Eastern Youth - 365-Step Blues (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Eastern Youth

365-Step Blues (2006)

Five One, Inc.

Despite being relatively unknown in North America, Japan's Eastern Youth has slowly built a fanbase throughout North America on the strength of their contributions to the Eight Teeth to Eat You split and following tour with Cursive.

On paper, the band looks like a particularly difficult sell: little touring in the United States, lyrics sung exclusively in Japanese and a sound that can't be easily or accurately pigeonholed. Despite that however, the band's second real North American full length release is not just an interesting and creative look at melodic hardcore from a foreign perspective, but a strong and memorable album in its own right.

The music is primarily influenced by Dischord acts, particularly Fugazi and Jawbox, as well as the anthemic and rhythmic qualities of early U2. Though it may be difficult to imagine the angular qualities of Washington D.C. post-hardcore meshing with the soaring U2, the band manages to intelligently and comfortably inject these sounds in their songs.

Of course, 365-Step Blues is not simply an amalgamation of these sounds, but equally influenced by what seems to be traditional Japanese sounds and chord progressions. In my first listen through the album, certain melodic passages seemed more than a little jarring, but after subsequent runs through, the unique sounds began to sound more effortless and complimented Western influences adeptly.

An excellent and promising band and another in a series of strong Japanese imports, Eastern Youth is occaisonally difficult for the Western ear, but ultimately rewarding and exciting music.