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.

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Dealing with a Desmond, a ramble.

I haven’t written a ramble on here in ages, but this is more of a panic than a ramble.

Just to give a bit of back story, I study Creative Writing and Film Studies at Hull Uni, and I’m in my final year. I’d love to finish Uni with a 2:1 degree, but it looks like I’m heading for a 2:2.

Now, the general logic behind a 2:2 appears to be that those achieving a 2:2 are those who were more than capable of achieving a 2:1, but they spent more time listening to the waiters in the Union bar rather than their lecturers.

I assure you this isn’t true with me at all. Many’s the day (and night) I’ve spent toiling away at assignments, only to receive a lower than hoped-for grade.

My dream career would be to become a writer of scripts for TV, poetry and stories, and I believe I’m making small yet significant steps towards this. I’ve spent a whole summer, and this past month, working with several independent TV and film companies. I’ve had/will be having a handful of my poetry published in anthologies. I’m an exec member for my student’s TV station, Hullfire TV.

Obviously, these little achievements beef my CV up no end, but my main cause for panic comes from my mum’s high expectations of me. My elder brother achieved a 2:2 degree from Lincoln Uni in Business, and my mum was initially disappointed with this (maybe now due more to the fact that he’s yet to do anything with his degree). Not having gone to Uni herself, I managed to assure her that a 2:2 was still worth the three years he’d spent studying for it, as it’s still an Honours degree at a decent level.

Another cause for panic is the assumption that an arts degree like mine is easier to study for than a degree like my brother’s. It’s bad enough to be studying, quite literally, a ‘mickey mouse’ degree (Hull does offer a module in Disney Studies, which I did’t plump for).

But I’m trying to think of the positives of all this. For starters, my degree, should I get the dreaded Desmond, would still be an Honours and would be better than a Third, pass, or fail. Given that I’m aiming for a career within TV, some might think it odd that I chose to study at Hull, as its predominately theory based modules.

But I think differently. Studying theory modules required me to get off my arse and go hunting for practical work experiences in TV and film, which I’ve achieved a fair bit of.

I feel that the further I get in life, the less it’ll matter about the specifics of my degree, but right now I just feel like I’d feel disappointed with the degree level I’m likely to get. I feel that it’ll say ‘you did okay, but you could have done better, and you know you could of’.

If anyone has any words of advice, or any words in general to offer, then feel free to comment. I probably need the reinforcement, although right now I feel more like I need a hug.

So, yeah, I think that’s it.

Ramble over.

Panic continues.