Reviews Japanther Tut Tut Now Shake Ya Butt


Tut Tut Now Shake Ya Butt

In the city of Brooklyn, New York’s hippest borough, the pretensions of musicians trying to create songs that are both avant garde and widely accessible (a clear paradox) makes for a stifling scene. Lofts and warehouse spaces across the neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Bushwick are filling with passive young professionals being bludgeoned with art. While every incarnation of noise, folk, and other esoteric genres undergoes some type of fusion in attempts at esotericism, fun’s left to those who remember that music should make the listener feel good, something two bored Pratt students haven’t forgotten since forming Japanther in 2001. Taking the simple melodies of pop-punk and mixing it with a dance-ready rhythm provided by keyboards and drums, Japanther are singing the tune of smiles and good times much like Matt and Kim, another duo of Pratt students come Brooklyn dance-punks.

Similar to much of Japanther’s older work, Tut Tut Now Shake Ya Butt is comprised of short-punky numbers interjected by goofy samples that serve as almost absurdist humor but lean more towards inside jokes. Mature, the album isn’t, but the songs are by no means childish. The opener, “Um Like Your Smile is Totally Ruling me,” has both a steady vocal melody backed by a fuzzed-out rhythm section of bass and drums, warming up the listener before kicking into the undeniably catchy track “Bumpin Rap Tapes.” These tracks, along with several others have lyrics of heartache and longing for that special someone. While it sounds very juvenile, Japanther only proves its okay to have crushes well into your twenties. Possibly the album’s best track, “The Dirge” is a cover by New Bad Things, a former group from Portland, Oregon. Speeding up the tempo while cutting out some verses and putting the emphasis on the chorus, Japanther revamps the song much in the same way they redid The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry.” Clearly better than the original New Bad Things version, the chorus of this now dance-punk version is sure to be stuck in your head for days on end.

What’s surprising, or rather detracting, about this album is how much of this album isn’t Japanther. Penny Rimbaud, famed drummer and co-founder of the anarcho-punk group The Crass, not only produced the album, but also provides several spoken word poems throughout the disc. While the content of Japanther’s songs isn’t too political, they often advocate many social issues, making the inclusion of Rimbaud’s work not entirely out of place if added sparingly. The trouble is that Rimbaud’s work accounts for over twenty minutes of the album’s totality, making for an uneven rhythm, killing the playful mood Japanther creates. The poems, recited behind a minimally programmed drum beat, are straightforward in their delivery until the end when Rimbaud gives the words a slight cadence similar to the work of a slam poet or emcee. On the subject of Emcees, Baltimore’s Spank Rock contributes a track of his signature electro/party rap to the album, more in tune with Japanther’s vibe than Penny Rimbaud’s political poetry. The track, “Radical Businessman,” tells the story of a run in Spank Rock had with airport police at JFK involving some allegedly stolen jewelry. Had Japanther given more of their own work to this album, which features their name as main artist, then this would easily be one of the best albums of 2008.

7.0 / 10Scottie
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Menlo Park


7.0 / 10

7.0 / 10

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