Bring Your Own Board!!

Written by: ASH on 05/08/2007 11:42:49

Like the J-Rock fan(atic) that I've been for quite some years, it's pretty lousy of me yet to have reviewed any album of the particular genre. Especially when my very first review that got me into this seat was of Asian Kung Fu Generation's "Sol:Fa" album. I'm ashamed...anyways, cutting the emo, I'll be bringing you an early release from Ellegarden, a little band I mentioned in my old article about J-Rock. These J-Pop-Punk rockers have been credited for being the sole Japanese rock band who can both sing in their domestic language and at the same time almost pronounce their English lyrics flawlessly. Probably because of lead singer Takeshi Hosomi's American dorm roommate, when he was visiting Japan. But these are simply only the tip of the iceberg. They have that special musical energy, which I personally think is what Japan majors and America minors. Yes, Sum 41 sounds great to some, Blink 182, no forget them, but what they lack is simply this unreal creativity in sound which bands like Ellegarden and Asian Kung Fu Generation can produce. It's just something special, a so to say musical oasis in an already dried-out punk-rock desert. "Bring Your Own Board!!", apart from its cheesy title, is by far some great documentation for this unique "land of the rising sun" sound. But is it really so much a classic as it has been claimed to be? Let's get through our ramen first and then dig deeper in our cup to find out.

Composition-wise, "Bring Your Own Board!!" consists of a realistic and survivable amount of eleven powerful tracks, some holding some quite interesting titles such as; "Surfrider Association" , "JITTERBUG", "My Friend Is Falling Down" and "Kinsei (Venus)". Notice the user-friendly translation from Japanese to English on the last mentioned track. Unlucky for us, the Japanese vocals on some of the tracks are strictly bound to praising their mother language. But hey, what's J-Rock without indecipherable lyrics? Nevertheless, what really makes you jump around is clearly the overall good sound which Ellegarden can produce. The guitars are of course the main artillery here, with the drums used as their commanding officer along with the vocals. You will immediately feel that speedy riffs and some repetitive, though quite professional drum works are the main focus on a majority of the tracks. To keep it simple; you get a feel of it in the welcoming track "Surfrider Association" and the feeling just enhances throughout the entire album, until "So Sad" kicks you out of the club with a sense of having been touched by something holier than thou.

What amazes me so much is the innovation these guys find in a minefield of bad pop-punk chords and riffs. Take one of my personal favorites, the number eight track "Dancing in A Circle"; Heavy Jimmy Eat World-ish chord plays in the first eighteen seconds, the base guitar riff continues and the chaotic second guitar chords are replaced by a quirky voice and some sampled drums, which then switch back to the standard sound. The base chord riff then changes slightly into something similar, but still feels new and catchy. A bridge part then takes over, only to let Takeshi sing solo along with a little guitar plucking, further allowing the whole band to finish off the track in one swift explosion. Simple, clean, but deadly like a Fender-wielding ninja. And it's like this on practically all the tracks, which is something impressive for an almost completely unknown band in the Western venues. I'm not being a blasphemer here, but seriously, you Western pop-punk acts; you're getting your asses kicked threefold by a band who doesn't even master your language! Shame on you...

All in all, "Bring Your Own Board" is a great J-Rock album and a milestone for fans of the genre. It isn't perfect as it still needs a little more creativity in some of its dusty corners, but it's a definite personal recommendation to both freshmen and experts of the genre. In addition, gather a band together and find that their tabs and playing their songs is relatively easy and so freaking amusing. Good luck with the Japanese parts, though.


Download: Dancing in A Circle, Kinsei (Venus)
For the fans of: Asian Kung Fu Generation, Sum 41, Weezer
Listen: MySpace

Release date 07.02.2003
Dynamord Label

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