In late 2011, the Japandroids’ Brian King and David Prowse commemorated the completion of their latest full-length with dozens of firecrackers. When the Vancouver duo found out that they had accidentally smuggled several combustible trinkets over the border after visiting Nashville to write, they decided to set off the goods in an alley behind the recording studio.
At album engineer Jesse Gander’s suggestion, they put mics on the explosions. The results sounded like gunfire, but when the recording was slowed down, they could pass for the sounds of night-sky-filling fireworks, too. Shortly thereafter, Japandroids threw the effect both on record opener “The Nights of Wine & Roses” and closer “Continuous Thunder,” giving the album a joyful symmetry.
“I can’t say that [the fireworks] had any effect on the rest of the record in the sense that the rest was done by the time we thought of it,” guitarist/vocalist King says. “Having said that, we wouldn’t have put it on there if we didn’t think that it added something. When the record was done and I decided to call it Celebration Rock, I wanted to call it that because of the celebratory nature of the record. What’s more celebratory than fireworks?”
Well, for starters, there’s the actual music of Celebration Rock. Though Japandroids’ garage-punk doesn’t sound exactly like it comes from Descendents’ and Operation Ivy’s schools of songwriting, their sound is boisterous, bright, flawed and impassioned in the same way those bands were at times. Armed with frugal doses of fuzz and choruses that practically bloom, Japandroids have put together a record best consumed as the blissful soundtrack to a sweaty, loud show. It’s a remarkably well-realized second album from a band that once didn’t expect to get that far.
King and Prowse formed the group in 2006. They released a handful of singles, toured and eventually decided to call it quits in 2009—soon after their debut came out. Then, Pitchfork Media caught wind of and profusely praised Post-Nothing, leading the band to receive a wider audience, a contract from the high-quality indie label Polyvinyl Records and a renewed purpose to perform. Japandroids might be an 8-year-old affair now, but Celebration Rock sounds like the output of a fresh, young band that couldn’t be more psyched to provide some sing-alongs and stage dives. “Obviously, we’ve gotten more popular and we are getting better at what we are doing,” King says, “but the spirit of us at 30 is very much the same as our spirit when we were closer to 20.”
The Urban Lounge
241 S. 500 East
Saturday, Nov. 17, 9 p.m.
$14 in advance, $15 day of show