Japandroids - Celebration Rock

A couple of months ago, someone I follow on Twitter posted a video of some kids goofing around in their basement/rec room area to the soundtrack of Japandroids’ “Younger Us.” Even though the footage was randomly cobbled together, and there isn’t really a narrative to speak of, and at least one of the kids is wearing one of those tie-dye Grateful Dead t-shirts that have long plagued the halls of America’s public high schools, it feels supremely cathartic and perfect. No matter what Japandroids do for the official video, there’s no way they’ll create something that communicates their music more effectively than this capsule. I don’t know if the kids are stoned, or if they’re sober, I just know that something about the juxtaposition of “Younger Us”’s straightforward nostalgism — “Remember saying things like “We’ll sleep when we’re dead” / And thinking this feeling was never going to end” — and the song’s tone, a sort of smile back to the past, conveys the inexpressible. Youth, power chords, a steady percussive anchor, wide-sweeping hooks pilfered, but sharper and infectiously tuneful, from the garage rock gods.

These are some words describing Celebration Rock, but I only need two (arguably three) characters — “Oh!” “Oh” is on here a lot. One of opener’s “Night Of Wine And Roses” hooks goes “Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh OH OH!” The second track, “Fire’s Highway,” has one that goes “OH OH OH OH OH OH!” There’s so many “Oh’s” on the record that I’m sure Fader will tabulate them for an installment of By The Numbers (fistpumps should be counted too, but I guess that’s a little tougher to track down. An average based on a sample works though? Or a median fistpump #?). Celebration Rock’s lyrical content is unfussy and evocative, worthy of that lowbrow/brilliant corner of the approval matrix — “When the soul of the city / Was laid to rest,” “We yell like hell to the heavens,” some stuff about train tracks, you know. Stuff like that. Outside of the kind-of misstep of Gun Club’s “For The Love Of Ivy” — it’s a pretty stock garage rock rumble in the lane of something like Japanther or Bass Drum Of Death or maybe early White Stripes, a hollow rip of whoever those guys might be ripping off — Japandroids don’t waste a spare second getting in and out of their big, wide-sweeping hooks and stupendously catchy riffs. The run of “Adrenaline Nightshift“-”Younger Us” (been around a while but it still slays)-”House That Heaven Built” is, with respect to some solid runs on the Screaming Females record, the most \m/ moment so far this year. Please excuse me for going there.

A couple of former colleagues/buddies and I were on an e-mail chain recently pontificating on the merits of Japandroids, and the friend who knew the least e-mailed, “So weird w/ this kind of rock b/c it’s either just very obviously great and you can tell in five seconds, or it’s not; there’s no disputing it. Japandroids def have that legit spirit.” Though there’s nothing as good as “Young Hearts Spark Fire” on Celebration Rock — that’s an all-timer — it’s chock full of that same exuberant immediacy outside of the solid comedown of “Continuous Thunder” — a concise, sinewy record you can’t help restart once it concludes. Whatever the Japandroids are trying to say to you, they’re not wasting any time doing it. What are you waiting for?

Celebration Rock is out 6/5 on Polyvinyl.

Comments (47)
  1. Japandroids know exactly what they do so well and stick to it, and that’s what I love about them. Perfect album for summer.

  2. “Younger Us” is probably the best song of 2012, even though it came out in 2010

  3. Michael_  |   Posted on Apr 30th, 2012 +7

    What drew me into Japandroids on their debut is that they make the kind of music that transcends your age, which is nice especially when you were raised mostly on punk. This sort of rowdy rock musicnormally, once you reach your late 20s, is no longer provided to you unless you want to hang around a bunch of high school skateboarders and your friends are all like, “Trash Talk what? People still listen to hardcore? Me and my new wife are going to catch Gotye…” Anyway, they’re two dudes who have still yet to reconcile their adulthood and constantly make mention to nostalgic moments of you, and I guess that’s what’s really great about them for me — The ability to hear a song that says “Yes, I have responsibilities and know how to take care of myself just fine, but for christ’s sakes guys, we’re far from our death beds so let’s not become stagnant and boring.”

  4. “Though there’s nothing as good as “Young Hearts Spark Fire” on Celebration Rock”

    dude what are you talking about! “fire’s highway” and “the house that heaven built” blow that shit away!

    • I cannot stop listening to The House That Heaven Built. If the whole album was that one song over and over again, I’d still think it was great

      • Same here. That song is actually heartbreakingly sentimental considering the brash vocals and the aural aggressiveness. The mere fact that all that heart translates despite the obvious desire to make “noise” is absolutely touching and enviably young. This coming from someone who’s only in the early 20s, sadly.

      • fortunately, the album kind of is that song over and over again

  5. I feel like you would literally have to be born a cynical asshole to hate these guys

  6. the title makes so much sense. this is pretty much the essence of “celebration rock”

  7. the album rules.

  8. I honestly thought Post-Nothing was the best album of 2009, and that’s saying something considering the competition it was up against. You just can’t beat the energy.

    So far on this one, “Fire’s Highway” is a definite highlight for me. Can’t wait to blast this in the car on the way to some late-night shenanigans this summer.

  9. “For the Love of Ivy” is a cover song. The Gun Club recorded it on their amazeballs album FIRE OF LOVE.

  10. I don’t think the writer knows that For the Love of Ivy is a classic song by the Gun Club, so it’s not “a pretty stock garage rock rumble in the lane of something like Japanther or Bass Drum Of Death or maybe early White Stripes, a hollow rip of whoever those guys might be ripping off.”

    But that’s just like, an opinion, man.

  11. Japanther is still way better…in the category of japan-something bands….i’m considering forming a band called Japanda to add to the competition…

  12. I’d argue that while “Young Hearts Spark Fire” is a fantastic song, “Younger Us” to me will always be their best song. This is AOTY so far for me, and it’s b/c it’s completely solid. The lyrical content is far superior than Post-Nothing, relying heavier on imagery than just repetition. I love both records though, some of the best garage rock out there.

    “Fire’s Highway” could be my song of the year though.

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  14. every song on this album is just as good as / better than “young hearts spark fire”

  15. At the time, Post-Nothing didn’t really do much for me. So imagine my surprise when I picked this on my iPod and it blew my shit entirely away. My favorite is the opener about the dreamers who drink and smoke themselves silly wondering if they have anything to live for, but “Younger Us” is sweet and “The House That Heaven Built” knocks me over. My AOTY so far along with the new Loudon Wainwright. Incredible.

  16. I simply cannot wait for this!

  17. Pretty sure this whole album can be used as a “get psyched” mix.

  18. Celebrate how much this record rocks!

  19. I like Japandroids but seriously. A lot of music writers in their late 20s who are confused about life and the world dig their music because they sing about girls and high school and they use words like “a sort of smile back to the past, conveys the inexpressible.” When really you’re just talking about someone else justifying the willingness to sing big, reductive, “youthful” hooks. The only reason we call them “transcendent” or w/e is because they appease the most insecure spot of the average dude contributing to Stereogum or Pitchfork, and that’s mistaken for profound brilliance. Nah, it’s just us being scared, freshly-graduated white people.

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  20. Can’t wait to get my hands on this – lucky for me, it comes out a week earlier (May 29th) in Canada!

  21. I really want to see that Younger Us video now.

    Also, the album destroys.

  22. I’m not gonna lie, I wish they’d changed up the style for the new album cover though. It kind of just looks like Post Nothing: Winter Edition

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  24. Ohhhhhhh!!!!!! AOAOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

  25. Also, how is it that seemingly everyone has already heard this whole album, and I can’t find a stream anywhere?

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