Japandroids - Art Czars [7 inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Art Czars [7 inch] (2010)


Japandroids had a great 2009, managing to bridge the gap between punk rockers and indie rockers, getting both camps to champion their amazing debut album. The Vancouver guitar/drums duo rock in a way that's simple on the surface yet incredibly hard to define. Post-punk/early emo yelps? Punk rock speed? Shoegaze levels of fuzz? Check, check and check. I guess that's why they called it Post-Nothing, right? I was a bit late jumpin' on the Japandroids ship, just getting the record early this year, but I already knew by that point I needed everything they've done. Here, on the A-side of their new 7", the first in a five-record series designed to satiate fans as they tour relentlessly behind the full-length, "Art Czars" seems like a direct reaction to their indefinable music.

Incredibly, "Art Czars" has a better lyrical hook than anything on the full length. "Here's your money back, here's your punk rock back" is a highly-singable "fuck you" to any jerk who has the audacity to believe they can dub something "not punk enough." Perhaps the band themselves have encountered these assholes, and that's the tricky thing about having a unique sound--a lot of people want stuff that is easily categorized. "Art Czars" is basically a modern take on "Boxcar": "Do as I say girls / Do as I say boys / Everyone do the rebellion." Funny thing is, this song is one of the punkest things I've heard from the group. It starts with jack-hammering rhythm patterns synced up between Brian King's guitar muting and and David Prowse's snare. The drums hit a heavy backbeat throughout the song, and they utilize short fermatas on occasion to make you wait for the beat to kick back in. The tempo is bouncy and the energy high for the length of the track. I think it's my favorite song from the group thus far.

"Racer-X" is on the flip, a cover of Big Black from the band's second EP of the same name, and it's a perfect fit for Japandroids. This has got to be the hardest song ever recorded about a cartoon character, and the song shows what you can do with what is basically two chords. It's in their wheelhouse vocally, too, with the whole talk/sing thing. Japandroids pick up the tempo and rock it even harder than the original in my opinion (the freakout sections are even more freaked out), but then again I'm not a Big Black fan.

2010 looks to be just as good of a year for Japandroids. They're definitely working hard to earn it.