Various Artists, 'I Love Guitar Wolf...Very Much' (Narnack)

I Love Guitar Wolf...Very Much
Critical Mass
Label: Narnack

by Todd Goldstein

There's a lot that American bands can learn from Japan's "coolest rock band," Guitar Wolf. For instance, the louder and faster you play, the better you sound; black shades and black leather jackets are, in fact, awesome; it doesn't really matter what you're singing, as long as it's sung like you effing mean it, and yelp or howl like a 1950s sex monster.

Evidently, the scuzzy punkabilly anthems of Guitar Wolf (which, by the way, all sound exactly the same, but with titles like "Kawasaki Z117 50 Rock 'n Roll," it barely matters) have made an impression on the rest of the world's skuzzy noise-punk groups, and their collective over-enthusiasm is collected on I Love Guitar Wolf...Very Much, a solid, if not entirely necessary, tribute to their beloved Guitar Wolf. Nobody strays far from the songs' original formulas, no big surprise there -- a lo-fi acoustic or electro-pop Guitar Wolf cover would put undue focus on the songs themselves, which are standard rockabilly/punk hybrids.

But notable re-interpretations include the unadulterated cacophony of Lightning Bolt taking on the instrumental "Planet of the Wolves," and avant-noise guru Jim O'Rourke lightly fuzzing up "Kaminari One." The best of the best include Dinosaur Jr.'s J. Mascis, who slows "Cyborg Kids" down a bit, slathers it in layers of gooey effects, and sings in a sweet, unearthly falsetto, and J-pop duo Puffy AmiYumi, who transform "Can-Nana Fever" into a surreal tropical polka, complete with bongos and a hilarious accordion solo.

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