Elephant Kashimashi

Starting Over

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Japanese blues-rock -- now we really know globalization has won. Elephant Kashimashi aren't exactly Muddy Waters -- the most immediate comparison would be the Black Crowes -- but still, regardless of the fact that Japan is very far from Memphis or Louisiana swamps, Starting Over does a more than credible job of mixing the blues into J-rock tradition. Elephant Kashimashi can't really outdo their mentors -- or, rather, they are capable of boogieing down hard, but most of the time they give in to native rock influences. This is actually a good thing, because there's no point in cloning Black Crowes -- they do their work themselves. So instead, Elephant Kashimashi throw in a post-grunge vibe and a healthy touch of the token Japanese sentimentality, although the latter doesn't work well all the way, because the flat-out sappiness doesn't combine with the bluesy grooves that form the backbone of the album (although it really shines on the title track). Just blame it on the Japanese omnivorous aesthetic, or the need to conform to the country's showbiz standards to survive. Elephant Kashimashi still doesn't sound like the top Japanese rock stars -- the band isn't as polished as Gackt or as immediately hook-laden as Asian Kung-Fu Generation -- but it's none the worse for that, as additional spins are sure to reveal.

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