I was so excited to see Monogamy Party on the Chop Suey schedule (October 17, 8pm, 21+) that I didn’t notice Melt-Banana at the top of the bill. A friend had just told me about them, a genre-defying band from Japan, not long before, and hearing their name again pushed me to check them out.
And all I have to say is WHOA.
Starting up in 1992, Melt-Banana became underground icons in the mid-90s through their confusing and invigorating blend of sheer grindcore noise with chirping pop vocalizations and more than a few notes of electronica. In a field dominated by deep-voiced dudes, singer Yasuko Onuki, or simply Yako, isn’t exactly the face or voice most NW residents would think of when it comes to noise-punk. But she and guitarist Ichirou Agata have put forth a unique, superlative and truly heavy discography, cementing their places as pioneers within both Japanese and American noise, and even giving birth to a style of music that may be characterized as “spazz” – not at all an inaccurate descriptor, given their spontaneous sugar-rush sensibilities. (And just check out their sweet geocities homepage – that is definition “Too legit to quit”)
Fetch (streaming at Grooveshark) is their first album in six years – delayed for a while due to the Fukushima disaster – but it shows no sign of age or slowing down. Actually, slowing down seems to be the last thing on their minds, kicking off the record with a burst of joyous noise in “Candy Gun”. Between Agata’s shredding and Yako’s video game vocals, suddenly all those hardcore Saturday morning cartoon and Lucky Charms headaches/stomachaches come rushing back. And it hurts so good.
Monogamy Party sure seems happy about this lineup, and one can definitely see some Melt-Banana influence in the Seattle weirdo noise-rock outfit. Just finishing up a tour, Monogamy Party has received no shortage of good press, especially surrounding last month’s release False Dancers (stream it here).
No doubt the most dissonant and off-the-wall act on the Good To Die roster, they’ve added Pleasureboaters’ Rick Claudon’s moaning guitar to lend extra flavor to the pot of Yos-wa and Keith’s already vile bass and drums soup (or maybe it’s more of a bisque?). The effect is akin to someone scratching out your earballs with steel wool (… it’s better than it sounds).
Kennedy’s lyrics and vocals are the centerpiece, though. Despite learning how to sing a little bit (his words) False Dancers isn’t too far off from the group’s first release Pus City when it comes to migraine shrieks and slanting drawl – and that’s the way I like it. They almost even upstaged Gaytheist at their record release at Black Lodge, last time I saw them, and all the wild thrashing in the crowd (myself included) was the most movement I’ve seen in at a Seattle show in a long time. I don’t expect much difference Thursday night.
Between the two comes Kinski, another Seattle act, one that’s been on the pitch since the late 90s. Known for lengthy instrumentals, they’re not as well-celebrated in the area as they deserve to be, but they’ve gotten recognition out of state, joining acts like Tool and Mission of Burma on tour, and are signed to Kill Rock Stars, previously on Sub-Pop. Theirs is a familiar sound, indie, often psychedelic post-rock, in the vein of Pavement (you know, REAL indie rock).
As with Melt-Banana, their newest release Cosy Moments (stream it here) is the band’s first release in six years. But this one’s more of a departure from previous efforts, with heavier use of vocals, shorter tracks (the longest two are 6:39 and 7:40, but the others fall well under that, a few under two minutes), and a more aggressive punk edge on tracks like “Last Day On Earth” and “Conflict Free Diamonds”.
For the most part, though, their set should still include a good deal of their past textured, atmospheric instrumentals – making it a big change of pace between Monogamy Party and Melt-Banana, and perhaps a welcome one too. Otherwise you’d run out of energy really quickly.
Altogether, a damn fine show and a true highlight for the month of October in local music – once again, thanks to Chop Suey! Invite yourself on facebook, hopefully I’ll see you there!
Geoff Vincent / Future Stay-At-Home-Dad / KSUB Loud Rock Director