Crazy Ken Band


  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

The J-pop scene was always partial to funk and pop-jazz, and so the popularity of Crazy Ken Band, which embraces those genres wholeheartedly, is not really surprising. Zero is not a perfect release, but it's a good slab of lounge-crooning, moderately groovy rhythms and warm moods that is proud to wear its old-fashioned influences on its sleeve -- and with good reason, too, since the band can handle its music so well. Ken Yokoyama -- the Crazy Ken in question -- is a natural born pop-jazz vocalist, not overly powerful or whimsical, but possessing a nice charisma and capable of a strong delivery which allows him to conquer romantic retro-images (think those Frank Sinatra hats). His band lays down nice grooves spiced with retro synths and plenty of brass, establishing a mood that's relaxing, but never too soft and toothless to become boring: in fact, the best cuts on the album are the most involved ones, such as "Chuukosha" and "Natsu" with their saxophones and the "Thief of Baghdad"-Middle Eastern feel. That doesn't mean that Zero is free of flaws, though; for one, it's simply too dragged out. The quality of songwriting takes no big dips from start to finish, but with its 70-plus minute duration, the record just starts to blur after a while. Attempts are made to rectify this by stirring things up with tunes like "Sakana," a straightforward catchy rocker reminiscent of Korea's Seo Tai-Ji, or "Hashi" with its Brazilian beats, but those are not enough, and besides, some filler still finds its way onto Zero: songs like "Ningen Matenrou" may be catchy, but rather in the way a piece of gum catches to your shoe. For a group like Crazy Ken Band, to use those blatant, shameless melodies is lowering their standards, but thankfully, the bar is kept impressively high throughout most of Zero.

blue highlight denotes track pick