Thursday, 6 August 2015

Art of the Cover - Half Japanese "Overjoyed" (2014)

Some interesting and idiosyncratic artwork once again adorns a fine Half Japanese LP.

The cover was designed by Jad Fair with layout by David Woodruff and Jad Fair.

With "Overjoyed", the shambling dissonant geek-rock/fidelity-eschewing godheads Half Japanese shocked the indie world here with their first new studio album in 13 years.

One of the most influential bands of recent times, Jad Fair and Half Japanese spearheaded the DIY and Lo-Fi movements, influencing countless artists such as Sonic Youth, Neutral Milk Hotel, Daniel Johnston, and perhaps most notably, Kurt Cobain (who ranked Half Japanese amongst his top 50 favorites; had them open the "In Utero" tour, and was wearing their t-shirt when he died).

In any event, Half Japanese are arguably one of the most important indie bands in the history of music.

"Overjoyed" was recorded and produced by John Dieterich of Deerhoof, and ranks amongst the best albums of the band's catalog

I've always struggled a little with Half Japanese. This is the first album I've sat through by them in donkey's and on second listen it's making quite an impression on me. I didn't like it much when it was played at work. I think that's 'cause work smells. They're sounding more in the vein of Guided By Voices these days. Old hands just waiting to roll up their sleeves and make a bent-out-of-shape shambling indie rock weird-out.
'Eye Of The Hurricane' is my favourite auld track by them but the loose ragged Red Krayola-ish rock of 'Meant To Be That Way', the stoned baggy fuzz of 'Brave Enough', the grinding art-wibble psycho-rock inherent in 'Do It Nation or the lovely languid Lapse-tinged 'The Time is Now' would suggest a different band were it not for Jad's inimitable tonsils.  Moving on, 'Our Love' is reminiscent of a cracking lost Magazine track, then the thoroughly brilliant 'Shining Star' hits - this lairy bitch is right up there with GBV at their best. An edgy, casual wiry punky beaut with a thrillingly authentic Stooges-esque swagger. Onwards into 'Each Other's Arms', a relatively downbeat drinker's song with scratchy guitar, wry humour and undeniable panache. There's other tunes too. Do you want me to sing them to you? 
This is their first new album for many aeons. It's a "Joyful Noise" and one of the albums of the year. Super art as always from this lovely old madhead. So glad to have them back. Here comes the humble pie eating when I re-investigate their back catalogue and enjoy it loads more than I did when I was much younger. 
Buy it! 
by normanrecords


1. In Its Pull
2. Meant To Be That Way
3. Brave Enough
4. Do It Nation
5. The Time Is Now
6. Our Love
7. Shining Star
8. Each Other's Arms
9. Overjoyed And Thankful
10. We Are Sure
11. As Good Can Be
12. Tiger Eyes

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