Release Date: Apr 15, 2014
Record label: Seayou
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival, Post-Rock, Experimental Rock
Tireless art punks Japanther have filled the entire lifespan of their band examining the tenuous relationship between noise and beauty, their short and explosive songs always somehow finding love in the gutter and glory hidden in the trash. Known for their energetic and positive live shows, Japanther's lengthy discography has been more about trying to transfer the overwhelming energy of their shows onto disc, and now over ten full-lengths and countless EPs and split singles into things, Instant Money Magic gets closer than most of its predecessors. The duo of drummer/vocalist Ian Vanek and bassist/vocalist Matt Reilly sing in unison on most tracks, augmenting their fuzzy basslines and pummeling rhythms with more synth tracks and hidden orchestration than usual, upping the pop factor without ever breaking out of murky, muffled D.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. The Big Apple's choicest art-punk duo Japanther have summoned themselves a cult over the past decade or so, mostly through frenetic and eclectic live performances (in the back of a truck, for example). They bring a beguiling theatricality – sometimes featuring synchronised swimmers and BMX riders – to their shows that's unparalleled in rock/punk nowadays, and it's earned the twosome a great deal of applause.
After years of intense, unorthodox performance spectacles, Japanther’s legend in the art punk circle overshadows any individual album. Their recorded material over the past few years, though, has tended toward bright, fuzzy, and welcoming, a far less difficult sort of music than the art punk genre tag would suggest. That continues on Instant Money Magic, the prolific duo’s 12th LP in 13 years, an album that leaves a bit of mess as it overflows with positive vibes.
Through the years, Japanther have been esteemed for their “driving noise rock” and reviled for producing an “unlistenable clatter. ” The elaborate spectacle of their live performances — which, in the past, have included synchronized swimmers, puppets, and BMX bikers — have solidified their “art punk” credentials in the press. And maybe in the band’s early days — when they were eking out blurry hip-hop-inflected tunes on cheap-sounding equipment while shouting their lyrics through toy phone transponders that cut out at random intervals — there was some validity to such grandiose praise and denigration.
Brooklyn’s Japanther are a noisy bunch, or at least their early records would have you believe anyway. Their hyperactive, lo-fi take on punk rock has become a signature sound to anyone interested in the world of low-budget DIY music, cropping up in people’s Last.fm recommendations since the first time they listened to Times New Viking. This was all well and good for the majority of their output, but their peak seemed to come with 2008’s ‘Tut Tut, Now Shake Ya Butt’.
Brooklyn’s Japanther was created as an “art project” in 2001 by bassist/vocalist Matt Reily and drummer/vocalist Ian Vanek while still attending Pratt. Since then, the duo has pounded out 11 full-lengths; and as impressive as that is, their real claim to fame has always been their live performances. By breaking down all barriers between them and the audience, and carrying out stunts like performing with a synchronized swim team and atop the Williamsburg Bridge, they’ve maintained an inventive, DIY ethos in ways that would sometimes appear tacky if taken on by less inspired acts.