Friday, October 18, 2013
REVIEW: Boys Age - The Tale of Roan Horses
On their home page, Boys Age (Japanese dream pop artists Kaznary Mutow and Takamasa Kobayashi - Kaz and John for short) call themselves "sons of Yo La Tengo in Japan". I love that description and wholeheartedly endorse it as a good encapsulation of their approach (and their appeal). Now, in an earlier post, I described them as perhaps an example of a place where Syd Barrett, Phil Spector and Willy Wonka would have met to make music. On their latest album, The Tale of Roan Horses, I'd probably omit the Spector reference, but maybe add in Fleetwood Mac or ELO - purveyors of unabashed, all-in pop hooks. Boys Age has gone for a somewhat more tempered, muted approach on this one, but it works too. Mutow's vocals are soft and sort of without affect, and the guitars are slow, sad and wonderful. In these ways, the comparison to Yo La Tengo holds up.
Check out "Soo Coo" (feat. Annie the Clumsy, whoever she is) - the 70's folk-rock guitar hook is a perfect lead-in to a strange and wonderful instrumental approach behind Mutow's "what the heck is he saying?" vocals:
Love that guitar solo about halfway through.
And here's "Nevermore This Road Would Continues to That Town" - even the translations are sort of charming:
And "Marching Summer" - a little more upbeat, almost poppy:
I freely admit that this stuff isn't for everyone, but if you like psychedelic, lo-fi outsider indie rock, noodling and weird inspirations (they have a Sun Ra cover, which they've made available as a free download, for goodness' sake), this is well worth a listen.
Their earlier release was on Gnar Tapes and Burger Records. I'm not sure if this one is, but you can read more and buy it from the band - read more at the links.
Boys Age Website