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Friday, Jan. 16, 2009
Occasionally, you'll run across a review that says San Francisco's Deerhoof are the greatest band in the world. They're not, but you can understand why some people think so. There's something perfect and unique about their angular, chaotic guitar songs, and how many bands can claim perfect and unique anything?
Deerhoof's steady progression into the spotlight of worldwide attention over the space of 10 albums has mostly been a matter of cutting their songs down to size and getting Japanese expat Satomi Matsuzaki to tone down her Hello Kitty singing style. Otherwise, unconventional arrangements and meandering but nonetheless meaty melodies remain the band's signature traits, and with the addition of Ed Rodriguez on second guitar, the overall sound on their new CD, "Offend Maggie," is more substantial than it was on their previous one, "Friend Opportunity," where John Dieterich held down the fret chores alone after the departure of original member Chris Cohen. In fact, the intertwining guitars that highlight several cuts on "Maggie" sound like a throwback to the sensibilities of Television and even homeboys The Grateful Dead, two bands that were also perfect and unique in their day. It's the kind of thing the group would do well to explore further in the future, and it should give their live shows a more theatrical flair.
It might also break them out of their nursery-rhyme rhythm habit, which is a function of Matsuzaki's tendency to sing along with the guitars rather than around them. But their fans probably think they wouldn't be Deerhoof without that sing-song quality, which is neither perfect nor unique, but irresistible in any case.
Deerhoof play Jan. 30 at Shinsaibashi Club Quattro, Osaka (7 p.m.;  6535-5569); Jan. 31 at Nagoya Club Quattro (7 p.m.;  264-8211); and Feb. 1 at Ebisu Liquidroom, Tokyo (7 p.m.;  3444-6751). Each show is ¥4,500 in advance.