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Friday, Nov. 14, 2008
Asian Kung-Fu Generation "Surf Bungaku Kamakura"
By ALEX HOBAN
To Japanese music fans, Yokohama indie-punk four-piece Asian Kung-Fu Generation need little in the way of an introduction, with their colorful sixth album, "Surf Bungaku Kamakura," being released onto an existing backdrop of widespread commercial success and critical favor. With previous albums flying straight to No. 1 and huge singles being used to soundtrack popular anime series, Ajikan — as they're known by their fans — are very much J-rock's golden boys.
Outside Japan they remain a cult concern — a shame, as their recent tour with indie monoliths Weezer revealed not only how much they owe to the American band in terms of musical cues and inspiration, but how competitively competent and musically thrilling they were alongside them in the live arena. "Surf Bungaku Kamakura" is another testament to them having outgrown their predecessors; while Weezer foundered with their recent eponymous album, here Ajikan soar in a frenzy of chopping, hook-laden songs. "Hase Sanz" is carried by its wavelike chorus and pace-hopping indie agitations. The sway of "Koshigoe Crybaby" is as intoxicating as the fluctuating emotions that guide many of Ajikan's hormonal teenage fans, while "Inamuragasaki Jane" powers forth with relentless, mosh-pit stoking bounce. Through it all, one thing is clear: This J-rock juggernaut shows no sign of slowing.