Japandroids, Near to the Wild Heart of Life
Release date: January 27
Record label: ANTI-
It's understandable why people get defensive about riding too hard for Canada's reigning nice-boy rock stars Japandroids. Like their dude-centric American counterparts The Hold Steady, Titus Andronicus, and Beach Slang, these guys can be a bit much if you've never at least felt the urge to shotgun a beer on a deck while listening to an AC/DC record. While they've preserved the minimalist trappings of their two previous albums -- fuzzy guitars, pounding drums, sing-along choruses, monochromatic album covers -- the third record finds guitarist and lyricist Brian King getting a little more literary with his barstool poetry on songs like the epic "Arc of Bar." (Sample line: "Hustlers, whores, in rooms galore/A sinking city’s stink/An arc of bar, a flesh bazaar/Of diamonds, dust, and drink.") Again, if you're into rock myth-making and can stomach a little corniness, this stuff doesn't get much grander, more catchy, or exhilarating.