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July 23, 2024

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Little Playmate (Roadrunner Records)

By: Alex Steininger

If you thought Ska-Punk was exclusive to America, think again. Ska-punk with a positive message via Japan, brought to us by Kemuri, is sure to win over the hearts of many fans worldwide.

The CD starts off with "New Generation". The first thing you hear is the drummer, beating his cymbals, right before a tremendous punk rock kick. Then the chunky bass line flies through the air, right before the horns jump right into the music. The upbeat is eventually played fast and powerful on the guitar, maximizing every chance you have to skank up a storm. The punk beats are furious, whipping everything into a frenzy. The ska beats are hearty and healthy, giving you every option to skank up a storm or slam dance in the pit. "Prayer" starts off soft, but soon the horn laced, punk rock beats quickly jump right into the picture. Hooks are plentiful, drawing you into the music. The vocals are very distinctive, carrying a heavy Japanese accent. They compliment the music perfectly, adding a snarl-free kick to the music, but still keeping the punk side of things very noticeable in the vocals. The song eventually comes and slows down, while the drums beat ferociously. The guitar plays the upbeat slower, but still quick enough to dance around too. The bass is still right in the mix of things, playing tight and near perfection. "Workin' Dayz" starts off with a girl's voice, the stereotypical high school blond kind of voice, talking about how she works 8 days a week. Then the horns come in with a bang. The guitar plays the upbeat soft and friendly, creating a perfect atmosphere to skank and smile too. The horns keep it gentle, but then the guitar quickly turns to familiar hardcore riffs, ripping through the music with tremendous power. The chorus is powerful, relying on more hardcore than punk, but the verses are poppy and jumpy, heavily dosed with ska. Ignore the choruses, and just keep on skanking to the next verse. "Sun Set" starts off like any other ska-punk song, but quickly tones it down a bit. This is a song you'd expect to hear from a gentle, third-wave ska band that relies a lot on traditional beats, but Kemuri can play it just as well as they can play their brand of ska-punk! The horns are gentle and inviting, playing well with the calm upbeat played on the guitar. The drums tap and keep the beat, while the bass slowly steps through the song. A very relaxing and gentle song, any fan of third-wave, two-tone, or traditional ska will love this song! And if you like your ska with a punk bite, after hearing the rest of this album, you'll eventually come around and fall in love with this song. Definitely an album stand out. "Don't Know" was written by the third wave ska and indie master himself, Mike "Bruce Lee" Park. The song is an upbeat third wave ska masterpiece, that adds only a slight amount of punk for a kick here and there. Otherwise, its just a fun song that can be danced too over and over again. Which it will, I promise. "Ato-Ichinen" is a ska-punk track done in Japanese. Same music that you have fallen in love with from Kemuri, but this time there is Japanese lyrics. Not as fun, since you can't understand the lyrics, but still a great track. With the speed of the lyrics, you have the option of pretending that they are just saying American words really fast. And in that case, just pretend you know what the hell they're saying. If you have to, sing along with your own lyrics that fit "Ato-Ichinen, Ato-Ichinen, he beat me at video games..." or something along that line. "On The Street" finishes off the CD. Heavy punk riffs kick off the song, while the horns yell in the background, adding the calmer element to the music. But then the ska is laced in. But for the most part, this is just an all out punk track that will find you moshing more than skanking.

Kemuri definitely have a future in America, and if I know anything, they should be bigger than McDonalds in their hometown within the next year or so. Pick up this CD if your into ska-punk. You'll be very glad you did! I'll give the CD an A-.

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