Andrew “Koji” Shiraki is a pretty solid songwriter. He’s got
good hooks, interesting lyrics and a voice that is distinctive without being
annoying. And most of all, he’s able to use all of those features well with a
style that fits him. A little acoustic, but not too much. A bunch of pretty
instruments—bells and the like—that would fit well in a magical forest, and a
stripped down rawness that stops that from getting too twee. It sounds like
it’s recorded one summer evening in a barn, in all the best ways–old oak,
fireflies, and old friends–except with enough of a punk sensibility to stay
energized and angry through the sap.
Or, well, he had all this going for him, but he made a new
EP, and threw that style out.
That should be a good thing. I’m all for experimentation.
I’m a little too in on experimentation sometimes. Let your freak flag make its
freaky sound while it waves, throw your guitar out the window and buy a
synthesizer, do all the things you can to make your own special Metal Machine Music. Koji decided to
listen to a bunch of Superchunk and Guided By Voices records, leave the barn
for a badly carpeted basement, and make his 90’s lo-fi EP.
That’s not a bad idea, and to be fair, Fury is not a bad EP. But
it’s an EP of someone who was really good at something deciding to do something
else. He continues to be pretty good at writing songs, but it sounds like
something is missing. It’s a weird fit.
It’s especially weird to me as someone who LOVES the sound that Koji is aiming for.
I’m all for the guy playing Bee Thousand on
repeat and trying to emulate guitar fuzz out of a distorted amp. But on Fury, it seems a little half-baked. It’s
a great costume for Koji to be trying on, but it never feels like more than a
costume. It’s hard for me to bemoan someone for being half-assed when he’s
emulating a movement with an anthem called “Slack
Motherfucker,” but…well, it’s just disappointing.
But again, Koji is a talented guy, and this is just a four
song EP. None of the songs on it really stand out, because they’re a little
drowned in the not-quite-figured-out fuzz arrangements, but…it’s just a four
song EP. The songs slip by quickly without much to hold on to, while also being
a little too plodding to be enjoyable. As Koji has upped the energy of his
instruments, he’s simultaneously lost it from the songs. The exception is
“Everyday,” which is fun and exciting, but still doesn’t succeed at bringing up
the dirgey feeling of the other three songs. There are hooks that could be
catchy, but they’re surrounded by arrangements that don’t let them be, that
sound like with just a little bit of work they could have been better. This is
not a bad path to go down. Hopefully he’ll be able to walk down it on more sure
footing in the future.
Release Date: June 16th, 2015
Run time: ~13 minutes
2. Breaking and Broken
Written by Jon Hecht