Imagine if childhood superheroes the Power Rangers gave up fighting crime and instead turned to a life of creating upbeat, pop punk music. Self-proclaimed “Japanese Action Comic Punk” band Peelander-Z has got things covered. Hailing from the fictional Z area of Planet Peelander, the punk rock group has returned to earth to present their latest album, Space Vacation.
From their live-action anime costumes to the exchanges shared among spectators who have witnessed the group live (member Peelander-Yellow once broke his foot while jumping off the second floor of a venue during a performance in New Mexico), Peelander-Z is all about taking chances and having fun — two crucial components to the group’s latest album.
Although the members were born in Japan, their sound is surprisingly American, centered around the new-wavy arrangements of The B-52’s and the punk rambunctiousness of the Ramones. Just take one listen to the title track of the album and you’ll immediately get the impression that vocalist Peelander-Yellow wants to take Joey Ramone’s title for most indecipherable vocalist ever.
It’s the music that makes the band. “Under Zero Gravity” explodes with siren-like guitars and punch-to-the-face drums. Listeners can picture a circle pit forming as the guitars screech and Peelander-Yellow’s gurgled chants strike a match of uncontrolled calamity.
“Star Bowling” sounds like a Japanese version of The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be.” As soon as the drums kick in and the guitar’s syncopated strums join in, the listener may just replace Peelander-Yellow’s lyrical blabber with the lyrics from the ‘90s classic. It just goes to show that the Peelander-Z crew can make infectiously catchy songs.
Peelander-Z have always been known to fully embrace their own weirdness; it’s what makes them who they are. It’s no surprise that they’re local favorites. Aside from being a part of Austin record label Chicken Ranch Records, they’ve performed at SXSW and Fun Fun Fun Fest, epitomizing our town’s belief in keeping things weird. The group will never become famous, but the goal is to just have fun and be as strange and different as possible.
And it works — who else do you know covers of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” with so much synth-y jubilance and conviction that it will inevitably become a part of any hipster dance circle? Peelander-Z may not be destined for worldwide acclaim any time soon, but they will provide amusement for those who consider themselves music junkies of all genres.
Printed on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 as: Japenese band uses personas to create pop