The House that Heaven Built by Japandroids (7.4) So the last few weeks I’ve felt myself aproaching that point where everything starts to sound boring and the same. As such, I prepared myself for a Tom Waits napalm of music listening to re-calibrate my aural palate. But before I got head-meltingly deep into Mule Variations on repeat, I bought Celebration Rock by Japandroids. (N.B. and let’s be honest, this is prolly the best band name we’ve heard since We Were Promised Jet Packs.) No Waits-ian sonic flush required. Wow.
Remember back at the begining of the year when I bemoaned the dearth of great (or even passable) rock released in 2011? Since then, I’ve acquired: Cloud Nothings (which I haven’t gotten to yet, but will eventually) The Boss, Sleigh Bells, Alabama Shakes, and Jack White all of which rid me of that lamentable condition. And now Japandroids, whose story is one of those great life-affirming rock myths that both shouldn’t be true and shouldn’t inspire me (but it does), have melted serious face for the last four days.
(Wikipedia derivation): Japandroids formed in 2006. They bummed around the Vancouver rock scene for several years to minimal fanfare and eventually convinced themselves they didn’t have a future in music. But they had a bunch of songs and decided to pool limited resources and release an album in 2009 as a going away present to the music business. The album they
released, aptly titled Post-Nothing, was to be their last gasp. They’d given up on stardom, and were set to return to doing whatever guys like this do after they realize they’re failed rock stars (N.B. Laconic Barista/Risk Averse Bike-Messenger).
So what else could happen? Post-Nothing did the indic rock equivalent of blowing up (the ever coveted “Best New Music” designation from Pitchfork) and they instantly went from renting their own PA equipment and setting up their own shows to a nationwide (U.S./’nuck) tour. Post-Nothing ended 2009 on many year end best-of lists, and the Japandroids had become rock stars.
So what else could they title the follow up album after their “well, I guess we’re rock stars” moment, except Celebration Rock? And it is a celebration, happy music at its finest. (highlights besides the WD: “Fire’s Highway” and the unreal “Continuous Thunder” to which someone with some A/V skills should piece together an OKC highlight reel with). The unmistakeable sound of fireworks preface and carry out the album. This struck me as particularly pure and celebratory, and it makes me smile every time I hear it. Sandwhiched between the fireworks are eight crowd screaming guitar thrashing songs, with easy to sing-a-long and sometimes poignant lyrics certainly written by two guys approaching their 30s and now convinced they hadn’t wasted their 20s. What a feeling, I’d celebrate it too.