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Friday, Feb. 17, 2006


The High-Lows "Flash -- Best"

The High-Lows are one of those bands that you have to at least know about. Formed 10 years ago, the band includes Hiroto Komoto (vocals), Masatoshi Mashima (guitar), and Mikio Shirai (keyboards), all former members of those architects of modern Japanese punk-pop, The Blue Hearts -- who took over the rock 'n' roll mantle from seminal '70s/'80s outfit R.C. Succession.

While often characterized as punk, The High-Lows have more in common with straight-ahead rock than punk's frequently radical, polemical stance. While this edges The High-Lows toward a dumbed-down rock 'n' roll party band atmosphere -- which is neatly captured on this best-of compilation -- it is also a key to the band's enduring success. And perhaps most importantly, songs like "Thunder Road," "Rocking Chair" and "Nichiyobi yori no shisha" are catchy, karaoke-friendly garage anthems.

If there's a flaw, it's that by committing fully to neither pop nor punk, they've ended up satisfying no one completely.

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