Asphalt Frustration

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Asphalt Frustration are a two-piece rock outfit comprised of vocalist Reo Houman and guitarist Tatsuya Takanashi. The bandmembers were mere teenagers when a new wave of Japanese punk rock bands, heavily…
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Asphalt Frustration are a two-piece rock outfit comprised of vocalist Reo Houman and guitarist Tatsuya Takanashi. The bandmembers were mere teenagers when a new wave of Japanese punk rock bands, heavily influenced by the raucous sounds coming out of America's West Coast, started to find an audience locally in the late '90s/early 2000s. Inspired by these local acts, which included the likes of Beat Crusaders and the Band Apart (with whom Asphalt Frustration have been compared) -- as well as club music and Tamla-Motown -- the group set about building a following in the Japanese indie scene through steady touring. This often included sharing the bill with likeminded dance-influenced acts such as Riddim Saunter and Zarigani5. Originally a five-piece that formed in Chiba, east of Tokyo, in 2003, things started to happen for Asphalt Frustration in 2005 after they contributed the track "Door Is Open" to the Rockers Galore compilation, which was put out by the Lastrum label (once the home of Beat Crusaders). Soon after, Asphalt Frustration marked the release of their eponymously titled debut album with a 33-date tour of Japan. The album displayed a variety of influences, adding Latin, disco, and electronica flavors to their dance-rock base. Despite the lack of promotion, it went on to sell a respectable 4,000 copies, with album track "H.K.S." being picked up by regional radio station FM Gunma.

The group's second album, entitled 2 and released on the indie label P.O.S. Music in 2006, saw Asphalt Frustration bring in the knob-twiddling talents of Keyossie (whose past credits included Sketch Show, Def Tech, and Love Psychedelico) and Tomonori Hayashibe from the highly rated neo-Shibuya-kei group Plus-Tech Squeeze Box. 2 was heavy on jerky shifts in rhythm, à la contemporaries Doping Panda and Zazen Boys, as well as the funky, clipped guitars and synth flourishes of latter-day Cornelius (of whom the band are fans). But at the heart of the album was Houman's assured way with a pop hook, which helped secure the band a slot at Countdown Japan. This New Year's Eve live event, organized by Japan's biggest rock monthly, Rockin' On, takes place annually at the behemoth exhibition space/venue Makuhari Messe, east of Tokyo. There, the band was on the bill with the likes of Shonen Knife, Doping Panda, and Comeback My Daughters, and was watched by around 25,000 fans. Shortly before the release of third album Undo, Pray in May 2007, longtime drummer Ryuuichi Kikuchi quit the band for health reasons, reducing the band to a two-piece.