Various Artists

Benten Lable Sampler: The Greatest Girls Bands In Asia

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Formed in Japan by Audrey Kimura, Japan's Benten record label has done a fine job of documenting the movement of Asian girls toward forming bands. The label bills itself as specializing in "girl punk." However, while several of the bands are by-the-numbers punk, others are pop-punk and even lilting, traditional Hawaiian and vintage a cappella doo wop, giving the impression that Kimura wisely recognizes "punk" can be an attitude separate from musical style. Composed of 22 songs performed by ten bands, Benten's 2001 label sampler should serve as a fine introduction into the world of Asian girl punk for those as yet uninitiated. Spotlighting bands from several Japanese cities (Osaka, Tokyo, and Kyoto are represented), as well as Beijing (China), the record's one real unifying thread is that the attitude of the bands seems to recognize the most important aspect of the music to be fun, energetic, and exciting, not unlike male contemporaries Guitar Wolf. Unlike the American riot grrrl movement, political messages are all but nonexistent, as the bands sing refreshingly lighthearted songs about things like rollerskating (as on Mummy the Peepshow's excellent "Kick Off!"), and raving about role models (Wonder 3's super-fun "Guitar Gal"). While bands like Mummy the Peepshow and Wonder 3 write ├╝ber-cute pop-punk anthems, Lolita No. 18 and Hang on the Box play more ragged, straightforward punk, though it still comes across as more gooey than tough. Good time rock & roll sure to make even the most jaded punks smile and dance.

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