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Friday, May 5, 2006
LISTENING POST: CD REVIEWS
By IAN MARTIN
The axiom has it that you should "write what you know," or else end up with shallow, superficial art, which is why being an expatriate musician living and playing in Tokyo must be difficult. How to pitch yourself? Play on the gimmick of your foreignness and run the risk of coming across like one of those clowns you occasionally see making fools of themselves in "wacky foreigner" roles on TV; or do you make an awkward attempt to assimilate, writing about izakaya and riding the Yamanote Line, and maybe even sing in Japanese?
Squadcar seem like sensible chaps, though, and have no desire to be labeled a "foreign" band, and yet they are smart enough not to make a desperate grasp for acceptance into Japanese culture. At heart, their music is drawn from a long line of American alt-rock bands and '80s British pop, with echoes of R.E.M. and New Order in their clean, jangly guitars and driving bass. There is also an undoubted influence of recent Japanese indie rock, particularly in the dreamy "Osaka," which recalls their near-namesakes Supercar in its distant, weary-sounding vocals, pulses of chiming guitar and subtle electronic effects. The end result is a coherent and honest-sounding album, that occupies and interesting position within the Japanese music scene.