It took 4 long years for Mika Bomb to followup their debut album The Fake Fake Sound Of...Mika Bomb following the loss of founding member Niall O'Flaherty who co-wrote and produced the debut album, the end of their label (Grand Royal) and other management problems, but they finally were able get it together for a release on the UK label Damaged Goods. And that's a more fitting place for some ex-pat Japanese punks who have made the UK their home, so that Hellcats fits right in on that label, even having Damaged Goods labelmate Holly Golightly guestspotting on a cover of her Won't Go Out.
Mika Bomb mix it up on the rest of the album with their brand of Japanese punk which is wholly inspired by UK punk and pop like Revillos, Sleeper, Shampoo and Golden Starlet mixed up with a more NYC and US based inspired sound of Ramones, Bikini Kill and Sonic Youth.
There aren't too many bum tracks on Hellcats. Things start out strong with the two go getter tracks Shut Ya Mouth and Bettie Page with a catchy punky melody and sweet distorted lead vocals. Boomeranka was originally released as the b-side to their last single Contact Tokyo and was re-recorded for the album. It's a pounding sing-along tune.
Hellcat Riders starts out with a Nena-like intro before breaking into a punky energy. With lyrics like "I'm a yellow bitch from Osaka City, sitting on my ass on Rockaway Beach," Osaka is a more poppy punk approach that works (I wonder who was the gang from Boston that they mention in the lyrics?). 9-5ers has some profanity, so radio DJs had best watch out. Chuck Berry was the only song I found myself skipping: apparently a lot of this album was written in a rush before the recording session and this one shows it - not very good.
Rock Out reminds me of The Primitives if they were punkier. Cadillac and Have a Bad Day both remind me of Sonic Youth Kool Thing. Odd because they are back to back on the disc - but they rock out so they are good tracks. Love Shot has some sweet female harmony vocals done punk style. Hero No. 1 and Yellow Fever sound like they would really rock live.
The cd ends with the odd song out - the cover of Holly Golightly's Won't Go Out with Holly switch singing lead vocals. It really just sounds like a Holly tune rather than a Mika Bomb track because they covered it straight from the original rather than remake it. Still, for Holly fans, it's a must to hear.