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High Voltage

by Carol Cooper

Before taking the Mercury Lounge stage on Easter Sunday, Aki Morimoto--guitar-wielding front man for Tokyo's punk power-trio Electric Eel Shock--toyed with some electric blues licks, then let us watch him doff his Dickies tee for his Twisted Sister tour shirt. Was this gesture a symbol of bi-coastal respect? Pan-metal allegiance? or a sly hard-core gender fuck? You decide. From their naked drummer's Chili Pepper cock-sock to Morimoto's Hendrix-'fro, EES loves to keep their growing global fandom guessing. Recently signed for America to the Gearhead label, their European CD (retitled Go USA for the States) is a headbanger's smorgasbord of signature riffs. From hairmetal flash, to grindcore grit, to speedmetal energy, to Ramones-era brattiness, to Sex Pistol wit, to Eddie Van Halen cheese, EES find fresh, recombinant contexts for all of it. Live, their improbably hooky "Rock and Roll Can Rescue The World" becomes both a statement of purpose and an open index of influences . . . into which Aki howls unexpected ad-libs like a line or two from Stevie Wonder's "Superstition."

Opening with "Suicide Rock and Roll" the band then launches into newer material like "Bastard," and "I Can Hear The Sex Noise" from their upcoming Beat Me CD. Tomoharu Ito's precision drum-fills are impassive yet relentless, building a sturdy wall against which Kazuto Maekawa's agile bass and Morimoto's nimble guitar can thrash and wail. Having spent most of the last two years touring behind their current CD, EES are anxious for their next phase to get heard. Steeped in '70s nostalgia, they nevertheless embrace the entire Anglo-American rock spectrum, able to imagine fairly straight evolutionary lines from Deep Purple and Black Sabbath through the Dead Boys to the Toadies and back. From a country where garage-band culture flourishes even without garages to rehearse in, EES showed New Yorkers they know how to kick out the jams.

Published in: The L Magazine, November, 2005

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