Saturday, July 27, 2013

burning farm

Shonen Knife carved out a place for themselves with the carefree cross-cultural cuteness of this power pop punk primer.  The trio formed in Osaka, Japan with sisters Naoko and Atsuko Yamano and their friend Michie Nakatani.  They were inspired by sixties groups and especially the sound of the Ramones (they sometimes perform as Ramones tribute band the Osaka Ramones).  

Naoko Yamano reveals:   “I wanted to play like Ramones or Buzzcocks...I like 70s British hard rock. I like Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, Motorhead. Also I like to listen to American rock music, metal music...There is no band like Shonen Knife in Japan, I think. Japanese pop music is very different from our music.  The punk scene at that time was very small and also all female bands are very rare but it was very lively so there were various kinds of interesting bands in Japan.  There are some very good bands in Japan but they are always underground ... After we formed the Shoken Knife and we graduated the school and we started to work at various kind of job like office worker at machinery company or receptionist at doctor's office and also the drummer Atsuko was working at clothing company as a clothing designer. Also the drummer Atsuko is always making our stage costumes herself."

After the self-produced 'Minna Tanoshiku' (Everybody Happy) was only released as a cassette in Japan; the band began working on their debut album.   'Burning Farm' was recorded with Naoko Yamano on vocals on guitar; Atsuko Yamano on drums and backing vocals; and Michie Nakatani on bass guitar and vocals; with additional percussion provided by Kaoru Okuda, Hiroaki Fukumaru, Kazujisa Fukumaru, and Shin Hirakawa.  It was released by Zero Records in Japan and found US distribution on K Records as a cassette.  

Michie Nakatani says:   "We've always enjoyed writing songs about everyday things.  Besides, there are already enough bands out there singing about pollution, war and poverty. While we all care very much about those things, we also feel that music should be fun. You should be able to go [trills a few playful "la-la-la-la-la's"] when you hear your favorite song on the radio...Shonen Knife wants people to enjoy our show and our music, too; but, most importantly, we have to be happy being ShonenKnife. We want to have fun. We want to write songs that make us happy when we record them, and make us happy when we play them again and again."

'Burning Farm' never charted; but it established the sound of the band that would slowly grow an international audience over the next thirty years.  Naoko Yamano considers:   "When I started the band, the number of bands and clubs are not so many like today, but they were fresh. Recently there are so many and young people [who] like to listen to Japanese music more than Western rock music...People tend to like faraway things and different things from themselves. American culture and Japanese culture are totally different. That’s why people fascinated each other...I’m trying not to write songs about political ideological things. I want people [to] get happy through our happy music. Angry, sad, complaint songs [are] sometimes too much...I don’t know, but if people get happy through our music, it’s great...I’m just ashamed to sing about love ... I never feel boring. For me, time flies. I always look forward and I never look back.  I don’t like serious music. I think music should be always fun and I want to make people happy through our music.”

"A Day At The Factory"

"Burning Farm"

The original K Records cassette version added three tracks:

"Watchin' Girl"

"Banana Fish"

Their cover of the Ramones' 'I Wanna Be Sedated' was included on CD versions of 'Burning Farm'.

'Burning Farm'
full album:

All songs written by Naoko Yamano, except where noted.

A1 - Watchin' Girl (Michie Nakatani) (0:00)
A2 - Miracles (Michie Nakatani) (1:59)
A3 - Parallel Woman (4:14)
A4 - Twist Birbie" (7:13)
A5 - A Day At The Factory (9:47)
B1 - Tortoise Brand Pot Cleaner's Theme (13:28)
B2 - Animal Song (14:21)
B3 - Banana Fish  (Michie Nakatani)  (16:31)
B4 - Elephant Pao Pao (18:35)
B5 - Parrot Polynesia (20:51)
B6 - Burning Farm (23:59)

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