Warning: This is a while I living in Taiwan post and features a Japanese all girl punk band plus self indulgence.
Before I left Taiwan I made sure I caught the 2006 Formoz festival in Taipei which is organized by Freddy Lin of the Taiwanese death metal Chthonic featured UK bands Dirty Pretty Things and Super Furry Animals amongst the swag of Asian bands.
I spent a good portion of the day walking around and checking out the metal/punk stage and caught the impressive Japanese all girl punk band Akiakane. Lead singer/guitarist, Moe Suzuki was originally in the hugely popular all girl pop punk band Softball I really wanted to check out Akiakane because I'd heard good things about Softball.
Akiakane play a more high energy pop punk than Softball. Akiakane are more politically aware than softball and this reflects in their lyrics and often the shows they play. The band claim the the political motivation was inspired by bands like The Clash and The Dead Kennedys but they really don't sound like either. Earlier this year they played the 2/28 show in Taiwan which celebrates Taiwan independence. The American punk fanzine Razorcake described their sound as Kix with a bunch of fruit loops thrown on top. Personally I don't really think they sound like a glam metal band at all.
Akiakane at Formoz 2006 Pic by Camilo
The band are currently signed to Korean American, Mike Park's Asian Man Records label. I picked up both a T-shirt and a copy of their album Kasumisou (which is also called Samurai Punk Rock Girls). According to Punknews.org there are two versions of this album, a Western release with both English and Japanese lyrics and a Japanese release with Japanese lyrics only.
Some of the songs retain their original Japanese lyrics and vocals (a version of this same album released in Japan is sung completely in their native tongue) and thus, their messages will unfortunately be lost to non-bilingual Western ears. What won't be lost to Western listeners however, is the music itself. The aggressive quotient of Ms. Suzuki's songwriting has been upped several degrees, but so has the melodic content.
If there is any true drawback to Kasumisou, it is only that in places, Moe Suzuki's vocal delivery on the English-language tracks may come off frantic or not easy to catch on first listen. Her English lyrics, apparently self-translated, tend to read awkward (a by-product of having to fit a translated lyric into a melody initially composed to go with a Japanese-language lyric), however the points she makes in those lyrics still come across fairly well.
Surfing the Akiakane's official site I came across this pic of some dumb white kiwi guy checking out the band's merchandise with a bunch of Taiwanese Akiakane fans.
Here's a couple of examples of Moe's English lyrics.
MacArthur to Bush
Pull the wires democracy
Shame freedom Uncle Sam
Asia Arab Black Slaves
Do you still want stars? AMERICA
Terrible Take away Shot gun
Cruel history Anglo Saxons
Be conscious of that! Be Quick! Please my baby!
Before your heart is violated by his greed
Dead forest in Viet-Num Gray skies in Hiroshima
What did we lose? What did we leave for?
Sunny afternoon Young boys and girls
Maybe they have gotten use to giving away
Akiakane - Uncle Sam MP3
Evil Robot of fuckin' media
I do not fear yeah - oh yeah!
Money and collusion fuckin' media
I don't give a shit yeah- oh yeah
Green pepper head crams dumpling into himself
Twisted common sense He stretch it to suit his purpose
Quotation childish mistake over and over
Shallow imitation and disorder peaceful time
He works himself to the born for audience rating
He waves his hand with forced smile on his face
Timid paracemium was wearing a lion
Platonic things die by the road side critically
Trouble hush-up it's useless match wits
An apple polisher turned his hand up side down
Here is a youtube clip of Akiakane playing Fuckin' Media and another song live in Liverpool 2007
There's also another clip of Moe talking in English to the English audience which is near incomprehensible to anyone who hasn't spent a good deal of time living in Asia.
Akiakane are due to play back in Taiwan next week according to their myspace site Then back to Japan and an EU tour in 2008. Incidentially the new song on ttheir myspace is very catchy pop punk and not like the material on the Kasumisou album. My favourite song on the album is '1945' which is also on the myspace plyer. Where Moe Suzuki puts herself in the shoes of a warplane pilot in "Kaze to Tomoni" and gives a 21st century young adult's view of World War II history in "1945." This song was apparently inspired by Ms. Suzuki's encounter with one Takeshi Maeda, a former WWII Japanese Navy pilot who became a peace advocate after the end of that war. It's just nice(sic) to hear a a song about World War 2 from a Japanese viewpoint. I'd really love to catch this band live again and definitely look forward to hearing from Akiakane.