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Friday, Aug. 21, 2009



Honey Sac "Allege"

Sac are a hard sell. On the one hand, the band of five girls from Osaka make anime-ready guitar music that has been shaped and moulded into the most commercial of packages. And yet . . . there's something curious about them.

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For one thing, their looks — while most bands like this aim to sell bucketloads on the strength of a hot singer or whatever, Honey Sac are not what you'd call stunners. Also, they play ballsy live shows. Since their inception in 2002, the band have played at Osaka's Minami Wheel festival, their own regular events and even a show in Shanghai. And their set at Japan Nite, part of the prestigious South By Southwest festival in Austin in March, was an engaging performance not only because of their energy on stage but also their musicianship, which is strong.

As for their songwriting, it's definitely above average. Although "2.remain" combines typical minor-key J-pop with an emotional vocal performance, "Parellel Surf" recalls some of Yuki's rockier moments and throws in unexpected acoustic guitar in the verse and a Latin refrain after the chorus. And the keyboard lines throughout are eye-catching.

Unfortunately, the whole thing's let down by uninspired production, some jarring electronic elements and way too much studio sheen. Still, this minialbum could be a taster of bigger and better things to come. Surely a band named Honey Sac will be able to build up a buzz?

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