A seasoned punk band tilts at windmills on its new album
The Japanese economy may have turned the corner, but for
veteran punkers Eastern Youth, the cup is still half empty.
Anxiety and frayed emotions permeate their eighth album, palpable
in frontman Hisashi Yoshino's singing even to those
who don't understand Japanese.
Although currently lumped in together with the emo rock reinvention
of punk, Eastern Youth in fact predate it by a long shot.
The band was formed in 1988 by school mates Yoshino and drummer
Atsuya Tamori, influenced by UK hardcore punk and the burgeoning
US indie-rock scene. Migrating to Tokyo in 1992, they added
Tomokazu Ninomiya on bass, completing a lineup that remains
In 1992, Eastern Youth also took the unusual step of eliminating
English from their lyrics entirely. This unhinged Yoshino's
creative muse and allowed him to express complex emotions
forcefully, and from this point on the band seemed to connect
more directly with their audience. It also eliminated mangled,
awkward English expressions, if making Eastern Youth more
difficult to approach for a foreign audience.
While the title of Don Quijote is spelled in romaji, that's
about the only concession to English the band have made on
their new disc. But even without grasping Yoshino's
lyrics, their impassioned delivery, wrapped in a fusillade
of angular guitars, leaves an impression.
Some of the impressed include the Fuji Rock Festival's
Smash corporation, which has invited them to perform at the
festival three times, and American bands like At the Drive-In,
Jimmy Eat World and Cursive, whom they are supporting in a
North American tour this month.
Eastern Youth's music has been described in their press
releases as "expressing the sense of helplessness among
Japanese youth." Yoshino recently elaborated. "I
guess it comes from the instability of society. We still can't
see the exit from our long recession, and because of that
more people are committing suicide, losing homes and forced
to live on the street. The chaos here is causing the destruction
of logical thought, and I think what was the common sense
of right and wrong is becoming questionable. I think in these
circumstances it is becoming harder for young people to have
hope for the future."
Don Quijote is available on King Records.
credit: King Records