Review by David Cirone
TsuShiMaMiRe hits hard. For over a decade, they’ve firmed up their worldwide fan base by proving they can jam, no gimmicks, no holds barred. From large stages to sweaty shitholes, they’ve earned their cred time and time again by blasting any expectation of “cute Japanese girls with guitars” straight to pieces. (Plus they had the guts to add a glittery punk shine to the Powerpuff Girls for the Japanese TV release.) Through multiple label changes that led them to form their self-produced label Mojor Records, the all-girl punk-pop group is unstoppable and as fierce as ever in their 20-song compilation release MaMiRe.
The tracks on MaMiRe are smartly arranged out of chronological order, leading off with newer material like “Jaguar” and “Speedy Wonder.” With a good chunk of their recent catalog available in the U.S. via Good Charamel Records, the newer stuff will be most familiar (and most accessible) to recent fans. Nimble guitar work (check the lead-off on “J-Pop”) by vocal/guitarist Mari combined with her light airy voice (always on the brink of freaking-the-fuck-out) is TsuShiMaMiRe’s hallmark. They want to keep you guessing from start to finish. Case-in-point: Mari’s shredding guitar solo on “Time Lag” slips into a slow groove layered with sultry, torch-song seduction.
Rapid-fire lyrics get all the room in the world for verbal acrobatics thanks to the support of the band’s rhythm section. Bassist Yayoi has always been at her strongest diving deep into the low notes and leaning heavy on the fuzz filter. You can listen to her devilish crawl on “Mi Kara Deta Sabi” while “Darwin” delivers some great riffs, complemented by Mizue’s lighting-fast changes on drums.
Pop-ups from concept album SHOCKING “UFO for You”, “Hungry & Empty”) show off the band’s understated harmonies, but my personal favorites are from the band’s mid-2000’s peak popularity in America, where they packed live houses like L.A.’s Knitting Factory over and over and staked their claim on the J-Indies scene. “Ebihara Shinji” and “Tea Time Ska” slayed SXSW audiences ten years ago and established the still-running Japan Nite showcase as one of the SXSW Festival’s hot tickets. “Air Control & Remote Control” and the title track from Noumiso Shortcake (My Brain is Shortcake, which Mari often explained to American fans as the result of “too much headbanging”) are fierce girl-punk knockouts.
Fans who grab the limited edition of the CD can check out early takes of the band developing their style as early as 2000 at Chiba University. The sound on these tracks is pretty raw, but the spark is still evident. The bad girls from Chiba who were brave enough to jump into “Sex on the Beach” and still keep a “Dream of Love” were there all along.