Half Japanese: Crazy Hearts (Fire/Southbound/digital outlets)

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Half Japanese: Crazy Hearts (Fire/Southbound/digital outlets)
And still it comes, this left-field, marginal project of avant-guitarist and noise-maker Jad Fair and his now established fellow travelers (John Sluggett, Giles Vincent Reader, Mick Hobbs and Jason Willett).

This is the 19thalbum under Fair's Half Japanese name and if you are expecting him to change direction you haven't been paying attention for the past 40 years.

Fair's self-defined genre is agitated, post-punk pop inspired by cartoon culture, sci-fi, zombie (Late at Night here), anxious love and strange visions which some might hear as a more tuneful extension of what the late Daniel Johnston used to get up to.

However as we have noted previously, the Half Japanese sound is much less ragged and experimental than it sometimes was and what these 12 songs illustrate is the band's often classic pop chords, rock riffs and catchy choruses.

The cheap organ and “chocolate covered rainbow” on And It Is throws you right back to an acid-influenced mid Sixties where ? And the Mysterians have asked out-there Brian Wilson for lyrics and have share their psychedelics.

The tension, edge of paranoia (the gloom-laden My Celebrity) and darkness are still evident and there's little chance Half Japanese will morph into Cheap Trick, but a pop heart beats strongly here.

Welcome to The Beast Master, Dark World, Crazy Hearts, A Phantom Menace . . .

By this time you have either got into Half Japanese or not.

Tuning in now however isn't as difficult as it was a decade or two ago, but less challenging and rewarding.

.

You can hear and order this album at bandcamp here

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