I Can Japan
From ashes rises the phoenix, right? Well, a phoenix is what Chattanooga has found in new indie pop band I Can Japan—a project led by Rigoletto’s bassist Chris Williams. The band’s got ambition—no surprise there—and plans to release three tracks every three months indefinitely. On June 22, the first of these triple-track-tapes came out to Bandcamp.
[history] is a feel-good, pretty-looking first release for I Can Japan. Trumpets and a tiny string section add to I Can Japan’s pop sound, headed by drums, guitar chords, and upbeat vocals.
Actually, the cello and violin really make up a huge portion of I Can Japan’s sound. The climax of songs (I’m looking at you, “History”) hits the listener with a wall of sound—washed cymbals, overlaid vocals, strings en masse, thick bass, and huge guitar. The wall of sound, usually heard in the chorus, is a nice switchup from the easy-going pop verses that are interspersed throughout the tracks.
The best parts of [history] are the positive vibes it elicits. It’s an EP that you listen to in rooms lit by the sun of early afternoons, something to bob to with a smile. It’s at once relaxed and energetic, streamlined and full-bodied.
I’m glad to see Chris Williams continuing in the Chattanooga music scene and with such enthusiasm, too. I’m excited to see the band’s progression every three months with these short EP releases. I Can Japan started strong with [history]. It’s fun to imagine what’s next, and we don’t even have to wait that long.
The Groove Orient
Good old rock n’ roll is still alive (and may never die), and jam-groove band The Groove Orient is out to prove it as only they can. Hailing from Orlando, Florida, The Groove Orient is taking their tour to Chattanooga’s doorstep at Rhythm & Brews on Thursday, July 23. And I suggest you acquaint yourself before you jump into what they got.
Because they got a lot, it turns out. And it can all be summed up nicely in their 2015 release Generation Y. The 6-track album starts off with “Bad Man,” a song focused on gut-wrenching solos from the guitars and Hammond organ. And just to keep it fresh, Groove Orient throws in a bangin’ chorus and introduces you to the fun lead vocals of frontman Mr. Harry Ong.
Really, “Bad Man” is a great introduction to the band. Catchy chorus grooves, blazing guitar solos, an organ that sings, and a solid rhythm section that no jam band could live without.
So let’s fast-forward through the rest of the album to the final track “Fatima’s Sensation.” It’s the perfect juxtaposition to “Bad Man.” It’s no guns-out jam fest showcase. It’s slow and smooth.
The organ lays in the background real low-key, and the bass plucks a sexy beat while you just close your eyes and let it happen. Some lightly tapped bongos in the background and a sensual guitar solo and damn, this isn’t The Groove Orient from earlier.
Generation Y proves The Groove Orient isn’t just another jam band that blazes up and plays 20-minute improv sessions, and for that I am very grateful.
Maybe they started off as a pure jam band, but Generation Y shows a tightened awareness of songwriting that’s gonna catapult The Groove Orient onto bigger stages with bigger names in no time.