Mission of Burma is a band that amassed huge critical acclaim in it's very short lifetime. They were also known for being very loud. Like, Hotblack Desiato loud. Apparently, one of the reasons they broke up is that the lead guitarist developed tinnitus. Vs. is their one and only studio album prior to their recent reunion record. I very much have a love-hate relationship with this album. I love their instrumental work. It's inventive, catchy, and just plain fun. I hate the vocals, which consist of the lead shouting as loud as he can, pretty much in monotone, pretty much the standard parody of every punk band ever shown on a sitcom. He's not singing. There is no melody line. I tuned out the vocals, and just listened to the music, which was great.
You run into that a lot in listening to punk, as if the shouting is one of the requirements to prove that you haven't sold out to the establishment. But then you have the Ramones, the ultimate punk band. There is melody, sometimes even harmony, in their songs. You can sing along to the Ramones. You can dance to the Ramones. The Ramones didn't have to shout to get attention. I just don't get the shouting.
Speaking of whom, the first thought that passes through one's mind when one first hears Shonen Knife is "Did I accidently stick a Ramones album into the player?" Instrumentally, they sound exactly like the Ramones. It's eerie. You keep expecting Joey to start in on "Rock N' Roll High School," but then this Japanese chick starts singing a pop song. It takes some getting used to. The band is a trio of Japanese women. The songs are these cheery little things about bicycling, or Barbie, or even two versions of the "Tortoise Brand Pot Scrubbing Cleaner's Theme." The lyrics are in English, but the singers' pronunciation and cadences are heavily Japanese, so most of the time you can't follow what they're singing unless you already know the lyrics. There's plenty of room for mishearing things, especially on songs like "Flying Jelly Attack." Still, it's all great fun, and nobody loses an eye.