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Music Review: Oreskaband – Ore

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Ebullient is the word that comes to mind when listening to this sextet of high-school girls – the poppiness of a girl band mixed with the happy celebratory nature of ska. Oreskaband got together back in 2003 as middle school classmates who wanted to start a band. They played around their hometown of Osaka for a couple of years and after an appearance at Fujirock – one of the biggest rock festivals in the world – they’re heading this way.

With the proliferation of teens getting together to lip-sync and gyrate in front of bright lights, it’s exciting to hear a group of girls who put themselves forward not just as pop stars but as instrumentalists – and decent ones at that. The horn section is really tight (Leader, Saki and Moriko), the wailing guitar and bass players are also the equally rockin’ vocalists (Ikasu and Tomi) and there is no half-assed tapping on that drum set (Tae-san).

The disc I got was billed as a demo, but is the same as their March 2006 EP release Ore. A six track disc, with track one being a one minute screaming intro, it encompasses about as wide of a musical spectrum as ska is going to. “Knife and Fork” is more instrumental, a great showcase for the horn section, and with a switch of texture – a sweeter line and slower groove. The last track “The Boy – S” just tears a new hole in the whole thing – frenzied bouncy rebounding from word to word and lick to lick.

As of this month, their single “Pinnochio” is available for download on iTunes. It was a good choice for release – the vocals are interlaced with punchy hits from the band, and it really shows off the breadth of talent in the group. And it’s amazing how the littlest details can get you – the end is punctuated by a set of soaring “la la las” that are at once wickedly wonderful, and a little hilarious, coming out more like a cheerleader’s “ra ra ra”

They appeared first in the states just a few weeks ago at SXSW (South By Southwest – a music festival in Texas, for those of you who are sick of puzzling over what in the hell ssschxssswaaa is) and moved on to tour dates in the LA and San Francisco area. No clear dates on a full release yet, but I’m hoping that it’ll have a bit more of a dynamic audio mix on the next release to bring out the richness in the many layers of sound these girls are constructing. They may not have taken your local scene by storm yet, but hopefully these girls will be around more often. They’re tons of fun.

You can hear streaming samples for yourself on their Myspace. Visit their Oreskaband – Sony Homepage for news and information.

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About Claire Marie Blaustein