Rhapsody Radar 2012 #14 Japandroids

Rock and beer go hand in hand, of course, and Vancouver's Japandroids encapsulate this marriage on one of 2012's liveliest rock records. "Don't we have anything to live for?/ Well of course we do/ But until it comes true, we're drinking," they pronounce on an album that's bookended by the popping and cracking of fireworks, with the apt title Celebration Rock.

The Canadian duo, made up of guitarist/singer Brian King and drummer/singer David Prowse, almost gave up their rock 'n' roll dreams just prior to the release of their 2009 debut album, Post-Nothing. Disappointed with a lack of support, they called it quits before it even came out, but both the record and their live shows were just too good. So, they went back on the road, then into the studio to record Celebration Rock, a celebration of rock indeed, with influences ranging from The Sonics to The Replacements to Springsteen to The Gun Club (honored via a cover of "For the Love of Ivy").

But for all their festive oh oh oh!'s and youthful-abandon odes, Japandroids are still just a couple of kids figuring out the essence of growing up. This poignancy sneaks into the booze- and sweat-laced drum kicks and rippling distortion when King howls sentiments like "Gimme that naked new skin rush/ Give me younger us." Yet as near-victims to the music biz's mercilessness, they approach it all with a triumphant spirit, proclaiming on standout single "The House That Heaven Built, "When they love you, and they will/ Tell 'em all they'll love in my shadow/ And if they try to slow you down/ Tell 'em all to go to hell!"

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