gullbuy music review

Thee Michelle Gun Elephant


Rodeo Tandem Beat Specter


Alive Records


Image: Thee Michelle Gun ElephantAs someone who doesn't generally pay much attention to song lyrics, I find that I tend to enjoy foreign-language bands more than others do.

Lyric-centric folks tend to get frustrated by not being able to understand the singer. "What's he singing about?" they whine!

To me, lyrics can just get in the way sometimes. It's not that I prefer instrumentals -- it's just that, well, dumb lyrics can ruin an otherwise perfectly good song for me. On the flip side, only rarely do exceptional lyrics change my opinion of a mediocre song.

If the singer is using a language I don't understand (hell, I barely can speak English!) then it doesn't matter if he's singing about religion, dragons, sports or politics; ignorance in this case truly IS bliss! I know there are many of you who would disagree but then, as dear old dad would say, "that's what makes horse races."

You won't be surprised to find, then, that although the lyrics to the new Thee Michelle Gun Elephant CD are translated into English (from the original Japanese) in the booklet, I barely glanced at them. Not interested. Howzit sound? THAT is what matters -- and it sounds freakin' excellent! In my review of 2000's 'Casanova Snake' album, I said they fused elements of rockabilly and '60s rock n' roll with Detroit-style pummel-rock and punk, and that description still stands.

With fewer than half of their albums seeing release in the US, this CD -- their third domestic release (including a best of comp) -- refuses to break the cycle of violence. There are straight ahead rockers like Abakareta Sekai, Turkey, and Break Hazureta Oreno Shinzou, rockabilly-tinged stompers (Alligator Night, Bird Land Cindy) and a pair of superb moody, noir-ish instrumentals -- Beat Specter Buchanan and Beat Specter Garcia.

A fantastic album -- and I understand there's a new album due out in Japan in the immediate future. Too, too much!

---Peter L, February 4, 2003