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POP MUSIC REVIEW : A Great Band or a Great Scam?

November 18, 1993|JONATHAN GOLD

The Boredoms, a six-piece band from Osaka, are pretty much the Sex Pistols of the Japanese noise thing that's obsessing the indie-rock underground these days, and are probably the strangest act to land on Warner Bros. Records since Captain Beefheart.

The Boredoms sound has been described as gremlins with sledgehammers set loose in a toy store, and at the solidly packed Whisky on Tuesday, the group shrieked and howled, smashed the stage with a length of pipe, and played some songs that sounded like pure chaos and others that sounded like giddy, untuned Japanese mariachi tunes. It was one of those rare occasions where it was hard to know whether you were listening to the greatest band in the world or just six guys with a scam.

In one typical song, vague thumping led to a strange, highly syncopated passage where barked, percussive vocals served as a backbeat to the dub-style bass, then a moody thing where Yamamoto played sort of a Hawaiian-guitar melody that staggered across the stage like a drunken sailor, then everybody lurched into a unison anthemic groove and the song ended. How do you really know when a Boredoms song ends? The band says, "Thank you."

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