Music Independent Network)
to Puffy AmiYumi than the Boredoms, Japan’s Chatmonchy composes the
sort of sing-songy melodies often heard over anime end credits. (In fact, one
of the band’s songs was so used by Bleach.)
But the all-female trio hitches its bouncy tunes and chirpy vocals to spare,
bristling rock. Instrumentally, Chatmonchy’s music is craggy, dynamic and
stately. The group’s founder, singer-guitarist Eriko Hashimoto, is a deft
player whose apparent influences include Tom Verlaine.
mark Chatmonchy’s first U.S.
tour, Sony’s digital-only subsidiary just released the group’s latest album, Kokuhaku (“Confession”), and
its two predecessors, Seimeiryoku (“Life Force”) and Miminari (“Ear Ringing“). These albums weren’t designed for the U.S. market;
most of the song titles and lyrics are in Japanese, although Chatmonchy (like
many J-bands) does sometimes shift into English. On Kokuhaku, the English-titled tunes tend to be the fluffier ones:
“Cat Walk” is an acoustic-guitar-based power ballad and “Love Is
Soup” suggests 1940s girl groups (although Kumiko Takahashi’s thumping
drums would have alarmed the Andrews Sisters).
threesome may never top Miminari‘s
exhilarating “Koi no Kemuri,” whose intro recalls “Little Johnny
Jewel.” But Kokuhaku shows that
Chatmonchy (a made-up word with no Japanese meaning) hasn’t slacked off.
“8cm no Pinwheel” and “Kaze Fukeba Koi” match storming
guitar and Akiko Fukuoka’s primal bass to ascending choruses, while
“Hibiscus wa Fuyu ni Saku” gives bossa nova (long popular in Japan) a punch it rarely packs in Rio. Hashimoto may sing in the high, clean tones of a
pre-schooler, but her band’s music has depth and dirt.
Tracks: “8cm no Pinhweel,” “Kaze Fukeba Koi” MARK JENKINS