Itekoma Hits by Otoboke BeaverRelease date: April 26, 2019
Otoboke Beaver are the kids at school who blew bubble gum at the back of the classroom. Otoboke Beaver are the kids at school who broke the class windows with a slingshot. Otoboke Beaver are the kids at school who never grew up. Hailing from Kyoto, the four piece have become known for kinetic live shows and an old school DIY punk mentality. With their new release Itekoma Hits they compile some of their previous eps with a few jewels studded in for good measure.
A defining trait of Beaver’s sound is messiness. The album doesn’t so much as reach for its short runtime, but barrels towards it with the dignity and grace of a studded elephant a few trunks down at the saloon. It’s a very classic punk sound reminiscent of The Damned, The Dead Kennedys, and Afrirampo – but with the speed overclocked into dizzying levels. There is an edge to the guitars that has been allowed to flow with warts and wrinkles, while the bass enjoys are warm depth that would have been produced out of the atmosphere in lesser hands. And as with all great punk, there is an element of story telling brought through sonically – notice the droning tone followed by a big city groove during ‘6 day work week is a pain’ that conveys everything you need to know regardless of language barriers. Its with this raucous spirit and characterful playing that has brought Otoboke Beaver plenty of success abroad. It’s infectious; music to scream into a pillow to before heading back to work.
A large amount of this charm heralds from the voice delivered with attitude aplenty from lead vocalist Accorinrin with the backing of delinquent gang vocals. She flip flops between charmingly light-hearted and antagonistically dangerous when frustrated and it’s these vibrant tonal shifts and expressive voice that keeps the songs characterful and separates Otoboke Beaver from some of their more po-face contemporaries . She’s most similar in vocal terms to Jello Biafra, with a tongue placed firmly in cheek whilst having a cathartic ball lashing out at the mundanities of modern life. The most important part of Otoboke Beaver is not that they are just fun, but that they are funny. Simple melodies and harsh moments of hardcore punk combine with an exasperation with everything that is treated with the utmost seriousness. If the topics of Otoboke Beaver are an elderly gentleman at a dinner party with a comically sized monocle, then our gang of lovable miscreants are the egg flying into his face. There has been a lot said about Otoboke Beaver’s sound and mentality with them being described varyingly as a noise rock band to a grindcore band – perhaps because of their experimentation or a tendency to throw in a blastbeat here and there. This all seems very strange, because Otoboke Beaver are maybe the most classic example of a punk rock band you could hope to find – the kind who in the 70s & 80s were formed not just to destabilize the social order…but because it was a laugh.
Itekoma Hits is a tongue out at modern life and ridiculous expectations that come with adulthood. The songs are a dizzying spectacle of fun and laughter, and together they form a wry smirk of an album. Otoboke Beaver continuously use holidays from work to create music and tour, so much in fact that its hard not to see the band as a medicine to deal with all that adult stuff that smells. Its maybe this where Otoboke Beaver is best consumed, a week of energy and fun condensed into just over 25 minutes to help survive the next wave of annoyances. Maybe its the busyness of their songs, with however much is thrown into each 2 minute hijinks, but Otoboke Beaver have the ability to make short amounts of time feel longer. Just like when you were enjoying your summer holidays at school.