Japandroids: Celebration Rock

Celebration Rock
(Polyvinyl Record Co.)

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Celebration Rock kicks off and closes with the sound of fireworks. At eight songs and around 35 minutes, this celebration doesn’t last long, but it’s a hell of a ride. Japandroids put the pedal down and never let up, aiming straight for the heroic heart of pure rock ‘n’ roll.

This is an album of power chords, pummeling drums, impassioned vocals and nothing else. If you’re looking for subtlety, there are any number of clever indie bands who make their living dispensing it. Japandroids want to ask the big questions like “Do we have anything to live for?” from the album opener, “The Nights of Wine and Roses.” They want to provide you with fist-pumping inspiration, instructing you to “Tell ‘em all to go to hell,” in the non-stop climax that is “The House That Heaven Built.” This is willfully naive, painfully sincere music and if you’re not in the mood to be roused like rabble, Celebration Rock is not for you.

It would be a shame, however, to let cynicism prevent you from enjoying this fresh blast of distortion and melody from Vancouver, British Columbia. It has roots in classic rock, copping snippets of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” in “Evil’s Sway,” and Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill” in “Fire’s Highway.” But musically, it owes more to The Buzzcocks than The Boss.

Underneath all the power chords and clatter is a batch of really good songs that could just as easily be strummed on an acoustic guitar. In fact, the only thing holding Japandroids back at this point are their own, self-imposed limitations. Singer/guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse cover a lot of sonic ground. But you can’t help missing the added punch and low rumble a bass player would bring.

“Hitchhike to hell and back/Riding the wind/Waiting for a generation’s bonfire to begin,” King sings in “Adrenaline Nightshift.” Whether Japandroids can speak for a generation remains to be seen. But they need not be so modest. If it’s a bonfire you want, you got it.

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About Dan Siegler

Dan Siegler is a music producer/composer/songwriter from NYC. He has an inexhaustible supply of opinions and expresses them freely at Short and Sweet NYC and Baeble Music as well as to strangers in bars.
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