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Burning Farm

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Album Review

Shonen Knife's first album, 1983's Burning Farm, has all the things the band became (slightly) famous for, well, the things that endeared them to indie rockers, anyway, like cuteness and catchy tunes. While they can barely play their instruments and the vocals are amateurish at best, they play and sing with an unbridled joy that gives the record all kinds of charm. They sound like schoolgirls playing early Beatles songs filtered through the Ramones, Blondieand the Rezillos. Only with no pesky technical proficiency to get in the way. The lyrical concerns are truly their own, too, with songs about parrots, elephants, Barbie and cleaning products sung mostly in Japanese. It would be easy to go too far and call them the Japanese Shags and wink at their cuteness, but if you forget the image and just listen to the music, they are so much more interesting than that. Very influential also to bands like Redd Kross and Nirvana, as well as the whole American indie pop scene of the late '80s and early '90s. Many of these songs ("Twist Barbie," "Tortoise Brand Pot Cleaner's Theme," "Burning Farm," and "Watchin' Girl") were re-done for 1993's Let's Knife in inferior, cleaned up versions. If you have that album you need to check this one out to hear the Knife in their early, more exciting stage. If you have no Shonen Knife and are looking for a place to start, picking up this record and the slightly superior second album, Yama-no Attchan, would be a good idea.

Customer Reviews

A Very Special Release

The sample clips iTunes provides aren't enough to get a taste for this album. The only way to feel the essence it bleeds is to buy it and hear the songs in their entirety. Burning Farm has a notoriously catchy sound to it's music, and a soft honestly to it's vocals. This is one of those albums that you can let play through in it's entirety on repeat several times without having to get up and change anything. If I had to put a label on the band, it would obviously be Post Punk. But because labels are no fun, I'll make some comparisons. This sounds like a mixture of The Cure Boys Don't Cry, The Ramones Rocket to Russia, Young Marble Giants Colossal Youth…. But even with those traits aside, it's got a strong overtone of uniqueness that only these 3 Japanese girls can only provide ! This is truly an album unto itself, and I'd suggest it to any fans of Indie, Post Punk, Folk Rock, etc…. Also, a small bit of trivia: this was the first album to come out on Label K records !


Formed: 1981 in Osaka, Japan

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

During the early-'90s alternative wave, veteran Japanese indie rock trio Shonen Knife made major fans out of alt-rock's elite (Sonic Youth, Nirvana, and Redd Kross, among others) and built a solid worldwide cult following with their Ramones meets the Beatles brand of sticky-sweet punk-pop. Formed by Michie Nakatani (vocals, bass), Naoko Yamano (vocals, guitar), and Atsuko Yamano (drums), Shonen Knife started in December 1981 in their hometown of Osaka, Japan, where all three members were working...
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Burning Farm, SHONEN KNIFE
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