Jad Fair has been making music as part of Half Japanese for decades. His voice and sensibilities are unique ones in the alt-rock world. That the quality of his music has not wavered is something to be applauded and celebrated. And another reason to celebrate is set to drop on Friday when the band's newest record, Why Not?, is released on Fire Records.
The title cut and the fine "The Future Is Ours" sally forward on the back of the odd energy that Jad always puts into this sort of thing, while the buoyant "Amazing" chugs in the manner of tunes from acts as disparate as Ty Segall and The Rolling Stones. The magic of Half Japanese is that this sort of thing feels fresh -- always -- even as bits and pieces of this strike at familiar reference points in a listener's memory. Elsewhere, the slightly dangerous "Demons Of Doom" and the silly-but-sinister "Zombie Island Massacre" blend a kind of B-movie schlock POV with a Nuggets-like unruliness. This is Rock-and-Roll, after all, and Jad Fair and his players here -- John Sluggett, Gilles-Vincent Rieder, Mick Hobbs, and Jason Willett -- never lose sight of the goal of making raucous music. Sure, there's humor here but Jad Fair is a determined front-man first, and not just some writer of funny songs. Still, Fair is to be commended for creating music this infectious and -- dare I say it? -- inspiring. There's a real joy infused in the tracks here that recalls early Jonathan Richman classics, peak Robyn Hitchcock compositions, and -- of course -- earlier gems from the rich and deep Half Japanese back-catalog.
Why Not? is another in the recent string of fine and gently subversive records from Half Japanese, Jad Fair being on a bit of a roll as of late. Delightfully skewed in spots, sharp and rocky in others, Why Not? re-affirms the continuing greatness of this guy, and the players here. The band is on point, and Jad Fair remains throughout one of the best front-men making alt-rock these days. Let's hope and pray he continues to crank out material like this for a good long while.
Why Not? is out on Fire Records on Friday.
More details on Half Japanese via the band's official Facebook page.
[Photo: Owen Thomas]