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Japanther - Master of Pigeons

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Artist: Japanther

Album: Master of Pigeons

Label: Menlo Park

Review date: Mar. 25, 2005

Japanther’s ability to hover simultaneously in two (or three) aesthetically different camps is the Brooklyn duo’s best attribute. Their love of noise and hummable three-chord sing-alongs is shoved through filters of melodic heaviness and exits with enough relish to satisfy. In a mini-epoch of history, Ian Vanek and Matt Reillywill must be the only group to have releases on Vice (recent article, “How to Fuck a Stripper”) and Indiana’s Plan-It-X, a label whose motto is “If it ain’t cheap, it ain’t punk,” and recently become a full-time benefit label for Pages to Prisoners. Pitting scene against scene, however, may be the only reason Japanther exists: yelpin’ about getting along, cuttin’ a rug and jammin’ the sampler.

Master of Pigeons is on neither of those imprints; it marks Japanther’s return to their mainstay label, Menlo Park. With previous cat Claudia Meza back in the lineup, the album continues the band’s primitive-song meets noise-manifestos, like those carved on Leather Wings and Dump the Body in Rikki Lake, only with a gentler bend – a subterranean bedroom-pop. They submerge this shift on Mater of Pigeons with the acoustic “Pacific NW” and the great father-in-jail tale “Change Your Life”; wrangling the modes of melody is what Japanther do for the bulk of the album, crafting songs that could survive acoustically if the power went out.

Their electro attitude has given way to a more tectonic, sunny side – like that of touring partner This Bike is a Pipebomb. (This album was recorded in Sydney, Australia, Olympia, Brooklyn, and other points in-between.)

Plenty of consternation, mangled beats, electronic propulsion and sampled bits of ’70s comedy LPs mingle throughout. The bumping, fist pumping anthems about dead and/or tormented friends blaze forth on the album’s highlights “Tourist” and “Summer Hills.” Japanther’s self-styled “bike riding anthems” thrive alongside Vanek and Reillywill’s near cryptic, allegoric art of pigeons – bodyless and floating – a hint that far-encompassing plans are at work here.

By Eric Weddle

Other Reviews of Japanther

Leather Wings / Dump the Body in Rikki Lake

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