Album Review: Japanther – Rock 'N' Roll Ice Cream

daring swordsmanship
fire eaters
entertainment abounds

by Jack Diablo
After my band opened for Japanther several months ago, I have been on pins and needles, waiting for them to release some new music. Luckily it didn’t take long at all as they plan to release their newest album Rock ‘N’ Roll Ice Cream on February 23rd.
Basically, Japanther is everything that pop punk used to be, and should have remained, before the genre was corrupted by MTV, Hot Topic and every other culture-crushing corporation. They have become well known in their hometown of Brooklyn and around the world for their high-energy shows and riotous dance parties. Also, for using telephones as microphones.
Japanther joints are nothing if not fun. Expect songs about skating, surfing, girl problems and the usual punk rock fare all done with Japanther’s signature fuzzy, garagey, poppy innocence. You won’t be able to help yourself from humming along and singing in the shower to ‘She’s the One.’ Another staple of their material is the use of samples. They appear to have dialed them back a little on this album but songs like ‘Not At War’ are heavy with them in a way that would gives Dan the Automator or Danger Mouse a run for their money.
Rock ‘N’ Roll Ice Cream has all the classic ringings of Japanther but also introduces an exciting new element. After almost ten years as a duo of drums and electric bass, they have recruited a new member in the form of Anita Sparrows of the Soviettes in what seems like a last-minute, spontaneous decision. But if this record is any indication it was an act of kismet. She even has her own track, an acoustic solo version of ‘She’s the One’ entitled ‘Alone in the Basement.’
Even though Japanther’s songs tend to be pretty simple and straightforward, the band is much more than the sum of its songs. It’s not uncommon for the band to collaborate with artists, writers, poets and of course other bands on various projects. On this record, you can find Eileen Myles reciting some of her poetry on songs like ‘L.A. URA Mystery’ and ‘Get Me Home.’ Additionally, the album artwork was created by Elisabeth Arkhipoff, who has worked with such A-list designers as Anna Sui and Swarovski. From haute couture to punk rock, Japanther manage to reach a variety of scenes on an international level.
You can catch Japanther at Harvest of Hope this year and if you’re into a little thing called fun, I suggest you make every effort to see their set.