance at the 2001 Summer Sonic.
With Beck turning serious on his recent acoustic outing Sea
Change, the banner for cynical slacker rock seems to have
fallen to E to carry. Often compared to Beck since he debuted
with A Man Called E in 1992, the Virginia native hasn't
toned down his black humor a jot on the new album, whose title
E's website describes as "a social gathering
at which participants engage in folk singing and sometimes
dancing, but mostly shooting of guns."
The album contains songs such as "Love of the Loveless"
and "Agony," and was described by Tom Waits
as follows: "Electric Jungian therapy on vintage pawn
What's not to like about cheap
microphones, distortion melody and great songs?"
Also of interest at the Eels show will be a warm-up set by
MC Honky, recently confirmed by promoter Creativeman. A musical
alter-ego concocted by E for the recent album I Am The Messiah,
E has been playing up the confusion by bringing on tour a
character who "plays" MC Honky. It will be curious
to see what Japanese audiences make of these onstage shenanigans.
Following Eels to Tokyo by a day is an artist who would have
to be the winner if prizes were awarded for slacker rock.
A former professional surfer turned rocker, Hawaiian singer-songwriter
Jack Johnson is the archetypal late bloomer. Breaking with
Brushfire Fairytales in 2001, the easygoing character watched
his understated collection of songs go platinum. Japan gets
its first look at Johnson at Asagiri Jam in Yamanashi Prefecture
this weekend, with a brief solo tour for Johnson's
new album, On and On, to follow.
If E's humor is deadpan, then Fountains of Wayne would
have to be described as slapstick. Since forming the band
in the mid-'90s, songwriting team and former college
buddies Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood have made a
career out of satirizing Middle America. Their new disc, Welcome
Interstate Managers, doesn't pull its punches, with
songs like "Bright Future in Sales" and "Stacy's
Mom" poking fun at the pitfalls of suburban life and
Eels play Club Quattro on September
28; Jack Johnson plays Liquid Room on September 29; Fountains
of Wayne play Liquid Room on October 1. See concert listings
Courtesy of Creativeman
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