Yuji Oniki – Orange

Yuji Oniki

Occasionally, when I get sent these promos, I leave them out by the stereo at my place. This record came with a sticker on the outside proclaiming, “Featuring members of Guided By Voices and Beulah.” I figured one of my roommates would end up listening to the record due to the sticker. Sure enough, my roommate left a note with his own review: “Dude, that Japanese band with the sticker on the front? Its boring. It sounds like James Iha solo. You’re not going to like it.”

Guess what? He was wrong, I enjoyed it. But don’t buy it expecting to hear Guided by Voices, because you’re going to be really angry if you do. The GBV guy in question is Doug Gillard, who has proven that he will play on anything (and in the process make it much better). He must be trying to set a record for how many albums he can appear on (along with Josh Freese and Todd Rundgren). I’ve discovered in the last few weeks that Gillard is quite the underrated guitar player. Bob Pollard was smart to steal him for GBV (although I’m pissed that Cobra Verde isn’t half as good anymore as a result).

This is light, relaxing pop music, a sort of combination of early Grant Lee Buffalo and James Taylor. Light vocal harmonies are backed by acoustic guitars, bass, drums played with brushes, and the occasional keyboard and horn flourish you’d expect in an old PBS children’s show. This might all be quite dull on its own, but luckily Gillard’s electric guitar assists push many of the songs into Big Star territory. The album frequently walks the line between being delicate and being downright cheesy, (especially because the lyrics sound like they might have had translation problems), but most of the tracks end up on the good side of that line.

If your steady diet of hardcore, emo, punk and junk has left you feeling a little plugged up, this disk should help to clean your head out and help you regain your regularity. (Sorry, I think all of that orange color on the CD has me thinking of Metamucil).