Reviews Breakfast Six Packs Classic

Breakfast

Six Packs Classic

Westerners tend to love Japanese pop culture almost as much as Japanese kids love western (read: American) pop culture - especially rock and roll. And punk is no exception to this phenomenon, as each side doesn’t hesitate to make a fetish out of the other: American punks work themselves into a lather bidding on GISM LPs, while Japanese punks go to painstaking lengths to recreate the sound of records like Flex Your Head (Total Fury) and Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing (three guesses; Kawakami R.I.P.).

Breakfast pack a healthy amount of modern hardcore into their sound - dig the Born Against logo lift in the liner notes - but also turn hungry archaeologist’s eyes towards the sound of vintage SST Records. Someday, America will recognize SST in its halcyon days as an epoch-defining institution on par with Motown or Sun Records, but until then we’ll have to settle for hyper-caffeinated Far East punks incorporating the best of our musical heritage into a sound like a truck full of firecrackers crashing into a truck full of butane lighters. That Black Flag typeface on the cover is no joke, but only by proxy: Breakfast boasts more of a Minutemen streak than anything else, with jerky stop-starts, left-field acoustic passages, etc. And the band theme “Breakfast Eat Rice” sounds exactly like “Viet Nam.” No, seriously, do an A-B comparison.

How much can you really say about a band whose entire recorded output barely exceeds fifteen minutes? (“Depends on the band” is the correct answer, of course: see the innumerable one-EP US hardcore bands that range from carbon copies to mutant geniuses.) Breakfast attempt to build a trans-Pacific bridge between latter-day Gauze and everyone’s favorite corndogs from San Pedro, but to be honest this kind of thing is only going to be of interest to thrash fanatics (what else is new for 625 - no offense); Minutemen lovers will likely be disappointed that this sounds a lot more like Exclaim or Kao O Aratte Denaoshite Koi than Buzz or Howl, let alone Double Nickels on the Dime.

Breakfast take a few interesting turns lyrically, in keeping with Japanese punk tradition - remember the US bootleg of Equalizing Distort with the DIY lyric translations? Some punks shit the bed when they got hip to the anti-vegetarian broadside “Crash the Pose,” with its transliterated lyrics about putting “my dickhead in tofu.” Breakfast don’t slay any such sacred cows (pun not intended), but “True Do Me?” tackles post-WWII anxiety about Japan’s martial neutering at the hands of the Allies, rejecting re-militarization and instead championing the “people’s resistance.” Pretty safely in punk terrain politically, but with an interesting Japanese twist.

I feel bad being hard on this. It’s hard not to enjoy the enthusiasm on display here, and Breakfast occasionally suggest that they could probably be making music a lot more nuanced - and, dare I say it, interesting - than this. But as it stands, most of this sounds like middle-of-the-road, badly recorded thrash (you can't always pass off crappy recordings as "raw;" Exclaim's Critical Exploder was raw as hell but also had clarity, which this doesn't). It's the kind of thing that you may be able to find being done much more satisfactorily in your own hometown. (I once saw a local band here in AZ called “No Shit”, composed of barely pubescent punks who blew away 99% of all “bandana thrash” and Tear It Up-esque bands I’ve ever heard.) Fanatics and punk sociologists take note, but the rest of you can keep looking.

4.6 / 10Jon
See also
Gauze (Especially The Last LP), Exclaim, The Minutemen
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4.6 / 10

4.6 / 10

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