Independent German label Alien Snatch! Records took on the task of releasing its first J-rock LPs in the way of Suspicious Beasts' Used To Be Beautiful and Never Bloom. Led by Brooklyn denizen, Japanese expatriate and master singer/songwriter Yusuke Okada, the very capable band of Beasts, featuring members of Blotto, Your Pest Band, The Golden Clouds and others, create a potent mixture of psych pop, garage rock and folk punk. With a very noticeable rootsy quality, the songs on these two LPs aren't your average J-rock or Japcore, like Melt-Banana, TsuShiMaMiRe, Shonen Knife, Molice, and so on. No; Suspicious Beasts are a completely different breed of animal, bordering on grunge yet without getting mired in any of that slow, down-tuned junkie rubbish. Suspicious Beasts' sound resides in a dangerous neighborhood with littered-streets, rundown buildings, graffiti-covered walls, and a punk squat around the corner where they play their half-distorted full-chord strums, messy leads, energetic drumming, nice low-end, and torrents of wild vocals. As such, their sound is comparable to bands like Dinosaur Jr, The Mojomatics, Good Night Loving, Deadly Snakes, Reigning Sound, and the like.
Used To Be Beautiful, released in 2013 by Alien Snatch!, consists of seven tracks, both originals and versions of songs by the members' other bands, like The Golden Clouds' "Punch Me In The Face." The record opens with "Sister Maree," an impressive piece of psyched-out garage rock and folk punk, which clearly tells how good the rest of the record is going to be. On the B-Side there are some really good tracks, too, like "Let Me Breathe" and "Jail Inside Your Heart."
Never Bloom, also released in 2013 by Alien Snatch!, has eight Suspicious Beast originals. This Side possesses such absorbing Suspicious Beasts numbers as "Feel Okay," "Last Song," and "Strange Patterns," while on That Side there are equally great songs like "With The Devil" and "Who Wants To Buy My Soul." Never Bloom also comes in a quality sleeve with neat cover art by Yusuke Okada himself, and a visual art collage around the tracklisting by Amy Fierro, which makes for a rather interesting artistic social and political statement of today's world, with media images ranging from Santa Clause, George Bush Jr., Ronald MacDonald, Monica Lewinsky, Elvis Presley, Tupac, The Easter Bunny, and so on. Never Bloom was recorded in both Tokyo, Japan and Denton, Texas.
After listening to these two Suspicious Beasts records a number of times, I simply can't wait to get my hands on more of their material. Hopefully there will be something in the near future. There probably will be, after all, because as I understand it they are very talented and productive artists.
Both Suspicious Beasts LPs, Used To Be Beautiful and Never Bloom, are available from Alien Snatch! Records. And if they are playing a show in your area, be sure to make it out. You will be glad you did.