Rock music in Japan has become reliant on programming, synthesizers and new technology. While that electronic advancement has made it easier for bands to start out through D.I.Y. websites, new artists can sometimes lack live-performance techniques and the experience of interacting with an audience. This tends to result in the pursuit of trendy genres, which are often short-lived. The 50 Kaitenz are not one of those bands.
The band released their third conceptual mini-album, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Love Letter,” in February (it follows “Rock ‘n’ Roll Magic” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll Sekai Ryokou”). I’m cheating a bit by saying this, but I had seen them live and that made their album more credible to me — I knew that what I was listening to was the result of their own talent and not the tech. The 50 Kaitenz have inherited the aesthetic of rock ‘n’ roll, and they haven’t messed with it — which is apparent right through to their Ramones-inspired hairdos.
This doesn’t mean the band aren’t trying something new. Opening track “Namida no Stardust Train,” kicks things off with a sharp C-chord. An aggressive 8-beat kicks in and the track soon incorporates a romantic touch of glam-rock horns. Since the band is a trio (Danny, Dory and Bogie), small details make all the difference: “Baby, I Love You” stands out at first, if only for its slow pace, but the slight presence of piano, acoustic guitars and some doo-wop-style vocals give it a nostalgic vibe. The album closes with another highlight: “Bucchigiri no Love Song” serves up fast-paced rock ‘n’ roll without gimmicks — and the drums in the intro sound like a nod to Led Zeppelin’s “Rock And Roll.”
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Love Letter” is not just a compilation of love songs, it’s a way for The 50 Kaitenz to show some love for their genre, they are three punks who remind music fans that being on trend is not always necessary for quality art.