My history with Half Japanese goes back a long way. My band Tiny Desk Unit played to many of the same people at many of the same venues in Washington, D.C. back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. I saw them often at a loft space called D.C. Space, the very loft where my band got its start.I remember them as punky, though more abrasive in their tone than aggressive. They were also kind of funny, with brothers Jad and David Fair playing untuned guitars and a tiny drum kit. They often sang about monsters, if I recall correctly.
Of all the bands from the area at the time, they’re the only ones still making consequential records; I never saw that coming. Jad is the only original member left, even brother David long ago left to be a family man. Overjoyed is the new album from Half Japanese, the group’s first since 2001, with production from John Dieterich of Deerhoof. Even though the band members still carry the flag for passion over melody, this is the catchiest little tune I’ve heard from them.