There are many ways to describe a band and their music, ear candy is one that fits the all-girl trio from Osaka, Japan – Shonen Knife.
In their early days, Shonen Knife were known as the Osaka Ramones thanks to their kick-ass covers of our favorite Ramones songs: “Blitzkrieg Bop,” “The KKK Took My Baby Away,” “Beat on the Brat,” “Sheena is a Punk Rocker,” “We Want the Air Waves,” and “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.” Shonen Knife did these songs justice, and we fell in love with them because of it.
What’s ironic, what catapulted them to fame in the States was something unexpected, even to the band. Their music was featured in the 2007 incredibly popular movie, “Juno.” Their cover of The Carpenters’ “Top of the World” literally put them over the top.
Since then, the girls have taken the world by storm. Following up on their 2019 album, “Sweet Candy Power,” 2023 is destined to be a banner year for these ladies. A few years ago, I had the honor to sit down and chat with them on a West Coast tour, and I was pleasantly surprised. You never know what to expect when you interview a band for the first time. They turned out to be kind, soft spoken, respectful, and very humble. Even with their fans screaming in the distance, the ladies acknowledged them while being interviewed, and they are quite remarkable; their passion for music shows not only in their live shows, but in their music in their latest album, “Our Best Place.”
Like any tenured band, Shonen Knife has had movement in bandmates, but the core remains steady. The girls are electrifying with Naoko Yamano behind the mic and plays a wicked guitar. Atsuko Yamano slaps the bass, and Risa Kawano pounds the skins.
As for the album, it features that sonic tone we have come to love while channeling some of the bands they loved as they were living their pre-rock star lives. Influences like Ramones remains a cornerstone, with inflections of Sonic Youth, Buzzcocks, Redd Kross, and The Jam are there. Not to worry, they still carry that Nirvana undertone. All-in-all, a great album with an infectious beat.
The song that captured my ear was “MUJINTO Rock,” as it is very catchy. Being radio friendly, I can see this one doing very well for them. Other tunes that may take off include “Nice Day,” “Girl’s Rock,” “Vamos Taquitos,” and “Just a Smile.” On the CD version, there are extra tracks “Nice Day 60’s Mix,” “The Story of Baumkuchen” (Japanese Version – “Baumkuchen no Hanashi”), and “Girl’s Rock” (2023 Japanese Version).”
Shonen Knife is a force and they prove a few things. 1) These girls have staying power. 2) Good things happen to good people. 3) You can dream about a life of love through music, and love the life you live. Shonen Knife is a special band, so check this new release out as it will put a smile on your face.