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Shinobu - Strange Spring Air (Cover Artwork)

Shinobu

Shinobu: Strange Spring AirStrange Spring Air (2009)
Quote Unquote Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


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

Something that has always impressed me is how a television show can have multiple writers yet still maintain a relatively consistent characterization. Maybe that isn't such a feat since I'm easily impressed by the likes of chocolate bread and pretty smiles. Either way, Shinobu's latest full-length, .
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Something that has always impressed me is how a television show can have multiple writers yet still maintain a relatively consistent characterization. Maybe that isn't such a feat since I'm easily impressed by the likes of chocolate bread and pretty smiles. Either way, Shinobu's latest full-length, Strange Spring Air is like a wacky sitcom in that way because rather than having a single songwriter, all the band members contributed to the writing process (even while residing in different cities) and in the end it all flows together really well. It is also like a wacky sitcom in that it is wacky and provides its audience with a highly enjoyable activity for about half an hour.

The appropriately titled "Introduction" gets things kicking and is essentially a minute-long trombone solo act. The trombone doesn't seem to get a lot of play outside ska and jazz circles, but Shinobu use it well as a calm but slightly strange segue into the album proper. A number of these little interludes are sprinkled throughout the album and a few of them keep with this jazzy feel, like the bassline in "Colonial Kissing Booth" or the ragtime ba-"da ba-da-ba ba-da ba-da" of "Nach Dem Truthahn / Instrumental." These distorted and vague hints of jazz help evoke the Strange Spring Air title of the album, or at least that Abba song "Fernando." There really isn't much of a jazz influence to their proper songs, though, unless you count "Sometimes I Wish I Were a Cat," whose cute shouted lyrics and frenzied guitars recall Cap'n Jazz. Although, the image of cats might make you think of a certain group of frostbacks. In fact, the band cites them as an influence; however, I venture to say Shinobu are a slightly more eclectic bunch of feline friends, or at least that's the impression this particular album gives.

While the words indie rock and eclectic might stir up frightening images of mewling pale people in scarves strumming on an acoustic guitar and bashing a toaster for percussion, that isn't the kind of game these guys play. Shinobu harkens back to a time when indie rock actually, you knowâ?¦rocked. "Teachers Get Tired" is built around alt-country guitars, but lacking a certain twang it effectively comes off more like a disenchanted urban cowboy than a back-porch hoedown. That is to say nothing of the stupidly catchy hook of "there are too many songs about love." Thankfully, those songs seem in short supply here because hearing a thousand songs about how Tommy touches your magic spot can get a little tiring. The bass-driven "Antarctic Stare" mostly relies on a groove to keep it going but when squealing guitar and feedback take focus it allows you to appreciate the understated toe-tapping/hip-shaking flow of the rest of the song, and you will want to try and do both at the same time. Even when there isn't any music at all on "1995 Store Champion," the band is able create meaning through the "recorded in a tin can" quality of the vocals combined with the lyrics of "from under the streetlight I saw a thousand drunks walk home / and under the street light I found myself among the drunks as I stumbled home / failed chessmaster / I was born a bastard and nothing's gonna change tonight / nothing's gonna change tonight" give the listener a sensation of emotional and physical drowning. The only time the band takes a leap and completely misses is on the interlude "The Heralding of the Moustache King," with its synthesizers and programmed drums that really just function to grate on the nerves.

Whether telling a story or simply just getting weird, Shinobu's Strange Spring Air runs a gamut of sounds as well as emotions. But like a compass, the album's centre is firmly cemented, so it always feels like a whole rather than random parts thrown together. The only completely negative thing I can really say about this is it appears that the band's future is uncertain and we might not get any more entertaining and interesting albums like this -- at least for a while.

 

 
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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.
PotatoesOGrady (May 31, 2009)

"Shinobu harkens back to a time when indie rock actually, you knowâ?¦rocked."

Right on. I hear a lot of Pavement in parts of Strange Spring Air.

Jelone (May 18, 2009)

This band's been on my radar since Plea for Peace 2. Never got an album since I'm a lazy bum. What's a good starting point?

120db (May 18, 2009)

One of the best in this year so far.

joeynukes (May 17, 2009)

Great record! Waaaaaay better than Worstward, Ho!

Rastid (May 17, 2009)

really, really didn't like the album

rubberbland (May 16, 2009)

This review was fair. I really like this album. Sometimes I wish I was a cat and Chase and Sanborn really being two standouts to me.
I love how spastic this bands sound is without being disjointed or unlistenable

scientistrock (May 16, 2009)

Mustache King is a fucking JAM!

whopperforthecopper (May 16, 2009)

the song "jeff rosenstock's we" is fucking brilliant

mikexdude (May 16, 2009)

Fucking serious? Great review, and not because you're my main man.

punknewscommenter (May 15, 2009)

Loved this review. Good to see these guys constantly gettin props. Cheers!

RadToTheMax (May 15, 2009)

Good band. Good album. Great price.

GreenVandal (May 15, 2009)

Dude. I think you are thinking of SHINOBI. Or I missed something.

This band is cool. I'd put em in a cereal bowl and poor milk all over them for breakfast.

What?

Chadreligion (May 15, 2009)

score is for the band named after the old sega game

SloaneDaley (May 15, 2009)

sorry dude, this review is just not good

fair enough. the goal of a review is to let the listener know what it sounds like in a consistent style and tone .I feel I accomplished that through genre distinction, band comparisons, lyrical samples and discussions of songwriting and emotional evocations. If all that failed go listen to the record, it is free to listen to.

xshoutoutx (May 15, 2009)

sorry dude, this review is just not good

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