Japan’s indie rockers Shonen Knife aim to make you smile

The song goes down like a handful of candy hearts inscribed with the name of the city in question, an ode to Vegas as sweet as cherries aligned on a trio of slot reels.

“I like Las Vegas, it’s a glamorous fantasy world,” Shonen Knife singer-guitarist Naoko Yamano chirps on “Las Vegas,” her every utterance sounding as if it was delivered with eyes wide as hubcaps. “I want to go to Las Vegas, everybody’s having fun. Even if you say it’s decadent, I don’t mind ’cuz it’s fun … at buffet, I eat so much food. Breakfast, lunch and dinner every time.”

Yamano’s enthusiasm, a thing as unbridled and naturally occurring as a wind storm, is far from a product of artistic license.

“I love Las Vegas,” she says. “I have been to Vegas three times. Two times were for my holidays. I lost some money, but I enjoyed buffet and Cirque du Soleil’s ‘O’ and the Beatles cover band show. They were so fun!”

Fun and exclamation points — lots of them — are as central to Shonen Knife’s repertoire as guitar, drums and bass.

It would be hard to name another band that ever displayed as much earnest, awesomely precocious joy for the small things in life that make them happy.

They pen tunes about their favorite condiments (“Wasabi”), favorite pastimes (“Cycling Is Fun”), favorite fruit (“Green Tangerine”), favorite treats (“I Wanna Eat Cookies”), favorite household cleaning products (“Tortoise Brand Pot Cleaner’s Theme”), etc.

Basically, their discography is one big happy face emoji spread out over 19 albums dating back to the early ’80s. Their first major label American release, 1992’s “Let’s Knife,” coincided with the ’90s alt-rock and grunge boom, and within this context, Shonen Knife shined particularly brightly — their tunes are as radiant and blood-warming as the Seattle skies are dark and bone-chilling come fall.

They became darlings of the indie set, championed by the likes of Thurston Moore and Kurt Cobain (legend has it that a copy of the band’s “Rock Animals” was found on Cobain’s turntable when his body was discovered in April 1994, suggesting that it may have been the last record he ever listened to).

Sharing the Ramones’ fondness for ’60s girl groups and earworm harmonies, these ladies’ self-described “Candy Rock” is as sugary and addictive as that appellation suggests. A few years back, they released a tribute album to the Ramones, but really, isn’t that what their entire 36-year career has been?

Unlike those iconic New Yorkers, though, Shonen Knife’s catalog pointedly doesn’t contain many sharp edges.

“I’m always trying to find good topics for my lyrics for Shonen Knife,” Yamano explains. “It’s easy for me to make melody lines but hard to write lyrics. I don’t want to write about negative matters and am embarrassed to sing about love. Ultimately, I write about the simple pleasures which make me happy.”

As the band’s last two records, 2016’s “Adventure” and 2014’s “Overdrive,” have underscored, these pleasures also include amp-smoldering riff rock.

“I really love ’70s British hard rock like Judas Priest, Black Sabbath or Rainbow,” Yamano says. “I also like Kiss very much. In the ’80s, I wrote some hard rock tunes like ‘Antonio Baka Guy’ or ‘Cobra Versus Mongoose.’ The concept of the recent two albums are ’60s and ’70s rock and hard rock.”

One of the most rippin’ tracks from “Adventure” is “Rock’n’Roll T-Shirt,” a celebration — what else? — of the cherished concert tee.

What’s Yamano’s favorite?

“My favorite rock and roll T-shirt so far is Judas Priest’s ‘British Steel’ shirt,” she says. “I bought it at their concert in Osaka, Japan. I really like their music. I keep most of all our T-shirts at home. I recently took pictures of them. I have a plan to archive at our website.”

Though Shonen Knife has been at it since 1981, the band’s stop at Beauty Bar on Thursday will be Yamano’s first time playing here — a previously scheduled gig in 2007 was canceled.

She’s happy to be visiting — meaning she’ll probably write a song about it.

“I’m trying to write about positive things,” she says. “Those things are every person’s common topics, and I’m sure they can make people smile.”

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl!
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Welcomes New Baby Girl! The 45-year-old actor posted an adorable photo on Instagram, celebrating his newborn baby girl, Tiana Gia Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram Dwayne Johnson, via Instagram This is Johnson’s second daughter with his girlfriend, Lauren Hashian. His oldest daughter, Simone Garcia Johnson, came from his previous marriage. Johnson and Hashian first announced they were expecting another child back in January. Congratulations!!
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend Car Show celebrates 21st year
The Stray Cats, Jerry Lee Lewis, Duane Eddy, Elvira and Mitch Polzak make appearances the 21st Annual Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend car show at the Orleans hotel and casino on Saturday, April 21, 2018.
This "Alice in Wonderland" cocktail changes colors and flavors while you sip
Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
Disneyland debuts new foods for Pixar Fest on Friday
Pixar Fest takes place ahead of California Adventure’s Pixar Pier expansion. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sneak Peek at New Decorations, Merch and Parade for Disneyland's Pixar Fest
Las Vegas Philharmonic celebrates 20th anniversary season
Orchestra’s 2018-19 season features premiere, more (Carol Cling/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Las Vegas' newest bar is a reggae lounge
Jammyland serves island-inspired cocktails. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
This boozy milkshake is big enough to share with seven of your best friends
Fiddlestix makes an "8 Man Milkshake" that's packed with alcohol. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five Chris Stapleton songs you need to hear
D. Michael Evola opened E-String to make New York style pizza
Shamrock Macarons at Morels at Palazzo
Zuma serves a sushi roll topped with 24-karat gold
La Cirque covers their quail and foie gras in real gold
Jean-Georges Steakhouse seves chocolate gold bars
3 ways you can eat gold in Las Vegas
Artist Kathleen Nathan On The Virtues Of Library Galleries
The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District’s art galleries offers artists a more relaxed vibe for showing their work. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada SPCA Competes In Tournament Of Tails
The NSPCA and its mascot cat, Prince, are competing in an online voting challenge for a $5,000 grand prize.
Red carpet at MGM for Dan Reynolds Believer screening
Kats on the red carpet for the VIP screening of "Believer," the documentary by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds about how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members.
Eureka's cocktail comes with a "buzz button" that will shock your taste buds
‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Film Confirmed
‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Film Confirmed Deadline reports that New Line has purchased Chase and Lawrence Konner’s screenplay for their “Sopranos” prequel film. The working title for the prequel is “The Many Saints of Newark.” Chase created the HBO series, which ran for six seasons, and Konner served as a writer. “The Many Saints of Newark” is set during the 1960s riots in the New Jersey city between the African-American and Italian communities. Multiple characters from the series, albeit younger versions, are expected to star in the film. The Sopranos won 21 Primetime Emmy Awards and five Golden Globe Awards during its run.
The Big Bounce America is coming to the Las Vegas Valley
The Big Bounce America. (Courtesy Big Bounce America)
The 90th Oscars Were the Least Watched in History
The 90th Oscars Were the Least Watched in History According to The Hollywood Reporter, 26.5 million watched the Oscars, a 20 percent drop from last year. The 26.5 million viewers would be an all-time low for the Oscars. Overnight returns had the lengthy ABC telecast averaging a 18.9 rating among households between 8 and 11 p.m. ET. Last year, 32.9 million viewers tuned in to watch the ceremony. The previous low for viewership was 32 million viewers in 2008 when Jon Stewart was host. The Shape of Water picked up an award for Best Picture, while Gary Oldman and Frances McDormand won Best Actor and Actress, respectively.
March First Friday theme is “Think”
First Friday art, culture, music and food event takes place on the first Friday of every month in and around the studios and galleries of the Arts District in downtown Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like