Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Tokyo Invasion, Volume I: Cosmic Kurushi Monsters [Virgin, 1996]
Not counting the Boredoms, who have finally cracked the carapace of my utter disinterest, my knowledge of the 22 Japanese bands on this uproariously thrilling two-CD import is confined to the track listings. Disc two is too arty for anybody this side of the Boredoms, who in context sound weirdly middle-of-the-road and seriously funny, and yet the quiet stuff grew on me. "Martzmer" is almost pretty until the guitar kicks in at around 5:00, and on "Blood Stained Blossoms" even the guitar is pretty. But those are exceptions on a showcase for more ugly guitar than sane people think they want to hear--plus yelling and ranting and crooning and torture, funk song and distorto-metal and funeral march and noise experiments and riffs ad infinitum. Where other comps annoy by jumping from artist to artist, here the bands are so hard to take that each change comes as a relief--which instantly plunges the listener into yet another maelstrom of sensationalism. These carefully selected doses are probably all of this 'orrible stuff us rock and roll normals need. But need it we do. My thanks to Tony Herrington of The Wire for doing the dirty work. A-