We interrupt your regularly scheduled Swedish garage invasion to bring you the Japanese garage-punk explosion, which is already in progress (and in fact was presumed extinguished back in ’96 when Teengenerate called it quits). Thee Michelle Gun Elephant came in at the tail end of said campaign with 1998’s Gear Blues, a disc that was the Behind the Music of its day, one of those "why the hell aren’t these guys famous?" CDs that filled critical Top 10 lists but was unavailable at your local record dump during the Christmas rush.
The Elephant won’t get fooled again. Available for stocking stuffing as we speak, their new all-Japanese album begs the question: what if the next Nirvana don’t speak English? Heavier on the treble than the Hives, trashier than Jack White’s 100-watt Sears Silvertone, and catchier than "You Know You’re Right," TMGE’s "Abakareta Sekai (The World Exposed)" serves the same notice Kurt’s "Entertain us" did a decade ago: in their words (loosely translated), "The party is over." TMGE dressed like ? and the Mysterians way before the Mooney Suzuki did, and they sure as hell ain’t gonna stop now — dig those bubble shades and bowl cuts! But dig deeper and check their X-ray style: Teengenerate-derived Real-Kids-on-nitro-amphetamines punch meets Registrators-grade new-wave jerk, as delivered by motorcycle-kamikaze casualties weaned on Guitar Wolf’s Ramones/Link Wray speaker frizz. Thanks to the liner-note subtitles, we have a glimpse of what the hell Yusuke Chiba is howling gravel-throated bloody murder about: hearts without brakes, the end of history, and for that matter the absolute end of everything. Armageddon on a platter? Make mine a double.