Before I begin this week's edition of Tu(n)esday, I'd like to offer a one-day belated happy birthday to Martin Gore of Depeche Mode, part of the brains behind one of my all-time favorite bands.
Moving on to the topic at hand, I feel this is as good a time as any to discuss what is currently the top contender for my favorite album of the year come year-end. That being Celebration Rock by Japandroids.
I have a strange history with Japandroids. They were one of the bands playing at the first Pitchfork Music Festival I attended back in 2009. Back then, I was still really new to the independent music scene and was aware of very few of the bands playing that day other than The Flaming Lips, which was my primary reason for attending.
I took a look at the list of artists and thought they had a cool name so I went to check them out on the blue stage. The Vancouver twosome of Brian King (guitars and vocals) and David Prowse (drums and vocals; and, no, not the same David Prowse of Star Wars and A Clockwork Orange fame) were decent, albeit a little more raucous and, well, noisy than I was accustomed to.
Despite this initial assessment, I decided to give their debut album, Post-Nothing, a shot. I really dug it. Enough so that I picked up the No Singles collection as well as an assortment of 7" singles over the course of the last couple years.
I was officially a fan.
Earlier this year, the first single from Celebration Rock dropped. It was "The House That Heaven Built" and I was immediately hooked. Sirius/XM-U started playing a couple other singles from the album including "The Nights of Wine and Roses" and "Fire's Highway" and I was already aware of "Younger Us" from a previous 7" release. All are truly solid singles and any of them could've served as a great debut single from the album.
Describing Japandroids sound is probably best done by the band themselves in "The Nights of Wine and Roses."... "We yell like hell to the heavens!" screams King in the opening track. The band is all about unrelenting drums, simple but jarring guitar riffs, and vocals that could wake the dead. How they can possibly play more than one consecutive night live is beyond me. With how heavily Prowse beats up his drum kit, how his arms stay attached at the shoulders is incomprehensible.
And I love them for their inability and/or unwillingness to let up. Ever.
Aside from the four tracks listed above, I have to say one of my favorite songs on the album is the closing track "Continuous Thunder."
For me, the biggest difference between this album and the last is that it is so obvious on Celebration Rock how much more in sync David and Brian have become musically. I don't want to say they sound more "polished" because that is not the right word. They feed off each other's energy more than in Post-Nothing and work together as a more cohesive unit. This album has a very unified sound.
My only real complaint with the album is that it's only eight tracks. I'm always left wanting more and am regularly caught off guard when it's all over. Eight tracks is not nearly enough. But if their first three years are any indication, there should be plenty of singles released individually between now and the release of their third studio album.
Please do check it out.