Locofrank

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Part of the surprisingly vibrant ska-punk scene in Japan, Locofrank at first sounds like any other of the various bands on the scene, but there are a couple of notable edges here. The first is a similarity to some greats in the field: lead singer Masayuki Kinoshita takes an equally aggressive and melodic stance in his deliveries as Ellegarden's Takeshi Hosomi. Drummer Yusuke Mori makes himself the star of the show throughout the album, however, with extreme rapid-fire rounds in the vein of Buddy Miles' work on "Machine Gun." There's also an element of skate punk here, with a bit of metalcore thrown in. While the album starts off in admirable territory with an original song, the album has its ups and downs. An early track exposes Kinoshita's deficiencies in English pronunciation (not bad; it's at least clear) with a sped-up cover of the Eagles' "Desperado." Other tracks make better use of his vocal abilities, and serve him better. Singing off-key is a common aesthetic in Japanese singing. Placed in a high speed punk context, the group makes this functional, and even sensible. It's a fair achievement to mask this odd tendency in such a way as to simultaneously meet the local fans' standards the standards of world-wide listeners. The skatepunk/ska-punk aesthetic is still developing in the Japanese market, and there's a lot of promise in the sheer energy of bands like Kemuri, Ellegarden, and Locofrank. Worth listening to if you're curious about international punk scenes.