Music News

Critic's Choice

With public displays of affection all but outlawed in Japan, it's little wonder that cultural deviance infests the Empire of the Red Sun. Take vending machines that sell pre-worn girls' underwear, for example. Or ATM machines that greet customers with coy baby talk. Then there's the complete Japanese antithesis to all things big-eyed, cute and perverted: Melt-Banana, which torches the stage with Abdomen and DeNunzio Tuesday, October 15, at the 15th Street Tavern. Noise-rock supremacists, the Tokyo-based quartet blends the speed of hardcore with the cacophony of industrial music into short, spastic, atonal outbursts. Tiny but explosive frontwoman YaSuko Onuki applies rapid-fire, staccato shrieking and nonsensical lyrics to accent the brutal assault of guitarist Agata's unique style of strangling a six-string. His palm-muting technique produces effects-charged scratches, squelches, sirens and a surprising lack of melody. Flaunting an overabundance of pounding rhythm (bassist Rika Chang and drummer Toshiaki Sudoh round out the racket with the subtlety of blacksmiths), the Banana has earned an international reputation as one of the world's most ferocious live offerings. That's no small feat, considering the band plays songs with innocent-sounding titles like "We Love Choco-Pa," "Mouse Is a Biscuit" and "Rough Dogs Have Bumps." And if you ask nicely enough (It wouldn't kill you to bow, would it?), you just might hear a special, melt-down version of Bing Crosby's "White Christmas."
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John La Briola