Thursday, November 29, 2007

Digital Music Review: Tsunamic Girls From Tokyo by Pistol Valve

Formed back in October 2005 in Tokyo and comprised entirely of young women, the 10-member brass band (plus DJ) Pistol Valve draw influences from many genres on their debut release Tsunamic Girls From Tokyo, now available from Featuring elements of everything from rock and hip-hop to funk and ska, this release takes your preconceived notions about brass bands and tosses them out the window.

Although Tsunamic Girls From Tokyo consists of only eight songs, it's more than enough to showcase Pistol Valve's talent. The opener, “Western Girls” is a driving, ska-influenced instrumental that immediately establishes the group's high-octane style.

That style is slowed only a bit on “Pull The Trigger” as the group takes on hip-hop. Rapped vocals flow over a funky, bass-heavy (but still horn-dominated) beat. “Flap Up Elephant” is just pure fun. There's a breezy silliness to the song from its lone vocals of “Flap Up! Elephant!” (with accompanying elephant-sounding trumpet, no less) to the way it switches between a contemporary melody and one that sounds more retro.

As the proceedings continue, a strong rock feel creeps in. “Fo Fo” is arguably the best song on this release. Everything about this song is rock in feel even if there's little guitar. The drums are hard-hitting, the vocals great (the harmony really works) and the horns are in fine, rapid-fire form. Concert sounds bookend the song giving the impression that it might've been recorded live and if it was, it's even more impressive. “Tube Time” slows things down again with a relaxed (but not necessarily slow) beat.

“My Generation (Respect To The Who)” is an unsatisfying but well-intentioned take on the classic song. Horns completely replace the guitars on this version of the song and small elements such as DJ scratches add some twists. It's hampered by sometimes incomprehensible vocals but those could've been forgiven if the track had a bit more of the octane that made the other songs on this release so enjoyable. Pistol Valve played it a little too safe with this cover and although their version is not really bad, it sort of kills the momentum that they built up with the songs before it.

Two more songs follow “My Generation (Respect To the Who)” and end the release. “Sit At Cow Char Nail” is more of a rock track while “The Best House” is a bouncy, fun instrumental number that caps off the EP nicely.

Pistol Valve's Tsunamic Girls From Tokyo is a wonderful debut that defies what many would expect from a brass band. In some respects, this group is really just a rock band that uses primarily horns instead of guitars. This EP really leaves you wanting more and we can only hope that America gets more music soon.

Here's a track from the album:

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