Since their inception in 2004, self-proclaimed “rock-o-medians” The 50 Kaitenz have toured extensively, showcasing their hybrid of vintage rock ‘n’ roll and slapstick comedy on stages throughout Japan, Australia and the United States. And while I’m not the biggest fan of most of the Osaka trio’s “wacky” live antics, the hard-hitting tunes that adorn their third full-length, “50 Kaitenz no Bikkuri!!” (“50 Kaitenz Surprise!!”), easily justify the lads’ place alongside the country’s top-tier garage-rockers.
The disc opens on a memorable note with the explosive “Gokiburi Sanka” (“Paean to Cockroaches”), its rambunctious rhythms, catchy “yeah yeah” chorus and guitar solo setting the pace for the party atmosphere that dominates the bulk of the disc. Bassist Dory and drummer Bogie provide Beach Boys-esque backing vocals and hand claps on the poppy “Surfin’ Girl” before quickly switching gears for the loud, anthemic group yelps on the excellent energetic street-punk number “Buchikowase!” (“Destroy!”).
The lighthearted kazoo-driven “Mattaku Hanashi ni Narimasen” (“Totally Out of the Question”) and country music-tinged “Kokyo no Umi yo” (“Ode to My Hometown Sea”) provide a brief change of pace before the sounds of a can being opened and a wet belch usher in “Beer Love.” With the right marketing, this fun, punk-styled closer would have little trouble becoming a popular pub staple for well-oiled izakaya types to hoist their sloshing mugs to.
The 50 Kaitenz will tour throughout Japan from Feb. 7 till March 5; see www.50kaiten.com for details.