The Bawdies

There's No Turning Back

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Japan became associated with polished, over the top commercial rock in the 2000s, but underneath the sleekness, there lurked some raw, genuinely fun rock & roll bands that seemed to get less attention than they deserved -- worldwide, at least, as There's No Turning Back charted in the Top Ten back home. And with good reason, too, because, although the record shows no intent to revolutionize music, it has more groove than the rest of the Oricon for that month combined. Even more impressively, Bawdies are not just pretending they are a backing band for Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis: the R&R influence is mixed with a good doze of garage rock and power pop, as re-imagined by a bunch of guys who prefer Sex Pistols to the Scruffs, but still know how to write a killer hook -- see "Keep You Happy," or, indeed, any other song on the album. Bawdies are not alone in what they do -- the similarities to the Birthday and the Predators, as well as latter-day Blue Hearts, all compatriots, are obvious -- but all these bands seem to realize that if you play retro music, ripping off contemporaries doing the same thing would be too much. Bawdies don't dabble in psychedelia, grunge, or punk, like those other bands; if they have a special trait of their own, it's crafting short, concise, and immensely catchy songs out of simple dirty riffs and hoarse shouts. Not all of the potential seems to be realized -- Bawdies are at their best when they allow more outside influence to seep in, as on the semi-ballad "Sad Song" or "Try It Again" with its subdued groove -- but, although the most straightforward songs dominate, There's No Turning Back is still a filler-free record full of plain killers in the best possible sense.

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