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CD REVIEW

Don Matsuo “New Stone Age”

by Shawn Despres

“New Stone Age” is the second solo effort from Don Matsuo, the frontman for Tokyo rock ‘n’ roll stalwarts Zoobombs. His 2006 offering, “O-re-ha-si-na-i-yo?” and the bulk of Zoobombs’ output have been praised for their experimentation with different styles. Inspired by sounds from the 1960s and ’70s, and more straightforward than fans may be expecting, “New Stone Age” is one of the most cohesive pieces of music Matsuo has crafted during his 15-year career.

Backed by members of Zoobombs and Seiei Yoshimura from Osaka alternative act 8otto, Matsuo howls his take on evolution over the guitar-heavy, classic rock groove of ragged opener “King Kong.” “New Direction Boogie” follows a similar fuzzy, funky path and paves the way for an awesome take on Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy,” which includes a solo from blues guitarist Kazuhito Terada. Matsuo’s hero worship continues with the wonderful Rolling Stones-esque ballad “Roses” and “Bill Wyman We Miss You,” a trippy spoken-word piece based on a dream he had about reuniting Wyman and the Stones during a three-day drive across the U.S. while gigging in 1998. “Chibi no Sad Boy” mixes mellow Skynard-style Southern rock with Matsuo’s rapping before turning into a laid-back psychedelic jam session.

“New Stone Age” is another excellent recording from a musician whose constantly changing vision helps him remain one of the best in Japan’s underground scene.