Japandroids: “The House That Heaven Built”

Over the course of a year, KUT features 260 songs of the day from a wide range of artists, each one catching our collective ear. For the next two weeks, we’ll be highlighting the best songs of the day from 2012, featuring big names, new discoveries, Studio 1A exclusives, and some tunes that might have gotten lost in the shuffle in the past twelve months.

Being in a band is hard. There’s no bones about it. Unless you have a benevolent patron, you’re pretty much on your own. Canadian rock ‘n’ roll duo Japandroids know this all to well. It almost ended them. But after a stroke of luck, the band came roaring back, bigger than ever.

Japandroids are guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse (both sing), and they hail from Vancouver, British Columbia. There’s just two of ’em, but they make a monster racket. In 2008, Japandroids had already been around for a few years. They self-released a couple of EPs (2007’s All Lies and 2008’s Lullaby Death Jams) which mostly ended up in the hands of Vancouver locals and friends. But by then, the charm of slogging it out without much results began to wear on the duo, so they decided to dissolve the band. “We weren’t strangers who met on Craigslist with the goal of getting famous,” said King in an interview with Pitchfork earlier this year. “Then, when it starts to go downhill, it’s like, ‘Let’s just stop so we can still be friends and hang out.'” So they did, but the pair had no idea that a little full-length they recorded pre-breakup called Post-Nothing would rocket them back together.

In spring of 2009, Pitchfork raved about the record, which earned it “best new music” designation from the site. The praise catapulted the heretofore unknown (and by then, long-gone) Canadian band to instant critical cred and a brand new taste-making audience. Prowse and King reunited and set out on a marathon tour in 2009 and 2010, playing over 200 shows in more than 20 countries. In 2010 Japandroid’s label re-released their two five-song EPs as a compilation called No Singles along with a slew of 7-inches.

Early this summer, the band issued their eagerly-awaited sophomore full-length Celebration Rock. The album expands on the sonic palette laid out in Post-Nothing: noisy, anthemic tunes made to spill beer to. To get an idea of what the tunes on Celebration Rock sound like, imagine that The Boss was reared on The Replacements and Sonic Youth rather than Little Richard. Think dumb rock for smart people. Tracks like “The House That Heaven Built” are epic, sing-along shouters that burn with naked honesty and a punk rock urgency. They’re anthemic, and they demonstrate that even though Japandroids may have suffered a few bumps in the road, they’ve got a bright, stadium-filled future ahead.

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