Little Playmate

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If the hyped-up ska of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones is your thing, you're sure to also dig the Japanese group Kemuri. Their debut full-length, Little Plaything, is a supercharged explosion of fast drumming, horn bursts, and guitar playing that alternates equally between distorted metal and clean ska. Their lyrics deal with the usual alterna-ska themes that the Bosstones, Sublime, etc., have touched upon, such as working hard at a nowhere job ("Workin' Dayz") and keeping a P.M.A. -- which means positive mental attitude -- throughout life's trials and tribulations (the opening "New Generation"). The album does successfully convey the party-out-of-control atmosphere of today's ska movement, as evidenced on "Rainy Saturday," "Knockin' on the Door," and "Prayer," while "Don't Know" sounds quite a bit like early Fishbone. But not all of Little Plaything hits the mark, especially the annoyingly clich├ęd introduction to the above-mentioned track "Workin' Dayz," which features a Valley Girl doing her usual trademark spiel. But at the very least, Kemuri's Little Plaything is equal to the majority of the ska-laced alternative that ruled MTV and the radio airwaves in 1997.

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