doa – Candle, album review

I’ve been meaning to get this out of my system for some time, and seeing as how I’ve already tackled their first album, I think now’s a great time to have a go at reviewing Candle, doa’s second album.

Now to be honest, it took me a very long time to warm to this album, mostly because I’m a grizzly rocker at heart, which made open_d a perfect album for me. Candle however, is pretty much the exact opposite of open_d.

Where that first album was a fine assortment of grinding folk rock with a punky-metal edge, Candle is chock-full of sweet, dreamy folk-pop tunes, with barely any of the downbeat yet intimate aggression that made open_d such an appealing listen.

Now when I first heard Candle, I used the above description as a reason for despising this album, and ultimately, doa themselves. How could these acoustic headbangers torment me with all this slushy schmaltz?

But now, I use the above description as my main reason for liking this album, a lot. And there are still some similarities between the two albums. Both feature Crosby, Stills and Nash harmonies over a mix of acoustic/electric guitar-heavy workouts, but on Candle these workouts are glazed in gliding strings that can barely get a third note in, and tinkering pianos, falling like tender snowflakes over these cute lil’ ditties.

Makes you sick, doesn’t it?

But hear me out, Candle is, in many ways, the perfect partner to open_d. One is an album full of chunky, clunky rockers while the other swooning ballads mix the two together and you’d probably get a damn fine album.

Plus, you have to admire these guys for stretching their sound it. It might have been far too easy to simply make open_d Mark 2, and the band handle rockers and ballads with equal aplomb. The tunes are actually decent as well. The opening title track, I wanna know your soul, and Sherry all display a sensitivity that open_d somewhat lacked.

And Candle isn’t completely devoid of speed or distortion either. The album’s only two rockers, Kiken na cave and Aoi Kaijitsu, are a fine pair of bloodrushers, with Aoi Kaijutsu especially so. It swings like a wrecking ball, almost sounding like Black Sabbath by way of the Stones.

But is it really possible to enjoy this album without the context of open_d? Well, if you prefer Lindsay Buckingham’s Fleetwood Mac to Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, then yes, because that’s how these two albums come across really, both of the same band and yet barely interchangeable with each other.

If you’re interested in hearing these guys, comment for a link to their songs!

doa – open_d, Album Review

There’s nothing wrong with trying to emulate your musical heroes. If anything, it’s very often the thing that spurs one to pick up a guitar in the first place. But when it comes down to essentially sounding note-for-note the same as your idols, and the only major difference is that you’re singing in a different language, something doesn’t quite add up.

And that’s Japanese folk rockers doa in a nutshell. One spin of their debut original album, open_d, confirms that, as soon as Crosby, Stills and Nash finally pop off into the hippie heavens, these guys will swoop down and claim their flower-laden bodies like vultures, all for themselves alone, to worship and adore.

510

Everything from the genre and setup of the music to the band’s actual name (a combination of the band member’s names lead vocalist Daiki Yoshimoto, lead guitarist Shinichiro Ohta, and bassist/songwriter Akihito Tokunaga) suggest that ‘influence’ doesn’t begin to describe the relationship they have with CSN.

The songs follow a similar style to their forefathers as well; a mixture of acoustic/electric hard rock, mild touches of folk rock, piano-driven ballads, and other wanderings into country, funk and even metal, all glazed with three-part harmonies.

The opening tune can also be seen as the bastard son of Find the Cost of Freedom, both being brief numbers, opening with some meandering acoustic guitar workouts until slow, ominous vocals hove into view.

But if you’ve been paying attention to this review, you’ll notice that I haven’t said these guys are bad. Fortunately, this is the one thing that saves them from being the CSN tribute act they surely were in their early days (their debut recording, a demo E.P, features seven cover songs of various artists, four of those songs being Ohio, Woodstock, Helpless, and Find the Cost…).

Another thing is clear from listening to open_d; these guys know how to rock. Shiro no Jumon, Haru Ichiban Ni, Jiyuu To Iu Mei No Brand, and Eiyuu rock with grinding riffs and swaggering backbeats, harder and heavier than anything CSN ever came up with.

The remaining numbers fly through a mixture of above-mentioned styles, and all prove just how effective the acoustic/electric/light/shade style of music can be. And these guys know how to sing as well.

Their harmonies may not be as sweet, or even high, as the ole’ granddaddies, but they still know how to give their vocals a good workout, which is perhaps more than can be said for the music itself. The music is catchy, yet simple, with the vocals right up in the mix.

And that’s something else appealing about this group over CSN; their songs are short and sweet, none of them barely touching the five minute mark, which makes for far more engaging listening than the songs CSN would often drag out to 10 minutes in length, those poor tunes!

So, overall, these guys may wish they were born in the 40’s so they could raise hell and rock out with the rest of ‘em throughout the 60’s, but they have a warm charm all their own. The album itself has a snug, live-in-the-studio atmosphere, and completely lacks in pretence (though that may not be quite try, who knows what these guys are singing about, after all!).

It’s a great rock album, and nothing more.

If anyone’s interested, I can put up/email you download links to the album and the singles released from it, as they all sport fairly decent b-sides.