the heiz - the heiz

review - 11.04.2009 11:53

the heiz's debut album brings retro rock back in style.

The three members of the heiz (pronounced “haze”) are no strangers to the music scene. Drummer Kimura Takashi, bassist Watanabe Asako and guitarist Shaku Keiji have all toured Japan before with their former bands. Though they met in 2005, it wasn’t until three years later that they formed a band, and now they all lend their talents and voices to create natural, old school rock’n’roll. Their self-titled debut album will be released in just over a week, and it gives a pretty good idea of what the heiz is all about.

The band states that the musicians that inspire them are The Beatles, The Ramones and Chuck Berry, and this is clearly evident from the first wild guitar chords of Don’t Let Me Down and Hurry Up Baby. Anyone who listens to American oldies rock will instantly fall in love, and even those less familiar with the oldies will draw parallels to Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode. The second track, Tokyo’s Burning, has the Jimi Hendrix drawl nearly down pat.

All of the songs on the album are sung mostly in English, which is a definite bonus for those who like to enjoy the lyrics. However, it’s not completely clear the lyrics are in English until the third track, Black Pepper Girl. The clarity of enunciation far surpasses what we hear on the first two tracks, and the heiz maintain it for the rest of the album.

Monday Morning Blues is something you wouldn’t mind waking up to. With the lines “I don’t wanna go to work/I don’t wanna go to school” growled out in a rebellious, petulant fashion and hard guitar riffs, it makes for a fun start to the day – even if it is a Monday morning. Another fun song is Macaroni Surf, which sounds like a mix between The Beach Boys and Elvis Presley. It’s got a super vibe that will keep you jamming until the end and leave you all ‘noodled’ out.

One of the softer songs on the album is Please Don’t Cry. Although the vocals during the chorus detract a bit from the sad, sympathetic mood, the melody is pretty enough to overlook it. Tomorrow Nite is also slower in pace, but it’s no ballad. With plaintive vocals and layered chords, it’s a song for summer night beach parties.

Something the heiz excels in is mixing English with Japanese, and Ta-Me-Shi-Te-Mi-Ta-I is a great example. It blends both languages so seamlessly that you don't notice part of the lyrics are in another language until you check the title. Keihin No. 3 "Koi-No-Daisan-Keihin" and Menthol Blues are two more standout tracks that show the band’s skill.

For anyone who likes oldies rock and Japanese music, the heiz gives you the best of both worlds. The only downside to the band so far is that all of their music reminds a bit of songs you’ve heard before. However, it’s clear they are developing their own style, so keep an eye out for what’s to come. In the meantime, their debut album is a good time waiting to happen!

Find out more about the band at their official MySpace or Tokyo No Records, where the album is available for pre-order! The band is currently touring through the US.
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