Shinobu - Worstward, Ho! (Cover Artwork)


Shinobu: Worstward, Ho!Worstward, Ho! (2006)
Asian Man Records

Reviewer Rating: 2.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: ScruffyScruffy
(others by this writer | submit your own)

There's a Springman Records sampler with what I can only assume is an earlier version of Shinobu's song "Not Gonna Happen" (which can also be found on their MySpace page). That song is amazing: simple to the point of absurdity and catchier than anything you've heard all year. I bought it off iTunes .
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There's a Springman Records sampler with what I can only assume is an earlier version of Shinobu's song "Not Gonna Happen" (which can also be found on their MySpace page). That song is amazing: simple to the point of absurdity and catchier than anything you've heard all year. I bought it off iTunes to stave off my craving for more of their stuff as I waited for their new album, Worstward, Ho!, to arrive in the mail, listening to the song about ten times in a row. To anyone who loves the Weakerthans' Fallow or Jawbreaker's 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, find it.

Then, Worstward, Ho! showed up in my mailbox (approximately two days after I ordered it and well before the release date, thanks to the amazing folks at Asian Man Records). I won't lie. I was disappointed. Everything I'd heard from these guys before, from "Not Gonna Happen" to the songs on their MySpace was awesome. It was fast, catchy, poppy and simple. I was expecting it to be one of the best albums of the year.

This album is not what I expected. The first track is just some guitar noise leading into the second track, which is abrasive at best. "Hail, Hail the Executioner" comes on next, and doesn't leave for almost seven minutes. Every part of it is good (the obvious Piebald and Smoking Popes influences for example), but it's long in the tooth as a whole.

"Regular Love Triangle" is easily the highest point on the album. From the minimalist opening riff to the vocals, which fall directly between John K. Samson and Josh Caterer and then start screaming, to the "woo-oo"s in the background, this song is Shinobu at their most captivating. The lyrics are sarcastic and poignant, coming back after a false ending with, "I'm like a speck of sand on the beach. Oh my God, that is so deep! That is so deep! You should read my livejournal."

One of the best ways to describe the problem I have with this album is the track "Not Gonna Happen." They recorded it slower, adding 17 seconds to the running time, and it's all the worse for it. The song lost all of its immediacy and vigor. Now, it just plods along, much like the rest of the album. Much of the album feels like it could have been all the more interesting had it been recorded better (which some parts show the band clearly had the capabilities to do) or sung cleaner or sped up.

But here's the intriguing thing: the band seems to have done this on purpose, or at least they acknowledge it. They describe themselves as "kind of obnoxious and loud." They list as many indie rock bands as influences as punk bands, and it seems that, this time around, they're leaning much heavier on the indie rock. It's not my thing, but there is a real sense of Shinobu's capability as a unit permeating this album. If it's irritating, they want you to be irritated. If it goes on too long, well, they're not playing for you anymore. And that brings up a good point: many points on Worstward, Ho! feel like the band is having fun at the listener's expense; the last few minutes of "Hail, Hail the Executioner" are filled with false stops and fade-outs that fade back in, making it a prime example.

One last quirk to mention before I go is the acoustic tracks. Other than the lyrics ("I'm trying so hard to be that man that I want to see in the mirror, but I'll settle for some guy who I wouldn't terribly mind meeting"), they don't do a whole lot for me, but fans of Neutral Milk Hotel may be interested.

All in all, I could neither recommend this album nor discount it. It's not a fantastic album by any means, but it shows a band fully capable of doing exactly what they want and illustrating huge amounts of promise.


People who liked this also liked:
Alkaline Trio - GoddamnitThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Against Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseJawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge TherapyThe Lawrence Arms - Apathy and ExhaustionJawbreaker - Dear YouDillinger Four - Situationist ComedyJoyce Manor - Joyce ManorThe Lawrence Arms - Cocktails And DreamsSundowner - Four One Five Two

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
sciulli (October 21, 2013)

Best record of the last 85 years.

sciulli (July 22, 2013)

Review is fair, so I'm not complaining, but I'm loving this record. 4/5 AT LEAST OMG OMG OMG

gutless (January 4, 2013)

this score is lacking some serious stars.

RussWould (September 23, 2011)

These guys played in my buddy's living room last summer after the first house they were supposed to play at had to shut the show down. Amazing record, band, and people in the band.

Anonymous (October 11, 2006)

i think everyone who played video games at that time remembers that game well enough. myself being one of those.

SilentStorms (October 10, 2006)

Does nobody know Shinobi the super early ninja video game? Damn I'm old. And yes, by the by, I am wearing a "Back in the Day" Nintendo controller shirt right now. No jokes. But damn Shinobi was awesome!

Dante3000 (October 9, 2006)

I interviewed this guys.
Then like fucking a decade later at the Larry Arms show Bob recognized me sitting on the curb. That's fucking amazing.
Good dudes.

stevejonestherealbones (October 9, 2006)

i enjoy it for the most part

"not gonna happen" is such a great song

- jones the bones

- stevejones8770@yahoo.vom

avi (October 9, 2006)

I was honestly a little disappointed when I first heard the record, thinking it was really good but knowing that they had done, and could do, a whole lot better. Then I let the record sink in, and now it completely blows my mind in ways I didn't appreciate at all on the first few listens. Give it another chance, this has risen to be one of my favorite albums of 2006.

chickswithdicks (October 9, 2006)


Fuzzy (October 8, 2006)

I haven't heard that. If that's the case then my brother's birthday dedication will be on it though.

That'd be rad.

Scruffy (October 8, 2006)

Any new news on the possibility that that show was recorded for a Larry Arms Live In A Dive?

Anonymous (October 7, 2006)

I saw them at the Bottom of the Hill with the Lawrence Arms (who rocked) and I quite enjoyed them. I picked this up afterwards, and I quite enjoy it.

Anonymous (October 6, 2006)


Anonymous (October 6, 2006)

this record is really great. i saw them at a show with like 4 people there and they still had a great time. even when the PA stopped working. this record rules.

SilentStorms (October 6, 2006)

Shit I thought they were called Shinobi.

Scruffy (October 6, 2006)

Cool. That's what I was aiming for: not to turn people away from it, but to intrigue the people who would like it and not those who would be nonplussed.

branden (October 6, 2006)

i downloaded this from emusic after i read this review, it made me want to hear it haha. so far its pretty awesome, like a younger more rocked-up colossal

cash_money_hustla (October 6, 2006)

I saw these guys open for the Lawrence Arms in SF a couple of weeks back and they put on a really good show.

SloaneDaley (October 6, 2006)

the songs on their myspace sound like some good stuff

BrendanKelly (October 6, 2006)

rofl. this record label = my past.

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