A Place to Bury Strangers, Japandroids
Christopher Upton 06/11/2009
It's a packed Friday night in the Flapper and the buzz tonight seems to be focused around the support rather than the headliner. Japandroids, or as the misspelt sandwich board suggest the Japan Droids (effectively killing the joke), with their two piece ensemble have taken the experimental fuzz of A Place to Bury Strangers and made it leaner, dirtier and more accessible.
Japandroids are currently surfing the wave of no-fi coming over from America in the form of bands like No Age and Wavves, but the difference with Japandroids is that they have a much more 60s garage-infused sound. While the two aforementioned bands favour a wall-of-noise approach to the discordant distortion they create, with even the faster songs being heavy on the power, there's a danceable feel to the Japandroids.
The songs flow easily between the distortion breaks and the two members sync well during the more improvised sections. Of course, a lot of its noise, but its melodic thrashing, and singer and guitarist Brian's dives towards the low cellar ceiling are as violent as the often machine gun-like attacks on his strings. On their Myspace they demand they be taken as a full band, citing their two piece structure as anything but minimal and, while they lack the punch that DFA 1979 had, they're certainly loud enough to be taken seriously.
A Place to Bury Strangers, in contrast, are anything but easy to hear in a live setting. Here they take the experimental industrial shoegaze burr of the records and smash it together into a complete wall of noise. That may sound like a cliché but it is actually overpowering standing in the same room as it.
The drums, most notably on To Fix the Gash in Your Head, are all but drowned out by the frontline attack, the guitars taking over completely - bizarrely this didn't detract. It's only when they reach the finale, a ten minute epic crawl through a sludge of assaulted guitar and bass, that the violently independent drum beats become apparent; then it's quite possibly the closest garage noise will ever come to being jazz.
All of this can be an unsettling experience: the noise, the flashes and the altogether blur of the sensations that comes from watching three people become one noisy barrage of lo-fi, Jesus and the Mary Chain-inspired rattlings. It might not sit well - and chances are you'll feel uncomfortable afterwards - but it's an exhilarating way to experience music as dark as the underground beer cellar it's housed in.