Sunday, July 29, 2007


1990 (Rockville)

"...the exhuberant all-girl punk pop that opened many ears to the fab world of japanese music. wonderfully wonky and utterly melodic these songs show of the girls obsessions with the Ramones, Buzzcocks, sweets, animals and space rockets. - Rough Trade

"The colorful Knife's early records are magical treats of whimsical absurdity, ingenuous attacks of product endorsement and artless reports of mundane Japanese reality." - Ira Robbins

"Theoretically, any band that writes songs with lyrics such as "Banana chips for you!/Banana chips for me!/ In the afternoon, banana chips and tea" should have a life span no longer than that of a grasshopper. But something oddly spellbinding occurs when deceivingly silly lyrics are sandwiched between a buoyant guitar and a rapid-fire, pop-punk drum kit. Which perhaps explains why the Japanese female rock band Shonen Knife is still singing songs about cookies, sushi, jelly beans, and, of course, banana chips, nearly 25 years after its inception." - Christopher Muther

"Of all the bands to accept punk's do-it-yourself dictum, none is more unlikely than Shonen Knife. The trio was founded in early 1981 by three maverick women from Japan, where individualism is not encouraged and carefully airbrushed teen idoru ("idols") dominate the charts. Although initially amateurish, Shonen Knife ("boy knife") always controlled its own music and image, with cover art hand-drawn by bassist Michie Nakatani or drummer Atsuko Yamano. Nakatani, who eventually left the group, and guitarist Naoko Yamano, the principal songwriters, sang not about romance but everyday life (notably food and animals), and stressed that they were from earthy Osaka, not trendy Tokyo." - Mark Jenkins

"Way before the whole Riot Grrrl thing happened, here were three women making a joyful noise as a rock band. Even though some people may have gotten over on them just because they were Japanese, they're definitely not a novelty." - Jason Gross

"Word first began to get out abroad in the mid-'80s, when a cassette tape the trio had released on a Kyoto indie imprint made its way to K Records out of Olympia, Washington. K decided to issue the album in the states, and soon Shonen Knife were getting offers from a range of labels, as well as getting spun by the late, great British radio DJ John Peel.

Improbably for a trio of Japanese office girls, they became a hip name to drop by the rock glitterati of the time, with a range of alt-rock bands recording takes of Shonen Knife's poppy, punky songs on 1989's Every Band Has a Shonen Knife Who Loves Them." - Dan Grunebaum

'"For the first half of the '90s, Shonen Knife was the only band from Japan being seen on network TV, the only one that was able to headline international concert tours," says Eric Bresler, host of the J-rock show "Tokyo No Radio" on Drexel University's WKDU.

"But ultimately, they still ended up coming off as a novelty act, and that's unfortunate. People were tuning into them for a dose of wackiness, rather than the music itself. Sure, maybe their lyrics might come off as odd to U.S. audiences, but not any more so than, say, ABBA or Björk. You can't say that that was the reason why people weren't able to take them seriously as musicians. ...You have to wonder if maybe there's something else going on. I think there's a taint there: It's the Pink Lady effect."' - Jeff Yang

"Anyone doubting the authenticity of Shonen Knife as legit alternative rockers should direct their attentions to this title, which couples their Pretty Little Baka Guy (1986) LP with another eight tracks documented "Live In Osaka Japan" from a pair of respective sets in 1990 and 1982, the latter recorded when Michie Nakatani (vocals/bass), Naoko Yamano (vocals/guitar), and Atsuko Yamano (drums) were still in their teens. The ten studio sides perfectly demonstrate the band's quirky, if not terminally catchy approach to crafting pop melodies. Their grunge-inspired instrumentation and D.I.Y. execution give the material a rough and edgy quality. Lyrically, the Knife are all over the place, ranging from the ecological concerns of "Bear Up Bison" (aka "Making Plans for Bison"), to the confessions of a sweet-tooth on "I Wanna Eat Choco Bars," and the fun little romp on "Ice Cream City." The angular and trippy "Public Bath" extols the virtues of the decidedly Eastern tradition of public bathing facilities in a manner that only they can pull off. "Antonio Baka Guy," "Kappa Ex," and the previously mentioned "Ice Cream City" are repeated in the five-song performance dated January 21st, 1990. By contrast, the three tunes from April 1982 are rougher and arguably more stinging than their counterparts -- especially the lead guitar crunch of "I'm a Realist." Audible tape noise indicated that these probably originated on cassette, however what they lack in fidelity is more than compensated for in sheer inspiration. Again, this is a recommended find for any and all perspective parties.." - Lindsay Planer

Naoko Yamano (Vocals, Guitar)
Michie Nakatani (Vocals, Bass, Keyboard)
Atsuko Yamano (Vocals, Drums , Percussion)

1. Making Plans for Bison (aka Bear Up Bison)
2. Summertime Boogie
3. I Wanna Eat Chocobars
4. Public Bath
5. Devil House
6. Antonio Baka Guy
7. Ice Cream City
8. Ah Singapore
9. Riding on the Rocket
10. Kappa Ex.
11. Lazybone [Live]
12. Ice Cream City [Live]
13. Baggs [Live]
14. Kappa Ex. [Live]
15. Antonio Baka Guy [Live]
16. Spider [Live]
17. Secret Dance [Live]
18. I'm a Realist [Live]

Download (192 kbs, 76 Mb)


frank siniestro said...

Very good!.
It did not know this band
Thanks Dgrador

by. Frank Siniestro

Dgrador said...

I first heard Shonen Knife in 1990, on CBC's Nightlines. I was having a very loud argument with a then-SO when some amazingly lo-fi Japanese kitschy song started supplying the soundtrack to the shouting match. About halfway through the song, I stopped yelling and started laughing, and ran to the stereo and turned itup. The song was "Twist Barbie" (original version) and I quickly scribbled "Shonen Knife" when host David Wisdom came back on, gushing about this latest find.

That moment changed *everything* about how I hear music. It opened my being up to future finds like the Boredoms, Shaggs etc.

Managed to see SK twice, first at Lollapalooza, then later at a club show.

Jon. said...

such a great band, I have the original album but not the Live in Japan portion Thanks!

Lo said...

love this album, thanks so much! would love to hear more like this

Dgrador said...

check the archives for Flamenco A Go-Go