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Friday, Feb. 12, 2010

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LISTENING POST

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Chicken Head Maker


Many bands dream of combining various musical styles to create a completely new sound, only to discover that it's a bit like trying to make bechamel sauce; if you're not careful the creamy concoction you dreamed of will curdle into an evil-looking slop. Chicken Head Maker, who happily converged on the same live venue in Koenji, Tokyo, back in 2008, were confident they could succeed where many other bands have failed and attempted to create a whole new sound from a mishmash of electro, punk, alternative rock and reggae.

The result, composed by lead member Fumitomo, gels surprisingly well together: skuzzy guitars are polished off with an uplifting pop sheen that smoothly segues into short bursts of reggae complete with skanking. Part of the secret of their cohesion is the tight punk drums played by Ryosuke, while the upbeat indie/electro heart is the work of Niyan on keyboards. Kyoichi's vocals provide the necessary range for this diverse collection of sounds, and Fumitomo's guitar brings it all together with licks that go from jangly indie-fuzz reminiscent of The Pillows to harder, Placebo-esque rock riffs. Finally, Tombo underpins it all with his elastic bass style.

Hot on the heels of their first album release, "1st Story Zoooooooo," on Jan. 20, the band are poised to tour the country with their eclectic new sound. Visually, they make up a rather mismatched bunch. While most of the band, with their floppy fringes and slender frames, are cookie-cutter indie boys, when it comes to Niyan and Kyoichi the cookie crumbles — the two are so beefy they could moonlight as nightclub bouncers. To introduce some visual cohesion they all wear bright lime green jumpsuits on stage. "We aim to make a theme park of sound and our green outfits are the uniforms of the theme-park workers," they say. Those attending the show are guaranteed a wild ride.

Chicken Head Maker are touring Japan from Feb. 14-May 29, for details of tour dates check www.myspace.com/chickenheadmaker. Their album "1st Story Zoooooooo" is out now on South Bell Records.

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